- [from steve_portigal] Sitting, lying or standing: what’s the pole position for reading? [guardian.co.uk] – [In ReadingAhead, we identified design opportunities for digital book devices that could more specifically address these sort of ergonomic issues]
- [from steve_portigal] At The Movies, A String Of Futures Passed [All Things Considered - NPR] – No matter how accurate they may be, all fictional futures — especially alarmist ones — lose urgency as the concerns that fueled them fade. The Cold War paranoia of 1984 and 2001 now feel distant, even if the tech-boom fears in Blade Runner may be a bit more current. This decade, we're uptight about the environment and our increasing decrepitude, so we get Wall-E. In the flower-power era, we were skeptical about social conformity, so we got A Clockwork Orange.
- [from steve_portigal] Fusion: The Synergy of Images and Words [Steve McCurry's Blog[ - [Photjournalist assembles series of images of people reading, across the planet]
- [from steve_portigal] Coca Cola Village Like Facebook [The Inspiration Room] – [The ability to "post things" to Facebook or similar from far away (online or offline) is provocative but perhaps limiting, when the feedback loop - I post and I see what I post appear- is broken as badly as here] Coca Cola Village in Israel is a summer holiday resort designed for teenagers finishing their school years. For its third year experiential marketing agency Promarket provided residents with RFID bracelets (Radio Frequency Identification) to help them share their experiences on Facebook. Teens were able to put a digital ‘like’ on their choice of forty facilities in the camp, from the pool, the spa, to the extreme activities and sport section. If photographed by one of the official photographers, the RFID technology would automatically tag everyone in the photo and upload it to the relevant Facebook profiles…Real world Liking resulted in up to 35,000 posts per cycle…On average each visitor was posting 54 pieces of Coke branded content to their Facebook profile.
- [from julienorvaisas] America: Land of Loners? [The Wilson Quarterly] – [Thoughtful commentary on the notion of "friends," a watered-down word these days, thanks to Facebook.] Friendship, like baseball, always seems to send intellectuals off the deep end. Yet there is more biological justification for our predecessors’ paeans to friendship than for our modern-day tepidity. Friendship exists in all the world’s cultures, likely as a result of natural selection. People have always needed allies to help out in times of trouble, raise their status, and join with them against their enemies. It doesn’t seem much of a stretch to conclude that a talent for making friends would bestow an evolutionary advantage by corralling others into the project of promoting and protecting one’s kids—and thereby ensuring the survival of one’s genes.
- [from julienorvaisas] Ewwwwwwwww! [The Boston Globe] – [Scientists are working on unpacking the psychology of physical disgust and it's role in moral decisions, which are obviously also based in powerful socio-cultural factors. Food for thought on just how layered the decision-making process is.] Just as our teeth and tongue first evolved to process food, then were enlisted for complex communication, disgust first arose as an emotional response to ensure that our ancestors steered clear of rancid meat and contagion. But over time, that response was co-opted by the social brain to help police the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Today, some psychologists argue, we recoil at the wrong just as we do at the rancid, and when someone says that a politician’s chronic dishonesty makes her sick, she is feeling the same revulsion she might get from a brimming plate of cockroaches.
- [from steve_portigal] iPad/Kindle combo proving deadly to rest of e-reader market [ars technica] – The show floor of January's Consumer Electronics Show was swamped with E-Ink-based e-readers of all shapes and sizes, to the point that it seemed that a tsunami of Kindle knock-offs was going to hit the US market in the first quarter of 2010. But in hindsight, it turns out that the wave actually crested at CES, and has now almost entirely subsided. The problem for these products is that the e-reader market appears to consist almost exclusively of people who want to use the devices to read, which means that they don't really care about being able to bend or flex the e-reader a little bit, nor are they willing to pay the huge premium that a touchscreen commands. Neither of these features enhances the basic reading experience that's at the core of why people pick an E-Ink device over a reader with an LCD screen. For those who just want to read, the Kindle is now very cheap. And if you're going to pay for a touchscreen, you might as well spend a bit extra get an iPad.
