Relevance for the Irrelevant

I was one of the millions of people who tuned into the Superbowl last Sunday afternoon. I didn’t really have a team that I felt strongly about winning so I was pulling for the Green Bay Packers to lose since they knocked out the Chicago Bears. I have pulled for the Bears ever since the 1986 Superbowl Shuffling team beat the New England Patriots (a team from the Boston, that for obvious reasons as a New York Yankees fan, I love to see lose). Of course, as you now know, me pulling for the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t help their cause.

Just like most of our readers, for some reason, I felt obligated to tune in. Perhaps that has something to do with football and the NFL becoming more and more the national pastime. As a baseball fan, deep down inside, this bothers me. In semi-silent protest, I watched the game while hanging out on Facebook and paid more attention to the commercials than the game, all while trying to forget about Christina Aguilera’s butchering of the National Anthem. I wasn’t the only one on Facebook during the game.  It was interesting to see how Facebook responded to plays, calls from referees, and commercials.

After the commercial (posted above for your viewing pleasure) from Volkswagen played during the Superbowl, friend of IBD Joel Frey made the following comment: “It’s pretty amazing that Star Wars is still relevant 30+ years after its debut.” Of course I loved the commercial, which had nothing to do with the Darth Vader costume that I was wearing at the time, but Joel’s statement got me thinking.

I had to watch the game because I’m a sports fan and baseball hasn’t started yet but also because football is part of the American culture. The NFL has been responsive to changing times and changed the game to better meet the needs of modern audiences. Baseball has been slow to change. The NFL has worked towards parity amongst teams leading to better competition. In the meantime MLB has imposed no salary cap which in turn has allowed the Yankees to dominate the league (not that there is anything wrong with that). The NFL has taken on challenges such as steroids while MLB has avoided them. NFL ratings are at an all time high and MLB ratings are suffering. For the record, baseball is the best sport.

Star Wars has managed to stay relevant by offering new sequels/prequels, cartoons, toys, games, websites, licenses, and many other products/media to stay relevant as well as capitalize on. The success is partly based on a great product to begin with. The other part is planned and purposeful.

So this isn’t why you tuned in today, but it is why I wrote this post. Paul and I want to stay relevant to you and your work. We are about to begin our third year writing this blog, and we realize that there are millions of better things that you could be doing with your time. Writing frankly, we are not really sure why you aren’t doing those things. Writing honestly, Paul and I have not been very successful at staying interesting or relevant to anyone ever. Our wives stay with us because they feel sorry for us and still think they can help us. We are their ultimate project.

We could continue at this blog’s current pace for a lifetime. The internet could be long gone and we may continue to write these posts to simply entertain each other (which is how this blog really came to be). If you have ever spent time with either of us alone, you now know how much socialization we need. Based on what we have learned (here on IBD and in high school) is that it is much better with you here. As numbers, readers, comments and hits have grown so has our desire to stay relevant.

Through several conversations we are planning on shaking things up a bit this next year but before we do, we would like your input. We don’t want this blog to turn into a six-hour read, written by two guys hopped up on HGH who spit all of the time, without any possibility of instant replay, and who don’t ever change the rules.

We love baseball and could easily let IBD become steeped in tradition (a strange tradition of comments in parenthesis). So, here’s your chance to tell us which type of posts you like. Let us know what topics you would like us to write about. Tell us who has the best shaped head? What series (Ask A Nerd, Get to Know a Color, I’ve Got Problems, Get to Know a Typeface) do you like best? Would you like more or fewer posts? Do you like longer or shorter posts? All friendly comments are welcome all mean comments pointed towards me will be deleted, those directed towards Paul will be accepted. If there are no comments we are going to move forward with some plans, that you may or may not notice but we want you to be a part of the process.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention we need some ideas too.

15 thoughts on “Relevance for the Irrelevant

  1. Alright, so first, name the last team to beat the Packers. Yeah, that’s right, it was my bad-ass mo-fo DETROIT LIONS!!!!! In the words of Eminem, “This is the Motor City, and this is how we do it.” And of course, Em’s Chrysler commercial was clearly the best of the entire Super Bowl (I put L’il Vader in 2nd place).

    Paul, there was a story on NPR this morning about Pantone releasing their color forecast for the year. Apparently they’ve already named 1925 colors. By my count, you’ve examined 3 colors. So at the very least, you’ve got 1922 blog posts still to go. Get to work!

  2. Phil, we’ve done four colors so far: red, blue, yellow, and purple. And regardless of what Pantone says, the human eye can perceive roughly 10 million colors. (In your face, sharks.)

    The Star Wars kid commercial is great, and so is the Eminem one. I think I read somewhere that it was the only two-minute commercial during the Superbowl.

    As for what we do with the blog come March, I vote for daily round-ups of the previous day’s baseball scores. Jeff Miller can jinx the Padres by commenting every day for four months that they’re in first place or have the best record in the majors.

  3. I realize the true challenge is figuring out how to mix a sports analogy into each blog and will admit it’s lost on me as I follow cross country skiing and golf (seriously). I agree with Phil – the Chrysler commercial was #1 (even though the first time I saw it was on the 6:00 news).

