Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wallpaper That Can Replace Your Lightbulbs.

Welsh company LOMOX has not only developed this amazing wallpaper that is bright enough to replace a light bulb, they have gotten a huge grant from the Carbon Trust to further develop it.  One of the coolest things about it is that this type of lighting is 2.5 times more efficient than energy saving light bulbs.  I think it's going to open up a lot of doors for the design community as well.
Story at the Telegraph.

Like What You See?

See It Now: Avatar

I really did not expect my girlfriend B to call me and tell me to see Avatar.  She's the kind of girl that really likes romantic comedies and that's about it (example: she really liked Enchantment, hated No Country For Old Men).  I knew if she liked this movie then anyone would like this movie and after seeing it I can safely say that any movie fan will find something they love about it.  Girly movie lovers will love the art especially in the beginning, Sci Fi fans will be in absolute heaven, and action movie fans will love all of the second half. 
My favorite really cool thing about this movie?
Glow in the dark freckles.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In A World That Is Not Making Resolutions, I'm Making Some.

I don't think it's very cool to make resolutions anymore, no one I know is making them, we don't talk about them, and a lot of people at a lot of parties are making a point to let me know that they think making resolutions is passe.
So I'm going to tell you about mine here since I have done and said plenty of incredibly uncool things here already and if you're still reading then you must not mind so much.
First, I think that most people don't want to tell you they are making resolutions because we want other people to think that we are just fine as we are thank you very much.  Having a resolution is like admitting that you have (gasp!) flaws.  Or maybe you're one of those people that "makes resolutions every day".  Maybe you even keep them.  I am not positive that I believe the "resolutions every day" people because making permanent changes to our lives is really hard and if it were as simple as thinking them up every day and then changing forever resolutions wouldn't be as touchy a subject as they are.
So if you are making some resolutions this year, I'd love to hear them.  Here are mine, you can use them too if you want: 
1) Learn to talk about my accomplishments.  a friend of mine recently looked at my LinkedIn profile and announced "you don't know how to brag about yourself."  Since she's a dating coach she launched into a long speech about how men get better jobs because they know how to brag about themselves better and women tend to downplay their accomplishments (gross generalization I know).  I didn't want to believe her but since we had that conversation I have the sneaking suspicion that in my case she's right.  This year I'm going to be proud of what I've done and allow my various profiles to show it.
2) Ask for help when I need it even if I don't know the person that well. 
3) Stop buying things at the last second.  I buy the most ridiculous stuff in the last 10 minutes at the store.  I am the epitome of an impulse buyer.  No more.
4) Get smaller purses.  You have no idea how many things I carry around with me every day.  In no way do I need to haul around a huge bag filled to the brim with things "in case I need them".  There are Walgreens' on ever corner and Target's nearly as numerous.  I have no kids for God's sake why am I carrying around 20 pounds of purse?

A New Coffee Cup.

I almost made it out of New York without buying coffee cups.  I was in Pearl River Mart in Soho for an hour and came out with only Japanese candy.  I perused home stores and didn't succumb to the coffee cup buying madness.  Then, while we waited with friends for a table for dinner and were forced to do some more browsing, I came across these.  Bought 2.  You can get them here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Commercial Throwdown - Virgin Atlantic vs. American Express

The brick 80's cell phone cameo in this commercial means it gets my vote as the best I've seen this week.

FIWK's vote is the American Express commercial.  I would say mine is clearly the better pick.

What Having Fun Has To Do With Body Language.

John Rawlings Revlon Advertisement.
Whenever I sit in a meeting and watch someone droning on and on I always think to myself "why isn't this speaker noticing that we're bored?"
When the client checks their watch, yawns, or looks at the door repeatedly I think "wrap it up, we're losing them, abort mission, mayday mayday!" and then I try to tell them by opening my eyes wide to finish up.  A lot of the time the speaker doesn't take my cue because they aren't paying attention to cues at all otherwise the client checking the watch thing might have gotten their attention 10 minutes ago.
Now NPR has an article that we can discreetly send to "meeting droners" about how people feel like they are having fun if time has seemingly flown by.  In other words, when you think you spent an hour in a meeting but it was really only 30 minutes people decide that they must have had fun.

You might think that being entertained isn't the goal of a meeting or even your job but if people are bored they not only leave your meeting without retaining anything but they also eventually leave their job.