- [from steve_portigal] Persona [a set on Flickr] – [An ongoing series of photographs of people, and the stuff they are carrying with them. This sort of raw documentationism is without explicit analysis or articulated insight but of course the act of creation and the act of editing/selecting introduces a curatorial voice and implicit point of view on the world. It's just up to us to figure out what that is]
- [from julienorvaisas] The Sketchbook Project: 2011[http://www.arthousecoop.com/projects/sketchbookproject] – [For $25 and an output of your own artistic energy, you can be part of this traveling sketchbook project. Choose from themes like "Adhere to me," "Help!" and "Down your street." Great way to practice sketching and story-telling!] Thousands of sketchbooks will be exhibited at galleries and museums as they make their way on tour across the country. After the tour, all sketchbooks will enter into the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Art Library, where they will be barcoded and available for the public to view. Anyone – from anywhere in the world – can be a part of the project. To participate and have us send you a sketchbook that will go on tour, start by choosing a theme.
- [from steve_portigal] Want Smart Kids? Here’s What to Do [The Chronicle of Higher Education] – [It seems like this confuses correlation and causality, but it is a very actionable finding in that way] Buy a lot of books. That seems kind of obvious, right? But what's surprising, according to a new study published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, is just how strong the correlation is between a child's academic achievement and the number of books his or her parents own. It's even more important than whether the parents went to college or hold white-collar jobs. Books matter. A lot.
- [from steve_portigal] Google Research Director Peter Norvig on Being Wrong [Slate] – We do it by trying to fail faster and smaller. The average cycle for getting something done at Google is more like three months than three years. And the average team size is small, so if we have a new idea, we don't have to go through the political lobbying of saying, "Can we have 50 people to work on this?" Instead, it's more done bottom up: Two or three people get together and say, "Hey, I want to work on this." They don't need permission from the top level to get it started because it's just a couple of people; it's kind of off the books. …Within the company, we're really good at making decisions based on statistics. So if we have an idea—"You know, here's a way I can make search better"—we're really good at saying, "Well, let's do an experiment. Let's compare the old way with the new way and try it out on some sample searches." And we'll come back with a number and we'll know if it's better and how much better and so on. That's our bread and butter.
- [from steve_portigal] Dangerous Ideas [Big Think] – [When we lead ideation exercises, we often talk about the importance of "bad" ideas and try to empower or teams to be free to come up with bad ideas; it's a way of coming un-stuck, to free yourself from "solving" the problem and just play with the problem. When we suggest trying things that are dangerous or immoral, people laugh, but they are immediately get it. Here's a more serious consideration of the power of "bad" ideas] Throughout the month of August, Big Think will introduce a different "dangerous idea" each day. Brace yourself: these ideas may at first seem shocking or counter-intuitive—but they are worth our attention, even if we end up rejecting them. Every idea in the series will be supported by contributions from leading experts.
- [from steve_portigal] No E-Books Allowed in This Establishment [NYTimes.com] – [In which the blogger goes to a cafe with a No Computers rule and tries to use his e-Reader, then gets into a debate about whether an e-Reader is really a computer or not. A bit of a tempest in a teapot; looking to connect to a larger social crisis which isn't occurring]
- [from steve_portigal] Skill Building for Design Innovators (from CHIFOO) [All This ChittahChattah] – Steve will take a look at some fundamental skills that underlie the creation and launch of innovative goods and services. He will discuss the personal skills that he considers to be “the muscles of innovators” and the ways you can build these important muscles, including noticing, understanding cultural context, maintaining exposure to pop culture, synthesizing, drawing, wordsmithing, listening, and prototyping.
- [from steve_portigal] Five Indispensable Skills for UX Mastery [UIE Tips] – [This makes a good companion piece to my recent CHIFOO presentation "Skill Building for Design Innovations"]
- [from steve_portigal] An interview with Eric Ludlum of Core77 [All This ChittahChattah] – The Dutch Master project is a natural extension for Core and also myself. Having gone through the industrial design program at Pratt Institute, and then founding Core77, covering industrial design, with Stu Constantine and myself always being on the outside of the industry in terms of actually participating, but then covering it, watching it from the inside. The Dutch Master, and previous to the Dutch Master, the Blu Fom shoe have been our attempts at doing some product development and design.
- [from steve_portigal] Announcing the Core77 Flagship Retail Store in Portland Oregon! [Core77] – [Eric Ludlum of Core77 takes some of the themes he shared with us in the recent Ambidextrous interview and pushes them further with the opening of a Core77 retail space. I was surprised to visit it recently and see that it wasn't a curated museum store, but instead a 'Hand-Eye Supply' outlet] If there is a poster-boy, a hero, of Hand-Eye Design, it is Bucky Fuller. Who practiced sustainability, who advocated design-thinking, who studied the needs of the human being, but who understood these as parts of the whole enterprise of doing. He is the guy who, as good designers do, kept all that in his head and in his heart and used it as he MADE THINGS -not for the sake of self-expression or commercialism but because they had to be done. And that work was not birthed effortlessly from within but dragged out of the world in handfuls, built-up slowly into something meaningful through sketches and prototypes, mock-ups and fabrication. That is the design philosophy of Core77's Hand-Eye Supply.
