Monday, August 29, 2011

Making Reading More Social

Photo by zandwacht
Readmill is a new API that will make reading a social exercise by making it easy for readers using an iPad to recommend and share their ebooks. It also allows you to discuss books with others and leave a closing remark once you finish reading a book. Readmill’s current library consists mainly public domain titles for now, but as you read through your selected books, your profile keeps track of your progress and the time you have spent reading.

This last point is powerful because it signals an important trend in the making. Time matters. The time it takes to read, compose, relate, transact will all become important considerations. The speed/quality equation will enter consumer consciousness most especially with regard to devices.

Although it is only available for iPad, Readmill is aiming to make the app available for all reading devices. The app is in closed beta. But you can ask to be included in the Beta network through the Readmill website.

Friday, August 26, 2011

When to Say “Yes”-- Becoming a Senior Research Fellow

Taking the next step in life is not always obvious. Things can get cloudy before they get clear. Take this past winter—it was a muddle of unmet aspirations. I had a number of irons in the fire waiting to catch fire.

I’m happy to say that my work with the Institute of Cultural Affairs International has caught fire. Last month, they officially invited me to become a senior fellow.

ICA is a worldwide network, with a presence in over 20 countries. It has a proven process for collaborative problem solving for high stakes issues—water rights, medical systems, anti-violence and smoking cessation. Their unique process sets the stage for cultural change.

Adding the fellowship to my consulting and writing work will make for a busy life. So why’d I say, “Yes?”

I looked at it this way:

As a senior fellow, I’ll be collaborating with a new generation of researchers on novel ways to measure social impact. This work gets me out of my head and into the field. It also complements my recent work on marketing and culture.

The alchemy feels right.

I’m going with, “Yes!”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Making of the Millennial Mindset—Beloit College’s New List

Photo by Thomas Huston
This weekend, I plan to take my daughter Grace shopping to trick out here dorm room. Yes, my youngest will be starting college in the fall. It fills me with pride, not to mention a serious hankering to rethink my own living space.

The occasion also put me in mind of one of my favorite psychographic treatments of young people: The Beloit Mindset List. It’s clever and bang-on.

Most members of this year's freshman class were born in 1993, the same year Mosaic was the dominant Web browser. This is a class that has truly been raised on the Internet.

The following is a sampling of the first 20 items on the list. Read the full list here.

1. There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway.
2. Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson could be their parents.
3. States and Velcro parents have always required that they wear their bike helmets.
4. The only significant labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in major-league sports.
5. There have always been at least two women on the Supreme Court, and women have always commanded some U.S. Navy ships.
6. They "swipe" cards, not merchandise.
7. As the students have grown up on Web sites and cellphones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration.
8. Their schools' "blackboards" have always been getting smarter.
9. "Don't touch that dial!" ... What dial?
10. American tax forms have always been available in Spanish.
11. More Americans have always traveled to Latin America than to Europe.
12. Amazon has never been just a river in South America.
13. Refer to LBJ, and they might assume you're talking about LeBron James.
14. All their lives, Whitney Houston has always been declaring, "I Will Always Love You."
15. O.J. Simpson has always been looking for the killers of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
16. Women have never been too old to have children.
17. Japan has always been importing rice.
18. Jim Carrey has always been bigger than a pet detective.
19. We have never asked, and they have never had to tell.
20. Life has always been like a box of chocolates.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Infographic: Human Productivity in the Digital Culture

Graphic by pure360
This infographic about email opening habits tells a story about the shift in human behavior around work. People may be at their computers much longer than before. But the zone of work is pretty slim--two hours. The "do not disturb window" is between 10-noon. It says something about human productivity, doesn't it? We may actually be bleeding our lives of precious hours chained to our screens, but not really accomplishing much.

Note to self--sign up for that time management class this fall.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sustainable Innovations To Love

Check out this terrific Bell light design. I want one.

The pitch was created for Bogusky's new endeavor--CommonPitch, part of The FearLess Cottage's agenda to accelerate creative, pro-social business.

CommonPitch - Bell Solar Lamp from Kristian Bye on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Creating a Design Culture in Philadelphia

Every now and then, you get a client and it's a marriage made in heaven.

When DesignPhiladelphia came to us, they wanted to play a vital role in advancing the city's economy by promoting the design culture in Philly. We helped them rethink their relationships with the business community and retool their sponsorship offerings. This video series is a step toward a new kind of engagement.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What's Your Version of Hell?

We all know some kind of Hell. For most people it's a feeling of relentless discomfort...or more so, down right pain that has no end. The reason we can't really say it's true hell, is that somehow, tragic situations do have endings even if they are bad ones. They do end.

