May 30, 2008 by Colin
DARINKA CHASE (beehive-coiffed hostess who has worked at the restaurant for more than two decades): In the front hallway there was a cigarette machine and a pay phone. That was the time. There was no Internet. There was a cigarette machine and a pay phone, O.K.?”
That’s just one quote from many in the NYT’s eulogy for Florent, “an anomalously egalitarian enclave beloved in equal measure by celebrities on the A list and hedonists on the edge, and a prism through which certain aspects of the city’s evolution could be seen with unusual clarity” – as Frank Bruni put it last week.
FLORENT MORELLET: My father had a major show at the Brooklyn Museum, a retrospective, in February of ’85, and I organized a huge party for him, which actually to this day is the yardstick of what should never happen again at the Brooklyn Museum. But for that party I put up a major mailing list of 3,000 names.
“The yardstick of what should never happen again” There are so many situations where I could see using that phrase. It could almost be a life motto, a goal to set when beginning a project to make sure you push your work to its most creative and ground-breaking.More of Florent’s quirky ads, fliers and promo material are available on its website.
May 30, 2008 by Colin
Whaddya know. You can still make money off old school ties and inside information – in the United Kingdom:
“… We test the hypothesis that analysts’ school ties to senior officers impart comparative information advantages in the production of analyst research. We find evidence that analysts outperform on their stock recommendations when they have an educational link to the company.
A simple portfolio strategy of going long the buy recommendations with school ties and going short buy recommendations without ties earns returns of 5.40% per year.
We test whether Regulation FD, targeted at impeding selective disclosure, constrained the use of direct access to senior management. We find a large effect: pre-Reg FD the return premium from school ties was 8.16% per year, while post-Reg FD the return premium is nearly zero and insignificant.
In contrast, in an environment that did not change selective disclosure regulation (the UK), the analyst school-tie premium has remained large and significant over the entire sample period.”
Sell Side School Ties by Andrea Frazzini, Christopher Malloy, Lauren Cohen, NBER Working Paper No. 13973
May 28, 2008 by Colin
Even while GPS allows geographers, archeologists and sociologists to map neighbourhoods, slums, suburbs, abandoned developments and ghetto encroachment onto parkland, the characterization of each block and community escapes standardization. As Daniela Fabricius points out in Harvard Design Magazine, the same technology that offers great promise for social scientists may also fall into more misguided use, like the geolocation of protests by police in Rio de Janiero.
On the other hand, civil society groups have used commonly available GPS equipment (like your phone) and online mapping technology to track human rights abuses and the consequences of disasters in remote areas like Burma.
Fabricius’ essay on the development, perception and possibilities of the favelas in Rio provides a novel and wide-ranging look at the development and expansion of these communities, providing a political, economic, geographic and sociological insight into these vibrant slums.
“… When it comes to favelas, which by definition evade or exceed administrative or bureaucratic oversight, both the efficacy and the politics of conventional mapping (and of statistics and demographics) must be questioned. Statistics, etymologically a “science of the state,” have historically been an instrument of power. The indeterminacy of data on informality makes it particularly vulnerable to fabrication and manipulation. Census taking in favelas provides a notorious example. Population estimates for individual favelas vary widely, with differences between what the city declares the population to be and what the citizens themselves claim—usually a larger number that would give them a greater opportunity for political agency. The favela of Maré, for example, has even set up its own information-gathering center, which takes unofficial but probably more accurate census data of the neighborhood. Using this information, those in the center have argued that the neighborhood should be eligible for greater political representation and state funding.
… This is the geography in which informality has emerged, beyond modernity’s peripheral vision. Informal housing and markets have found a basic grid of support in the architectural ruins of incomplete or abandoned projects of modernization, whether in Modernist housing projects designed to Athens Charter specifications, infrastructural objects and large buildings that have fallen into disuse, or what remains of social services like schools and hospitals, built in more optimistic times. These housing projects, highway overpasses, warehouses, and even high-rises are modified, mutated, adapted, and inhabited. Even if favelas form a close symbiosis with late-capitalist cities, they are not restricted to one urban typology.
Premodern and colonial cities, modern cities, and postmodern cities can accommodate the favela’s flexible typology. This is one reason it is difficult to situate favelas historically. On the one hand, they are very much a product of modernity, and particularly of the unprecedented scale of urbanization happening all over the globe. Favelas are not the product of “primitive” or premodern societies, like many of the urban typologies studied by Team 10 members in the 1960s, but are instead specifically related to industrialization and modernization. On the other hand, they bear no ideology of progress or marks of newness.
Even though they are very much a product of modern economies and social formations, favelas are still associated with an abject, primitive, or regressive form of urban life. Even if Rio’s favelas were once visited and celebrated by figures like Le Corbusier and Marinetti, they remained an image of counter-modernity, particularly in a country like Brazil, which developed a strong Modernist ethos. Favelas are frequently misunderstood as a transitional urbanism, a phase of the urban form as it evolves from a premodern to a modern civilization…
Cities like Rio de Janeiro and, perhaps more urgently, cities like Lima, which are more than half informal, must be represented in new ways. Informality requires a rethinking of mapping, both of informal areas and of the city as a whole. The invisibility of the informal sets it apart from other modes of urban life and produces a different and problematic relationship to representation.