- [from Dan_Soltzberg] Flow [Future Perfect] – [A lovely observation on how behavioral flows in the cafes of several countries reflect differing cultural values.]
- [from Dan_Soltzberg] Getting unstuck: solving the perfect problem [Seth's Blog] – [Short piece on strategy for solving sticky problems.] The way to solve the perfect problem is to make it imperfect. Don't just bend one of the constraints, eliminate it. Shut down the factory. Walk away from the job. Change your product completely. Ignore the board.
- [from steve_portigal] Multimedia E-Books, Adorned With Video Extras [NYTimes.com] – [The language we use to describe an emerging technology or form of communication is in flux as its meaning, marketing, and perceived usefulness is in flux] In the spring Hachette Book Group called its version, by David Baldacci, an “enriched” book. Penguin Group released an “amplified” version of a novel by Ken Follett last week. And on Thursday Simon & Schuster will come out with one of its own, an “enhanced” e-book version of “Nixonland” by Rick Perlstein. All of them go beyond the simple black-and-white e-book that digitally mirrors its ink-and-paper predecessor. The new multimedia books use video that is integrated with text, and they are best read — and watched — on an iPad, the tablet device that has created vast possibilities for book publishers.
- [from steve_portigal] newWitch Magazine – Cutting Edge Paganism – [Seen in a "magic" shop today during a post-fieldwork ramble] newWitch is a magazine dedicated to, featuring, and partially written by young or beginning Witches, Wiccans, Neo-Pagans, and other earth-based, ethnic, pre-Christian, shamanic, and magical practitioners. Everyone from Traditional Wiccans to potion-makers to Asatruar to eco-Pagans can find something in these pages. The one thing we all have in common is a willingness to look at the world, our magical and spiritual paths, and ourselves in new ways. We hope to reach not only those already involved in what we cover, but the curious and completely new as well.
- [from steve_portigal] Can the Kindle and Its Ilk Ease Textbook Inflation? [Village Voice] – [Thanks @dastillman] Pace offered the Kindle to students with course materials already preloaded on the device. Students had the option to buy the Kindle (at a discounted price) at the end of the course. Student complaints ranged from difficulties in taking notes to clumsy navigation controls. The electronic annotation feature was especially “slow and cumbersome,” requiring students to manipulate a tiny button to underline passages and type notes on the Kindle’s ergonomically unfriendly keyboard. The photos, pictures, and diagrams in the e-textbook were all black and white and image quality was not quite as sharp as in print….Soares found time eaten away by technical issues. Kindle books have no page numbers, so it was a challenge to get all the students on the same page. “It’s one thing to read a mystery or novel on the Kindle, but the way you read a textbook is different. You are flipping back and forth while reading, and navigation was cumbersome, even with bookmarks.”
- [from steve_portigal] Doomsday shelters making a comeback [USATODAY.com] – The Vivos network, which offers partial ownerships similar to a timeshare in underground shelter communities, is one of several ventures touting escape from a surface-level calamity. Vicino, who launched the Vivos project last December, says he seeks buyers willing to pay $50,000 for adults and $25,000 for children. The company is starting with a 13,000-square-foot refurbished underground shelter formerly operated by the U.S. government at an undisclosed location near Barstow, Calif., that will have room for 134 people. Vicino puts the average cost for a shelter at $10 million. Vivos plans for facilities as large as 100,000 square feet, says real estate broker Dan Hotes, who over the past four years has collaborated with Vicino on partial ownership of luxury homes and is now involved with Vivos. Catastrophe shelters today may appeal to those who seek to bring order to a world full of risk and uncertainty, says Alexander Riley, an associate professor of sociology at Bucknell University.
- [from steve_portigal] Market researchers get new tool in iPad [USATODAY.com] – [No doubt getting people to participate in surveys is an exercise in persuasion or seduction, but if there's a cool factor, something seems wrong to me] The gadget is luring curious consumers who've never seen one to participate in research projects conducted at shopping malls, primarily because they just want to see how it works. At many of the centers response was so good that survey takers collected the required information in about three weeks instead of the four they'd anticipated. The iPad presented its own set of research challenges. Some overheated in direct sunlight and shut down. In one case, a consumer at a mall in Rhode Island was so enamored with the iPad, he grabbed it from the interviewer and ran off.
