Posts tagged “fad”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • 'Magic Fingers Vibrating Bed' inventor dies at 92 – The inventor of the "Magic Fingers Vibrating Bed," which brought weary travelers 15 minutes of "tingling relaxation and ease" for a quarter in hotel rooms across America during its heyday as a pop culture icon in the 1960s and '70s, has died.
  • Vending machines for Gold? – While it's just a plan at this point, it seems that the idea is more about disruption and promotion than simply "vending."
  • Let’s Embrace Open-Mindedness – My article published at Johnny Holland, considering the challenges in living up to the standard we set for ourselves. And there's a story about cheese, too!
  • Why some cultural products and styles die out faster than others – To investigate how cultural tastes change over time, Berger and Le Mens analyzed thousands of baby names from the past 100 years in France and the US. (Because there is less of an influence of technology or advertising on name choice, baby names provide a way to study how adoption depends on primarily internal factors.) The researchers found a consistent symmetry in the rise and fall of individual names; in other words, the longer it took for a name to become popular, the longer it took for the name to fade out of popularity, and thus the more staying power it had compared to names that quickly rose and fell. The effect was robust, occurring in both countries and across various time windows.

    According to the results, the quicker a cultural item rockets to popularity, the quicker it dies. This pattern occurs because people believe that items that are adopted quickly will become fads, leading them to avoid these items, thus causing these items to die out.

    (via Lone Gunman)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • 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.”

Trend Ecosystem

It’s fascinating how most successful products lead to an ecosystem of supporting products. The Crocs fad has provided the fan-base to support charms, little decorations that attach to the holes on the shoe’s surface and let the wearer further establish their individual identity within the trend of people who have established a unique identity by wearing Crocs in the first place.

Acknowledging that following a trend has a very different meaning in Japan, we bring you the Crocs family, who we saw on a bus in Kyoto, each with their own charms.

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Dad

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Mom

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Son

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Baby

In addition to aftermarket personalization, many trends also generate a safety backlash meme (iPod muggings, anyone?). In Taipei, it’s dangerous to wear Crocs on escalators.
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Manufacturers like Apple are very savvy about creating/controlling their aftermarket, but I wonder about the backlashes. Are PR people planting those stories or doing damage control or not realizing their significance?

Update: Karl Long on the Crocs backlash (safety and others) here

Japan’s new education model is India?

Excerpted from this story

Japan is suffering a crisis of confidence about its ability to compete with its emerging Asian rivals, China and India. One result has been a growing craze for Indian education.

Many are looking for lessons from India, seen by many in Japan as the world’s ascendant education superpower.

Bookstores are filled with titles like “Extreme Indian Arithmetic Drills” and “The Unknown Secrets of the Indians.” Newspapers carry reports of Indian children memorizing multiplication tables far beyond nine times nine, the standard in Japan. And the few Indian international schools in Japan are reporting a surge in applications from Japanese families.

At the Little Angels English Academy & International Kindergarten, the textbooks are from India, most of the teachers are South Asian, and classroom posters depict animals out of Indian tales, including dancing elephants in plumed turbans.

Little Angels is in Mikata, a Tokyo suburb. Only 1 of its 45 students is Indian. Most are Japanese.

As with many new things in Japan, the interest in Indian-style education has become a social fad, with everyone suddenly piling on.

Indian education is a frequent topic in public forums, from talk shows to conferences on education. Popular books claim to reveal the Indian secrets for multiplying and dividing multiple-digit numbers.

Interesting to see how “foreign” India may be to the Japanese, such that a mythology emerges. Reminds me of the tantric sex mythology (one of many, no doubt, over the centuries) that the West has built up around India.

Pop Culture Osmosis, Tokyo (part 1)

What sort of stuff is “popular” in another country? How do we, as visitors, experience, catalog or contextuallize pop culture? More posts on this to come.

Being in Japan means constant encounters with kawaii, or cute, characters. Some will be familiar to visitors, whether imported (i.e., Stitch, Snoopy, Miffy, Mickey, Pooh, Pink Panther) or domestic (i.e., Hello Kitty, Totoro, Domo-kun). We were intrigued to come across a new character, then, and wondered who he was.

A display at Tokyu Hands featured this plush toy and a catchy song, in Japanese.
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Then we saw him (with friends) in an arcade window.
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And then we saw a complete window display in Harajuku featuring this (presumed) bug.
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And that gave me something to Google: bug, and mono comme ca (the name of the store). Success! It’s the Bottom Biting Bug (Oshiri Kajiri Mushi).

As my New Year’s Gift to you all, then, here is the video, with subtitles in Japanese and English. This is what started it all, and is an awesome, awesome earworm. Someday soon, very soon, you will awaken with a slight startle, and as the real world comes into grey focus, you’ll grasp at the fading threads of your dream only to realize that it’s been the Bottom Biting Bug song as your internal, nocturnal soundtrack.

Biting is important business, indeed.

Note: the first of what should be over 1000 images and stories are up on flickr here.

Series

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