Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Be on the Lookout

Sharon Wildwind

Think of this blog as a puddle-jumper, one of those little airplanes that “hops” from place-to-place in very short flights. Several decades ago I was on one of those flights: take-off, land, take-off, land, get air sick—only time I’ve ever been airsick—take-off, land at final destination, all in under an hour-and-a-half. Today, we’re going to try to skip the air sick part.

Monday morning is when I check in with places I visit on the Internet weekly. One is 43 folders, a site run by the techie, lets-get-real-creative-work done guy, Merlin Mann.

This week Mann featured a poster, which I didn’t quite get, and a reference to an article, entitled What Crisis?, in The Guardian, a British newspaper.

First stop on our flight, the article. According to the author, Jon Henley, something old has surfaced again in Britain. Just before the beginning of World War II, some British civil servants were tasked with developing propaganda slogans to stiffen British reserve if Germany invaded England.

The first two posters in the series were rather ho-hum, but the third in the series was held-back for the worst-case scenario. The message to be distributed after the invasion? Keep Calm and Carry On.

Obviously, the invasion never happened and thousands of copies of that third poster went to the dump. Literally. Today, hopefully, it would go to recycling bins.

About ten years ago the slogan surfaced again, courtesy of two booksellers, and it has become a not-so-mini industry of posters, T-shirt, mugs, even baby wear. A blast from the past that speaks to the tensions of today.

Second stop on our mini-trip: Matt Jones. I’m still a little confused about who Jones is, but he seems to be another techie, who is creative and well-liked. On his Flicker site I found—in multiple sizes suitable for downloading—the poster I’d originally seen on Merlin Mann’s site. Just so none of us will confuse Jones’s work with the original one from Britain, this new one has a green instead of a red background, a fanciful crown instead of a regal one, and a counter-saying to keeping calm and carrying on.

Here’s the third stop on our flight, a site called Creative Commons. They want to promote digital creativity, mixes, reproductions, all those cool things you can do with a computer, but are often hampered by legal paraphernalia and paranoia. This is the part where I’m the tiniest bit hazy, or perhaps I’m just air sick again. Discussion of digital management rights or DMRs tends to make me queasy.

What I think I’ve read is that I can display Matt Jones poster in this blog, as long as I give Matt credit for it. He did it, folks, all by his lonesome self, with a little help from his computer. And I can’t make money off of it—no worries there. And I have to mention the creative common license, which I did above.

Having cleared the legal hurdle as we made our last take-off, let’s get to our final destination. I am SO in favor of what that poster says. Yes, things are bad out there, and no, being a Pollyanna won’t help. But I do truly believe that two things will help: focused excitement and creativity.

Creativity doesn't necessarily mean that we produce a book or a play or a symphony, though those things would be nice. It means that we pay attention, that we live in the details, and that we try to make things better. We are smart people; we are creative people. We can make a future that is better than what we have today.

So I’m hoping that Matt Jones’s poster becomes as popular on this side of the Atlantic as the World War II poster has become in Britain. I’m going to be on the look out for it, and I hope you’ll join me. And when we see it—on a poster or a screen-saver, on a mug or T-shirt—I think we should give each other some sort of creative high five sign. A right on, sister; an I’m with you, brother.

Now let’s get out there and create.
Quote for the week
Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth. ~Madeline L'Engle, writer

1 comment:

Sandra Parshall said...

I love Creative Commons on Flickr, and I really should offer something of mine. I never think my pictures are good enough for anyone else to want to use, but I would be delighted if someone felt differently. I love my camera, love taking pictures -- it's pure fun, as opposed to writing, which is fun sometimes and work all the time -- but just about the only way I can share my photos is by posting them on Flickr and hoping other Flickr members will stop by to see them. Non-members can see them too, so hey, everybody, come take a look! :-)