Thursday, December 27, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Why conversation matters

An intriguing model from Paul Pangaro. For anyone trying to design the next generation of human-computer interfaces, or win a political argument at the family dinner table.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Running dry

The NYT has been running an important series of articles about disappearing water supplies in the U.S. due to climate change. The bad news: According to Steven Chu of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, “There’s a two-thirds chance there will be a disaster... and that’s in the best scenario.” The good news: Cities and regions across the country are taking their futures in their own hands, and looking systemically at potential solutions.

The American West: Disappearing snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas and elsewhere forces some drastic choices.

Orange County: Turning sewage into drinking water.

Fort Collins: Going nuclear in this "deeply green" city could jeopardize local water supplies.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Axe and the Dove

The Dove "Onslaught" video has stirred up controversy for parent company Unilever, which also markets Axe deodorant. From today's AdAge:

'"Onslaught" also accomplished what four years of racy Axe ads hadn't -- getting the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood to demand Unilever stop running Axe ads. While the group already was aware of Axe and of Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, the specifics of the "Onslaught" push set it off.'

A complex story about the marketing biz, corporate integrity, and social media.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Quotes from Pop!Tech: Paul Polak

"90% of the world's designers work on the problems of the richest 10%."

Holiday gift ideas 2007

Some holiday gift ideas for your ecologically, socially, and digitally minded loved ones:

1. Apple TV - It's a slick product all-around, but by far my favorite thing about Apple TV is that it makes it easy to watch hours of TED video podcasts from the comfort of your living room.

2. GlobalGiving gift certificates - GlobalGiving makes it easy and fun to give to grassroots projects in the developing world, and see that your donations have real impact. (Admission: GlobalGiving is a former client of mine.)

3. Muji anything - Today is the grand opening of the first Muji store in the U.S. Hopefully, we'll soon see an e-commerce site, but in the meantime, head to Soho in NYC for hundreds of simple, thoughtful and (somewhat) green products. I have my eye on the rice cooker and the bike.

4. Eatwell Farms - In Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan makes a fairly stark distinction between "industrial organic" and truly organic foods. With Michael's book in mind, I tried Eatwell Farm's pastured eggs, and found them to be three times as tasty, and considerably more healthful, than the very best eggs at Whole Foods. For those in the Bay Area, Eatwell's produce boxes are a perfect gift.

5. MCG Jazz recordings- Bill Strickland is a hero of mine for his work with youth, education, and the arts. The Grammy-winning live jazz performances from Manchester Craftsmen's Guild are a special treat for music lovers, and the proceeds help support a terrific cause.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

BP and EA bring climate change to SimCity

I love the concept. Eager to see whether the game's climate change models are realistic, but at least it's a start. Thanks to Dan for the link.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quotes from Pop!Tech: Victoria Hale

"How you do your work is more important than what you do, and in the end determines the magnitude of your impact." - Dr. Victoria Hale, Founder, OneWorld Health

The Guru of Getting Things Done

The October issue of Wired has a fascinating profile of David Allen, the author of the immensely practical, and best-selling Getting Things Done. I've been following Allen's fussy-practical productivity tips for a few years now, so I was surprised to learn that many of his techniques grow out of his direct experience, and ongoing involvement, with the human potential movement.

The article has a few other surprises: Allen is a former karate instructor and heroin user, and a current Minister in the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, a church that believes in "a benevolent consciousness guiding mankind, who in the past has appeared as Jesus, St. Francis of Assisi, and Abraham Lincoln."

