Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Fountain of the Curse of Knowledge

It's not my fault.

Maybe it is my fault. Maybe I just seemed too busy to design a new cover once our 30 year celebration was over. Maybe I should have given it a higher priority. Shoulda coulda woulda. But the job was given to someone else, and I only saw this once I was given the nod to post the latest catalog on the website.

The company is paying the equivalent of what I have left on my student loans to print and mail this. They've already signed off on the proofs. It's a done deal.

The thing I actually said when I walked into the marketing manager's office was, "Why is the ibex throwing up into the well?"

It is not, as I found out, throwing up. The ibex (our company's logo is an ibex) is, rather, a "fount of knowledge." Most people don't know what the company logo represents, though. So, supposing that they get the "fount of knowledge," they may not understand why a goat is at the source. Or, if they understand the ibex connection, they may not get the "fount of knowledge" part. Both have to work for the message to get through as the artist intended.

In their book, Making it Stick, Chip and Dan Heath describe this as "the Curse of Knowledge." Try this sometime: grab a friend, and ask them to identify the song that you're about to tap out the rhythm to. Tap away. Unless you picked something with a near-unique rhythm (say, the theme to The Lone Ranger you're probably going to be wondering why your friend is so dense, and doesn't get it. It's obvious what song you're tapping out. You can hear it in your head perfectly.

When we send out our twice-weekly emails at work, one person writes the email, and one person has to approve it before it goes out. (Usually, that's James and me, repectively, although it's gone the other way on several occasions, as well.) A second set of eyes has saved us on numerous occasions. Old Usenet readers used to have a message that would pop up before you posted a message: "Your post is about to be seen by millions of users. Are you sure you've expressed yourself adequately?"

This catalog cover is about to be seen by thousands of customers. I wonder if they'll get it more than I did.


jps said...

mea culpa. mea maxima culpa

Jonadab said...

I would have thought it self-evident that communicating a song on rhythm alone would not work for anything written in a single time signature, unless you cheat somehow (e.g., deliberately select a song that you happen to know is a borderline obsession for the guesser).

I thought the ibex was smelling the pleasing aroma of the soup. Don't fountains normally spew things _upward_? Also, the Monk for all the world appears to be holding a movie-maker's clapboard.

On the other hand, with four book covers on the cover, it still easily communicates "book catalog", which is perhaps the most important thing. Also, anyone who already associates Eisenbrauns with an ibex (with or without knowing that it's called an ibex) ought to be able to put together that it's an Eisenbraun's book catalog. So there's that.

Mark said...

Knowing a little about the kinds of stuff y'all usually put out, I figured it was deep with some sort of symbolism . . . about something . . . But I did kind of wonder why a goat was barfing water. I also had the impression that the books were floating up out of the pool for the monk to read. 'Cause, really, if a goat were to barf water, that's generally what you'd expect to happen, right?