Yesterday, I was trapped on a plane in the desert for 4 hours yesterday waiting on the tarmac. We baked in the hot sun. Little air flow. I expected people to get angry. Sitting next to me was an ex-Marine. We struck up a conversation about things we've done in our lives that were really difficult. Others joined in around us. Things got competitive as people offered their toppers.

Eventually, the plane took off. Things got back to normal. And we all avoided that horrible after burn of negative emotion that can fill the cabin like second-hand smoke.

My definition of hell is not being trapped on a plane going nowhere. It's being trapped in a situation where everyone panics. Anxiety is contagious. And in this economy I continue to be impressed with brands that take the high road and seek to uplift people rather than scare the hell out of them. Old Spice, Geico and Virgin come to mind.

Fear-based branding is dead. And with it a whole system of selling to people that made the work of marketing more like war than art. Ironically, it took a confident young ex-Marine to drive that home to me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Viva Las Vegas

I'm heading to Las Vegas this week to give a talk at the Virtuoso® Travel Mart. It's a conference of travel professionals who craft high-end and unique travel experiences. As I always do, I'm making a list of some can't-miss events to check out while in Vegas.

My can't-miss this time? A photo exhibition, put together by the Las Vegas News Bureau and curated by Brian Paco Alvarez, of classic photos of Paradise Palms. Paradise Palms was created in the 1960's as an ideal suburban enclave, with its own weather-controlled(!) shopping center, movie theater, schools, and golf course. The units themselves were designed for the 1960's cocktail/pool party lifestyle, and Paradise Palms was home to many of the major entertainment celebrities of the time, including Johnny Carson and Debbie Reynolds.

There are two major reasons that this exhibit draws me. First, Paradise Palms was intended as a fiercely residential area, somewhat removed from the non-stop party atmosphere we associate with the Strip. There are similar developments all around Las Vegas, full of the normal everyday kids and families who call Las Vegas home and celebrate the ordinary community events, hidden to the tourist crowd. So, although the photos of Paradise Palms are primarily of its celebrity inhabitants, the exhibit reminds me of that other Vegas, full of the small victories and tragedies of suburban childhood.

The second reason is that Paradise Palms has had a renaissance recently. Young active professionals have embraced the uniqueness of the 1960's architecture and the "community" inherent in a planned community. In January 2011, the community applied for a Historic Neighborhood designation, and residents have organized to be a part of the Clark County Pride Zone project, which gives communities small grants to organize a community project - in this case, a massive cleanup.

Paradise Palms developed a blog and a Facebook page, and has embraced digital culture as an organizing tool for its residents. I love this example of community building that is so wonderful in the digital culture. I'm anxious to see how it all began.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Is President Obama Using Social Media for the Right Reasons?

Excerpted from The Huffington Post
President Obama doesn't tweet non-stop. He shouldn't. After all, the leader of free world has the business of the keeping the United States safe and solvent to contend with. But because he was the first presidential candidate to "socialize" an election, pundits wonder what happened to the pre-presidency levels of social media activity once he took office. Some contend that he abandoned the vast tribe he built once he it had served his purpose.

President Obama's recent Twitter blunder hints to the possibility that using social media only when you need others to do something for you is usury -- and hence a flawed social media strategy. But there's something deeper afoot here. It seems there are ways we like to be engaged to achieve political ends. Twitter may be too terse and too immediate for relaying more complex issues. It may be showing us its limitations as a medium for protest and debate. But it's perfect for affirming your approval of a candidate.

Twitter may be the digital culture's happy-talk medium. Save the hard news for longer format social media is what I'm thinking.

True, social media is about "engagement." That means different things to different people, but at the end of the day, the key to effective engagement is that everyone involved feels that he or she is getting something out of the interaction. If you want social media to work for you, you have to provide good reasons for people to tweet and re-tweet that gives them relevance among their own audiences.

Read the full article at The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

5 Tips for Socializing Content in a Maturing Digital Culture

Just one thing. That's what people want to know. Not five things, 10 steps, 100 ideas--just one. I often get asked to distill the most valuable lessons I've learned from a piece of research or a marketing experiment. In a recent blog post for MENG (marketing executives networking group) I shared 5 lessons learned about what it takes to build an audience for new content. In this case, the content was an eBook (also an experiment), Tipping the Culture. It's free and you should download it now if you haven't already!

Okay, so I shared 5 lessons. Too much? For the impatient and overstimulated among you, let me break it down to one. Here's the one thing I've learned about socializing content: patience. Read on.