The human potential movement fascinates me. In my spare time, I dream of writing a book that spells out the historical and philosophical connections between EST, Tony Robbins, Byron Katie, Jim Collins, Lifespring, cognitive behavioral therapy, The Secret, and Al-Qaeda. But in the meantime, we have this provocative article from Gary Wolf.

p.s. Speaking of personal productivity, I'm on my third day of getting used to OSX Leopard. One of the features that I'm spending a lot of time with, but that hasn't received much hype, is the revised To-Do/Notes system. To-Dos are now fully shared between Mail and iCal, and the functionality has been beefed up in many small ways that make it easier to follow some of Allen's top list management tips. The UI is imperfect, but it's still a big leap forward.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The carbon footprint of the multiplex

A UCLA study has concluded that the entertainment industry is Southern California's second biggest polluter, after the oil industry. Clearly, this is an industry that is ripe for reinvention:

"No amount of public service announcements or celebrities driving hybrid cars can mask the fact that movie and TV production is a gritty industrial operation, consuming enormous amounts of energy to power bright lights, run sophisticated cameras, and feed a cast of thousands."

Still, there are some bright spots of innovation. In addition to switching to renewables and offsetting emissions, I especially liked the following:

"Pieces built for the 2001 film Ocean's 11 now sit in the Santa Monica offices of the National Resources Defense Council. Sets from this year's sequel Ocean's 13 were donated to decorate the halls of local community colleges." (Associated Press)

"Good things happen in the dark"

On Saturday night October 20th, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Transamerica Building, and dozens of local homes and businesses will turn off their lights for one hour. It's all part of Lights Out San Francisco, a local grassroots organization I'm excited to be involved with.

Events like these have more than just symbolic value... They bind neighborhoods together, and remind people of their individual and collective power to take on climate change. LOSF will publish the energy-saving results on its website, and the organization is also distributing thousands of free CFL light bulbs, which will help cut down on San Franciscans' carbon emissions and energy bills long after the event itself.

So treat yourself to a candelit dinner, and encourage your local businesses participate. San Francisco is just the start: the event is going national with Lights Out America on March 29, 2008.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

DVRs and vampire power

I've been curious for awhile about the vampire power used by DVRs like TiVo. It's worse than I thought: according to the NRDC, set-top boxes in the U.S. alone consume $2 billion worth of electricity annually, or the equivalent of 15 million pounds of carbon dioxide.

Broadcasting & Cable does a good job covering how different DVR makers are increasing the energy efficiency of their products. More eco-friendly consumer electronics are a win for everyone: manufacturers whose products will last longer; consumers who will enjoy lower power bills; and the environment.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A big week for green TV

  • Discovery Communications acquires Treehugger

  • Broadcasting & Cable releases a Green TV issue

  • Jack Bauer and 24 fight climate change
  • Imogen Heap: "Just For Now"

    A fantastic YouTube clip to start your Monday. Imogen Heap sings a round with herself, mixing it in real-time.

    Friday, August 10, 2007

    Blackle.com is the new green

    Heap Media has responded to Mark Ontkush's observation that a black background version of Google would save 3000 Megawatt-hours a year by going ahead and building one.

    From a usability perspective, white type on black is clearly harder to read, so I don't think this is a final design answer. But I like how Blackle sparks conversation about new and better ways to green the web. Kudos.

    (Thanks to Todd for showing me this.)

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    Second Chance Trees

    Oh, I love this. Another great example of how Second Life can help spark conversation, and foster real-world progress... in this case on the issue of reforestation. (from 3pointD)

    Sunday, July 08, 2007

    Greening the urban fabric


    Check out this post in BLDG on the New York Bike-Share Project. A fantastic idea—both convenient and human-scale. I'd love to see someone do this here in San Francisco.

    Thursday, July 05, 2007

    Blaise Aguera y Arcas @ TED

    Holy cow.

    Memory lane

    Also in Underwire this week, Edwin Tofslie's super cool poster showing the evolution of Apple product design from 1976 to the present.

    SL Challenges Real World Bureaucracy


    A great story from Underwire, suggesting how virtual worlds and, for that matter, contests, can enable positive social change:

    "Frustrated with the lack of movement and community involvement with a plan to build a new garden in the central Halles area of Paris, local residents started a competition within Second Life to come up with possible designs for the real world location. While the association knows that the winning design (whose creator won 275,000 Linden dollars) won't be implemented because it doesn't consider real world conditions, they're hoping the competition will put pressure on the mayor to move this project along. It's been in talks since 2004."

