Friday, December 19, 2008

Social Marketing: how to ca$h in

Well, according to South Park, you can always try...

That's the Youtube age! What will the next social phenomenon be? Sometimes, I look at "Share this" pages and almost fall over. We have so many ways to share our opinions it's almost hard to figure out if things you blurt out are your own thoughts or just a pre-chewed version #300 of someone else's chewed version of rehashed news...

As shows this page I was offered when discovering the South Park Episode:

Is our attention that fragmented? Do we all have ADD, to the point that all these social media tools cater to our mosquito-length attention span? At first, blogs, social media, were all pitched as freedom of speech, as the expansion of rights, rights which would now extend to the average citizen. But has it, really?
If the Balkanization of our information sources doesn't stop, we'll just have prolonged migraines from staying in that gigantic weblike echo chamber. It feels like people only Twitter with other like-Twitter people, other like-minded individuals (or sometimes, Twitter-bots). As information has flown freely, you wonder if it hasn't just flown off somewhere we can't reach or find anymore....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

If you had a plane and 5 days, where would you go?

Here's my entry for

12challenge: If you could get on a plane and fly anywhere for 5 days where would you go? on

Participate and submit your entry on!

Vote for the 3D Minoru!!!

This is the BEST webcam EVER. I'll be getting it in the mail in a couple of weeks, and I can't wait to start shooting with it. I nominated it for Best Gadget 2008 - gadgets under $100!

Vote for it right now!

For more information on the great 3D webcam, visit their website.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The election? Sure, I followed it (gulp)

Don't know how to fake your interest in political issues? Be thankful, the Onion is there for you with practical advice on how to fake your "I'm political savvy" image:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Prop 8: The Musical

An impressive cast (Allison Janney - that's C.J on the West Wing, Jack Black, Kathy Najimy, etc) set up this wonderful 3mn play:

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Soon to come in a community college near you!!! (or should we cut to the chase and just stone our daughters?)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Banning Freshmen from great sidewalks

I came across this great initiative through a friend on Gmail... I believe UC Berkeley should pass this initiative as well...

From some wonderful students at Princeton:

11/24/08--Princeton, NJ

A group of students at Princeton University would like to eliminate the right of freshmen to walk on campus sidewalks. Stating that they would like to "preserve traditional sidewalk values" that define a sidewalk as a "pathway for sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students, faculty, staff, and other members of the university community," the group, which is acting in support of a measure termed "Princeton Proposition 8," is now entering its second successful week of demonstration.

The students emphasize that they are not "froshophobic" and that some of their best friends are freshmen, but they maintain that freshmen on the sidewalk degrade the sacred institution of sidewalks, and jeopardize the validity of upperclassmen's own perambulation. It also makes some of them uncomfortable. They are very excited that California's Proposition 8 has set a clear precedent for a majority to eliminate a minority group's civil rights, and they see it as a perfect opportunity to utilize this development for their own gain.

The demonstration, which has featured signs, chants, and original music, has collected almost 500 signatures for a petition in support of Princeton Proposition 8, including those of many professors and even University President Shirley M. Tilghman. A video report of the protest produced by the University's 'Daily Princetonian' has received 21,000 views on YouTube in just two days. It has also been featured on dozens of regional and national blogs including Campus Progress Action's Pushback, DailyKos, and Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish. The organizers of the demonstration have also begun outreach to other universities.

The demonstration will continue at the plaza in front of Firestone Library on the Princeton campus between 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Monday 11/24 and Tuesday 11/25.

The Princeton Proposition 8 campaign aims to secure the definition of Princeton University sidewalks as a means of pedestrian transit for sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students, faculty, staff, and other members of the university community, but supports the elimination of the right of freshmen to walk on sidewalks.

Only walking on sidewalks by sophomores, juniors, and senior students is valid or recognized at Princeton.


Contact: Christopher Simpson

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tightening the belt

After reading "Canada Gives Obese Flyers an Extra Seat for Free" by Dave Demerjian, forwarded by a follow Twitterer, I was wondering... isn't obesity relative? What is "spacious", and has that "spacious" shrunk (and will it continue shrinking)?

Space in the numbers, space in our minds

Anyone who's traveled on an airplane in the last ten years knows that seats have gotten smaller and smaller. The Independent Traveler shows that industry standards for leg room have decreased from a 33-34 inch standard to 31 inches (that's almost 10%) - sometimes 28 inches for short-hal charters - while seat width has gone from 18.5 inches to 17.2 inches. But Ed Hewitt put these numbers in perspective very well:

"The Numbers Game
Airlines like to think their seats hold up in comparison to office and theater seats. I wasn't so sure, so I took out a tape measure.

