Monday, November 22, 2010

A Warning for Industrial Workers Everywhere

"Everybody loves to get information in cartoon form, right?" That seems to be the line of thinking that led to this being included in the instructions/warnings sheet for an industrial electric motor.

What sort of people are they expecting to work around their motors, exactly? After looking over a warning sheet made up entirely of cartoons like this one, except less amusing, it seems they expect them to be the strong but not too bright type.

"Motor no work right. Grog hulk out and smash motor with hammer until it work right! HRRRRRRR!" appears to be how they expect things to go without their intervention. Only a cute little motor with a face, enormous hands, and bony elbows will stop the metal-bending rampage. "Poor leetle motor. Grog pat it on head and hope it feel better tomorrow." That's a much better result. Thanks, warning page guys!

So, this is my warning to industrial workers everywhere: Manufacturers think you are like unto a cross between a cave man and the Incredible Hulk. Figure out a way to take advantage of that. Walk off with their stuff and refuse to give it up. They'll probably just let you keep it. Either because they figure you don't know any better, or because they don't want their desks smashed.

A secondary warning: If Grog starts making friends with your industrial electric motors, take away his comics.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Beware the One Winged Chicken Man

Products are covered in warning labels. They're important. They tell us not to do foolish things, or at least not to blame the manufacturer when we do foolish things and they don't turn out well.

Companies don't want to spend a lot on these warnings, and who can blame them? It shouldn't be necessary to warn you not to aim devices designed to burn things at yourself. Detailed written warnings are clearly out. If you need them, you probably can't read anyway. Thus companies turn to pictograms, and their fabled equivalent word count, to convey information.

The "Don't lift me, I'm heavy and will break your spine" warning pictogram is perhaps one of the oldest known to exist. It's use dates back to the Pharaohs, who had it inscribed on the enormous stones they liked to make piles of. This was to ensure that no foolish peasant would injure himself attempting to impress the womenfolk with his heroic strength. This pictogram has survived into the modern day and serves much the same purpose, though it is being applied to increasingly less weighty objects.

With the traditional pictogram being so overused that one wouldn't be surprised to find it on the wrapper of a KitKat, there are some who seek to design a new one that will make people take heed. The picture you see above is an example of what can go wrong when a misguided company and a brilliant artist come together to flaunt tradition.

The picture seems to indicate that merely touching the object will have results that, while clearly detrimental, leave their exact nature up to interpretation. Will I turn into a one-armed one-winged chicken man? Will my pants explode? These are not the questions you want to conjure in the mind of your customers. You may discourage your customers from even coming near the product.

If any warning label designers are reading this, please learn from this mistake. Stick with the traditional. It doesn't mean much, but at least nobody can sue you and they won't be afraid of your product. If you really want to be useful, though, maybe just put the weight of the object on the label. Believe it or not, some people can safely lift things that weigh over 35 pounds all by themselves.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Food for the Soul, By the Soul... Made of Souls?

Pardon the lateness of this missive, dear readers, but I have been sequestered in a bunker for the past few days, for fear of finding my soul furnished to those who would  think it fine dining.

You might think this an odd fear, and I would have thought so as well until I spotted the disturbing bit of advertising you see to the left whilst innocently perusing the oracle of weather, which some refer to as

Bangkok may seem far away, but if the souls of entire cities are being captured in bowls of apocalyptic proportions, I reasoned that my own soul might be in no insignificant danger.

However, since I peered out today and found the landscape not to be blood red, I presume the danger has been averted by some enterprising and most likely under payed hero. If you spot this hero, please tip them. They bear more similarity to waiters than you might think.

Or perhaps it was just a hoax perpetrated by a company that thought capturing souls for consumption and apocalyptic skylines made for good advertising. More on the peculiar ways in which companies choose to communicate with us coming up in the next few days. Maybe. Unless I fail to write something again. I should really build up a buffer so this can be more regularly scheduled.