Posts tagged “meme”

Stories behind the themes: Biological

Welcome to the fourth installment of an unfolding bibliography of secondary research that fueled our generation of themes for the Omni project. This time around we are focusing on the blurring biological boundaries between technology and our everyday lives (and bodies). We have seen a number of articles and other tidbits that hint at how far technology has advanced towards human behavior, brain function, and biomechanics. We also see quite a bit that suggests how far humans are leaning towards (and on) technology as inspiration, mediation, medication, and meme.

Is It Time To Welcome Our New Computer Overlords? [TheAtlantic.com] – The human codes of nuance and meaning in language are not yet cracked – they cannot yet be simulated.

Elsewhere, Ferrucci has been more circumspect about Watson’s level of “understanding.” In an interview with IBM’s own magazine ForwardView, he said, “For a computer, there is no connection from words to human experience and human cognition. The words are just symbols to the computer. How does it know what they really mean?” In other words, for all of the impressive NLP programming that has gone into Watson, the computer is unable to penetrate the semantics of language, or comprehend how meanings of words are shot through with allusions to human culture and the experience of daily life.

How much is a life worth in pixels? [SocialMediaCollective] – An effort to quantify the value of a human life (or in this case death) as measured by screen space allocated to reporting it on the webpages of various news sites. Not the most rigorous metric, but certainly a clever approach to valuing human presence in the virtual world.

Frustrated by this, I decided to get a more objective assessment of the coverage by counting the number of pixels different news websites were assigning to the story of the massacre. I know web designers put a lot of work into every single pixel on the screen, especially of high-traffic websites. Visitor’s attention is scarce and every pixel counts. So I took screenshots of¬† the front pages of some of the major news websites and calculated the amount of screen real state assigned to the story of the massacre.

The Cyborg in Us All [NYT.com] – Tracing the steps we are taking towards a totally hands-free interaction with technology where brains will send messages directly to devices. One less interaction to sit between man and machine.

Now it was my turn. Mukerjee removed the headset and moistened the tips of its electrodes with contact-lens fluid, then arranged the EEG device on top of my hair. The electrodes poked into my scalp like wet fingers. I held the iPhone in front of me and beamed a blast of willpower at it. “Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs,” I shouted inside my mind. The phone picked George Bush.

PUMPED UP KICKS|DUBSTEP [YouTube] – Here we see technology influencing body – this guy dances like what you are watching is a video effect; in the way that the audio IS an audio effect – loops, run backwards, etc. very digital. But the video is real – this is his way of moving his body, but the aesthetic is entirely defined by something created elsewhere as technology. Yes, we had The Robot in the 70s, but this is different – that was a human dancing like a machine, this is a human dancing like an effect – something that doesn’t exist except as the manipulation of data.

You are a robot [TheTechnium] РKK deconstructs dancing like a robot and highlights the myriad ways the human body can be molded to perform like a techno-being.  

Everywhere we look in pop culture today, some of the coolest expressions are created by humans imitating machines. Exhibit A would be the surging popularity of popping, tutting, and dub step dancing. You’ve seen these dancers on YouTube: the best of them look exactly like robots dancing, with the mechanical stutter of today’s crude robots trying to move like humans. Except the imitators robotically dance better than any robot could — so far.

A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design [worrydream.com] – Bret Victor has his finger (pun certainly intended) on the pulse of our future interactions with technology. The rant focuses on our bodies, namely our hands and fingers, and their place of privilege between humans and technology (I feel a Michelangelo Sistine Chapel reference coming on). If, as they say, all things are created twice (first in the mind and then in reality) then Victor has me wondering if technology has already infiltrated our minds and influenced the pursuit of Pictures Under Glass as opposed to, say, envisioning an experience rich with tactility and manual manipulation.

There’s a reason that our fingertips have some of the densest areas of nerve endings on the body. This is how we experience the world close-up. This is how our tools talk to us. The sense of touch is essential to everything that humans have called “work” for millions of years.