It took some measurements of my own:
- General: 6'1", approx. 180 lbs.
- Width, A: Distance across hips: approx. 15"
- Leg pitch: Distance from small of back to end of knee while sitting: 25"
- Height: Eye level sitting in my office chair: 48"
- Width, B: Distance from elbow to elbow while standing: 23 inches +

It's that last one that looms largest when it comes to confronting the Middle Seat Factor. It's no wonder that I don't want anyone next to me - there's five or six inches of me that I need to gather in and put somewhere else when I'm sitting in a middle seat next to two strangers so not to elbow them the entire flight.

Office Chairs:
For these numbers I measured my own office chair, as well as those of several colleagues. All were very similar.
- Width of office chair seat cushion: 20"
- Width of office chair seat back: 17.75"
- Distance from seat back to end of knee when sitting comfortably, maybe slightly slumped: 26.5"
- Distance from seat back to end of knee when sitting in a position in which I might be able to doze: 31"

My local movie theaters:
Theater 1 was stadium-style, with seats that curved with the shape of the room, making the seats wider in the back than in the front. Theater 2 was aligned in straight rows.
Theater 1:
- Seat back width: 20"
- Seat front: 18"
- Elbow-elbow: 23"
- Seat Pitch: 37.5"

Theater 2:
Seat width: 18-20 inches (alternating by row)
Elbow-elbow: 21"
Seat pitch: 36"

All told, my research indicates that a minimum 34" seat pitch would do the trick for most folks. On most airplanes, this would require the removal of only one or two rows. Doesn't seem like too much to ask.

While I was measuring one of the theaters, the concession stand worker who let me in told me a story of a recent coast-to-coast trip when she could barely walk after sitting in her tiny seat the entire flight. And I thought, coast-to-coast; that's six hours."

Obesity in the numbers, obesity in our minds

So is the question of obesity a valid one? In the interesting world of media and how it influences us readers/voters, it surely is.
When you read comments on the article, one of the primary gut reactions is "Well people eat too much, that's their problem." This is clearly a question of limits and perceptions - what happens once the seat is 12 inches wide? What happens when the average height of a person is over 6 feet (we're getting there!)? When you think about it, it's a simple problem: some seats are too small for some people, and chances are, seats are going to get smaller (airlines making money) for more people (people getting bigger).

For the hell of it, let's look at the obesity question:

The Obesity in America Organization states that "It is estimated that 25-70 percent of the difference in weight between individuals is hereditary or genetic," then qualifying the statement with "However, it is important to remember that genetic predisposition only impacts an individual’s tendency towards obesity".

I have known, from experience, people who had a genetic disease that made them go over-weight (it certainly seemed like saying the word "oreo" would make her gain 1 lb). So I find that it certainly qualifies as a category, which just means "obese" is too wide of a category (no pun intended). An other interesting thought is that under California Labor Law, pregnant women are also obese - and I could see how they could benefit from a little extra room (although I'm not sure they'll qualify). However, and interestingly enough, all these considerations don't pop when the word "obesity" is uttered in the media.

The bottom line

I once read that people don't feel sorry for other people who have lung cancer. Why? Because they assume that they're guilty. That they've smoked. That they deserve it. Is obesity in that category as well?
The other side of the story is that airlines, in fact, are making seats smaller, cramming up airplanes even more, are delaying more flights than ever, and are very happy to just let you live with it while average plane ticket rates go sky-rocketing, as MSNBC reported just 1 month ago.

Here's a completely different question: what are limits to profit? Do not doubt it for a second, the airlines would have you standing for 6 hours on a flight if that wasn't deemed too dangerous. And that's where you'd have to watch out for how tall you are, and how much of a beer belly you've accumulated during the holiday. It's not sci-fi; not so long ago, there were considerations on making passengers pay according to their weight - and again comes the question of: how much weight? What if, like seat width and depth, these numerical values were to lower over the years? And should we also charge for height? (taller people, on average, are heavier)...

Let's hope the next destination for companies isn't a Welcome to Gattaca...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

UPS = "I'll give it to you tomorrow"

So I ordered a few books online last week, with Barnes and Nobles promising "Free and Speedy delivery". You'd think with that, that you'd get your books pretty fast?

In fact, I was pretty excited when, last Thursday, I received an email claiming that the books were already on their way. Of course, they charged my credit card immediately.

Yesterday, I check the tracking information, and oh goodness, the books were coming tomorrow! This morning, I check... and see it's due this afternoon...

Our UPS driver came by twice today, and no sign of the package. I call in, and the nice representative says "I'm sorry Ma'am, but your package is being held at the UPS location. It'll be delivered tomorrow"...

I guess that in these economic times, good service is also just a thing of tomorrow...