About Talia Whyte

Posts by Talia Whyte:

Concerns of Small Business Owners During The Mid-term Elections


Small business is the fuel in the engine of the American economy.  The vast majority of Americans work for small firms with 50 or less employees.  One would think that the concerns of small business owners would be a priority in Washington.

A new survey says otherwise.  Only seven percent of small business owners approve of what Congress is doing, and 26 percent of them don’t feel either political party represent their best interests.

As a small business owner myself, I have to agree with this sentiment.  Politicians these days are more concerned about deepening their pockets from Wall Street than providing support to Main Street.  Because of this disparity, many believe this is causing the growing income inequality nationwide.

Wage hikes is an issue I have to think about regularly running my own company Global Wire Associates, as well as many of my entrepreneur friends.  Yes, most reasonable employers believe in a living wage, but can’t afford the added health care costs that come with this, so they are not able to grow and maintain their businesses and pay employees the way they would like to in many situations.

Then there is the issue of immigration reform.  A large number of employees at U.S. tech firms are foreign-born but attended American universities.  This is partially due to the lack of Americans pursuing careers in information and communications technology (ICT).  Approximately 90 percent of my past and present employees are foreign-born.  I would love to hire more qualified American and especially women and minority employees, but they can be far and few in between.

The whole process of getting work visas for foreign-born workers is difficult.  The U.S. only randomly selects and admits 65,000 foreign workers annually for six years.  U.S. Immigration Services has already capped out on H-1B visas for fiscal year 2015.

One would say that the solution to this is to invest in better STEM education for American students.  I agree with this, but there also needs to be a mindset change towards STEM careers.  ICT careers are not just for geeks and nerds; it’s also for people who want to be a part of the future global economy.

However, the immigration battle is really raging in the retail/fast food industries, which largely employ immigrants in low-skilled, minimum wage jobs.  This same survey says that small business owners are divided on the issue.  Forty-two percent of owners would vote for a candidate that supports a wage hike, while 38 percent would not.  Health care, immigration and employment rules are top issues for small business, but where is Washington?

These numbers are not only uninspiring for current small business owners, but also for people thinking about starting a business in the future.  A lot of concerns here, but it seems like no one is listening.   

What WWI Posters Say About Early 20th Century War Marketing

Side by side posters of James Montgomery Flagg's poster "I Want You For U.S. Army" (left) and Alfred Leete's "Britons, Lord Kitchener Wants You To Join Your Country's Army. God Save The King" (right)

This year marks the 100 anniversary of the start of World War I.  A good way of judging a society is the way it communicated it values and instincts during a particular time.  Long before modern communication tools like the Internet and television, graphic designers were given the important task of creating propaganda posters to inspire nations and boost morale during the Great War with aesthetically pleasing imagery.

Just like terrorists, the military needs to have a marketing department too.

On 13 April 1917 – seven days after the United States declared war on Germany – President Woodrow Wilson established the Committee on Public Information.  In order to reach out to Americans who didn’t read newspapers, go to the movie theater or attend community meetings, the Division of Pictorial Publicity was created to design visual communications.  This comprised of a group of artists and designers who would meet once a week in New York City to discuss poster requests from the government.

The most well known poster from that period was James Montgomery Flagg’s Uncle Sam “We Want You For U.S. Army” (Above).  Few people know that Flagg’s poster is actually an imitation of British graphic artist Alfred Leete’s “Britons, Lord Kitchener Wants You” poster.

Developed by the Office of Public Sector Information (or His Majesty’s Stationery Office at the time), British poster designers had a way of using images and words to bring the message home, inciting a sense of guilt for not doing your part in the war effort, as evidence in the next two posters.

Side by side posters of "Daddy, what did you do during the Great War?" and "It is far better to face the bullets than to be killed at home by a bomb"

Flagg also designed posters that appealed to America’s worst fear of the war coming stateside, like these poster of Columbia (a personification of America) sleeping while flames are raging behind her and encouraging recruitment.

Side by side posters of "Wake Up America" and "Columbia Calls"

Posters encouraged everyone to fulfil their duty in the Great War, and not just men fighting on the battlefield, but also women. Before the war, most women were housewives. But as men departed to fight on the Front, some women went with them as military nurses. In the United States, women also started doing the jobs men would do, such as machine operators and railroad conductors. There was also a greater demand in the U.S. government for more stenographers, typists and clerks.

While women were doing the work of men, this didn’t mean they received the same rights. Some employers were hostile to women working and didn’t pay them a fair wage or allowed them to unionize. Many employers didn’t provide childcare or even proper bathrooms for women. However, World War I was a major turning point for women, as this was the first time women showed that they could be more than just housewives and, thus, kickstarting the modern women’s rights movement.