- [from steve_portigal] Woody Allen Records His Stories As Audiobooks [NYTimes.com] – The discovery I made was that any number of stories are really meant to work, and only work, in the mind’s ear and hearing them out loud diminishes their effectiveness. Some of course hold up amusingly, but it’s no fun hearing a story that’s really meant to be read, which brings me to your next question, and that is that there is no substitute for reading, and there never will be. Hearing something aloud is its own experience, but it’s hard to beat sitting in bed or in a comfortable chair turning the pages of a book, putting it down, and eagerly awaiting the chance to get back to it.
What’s there to say but, “it’s happened?” At Amazon, e-books are outselling hardover books.
Amazon hit a symbolic milestone last holiday season, when for one day its sales of e-books exceeded the number of dead-tree books it had sold.
Now the company has hit a more significant milestone, selling 143 e-books for every 100 hardcover books sold over the course of the second quarter. The rate is accelerating: For the past month, Amazon sold 180 e-books for every 100 hardcovers, and it sold three times as many e-books in the first six months of this year as it did in the first half of 2009. [via Wired]
Ironically, I just went to the Burlingame library and got myself a new library card. I loved libraries as a kid, and still do. The Kindle doesn’t have a place around it – it’s almost purely about content. But reading is so much more than the imbibing of content (see our Reading Ahead research for more about this).
Amazon’s customer reviews start to bring in some of the social aspect of reading, and it will be interesting to see whether the company goes further into the total reading experience, or remains primarily a provider of content and devices.
- [from Dan_Soltzberg] The clever furniture designs of OOOMS [Core77] – Some wonderfully playful furniture by Dutch firm OOMS. The "Low-Res Chair" at the bottom of the page is sheer genius.
- [from julienorvaisas] The art of slow reading [www.guardian.co.uk] – [Will unplugging from technology really help us read more attentively, as the article suggests?] First we had slow food, then slow travel. Now, those campaigns are joined by a slow-reading movement – a disparate bunch of academics and intellectuals who want us to take our time while reading, and re-reading. They ask us to switch off our computers every so often and rediscover both the joy of personal engagement with physical texts, and the ability to process them fully.
- [from steve_portigal] Pandora, MOG, Apple, and online music’s future [The New Yorker] – [Sasha Frere-Jones writes about the digital listening experience with clarity and insight] No one knows what the future of the music business will look like, but the near future of listening to music looks a lot like 1960. People will listen, for free, to music that comes out of a stationary box that sits indoors. They’ll listen to music that comes from an object that fits in the hand, and they’ll listen to music in the car. That box was once a radio or a stereo; now it’s a computer… Sometimes we will be the d.j.s, and sometimes the machines will be, and we may be surprised by which we prefer.
- [from julienorvaisas] STRANGEco MR. SPRAY – Shepard Fairey [strangeco.com] – [I was not considering purchasing one of these original-artwork/advertising-appropriation figures in the latest limited edition by Mr. Fairey... until I read about the 4 points of articulation. $84.99] We're pleased to announce MR. SPRAY, a new limited edition vinyl figure designed by internationally renowned artist Shepard Fairey! Mr. Spray is an original character created by the artist in 2004 as a street-art appropriation of an advertising character design of the 1950s. Mr. Spray is the first original vinyl figure design by the artist in eleven years and will be released in mid-July 2010. Mr. Spray is a rotocast vinyl figure, 11 inches tall. 4 points of articulation and packaged with an OBEY mini stencil.
- [from steve_portigal] Money in the Bank? No, Sandwich in a Can [NYTimes.com] – An SEC lawsuit says that Mr. Wright promised returns of up to 24% on real estate investments, but that he put the money instead into Candwich development and other equally untried ideas. Along with sales of canned sandwiches Pepperoni Pizza Pocket and French Toast in a can Mr. Wright’s companies, under the banner of Waterford Funding, also invested in a company selling rose petals printed with greeting card sentiments and another selling watches over the Internet. Meanwhile, the Candwich concept perseveres. The president of Mark One Foods, Mark Kirkland, who said he patented the idea of putting solid food in a beverage container with the slogan, “Quick & Tasty, Ready to Eat,” said Mr. Wright promised full financial backing for Candwich production that never really materialized even as investors did. He said he believed that canned sandwiches would ultimately sell, and hoped to go into production later this year. The shelf life of a Candwich is excellent, Mr. Kirkland said.