    Imagine if SL had existed a few years ago, while closed-door groups were debating what to do with Ground Zero...

    Monday, July 02, 2007

    Outside.in widget

    I often tell clients that the two most exciting areas for innovation, across industries, are extreme local and global interconnectedness.

    I've been working on an extreme local digital media report for awhile now, covering the latest platforms for networking and community building, only to discover repeatedly that Outside.in is already investing in many of the principles and features I've been looking for.

    And this morning, thanks to my neighbor Sexy Widget, I see that Outside.in is opening up its site, with a widget that displays and accepts local news tied to the user's zip code:

    "This widget has important implications for Outside.in for a number of reasons. On the distribution side, by freeing up its content so that it can show up anywhere, Outside.in has just sweetened the pot for local content publishers in terms of potential distribution reach. This is a big deal, as unlike Google News, Outside.in is not a crawler driven business. It relies on content that is manually and explicitly submitted via its site, and only after a registration.

    There are also benefits on the marketing side. While the widget serves as a distribution platform for Outside.in content, it also serves as a marketing tool to attract more consumers and producers of local content."
    (Sexy Widget)

    I'll be installing the widget myself and giving it a whirl later this week. I'll let you know what I think.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    Cycles of culture

    In his recent SALT talk, Steven Johnson plugged the book Graphs, Maps, Trees by Franco Moretti. I just finished it, and it's hands-down one of the best analyses of literary history I've ever read.

    Moretti practices what he calls "distant reading," looking at the full literary output of a society over time. His models—the graphs, maps, and trees of the title—bring some hidden cycles of human culture into sharp relief. He also offers some tentative, but compelling hypotheses regarding how and why new artistic forms arise, evolve, and decay.

    P.S. Anyone interested in an engaging debate about cycles of artistic form should also check out the discussion of music—and specifically, David Levitin's book "This Is Your Brain on Music"—taking place in the North American Future Salon Yahoo! group. Look for the subject header "Accelerating Change."

    Monday, May 28, 2007

    Plunge in CD Sales Shakes Up Big Labels

    From today's NYT:

    "Aram Sinnreich, a media industry consultant at Radar Research in Los Angeles, said the CD format, introduced in the United States 24 years ago, is in its death throes. 'Everyone in the industry thinks of this Christmas as the last big holiday season for CD sales,' Mr. Sinnreich said, 'and then everything goes kaput.'”

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    Open-source museums, open-source art

    In April I attended the super fun opening of OSMOSA -- the Open-Source Museum of Open-Source Art -- in Second Life. I'm glad I went back a month later to see how far SL residents had pushed the concept of free, fully editable art in a free, fully editable museum. Check it out.

    (Thanks to Kenny Hubble for the party invite.)

    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

    Clive Thompson at collision detection finds this amazing interview with Peter Howell, the arranger of the 1980s Doctor Who theme. Howell explains how all of the sound effects were generated, with Dalek and TARDIS effects thrown in to boot.

    Monday, May 07, 2007

    Disabilities in Second Life

    A great article on how people with real-world disabilities are walking, flying, and becoming leading innovators in Second Life. The article also covers some of the attempts to re-create the experience of cerebral palsy, blindness, schizophrenia, and other disabilities in SL, as a way of building empathy for those conditions.

    Wednesday, May 02, 2007

    The wounds of commitment

    Trust is on my mind a lot these days, as a driver for new business innovation, and as a more fruitful starting place for thinking about customer relationships than "brand love."

    Vernor Vinge has espoused the idea recently that "in the modern world, success [will come] from having the largest possible educated population and providing those hundreds of millions of creative people with credible freedom." As Vinge notes, in an increasingly transparent society, that verisimilitude of freedom could approach the real thing closer than ever before.

