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Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football . . . Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas
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Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football . . . Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas

3.5  ·  Rating details ·  144 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Welcome to Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football, Burning Man, the Ford Fiesta Movement, Rube Goldberg, NFL Films, Wordle, Two and a Half Men, a 10,000-Year Symphony, and ROFLCom Memes Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas

A Culturematic is a little machine for making culture. It’s an ingenuity engine.

Once wound u
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 15th 2012 by Harvard Business Review Press
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Ryan Holiday
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Grant is a great chronicler of social science trends and the forces that shape our culture consciousness. He deserves to be better known. I personally I have read all his books and consider his thinking to be a huge influence on my own writing and thinking. Culturematic deserves to be read.
Dec 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Inspired my own "experiment" and am glad I did it so a win all around.
Jan 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm a huge fan of popular culture and I'm always hungry for texts that shed light on it. McCracken's Culturematic fed that hunger--it's about good ideas and how these good ideas are executed, and paints a picture of Western culture. It's a must-read for those in the marketing and entertainment industry, as most of the examples are from said industries. But it shouldn't be limited to them, as it provides a handful pieces of advice for creating breakthrough ideas, which should happen in every fiel ...more
Matt Hoffer
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a great book to listen to in the car. My head was spinning with ideas during the entirety. A culturematic, from how i understand it, is the idea that we can create culture and new ideas with existing sets of data and preconceptions and setting on a course, big or small, to throw a kink or new layer into them and thereby create a new experiences. You don't know what's going to happen and a lot of experiments fail, but ever so often an idea catches on creates a new sensation, i.e. reality ...more
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, workstuff
Full of good ideas and good ideas about creating good ideas. McCracken writes well about how to monitor the zeitgeist and build culture by working with your audience, rather than barking orders at them.

I have to nitpick one thing, because it's been driving me crazy. The author seems to believe that the Microsoft "I'm a PC" ads predate the ones Apple did with John Hodgman and Justin Long. Not only did this campaign come after Apple's (2008 v. 2006), but it would probably suit his argument better
Leslie Nord
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A must read for business people who want to spark innovation in their companies. Have you wondered why something as awful as the "Jersey Shore" became so popular? What was behind Starbuck's success with becoming our "third place?" It is all about "culturematics," a way to try out new ideas, and the innovations that tap into the unexpected can be the ones that take hold. It even has a section on culturematics in libraries. It is not an easy read, one that you have to read slowly and swish it arou ...more
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it

Attempting a chummy, conversational style, McCracken often achieves a level of spoon-feeding condescension that would get him fired from an editorial post at Highlights For Children.

Funny line from the review linked above.

I am judging this book by it's cover (the title) and look forward to reading it.

* my review: it was jumbled but interesting. *
Jason Zabel
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
pro: occasional good thought-starters on culture, especially in regard to 'finding the white space.' good to see some innovative examples of what corporations are doing to be part of culture.

con: sometimes-annoying author with laughable taste. (he likes chuck lorre.) also, the dude has some ideas about what is going on in culture, or how culture "catches on," but vagueries abound. this book is pretty repetitive and kind of trite.
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A handbook for DIY cultural innovation that will appeal to artists, designers, and creative people of all kinds. Reading Grant's work always gives me a greater appreciation and understanding of American culture, as well inspiring me to contribute to the conversation.
University of Chicago Magazine
Grant McCracken, AM’76, PhD’81

From our pages (Dialogo, Spring–Summer/14):
"Trend spotter: Canadian anthropologist Grant McCracken, AM’76, PhD’81, has built an unconventional career as an observer of American culture."
A Solis
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favs
It is an amazing book, who's only upside is that it needs to be updated. It is one of those books that gives you an option to do something with the knowledge you acquire while listening to the TV, music, and any other media. TV will never be an idle time after you read this book.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This book tries to define innovation in a slightly different way, but it is not coherent and the book is not well organized.
Kari Macknight Dearborn
The overall idea of the book is fantastic, as are the endless examples provided of what makes a Culturematic. The explanations and illustrations were quite repetitive though, and I feel a more thorough editing process could have made this book about 2/3 the size with no harm done to the final product. This is also the kind of topic I'd watch a TED talk (or a series of them) on.
The Culturematics pulled from many industries and several different points in recent history do serve to illustrate how
May 03, 2016 rated it liked it
McCracken's "Culturematic" is a little machine for making culture, designed to test the world, discover meaning, and unleash value.
As a whole I found the book unfocused, and I would have enjoyed a more controlled exploration of this idea.
Instead, I found it meandered through examples, various guidelines, and related topics.
Certainly, some of the examples, quotes, and references were interesting, and there are nuggets in here that I see myself thinking about and using in my own life for years to
Feb 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The ideas that McCracken shines a spotlight upon are certainly interesting ones. In the end, as the author seems to even acknowledge, the proposal that ideas can be categorized into a distinct class of "culturematic" ideas wears thin. The qualifications for what makes them a certain kind of special are just too disparate and squirrely to pin down. However it's a nice collection of ideas with enough grandstanding by McCracken to incite a bout of out-of-the-box thinking in any reader.
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Interesting premise, and I enjoy thinking about the anthropology of pop culture, but this book could have used better editing. It's very repetitive, sometimes repeating almost the exact same sentence within one paragraph. John Cheever's name appears prominently in the subtitle, yet he is mentioned nowhere in the book. The poor editing gives the book an unfocused and slightly desperate feeling, like the author thinks if he just babbles and repeats himself enough, we will buy into his theories.
Sandip Roy
Apr 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
a very good account of how behavioural change can be engineered deliberately in a very interesting and unexpected manner to create new and lasting experiences in our business and cultural landscape.....
Nick Jezarian
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure how the book could live up to the title and description, which I loved. It's a nice book but fell short of its promise despite a few nuggets of interest.
Curt Covert
Jan 07, 2013 rated it liked it
It's not the craft of writing that makes this compelling, but the philosophy behind the words. Create something and see what happens... the results may surprise you.
Barb Wiseberg
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Great book - thought I wish that there was a two or three syllable word, easier to pronounce ..........

Lots of insight into how culture is made - great business book to add to your reading list
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Ok read. Repetitive after the chapter 5. Leaves you craving a bit. However, the first few chapters are a great read.
Mun Tham
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it
First chapter was great, but then got bogged down by trying to justify and define who/what Culturematics are.
Keith Sader
Jun 21, 2012 rated it liked it
It had great examples but a scattered message. Mr. (Dr.) McCracken presents a lot of examples but no unifying theme or even further questions.
Martin Bihl
Dec 01, 2012 rated it liked it
rated it really liked it
Nov 30, 2014
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Oct 25, 2014
rated it it was amazing
Mar 06, 2018
Mark Klein
rated it it was amazing
Jan 24, 2017
rated it really liked it
Jan 07, 2013
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I'm an anthropologist, born in Canada, now living in, and studying, the US. I divide my life into two halves. One is the writing half. The other is for clients: Netflix, the Ford Foundation, the White House, among others.
More about Grant McCracken
“People who escape familiar groups and make contact with unfamiliar ones becomes smarter and more creative. They have what Ronald Burt calls a "vision advantage." They are no longer captives of their cultures.” 3 likes
“Burying ourselves in the cultivation of a single talent is now ill advised. What we need are lots of little projects, sent out into different parts of the world, by means of many media. Thus do we carry on that irreplaceably useful conversation between now and next.” 1 likes
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