Biomimicry’s Greatest Hits [FastCompany.com] – We continue to see blurring of the boundaries between humans and technology in this presentation which offers examples of how nature has inspired and informed some memorable technological advances.

The idea of taking inspiration from nature may be gaining traction in many industries today, but the natural world has always been a powerful inspiration for designers and inventors. Here are some of the most important objects that take their cue from the world around us.

Put your money where your meme is: #dollars4boobies

Two nights ago I (and 194 others) received a Facebook message from an old friend. It outlined instructions for a post with the noble intentions of raising breast cancer awareness (spoiler alert) with instructions not to share with men. This conjures up a saying that has become something of a personal mantra for me: We often judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.

It was undoubtedly with the best of intentions that someone sent me the message below; with the quite noble intention of raising awareness about breast cancer.

 

 

Sadly, I must turn a critical eye towards the ensuing actions because I genuinely believe they failed to support the noble intention. Why? I hypothesize that, in some ways similar to previous year’s viral FB booby-supporting memes this generates a flurry of chatter that is unfortunately decontextualized from the cause. In fact, in my case it was directed at all of the possible things I could/should or could not/should not do for 18 months in Amsterdam¬†and numerous requests for clarification. And, for the record, I am certain that they do not let you on a¬†plane from Amsterdam to the US with seeds. Fortunately, I believe Steve is still in the midst of a Facebook Fast (and boy, he ain’t alone) and has yet to ask me just how I intend to continue working here if I am overseas. (see? we’ve gotten a little far afloat from breast cancer here)

 

I recognize that my actions here (i.e. demystifying the meme) may derail the breast cancer awareness mission, but my intention is simply to direct some energy towards activities that have a more direct impact on the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s mission “to save lives by increasing awareness of breast cancer through education and by providing mammograms for those in need”. So, to walk my talk, I just made a (modest little) donation to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

So I’d like to offer up a reframe of this whole meme business: If you love boobies (and quite frankly, who doesn’t?)¬† make a donation and use your FB status to celebrate your own actions! And you can tweet that, too, if you are feeling meme-y and aren’t up in a fuss about the word boobies (because some actually are). Come on people, get a pair. Or give a couple bucks to support someone else’s. #dollars4boobies

ChittahChattah Quickies

Hollandia Produce Launches Squircle Packaging [The Packer] – I was thrilled to come across the term squircle the other day, in the context of this packaging redesign. Of course, Wikipedia has something to say about it and the name has found its way to content and design firms, too.

Hollandia Produce LLC is launching a clamshell redesign – called the Squircle – for its Living Butter Lettuce. The design incorporates features of both a square and a circle, optimizing space and enabling automated packaging systems. On the shipping side, it gives a 20% increase in units per pallet…Consumer and frequent-user focus group studies showed the new design maintains brand recognition while attracting first-time buyers.

Thirteen movie poster trends that are here to stay and what they say about their movies [Oh No They Didn’t!] – Compilations of visually similar, to put it gently, movie posters. In the way that the entertainment industry has created tropes within the content of the film that engage us in actively creating the plot at the same time as are following it, the marketing of film has established its own set of visual memes and cultural cues. Repetition and familiarity establish shorthand, and while we may decry the lack of originality, the predictability seems to work financially. Bonus from All This ChittahChattah years ago: Good ideas never go out of style.

Run For Your Life – Apparently all action heroes run through the same blue-lit, narrow alleyway when trying to escape/catch the bad guys. It’s also possible that graphic designers just re-use the same stock image of the running guy over and over again. The movies themselves are pretty similar to the Black/Orange ones except that all the explosions have been replaced with angst.

Hunk Gets Chunky: Personal Trainer Vows to Get Fat [ABC News] – While at one point in the article this is dismissed as a publicity stunt, the idea of producers experiencing what their consumers experience is compelling. From Black Like Me to Patricia Moore and now Fat Like Me. It seems unlikely that this trainer can replicate the motivational, cognitive, emotional, gustatory and many other issues that affect body image, diet, and exercise, but at least mechanically trying to lose weight as his clients are should be revelatory. I hope he does something with this experience.

