Strongly Emergent

What comes from combining humans, computers, and narrative

An Innovative Business Model

Every so often Pantone blows my mind. Their business model is that they sell colors—not that they sell paint or ink or dye, no, they sell colors! It’s a little unbelievable. Of course if you venture into the world of printing, publishing, and large-scale content creation in general, color is just one of many important details that have to not only be right, but right in a way that you can talk to others sensibly about. So Pantone can be thought of as a standards body like ISO— and like ISO, they aren’t cheap, and they look rather surreal from the outside.

They’re a great lesson in that way, though: sometimes to understand odd things, you have to meet them on their own terms, not on yours. Otherwise you’ll be looking at “Emerald is the color of the year!” and be staring at your monitor mouthing “what the devil does that mean, who decided that, how the heck is a color ‘lush’?” But it makes perfect sense on its own terms. Like many other things in the world, it exists for itself and those who know it, not for strangers.

Of course, you may want to treat my opinion on the matter with skepticism since I’m the kind of person who finds the Emerald Pantone iPhone Case mildly fetching.