    With these ideas on my mind, I was happy to stumble across Elizabeth Doty's insightful article in this week's strategy+business, showing exactly how breaches of trust within an organization extinguish innovation and individual commitment. Good reading for any leaders looking to build trust internally, or struggling with the ethical grey areas that inevitably come with success and increasing complexity.

    San Paolo kicks out billboards


    An inspiring, if temporary, step forward for more human urban environments, as reported in BoingBoing and elsewhere.

    This news item reminds me of the scene in Before Sunset where Julie Delpy talks about visiting Warsaw as a teenager:

    "After a couple of weeks, something changed in me. The city was quite gloomy and gray... but, after a while, my brain seemed clearer... It took me a while to figure out why... My brain felt like it was at rest, free from the consuming frenzy. And I have to say, it was almost like a natural high. I felt so peaceful inside, no... strange urge to be somewhere else, to shop... Maybe it could have seemed like boredom at first, but it quickly became very, very soulful."

    A greener Apple

    Steve Jobs responds to environmental groups who have criticized the sustainability of Apple's products.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    The Eye of the Beholder

    Nina Simon at Museum 2.0 continues to serve up great insights about art, business, commerce, and marketing. This week, she asks: "What kinds of environments support focus, appreciation, and epiphany?"

    Bravo without pity

    Bravo finds TV fans where they already are by acquiring the venerable and ultra snarky blog site Television Without Pity.

    (I'm a bit late in blogging this, but thought I'd share just the same. Bravo has been doing some really interesting things lately to make its on-line/on-air experiences as sticky as possible.)

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    Digg's favorite HDR photographer

    I met Trey Ratcliff at the Virtual Worlds 2007 conference in NYC last month, and have been drooling over his stunning photographs from around the world.

    Also check out the interview on his site Stuck in Customs where he talks about his technique:

    "HDR brings the phi ratio [the 'golden ratio'] to colors and luminosity rather than to geometry and angles. Humans use their neocortex to patch together a visual scene. People do not take a 'photograph' in their head and store it at a single shutter speed, aperture, etc. On the scene, the human eye is constantly darting around and the iris lets in more light in some areas and less light in others. This “patchwork quilt” is made up of very different light levels and colors. These most beautiful scenes have colors that lay on top of the geometric patterns that traipse up and down the spectrum in a phi pattern. I’m slowing evolving my HDR process to nail those phi patterns within color and luminosity to bring a visceral reaction of beauty from the viewer."

    Monday, April 09, 2007

    An etymology of company names

    Check out Wired for the short version, Wikipedia for the long version.

    Examples:

    Apple — For the favourite fruit of co-founder Steve Jobs and/or for the time he worked at an apple orchard, and to distance itself from the cold, unapproachable, complicated imagery created by other computer companies at the time — which had names such as IBM, DEC, Cincom and Tesseract

    Wipro — from Western India Vegetable Products Limited. The company started as a modest Vanaspati and laundry soap producer and is now also an IT services giant.

    Sunday, April 08, 2007

    New feature

    Some of you may have noticed that a few weeks ago I launched a new feature. In the right-hand margin, there is now a list of "Shared Articles" courtesy of Google Reader. This is basically a list of recent articles about which I have little to say, other than: these are neat, you should check them out.

    The design is a little clunky for now, but I assume that Google will improve that over time.

    Beauty and truth

    I also just finished Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace, a handy little manual from Joseph M. Williams.

    Williams swiftly covers some useful strategies for cleaning up bad writing, then ends unexpectedly with a chapter on "The Ethics of Prose." The highlight of the chapter, and the book overall, is Williams' analysis of Lincoln's second inaugural address. The passage is too long to excerpt here, but like David Levitin taking on "Ode to Joy", Williams is expert in figuring out what makes things tick, and finding the hidden blueprints for beauty.