The 32-year-old former underwear model has ballooned from about 180 pounds to 233 since last month. He has given himself until the end of March to get to his goal of 265 pounds, a weight he intends to keep for a few months. “A lot of my clients have been skipping classes,” he said of the motivation behind his burgeoning pudge. “I decided I really didn’t understand what they were feeling and their emotions.”

Dinosaur bones an untapped market for luxury set [SF Chronicle] – The recent story about the blinged-out iPad made with crushed dinosaur bones is obviously part of a larger trend towards dino luxe. I really love days when you can’t tell the real news from the fake news.

“Market value comes down to what a person is willing to shell out for a dinosaur,” says the 60-year-old dino dealer, who has been in the business since 1985, selling Jurassic ribs for $350 each, Cretaceous toes at $295 a digit and a 16-foot-long Camarasaurus tail for $20,000. Wall Street recognition will be fast and furious once he can supply the market with dinosaur genitalia, says Prandi…Hollywood stars Nicolas Cage and Leonardo DiCaprio in 2007 entered into a spirited bidding war at I.M. Chait auctioneers in Beverly Hills over who would go home with a 67 million-year-old T. rex skull. Cage’s $276,000 bid won the day. “Whether a Brontosaurus looks good in your salon is a matter of taste, Lajotte-Robaglia says, “but these customers are young wealthy people who grew up mesmerized by Spielberg’s ‘Jurassic Park’ and find the aesthetics of a dinosaur more interesting than a Picasso.” Prandi says confirming a dinosaur’s provenance is just as tricky as verifying the authenticity of a work by the Spanish master. “A lot of people call me up from all over the country and say, ‘I found a dinosaur in my backyard,’ but it turns out to be a rock that looks like a dinosaur,” Prandi says. Even so, the United States remains the world leader in mining luxury dinosaurs.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Snowclone [Wikipedia] – A snowclone is a type of cliché and phrasal template originally defined as "a multi-use, customizable, instantly recognizable, time-worn, quoted or misquoted phrase or sentence that can be used in an entirely open array of different variants". An example of a snowclone is "grey is the new black", a version of the template "X is the new Y". X and Y may be replaced with different words or phrases – for example, "comedy is the new rock 'n' roll". Both the generic formula and the new phrases produced from it are called "snowclones". [Thanks @mulegirl]
  • [from julienorvaisas] The Business of Unfriending People [inc.com] – [Suggests that the social media footprint in our lives is contracting, voluntarily, and explores cultural trends informing that. Is the social media bubble about to burst (or at least diffract)?] New evidence suggests that as social media gets bigger, we're getting smaller. This is the growing trend of descaling—the pruning of our social lives on the Internet. Here we take a media, which is structurally perfect for massive scaling at low cost, and use it to make the Internet a more meaningful, emotional, and intimate experience.This new sense of intimacy derives from two places. The first is our growing sensitivity and sophistication about privacy. Secondly, this trend to intimacy isn't relegated to the digital world. It's happening across our economy. The pre-crisis consumer has become a smart shopper, more concerned with maximizing both the value of his or her purchase, but also actively supporting the brands, ideas, and friends that share his or her values.

Keeping it Weird

I made my second trip to Austin a couple of months ago and was struck again by the Keep Austin Weird ethos. Once you start seeing it, it’s fairly pervasive (i.e., tie-dyed souvenir shirts, tote bags, bumper stickers, keychains, etc. at the airport). Of course, memes become co-opted and corrupted. Here are two examples I found


A McDonald’s mural by David Soames gives new meaning to the term “counter culture”


Keeping Jesus Weird – a different and unpredictable faith conversation – offers a Ladies’ Night event, where women are the topic. I count two memes being repurposed here