Since it evades “the bureaucratic gaze,” it also has forms of citizenship that fall by the wayside but that must be recuperated in some way. The geography of informality—its enclaves and networks or islands and currents—presents barriers to political representation and social inclusion. But in the many ways in which the favela and the informal exceed the boundaries and borders that seem to contain them, they also present the potential for forms of community solidarity and the claiming of the “right to the city.” …”
[tags] favelas, slums, urban development, geography [/tags]
May 27, 2008 by Colin
And it wasn’t completely the fault of Billy Bragg’s North Sea Bubble, a catchy little song about Britain’s over-reliance on oil money.
- A Norwegian BBQ team at the Memphis in May BBQ championship
“…Led by Oklahoma-born Craig Whitson, a restaurateur who has lived in Stavanger, Norway, for almost 30 years, … known as the Grillkongen (Grill King) of Norway, has been importing Klose’s pits there and cooks on one for his catering work and classes. For the second year, Klose delivered a pit he calls Bling-Bling for Whitson’s team to use in Memphis. With a built-in flat-screen TV, gold-plated hubcaps, a concrete hot plate, a sound system and more, “the thing certainly draws attention,” said Whitson, 54, whose Okie-meets-Oslo accent (a twang and a lilt) makes him sound almost Canadian.” (Washington Post)
- The fact that a government organization like the Danish Rock Council exists, and sponsors band tours in the U.S.
“… Today, the bus carries a dozen Danish musicians with strong accents, passable English skills, and names like Rasmus, Jeppe and Bjoern. Seven of them play in a Copenhagen band called Efterklang, the Danish word for “reverberation,” and four of them play in another Copenhagen band, Slaraffenland, the Danish word for “land of milk and honey.” The bands share one member, a Danish soundman and an American tour manager.
And for the last two weeks—for crowds of 50 to 300 people in western cities like Denver, San Francisco and Phoenix—they’ve shared the stage each night, sometimes covering a-ha’s “Take on Me,” often proclaiming “Danish Dynamite” during their sets. It’s not only the name they’ve given the tour, but it’s also a nod of appreciation to the Danish government, which, in part, funded this 25-show American adventure…” (Indy Weekly)
[tags] Denmark, Norway, Danish Rock Council, music promotion, BBQ [/tags]
May 27, 2008 by Colin
“… What we have right now, in Brooklyn, the Bay Area, Portland, East Los Angeles—neighborhoods where bourgeois young people work at magazines, movie studios, TV shows, Web sites and advertising, so that cultural trends work like weather at sea, offering the newcomers a chance to prove themselves, upending the complacent— is a similar choice on the part of the privileged to identify with the outsider.
The outsider in this case is the nerd, because nerds are people incapable of, or at least averse to, riding cultural trends. When your greatest fear is that you will become a loser because your intuition will fail to keep up with tastes, you embrace the nerd like a little harmless teddy bear who’s the one creature in the whole wide world who would never do anything to hurt you…” (from the excerpt)
American Nerd: the Story of My People, digs deep into the recent history of nerd-dom:
“… Sure, you may have an image of an MIT guy in your head—thick glasses, pocket protector, thin-limbed, buck teeth—but there’s not one clear definition of what makes that unattractive, awkward dweeb a nerd. Once you begin to create criteria and apply them to a range of individuals, the nerd stereotype becomes even more problematic. Nugent breaks down the nerd into two basic groups: those who are excluded socially for arbitrary reasons and those who are excluded for “intrinsic mental reasons” because they prefer rational, rule-bound activities over more intuitive or emotional ones. …” (from the interview)
No, I am not sixty. No, I don’t live in New Haven.
I am preppie. Hear me roar!
[tags] nerds, prep, sociological survey, booger [/tags]
May 26, 2008 by Colin
This Burroughs B200 is talking smack – “Our B 200 can outdo any computer in its class. Any computer, regardless of name or initials.”
“… “Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18 000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers of the future may have only 1 000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1½ tons.” — Popular Mechanics, March 1949.”
May 25, 2008 by Colin
Is it me, or does the pitchman from the Sham Wow ad sound (and look) like a young Christopher Walken? Watch the video for yourself!
[tags] Christopher Walken, television advertising [/tags]
May 24, 2008 by Colin
Look over at the New Yorker site for an exchange between Malcolm Gladwell and Paco Underhill, videotaped at “Stories from the Near Future,” the 2008 New Yorker Conference.
Underhill discusses his recent work with airports around the world.
May 24, 2008 by Colin
It’s a beautifully sunny day outside. Two pieces of inspiration for you – get out there and get creative!
And remember – the fear of embarrassment should never keep you from doing something ridiculous but entertaining.
