Monthly Archives: April 2010

Grand Challenges of Science: Robotics

In January, DISCOVER and the National Science Foundation continued their Grand Challenges event series with a panel discussion at Carnegie Mellon University exploring the dynamic world of robotics.

The panel included four eminent roboticists—Javier Movellan from University of California San Diego, Rodney Brooks from the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, William “Red” Whittaker from Carnegie Mellon University, and Robyn Murphy from Texas A&M University—who discussed some the big questions on the future of their field: How will robots transform industry, health care, and warfare? Will they ever be our equals? The conversation was moderated by DISCOVER editor-in-chief Corey Powell.

New Video: Preparing an Emergency Plan – Explained by Common Craft

If you’ve seen the news lately, you know there is no shortage of emergencies.  Tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms, floods, earthquakes, fires, it’s all out there.  We don’t like to think about them affecting us, but they can.  This video is focused on having a plan-of-action so that you and your family or loved-ones know what to do when an emergency happens. 

This video is obviously a departure from our technical and financial focus. It came from a relationship that we’ve established with Public Safety Canada. This video is a follow-up to the video we made with them in 2008 called “Preparing an Emergency Kit.”  They recently came to us about making this video and we were happy to work with them again.  This relationship is what we call the “hybrid model”, where we work together on the video, and we can offer a Common Craft version for licensing.

Along with use in classrooms, we hope that this video will be useful for government organizations that need better ways to educate their constituents. The video is only available from this site or via licensing.

Behind the Scenes: 

This video, like the Emergency Kit video, represents a challenge when it comes to videos like ours.  The problem isn’t necessarily overcoming complexity.  Emergency kits and plans are pretty simple – and effective.  The challenge is making an entertaining video that has the potential to make a positive impact.  Let’s face it, preparing an emergency plan isn’t fun or exciting and people put it off.  The hope, by making a video that’s unique, is that it will make an impression and prompt action. Another challenge is working through the laundry list problem.  Organizations like the Red Cross and Public Safety Canada have done a great job of making the preparation easy by creating guidelines. When it comes to making a video though, repeating the guidelines is a recipe for a boring video.  So, our challenge was to make the guidelines feel more like a story – something that has a greater chance of making an impression.  

Watch the video.