Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.

the rise of the South the Creative Class

As you might remember, Richard Florida was in Richmond last week, speaking on the ideas contained in Rise of the Creative Class. Richmond Op/Ed journalist Jim Bacon wrote an analysis of Florida's remarks, as well as how it specifically applies to River City. You can read his full article here: Florida Hurricane: Richard Florida, the boldest thinker in economic development today, blew through Richmond last week. The Holy City may never be the same.

In the old model, economic developers induce companies with financial incentives to invest bricks and mortar in their region. In the new model, regions prosper by making themselves attractive to members of the so-called “creative class” — the artists, educators, intellectuals, techies, professionals and high-level managers who fuel cultural, technological and entrepreneurial creativity. For advanced economies, creativity is the only sustainable source of competitive advantage in a global economy and the only sustainable source of prosperity.

There is no formula for building a hip, cool, creative-class city, but Florida does offer some general advice. First, don’t make mistakes. Stop sending off signals that reinforce negative stereotypes of, say, a city that is still fighting the Civil War. Likewise, don’t squander precious capital on assets, such as athletic stadiums and convention centers, which have little appeal to members of the creative class. Second, invest in the amenities and build the institutions that make the city more attractive to creative people.

Whatever path Richmond follows, Florida cautioned, it shouldn’t be decided by a top-down process. The rich white guys who run things don’t have a clue what young people are looking for. One good place to start is talking to college students. Some of their ideas may be idealistic and naïve, but they know one thing better than anyone else: They know what they want out of life. They know what it would take to make them stay in Richmond. Talk to immigrants. Find out what it would take to encourage more immigrants to move to the region. Talk to minorities. Southern regions like Atlanta and Research Triangle lead the country in attracting educated African Americans. Could Richmond replicate their success? “Open up the dialogue,” says Florida. “Expand the stakeholder set.”

Another article of interest is here: Rethinking Richmond: Greg Wingfield wants to shift Richmond’s economic development focus from corporate investment to human capital. The strategy will require a drastic shift in regional priorities.

By the way ... did you know that Op/Ed stands for "Opposite Editorial"? I always thought it was shorthand for "Opinions and Editorials." Thanks to NPR's Morning Edition (and Google) for clearing that up.



One of my favorite topics to talk about is passion. That's why, if you receive Playshares (Play's bimonthly newsletter on creativity ... e-mail me for more info), you've seen a number of pieces about passion. In this article at DenverPost.com, we see one of my favorite principles at work: "Passion is what happens when you forget to pee." This article is about Quizno's sub shops, and how "Chef Jimmy" Lambatos is a foodie of the highest order — with the passion to prove it.

Chef Jimmy builds into Quizno's an image of quality the way Dave Thomas made Wendy's friendly. "I've just got an obsession for food," Lambatos said in a recent interview. "This is my passion." He smiles and waves his arms to emphasize why ripe tomatoes and crisp lettuce are important to a sandwich. In the new ad, which kicked off a year-long campaign, Chef Jimmy is so obsessed with making the perfect sandwich he forgets to put on his pants.

An addendum to my principle: Passion is what happens when you forget to put on your pants.


This article (and the one below) were found through LucJam, by the way. Quite the resource.


TV ads 'a waste of money'

UK's Guardian printed an article that noted that statistics showing how popular television programs are can't be used to show how attentive audiences will be for ads. The study showed that advertisers would have more success advertising on niche programs, where more individuals would be watching.

Advertisers who spend millions of pounds on TV commercials could be wasting their money according to a study from the London Business School, which claims few of us actually watch the ads. The study found people who watched television with family or friends were far more likely to talk to each other during the commercial breaks than to focus on the ads.

I find that's generally true. In fact, we usually mute the commercials in order to better talk to one another.

Here's the article.


brand new world

I was looking at the SXSW Website Competition Finalists and stumbled across Gain2.0. It had two interesting articles, one is an interview with Ivy Ross, a friend of Play's and a SVP at Mattel, who developed Project Platypus, a fascinating evolution of the Skunkworks-style R&D/innovation labs that the Boeing and Lockheed Martin (I think) started in the '50s and '60s. It's a three-month long experiment, where the 12 teammates involved develop radical new ideas. Here's the interview: Project Platypus:Reinventing Product Development at Mattel. The second article that caught my eye was an interview with Andrew Zolli, the principal at Z+ Partners (the chaps Heath linked to last month). Here's an excerpt:

For example, in urban environments were there is great plentitude of choice, you get very interesting perspective on brands. Ask 100 people in Park Slope, Brooklyn or SoHo or South of Market in San Francisco to talk to you about their attitudes towards McDonalds, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, the Gap—these paragon brands in American culture, the ones that are held up as being truly the companies to emulate. You’ll find people saying, “I don’t like Nike’s labor practices; they use sweatshops”, or “I don’t like the way The Gap homogenizes culture and makes everybody look the same”, or “I don’t like the way McDonalds is the only choice on Rt.95, so when I drive from here to Boston I can only get a Big Mac.” These companies have been so successful that they’ve narrowed the choices available in the markets where they compete, and in the process they’ve reduced the cherished distinctiveness of neighborhoods and regions. But these kind of responses are paradoxical. First of all, the folks complaining are the ones that have the greatest access to alternatives. They’re the ‘consumers’ who are most likely to register the perceived threat of the advent of Starbucks in their neighborhood to knock out two or three independent coffee houses, which assumes that they have two or three coffee houses to put out of business. The other thing that is paradoxical about this is that people will rant about certain brands, even as they are patronizing them. I have had people tell me that they hate McDonalds while they’re eating a Big Mac –there is a real disconnect between attitudes and behavior. People say, “I hate the McDonaldization of the world. But I like the fries.”