I’m not sure that “Keep [thing that you’re selling] Weird” is going to work (even in Austin) for every possible brand, product, service, religion, or combination thereof, but it’s amusing to watch the purveyors try real hard to make it happen!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Taking Web Humor Seriously, Sort Of [NYTimes.com] – [Another great Rob Walker piece deftly unpacks Internet culture] The more traditional pundits and gurus who talk about the Internet often seem to want to draw strict boundaries between old mass-media culture and the more egalitarian forms taking shape online ­ and between Internet life and life in the physical world. Sometimes the pointless-seeming jokes that spring from the Web seem to be calling a bluff and showing a truth: This is what egalitarian cultural production really looks like, this is what having unbounded spaces really entails, this is what anybody-can-be-famous means, this is what’s burbling in the hive mind’s id. But the real point is that to pretend otherwise isn’t denying the Internet ­ it’s denying reality. Trickster expression, intentional or otherwise, doesn’t propose a solution but jolts you to confront some question that you might prefer to have avoided. Like what, exactly, am I laughing at?
  • [from steve_portigal] Microsoft’s proprietary BlueTrack™ Technology works on more surfaces than both optical and laser mice – [Technology solves problems we didn't know we had, like, mousing on carpet! Thanks, Microsoft!] Now track more accurately on: Granite, Carpet, Wood.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • 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.
    (via @cora_l)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Subway To Start Tessellating Cheese July 1? [The Consumerist] – Three years after the protests began, it seems Subway has finally listened to its customers and will start tessellating cheese on its sandwiches, according to what appears to be an internal weekly newsletter. As anyone who has gotten a Subway sandwich knows, most Subways layer their isosceles-cut cheese in an overlapping fashion. This means one side of the sandwich gets more cheese than the other and leaves pockets of zero cheese, resulting in a uneven flavor and texture distribution. As the newsletter says, "This will improve the cheese coverage on the sandwiches."
  • Reading Lolita On Paper [graphpaper.com] – Throughout the final terrifying third act of the book, Nabokov knew that the reader would be constantly, sometimes consciously, sometimes not, seeking (or deliberately avoiding seeking) a single word, a word whose distinctive typographical form would light up like a flare in the reader’s peripheral vision, paragraphs in advance, impossible to miss. Every time you turn a page, even if you avoid it, your eyes will, in an instant, claw through the one-thousand characters in every new two-page spread to find it, the word, the single characteristic letter. He plays with this visual expectation so thoroughly — torments the reader, in fact — that it’s inconceivable that he wasn’t always thinking about printed words, words on pages being turned in a reader’s hands. Oh, how glad am I that I was unable to find Lolita in any sort of eBook format.
  • Kno is a digital textbook that is about to change the way knowledge is transmitted and the way students learn – First we did our homework about the way students do their homework. We studied the way they study. We probed them about the best way to re-imagine the analog studying and reading experience in the digital world. The Kno’s two generous panels open like written material has opened for hundreds of years. The experience is reassuringly book-like. Indeed, because we respect and honor the textbook, content of 99 percent of all textbooks – including the charts and graphs – fit flawlessly. No material spills beyond the screen, so there’s no awkward scrolling or manipulation required. If Kno only transferred existing textbooks into a digital form, we might as well sleep in and skip class. Kno pushes further than that. Our mission is to create a new kind of immersive, fluid, fully-engaging learning experience – made possible because the power of the physical is combined, for the first time, with the potential of the digital. It’s a whole new form factor that feels natural because it is natural.
  • Christina York’s sketched notes from UPA2010 – [Her summary of my presentation begins on slide 5] This was the perfect complement to Rachel Hinman’s opening keynote. Steve enthusiastically dives deeper into cultural clues, cues and gaps that impact our work and our own experiences in this world. In this session I sat at the front, which I usually don’t do (I like to observe the entire room). However, I am a fan of Steve’s and was like a groupie in the front row. How embarrassing. But Carol sat next to me, and I felt better about myself. Steve delivered an impassioned talk and engaged an audience that richly represented the cultures present at this conference. The group discussion was as rich as the presentation and I really appreciated that Steve’s focus was to give us something to think about and not try to ground everything in application.
  • Complete Beginner’s Guide to Design Research [UX Booth] – Valiant attempt to take a complex volume of expertise and boil it down to some essentials. Not sure what it means to be a "luminary" in this field but certainly the company we're listed with is pretty awesome. Curious to hear what others have to say about this piece.