- [from steve_portigal] Reading in a Whole New Way [Smithsonian Magazine] – [Kevin Kelly reflects on the history of reading and the changes new technology has brought to this essentially fundamental activity] The amount of time people spend reading has almost tripled since 1980. By 2008 more than a trillion pages were added to the World Wide Web, and that total grows by several billion a day. Each of these pages was written by somebody. Right now ordinary citizens compose 1.5 million blog posts per day. Using their thumbs instead of pens, young people in college or at work around the world collectively write 12 billion quips per day from their phones. More screens continue to swell the volume of reading and writing. But it is not book reading. Or newspaper reading. It is screen reading. Screens are always on, and, unlike with books we never stop staring at them. This new platform is very visual, and it is gradually merging words with moving images: words zip around, they float over images, serving as footnotes or annotations, linking to other words or images.
- [from julienorvaisas] 2010 IDEA Awards [www.fastcodesign.com] – [One could easily spend days awash in inspiration - everything from forklifts to trash cans to hotel service design.] There are few awards in the world of design as eagerly followed and proudly worn as the Industrial Design Excellence Awards–or IDEA–given out by the Industrial Designers Society of America. This year, Fast Company and Co Design are happy to announce the winners–complete with detailed write-ups, images, a searchable database, and even an Olympics style infographic showing who leads in the medal count.
- [from steve_portigal] DODOcase: A perfect blend of the traditional feel of a book with the technological power of the iPad. – [More collisions between traditional form factors and digital form factors. It's interesting to see conceptual explorations in the recent Kindle era becoming actual products in the nascent iPad era] The limited first edition iPad DODOcase is inspired by the journals of our favorite artists. Made by hand in San Francisco, California using traditional book binding techniques, the DODOcase brings a classic look to protecting your iPad. (Thanks, @elreiss)
- [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."
- [from steve_portigal] ALT/1977: WE ARE NOT TIME TRAVELERS [Behance] – [Alex Varanese's thought-provoking concepts go beyond blogosphere-hipster-silliness to really provoke reflection on design and functionality often taken for granted] What would you do if you could travel back in time? Here's what I'd do after that: grab all the modern technology I could find, take it to the late 70's, superficially redesign it all to blend in, start a consumer electronics company to unleash it upon the world, then sit back as I rake in billions, trillions, or even millions of dollars. I've explored that idea in this series by re-imagining four common products from 2010 as if they were designed in 1977: an mp3 player, a laptop, a mobile phone and a handheld video game system. I then created a series of fictitious but stylistically accurate print ads. I've learned that there is no greater design element than the anachronism. I've learned that the strongest contrast isn't spatial or tonal but historical. I've learned that there's retro, and then there's time travel.
- [from julienorvaisas] 10:10 Tags Symbolize Committment to Climate Change [10:10global.org/uk] – [The fact that this tag is tangible but also symbolic rather than overt, and versatile enough to be carried on the body as a daily reminder of a commitment to the cause of climate change can help change behavior and improve compliance, as well as subtly telegraph solidarity.] The 10:10 Tag is made from a recycled jumbo jet, and can be worn on the neck, wrist, lapel or leotard to symbolise your 10:10 commitment. Whether you pin it to the lapel of your business suit or thread it through the laces of your skateboard trainers, your 10:10 Tag shows others that not only do you know how to accessorise; you’re also part of the solution to climate change.
- [from Dan_Soltzberg] Grateful Dead scholar in heaven at UC Santa Cruz [SFGate] – [More big things happening at my Alma Mater] The ultimate job in Dead-dom is in Room 1370 at McHenry Library at UC Santa Cruz. The door is marked by the steal-your-face logo, and superimposed over it reads the name Nicholas G. Meriwether, Grateful Dead Archivist.
- [from julienorvaisas] Ariely’s Upside of Irrationality: using irrational cognitive blindspots to your advantage [Boing Boing] – [We've seen the principles of behavioral economics applied to help us understand and explain consumers irrational choices in a business context, now here's a self-help book helping us apply them to our own everyday lives.] Upside of Irrationality is a mostly successful attempt to transform the scientific critique of the 'rational consumer' principal into practical advice for living a better life. 'Mostly successful' only because some of our habitual irrationality is fundamentally insurmountable — there's almost nothing we can do to mitigate it.