    The science of a human obsession

    I just finished reading Daniel Levitin's book This is Your Brain on Music, an exploration of the neuroscience of music-making and music-listening. The book is filled with interesting case studies, and compelling explanations of what makes certain musical experiences tickling, addictive, or irritating:

    "Music theorists have identified a principle called gap fill; in a sequence of tones, if a melody makes a large leap, either up or down, the next note should change direction... In 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow,' the melody begins with one of the largest leaps we've ever experienced in a lifetime of music listening: an octave. This is a strong scehmatic violation, and so the composer rewards and soothes us by bringing the melody back toward home again, but not by too much—he does come down, but only by one scale degree—because he wants to continue to build tension..."

    "[In Beethoven's Ninth Symphony ('Ode to Joy')], the main melodic theme is simply the notes of the scale... But Beethoven makes it interesting by violating our expectations. He starts on a strange note and ends on a strange note. He starts on the third degree of the scale (as he did on the 'Pathetique' Sonata), rather than the root, and then goes up in a stepwise fashion, then turns around and comes down again. When he gets to the root—the most stable tone—rather than staying there he comes up again, up to the note we started on, then back down so that we think and we expect he will hit the root again, but he doesn't; he stays right there on
    re, the second scale degree. The piece needs to resolve to the root, but Beethoven keeps us hanging there, where we least expect to be. He then runs the entire motif again, and only on the second time through does he meet our expectations. But now, that expectation is more interesting because of the ambiguity: We wonder if, like Lucy waiting for Charlie Brown, he will pull the football of resolution away from us at the last minute."

    Wednesday, March 28, 2007

    Go green by getting lazy

    From Worldchanging blogger Karl Shroeder:

    "There is a secret to changing your behavior. The trick is not to trust your own willpower. Instead, arrange conditions outside yourself such that the desired new behaviour is always your laziest option."

    The kids these days

    Creative Commons founder Larry Lessig:

    "We have to recognize that kids are different from us. We watch TV, they make TV. It is technology that has made them different." (As reported by Bruno Giussani on TED Blog.)

    And the wisdom to know the difference

    Joel Makower summaries this month's HBR and Atlantic cover stories on how companies can manage the risks and opportunities of climate change.

    Virtual worlds meet Web 2.0

    More on the increasing integration of immersive virtual worlds and Web 2.0 (3pointd).

    Crescent moon from Earth's orbit

    Check out this recent astronomy picture of the day, as blogged by Jamais Cascio at Open the Future.

    Sunday, March 25, 2007

    Heading for Virtual Worlds

    I'm busy packing for the Virtual Worlds 2007 conference in NYC. It should be an exciting two days.

    I'm a bit behind in my blog scanning, but here are some nifty articles on virtual worlds and VR that caught my eye this week:

    Harry Potter and the FSC-certified paper

    Scholastic and the Rainforest Action Network announce that the 7th and final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be printed on 65% FSC-certified paper.

    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Millenials and viral marketing

    Check out AdAge for this review of a UK teen road safety campaign that gets the message, the medium and the distribution all exactly right.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    Markets vs. networks vs. communities

    Umair Haque has been posting recently at Bubblegeneration about the differences between markets, networks, and communities as drivers of media/web 2.0 innovation. A nice distinction.

    Saturday, March 10, 2007

    Clean Energy Trends 2007

    Joel Makower and Clean Edge have released their free report on the most important clean energy trends for 2007, including the following top five:
  • the traction of carbon markets
  • the growth of closed-loop biorefineries
  • the promising growth of advanced batteries
  • Wal-Mart's unexpected clout as a clean-energy market maker
  • energy utilities' growing enlightenment around renewable energy
  • New Raku-Raku phone targets seniors

    NTT DoCoMo's new handset includes "Slow Voice" and "Clear Voice" features, as well as automatic volume adjustment.

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    Art & Fear

    A great little book from David Bayles & Ted Orland, with immediately practical advice for art, business, and life.

    Monday, March 05, 2007

    Muji comes to NYC

    The first Muji flagship store in the U.S. will open in the Times Tower in time for holiday 2007.

    Thursday, March 01, 2007

    New coat of paint

    As some of you might have noticed, I've started to tinker with the site design for The Conversationalist. I've retired the light-on-dark color palette, and have started to move about some of the page elements. Expect to see more changes in the coming weeks.

    Feel free to send me suggestions for anything you think would make the site more useful and readable. In the meantime, a big thank you to Marimekko Chase for her help on the changes that went live last night!

    Tuesday, February 27, 2007

    Buy less

    Although I admire its good intentions, I have to say that in terms of efficacy and overall business model, I'm not a big fan of (RED). Worldchanging and SSI made some particularly strong critiques in fall 2006... I would love to see some more recent and more complete data.

    Today, one of my clients showed me this serious parody site, which makes some of the same points a bit more provocatively.

    Friday, February 23, 2007

    As advertised: Rainbows End

    While fighting the latest cold this week, I finally got around to reading Vernor Vinge's sci-fi novel Rainbows End. It in every way lived up to its hype. A seamless and sophisticated look at the world of 2025, and where current technology and social media trends might be heading. Thankfully, it's also a well-written and engaging story.

    Sunday, February 18, 2007

    Viral, sticky, good

    I'm loving this short post from Nina Simon at Museum 2.0, on the differences between viral, sticky, and good. (As blogged by Satchmo Prototype at The Daily Graze.)

    GreenDimes

    Here's an easy and cheap way to stop junk mail, save some trees, plant some more, and protect yourself against identity theft. (As blogged by Adam at TerraBlog.)

    Friday, February 16, 2007

    Conversations with Other Women

    I saw a terrific movie last night. "Conversations with Other Women" is a poignant modern love story in the style of "Before Sunset" and "Lost in Translation," and very much in the same league.

    The director Hans Canosa uses split-screens to follow each character's separate point of view. The gimmick works perfectly... adding immediacy and depth, and in the Canosa's words, creating the "holy grail" of a truly unique love scene.

    Watch the movie, then check out the director's profile on Apple.com.

    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    Cukoo for BumpTop

    Mark Wallace at 3pointD just posted this YouTube clip of BumpTop, a new GUI desktop prototype that preserves the human logic of messy-desk organizing systems.

    I started out thinking that the interface was just cute, but half-way through the video, I started to see its real value.

    Sunday, February 04, 2007

    Amoeba's Big Green Box

    Local music mega super community store Amoeba Records has introduced a Big Green Box at its Hollywood store where customers can turn in e-waste for recycling seven days a week. With other innovations like selling CFL lightbulbs along with CDs and DVDs, Amoeba is "turning out to be a huge independent music store with a big green heart" (via Worldchanging).

    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    Tea with jam, jam and bread

    My singing teacher went to voice instruction bootcamp in LA last month, and the tips he came back with have been pure gold. The program he attended was with Lisa Popeil, who has a lecture series and DVDs that very, very quickly convey how to support the voice, add emotion and color, and sing appropriately for many different genres: classical, r&b, country, pop, etc.

    Okay, so there are a million other books and programs out there, but my teacher and I agree that I've made as much progress in the past two weeks as the past six months. Definitely check out Lisa's program if you're interested in serenading your sweetheart or knocking 'em dead at karaoke.

    Tuesday, January 30, 2007

    Corporate World Meet Web 2.0

    As blogged in Beyond the Beyond, and originally uploaded by gtmcknight.

    The High Purpose Company

    I just finished reading Christine Arena's "The High Purpose Company" and recommend it to any companies who want to marry doing well with doing good. There are several inspiring books out there that make the case for marrying wealth creation and social responsibility, as well as a lot of data-driven analyses, but Arena's book is one of the first I've seen that connects all those dots: purpose, culture, business DNA, and metrics.

    Arena's book is filled with great examples—and just yesterday, I came across a new one: this Techcrunch article where co-founder Sergey Brin at Google admits that going into China with a censored search engine was a "net negative" for their business.

