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.