The acceleration of immediacy


Marshall Herff Applewhite, Jr., aka Do

On March 26, 1997, my friends and I sat watching as the evening news was dominated with the lurid story of the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide. The image of Do, through an evening’s viewing, quickly became iconic. With semi-serious earnestness, we figured that if we had some way to get that image off of the television and print it on a t-shirt, we could go down to San Francisco’s Haight Street the next morning and sell ’em on the street. We loved the idea of immediate translation from news story to meme to hipster product. We didn’t have the technology (or really, the motivation) to make it happen, but for me that was an early signal of the potential to really collapse the time in that cycle.

On May 6, 2010, we had a strange stock market crash. In the Twitter era, a commemorative t-shirt (‘I survived the crash of 2:45 pm”) was available within a few hours.

crash

The tools to deliver this immediacy are now available to more of us. You could probably have a Do shirt up for sale on the web within a few minutes of reading this post. But the very idea of this immediacy is more part of the zeitgeist. It’s becoming a norm. We expect more immediacy. We expect that we can create an immediate experience for others. Meanwhile, consumers become producers. At the same time, we see an emergence of slow movements (from food to media), because every trend has a counter-trend.

Ironically, it took me a week to write this post. Immediacy makes no concessions to busy, I guess.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • The Americanization of Mental Illness [NYTimes.com] – Mental illnesses have never been the same the world over but are inevitably sparked and shaped by the ethos of particular times and places…“We might think of the culture as possessing a ‘symptom repertoire’ ­ a range of physical symptoms available to the unconscious mind for the physical expression of psychological conflict."..Those who minister to the mentally ill inadvertently help to select which symptoms will be recognized as legitimate…For more than a generation now, we in the West have aggressively spread our modern knowledge of mental illness around the world…we’ve been exporting our Western “symptom repertoire” as well. That is, we’ve been changing not only the treatments but also the expression of mental illness in other cultures. Indeed, a handful of mental-health disorders ­ depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia among them ­ now appear to be spreading across cultures with the speed of contagious diseases.
  • The Children of Cyberspace: Old Fogies by Their 20s [NYTimes.com] – They theorize that the ever-accelerating pace of technological change may be minting a series of mini-generation gaps, with each group of children uniquely influenced by the tech tools available in their formative stages of development.

    “People two, three or four years apart are having completely different experiences with technology,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. “College students scratch their heads at what their high school siblings are doing, and they scratch their heads at their younger siblings. It has sped up generational differences.”

    Those in the Net Generation spend two hours a day talking on the phone and still use e-mail frequently. The iGeneration spends considerably more time texting than talking on the phone, pays less attention to television and tends to communicate more over instant-messenger. The newest generations will expect an instant response from everyone they communicate with

I love memes

I-love-memes
I heart memes license plate, California, 2009

And who doesn’t. We all want to belong somewhere. Even if it’s in an alternate subcultural universe, it’s comforting to know that your thoughts are connected somehow to the hive mind.

For anyone wanting a walk down short-term memory lane, The Internet Meme Database should suffice. And for those who want it live and in-concert, MIT will be hosting the second ROFLCon Internet culture conference in April 2010.

Changing Lanes, Changing Minds

locavore
Locavore iPhone app

Locavore (also localvore) is someone who eats (or tries to eat) food from within a certain radius, typically 100 miles. In 2006, Google opened Cafe 150, a restaurant on its Mountain View campus that only uses ingredients that come from within 150 miles. The 100-mile diet is a book, a website, and a movement.

This is a powerful idea that, as it has taken hold, has entered our vocabulary and shifted our mindset. Even if we don’t do this, we consume the idea. It’s a meme.