    The future of education

    A stellar map of future forces affecting education from the smart folks at the KnowledgeWorks Foundation and the Institute For The Future.

    Monday, January 29, 2007

    My picks from Sundance

    In my four days at Sundance, I saw some great films. These were my favorites:

    Protagonist: My top fave. I connected immediately with this story of four men's lives twisted unrecognizably by good intentions, stubbornness, and bad luck. The director Jessive Yu used puppets, Euripides, and unflinching honesty to tell four distinct stories and find the echoes between them.

    The Pool: A young room boy in Goa climbs a mango tree to catch a glimpse a rich man's swimming pool... and a subtle, unexpected story unfolds, with flawless child acting, terrific music, and an equal mix of humor and ache. Director Chris Smith's follow-up to American Movie.

    No End In Sight: A powerful summary of the Bush administration's bungling of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. An unfortunate sequel to Fahrenheit 911, told with authority, and punctuated by images of smart, responsible soldiers and politicians silently facing the camera, their faces filled with loss and anger.

    The Substitute and Bitch: Two accomplished and funny shorts, countering this year's "Sad-dance" trend. The Substitute can be streamed from Sundance.org—I'm keeping my eye out for Lilah Vanderburgh's Bitch.

    And out of all the movies I didn't see, I'm especially looking forward to Manda Bala (the clips were fantastic) and Never Forever.

    Can polyester save the world?

    What the world needs now: a wearable, recyclable technical nutrient. (NY Times)

    Design is the new advertising

    From Marc Gobé, author of the forthcoming "Brandjam":

    "Design is the new advertising...The only advertising that works is about product that you’re drawn to anyway." (as blogged in Design Observer)

    Visualizing world trends

    Gapminder pushes the visual display of quantitative information.

    Saturday, January 27, 2007

    Greetings from Park City

    I've been at the Sundance Festival this week, having a blast, and falling way behind in my blogging.

    One treat for me the past few days has been hearing how directors are using social networking sites to complete and inspire their artistic vision.
    • Documentary filmmaker Annie Sundberg ("The Devil Came on Horseback") found hours of B roll footage on YouTube from the only videographer still filming in Darfur after Sudan kicked journalists out of the country
    • Nelson George ("Life Support") fleshed out his film's soundtrack with music found on MySpace
    • Jessica Yu ("Protagonist") said that one way she looked for interviewees who fit her concept—a modern exploration of Euripedes using real documentary subjects and puppets—was to Google phrases like "and I suddenly realized that"

    More soon, once I'm back in San Francisco...

    Friday, January 19, 2007

    BW takes on global citizenship

    For my dayjob, I help companies find ways to use environmental and social good as levers for business growth. This is highly gratifying work, but it isn't always the easiest conversation to start... Until recently, many companies have framed their global citizenship programs as ways to "give back" or "do less bad." Meanwhile, William McDonough and others have noted that the real innovation and profit comes from finding ways to be "all good" and weaving eco and social responsibility into a company's primary business DNA.

    Since it adds fuel to the fire, it's gratifying to see BusinessWeek take on this very topic in today's cover story "Beyond the Green Corporation." The article includes a lot of great examples of what traditional companies like Unilever, GE, Wal-Mart, and Philips are doing—as well as an honest account of why high-profile sustainability programs at Ford and BP have failed to deliver. I also liked the stats suggesting how social responsibility, not just environmental sustainabilty, can impact the bottom line:

    "New York's Communications Consulting Worldwide (CCW), which studies issues such as reputation, puts it in stark dollars and cents. CCW calculates that if Wal-Mart had a reputation like that of rival Target Corp. (TGT ), its stock would be worth 8.4% more, adding $16 billion in market capitalization."

    Thursday, January 18, 2007

    Feed me

    Following a tip from my friend Ryan at Second Verse, I switched from Bloglines to Google Reader earlier this week. I couldn't be happier—it's a much faster and more intuitive interface for managing my subscriptions.

