Monthly Archives: April 2012

APRIL 20120 // ISSUE 20

STATE OF AMERICA

The Flight From Conversation –

In the technological universe Americans live in today, people have shifted from conversation to connection. Sherry Turkle, a Psychologist and Professor at M.I.T., believes that the public has shifted from having face to face conversations to ‘talking’ through the devices and digital platforms like Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging. The devices people carry around, she points out, are so powerful they are literally changing what people do and in this case how they talk.  As a society, people are moving away from ‘big gulps’ of real conversation to connecting through ‘sips’ of online connection.  The daily use of social media has helped form a new behavior through continually asking people, “What’s on your mind?” People used to think, “I have a feeling; I want to make a call.” Now the impulse is, “I have a feeling right now; I need to send a text.”

Via The New York Times


BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

E-readers Bring Out True Colors Of Readers – They used to say that you can tell a lot about a person by the titles on their bookshelves, but now it seems you can tell even more about a person by what they downloaded on their e-reader. Kindles and Nooks are affordable for nearly everyone now. There’s enough literature to keep people busy reading for years.  Because coverless e-readers offer discreetness, demand is growing in specific genres in the e-book market. Genre fiction is reinvigorating parts of the publishing industry, as consumers choose romance, crime, supernatural and even erotic e-books (Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?) without worrying that their lurid covers might give them away as less-than-intellectual readers.  Mills & Boon has done well in the e-book market. It publishes in excess of 100 digital titles every month, and only 55 physical ones. Tim Cooper, its digital marketing director, says it is helped by its “habit-forming books.” Fresh subgenres are continually emerging like Christian romance and racy paranormal tales.

Via Mercurynews.com

SMART BRANDS

Presenting IKEA’s New Furniture Entertainment System UPPLEVA: TV Included –  As our TVs have become bigger and more powerful, their setup and maintenance have become increasingly demanding. Between set-top box, game console, DVD and Blu-ray players, USB ports and spare cables for camcorders and the like, it’s a maze of cables, connectors, menus and remotes. IKEA is hoping to capitalize on this confusion with a new line of electronics including the UPPLEVA, which they are billing as an all-in-one solution to this home media turmoil. It’s a TV that has speakers built into its base, a wireless subwoofer, integrated cable storage, a Blu-ray player and more, all controlled with, get this, one remote.

 Via YouTube

BRIGHT IDEAS

Nike’s Twitter RSVP Release System –  Missing work and sleep to wait in line for a brand to release their new [enter hot new product launch here]? This may be a thing of the past for Nike fans. While Nike product releases generate lots of hype, they also tend to cause a lot of headaches for store managers and shoppers alike. Nike’s new Twitter RSVP system provides a solution for both involved. On designated “RSVP dates,” individual U.S. Nike stores will send out a tweet at a random time with a product specific hashtag (i.e., #electrolime). Followers have exactly one hour to direct message the store account with the hashtag and the last four digits of their I.D. After a reservation has been confirmed, the customer will be given a time frame to pick up the shoe from a Nike store on launch day. While it is still a first come, first serve process – waiting in the comfort of one’s own home for Nike to tweet the product specific hashtag sure beats toughing it out for hours outside in line at a store.   

Via Nicekicks.com

ON THE RADAR

Read This: If you’re looking for ways to boost your creativity, Allison Arden’s The Book of Doing offers 94 easy activities that can bring a much needed dose of fun and joy back into your daily routine. From playing in the rain to making a silly home movie, Arden believes that the things we loved doing as children can still bring delight and wonder to the grown-up version of ourselves.

Read This: Advertising agency DDB New York has created an embeddable ‘I Care’ button that offers a new way to show support on Facebook. Sometimes, when reading a tragic story or article, it doesn’t feel right to “Like” an update. With the ‘I Care’ button, websites and blogs can append a clickable red heart to their content that allows readers to easily share the topics they care about with their Facebook friends.

Try This: ParkatmyHouse is an online service that taps into the growing peer-to-peer marketplace and allows home owners near airports, sports stadiums and movie theaters to rent out parking spots in their driveways. Drivers can book a parking spot online and have the comfort of knowing they won’t waste time circling for a place to park. Property owners with unused driveways can add a listing for free, and drivers can rent affordable spaces up to 70% cheaper than meters or garages.

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SOCIAL GOOD EDITION // APRIL 2012 // ISSUE 19

STATE OF AMERICA

The Value Of Happiness –

Should happiness figure in a nation’s bottom line? And should the concept of Gross National Product (GNP) be replaced by Gross National Happiness (GNH)?Columbia University’s Earth Institute recently published the first World Happiness Report, which was commissioned by the United Nations Conference On Happiness. The focus on happiness reflects a growing momentum to redefine society’s notion of individual and national growth. The basic idea behind the Happiness Conference is that human progress should be about more than just growing the economy. When measuring how well societies are doing, GNH should focus on people’s overall quality of life, in addition to their standard of living. According to Jeff Sachs, a US economist, “The US has had a three time increase of GNP per capita since 1960, but the happiness needle hasn’t budged.”  Wealth is only one factor in overall happiness, and this report offers insights into what people truly value.

Via FastCoexist.com

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Universities Respond To Demand For Social Entrepreneurship –

Social entrepreneurs are notoriously creative – they have to be to concoct a venture that makes doing good profitable. But when they launch their businesses, many entrepreneurs discover that innovation was the easy part. Social entrepreneurship’s prominence in the business world has led to an increased interest and demand from students wanting to learn the business side of making social impact profitable. The Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Ohio’s Miami University was among the first undergraduate initiatives of its kind at an American public university.  The first classes offered were often filled with students unsure of what “social enterprise” even meant. Now when Brett Smith, the center’s director, asks on day one if his students have heard of microfinancier Grameen Bank or its founder Muhammad Yunus, every hand goes up. Social Entrepreneurship classes started in elite schools such as Harvard and Stanford, but the sector has grown so much that it’s demand spreads campus- wide across schools in both graduate and undergraduate levels.

Via Good.is

SMART BRANDS

Let’s Go Halfsies – Oversized meals plague America’s restaurants. Compared with twenty years ago, portions have grown tremendously. Large servings have made consumers unhealthy, and it has also contributed to an increase in food waste. A new social initiative calledHalfsies creates partnerships with local restaurants and aims to help consumers eat less while simultaneously helping to feed the hungry and to minimize the amount of food that gets thrown out. Halfsies, already in New York City and Austin, TX , has participating restaurants give customers the choice to “go halfsies” and pay full-price for a half-sized portion, with 90% of proceeds going to charities that fight hunger. Health-conscious people can stop feeling guilty about what they order because they’re helping others and eating less.

 Via GoHalfsies.com

BRIGHT IDEAS

Caine’s Arcade – The internet success of “Caine’s Arcade” – a short film about Caine Monroy, a 9-year-old who created a cardboard-box arcade in his father’s East Los Angeles auto-parts store – has gone beyond viral. In addition to the 4.5 million views of the video, fans are making their support known through monetary donations to Caine’s Arcade Scholarship Fund – a fund set up by the filmmaker to help Caine go to college. The most interesting aspect of the video is that it never made a play for viewers wallets. The positive and heartwarming focus of Caine’s ingenuity and imagination was enough to cause the out pour of support he has received. In just over one week supporters have donated more than $178K  – a figure way above the original goal of $25K.    

 Via Caine’s Arcade

ON THE RADAR

Read This:  Hope140As the open exchange of information continues to become an everyday part of how the world communicates, Twitter is looking for a way to collect and highlight good social movements being discussed on their platform. Twitter started Hope140 to act as a hub of information, collecting everything from which hashtags to use to stay in the convo loop, to which Twitter users to follow for on the ground updates, as well as ways to donate and links to articles giving more background on the story behind each cause.

Try This: Help Remedies, with the help of creative agency Droga5, has come up with a way of making bone marrow-donor registration easier. A new adhesive bandage product called “Help I’ve cut myself & I want to save a life” now comes packaged with a marrow donor kit. Doing good becomes less time consuming since people can quickly swab their cut before applying a bandage and simply mail the swab sample to the marrow registry.

Wear This: Artists Justin and Christine Gignac have partnered with UNICEF and Threadless.com to bring forth an inspiring project called Good Shirts. The idea is simple: Good Shirts do good. The design on each shirt symbolizes the type of aid UNICEF is delivering to the Horn of Africa, and the cost of each shirt varies to match how much it would cost to deliver that specific type of aid. Prices range from $24 for a shirt depicting a syringe for measles vaccines, to $300,000 for a Good Shirt that will pay for a cargo flight to deliver aid.

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APRIL 2012 // ISSUE 18

STATE OF AMERICA

The Boomerang Generation – If there’s supposed to be a stigma attached to living with mom and dad through one’s late twenties or early thirties, today’s “Boomerang Generation” didn’t get that memo. Due to the rough economy of recent years, 29% of adults ages 25 to 34 have moved in with their parents. Among those who’ve returned home, 78% say they’re satisfied with their living arrangements and 77% report being upbeat about their future finances. The sharing of family finances appears to have benefited some young adults as well as their parents as boomerang children pay rent and help with household expenses. One reason young adults may be relatively upbeat about their situation is that this has become such a widespread phenomenon. A majority say they have friends or family members who have moved back in with their parents over the past few years. A quarter even note that their relationship with their parents has improved with the living arrangement.

Via Pew Research Center


BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Alumni Invest In Students Through Loans – Student debt is now the second-largest segment of consumer debt in the United States after mortgages, with more than $1 trillion in loans outstanding.  According to a former head at Wells Fargo, the current situation is unsustainable as students graduate with debt, face high interest rates and a challenging job market. San Francisco-based start-up lender SoFi, the name comes from “social finance,” has come up with a novel idea to disrupt the current student loan industry by getting alumni to ‘invest’ in their school’s students. Alumni would indirectly loan the students money. Through this process students get a lower interest rate, and alumni get a way to support their university while earning a financial return. Mike Cagney, SoFi CEO and Chairman, believes a school-specific alumni-based investment vehicle would make students less likely to default. “We are restoring the historical norms of community-based lending and essentially planting the seeds for lifetime engagement.”

Via Chicago Tribune

SMART BRAND

Screenvision’s Pre-Show Before The Show – Audiences still frequently boo the ads that run in theaters before the movie starts. Screenvision hopes that a new pre-show and app will not only change audience sentiment towards those ads but entice viewers to get to the theater early enough to sit through a full 20 minutes of ads and interactive games. The new pre-show, called The Limelight, allows moviegoers to watch trailers, search for show times, check in at the theater, play interactive games and earn points toward free movie tickets and concession snacks through the app. The appeal for advertisers is that viewers are more likely to remember the ads they see before a movie if they are engaged with interactivity, prizes and points.

Via New York Times

BRIGHT IDEA

The Happy Show – The Happy Show is an exhibit centered around graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister’s ten-year exploration of happiness. The exhibition presents typographic investigations of rules to live by culled from Sagmeister’s diary manifested in a variety of imaginative and interactive forms.   

Via The Happy Show

ON THE RADAR

Know This: @PenguinUSAPenguin Group has launched a Twitter book club, offering book worms a chance to chat with each other about their favorite passages via hashtag chats and even hear from the book’s author. In order to participate, follow @PenguinUSA and use the hashtag #readpenguin in order to join the book club conversation.

Read This: Visual Storytelling takes a look at today’s design and aesthetics and explores a new visual language that is both informative and entertaining. Utilizing visual forms to depict information can help extract the most value from the daily flood of information available to us. This book should appeal to both designers who create infographics and anyone who wants to learn a more visually compelling way to share relevant stories.

Try This App: If you’ve been tracking your nutrition and health, it’s important to remember that mental health is just as important. MoodPanda is an interactive mood journal that measures and keeps tracks of your happiness, creating visual graphs and pie charts to show you how you’ve been feeling over time. If you could use a little more happiness in your life, give this app a try.

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APRIL 2012 // ISSUE 17

STATE OF AMERICA

Millennials Excitement & Preference For Gadgets Over Cars Speaks To America’s Changing Car Culture – At a major conference last year, Toyota USA President Jim Lentz noted “many young people care more about buying the latest smart phone or gaming console than getting their driver’s license.” That is a major shift from the days when the car stood at the center of youth culture and wheels served as the ultimate gateway to freedom and independence. Technology seems to be providing that freedom and independence in a much more accessible and less costly way for this generation. The billion-dollar question is whether this shift is truly permanent, the result of a baked-in attitude shift among Millennials that will last well into adulthood, or the product of an economy that’s been particularly brutal on the young. There are plenty of reasons to suspect the latter as Millennials have become notorious for being innovative and untraditional in living life on their own terms.

Via The Atlantic

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

An Appreciation For Simplicity Drives Pinterest’s Addictiveness – Pinterest has caught fire with its simple and intuitive design. Facebook has long been overwhelmed with continuous feeds of relationship status, check-ins at restaurants and pictures of kids. In contrast, Pinterest is a refuge from the over sharing of daily experiences. The pin boards serve as its users’ personal happiness collages and allow people to learn more about themselves. Users do not focus on the minutiae of daily experiences. Instead, they’ve found a found a deeper connection in allowing people to see the beauty of connecting with their ideal selves and sharing things they’re truly passionate about.

Via Fast Company

SMART BRANDS

Barclaycard Launches A Crowdsourced Credit Card –

Turns out you don’t have to be a banker or mathlete to get into the credit card business. Barclaycard US is calling its new Ring card “the first social credit card to be designed and built through the power of community crowdsourcing.” The secret of the card, physically similar to any other, is the financial system behind it. The crowdsourced card has low interest rates, low fees, simple terms and “the opportunity for cardholders to shape and share in the product’s financial success.” Radical transparency is a key element as it pulls back the curtain that separates brands from its customers. The company notes that for the first time cardholders will have visibility into the card’s financial profit and loss statements. An online framework will provide cardholders with the ability to influence decisions that impact how the card is managed and serviced, completely re-thinking the incredibly complex financial process.

Via Barclaycardring.com

BRIGHT IDEAS

Change.org Launches Homegrown Crusades Without Ever Gathering In A Park Or Square –  By marrying one of the world’s oldest organizing tools, the petition, to one of its newest, the social-media loop, Change.org is putting companies and governments under tremendous pressure to change their policies, sometimes in a matter of a few weeks or less. And it has invited everyone around the globe to participate. “Before, to be an activist you had to go on a march,” says Hayagreeva Rao, professor of organizational behavior and human resources at Stanford University. “Now all you need to do is log on.”

Via Change.org

ON THE RADAR

Know This: Brands have their eye on a new startup named Chirpify which has created a Twitter commerce platform that allows users to instantly monetize their followers. Chirpify links up with PayPayl, and once a user is registered with the platform, person-to-person payments and donations are as simple as replying to a tweet. Examples include: ‘@favoritebrand Buy’ or ‘@politician Donate’

Read This: Megachange: The World In 2050 is a new book from the editors of The Economist. The book takes a deep dive into the fundamental trends that are changing the world faster than at any time in human history and predicts how the world will look like 40 years from now as a result of megatrends including the gap between rich and poor, the age of emerging markets, and the “social supercloud.”

Watch This: Jason Silva is filmmaker and futurist who is known for producing short videos that provide espresso shots of inspiration. All of Silva’s videos have a mission of creating and sharing awe. If your creativity needs a boost, start by watching the above video.

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