Sam Harrelson



Sam Harrelson

Putting the Days to Bed (My Paper Notebooks)

If you’ve met me IRL, you’ve probably noticed I have a notebook either in my shirt pocket or in my hand (or a stack of index cards tucked away somewhere). All of them make awkward appearances when I hear a good quote, someone has a question I need to look up, if I was trying to record a student’s robot time trials, or if the spirit moved me.

I’ve long been a doodler since my time in Mrs. Hinson’s 3rd Grade class where we learned that sketching helped with creativity (I might have made that up… but it stuck). When I got to Wofford College, my mentor Larry McGehee kept that alive by talking about his doodling process during staff meetings and other such nonsense. That was inspiring to me at the time, but his tips and tricks on the doodling life hack helped me survive countless staff meetings as a teacher myself as well as Board meetings and team meetings and all the meetings we have to go to when we decide to throw ourselves into grown-up world.

I’m at the point in my life now where I don’t have to attend so many mandatory meetings and for that gift I feel blessed (looking back, I do feel some regret for how immature/bored/inattentive/distracting I was during teacher staff meetings… I’m sorry Dear Administrators, but I do feel that I added spice to our gatherings by throwing out bombs to get everyone riled up and awake such as whether cursive was really necessary in Middle School). But with that gift comes a clear place of loss in my creative process. I have to make time to doodle now. It’s weird how you spend years thinking “Oh great, another meeting… it’s Doodling Time!” and then you find yourself secretly giddy because you know you’ll have 4 extra minutes to sneak in some surreptitious doodling while your toddler finishes their breakfast. But here I am.

So I’ve been thinking a good deal about my paper notebooks and my doodling and my journaling and all those Instagram posts that I heart on a daily basis displaying some young person’s admirable bullet journal or Panda Diary or a Mom’s Moleskine Menagerie (wow, that’s a great name… Moleskine can run with it… I’m just the idea guy). I’ve spent too many hours thinking over this issue and watching YouTube videos comparing GoodNotes and Notability on the iPad Pro while jogging off the extra weight I gained sitting in meetings and doodling and reading blog posts that compare paper journaling to “digital” journaling.

The issue is complicated by the fact that I’m typing this on an iPad and I do love this form factor and device. The iPad Pro really has become my main computer when I’m not chained to a laptop working on a piece of code or having to review artwork in Adobe Illustrator for a brand client (but the iPad is getting there!). I’ve always been the “digital” guy or “techy teacher” or the preacher that preaches with an iPad (I’ve also preached from a Blackberry, a Palm T5 (loved that thing), and a Palm m100 over the years), or the consultant who has all the fun tech toys. So when I show up with a paper notebook, it’s a little jarring to some people and frequently leads to a conversation about my note booking style or journaling preferences or the types of pens I prefer. I’ve bonded with many clients over the benefits of a Pilot G2 Extra Fine 0.5mm refill cartridge compared to the competition.

But year after year I go back to my paper notebooks when it’s time to put the days to bed on another year. This year is going to be no different it seems. I’m an old man stuck in his ways, what can I say? “I’ve got my drip pan, ready for my nap” as Lightning McQueen says at the ends of Cars 3 (again, I have a toddler). But there is magic in opening a new journal and getting ready for the year while looking back at all the collected thoughts, doodles, dreams, failures, completions, incompletions, interceptions, and incantations from the previous trip around our closest star. It’s really magical in a self-serving and privileged way to pull down a notebook from ten or fifteen years ago and do the same. There is probably some magic in doing the same with a backup file in Dropbox of a PDF exported from GoodNotes in 2013, but magic, like notebook and pen preferences, is subjective.

So my prayer for me and for you in 2019 is… Blow up your tv, throw away your Twitter, go to the country, find you a home, eat a lot of peaches, try and find Jesus on your own… and do some doodling.




The $999 iPhone

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I don’t think the price of the new iPhone 8 / Pro / X / Edition / whatever-its-called is going to put a damper on the demand:

Chief among the changes for the new iPhones: refreshed versions, including a premium model priced at around $999, according to people briefed on the product, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Apple made room for a bigger screen on that model by reducing the size of the bezel — or the forehead and the chin — on the face of the device. Other new features include facial recognition for unlocking the device, along with the ability to charge it with magnetic induction, the people said.

via Dear iPhone: Here’s Why We’re Still Together After 10 Years – The New York Times




Deconstructing Sharing

Insanely interesting and thorough user study from the fine folks at ShareThis:

Mobile vs Desktop: A Cross Device User Study « ShareThis Blog: “The data points above show that people engage with devices in patterns during the day, and that people engage with social channels on devices which better support their activities and content consumption.  For marketers, understanding the usage patterns and the connection between devices and social habits is an important part of managing the social communication between their brands and users.”

