Some things are best when they go unnoticed.

Take, for instance, the job of an official at a sporting event. According to Frank Deford in a column for WBUR News in Boston, “Referees always say it’s best not to be noticed.” That is not to say that officials should never make a call or not administer their duty to control the game. No. As Deford further states, “The fact is that an official who makes his call with vigor and elan is really a beautiful part of the game.”

The most accurate summation of the idea is set forth by Washington Post Staff Writer Liz Clarke, speaking of the realm of soccer:

“For a World Cup referee, a good day is an unremarkable day. His calls are so swift and unassailable that no superstar throws a tantrum, no TV broadcaster shrieks and no video replay on the stadium scoreboard exposes him as a fool and incites the crowd in the process.”

She quotes Howard Webb, a FIFA referee, who said, “We go into every game hoping that nobody talks about us at the end of the game. We really want people to be speaking about the players and the quality of the football.”

Placing the importance of the act or accomplishment of the goal over its participants’ actions is also evident in other areas. Think about hunters and soldiers. They wear camouflage to help them blend into the environment, cutting down on the chances that they will be noticed, either by their prey or by enemy soldiers.

And it doesn’t only aid predators, but prey as well. Camouflage is not strictly used by (nor really invented by) Man. Certain insects, like butterflies, or reptiles, such as the chameleon, use camouflage as a natural defense against predators. The chameleon can change the color of its body to match its surroundings. The wings of butterflies can develop to match the colors and shapes of its surroundings, sometimes even mimic the look of other animals to confuse its potential attackers.

In the publishing industry, the concept has taken the shape of interactive media tags (IMT).

The term interactive media is the integration of digital media—predominantly the Internet—into the print pages of a magazine, allowing readers to interact with all of the related data, i.e. visit the web site, post on related social media pages, etc. The beauty of the IMT? You guessed it. It is “unnoticeable.” The tag is embedded into the content of the page of the magazine, no more bulky barcodes or QR codes that can interrupt the flow of information.

The apps and cameras available for most smartphones and tablets can read the tag and connect you to associated web sites and social media platforms on the subject being read on the page, providing for greater interaction for the reader.

Quality will begin using IMT in the pages of the magazine to provide you, our readers, with a greater interactive experience. In the meantime, check out Ed McMenamin’s year-end trends article, “Metrology Looks Towards Automation,” in this month’s Quality.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!