- [from julienorvaisas] Google Voice Now Available to Everyone in the U.S. [Fast Company] – [Spend a few minutes with this fun, fascinating, rich infographic describing A Modern History of Human Communication] Google Voice, which began as an app called GrandCentral before Google bought it back in 2007, is a difficult beast to explain. It's sort of like a phone management system–it gives users one number which, when called, rings however many devices that user wants (cellphones, landlines, work phones, whatever). It provides an alternate web-based voice mail system which transcribes voice (sometimes well, sometimes with odd and hilarious mistakes) and pops the messages into your email for listening or reading. It's also a mobile app for Android and web (that web app can be used by the iPhone and Palm's WebOS phones) that can place outgoing calls.
- [from steve_portigal] A Moleskine Cover for your Kindle? [Design Sojourn] – [Associating your analog experience with a digital product: sometimes it evokes relevance, sometimes it screams desperation. Moleskine?] The interesting question with this Kindle cover is whether people associate the Moleskine brand with the design of its product/cover and or associate the brand with the product’s function i.e. sketchbooks? Whether this Kindle cover makes sense or not, it is always interesting to see how brands with strong design languages leverage it on product extensions. They even have a cool design justification that does make sense: "The very idea of this new cover came from the Moleskine “notebook hackers”, who create their own custom-made accessories weaving together paper pages and digital tools. Throughout the web, hundreds of communities and discussions can be found where such Moleskine “hackers” publish their inventions. Dedicated blogs, Flickr pages, and even YouTube videos highlight the power and vitality of the Moleskine digital-analog connection."
- Book Two (started in 2006) – As digital technologies become ever more prevalent, we believe it is inevitable that the primacy of the physical book will fade, and the art forms traditionally associated with it will be radically altered also. But in what ways will the stories that we tell be affected by the ways in which we recieve them, and what new forms will arise? We don’t have the answer, but we’re looking forward to finding out.
- A company’s sense of identity – who we are – nice parallel to my recent article on organizational empathy – Apple dropped the word “computer” from its name in January 2007, soon after it introduced the iPhone. Likewise, Fuji Photo Film shortened its name to Fujifilm in 2006, when sales of its photography products slipped to less than one-third of total revenue.
These moves symbolize fundamental shifts in how these companies see themselves and how others perceive them. In short, they signify a change in identity.
How a company responds to today’s tumultuous technological and competitive landscape depends greatly on how it defines itself or, in some cases, redefines itself.
Questioning a company’s identity, whether or not it results in change, is something that every organization should do.
- Seen Reading – a "literary voyeruism blog" set mostly (I believe) in Toronto – What is Seen Reading?
1. I see you reading.
2. I remember what page you’re on in the book.
3. I head to the bookstore, and make a note of the text.
4. I let my imagination rip.
5. Readers become celebrities.
6. People get giddy and buy more books.
Why do you do this?
Readers are cool. Authors work hard. Publishers take chances. And you all deserve to be seen!
(Thanks Suzanne Long!)
- Choose What You Read NY – Choose What You Read NY is a non profit organization that offers free books to New Yorkers, encouraging its residents to read more, giving them an alternative to the free papers that get tossed out and even the digi-trash that crowds our time. In doing so, we help to recycle used books that would have unfortunately been thrown away.
You will find us near major subway stations on the first Tuesday of each month.The idea is that once someone is finished with a book, they either drop it off in one of our conveniently located drop boxes or back to us at a station. Unlike a library, there will be no due dates, penalties, fees or registrations. We only ask that you return it once you are done so that the same book can be enjoyed by another commuter.
- What was the last book, magazine and newspaper you read on the subway? – 6000 people respond and the New York Times posts the results
- How and what people read on the New York City subways – Plenty of detailed examples of people, their books, and their travels: "Reading on the subway is a New York ritual, for the masters of the intricately folded newspaper, as well as for teenage girls thumbing through magazines, aspiring actors memorizing lines, office workers devouring self-help inspiration, immigrants newly minted — or not — taking comfort in paragraphs in a familiar tongue. These days, among the tattered covers may be the occasional Kindle, but since most trains are still devoid of Internet access and cellphone reception, the subway ride remains a rare low-tech interlude in a city of inveterate multitasking workaholics. And so, we read.
There are those whose commutes are carefully timed to the length of a Talk of the Town section of The New Yorker, those who methodically page their way through the classics, and those who always carry a second trash novel in case they unexpectedly make it to the end of the first on a glacial F train."
