A clickable slideshare primer on the subprime
Singularity Summit '08 in San Jose, CA October 25

Cutting the crap: The key element in good storytelling

The American storyteller Ira Glass says that good storytelling includes, among other things, having the courage to cut the crap. As Ira said in his YouTube video, "Not enough gets said about the importance of abandoning crap." (See this post on Ira Glass and the art of Storytelling which includes his video. Sample slide below.)


Above: Japan has some of the best design of all kinds in the world, and Japan also has a lot of crap (the ubiquitous pachinko parlor comes to mind). Yesterday I snapped this photo of a worker cleaning up after a street fair. The crap on his T-shirt looks pretty good in Helvetica (you gotta love Helvetica — it makes even crap look good).

C-R-A-P: Four simple graphic design concepts

In the Non-Designer's Design Book, author Robin Williams introduces four fundamental graphic design principles which every professional should understand. The four are Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity (or CRAP). My buddy Dan Pink reviews these four fundamental principles in the design section of his New York Times best-seller A Whole New Mind, and in Chapter 6 of Presentation Zen (the biggest chapter by far) I also give a quick review of these principles. Rather than outline them here, I have instead included the last 12 pages of Chapter 6 from my book which contains the four concepts and example slides. Click on the image below to download the pages in PDF in spread form (about 500k).


Or if you prefer, download the pages in range form (perhaps better for printing; one page per sheet).

See all four segments of the original video on Ira Glass talking about storytelling.


Charles Martineau

I discovered Posterous too last week... and YEP I am addicted to it. I post whatever I want and it is also directed to twitter. I need to get an iphone so I can take pics on the go like you Garr...so cool!


Michael Girouard

I remember learning this form of CRAP in college. This, however I think of as only a starting point during initial layout and composition design.

After college, a colleague showed me what could be considered to be the advanced form of CRAP:


Mike G.

Chuck Westbrook

Since abandoning drawing at age 8, I've always told myself that visuals are simply beyond my ability.

More and more, I'm realizing that I have no excuse for punting on such a broad set of skills and that, with technology, I can go a long way toward creating attractive visuals.

Thanks for sharing the sample from your book. It's exactly the kind of help I need to head in that direction.

Joey Asher

Nice Post
There's a wonderful book by John Maeda, now the head of the Rhode Island School of Design, called "The Laws of Simplicity." The first law is "Reduce." Same idea as cut the crap.

Joey Asher, President, Speechworks

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