It looks like a really good interview, and Zolli seems to have tapped in to the questions and tensions and paradoxes and hypocrisy of modern American culture. Both of those interviews are from last September, but they're great.


big ideas for 2003

FORTUNE magazine (and FSB) has (have) released a new "ideas" issue, and it looks to be a really good one. (It also looks to be inspired after Malcolm Gladwell, seeing how it has articles on diaper innovations [like Gladwell] and on Philo T. Farnsworth [like Gladwell]. But that's neither here nor there.) It also has articles on the business model of The Pampered Chef ("[They're] selling dreams."), Pixar ("How do you institute a culture of innovation? You have to stay ahead of the curve."), Upromise ("Can a business that thinks like a nonprofit succeed in the for-profit world?"), counterterrorism through technology, a review of books on innovation, 14 hot startups, energywaters, and an essay on "The State of the Big Idea."


thanks for holding ... this is Charlie

Folks. It's been a while since we've talked. Really, it's not you. It's me.

January was an intense month, with tons of client work, culminating in xchange, a summit of high-level leaders and innovators, discussing our favorite topic: innovation in business practice. While I was off cavorting around, Sally Peck and Leah Swonguer, two exceptional college associates (that is, interns), posted some of our content backlogs. Things are a little slower now, and Sally and Leah have returned to school, so I'll be picking back up, and I'll be posting more. I'm coming out of my blog hibernation.

Sadly, the blogging world (especially the inmmediate neighborhood of Pure Content) has grown a little quieter. Dan Pink is taking a seemingly-permanent break from his blog, Just One Thing. John Hiler, of Microcontent News, hasn't posted anything since late December. And, as yuo know, Pure Content has been pretty quiet as of late.

That's going to change.

I can't promise a flood of information. I can't swear that there'll be torrents of content at the outset. But I'm going to get back into blogging mode, and I intend to build back up to my pre-Winter-doldrums levels. I invite you to come along for the ride. If you have something you want to post, please post it. There's a "how to" over on the right side of the screen, or you can e-mail me (charlie@lookatmorestuff.com) for help.

Enough chatter. Let's do this.

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

Ben Domenech
(politics, football, and a boatload of know-how)

Creative Generalist
(if Pure Content had a doppelganger ...)

Heath Row
(punk + business
+ creativity = Heath)


go go gadget google:

stuck in an airport

A Pattern Language

Creative Company
Orbiting the Giant Hairball
The Ultimate Book of Business Creativity

The Little Prince

Wittgenstein's Poker

The Dancing Wu Li Masters

The Tipping Point

new to you

04/27/2003 - 05/03/2003 04/20/2003 - 04/26/2003 04/13/2003 - 04/19/2003 04/06/2003 - 04/12/2003 03/30/2003 - 04/05/2003 03/23/2003 - 03/29/2003 03/16/2003 - 03/22/2003 03/09/2003 - 03/15/2003 03/02/2003 - 03/08/2003 02/23/2003 - 03/01/2003 02/16/2003 - 02/22/2003 02/09/2003 - 02/15/2003 02/02/2003 - 02/08/2003 01/26/2003 - 02/01/2003 01/19/2003 - 01/25/2003 01/12/2003 - 01/18/2003 01/05/2003 - 01/11/2003 12/29/2002 - 01/04/2003 12/22/2002 - 12/28/2002 12/15/2002 - 12/21/2002 12/08/2002 - 12/14/2002 12/01/2002 - 12/07/2002 11/24/2002 - 11/30/2002 11/17/2002 - 11/23/2002 11/10/2002 - 11/16/2002 11/03/2002 - 11/09/2002 10/27/2002 - 11/02/2002 10/20/2002 - 10/26/2002 10/13/2002 - 10/19/2002 10/06/2002 - 10/12/2002 09/29/2002 - 10/05/2002 09/22/2002 - 09/28/2002 09/15/2002 - 09/21/2002 09/08/2002 - 09/14/2002 09/01/2002 - 09/07/2002 08/25/2002 - 08/31/2002 08/18/2002 - 08/24/2002 08/11/2002 - 08/17/2002 08/04/2002 - 08/10/2002 07/28/2002 - 08/03/2002 07/21/2002 - 07/27/2002 07/14/2002 - 07/20/2002 07/07/2002 - 07/13/2002 06/30/2002 - 07/06/2002 06/23/2002 - 06/29/2002 06/16/2002 - 06/22/2002 06/09/2002 - 06/15/2002 06/02/2002 - 06/08/2002 05/26/2002 - 06/01/2002 05/19/2002 - 05/25/2002 05/12/2002 - 05/18/2002 05/05/2002 - 05/11/2002 04/28/2002 - 05/04/2002 04/21/2002 - 04/27/2002 04/14/2002 - 04/20/2002 04/07/2002 - 04/13/2002 03/31/2002 - 04/06/2002 03/24/2002 - 03/30/2002 03/17/2002 - 03/23/2002 03/10/2002 - 03/16/2002 03/03/2002 - 03/09/2002 02/24/2002 - 03/02/2002 02/17/2002 - 02/23/2002 current

see our neighbors
Comments by: YACCS