Posts tagged “gvo”

Snapshots of Cultural Phenomena, a blast from the past

If you recognize this little guy, you probably saw Turn Signals back when we put it out at GVO, at random times between 1995 to 2000.

I just acquired a missing issue and have updated the compilation/archive here (PDF link). Check it out! Last-century references to Grant McCracken, the inventor of ramen noodles, Don Norman, and gorillas…among others.

Turn Signals…in a time before blogging, we used to take interesting articles from the paper and photocopy ’em, highlight interesting parts and put them in each other’s mailboxes. Someone suggested we turn this into something for our clients, and so we (in conjunction with a graphic design firm) created the brand, name, identity and so on. We took stories from the press, but rewrote them in a pithy/wry voice.

In its earliest days, Turn Signals was sent out by fax. We used a fax-merge program on a Mac and it would sit and dial and redial for days upon end. We didn’t have the greatest database, ended up calling people at home in the middle of the night with a fax tone. It was not a good system, but there was something about the push, the paper version. We heard stories back bout it being posted in the bathroom or left on coffee tables. Or people would fax us back with a scribbled note, or a request to be added to the distribution. We probably had a stronger identity, visually and voice, than the company did, overall. I don’t think we ever fully leveraged that, though.

Eventually we went to PDF as an email attachment. It was opt-out, which I think went with the times, although maybe we’d want to take a different approach now.

Granny’s Inbox

Via PopSci, comes Granny’s Inbox

This connected printer uses a phone line to periodically dial into an e-mail account that only certain people can send to. Then it automatically prints new messages, even ones with photos. HP Printing Mailbox with Presto; $150


I was intrigued/amused because of this: a concept from work we did at GVO back in early 2001 (not for HP).

I don’t mean to imply that “we thought of it first” because no doubt we weren’t the first ones to come up with the idea; no doubt our client had probably thought of it as well. It’s amazing to see the same ideas come up over and over again (the fridge with the LCD screen is one of my favorite examples). It doesn’t mean they are good ideas or bad ideas. Sometimes they are just obvious ideas. It depends on who the company is and what the time period is. Push-printing seems pretty ridiculous in 2006, with “Grandma” (an aside rant – that’s an incredibly annoying but prevasive stereotypical user that everyone who has no clue always wants to design for) no doubt being fully capable of sharing her own photos via flickr or email, and not really needing this.

But once again you can see that ideas are relatively easy. Connecting your ideas to something relevant from culture, company, brand, customers – that continues to be the real challenge I see.


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