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Books in brief

Design for Obama Book

Design for Obama: Posters for Change, A Grassroots Anthology

Buy@Fishpond

Edited by Spike Lee and Aaron Perry-Zucker (Taschen, 2009) $70

It’s hard to forget the phenomenon that was the last US presidential election. The internet was the force. Communities were mobilised, messages spread at Twitter speed and crowdsourced campaign posters curated.

Design for Obama began as a project by (then) recent design graduate Aaron Perry-Zucker, who challenged designers to create posters bolstering Barack Obama’s campaign. What he didn’t expect was the volume of submissions and their quality.

You can imagine the cacophony of design styles with the quantity of work compiled, but there’s a clear pattern. The posters share a few recurring themes and their designers used this to their advantage—hammering out one clear message many times.

It’s compelling to flip through these posters post-election. Your opinion of Obama becomes irrelevant as you develop an appreciation for the role of the design community in rallying together to make history. Obama could probably do without any more ‘first’ labels, but here’s one anyway: America’s first design president.

Linchpin Book

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Buy@Fishpond

By Seth Goodin (Piatkus, 2009) $35

Pretty much whatever Seth Godin writes gets sold. The author of breakthrough book Permission Marketing is a publishing sensation, even when the product is drivel. Which this book is.

The world has changed (again) and the stakes are higher than ever,” it begins. Stakes are always rising in Godin’s revolutionary world—which, I guess, sells books, but makes for irritating reading. Linchpin is a series of anecdotes and excited ramblings by a conference speaker in love with his own legend-in-a-lunchtime fame.

The thrust of Linchpin, if you must know, is that in a recessionary world, those with gumption, ideas and energy will survive better than the lazy, clueless and meek. Insightful.

If you do want to believe that the business world is fundamentally changing there are better books to read: What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis provides shocking insight into a Googlised world; Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind suggests a wholesale change in career planning; and The Cluetrain Manifesto is a still-relevant guide to the new ethics of business.

As for Godin, Hamlet comes to mind: he doth protest too much, methinks.

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