Friday, February 01, 2008

Designing for Parody

People have struggled for years to find ways of explaining the product or "brand experience" and how it can be created. It's been explained by Pine and Gilmore as a theater with props (drawing with no doubt from Erving Goffman), as a mindshare, and in many other ways.

My personal constructionist view of brand is that the best brands are a combination of design and emergence in real communities, but i won't take the time right now to explain (perhaps a later post).

Perhaps the best way to analyze one's brand, though, is to gauge its ability to be parodied. For those of you who have a product or a business, unless it can be parodied in a video like this one (apologies in advance for the questionable content), your product probably doesn't have a strong enough brand. Where does your business or design fall on the 0-10 "parody-able index"?

As an example, the current version of (a company i co-founded) achieves around a 1 or 2 on the index (low) - a problem we're working to solve by making much stronger, fearless statements about who we are.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bloomington Startup Weekend

For those of you anywhere in the Bloomington area, and who are interested in new ideas, do yourself a favor and consider joining in, or at least following along with the Bloomington Startup Weekend - an event taking place the weekend of February 8-10th here in Bloomington, IN. I will be joining the fun, looking forward to meeting lots of other folks, and perhaps kicking off a new venture (though i of course will be offering my help in getting it off the ground, bidding the startuppers adieu, then promptly jumping back into my PhD work and

If you are interested, get click here and register quickly, since as of the time of the writing of this post, there are only 22 spots (out of 70) left!

More information can be found here!

Friday, January 18, 2008


From the introduction to Norber Wiener's Cybernetics - written in 1947:

Since Leibniz there has perhaps been no man who has had a full command of all the intellectual activity of his day. Since that time, science has been increasingly the task of specialists, in fields which show a tendency to grow progressively narrower. A century ago, there may have been no Leibniz, but there was a Gauss, a Faraday, and a Darwin. Today there are few scholars who can call themselves mathematicians or physicists or biologists without restriction. A man may be a topologist or a coleopterist. He will be filled with the jargon of his field, and will know all its literature and al its ramifications, but, more frequently than not, he will regard the next subject as something belonging to his colleague three doors down the corridor, and will consider any interest in it on his own part as an unwarrantable breach of privacy….

…There are fields of scientific work, as we shall see in the body of this book, which have been explored from the different sides of pure mathematics, statistics, electrical engineering, and neurophysiology; in which every single notion receives a separate name from each group, and in which important work has been triplicated or quadruplicated, while still other important work is delayed by the unavailability in one field of results that may have already become classical in the next field.

It is these boundary regions which offer the richest opportunities to the qualified investigator. They are at the same time the most refractory to the accepted techniques of mass attack and the division of labor. If the difficulty of a physiological problem is mathematical in essence, then physiologists ignorant of mathematics will get precisely as far as one physiologists ignorant of mathematics, and no further. If a physiologist who knows no mathematics works together with a mathematician who knows no physiology, the one will be unable to state his problem in terms that the other can manipulate, and the second will be unable to put the answers in any form that the first can understand. Dr. Rosenblueth has always insisted that a proper exploration of these blank spaces on the map of science could only be made by a team of scientists, each a specialist in his own field but each possessing a thoroughly sound and trained acquaintance with the fields of his neighbors; all in the habit of working together, of knowing one another's intellectual customs, and of recognizing the significance e of a colleague's new suggestion before it has taken on a full formal expression. The mathematician need not have the skill to conduct a physiological experiment, but he must have the skill to understand one, to criticize one, and to suggest one. The physiologist need not be able to prove a certain mathematical theorem, but he mus5t be able to grasp its physiological significance and to tell the mathematician for what he should look.

We have dreamed for years of an institution of independent scientists, working together in one of these backwoods of science, not as subordinates of some great executive officer, but joined by the desire, indeed by the spiritual necessity, to understand the region as a whole, and to lend one another the strength of that understanding.

For those of us who strive to uphold this standard, it is our constant and necessary challenge to be "qualified investigators", and to be keenly aware of other qualified investigators, whatever their pedigree.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Deloitte: Nearly Half of U.S. Consumers Frequently Create, Post Content Online

In an upcoming report (posted in the Online Media Daily website), Deloitte & Touche, a well-respected global consulting firm, reports this compelling result. The implications of this number - and particularly of the 12-point annual jump - are staggering for small businesses. Consumer generated online content (videos, articles, photos, magazines, etc.) is on a trajectory to surpass professional media at some point.

With the increasing ease/low cost of online customer engagement tools, SMB's have a huge opportunity to ride this wave of participation to growth and profit - and HCI Designers are quickly going to have to become master tool makers, rather than the ones building the house.

Here's a link to the article: