Posts tagged “celebrity”

What the Bieb Means, or Embrace Pop Culture

Earlier this year I gave a talk entitled Skill Building for Design Innovators. One of the “muscles” I encouraged people to develop was embracing pop culture. This led to a fascinating discussion when one person dissented and others jumped in with their own perspective. And of course, Justin Bieber was our placeholder example of pop culture. So I was gratified to see this article in the New York Times: Justin Bieber and Today’s Youth.

One reason Mr. Bieber has captivated our attention, beyond his talent and charisma, is that, alongside Mark Zuckerberg, he is the paragon of the millennial celebrity. Born in 1994, he has hardly known a world without broadband Internet, smartphones, social media and digital imagery (and, yes, public apologies by celebrities through those same conduits). He has exploited – and been exploited by – these tools to great effect, currently ruling the Twitter roost with more than 36 million followers. That’s a lot of people for anyone, let alone a teenager, to have direct access to with a thoughtless swipe of his iPhone.

And because Mr. Bieber is so ambitious and enterprising, he can also be considered an emblem of the overscheduled, future-oriented Generation Y striver. Instead of regimented piano lessons, soccer practice and SAT classes, the entertainer has committed himself to the steady, if largely self-directed, cultivation of singing, dancing and interview skills since he was 12.

Thus, the gleeful reaction by some to Mr. Bieber’s misbehavior may connect to two directives imposed upon children today: the need to overprepare for the demanding and perilous world of work, and the loss of innocence that preparation entails.

When we laugh at his “meltdown” – one that many of us would have suffered much sooner in our teenage years had the global press hounded us, had we put in 16-hour workdays, had millions of dollars rested on our shoulders – we are doing more than merely relishing the downfall of a formerly squeaky-clean (Tiger Woods) moral crusader (Eliot Spitzer) who has a few irksome personality traits (Anthony Weiner). We are channeling our cultural anxiety over the ways we have corrupted and effaced childhood.

Out and About: Tamara in LA

I am missing the sun and beaches of LA from our trip there last week. At least I have these fond memories to keep me warm…


I’ve read about airlines letting passengers choose their seats using social media profiles and finally got to experience a digital/analog collision first hand on our Virgin America flight. I accepted the offer from 12A (aka Vinnie)¬† to chat. Admittedly, I never talked to that stranger as I was engrossed in an inflight film.


I was not surprised by the proliferation of celebrity endorsements in every eating and dining establishment that we entered. I was surprised by what constitutes celebrity.


Dear lucky owner of this gorgeous Manhattan Beach home overlooking the ocean, thank you for using your prime position to promote a message of peace (in 4 different languages).


I am so fond of legacy establishments (like Pink’s Hot Dogs) that make explicit the rules of how to be a customer. I’m also fond of people like Julie’s dad, who insist that we stop at such locations to relive childhood memories when we are in town!