To summarize the article, Sackett (the psychology researcher) says the study could be interpreted like this:
Here's one implication: People often lament that a holiday or vacation is over too soon: It seemed to fly by so fast! "My research findings, however, suggest that once people are back home, the fact that they felt that time flew during their vacation is likely to increase their remembered enjoyment of the experience," Sackett notes. "Thus, while the end of a vacation may be bittersweet, the faster it comes, the more pleasant we'll remember the vacation as being."

So how can we use this study to make our meetings seem like more fun?  Don't let people get to the point where they are bored enough to notice every second passing.   Even if it means cutting your earth shatteringly interesting talk short. If you're losing people, they are going to associate you with feelings of boredom and that's never a good way to win business or fans.  Also, this article would suggest telling your audience that a meeting will last 30 minutes and then end it after 20  - an easy enough "jedi mind trick" to pull of at the beginning of every meeting.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Listening To: Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros.

Love this! (via Kira)

Safe Texting Commercial From LG - Give It A Ponder

The rest of them aren't as good but I think the concept has huge potential because who hasn't had a text they wish they would have had a ponder about before they sent it?

I'm Filing The Tokyo Nail Expo Under "Things I Unfortunately Missed"

The nail industry is huge in Japan!  These were spotted at the Expo November 30th.  Just my 2 cents but I'm pretty sure that the above woman is single.......  just sayin.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Print Dies And Yet Sites Start Printing Their Content.

This is Daily Candy's print guide to L.A. and from what I've heard it's really well done. Aside from the fact that I would absolutely read a Daily Candy guide to a city there is another really interesting thing going on here. Websites printing their content. Right after all of the old guard magazines started falling like dominoes and the whole world bought a Kindle and the New York Times Turned it's Sunday Paper into a joke. Here it is, a new guide book.
Oh, and look which of my favorite brands is right there on the cutting edge of it.
So why would websites want to start print versions of their content when print hasn't been doing so well and their websites can distribute their content for free?
I'd wager a guess that it's because websites have something regular print doesn't and that's an idea of what people are liking right now. For example, Daily Candy has a constant stream of outgoing content that they know almost immediately if people are liking or not. They have a good grasp on which articles people like, the way they like to read them, how long they are reading, and all kinds of other data that a magazine just doesn't have. Yes, a magazine can have a focus group or create a survey but a website knows who is reading what and if they like it. So they are going to put that content together, print it, and it will likely sell.
Another company getting into the game in the same way? Reader's Digest. That Titanic half sinking has got a whole load of cool websites that you probably didn't know they had like and my guess is that they re content testing there more and more. There is a really interesting article on how Reader's Digest plans to completely re-brand this year here.

So after all of the "print is dead" trouble this year there appears to be a glimmer of light coming from an unlikely place. It will be interesting to see if the web surfing crowd will buy their favorite site's content in a book or not.

Zombie Plates

These are so cool I can just imagine my sister coming across these in my cupboard and saying "Caitlin...... come on......."
via oneplusinfinity

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Story About My Dad.... Otherwise Titled A Glimpse Of My 80 Year Old Self

I just couldn't resist telling this story from my lunch with my dad the other day. Now my Dad and I don't get to have lunch together all that often just the 2 of us so I was really excited to pick him up where his car was being worked on and talk his ear off for a few hours.
While we were eating (and I was talking) I noticed that he was looking past me over my shoulder an awful lot. When I turned around to see what he was looking at, I discovered a huge mirror on the wall right behind me.
"Goddamn it. Why did you tell me my hair looked like this?" He proceeded to fix his hair for at least five minutes..... like a girl.....
"I have hat hair, UGH!" More fixing.
I am speechless. My father is nearing 80 and has just spent the last 15 minutes talking about his hair so I am about to fall out of my chair holding in laughter.
He suddenly looks at me and says "Well you know what your sister's say about you? That you never met a mirror you didn't like."

Hat Wearing Recommendations

lunchbreath made me laugh.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Want To See TBWA's Awesome Office?

This is their Tokyo office. I just love how it feels so green.
There's a grassy knoll to read on..... need I say more? I wonder if they would think it's weird if I just came in to read every day without working there....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Photos Coffeeshop Lovers Will Love.

This looks like a heavenly morning. By Victoria H.

~The stars were the same then as they are tonight. ~ Dharma Bums

Whale Coffee Cup!

I am a shameless collector of coffee cups and even though I in no way need nor will I ever need a new coffee cup I still want this one. It's on Etsy.

Jet Blue's Fangs Are Out With "The Flyer's Collection"!

