Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.
5.03.2002
 Brad

shout out

Word to Armistead, who interned at Play this Spring and who runs the blog Listening For Smiles, who wrote a brief piece on Play, linking to a couple of articles we've been in. Thanks.

 Brad

more on the clean energy front

We've looked at a couple of hydrogen-producing initiatives. Here's an eco-friendly response from the coal industry. Cleaning Up Old King Coal.

 Brad

What Would H'Angus Do?

Hartlepool England had their first election for a mayor, and, in a not-uncommon stunt, the city's soccer team's mascot ran. H'Angus the Monkey won the election, defeating the Labour candidate, Leo Gillen. Immediately after the successful campaign (if you can call it that), the guy in the monkey suit, Stuart Drummond, said that he would accept the position and become the mayor of Hartlepool. So here's my question: The people elected H'Angus. So what right does Stuart have to be mayor? Seriously. I don't know what the dynamics of the election were, and I don't even know what a mayor does in England. But I imagine that people were electing the mascot of the soccer team. The mascot is equivalent to a job title (at least for Stuart, it was). There's nothing special about Stuart Drummond—he just happened to be in the costume. If he quit his job as H'Angus, in order to better serve the town as mayor, meaning that somebody else (let's call him Noel) became H'Angus, then Noel should be mayor, and should make decisions as H'Angus.

This is the kind of ethical / political debate that I enjoy. Forget cloning. Forget Le Pen. Let's debate over H'Angus.

This comes from an article in Hartlepool Today, via Metafilter.

 Brad

(return of) major corporations doing good

Back on April 22nd, we linked to an article about McDonald's and how it is improving the standards at which animals are kept. Bizquick.org has linked to another article about a major corporation that's trying to improve standards. Starbucks' Struggle for Moral Ground is about the efforts that Starbucks is trying to make that will improve their coffee farmers' lives and the environment in general. With cash incentives for coffee plantations to pay higher wages and to enact stricter environmental practices, it's a promising development. Unfortunately, they haven't found any farms yet that have been able to meet their requirements. Although the progress of these efforts has been slow (some criticize the financial incentives Starbucks is offering to the framers, others criticize the evaluation and verification process Starbucks is using), it's encouraging that they're trying to improve.

The article does mention Fair Trade, a group that pays above-market prices for coffee and removes middlemen that jack up the price of the coffee, noting that Starbucks could improve their offering by setting up a practice that's more like Fair Trade. " 'The fact that they haven't paid a dime yet really blows open the hypocrisy of Starbucks' image as a socially responsible company,' said Deborah James, Fair Trade director at Global Exchange, a human rights organization based in San Francisco."

On the other hand, some people (even people connected to Fair Trade), are encouraging the advancements. " 'The guidelines are a great first step. The program sends a message to the industry to set standards on sourcing, and the principles are complementary to Fair Trade to help farmers get a decent price,' said Paul Rice, chief executive of TransFair USA, the third-party agency that certifies Fair Trade practices."

In short, I think that it's a good start. Could they do more? Yeah. But if you compare them to other big-name coffee producers, they're off to a solid start. Again, from the article: "TransFair USA can't get Folgers, Maxwell House or Nestle to return phone calls. Rice said that's despite the fact that some 60 members of the U.S. Congress have written to the CEOs of those companies urging them to get involved with Fair Trade certification."

5.02.2002
 Brad

checking in

Hello, all. This is just a quick post from the road. Andy, Courtney, Geof, Geoff, JB, Robert and I are down in Texas, at a forum on innovation that Play is helping to run. We've heard from some solid speakers, and our projects are going well. I can't go into it (that whole proprietary, client thing), but just know that it's going remarkably well. We've got one more day of it, and we'll be flying home on Thursday evening. And Friday, we'll be back in the Play home base, and I'll be able to post to Pure Content at a reasonable time of day.

Right now, I need to find some CSS guides, and then I'm off to bed. Pax.

4.29.2002
 Brad

tunes to prepare a coaching session by

I'm not writing this because of Everything's visit last week. This is totally unrelated. I promise.

I'm preparing a coaching session for a client (the entire Wallpaper team and I (minus Sean) will be in Texas through Thursday), and there was a CD playing on a CD player nearby. It was really really good. I mean, REALLY good. Curious, because most of the music played here is overplayed radio music, I went over to the CD player to investigate. And it was the latest CD from Everything (People Are Moving). They had left it behind for us last week, and somebody put it on. I'm stoked. It's good.

Now. Back to work.

 Brad

cool job perks

Also in New Scientist is this article, about Celera (a competitor of the Human Genome Project), whose leader, Craig Venter, announced that the DNA they used to map out human DNA was largely his own. As a result of the genetic testing they've done on that DNA, they revealed genes associated with slower fat metabolism and an increased risk of Alzheimer's. As a result, Venter is taking fat-reducing meds.

Now I'm not a biological ethicist, but I am a blogger, and I therefore have authority to say something about it. And my response is mixed. On one hand, I totally understand why he did it. I mean, the genes had to come from somewhere, right? Why not take advantage of it? On the other hand, there was no need for him to announce that the DNA was his. It doesn't benefit anybody, except that it generates buzz around Celera Genomics. Also because I'm a blogger, I can quote from real biomedical ethicists, like Arthur Caplan, who said "Any genome intended to be a landmark should be kept anonymous. It should be a map of all of us, not of one, and I am disappointed if it is linked to a person."

 Brad

more hydrogen advancements

Two weeks ago, we looked at experiments that are trying to utilize hydrogen traps in the earth. Scientists in England are trying to do something similar, although they are pulling it from waste sewage. New Scientist has an article on it, and it seems like another ray of light in the alternative energies quest.

From the article: "The team expects to have constructed the first prototype, with the capacity to generate as much fuel as a petrol "gas" station, by 2005."


 Brad

art in everyday life

We received another dispatch from Rure Content "Man About Town" Rich Schaffer, who sent us a link to Art and Design, Bringing Fresh Ideas to the Table, an article in Sunday's Washington Post. Investigating the sweet designs that a few Scandanavian designers are experimenting with, this article hammers home the importance of looking at the same things everyone else looks at, and thinking something no one else has thought (that's a quote from Albert Szent-Gyorgi, Nobel prize winner and all-around creative guy). Here's a quote: " 'I like to take things that are out there,' said [artist Marcel] Wanders, 'and use them to do just the opposite of what people expect.' " The forms these designers are creating are really cool, like this interactive vase:

"A vase from the "Do" line, by a firm that's based in Amsterdam, looks like an elegantly modern cylinder of grayish clay when it's bought. Follow the instructions that come with it, however, and it soon becomes a one-off product of collaborative performance art: The designers ask that owners smash each vase into a unique configuration of cracked shards, which are held together by the hidden rubber coating that makes the thing hold water."

Read the article. And if you're around DC, go see the exhibit. It's at trendy fashion store Apartment Zero. Rich Schaffer wins a gold star for the day.



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.

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