Side by side posters of "Do the job he left behind" and "For every fighter a woman worker"

The Committee on Public Information also put out posters encouraging recruitment from African-Americans. Approximately 400,000 African-Americans served in the war, and about 42,000 actually saw action in the European theatre. The posters evoked a sense of heroism, self sacrifice and even the memory of Abraham Lincoln to frame the war effort as a struggle for freedom. Nonetheless, U.S. military units were still heavily segregated and black men still faced the same level of discrimination when they came home after the war.

Side by side WW1 posters of African American soliders

These are some other great posters from the time, encouraging some kind of involvement, whether it was telling men who weren’t enlisted that their labor was just as important, rationing or buying war bonds. World War I propaganda will go down in history as one of the most influential war marketing campaigns.

Posters of "Food Don't Waste It" and "Together We Can"

Posters saying "Little Americans Do Your Part" and "Come On Join Now"

Posters of "Help Them" and "Books Wanted"

Posters of "The Greatest Mother" and "Rivets are Bayonets"

Check out more World War I propaganda posters here.

Atheist Questions Faith In The African American Community

Contradiction - A Question of FaithI had the opportunity to view an interesting film recently called Contradiction: A Question of Faith.  This documentary delves into the role religion has played (or not) in the African American community.  African-Americans are deeply religious and a church can be found on every corner in many black neighborhoods.

But according to the film’s director Jeremiah Camara, despite the heavy church attendance and the approximately $250 million weekly tithings, African-Americans have very little to show for being faithful.  Why are there still so many social and economic problems within the black community?  Isn’t God listening to their prayers?

“Religion flies through the airwaves, 24/7. Never is the dissenting voice heard. It’s time to hijack the mic,” said Camara.

Whether you are a devout Christian (or Muslim or Jew etc) or a staunch atheist, Camara is right that there isn’t much discussion in American media about being a non-believer.  According to the Pew Center, the rate of people not affiliated with any religious denomination is growing in America. In the last five years alone, the percentage of religiously unaffiliated Americans has grown from 15 percent to 20 percent.  Many unaffiliated Americans are still religious or spiritual in the broadest sense of the word, but there is clearly a movement away from traditional religious institutions.

There should be more voices speaking for atheists, agnostics and other unaffiliated Americans besides Bill Maher.

Camara recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for his film.  The donations will support marketing the film and getting it on DVD.

If you support free and diverse speech, you might want to check out this film.

Where I Get Design News & Training

web design - text in vintage wood letterpress printing blocks against grunge metal typeset

I have been a professional web designer for five years.  I developed an interest in graphic and interactive design as a journalist covering technology issues when I had to design my own website seven years ago.  Since then, I have been hooked and have designed dozens of websites for other people over the years.

I also teach web design to other journalists.  Last week I had the opportunity to instruct a multimedia design for media development class in New York City for a group of journaIists from the developing world during UN Week.  Many were very excited to be in the class, as it is often difficult to receive this kind of training in their home countries.  They asked me how I got my training.  I told them that I took some traditional web and graphic design classes in the past, but I am mostly self taught from just taking in all the free resources online.

Technology is always changing, so I have to stay up to date with the latest news and innovations.  The students in the media development class asked me to share my resources on my blog.  The following is a short list of online resources for design training:

Smashing Magazine: This is the most popular online magazine for web designers and developers with useful resources in their blog and ebook series.

A List Apart: Another must-read website for web professionals.  They have great articles about the politics of web design, like this piece on making web design events more inclusive for young designers. Their sister company, A Book Apart, also sells a great selection of design ebooks.

Awwwards: This is a pretty cool website to go to see some of the most innovative websites from around the world.  You can even vote on the ones you like.

CSS Zen Garden: HTML and CSS go together like peanut butter and jelly (wait a minute…) You can learn how to design better style sheets straight from the pros.

W3Schools:  If you ever Google any HTML code, most likely a link from this website will pop at the top of the search list.  A great website for basic explanations and tutorials on regularly used coding.

Code Academy: Another great site to learn coding

Khan Academy: Good place to learn JavaScript through an interactive experience.

Graphic Design Blender: If you have any interest in freelancing, this is a great place to hear from other self employed designers talk shop and inside baseball on running your own business.

YouTube:  When in doubt, most likely someone already thought of doing a video tutorial about whatever web design question you have.

Graphic Design School: If I had to recommend one book you should read, it’s this one.  It gives you a basic foundation of graphic design principles that are useful for print and web.

Do you have other recommendations? Leave a comment or email me directly.