May 22, 2008 by Colin
A juicy piece of information out of the keynote interview with Lane Merrifield, the founder of Club Penguin:
…we don’t send out automated emails. Every email to us receives a reply from a human. There may be common elements to the response, but each email from a kid receives a personal response …”
For instance, Merrifield says that the typical user email will say “Hi. My name is Brad, and I have a question about XXXX. I have a blue puffie called Gord.” The reply will draw from common elements to address the question, but will close by saying “say hi to Gord for me!”
That’s between 1,000 to 5,000 emails a day.
This has to be an essential element of creating a children’s site, both so they understand the answers to their questions, but also so they know that there are responsible adults out there making sure their playground works, reflects their needs and is safe.
[tags] social media, Club Penguin, social networks, children’s safety, MESH08 [/tags]
May 21, 2008 by Colin
Mark Kingwell, a Professor at the University of Toronto, and Malcolm Gladwell, you know him, sat down to discuss social change at the University of Toronto last week.
Eye Weekly had some biting remarks about their exchange:
“… Gladwell cautioned any exchange between him and Kingwell was bound to turn into “an incredibly boring love-in” – punctured only by the fact that Kingwell’s review of The Tipping Point called him “a shallow and unconvincing thinker”. Yet, a retaliation of sorts took shape, and it involved antagonizing the philosophy professor with talking points straight out of Alex P. Keaton’s precocious playbook.
Seat belt use, chemical company compliance and same-sex marriage legalization were raised by Gladwell as three examples where “awareness and engagement” had nothing to do with their adoption. “We have come to fetishize the knowing part when we should pay more attention to the mechanics of doing.”
And which figure does Gladwell consider the biggest hypocrite in that regard? Al Gore, who did nothing to raise environmental awareness during eight years as vice-president. Not long after he’s no longer able to affect policy, he makes a movie. “Then we put him up on a pedestal,” sneers Gladwell. “And that represents everything that’s wrong with the way we view social change.”
Kingwell went for a more intense response that drew on his recovering Catholic theological background, suggesting that everything you need to know about social change can apparently be seen in Conversion on the Way to Damascus, a painting by Caravaggio. And how the Corinthians quote about “Faith, Hope, Love” is not about romance, but the responsibility to be charitable: “It’s not enough to comfort the afflicted,” he said. “We also must afflict the comfortable.” …”
[tags] Gladwell, Kingwell, social theory, social change [/tags]
May 21, 2008 by Colin
“it’s like pop-up video for conferences!“
That’s from @bbuset, reacting to the twitter stream at #Mesh08.
[tags] MESH, pop-up video [/tags]
May 19, 2008 by Colin
“Wow. I never would have thought of that!”
It’s a thought that runs through my head maybe twice a month, as I come across marketing or sponsorship gimmicks that leverage a very niche audience to promote a specific product.
I don’t mean mass merchandisers parcelling off some of their advertising budget to include a weird marketing buy, like the goal crossbar at soccer games.
And I don’t mean large companies directly targeting their niche markets, like Speedo and Nike sponsoring swim teams.
Instead, I admire the insight that leads planners to find very small buys that may prompt a change in buying behaviour.
Like Tetley Tea sponsoring lawn bowling.
Now, I’ve never been lawn bowling. It seems like a slow, relaxed sport, but I doubt you drink tea WHILE bowling. More likely, you drink it afterwards – and Tetley builds brand preference by sticking their name right there, on the ball.
Now, if someone could tell me if curling stones have beer company sponsorship …
[tags] lawn bowls, Tetley Tea, curling, niche marketing [/tags]
May 18, 2008 by Colin
Crispy Mint Indiana Jones M&Ms
It was to be expected.With the new Indiana Jones movie due to come out on June 22, the cross-branded products are beginning to emerge.
Already in the market for a M&Ms from the candy machine here at the sports complex, I came across a bag of M&Ms with old-school Indiana Jones on the package.
What are the brand attributes commonly associated with Indy?
- quick to the mark
Seeing Indy on the packaging, I honestly expected the candy to have some variety of nut – maybe a brazil nut, a little darker and more flavourful than the run-of-the-mill peanut? Maybe even a praline.
Crispy Mint Indiana Jones M&Ms, seems to have no association with Indy. The candy embodies these attributes:
- light, in taste and in heft
- a wisp of a crunch
- a selection of pastel green shells
- a slight aftertaste
This is not Indiana Jones’ candy.
If I could imagine any Indiana Jones character eating this stuff, it would be:
- the Gestapo agent from Indy I
- the French Archeologist
- the double crossing German archeologist
- the advisor to the teenage Indian Rajah
- Kate Capshaw
In fact, I half suspect that Mars is just tricking us into buying old Shrek merchandise.
[tags] M&M, branding, Indiana Jones [/tags]
May 18, 2008 by Colin
Here’s your task: take your next conceptual challenge and explain it clearly in under 30 seconds, using a common food product as a reference.
What’s that? You need an example? Remember the “Twinkie” scene from Ghostbusters?
While you may understand the details and nuances of a problem, remember that many other, less experienced, people will need a simple yet demonstrative example to help them understand the personal significance of the problem.
[tags] creativity, storytelling, breaking the mold, Ghostbusters, Twinkie [/tags]