- [from steve_portigal] Text 2.0 – What if your book really knew where you are gazing at? – [This is essentially one of the concepts we proposed from our Reading Ahead research - where an eyetracker in a digital book manipulates the text dynamically based on your gaze. In our use case, we addressed the interrupt-driven commute reading revealed by our research. If the book saw you looking away, it could mark your spot to enable more efficient resuming]
- [from steve_portigal] Twitter a hit in Japan as millions ‘mumble’ online [Yahoo! News] – Japanese-language Twitter taps into a greater sense of individuality in Japan, especially among younger people less accepting of the Japanese understatement and conformity. 16.3% of Japanese Internet tweet 16.3% (vs. 9.8% in US). "Japan is enjoying the richest and most varied form of Twitter usage as a communication tool…It's playing out as a rediscovery of the Internet.” It's possible to say so much more in Japanese within Twitter's 140 letters. "Information" requires just 2 letters in Japanese. Another is that people own up to their identities on Twitter. One well-known case is a woman who posted the photo of a park her father sent in e-mail before he died. Twitter was immediately abuzz with people comparing parks…"It's telling that Twitter was translated as 'mumbling' in Japanese," he said. "They love the idea of talking to themselves," he said…"In finding fulfillment in expressing what's on your mind for the moment, Twitter is like haiku," he said. "It is so Japanese."
- Virtual Seminar: Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets by Steve Portigal [IxDA Munich] – “Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets: Making Sure You Don’t Leave Key Information Behind”, Steve Portigal’s virtual seminar will be shown in our next meeting. The seminar lasts 90 minutes and it will be followed by a discussion. June 30th 7 p.m., IDEO, Hochbrückenstraße 6, 80331 Munich
- IndieReader – For Self-Published Books and the Readers Who Love Them – IndieReader is a venue for you to find and purchase books published and produced by the people who wrote them. Think of these books like handmade goods, produced in small numbers, instead of the mass-marketed stuff you'd find at a super store. And every book on the IndieReader site is reviewed prior to acceptance, guaranteeing that you'll find the "cream-of-the-indie crop". Why is this so important? Because today more than ever, almost everything we produce gets co-opted by corporate culture, turned into a business model, reformulated and churned out like soap with the simple intent to appeal to as many people as possible. In a world where almost everything is packaged by committee, IndieReader offers you books with a single voice: the writer's own.
- The Expanding Definition of Craft Beer [NYTimes.com] – In a world where Nabisco sells “artisan” Wheat Thins, the designation of Samuel Adams as a craft beer seems perfectly fair. But the Boston Beer Company, the brewery that was founded in 1984 and makes Sam Adams, is on the verge of outgrowing its coveted craft status — at least according to the Brewers Association, a national trade group that defines craft brewers in part as producing fewer than two million barrels a year. The federal government defines small brewers similarly, imposing a lower excise tax on those that stay under the two-million-barrel threshold. Mr. Koch predicted that Boston Beer would surpass the two-million mark by 2012. But help may be on the way: John Kerry introduced a bill last month that would increase the yearly production limit for small brewers to six million barrels.
- Icing, a meme drinking game with Smirnoff Ice [NYTimes.com] – The premise of the game is simple: hand a friend a sugary Smirnoff Ice malt beverage and he has to drink it on one knee, all at once — unless he is carrying a bottle himself, in which case the attacker must drink both bottles. Amid suspicion that the trend is an elaborate viral marketing campaign by Smirnoff, which the company has denied, new icing photos are posted daily on various blogs, Twitter and Facebook — including scenes from graduations and weddings — and sent directly to a Web site, BrosIcingBros.com. The game has exposed the mercurial line between guerrilla advertising and genuine social media trends, raising questions about how young consumers can know when they have co-opted a brand for their own purposes, and when that brand has co-opted them.
- Rethink the Book project from Berlin University of the Art – In cooperation with the schoolbook publisher Cornelsen Verlag a student group of the „New Media Studio Class” experimented with the digital possibilities to think anew the book as media. They linked the book by visual codes with methods of "Augmented Reality". They embeded sensor technology for new forms of interaction and used new methods of production engineering like "laser cutting" to model the book as an object or to publish personalized schoolbooks. In the exhibition they show several prototypes like electronic origami paper or an interactive periodic table.