What’s perhaps most interesting is the stats about what devices account for more sharing (iPhone vs other platforms) and the breakdown of what type of content is shared the most on which device.

In simple terms: mobile matters a great deal in 2013 and that trend will only evolve to where mobile overtakes desktop traffic in the future.




Make Sure Your Mobile Site Is Working Well or Get Penalized by Google

Google has so much to gain (and lose) on mobile as the web continues to evolve from the desktop to the device. Don’t get caught with a bad mobile site according to Google…

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Changes in rankings of smartphone search results: “This kind of redirect disrupts a user’s workflow and may lead them to stop using the site and go elsewhere. Even if the user doesn’t abandon the site, irrelevant redirects add more work for them to handle, which is particularly troublesome when they’re on slow mobile networks. These faulty redirects frustrate users whether they’re looking for a webpage, video, or something else, and our ranking changes will affect many types of searches.”

You don’t necessarily need to develop an app, but you should implement either responsive design or a design that allows for e-commerce to flow well on your site.

And no, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a mobile responsive site designer despite what designers might throw at you. There are so many fantastic resources to make your site more mobile friendly in 2013:

– If your site is on WordPress, do a quick Google search for “WordPress responsive design” and boom.

– If you have something of a website but are paying way too much for hosting (probably the case), check out SquareSpace. It’s dead simple.

– If you’re on Joomla, Expression Engine or some sort of variant of Drupal, don’t spend $30,000 a year. Demand better from your web developer or marketing agency. It seriously doesn’t cost that much to make a site responsive.

– If you have no idea what any of this means but you’re spending way too much on a poorly designed site, we’d love to chat.

Otherwise, if you have any questions, get in touch with us.

Mobile is your friend (and a better web is ours), so let’s all embrace it.




Google Dominates, Facebook Rises and Apple Snores

Impressive stats from Google as reported in a new eMarketer study…

Google Takes Home Half of Worldwide Mobile Internet Ad Revenues – eMarketer: “Google earned more than half of the $8.8 billion advertisers worldwide spent on mobile internet ads last year, helping propel the company to take in nearly one-third of all digital ad dollars spent globally, according to eMarketer’s first-ever figures on worldwide digital and mobile advertising revenues at major internet companies.”

Equally impressive is Facebook’s growth from a non-existent program in 2011 to having a small-but-significant chunk of mobile ad revenue in 2013 and beyond.

We’ll see if that holds as more competitors such as Twitter and Pandora (I did a double take there as well, but click through to see all the stats) continue to climb.

It’s no wonder why Apple wants to get into the mobile ad game.




The Value of No Interface

It’s not intuitive, but it is beautiful:

The best interface is no interface | Cooper Journal: “It’s time for us to move beyond screen-based thinking. Because when we think in screens, we design based upon a model that is inherently unnatural, inhumane, and has diminishing returns. It requires a great deal of talent, money and time to make these systems somewhat usable, and after all that effort, the software can sadly, only truly improve with a major overhaul.”

For a generation or two raised on detailed instruction manuals and websites with overwhelming options and menus, the idea of a clean and interface-less experience for users is painful… however it just might be what you need.




Mobile Means Disocvery

We like to chirp on and on (and on) about the need for companies to invest in what we call Discovery (again… a blend of organic SEO, paid search and social media campaigns that all tie nice and neatly together at the end of the day and/or month).​

However, one thing that we don’t get to chirp about directly, unless you’re in a client meeting with our team, is how insanely powerful mobile marketing is for everyone.​

Mobile is not only the new hotness, it is the next wave of consumer interaction.​

Here’s a great article from Matthew Creamer in AdAge about the Marketing’s Next Five Years that makes our point pretty well…​

To put it bluntly, there needs to be more ad spending on mobile, which now comprises only about 1% of budgets, according to a recent study from the consultancy Marketing Evolution. Based on ROI analyses of smartphone penetration, that figure will be about 7%. In five years’ time, that number will need to be in excess of 10%.

75% of the world will be covered in 3G wireless data connections in 5 years. Let that soak in for a moment.​

We’re in the middle of a radical transition from laptops and desktops to iPads and mobile computing devices (which are capable of making the occasional phone call).​

Being prepared for this reality in the coming months/years is going to be (or should be) a major part of each of your strategy sessions.​