(thanks Avi and Anne)
- Lego grabs ahold of customers with both hands – From 2006, great Wired piece about Lego's approach to involving ardent fans/customers in developing future products.
- Noting:books – the simple yet dynamic way to track your reading, from the dates you start and finish a book, to your thoughts along the way.
- CourseSmart brings textbooks to the iPhone in PDF; major readability challenges ensue – “It’s not the first place to go to read your textbook,” Mr. Lyman said of the iPhone app. But he said that it could be helpful if “you’re standing outside of the classroom, the quiz is in 10 minutes, and you want to go back to that end-of-chapter summary that helped you understand the material.”
- Nice profile of Lego’s business culture and the tension between growth and losing track of their legacy – But the story of Lego’s renaissance — and its current expansion into new segments like virtual reality and video games — isn’t just a toy story. It’s also a reminder of how even the best brands can lose their luster but bounce back with a change in strategy and occasionally painful adaptation.
- Core77 launches a product: a limited edition "curated" bike with a $1500 price tag – Core77 has been insanely brilliant at facilitating design discourse and ultimately design itself for a very long time. They've experimented before in launching their own product, I think, (I seem to recall a shoe) but this is a big leap, with this fancy-shmancy bike. To those that know what makes for a great bike, it may be a truly wonderful object, but it seems to manifest the worst part of design: elite hipsters making artificially cool stuff for other designers who revel in the semiotics of exclusivity, rather than what I believe Core77 can better champion: the design field of talented passionate people solving tough problems in unique, beautiful and successful ways. I challenge Core77 to take this (hopefully successful) experience in Launching Products (no doubt an insanely difficult thing) and apply it next to Launching Products That Make A Difference To Everyone (or at least Helping Others To…). The MoMA design world doesn't need Core77, but the real design world so badly does.
- R.I.P., Oscar Mayer – The 95-year old retired company chairman dies. He was actually the third Oscar Mayer to run the company, co-founded in the 1890s by his grandfather, Oscar Mayer. "They began using the Oscar Mayer brand name in the 1920s, stamping it on the country's first packaged, sliced bacon, which the Mayer brothers introduced in 1924 — an innovation that earned them a U.S. government patent."
- American Airlines' 'Nerd-bird' flights between San Jose, CA and Austin, TX to end – The flights of mostly electrical engineers, computer programmers and other tech-savvy passengers have been run by American Airlines daily since 1992. Because the recession has cut sharply into business and other travel, American has announced it will discontinue its twice-a-day nonstop flights between the two tech centers as of Aug. 25.
- Derivative (or, if you prefer, rip-off) book titles that capitalize on other successful books – Ultimately, the best locutions are those that credit quotidian, trivial objects with earthshaking influence, like “Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World,” by Mark Kurlansky. The more obvious the significance of the subject, the less successful the title. After all, where’s the element of surprise or wit in “A Man Without Equal: Jesus, the Man Who Changed the World”?
Some of the more unlikely candidates endowed with superhuman powers by authors include “Tea: The Drink That Changed the World,” “Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World,” “Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World” and “Sugar: The Grass That Changed the World.”
The tricky part is gauging just when the magic wears off. “Essentially it works until it doesn’t work,” Mr. Dolan said, “and you hope you’re on the right side of that line.”
- Harley-Davidson: You Can File Our Obituary Where The Sun Don't Shine – Passionate and 100% on-brand response to rumblings about Harley not making it through 2009. Seen as full-page ad in today's New York Times and presumably elsewhere
- Very slight story on how and why we use lines from movies in regular conversation – It also turns out that using movie quotes in everyday conversation is akin to telling a joke and a way to form solidarity with others, according to a researcher who has actually studied why we like to cite films in social situations.
"People are doing it to feel good about themselves, to make others laugh, to make themselves laugh," said Richard Harris, a psychology professor at Kansas State University.
Harris decided to ask hundreds of young adults about their film-quoting habits after he and his graduate students realized it was a common behavior that no one had looked at closely before.
He found that all of the participants in his study had used movie quotes in conversation at one point or another. They overwhelmingly cited comedies, followed distantly by dramas and action adventure flicks.
As for horror films, musicals and children's movies, "fuh-get about it." They were hardly ever cited.
When asked about their emotions while quoting films, most people reported feeling happy.
There are some amazingly arcane companies out there, like Sethness Caramel Color
In 1880, a 25 year old self-educated immigrant named Charles O. Sethness started a flavor and syrup business in Chicago, Illinois. And from this humble beginning grew the world’s largest and most respected manufacturer of caramel color.