Volt230mpg01.jpg
Now, here come the electric vehicles. A similarly urgent effort to create change that asks us to fundamentally revisit how we do a primary activity. The fully electric Chevy’s Volt has a much-discussed 40-mile-without-recharging-capacity, based on some data (which of course, is disputed) showing 80% Americans drive less than 40 miles per day.

These two ideas are not parallel. At 41 miles, imagine that your car stops dead by the roadside and you’re stuck with a AAA situation. At 151 miles, your radicchio isn’t quite as local – but you don’t go hungry. Even so, the food people have done a much better job at creating a new story that quickly captures the essence of a new behavior.

Do you know how many miles a day you drive? The EV people, and Chevy especially, would do well to help create awareness at a general level (that people drive this much, on average) and a personal level (here’s how to figure out how much you drive, or how to map a 40-mile capacity against your typical usage). There’s potentially a gap between how well the Volt would work for most people and how well those same people believe the Volt would work for them.

We’ve seen people wearing pedometers to track another unknown distance: how far they walk in a given day. Why not give away car pedometers (yes, cars already contain equipment that provides that information, but the point here is to celebrate and raise awareness)? Where equivalent term to locavore for the daily driving case? 40-milers? loca-motives? Where are the use cases or archetypes that help translate into something familiar? How far does a mom in the ‘burbs drive? How about someone in the exurbs? Or a traveling saleswoman/road warrior? There’s a lot that can be done just on expanding the idea itself, to help set the stage for the coming solutions.

ChittahChattah Quickies

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Steven Johnson in TIME on Twitter and innovation – The speed with which users have extended Twitter's platform points to a larger truth about modern innovation. When we talk about innovation and global competitiveness, we tend to fall back on the easy metric of patents and Ph.D.s. It turns out the U.S. share of both has been in steady decline since peaking in the early '70s. (In 1970, more than 50% of the world's graduate degrees in science and engineering were issued by U.S. universities.)…

    But what actually happened to American innovation during that period? We came up with America Online, Netscape, Amazon, Google, Blogger, Wikipedia, Craigslist, TiVo, Netflix, eBay, the iPod and iPhone, Xbox, Facebook and Twitter itself. ..if you measure global innovation in terms of actual lifestyle-changing hit products and not just grad students, the U.S. has been lapping the field for the past 20 years.

    How could the forecasts have been so wrong? The answer is that we've been tracking only part of the innovation story.

  • New Yorker on the significant power of storytelling in the unfolding of the Parrot Flu outbreak in 1929-1930 – Press plays role in raising awareness, hype ensues (kill all parrots!), backlash ensues (Americans are hypochondriacs and there's no such thing as Parrot Flu), small but significant number of sicknesses and deaths (pre-antibiotics) occur, scientists triumph, National Institute of Health is founded. Curious to read this right after watching 1950s plague thriller "Panic in the Streets."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • The McGangBang: a McChicken Sandwich Inside a Double Cheeseburger – (via Kottke) Another awesome example of customers co-opting (or trying to) the corporation. It's a user-generated menu item and people are trying to order it by its (rather unpalatable) name and then documenting the results. Like the obscene Skittle comments on Twitter, this is people taking a brand (and an experience) and playing with it. And then using the Internet to bring energy to that small piece of celebratory rebellion. If we ever needed another example of the brand being created by the customers not the producers, this would be it.
  • Chinese Internet meme about Grass-Mud Horse is a form of social protest – An online phenomena features a mythical character is built on the name – in Chinese – sounding close to an obscenity, but presented as an innocent song (with some fable-like plot twists) that the censors (so far) can't/won't remove. “Its underlying tone is: I know you do not allow me to say certain things. See, I am completely cooperative, right?” the Beijing Film Academy professor and social critic Cui Weiping wrote in her own blog. “I am singing a cute children’s song — I am a grass-mud horse! Even though it is heard by the entire world, you can’t say I’ve broken the law.”

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