    I can't believe I ate the whole thing

    I stand corrected. Although I didn't like Six Feet Under when it first came out, thanks to Bravo, Netflix, and a bit of perspective, I was able to inhale all five seasons over the past two months. A wonderfully acted and written, and wonderfully human show. The DVDs are also beautifully designed—clearly a labor of love.

    Wednesday, January 17, 2007

    Climate resets Doomsday Clock

    For the first time, the Doomsday Clock has moved closer to midnight due to global warming. As reported by the BBC, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists voted for the move in response to new "threats without enemies" associated with global climate change. The clock now stands at 5 minutes to midnight.

    Teens and DIY media

    Howard Rheingold responds to this year's Edge.org question, "What are you optimistic about?":

    "The tools for cultural production and distribution are in the pockets of 14 year olds... Ask yourself this question: Which kind of population seems more likely to become actively engaged in civic affairs — a population of passive consumers, sitting slackjawed in their darkened rooms, soaking in mass-manufactured culture that is broadcast by a few to an audience of many, or a world of creators who might be misinformed or ill-intentioned, but in any case are actively engaged in producing as well as consuming cultural products?"

    Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    Lay your doubts and fears aside

    While searching the web recently for choruses and music groups in San Francisco (I'm an amateur singer), I stumbled across this Handel recording by Justin Montigne. A study break for anyone who appreciates classical music and virtuoso singing.

    Social networking: a brief online history

    A WIP history of social networking and blogging sites, curated by danah boyd.

    Monday, January 15, 2007

    Troubles at Backfence

    Interesting Washington Post article on Backfence, the struggling local news site. Contains useful insights for other media companies big and small who are going after the hyperlocal market.

    Friday, January 12, 2007

    The future is not evenly distributed

    The Apple iPhone underwhelms in Japan, where 3G has already reinvented the phone. iPhone will not be 3G compatible at launch.

    Thursday, January 11, 2007

    How would you fix The Gap?

    AdAge asks the question and gets some interesting responses:

    "I don't think it can be done. The Gap represented a movement. It nationalized something regional at the same time they profited from the death of business dress. Both are over, quirkiness is back, and that's that." - Seth Godin

    Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    Something old, something borrowed

    Axe is one of my favorite examples of a product whose primary differentiation is its message. Love it or hate it, Axe's "guys, wear this, you'll get lucky" marketing approach has created new growth in what was once considered a commodity category. Unilever is now laughing all the way to the bank.

    It appears from this NYT article (as blogged in Good Experience) that Old Spice is about to jump on the same sex-not-efficacy bandwagon.

    May the best deodorant win.

    Tuesday, January 09, 2007

    Trend blend 2007+

    A humorous map of social and tech trends, from Future Exploration Network and What's Next.

    Monday, January 08, 2007

    Four Eyed SL video podcast

    A cute video podcast from the makers of Four Eyed Monsters about tomorrow's SL screening and the future of film.

    For me, Four Eyed Monsters is the film/innovation story that big media missed last year. Whereas Snakes on the Plane was a success story of an audience taking an active role in a film's content, Four Eyed Monsters is a success-in-the-making of an audience participating actively—and passionately—in a film's distribution.

    From the podcast:

    "Someday, immediately after a film is complete, it will be able to instantly premiere to worldwide audience in every theater that wants it... And even though it doesn't work that way in real life, Second Life is a place where this is possible today."

    The monsters are coming

    A project I was very excited to be involved with last year is coming to life. The indie hit Four Eyed Monsters premieres this Tuesday night in Second Life, on the new Sundance Channel island designed by the Electric Sheep Company. The live screening will be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Arin Crumley and Susan Buice.

    Sunday, January 07, 2007

    Friday, January 05, 2007

    CSRWire's top stories 2006

    Catch up on what you might have missed, from the latest in shareowner activitism, to the sale of Tom's of Maine to Colgate-Palmolive.