Winning Innovations… Literally

A New York Times article today (via Marginal Revolution) took note of Netflix’s contest to develop a movie recommendation system better than its current Cinematch system. The prize? One million dollars. It seems that prizes like this are one of the most effective ways to drive innovation. Governments and scientists dislike them because they create […]

RFID Can Be Fun!

Talk to any Wal-Mart vendor about RFID tags, and his eyes will start to dart around the room, his feet will shuffle, and he’ll say “uh” a lot. He’s either nervous about how to meet Wal-Mart’s upcoming RFID requirements, or he’s pretended it will go away and you’ve just reminded him that it won’t. For […]

The Next (Creative) Generation

When I last visited a vendor in China, we oohed and aahed over a Stratsys rapid protoyping machine, or fabricator, that happened to be sitting in a corner of the conference room we met in. It was a large machine, about 6′ x 4′ x 3′ and caught our attention when we saw a small […]

How We Know Graffiti is Mainstream

It’s dark. It’s insidious. It’s a conspiracy. It’s fostering anarchy. And it’s just plain cool. It’s the Graffiti Research Lab. In it’s own words the lab is, “Dedicated to outfitting graffiti artists with open source technologies for urban communication.” Yeah, ok, they’re talking about graffiti here, but sometimes the way you say it makes it […]

When ‘Tell a Story’ Doesn’t Work

“Tell a story.” That seems to be the marketing advice du jour, and is usually very effective. There are times, however, when it misses the mark, and I was reminded of that last night watching the State of the Union. The State of the Union speech, and the Response to the State of the Union […]

Too Simple to Sell

Blinking 12:00. You know what I’m referring to, don’t you? Yes, your parents’ VCR. You know what it’s a metaphor for too, right? Devices too complicated to use properly. In some businesses, as the feature set of a new product begins to grow, someone will remind the design group of the Blinking 12:00, there will […]

Transparency, Brought to You by the Cell Phone

We seem to hear about, and experience, the transparency of the internet every day. We read blogs critical of products and companies, check price comparison sites before purchases, review data on corporate political contributions, and choose hotels based on guest reviews. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a slide show is worth ten […]

Living Room Theaters

Last Sunday I went to the movies to see Pan’s Labyrinth. It was a matinee and I hoped that the theater would be relatively uncrowded so that I could quickly buy some food and find a good seat. After buying my ticket at the outside kiosk I walked through the door to a great disappointment […]

Advertising Everywhere

Monday’s New York Times story on the ubiquity of advertising ignited some discussion about the relative merits and demerits of ads everywhere, all the time. Many writers lamented the loss of blank space while others decried the crass commercialization of Everything. I’m a little more sanguine, however. Early in the Times article, Linda Kaplan Thaler, […]

Dog Obesity Drug

In case you needed any more proof that Americans are pet crazy, the FDA has approved a weight-loss drug for dogs. (I really wish the FDA would spend a little more time approving human drugs rather than dog drugs.) It’s been obvious for some time to even the most casual observer that pets are a […]

Company Health Clinics are Back

Through Marginal Revolution comes this NYT story about on-site company health clinics. Years ago, when I worked for Scott Paper, we had a company clinic and I was told that when Al Dunlap came on the scene (I left shortly before) he took one look at it, declared that he wasn’t running a hospital, and […]

Second Life Stores Aren’t the Point

Through Micro Persuasion I saw that IBM is helping Sears launch a store in Second Life, and has already been working with Circuit City. Like everyone else writing online I applaud these retailers for opening stores in Second Life and expending some real effort to explore where the future of retailing might be headed. The […]

Angelina Jolie = Dagny Taggart?

Just when you think Hollywood is hopelessly anti-capitalist (artistically, if not in practice), comes this (through A&L Daily). It turns out that Angelina Jolie is an Ayn Rand fan and is lining herself up to play Dagny Taggart in a film version of Atlas Shrugged. The International Herald Tribune reports: …Rand’s grand polemical novel keeps […]

Facebook Goes Mobile

Facebook yesterday announced that it has launched Facebook Mobile. Facebook Mobile will allow users to surf Facebook, upload notes and photos, send and receive Facebook messages, wall posts and pokes using text messages, update their status, and search profiles. Last summer when Facebook launched its News Feed service, it faced a user rebellion . Through […]

Minimum Wage, Maximum Waste?

The House passed a minimum wage increase today amid the usual rhetoric of salvation from the Democrats and doom from the Republicans. As an issue, the minimum wage seems easy to understand – all workers make $7.25 per hour (the new minimum) or more. The reality, of course, is not so simple. Minimum wage arguments […]