Facebook is, it goes without saying, a digital company. But tucked into its Menlo Park headquarters, is something called the Analog Research Laboratory, founded by a devout hands-on, silk-screen printer and old school graphic designer named Ben Barry.
"I think at Facebook I am mostly perceived as the 'poster / analog guy', a reputation I sometimes have to work to overcome, and sometimes use to my advantage," Barry told me in an email. "I often feel like I have one foot in world of traditional graphic design and print, and another in the world of technology and the internet."
When hanging out with his peers from school, a graduate in communications design from the University of North Texas, Barry notes he is usually the most tech-savvy person in the room -- he writes software, builds websites, and is routinely a maven for the latest app or gadget. But when he's at Facebook "I'm usually the least technical person in the room, I draw on paper, design logos, fuss with typography, print posters, and make books."
His Facebook colleagues think of him as someone who is very focused on the company's culture and brand, internal and external. Indeed for the past five years, Barry has been dubbed Facebook's "propaganda minister." However, "It isn't a title that resonates with me," he says. "Propaganda minister just sounds bad, I don't want to control people, I want to inspire and empower them. I do what I do because I believe culture is incredibly important to any organization, but especially one growing as quickly as Facebook. I do what I do the way I do it because I believe that taking the time and care to put ideas into physical form elevates their importance and makes people pay attention."