Architecture, especially the sort that lies far from the shadow of America's recent cultural and economic stagnation, is the best bellwether of innovation, a representation of the relative health of the imagination of the species. The 1,037 beautifully photographed buildings in The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture are a testament to everything that is right and really wrong in architecture today.
Emily Bazelon's in-depth look at bullying and a blueprint for how to reduce it.
Many children want to read books on digital devices and would read for fun more frequently if they could obtain e-books. But even if they had that access, two-thirds of them would not want to give up their traditional print books. These are a few of the findings in a study being released on Wednesday by Scholastic, the American publisher of the Harry Potter books and the “Hunger Games” trilogy.
As I mentioned a few weeks back, I'm reading Nicholas Carr's book "The Shallows." His basic premise is that our current environment, with its deluge of available information typically broken into bite-sized pieces served up online, is "dumbing down" our brains. We no longer read, we scan. We forego the intellectual heavy lifting of prolonged reading for the more immediate gratification of information foraging. We're becoming a society of attention-deficit dolts. It's a grim picture, and Carr does a good job of backing up his premise. I've written about many of these issues in the past. And I don't dispute the trends that Carr chronicles (at length). But is Carr correct is saying that online is dulling our intellectual capabilities, or is it just creating a different type of intelligence?
In a significant defection for the book industry, best-selling marketing author Seth Godin is ditching his traditional publisher, Portfolio, after a string of books and plans to sell his future works directly to his fans. The author of about a dozen books including "Purple Cow" said he now has so many direct customer relationships, largely via his blog, that he no longer needs a traditional publisher. Mr. Godin plans to release subsequent titles himself in electronic books, via print-on-demand or in such formats as audiobooks, apps, small digital files called PDFs and podcasts. "Publishers provide a huge resource to authors who don't know who reads their books," said Mr. Godin in an interview. "What the Internet has done for me, and a lot of others, is enable me to know my readers."
I finally had a look in on Eat, Pray, Love, the memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert that sold 4 milllions copies in paperback and this summer became a movie starring Julia Roberts. (I know I am late to this, but, as an anthropologist who studies contemporary culture, I'm trying to keep up with everything.) Three things struck me.
Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos.com, Inc. During the past 10 years, the company has grown from almost no sales to more than $1 billion in annual gross merchandise sales, driven primarily by repeat customers and word of mouth. Below is an excerpt from Tony's forthcoming book that describes the beginning of Zappos.
During the year-and-a-half I spent researching and writing Adland, I was often asked, usually by people who knew me in my past life, "What are you doing here? Didn't you write a novel? Didn't you gleefully leave this world behind?" The simple answer was that I was writing another book. Not another novel but, ironically, a book about the past, present and future of the world I had supposedly, gleefully, left behind. Many who worked with me found this curious and funny, and not just because of the irony, but because really, who the hell am I to write a book about advertising?
Social media is a humbling topic, one that I do not approach without deep study and reﬂection. On the surface, social media has democratized content, placing the power of publishing in the hands of every day people. Peeling back the collective layers, we realize something more profound however; social media has democratized and equalized inﬂuence and the ability to inspire action and establish vibrant and dedicated communities around a sense of purpose and belonging. Whether we’re consumers or brand advocates or both, we have been given a powerful gift in the form of real-time, uninhibited access to information and intelligence and the people who share their insights—the new inﬂuencers. It is how we choose to embrace this gift and as such employ it and also interact with new inﬂuencers that deﬁnes our presence and stature within the social landscape and in turn, the real world. Indeed social media is a privilege and with it comes great responsibility (and accountability).
Former adman James Othmer spent two decades working in the ad industry as it was in the throes of a dramatic transformation. As more consumers zap commercials on DVRs and read magazines and newspapers online, Othmer has concluded that the Madison Avenue industry as he knew it is dying.
Well, as you always kind of suspected, Bob Garfield hates advertising. He even thinks it will die, at least in its mass-appeal form. And big deal, he'd say. People hated that crap anyway. What he doesn't exactly explain is: What are all those big advertisers going to do with all that money instead? Nor does he think there's much chance of you blindsided, slack-jawed advertising people evolving into something that could help answer that question.
According to Arika Okrent's highly entertaining book "In the Land of Invented Languages," the two most popular invented languages in the delirious, 900-year history of such endeavors serve to tell us something about the possibilities and limitations of the whole idea. By invented languages, Okrent does not mean pig Latin or secret codes or the fragmentary gobbledygook often concocted to represent alien speech by fantasy authors. (I'm sorry, Lovecraftians, but "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl Cthulhu fhtagn" does not a language make.) She means a language with its own fully constructed vocabulary and grammar, which is potentially or hypothetically capable of replacing the flawed, irregular, piecemeal "natural" languages virtually all of us speak.
Martha Stewart has amassed an impressive 600,000-plus followers on Twitter (marthastewart), which she’s used to broadcast everything from photos to last night’s dinner menu to her fervent fans. But she conceded having reservations about the social networking site.
The best non-fiction books today either deliver a complex message that takes more space and attention than a short series of blog posts can deliver, or they are convenient packages to spread an idea from person to person in a more powerful way than an emailed link can. Books can take their time and build an argument, while blog posts are constantly fighting the reader's ability and desire to click away.
Slang is something most of us use every day without thinking, unless we avoid using it as a matter of principle -- which probably takes more conscious thought than using it does. "Slang is always with us," writes Michael Adams in his meticulous and shockingly readable "Slang: The People's Poetry."
In just a little over 10 years, Google has built a business that is impossible not to admire. In fact, its success begs the question -- what would Google do (WWGD)? Media pundit and thinker Jeff Jarvis tackles this question head on with a new book by the same title. In "What Would Google Do?," Jarvis breaks down Google's practices into 12 distinct rules and then applies them to aging industries like media and advertising.
Is "Blue Ocean Strategy" obsolete? No. Instead, its lessons need to be reinterpreted in relation to new economic realities. It offers many useful insights, whether a category is ripe for transformation or not.