be it ever so humble ...
No more posts from me today. I'm off to buy a house!
y'all come back now, y'hear?
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Thanks, Q, for the "Blogs of Note" status. We appreciate it.
we've got the hooch
In a comment on one of the posts below, K had asked about the contents of our mindspace at Play. Yesterday afternoon, our mindspace was wrapped around the band Everything, because they were here. Well, two of them. Really nice guys. We were talking about ways that Play and Everything could collaborate on projects in the future. They're friends with a friend of ours (Chris DuPaul), and he had told them about us, and they decided to drop by for a visit. Pretty cool.
I have an idea
There should be a day, once a year, when everyone upgrades their browsers. Whether you're using Netscape or Internet Explorer or Opera, or something else, there should be one day a year that is championed as "upgrade your browser day." I was looking at the site stats for Pure Content, and, although the bulk of you are using relatively recent versions (91% are using either Internet Explorer 5 or 6), I suspect that the bulk of people that have older broswers aren't aware of blogs. But, if there were one day a year, where local (and national) news agencies talked about upgrading browsers, life would be a lot easier for web designers, and for people in general. Obviously, not everyone would upgrade. But I imagine a significant percentage of the 66% of people who aren't using the most recent version of their browser (according to stats at The Counter) will upgrade.
finding meaning in a lost life / don't compete. excel.
Bob Cringley is a successful host and writer for PBS, having developed the hit "Triumph of the Nerds," as well as a few other series. This week, his 74-day-old son, Chase, died, from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. "He died this week after 74 days of life, a victim of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). He literally stopped breathing lying in my lap while I did e-mail. There was no sound, no struggle. I just looked down and he was no longer alive. I have no idea whether he had been dead for one minute or 10, but we were unable to revive him. He was never sick, he just died, and now there is a void in our lives that we can never fill."
In an article that is, at once, both heartbreaking and inspiring, Cringley calls for an Open Source investigation into SIDS, accessing data gathered to see what, exactly, causes SIDS. "As a grieving nerd, I feel the need to do something. And I am not at all convinced that epidemiologists are to be trusted in this. After all, they are medical statisticians and mainly play the odds. I want to defy the odds. If current monitors won't work, I want to make ones that do."
He has a plan: "I imagine a $10 device that can be strapped or stuck or otherwise attached to, 100,000 little babies, measuring and recording respiration, heartbeat, body temperature, and anything else we can think of. At least 50 of those babies will die of SIDS, but through the use of these monitors, we'll gather more SIDS data than has ever been gathered before. And rather than follow the traditional scientific method of first stating a hypothesis that we prove or disprove, I want the data to speak for itself. I want to get the best rocket scientists on Wall Street to apply their neural nets and other tools to divining from all this data a real leading indicator for SIDS."
"It can be done, and once it is done, we can reprogram those same monitors into devices that actually CAN predict SIDS and help to prevent it, either through detecting babies most at risk or by literally predicting the onset of SIDS in time to evade it."
"That's my plan, but I can't do it by myself. I need your help. I need hardware engineers, software engineers, I need people experienced with biomedical sensors and sifting mountains of data. I need folks who make tiny processors and RAM chips. I need people who know more about this stuff than I do. Yet they must also be people who are willing to believe that there is an answer, since the medical establishment seems to have given up."
Go check out his article. And if you can help, feel free to comment below, but, more important, E-mail him. Thanks to Kuro5hin.
be an ombudsman for a day
In one of the comments below, Trenholm writes: "Although I am a huge fan of this blog site, it's pretty busy. You could cut down on the excess content some and really make it what it should be: pure content. So, concentrate on the essential aspects of the site. Do a Thoreau makeover and keep only the necessary stuff and leave the rest. Find the most popular and most used parts of the site by asking people what they use and don't use. Get rid of the fluff."
It was followed with a counterpoint from Ben, "fluff? What fluff? I see no fluff. My site, now that has fluff."
So. Here's my question to you, dear readers: What areas of Pure Content do you use? What's fluff? As always, comment below or e-mail me.
help a brother out
So it's April 24th. That means I have six days left to create and execute an entry for the 5k competition. If you have any ideas, please contribute them. In putting together the code for Pure Content and in working on a few other projects, I've neglected working on 5k stuff. Please please please offer me suggestions.
