Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mining Thought Streams

Over the past week Twitter has replaced Google and Wikipedia as my tool for search. Twitturly has been bumped to the top of my list for places to find current events, competing with Digg & popurls and recently learned about Twittersphere that provides a similar service. I monitor Twitterfic and use it to converse with friends just as frequently as IM.

Twitter is expanding at a ridiculous rate and that is giving rise to the notion of
mining thought streams. Access to a real-time search engine that allows you to search what is happening right now is extremely valuable. It's a database of intentions that allows us to map our culture but also makes it easier to find (and release) trends and current events. There's a real opportunity for expanding the capability for searching Twitter and I'm looking for them to release an application that allows users to sift, sort, track and anlyze tweets.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Generation G

Creative vs. selling out, capitalist vs. socialist, greed vs. community service : these opposing forces stand at the forefront of american culture. The greed described in Wallstreet has become very real and personal. Now the assumption that successful business and doing good are conflicting practices is about to change.

Generation G "captures the growing importance of 'generosity' as a leading societal and business mindset as consumers are disgusted with greed and its current dire consequences for the economy." GOOD magazine, promotes a philosophy that aligns business with doing good.
The Taproot Foundation, Planning for Good and other such organizations realize that non-profits need professional services and seek to connect volunteers with service programs.

These are great but the concept of Generation G is acknowledging that it isn't enough to volunteer on your free time. What if businesses ingrained this philosophy into their corporate mentality? Putting a $500K cap on the salaries of greedy execs is the beginning of a trend that will change the fundamental principles of how businesses operate.

Here are a few ways corporations are looking to join Generation G:
1. Co-Donate - customer collaboration Google's Project 10^100 is a good example
2. Eco-Generosity - a shift from simply offsetting carbon footprints to boosting the environment. Ecoigo aims for their green car service to be carbon positive and offset double the emissions of their trips
3. Free Love - companies offering free products or services. TripWolf offers free travel guides.

4. Brand Butlers - assist customers in smart, relevant, generous ways. IKEA let's customers use bikes with free trailers to carry products home.
5. Perkonomics - brands that offer perks for preferred customers
6. Tryvertising- allowing consumers to decide on products based on experience, not messages.
7. Random Acts of Kindness - everything from picking up the tab to sending a surprise gift to loyal customers

8. Frigid No More - It’s about return policies that don’t require a receipt from loyal customers. It's what Seth calls learning how to lose. It’s about hotels not charging an extra night for that late checkout. It’s about ditching three-months-notice rules for a gym member who wants to cancel his membership due to illness.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Power meter

Would you consume power differently if you could visualize how you currenlty use it? I'm a visual learning and it makes sense that it would be easier for me to change my behavior if I could see what areas need improvement.

Google's new power meter seems like it has the potential to change behavior. If I can analyze which of my appliances consume the most amounts of energy and when energy is more expensive then I should be able to better manage my consumption. I think this smart meter would be most effective when I can see my energy consumption in real time. If I can see my energy expenses accruing and then tweak my use, I'll at least be able to see when I'm wasteful. When I know how much I can reduce my energy bill by switching off lights and computers I'll have a greater incentive to walk around the house and make those adjustments. I also like the idea of knowing that I'm using an inefficient appliance. If my toaster or fridge are on the fritz and sucking back energy I want to know that it will actually save me money to buy new appliances.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Augmented Reality

GE's new Smart Grid campaign produced by Sosia over at Goodby is moving interactive creative in the right direction. You interact with the branded content by printing out a "key" that is used to activate a 3D world that is produced in your webcam. You can blow into your microphone to engage the wind turbines.

Ultimately it's a fancy gimmick (as opposed to an interactive learning experience) that creates brand engagement, but I applaud the effort. It's great to see creatives moving the interactive spac
e in the right direction. I'm still surprised that new episodes of online TV shows like LOST and The Office (if you haven't seen Stress Relief, watch it now; the first 15 minutes are ridiculous) are still using :30 spots. They're missing a huge opportunity to engage viewers with their brand by implementing interactive content. Hopefully ad shops are still playing catch-up and we'll start to see new content start to emerge.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


DJ's like Fatboy Slim have pioneered the music remix and Girl Talk has built a successful career on it. It's a huge part of video culture too because remixing is an entertaining way to make anything just a bit more ridiculous. It's also a forum for creativity because remixers pair audio samples with all sorts of visuals. Faris recently hired Eclectic Method for the NYC Twestival. They are the fore-fathers of mash-up have been affecting the way we experience media since back in the day. The most recent example of this phenomenon is a meltdown Christian Bale had on-set. It didn't take long for the Bale remixes to pour in.

It's interesting because we love to tell stories, extrapolate and exaggerate; and remixing is great for just that. But it's bigger than an entertaining video. This story is about driving creativity. I'm a proponent of the philosophy that good ideas come from good ideas. Well I guess I picked that up from Lawarance Lessig. He is well know for fighting for remix culture because new ideas come from remixing old ones. His book f
rames the problem as "a war between an old read-only culture, in which media megaliths sell copyrighted music and movies to passive consumers, and a dawning digital read-write culture, in which audiovisual products are freely downloaded and manipulated in an explosion of democratized creativity." So I guess the question is how do we promote an environment that encourages the rapid progression of ideas instead of stymiing it?

Lessig remixed on Colbert

Lessig @ TED

Christian Bale Melt-down Remixed

Monday, February 2, 2009

Smart Consumption - a new generation of savers

Is your cart empty? Not if your an American.

Americans don't know how to spend or maybe they know too well; and it's about time for our behavior to change. Here's the problem, we're tempted to spend every chance we get which has resulted in a large portion of us living from pay check to pay check. We are a nation of instant gratification because it's tough to delay what we can have now. The good thing is we've realized it. We're going through the process of figuring out how we can ween ourselves off our addiction to buying. For the purposes of qualifying this I've broken purchasing behaviors into four categories:

1. Impulsive consumption - I got this b/c it was a good deal, or it would make for a hilarious gift for someone.
2. Excessive consumption - I bought a third pair of sunglasses to match my back up purse.
3. Consumption for perceived happiness - This flatscreen is going to be so much more aesthetically pleasing in my living room, plus I watch so much TV this is actually a great investment.
4. Shopping as a hobby - My mom is coming to visit. We'll spend Saturday shopping and then hit the Moma or see a movie on Sunday if we're not making returns.

Ironically, I think this is a great idea for a brand campaign. In fact it's a plan that might even catch the attention of Elizabeth Anne Moore. Why? Because it aims to fundamentally change the way we sell and purchase goods. If the paradox of temptation tells us we shouldn't simply eliminate behavior with undesired results then we should take an approach that embraces what we'd like to change. Businesses are branding themselves as good for the environment, well what if they brand themselves as good for the long term economy.

The premise could be the root of a campaign for a tourism board or luxury good; "We're in a recession dummy, we're gonna be here for a while, you probably shouldn't be booking a trip to Austrailia right now..." More importantly the campaign would focus on smart shopping. Explaining how or if the product falls in line with an established budget, even encouraging the creation of one. Maybe they even facilitate the use of a phone application that enables consumers to prioritize purchases based on need and the consumers finances. This approach has the ability for a brand to transcend normal perceptions: "We're a brand that seeks to make your life better, whether it helps our bottom line or not." Ultimately we have to correct our habit of over-spending and under-saving and it seems advantageous if brands can align themselves with this philosophy.

Do you have a budget? If you do email it to me. I'd love to see what people think is a budget and how they think they should consume (and save.)