Jet Blue has always seemed like the cool airline to fly on. They like social media and gadgets and I always felt like maybe Seth Godin would be sitting next to me. So this campaign kind of surprised me.
Here's what it is: Jet Blue got some retail space in New York City and opened a store called "The Flyer's Collection". Only you can't go in the store because it's never open. The pamphlet outside has a web address on it and when you go the site it's a Facebook account with fake products for sale that cheekily makes fun of other airlines.
Granted, the products are kind of funny (The knee jockey, and the snack machine) but I can't help thinking that it's a bit over the top just to cut the other airlines down. I mean, the other airlines are doing a fine job of looking bad all by themselves.What if Jet Blue used the space as a Wi-Fi center and made it look like a plane? I just think that Jet Blue already has a great angle and that's appealing to the ever growing new media lovers. Any other ideas for Jet Blue on how they could better use that NYC storefront?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Miller's "Yellow Snow" Video

Was it leaked or "leaked"? Who knows, but it's pretty funny.

Can Social Media Ruin My Relationship?

Everyone needs more social media.
CNN will tell you this. Businessweek will tell you this. Women's magazine's tell us how to Twitter and even the local news stations take us through laughably novice social media tutorials.
As a social media lover I have adopted every single new tool and trick of the trade. So has The New Jersey-ite.
We Twitter and blog and social network all day long and when we go home social media follows us.
We read recipes online to decide what we're going to cook which leads to a quick check of the e-mail (it's right there, on the next tab...) and then The New Jersey-ite forgets that he was supposed to finish something quick and e-mail it off so I take that moment to gchat with Double Americano but his story is long so The New Jersey-ite is finished before I am. We sit down and decide whether we should watch South Park or something I got from Netflix..... then I check to see what I have on my instant watch list. This is how it is.

Months ago we vowed never to answer our phones after 7 but that rule got broken right away so we changed it to we won't answer our phones during dinner. Unless it's really important. And I once pointed out that texting isn't answering the phone and it only takes 5 seconds, just hang on......

I figured that since we were both in the online industry this would be ok. He would be understanding about my incessant iPhoning and I could be understanding about his. Except I feel like we haven't talked in a while. I tell him this via gchat.
I mean, we've talked on gchat, and Twitter, and e-mail, and in person (a bit) but I try to remember when we drank two bottles of wine on the porch and last talked.

I never thought I'd be the kind of girl that said things like "quality time" and I feel like Dr. Phil every time I even bring it up but seriously, is social media conducive to "quality time"?
Can we Twitter and text during our dinner and still pay attention to each other? (My heartfelt apologies to Jun Loayza who talks about his work/ girlfriend balance all the time.....
His girlfriend said she sometimes wants to put herself in his Google calendar to get some time and when I read that I thought "God, that's never going to happen to us." )

So we made some new rules this week about how despite all of the articles insisting that we need more social media, we are going to be removing some social media from our relationship. Starting with dinner, baby steps away from the iPhone.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Penguin Donkey Coffee Table Goodness.

This table is originally from 1939 and made to hold about 80 Penguin books. I would love, love, love something like this in my living room.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Is It Geeky That I Want This? Monster Laptop Stand

Cannondale Knows Their Audience - Video To Prove It.

Wytze's graduation project for Cannondale from Eelke D. on Vimeo.

When a brand wants to make a video for their audience - this should be their inspiration. This incredibly cool bike is for urban women but what's really interesting is how well they know exactly who they want to purchase this bike. Kudos!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Have Patience With Everything... But Mostly Social Media.

photo from Asiria / Flickr
No one has ever called me patient. Ever. Not to my face or behind my back or any other time that I can remember. I find people who walk slow unbearable. Which I why when I dole out that advice so often I do genuinely feel a bit hypocritical. And I understand when people don't want to be patient or why they think that me telling them to be patient is just me lying to them about if social media works or not.
With all of this in mind, I'm writing a post about patience with social media.

Why We're In Such A Hurry
Basically everyone has heard some story about Ford or Best Buy and how they attribute social media to huge sales. If you knew there were a way to turn an online conversation on Twitter into profits wouldn't you be in a pretty big hurry to try it? Of course you would, so brands call social media agencies to help them figure out how to take their slumping sales and turn them into millions by the first of the year. When I'm a part of these meetings I ask about goals in social media and what they're doing on their site and on Twitter and then I ask them their timeline and brace myself. Sometimes I catch myself wincing.
"We want to do a 2 month test." This is hands down the most common answer I've heard in the last 2 years and it is, for the record, a fine answer.

Why We Get So Annoyed
2 months is kind of a tipping point for a lot of people in social media for 2 reasons.
1) The novelty has worn off and Twitter is just something you have to update, your fans on Facebook are slowing to a trickle, and maybe someone commented negatively on your corporate (or personal) blog. You no longer are thinking about how awesome it is that your brand has friends online and you're wondering what good this is bringing the company. Maybe it has increased sales a bit and maybe it hasn't. You start to wonder if you're wasting your time.
2) Some of your messaging isn't working with your audience and you know you have to change it but you don't know what to change it to. A lot of companies have only a Plan A when it comes to social and month 2 is where you can really start optimizing. If you know how.

So What Can You Expect After 2 Months?
I am always telling bloggers not to give up their blog because no one is reading it. In fact, the only things you can definitely expect after 2 months of blogging are sharpened writing skills and a better idea of what doesn't work. Most people will have under 30 readers after 2 months of blogging.
If you extend this to social media in general, you can expect much the same. A better understanding of the channels that you are using, what works, what doesn't, and some good tricks you've picked up along the way. Can you think up a great stunt and see leverage in 2 months? Yes. But that's a spike, not necessarily the makings for a good long term social presence.

To avoid the loss of novelty issue it's important to have good goals for social media on the outset. Pretty much anything can become a chore at some point so if you are only doing a company Twitter feed because Twitter is fun then you will likely get bored with it and stop updating it. If your Twitter goal is to find and respond to 20 industry related questions per week then it becomes part of your job or your routine. Specific goals let you know that you are moving forward even if you are bored with your blog this week.

To solve the issue of "Plan A didn't work, now what?' you've got to keep detailed data of why certain content isn't working and be listening online. If you aren't getting any comments or responses at all then you probably need to focus on building your audience which means you'll need to listen more. For example, if you are a flooring business and you want to talk about your new product line and no one is responding I'd wager that if you start listening to conversations you'll find your audience is taking about something else. Like which flooring matches which kind of countertops or the best ways to clean flooring. Now if you don't listen at all, you won't figure this out and you'll continue to talk about your new flooring items and people will continue to not comment. In other words, your Plan B should be reactive to what's going on online already.

A Word Of Encouragement
Have patience with your social media endeavor, whether it's a personal blog or a new campaign. If at 2 months you haven't come very far don't give it up. Lots of really successful campaigns getting attention right now are only pretending that they just woke up, tried it, and yay... profits! I know for a fact that Ford has a rather long trail of trial and error behind the Fiesta program.

Dripping Lights - Thanks Denmark!

How are the Dutch coming up with such clever lighting lately? Aren't these great? Studio Mango has some really great product designs on their site and their crew looks like a really fun group to work with. Check them out.


Travel Much? Samsonite Trolley Luggage

With the Holidays, people getting married, and the New Jerseyite's family being in, well.... New Jersey we've been traveling a lot. I've tried carry on, check your bag, ways to carry bath products, and I'm getting pretty good at getting through without much hassle (no small feat). My Dad, who has a total knee replacement gets the complete search down every single time we go through security ( whole other story). He comes out of the security area saying "those guys never smile...."
Anyway, this little travel suitcase looks really handy. Plus, it's on a scooter. Which is obviously more fun.
My 2 Cents: Dear Samsonite - if you want to sell a whole load of these quickly you should target the SXSW crowd. I could just see every other person there with one of these!

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Winter now - Hot Chocolate Time.

In winter I become an even worse addict of warm drinks than I normally am since you can add hot chocolate and spiced Cider to the mix along with the coffee and tea I normally drink to excess. Today I found these hot chocolate spoons from the Chocolate Company with flavors like Strawberry and Pink Pepper, Brownie, and Amaretto and Macaroons (pictured above, that little vial is real amaretto to pour in).
If you live in the Madison area you MUST MUST MUST go to David Bacco's chocolate shop in Hilldale Mall and have the hot chocolate there. It is hands down the most amazing thing you will ever have.

Personal Branding Vs. Online Writing

photo by Hazar Sultan
I have a lot of trouble with personal branding. I think most people do which is why there are so many personal branding coaches out there. Good ones. I usually end up talking to them about the city they live in or their families or social circle because I don't think I can ever reconcile the two brands I currently have: a quirky social media addict and a nonfiction writer that now and again feels the need to tell people about how I ran away from college in Iowa or the thrill of spray painting my favorite lines of poetry under bridges.
Personal branding coaches will tell you to write for other people - for the perception of you online. There should be consistency of message across the Internet and other really sound advice. Writing coaches will tell you to write about things not necessarily thinking of your audience. Big problem. Here's a great writing quote from Mary Karr's new book (one of my heroes):

"Tell your stories and your story will be revealed... don't be afraid of appearing angry, small minded, obtuse, mean, immoral, amoral, calculating, or anything else. Take no care for your dignity."

