Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bing’s “Most Searched” List for 2011 in a Cool Video

According to Bing searches, 2011 was the year of fascination over musical superstars, celebrity, saving money, concern for human tragedy and royalty. To their credit, Bing has captured the year in history through the searches in this fun and informative video. It’s based on the aggregation of billions of search queries.

<a href='http://video.msn.com?vid=6e2a2b22-3351-4dec-9ec2-9f8b7bed4ac7&mkt=en-us&from=sp^en-us&src=FLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='The Top 2011 Searches from Bing: A Year of Breakthroughs and Heartbreaks' >Video: The Top 2011 Searches from Bing: A Year of Breakthroughs and Heartbreaks</a>

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I can be stubborn. Over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to walking against the tide. I don’t flinch from certain situations. Maybe I should. It’s tough to know which advice to go with when making a big life decision: “He who hesitates is lost!” or “Fools rush in where angels daren’t tread.”

Take, for example, my recent decision to buy a house. I was miserable renting a flat. It was on the second floor of an intimate building. I had little privacy. I also had no easy access to the garden, no connection with the natural world. I found it a withering lifestyle.

Besides, I was curious to see what life had in store for me if I could pursue my passions—gardening and being outdoors, and feeling like I was a part of something greater. My curiosity about what might be possible overruled my fears.

The trouble with making big decisions is that we never really know. We can labor over the pros and cons all we like. But eventually, our sense of wonder moves us down a path. We are making progress just by exploring a new life. Eventually, my toes curled over the edge of the chasm, and I had to leap or fall to my peril. I leapt.

Yes, I’m facing some hard truths—I can’t run the dishwasher, radio, coffee maker and toaster without tripping the circuit breaker. But I’m also waking up in a lovely, solid little house built by German machinist in 1936. I look out over a park. I feel both safe and inspired.

I’m hoping you’ll be inspired by my 2011 Thanksgiving list. This is just a slice of the many things for which I’m grateful:

• I’m grateful to have a healthy happy daughter who’s at this very moment taking her first set of college exams and hopefully passing!
• I’m grateful that my son had the confidence in himself to forge his own path and build a life with the woman he loves in Florida.
• I’m grateful that my relationship with my team has been strengthened, not weakened, by a tough economy, as we innovate and seize challenges.

• I’m grateful for my assistant, Ellen, who tolerates my terse mails when I’m displeased and never, ever backs down when she believes in something.
• Most of all, I’m grateful to be living the Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m spending time unpacking boxes and overeating with family. I will return to regular blogging next week.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Changing the Culture of Student Debt

From the We Are the 99 Percent Tumblr
Occupy Wall Street may be an amorphous, platform-free movement. But as the protests that began in New York in September have spread across the United States, and the world, one clear issue of concern has emerged: student loan debt.

For over a year, I’ve been working on a foundation-funded project that hopes to change America’s debt culture, especially among Millennials.

I’ve begun following the young people on “We Are the 99 Percent” Tumblr, and am taken by their use of handwritten signs with their personal stories. It’s a stunning testament in its authenticity, and more powerful than any high-priced ad campaign conceived on Madison Avenue.

“I have $50,000 in student loan debt and my B.A. is useless,” one wrote.

From another: "Graduated college: May 2010. Debt: $35,000. Jobs in US: None.”

Some are resigned: “I am 38 years old. It will take me almost 30 years to pay off my student loans (in 2023).”

Others cry out: “I am 24 years old and am $90,000 in debt from getting a college education. Why are we being punished with debt for getting a higher education?”

The trends are converging into a perfect storm: rising college costs, an increasing need for access to higher education for low-income students, more borrowing and fewer entry-level jobs for new graduates.

Read the full article at The Huffington Post

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remix Culture: Why The Future Likes Hybrids

The most dangerous problems we face are not typically problems that can be held within a single disciplinary frame. For example, the future of the post-industrial city will not be fully addressed within urban planning or sociology or geo-remediation. The effects of pollution will not be fully addressed within chemistry or public health or oceanography.

The world craves solutions right now. I’m seeing a new kind of thought leader emerging. They are not only cross-disciplinary, but post-disciplinary. They defy category. And they may or may not have academic credentials. What’s important is that they are able to see what others cannot. And communicate it using a constellation of creative technologies.

Take James Powderly, for example. He defies categorization. He describes himself this way:
“I guess I’m a designer, somewhere between an artist and an engineer.”

Powderly continues to fascinate me because he is rocking the remix culture.

As hybrids thrive they will transform what we think about branding, which is defined by specificity. A good brand has boundaries. It is this, not that. But in the remix culture—how will we define our brands?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Poet’s Power: Silvi Alcivar

This is a terrific video about a magical poet, Silvi Alcivar. She conjures spontaneous poetry from her vintage Royal typewriter and her immaculate mind. She charges $15/poem (order online from The Poetry Store).

At a loss for words? You will never find a better deal.

a desire for words from silvi alcivar on Vimeo.

People who have hired her for events say she elevates the energy in the room. But what is Silvi’s power? Sure, she transforms people’s simple experiences into something poetic. I think the alchemy begins by her listening. Hearing people out. John Gray, author of the bestselling series Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus, cites research that being heard stimulates a sense of well being.

Silvi is just one of the many examples I’m starting to collect of artist entrepreneurs who demonstrate transformative powers. They use their craft in helpful ways that change the energy between people—and turn a profit.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Avoiding the Kiss of Death Online. Hint: It's Not About Targeting.

What’s the kiss of death for brands in a digital culture? It’s boredom.

That’s why this shocking video by Dermablend caught my attention. It graphically demonstrates the brand’s attributes—namely to cover up severe blemishes or scarred flesh (NB: I have no professional relationship with Dermablend, and they don’t know me from a hill of beans.).

The campaign’s Halloween timing is spot-on. Everyone takes a certain interest in the bizarre this time of year. In this case, it’s the full body skeleton tattoos of Rico Genest, aka Zombie Boy, a 26-year-old professional model - or should I say “anti-model” - who gets work because of his head-to-toe skeletal tattoos. He went mainstream when he appeared in a Lady Gaga video.

Looking at this video might make you wonder who the target is. Let me tell you, in a viral realm, targeting doesn’t matter as much.

Read the full article at MENG Online