    Anyway, I would like some discussions about the “nuts and bolts” of creating non-personal interpretation – good and bad ways to do bilingual signs; temporary or event based graphics; taking a theme and matching it to color, font, graphics; graphic differences between information and interpretation signs – real world stuff. The blog on the interp at the site outside of Las Vegas was my cup of tea.

    Stay warm! (Oh – and fix the typo (extra word) on the About Interpretation By Design Page – next to last sentence.)

  4. Oh, and my favorite commercial was for whatever brand of popcorn A-Rod and Cameron Diaz were advertising.

  5. Linda, just as soon as you expand your sports knowledge to include the “Gordie Howe hat trick,” you have my blessing to be an honorary Detroiter.

    And I’ll have to dig up my pix of some signs in South Africa. The bird field guide is indexed in 27 languages. Bilingual signage is a breeze by comparison; most things in Cape Town are in English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa, at a minimum.

  6. I really love “Get to Know a Color”. Please more colors!!

    I also like any posts that give examples of good and bad non-personal interpretation. And…if the baseball references ever were to cease, so would my reading of this blog. Baseball is not a popular sport in Montana (at least not in my part) and I read IBD to get my fix. Go Tigers!

    My vote for favorite commercial was either the Pepsi Max commercial with the couple on a date, or the Bridgestone commercial with the beaver. Because, come on, who doesn’t love beavers saving lives?

  7. Hi Phil – I’m sure you join me in hoping Shea and Paul “score” with more great IBD posts, I for one am willing to do anything I can to “assist” them and am really hoping none of the posts end up in a “fight”.

    Send any pictures of bilingual signs – I’ve got two really good examples – Taylor Studios designs for the Living Desert Zoo in New Mexico and the signs from the traveling Amazon exhibit that was just here in Denver.


  8. I agree with others comments calling for more “nuts and bolts.” I appreciate the stabs at humor and actually making a blog enjoyable to read. Yet, I get frustrated when the sports analogies seem to be the entire post. It’s interesting when you write about research or interesting use of non-personal interp. Even just seeing images and having a little discussion about signs, print, etc is helpful. I don’t have a fav. category but like it best when the posts fall into a specific one (color, get to know a font, etc).

  9. Paul, you are just jealous that CD wasn’t feeding you popcorn.

    Phil, we want to see some of those South Africa pics.

    Linda, thanks for the great ideas. I’m not sure we are smart enough to follow up on some of those topics. Maybe we should collaborate on a couple. What do you think?

    Jen, by “stabs at humor” are you saying that some hit and some don’t? Thanks for the comments we love to get the conversation going.

  10. I too would like more and continued content based on the how-to and examples of non-personal interpretation, the design elements based posts help me the most.
    As for the relevance of baseball if you really want to understand just how behind the times baseball has always been just watch the Baseball: A film by Ken Burns documentary series originally shown on PBS. It is amazing and extremely frustrating to watch as a fan of the game. I constantly wonder how much more impact they could have had and could have now on our culture and society if they had been more in tune and relevant to their fans throughout our country’s history.

  11. I think what you have been doing is great. Twice a week is good for me, because sometimes it takes a little time to come up with replies about Shea’s wardrobe, the bromance of Paul and Shea, haircuts, or someone working in that I hate the No-Good Stinkin’ Yankees.
    Pitchers & catchers in 3 days, opening day in 50!
    Keep up the great work. Shea, Paul, (and Lisa) and IBD Rock!

  12. Oops, I’m answering this late, but still want to say that I love what you guys do. My all-time favs are probably photos of bad design (like the creepy “safe zone” sign that I think was in Australia or something) and your thoughts on them. I also really liked the Red Rocks post ( – getting to see design/exhibits from another facility and your thoughts on the design was really fun. I would love to see more of that. Which means more field trips for you nerds. Perfect? 🙂

  13. Hi folks – I’m answering this late as well, but we are just coming out of our igloos here in Canada, and I may have seen my shadow…

    Tangible examples of best and worst practices are very useful. I particularly like the “Ask a Nerd”, and examples of visits to visitor centres. I enjoy learning about the different typefaces – it helps me to pretend that I’m knowledgeable when around designers (although I’m sure they record every time I confuse the word “type” with “font”). I find it helpful to have specific arguments as to why clip art and certain typefaces are “evil.” I enjoy the use of humour and good natured teasing between Paul and Shea and different readers.

    My next comment may make me unpopular, but the one thing that I would change is the amount of sports references. It might be that as a Canadian, I am not as swayed toward the values of baseball, as opposed to curling, but I worry that the strong emphasis on something not directly related to the subject of the blog may distance a large percentage of your potential audience. The postings that look at sports uniforms or logos or stadiums from a design perspective are great. But, the onles that focus on sports and then loosely tie into interpretation are a little harder for me to get into.

    All in all, this is a wonderful blog that inspires and entertains. It isn’t easy to come up with something fresh and profound week after week, but you two do a pretty darn good job of it. Keep it up, and I look forward to what you have in store for this year.

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