Since I don't want my personal brand to be "that small minded, amoral social media consultant" I have had to have 2 brands online. I don't know what the personal branding coaches would think about this I haven't asked Dan yet. When I write under my personal brand or for clients I am constantly thinking about how my audience will perceive my message and when I write a piece of nonfiction I have to sit near the quote above which is taped inside my writing book and look at it every time I want to delete a sentence that makes me seem mean, small minded, obtuse, or any of those lovely qualities (there are many).

So my word of advice to online writers, bloggers, and those seeking to perfect their personal brands is it's okay to have 2 if they clash with one another and when you are creating something to first think about which brand you are writing for and create accordingly.

Labels: ,

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Maluca - El Tigeraso Or "Let's Watch Something Different"

El Tigeraso

MALUCA | MySpace Music Videos

This is awesome on so many levels. I'd use Red Bull cans instead of beer cans. Happy Thursday.

Uber Modern Dentist Office - Japan

I love this design but I am one of those people that fears the dentist. Actually, just looking at this picture makes me start feeling nervous.
Very cool, modern building but it's maybe a bit clinical for those of us that would rather visit a spa-dentist (does that exist?). In fact, I can almost imagine Nurse Ratchett coming through those doors.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Driftwood Lights -

Bleu Nature makes the coolest natural home lighting. The site is completely worth going to - I can't read a word but their products are a cross between vacation, spa, and of course, the beach.

Chick-Fil-A Teams Up With The Police Dept. Is This Ok?

How strange is this? Southern California Police will be handing out free Chick-Fil-A sandwich coupons to drivers who are wearing their seatbelts when they get stopped. I have no clue how Chick-Fil-A pulled this one off and it seems just a touch sketchy being that the Police maybe shouldn't be doing advertising....
Anyone have any thoughts on this?
Read the full story.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Essentials For Social Media And Writers: Something To Say.

I haven't written seriously in a few years and have started to really get rolling again because I went to Mexico and had some strange kind of writing reality check. My excuse for not writing both publicly and to myself had been "I haven't done anything interesting in a while.... I don't have anything good to say".
In my defense, I spent a great deal of time in my early 20's wandering around the country by green truck doing "interesting" things every day. It was not, I should mention, very lucrative. I'd say in comparison I haven't been doing quite as may "interesting" things as of late at least not in the crazy adventure "you'll-never-guess-who-I-saw-in-the-gas-station-bathroom" kind of way.

Interesting things are also the big currency in social media. With social media everyone is a creator. Everyone is a writer, photographer, and short quip-sayer in order to get people to listen to you and do something like buy your product, follow your Twitter feed, or read your blog.
This adds up to a lot of scrambling in a lot of marketing departments for clever, witty, and relevant content.

Lots of companies I meet with say they are boring and sometimes they are. Plus, lots of people who quit their blogs say that they ran out of things to say. This is basically writer's block. So how do companies and writers start coming up with interesting content?

It's okay to write about struggle even if you're a huge company. I have a quote that I like by Samuel Beckett that says "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail Again. Fail better." Have I slept in my car in Arizona lately? No. But I have struggled like hell this year with clients, starting my own company, balancing work and relationship, and trying to write again. Struggle is interesting. Companies that can let their audience in on even a little of their struggles will seem more real than the ones constantly tweeting about their latest sale or promotion.

You don't have to get caught up in the posting twice a day, Tweeting once every minute, Facebook update mania that a lot of companies and people think they need to stay relevant. A well placed Tweet or post will serve you better than pure quantity.

Think about what makes you different or why you see things differently. For me, I like to pick on companies with terrible ad campaigns since I am dorky enough to follow ad campaigns (I also say nice things about good ones). I also have a family that lives on a farm even though I didn't grow up on a farm and sometimes I have to go out there and help them in winter. This involves camouflage snowsuits, chasing donkey's around, and feeling like a hillbilly. For an insurance company maybe you see everything in terms of liability. If you look at things on your walk to work just in terms of liability there could be a lot of pretty interesting tweets or posts in there.

Just because nothing "happened" doesn't mean something interesting isn't going on.

Look, Mexico Has Chocolate Lucky Charms!

Kellog is holding out on us.... these look delicious!