Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How to Launch in a Digital Culture: Google Dictionary

I’ve only seen the video. Already, I love the concept. This is “Google,” a book of visual definitions that contains the first image from Google Images for every word in a basic English dictionary. As you’d expect, it’s an elephant of a book—1,240 pages that illuminates 21,000 words.

No time? See the lickety-split gist vid from authors Felix Hayes and Ben West, the people behind the book’s creation.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Creative Living: 3 Tips for Making Better Decisions

I was delighted when writer Margaret Miller decided to do an update article on the state of the RenGen, renaissance generation.

Margaret wanted to know how people could better cope with the amount of cultural change underway. This piece appeared recently in Creative Living magazine. In it, I share three important suggestions to help creative people make solid decisions in turbulent times. My thanks to Margaret Miller for her thoughtful piece (pdf).

Friday, May 25, 2012

10 Days in Italy: Day 10

My last day in Italy, I woke at the crack of dawn to join a fleet of fishermen. It gave me new insight into the relationship between work, nature, and identity. I intend to post more about that, but for now, enjoy these pics.

All photos taken by Patricia Martin, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Food Culture Trends

Chef Marissa slices handmade, gluten-free pizzas as they are pulled from the brick ovens at La Locanda in Italy.
My recent trip to Umbria, Italy’s bread basket, taught me a lesson: some food trends are universal. Gluten-free is one example. Europeans are adapting their culinary traditions to accommodate gluten intolerance. Pasta and pizza innovations abound.

During my stay in Orvieto, I picked up pizza-making tips from one of the chefs at La Locanda, an organic farm-to-table retreat house. I learned the basics of how to make a gluten-free pizza dough scrumptious enough to fool even Mario Batali.

Many nutritionists believe that the gluten-free phenomenon has been caused by a lack of grain diversity in food production. Enter farro. This nutty, complex ancient grain is produced in Umbria. At one time, farro was a staple in European cooking.

Farro is heading for a renaissance. The confluence of anti-carb dieting and gluten intolerance has generated pent up hunger for healthy fiber.

As this trending analysis from the Hartman Group (pdf) points out, brown rice is trending out, farro is trending in.

Takeaway: Cultural forces shape demand for certain kinds of food. Ancient grains and old-time processes offer drama AND utility for consumers. Look for a renaissance in old-world staples like farro. Food ingredients that are rare make consumers feel special, and if they help consumers overcome their food issues, it's a triumph.

All photos taken by Patricia Martin, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

10 Days in Italy: Day Four

The city of Marta, Italy has an Etruscan history. As such, the big springtime pageant is a celebration of fertility. Originally, the goddess Ceres was worshiped. By the 1400s, the festivities centered on the Madonna. But the chanting and handmade parade floats festooned with flowers, not to mention live animals, fish, grain, fruits and wines maintain the spirit of the original feast day. It was a spectacle of abundance that left me breathless. It's only day 4 in Italy, and the parade of experiences keeps coming!

All photos taken by Patricia Martin, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Measuring the Impact of Social Media on Brand Performance

Photo by
As you know, I'm in Italy this week on a week-long photography workshop. Before I left, I wrote a piece for the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG), which was published yesterday. The link is at the bottom. More photos coming soon!

I’ve been a fan of the Ford Fiesta’s pioneering relaunch since its inception last year. Recently, the vehicle’s social media campaign benchmarked solid ROI. According to U.S. News & World Report, the zippy subcompact is the best car for the money in its category and it has consistently been at the top of the subcompact sales charts. As such, Fiesta may be Ford’s first “social” brand to make its mark on the year-end sales report. If you’re still trying to convince your colleagues or clients to adopt social media to stimulate sales, read on.

As you might imagine, making the shift to marketing a car using 80% social media had its challenges. Fiesta brand manager, Sam De La Garza, spoke with me a while back about the cultural changes the Fiesta Movement campaign triggered at Ford.

There are three big takeaways from Sam’s playbook. I blogged about them at MENG Blend.

Read the full article at MENG Blend: Measuring the Impact of Social Media on Brand Performance

Friday, May 11, 2012

10 Days in Italy: Day One

This is the view from my doorway near Orvieto, Italy. I'm spending the week in Umbria with Catherine Karnow, the National Geographic photographer. She's giving me a crash course in photography on location. Can a pro turn a rank amateur into a respectable photographer in a week? Stay tuned.

Photo by Patricia Martin, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hello Avatar Explores the Power of Networks of Exchange on Young Digerati

Photo by Jerry Bunkers
The current media environment is so pervasive. It’s so saturated. And it’s changing our identities, how we understand who we are, argues Beth Coleman. This, Coleman believes, is reshaping an entire generation of younger users. I’m reading her erudite new book, Hello Avatar: Rise of the Networked Generation.

The book explores identity as a tool. I’m fascinated by the possibility that when we combine our aspirational selves - our avatar identities - with our more everyday personas, we may become something greater or lesser depending on how those identities behave in a networked world. In other words, it’s people who still affect people, says Coleman, whether we encounter them online or live.

Still, I wonder...Has the digital age made Shakespeare’s wisdom, “To thine own self be true,” more or less true?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cultural Tourism May Need a Makeover

It may be too late. As I get ready for my photography workshop in Italy, I’m racing to get things done here and prepare for what lies there. Just yesterday, I remembered that St. Peter’s Excavation in Rome is on my bucket list.

I sent a plaintive email request to the Ufficio Scavi (Office of the Excavation) late last night.

The auto-response included this pictorial of the official guidelines for tourists. Have a look at Ugly American icon.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.