Julie and I both captured images from this Burbank dry cleaners. She focused on the environmental sustainability while I was enamored by the sustainability of their service!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Japan’s Smokestacks Draw Industrial-Strength Sightseers [WSJ.com] – [This sub-culture is exerting economic influence. I'm looking for the American equivalent.] What started as a fringe subculture known as kojo moe, or "factory infatuation," is beginning to gain wider appeal in Japan, turning industrial zones into unlikely tourist attractions. It's the Japanese equivalent of going sightseeing at industrial stretches along the New Jersey Turnpike. Unlike the tourists who visit the factories of Toyota Motor Corp. and other Japanese manufacturers, the kojo moe crowd has little interest in the inner workings of the plants. They get excited by the maze of intricate piping around the exterior of a steel plant or the cylindrical smokestacks sending up steam. [A book on the topic] lists 19 questions to test one's kojo moe credentials, including "Do you like Blade Runner?" and "Can you stare at a factory you like all day long?" Now, industrial regions across Japan are working to create factory sightseeing tours.
  • [from steve_portigal] Stop Blaming Your Culture [Strategy + Business] – [A must-read. This could become the article on the topic, a companion to Porter's classic What is Strategy? REad it and pass it along.] Fortunately, there is an effective, accessible way to deal with cultural challenges. Don’t blame your culture; use it purposefully. View it as an asset: a source of energy, pride, and motivation. Learn to work with it and within it. Discern the elements of the culture that are congruent with your strategy. Figure out which of the old constructive behaviors embedded in your culture can be applied to accelerate the changes that you want. Find ways to counterbalance and diminish other elements of the culture that hinder you. In this way, you can initiate, accelerate, and sustain truly beneficial change — with far less effort, time, and expense, and with better results, than many executives expect.
  • [from steve_portigal] Steve Portigal to write book on interviewing users [Rosenfeld Media] – Interviewing users is fundamental to user experience work but, as Steve Portigal cautions, we tend to take it for granted. Because it's based on talking and listening, skills we think we have, we often wing it. Sadly, we miss out on many of the wonderful opportunities our interviews should reveal. So we're thrilled that Steve, who's contributed regular columns to interactions and Core77, has signed on to write a new Rosenfeld Media book, The Art and Craft of User Research Interviewing, to help UX practitioners really succeed with interviewing. Steve's book will focus on helping practitioners to better understand users' perspectives, and to rely upon rapport as the main ingredient in successful user interviews.
  • [from steve_portigal] Intel Teams with will.i.am, Black Eyed Peas Front Man [Intel] – [Is there a nomenclature convention emerging? If your corporate title is surrounded by quote marks, you may not receive the same HR benefits as others. Although it looks like he's got a badge? See you at Friday's Beer Bust!] He’s best known for being a multi-platinum music artist, producer and front man for The Black Eyed Peas, but will.i.am is also an innovator, technology fan, entrepreneur and philanthropist. With today’s announcement at the Anaheim Convention Center, the seven-time Grammy winner has added another title to his multi-faceted resume: “director of creative innovation.” As an extension of his insatiable fascination with technology, which plays a significant role in his professional and personal lives, will.i.am will engage in a multi-year, hands-on creative and technology collaboration with Intel Corporation. He already sports an Intel ID badge, which he proudly showed off at a news conference in Anaheim, where Intel is holding an internal sales and marketing conference.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Awful elevator panel design [Boing Boing] – [Another entrant in what is becoming a theme on this blog: how-complicated-does-it-have-to-be-to-go-up-and-down?] Robyn Miller took this photo of a poorly designed elevator control panel.
  • [from julienorvaisas] David Hockney’s instant iPad art [BBC News] – [Now that's a convincing interface and experience.] "Who wouldn't want one? Picasso or Van Gogh would have snapped one up," the artist David Hockney tells me at the opening of his latest show in Paris called Fleurs Fraiches, or Fresh Flowers. "It's a real privilege to make these works of art through digital tools which mean you don't have the bother of water, paints, and the chore of clearing things away," he says. "You know sometimes I get so carried away, I wipe my fingers at the end thinking that I've got paint on them."
  • [from steve_portigal] Doonesbury Turns 40 [Rolling Stone] – [One of the most surprising bits in this Chip Kidd interview with Garry Trudeau. As consumers, we constantly make the mistake of conflating the artist with their art, the producer with their product. We know the material – sometimes very well – and so we really think we know the maker equally well. Trudeau reminds us, once again, that in least one critical way, we don't] I'm never happier than when I'm not working. The strip is a job ­ that's why I take money for it. It's a job I'm passionate about, but it's a job I totally leave in the studio when I walk out of here, unless I'm late and I have to work at home. I never think of the strip unless I'm compelled to.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Margo Jefferson's book On Michael Jackson – A thoughtful cultural criticism cum biography of the Gloved One, from 2006. I bought it after hearing her interviewed on NPR, and listening to her pull together so many cultural threads in looking at what Jackson did or didn't do and how he did or didn't do it was fascinating. Considering the "freak" that Jackson became in context with the history of black entertainment, minstrel shows, Mr. Bojangles dancing with Shirley Temple, etc. What it all has meant for so long and how to look at Jackson in that light, pretty interesting stuff. Admittedly, the book didn't live up to the excitement and thought provocation that the interview (which I sadly can not track down) on the radio had, but still a worthy read when you want to be topical but keep away from the tabloid-level discussions.

ChittahChattah Quickies

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