If you don't know, the 5k is a competition that asks web developers to create original, aesthetic, and functional web sites, using less than 5,000 bytes. Pure Content, as of this posting, is 48,994 bytes, and that photo of the Play team on the right is 15,408 bytes. Granted, the vast majority of that 49,000 bytes is the posts themselves. But gosh. 5,000 bytes is tiny. And the site has to be functional, aesthetic, and original. I'll be playing around with it. If you have any suggestions, please post them. Thanks.
phase dos / embracing change
Ladies and gentlemen. I am proud to introduce to you three teammates of mine, Robert, Courtney, and Geof. All three are experts at looking at more stuff and thinking about it harder, having been at Play for a combined total of 11 years. We all work on the Wallpaper team, the group at Play that facilitates creative sessions for and with clients. They will be joining me in posting stuff to Pure Content. The four of us will be joined by a few more Wallpaper team members in the next week or so. Each of us has different influences, and we all find content in different places. Here's a little more about each of them, in their own words.
"Robert brings the discipline and art of theatre to his creative role at Play. Trained as an acute observer of human nature, he is well-versed in changing perspective, roles, and mindsets. For Robert, Play is the perfect intersection of strategic thinking, wild abandon, critical observation and life lived as art."
"Geof Hammond spells his name with one 'f.' The most fascinating fact he knows is that Julia Childs, the woman synonymous with the American culinary arts, did not start cooking until she was 37 years old. That gives him five years to make his mark. He is a photo-journalist by trade, which gives him better critical observation skills than Robert Throckmorten. (see Robert's bio)."
"courtney page eats mangoes. She used to live in Hawaii where she ran, biked, swam, surfed and lived off mangoes. currently she is an endurance athlete here in richmond with a big black dog named Austin. She is energetic, opinionated, curious, interested, and mischievous. What she lacks in spellings ability she makes up for in mangoes."
You'll come to know and love them, just as I have. Get ready for some cool stuff.
send some vibes
Armistead's defending his thesis today. Good luck, bro.
when consumerism turns evil
Online magazine Freezerbox has a tremendous article about enjokosai, a disturbing Japanese phenomenon. In an effort to make enough money to buy name brand (DKNY, Gucci, Channel, Fendi, etc.) clothing and bags and accessories, Japanese schoolgirls are resorting to enjokosai, which is essentially child prostitution. "Name Brand Beauties on Sale," written by an American schoolteacher in Asahi Mura, a town of 12,000 in Japan. The article looks at the cultural issues that permit (and even encourage) enjokosai, and looks at the lives of a few schoolgirls who engage in it. It also points to the social dynamics that place blame on the girls themselves, and not on the men who support them, asking why it's seen as the girls' problem, and not as pedophilia.
Ignoring a few grammar/spelling flaws, it's a really well researched and written piece, combining statistics and figures from university studies on it to interviews and personal anecdotes. Of course, it's not a totally Japanese concept. Women (and men) all over the world have sold their bodies for drugs for years. But to think that girls would prostitute themselves to old men—especially so callously—so that they could buy a Fendi belt is frightening.
From the article: "Fukutomi (the university researcher who studied enjokosai) found that girls who "experience" enjokosai or feel no qualms about it tend to be susceptible to the media, and their peers. He suggests that they may be indifferent about their future and fear getting old. Finally, and most remarkably, Fukutomi feels that the girls may see being a high school girl as a brand-name quality."
"Of all these answers, the last one is the most mysterious to me. Coming as I do from a country where five year olds demand Gap clothes and frown at K-mart toys, I don't find it significant that girls in high school feel that their life is like a name brand, like they are a living advertisement. But I do find amazing the way the Japanese girls have gone a step further, trading their own brand-name merchandise to get the brand names they want. This is how they get the goods, transforming their girlhood into a fixed price, brand name for brand name."
On my keys, I have two "valued customer" tags. Small, laminated strips of plastic that have bar codes on them. I'm sure you've got one or two in your wallet or on your keys as well. One of mine is for Kroger. The other is for Ellwood Thompson's, Richmond's best whole foods market. I think pretty much every supermarket and convenience store has one. And I would sign up for more (I don't mind trading info about my buying habits, if I'm getting discounts), but it's such a hassle. And most of the time, the checkout person swipes their card for you if you don't have one. As you probably know, they record what you purchase, and they give discounts on some of the stuff. I don't know exactly what benefit the stores get out of mining that data, but it's of enough value to them that they give those discounts on certain foods.
So here's my question: Why isn't there a meta card (I'd call it a meta tag, but that'd just confuse people) that has a network of stores. They could run their sales independent of one another, and their databases could be maintained independent of one another, and I, as a customer, would only have to sign up once (instead of several times ... once for each card I currently get).
» ease of signing up
» ease of carrying and using
» more people using it (no hoops to jump through)
» more extensive databases
» stores maintain independent sales and databases
» lose all individual store branding
» might take time to set up system
» requires store and customer "buy in"
Anyway, I think it's got incredible potential. Somebody go do it and give me some royalties.
I thought this was interesting. Martin Roell has an "eBiz Weblog." It's in German. Nothing special about that, right? Well, because he wants to have as wide a readership as possible, he has links up to Google's translations of his pages ... into both French and English. So if any readers come to his site, unable to speak German, they can still access his content. Like this article, about the Internet habits of Gen Y kids, from Clickz.com, which says the following: "A Harris Interactive poll of college seniors last year found nearly 100 percent were online, spending an average of 11 hours a week on the Internet. That's nearly double what a survey of 1997 graduates revealed."
The point of all of this is simply: Martin has provided a great service to potential readers of his blog: automatic translation. In one click, I (being a dumb American) can instantly know what he's saying.
One day, in the not-too-distant future, my wife and I hope to move out to Charles City County (yes, it's a "city county"), Virginia. There, with some friends of ours, we plan to start a small farm. We're excited about it, hoping that we aren't falling prey to the same thoughts that make us want to own a Bed & Breakfast some day (my dad says we're prone to do that because we're romantics). I want to raise my family in community, as the quintessential "gentleman farmer," in a Jeffersonian "student of the world" kind of way. Hopefully, that doesn't come across as a weird reclusive hippie commune ... think of it like a neighborhood, but in rural Virginia. (I've already started coining phrases for when I return to the land, because every gentleman farmer needs phrases like "God willing and the creek don't rise." My best one so far is "Well, you don't start a farm if you don't like to garden." I've been able to slip it into conversations that have nothing to do with farming. Feel free to use it.)
Anyway, there's a great article in the San Francisco Chronicle, about a maven of sustainable farming, named John Jeavons (great name). He's the guy behind Ecology Action and a process he calls "Grow Biointensive." Although it operates with the cumbersome tag "Teaching people worldwide to better feed themselves while feeding the soil and conserving resources," it seems like a fantastic area of learning.
From the article: " 'It takes about 15,000 to 30,000 square feet of land to feed one person the average U.S. diet,' he says. 'I've figured out how to get it down to 4,000 square feet. How? I focus on growing soil, not crops.' "
"Conventional farming practices, Jeavons explains, deplete the soil of nutrients and lead to wind and water erosion. In the face of increasing populations and a dwindling supply of farmable land, he sees his approach as a sustainable, soil-friendly way to feed the world."
It's pretty cool that you could plant all of the food (minus the meat) you would need for the year in a 64-foot-square plot of land.
Via Boing Boing. And no more recycled content for today. Only fresh stuff. If I have time.
major corporations doing good
Obviously, there has been a lot of talk about "evil" corporations and whatnot, because of the rallies in DC this past weekend. And while I'm not going to go into my thoughts about capitalism here, I wanted to point out an article about progressive change that is a direct result of large company action. McDonald's, the country's largest egg purchaser, decreed that their egg suppliers had to provide more humane treatment for their chickens. Although the article overemphasizes PETA's role in the process, it's a good look at the potential that big companies have to do good.
who / what / why
At Play we create brands, strategies, new products, and better cultures for Fortune 100 companies. Our formula for creativity: "Look at more stuff. Think about it harder." Pure Content is one place where we do that, daily.
the cool kids' table
go go gadget google:
stuck in an airport
A Pattern Language
Orbiting the Giant Hairball
The Ultimate Book of Business Creativity
The Little Prince
The Dancing Wu Li Masters
The Tipping Point
new to you
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