Enterprise 2.0 Rave in NYC

The Enterprise 2.0 RAVE will be an intense, 24-hour discussion of next-generation enterprise software tools and applications hosted by the exploding field's best thinkers, practitioners, and prognosticators.

A New Way to Buy Groceries

-- from springwise --
“Shop happy!” is the motto at Bloom, a new chain of grocery stores recently unveiled by supermarket giant Food Lion. Bloom has incorporated both innovative technologies and customer-friendly practices to create ‘a different kind of grocery store’. With a swipe of their Bloom Breeze Cards, shoppers can get personal scanners to carry about the store, scanning items and bagging them right in their carts as they shop.
> the rest of the story...

People Who Move Choose Non-traditional Phone Service More

-- from the center for media research --
According to Telephia’s Total Communications Survey for Q4 2006, 49 percent of households who have moved recently have chosen non-traditional residential phone options. Twenty-five percent have opted for wireless only, while thirteen percent have chosen a cable phone option.

> more of the story...
April 27, 2007

The Chinese car industry based on the 2007 Shanghai Auto Show

I had the chance to check out the 2007 Shanghai Auto Show earlier this week to see the latest and greatest (and not so greatest) in automotive design.

No comment on the major western brands. See below for the requisite pictures of cool concepts and luxury cars.

Chinese brands were present in full force: Chery, Great Wall, Roewe, Chang Feng, Build Your Dreams (BYD), Geely, Brilliance, Beijing Autoworks, Nanjing Auto, SAIC, and many others. The biggest names (like Chery) had curiously secured space right next to the major western luxury brands (Maybach, Ferrari, etc.) and put on quite a show (live instruments, models, contests), while many smaller brands were relegated to the outdoor section.

As expected, the displays of these Chinese brands were contradictory and enigmatic. Many complied with the government-mandated directive (also the show's theme) to be more green by showing off cars fully or partially powered (i.e., hybrids) by fuel cells, electricity, and ethanol distilled from corn. Add to this a heavy dose of green environmental design: green displays and showcases, close-ups of green technologies, video screens focusing on environmentalism, and lots of foliage and bamboo -- both real and fake. From a technology perspective, these brands would seem particularly innovative. See this article and this one for a more detailed round-up of the green angles.

Unfortunately this technological innovation is not matched by design quality. I agree completely with a recent New York Times piece on the notable absence of a Chinese auto design sensibility. The pictures below speak for themselves.

The industry's got a long way to go. But as is the case with many things in China, the pure scale and crowded nature of a market tends to dilute the innovative with the plain bad. The ones to watch are current leading brands, like Chery and SAIC, who have already started to make in-roads in the west (e.g., through technology transfers and joint ventures).

Also of interest: summaries from Shanghaiist and Motor Trend.

See my pictures on flickr, divided into 3 categories: Chinese Brands, The Green Angle, and Eye Candy.


Travel, Design and Expectations

Alan de Botton's Art of Travel is the universal traveler's companion. Rather than a guidebook for a place or time, the book explores the question: why do we travel?

Through the chapters, de Botton considers people's motivations and and desires for leaving their home environment. And to this question de Botton has many interesting responses. Two related ideas, though, have stuck in my mind.

The first is the idea about journeys and destinations. He observes that people often have very fixed ideas about the place they will visit (postcard images of palm tree lined beaches, for example) and so put mental blinkers on during the parts of the trip that don't match that ideal goal. This both shuts out possible experiences, and also prevents people from enjoying and engaging with the bulk of their time on the road.

The second is about traveling locally. The 19th Century book Voyage Around My Room is used as a springboard to encourage people to treat their local environments as though they were traveler. He believes that our daily lives would be much more enjoyable if we engaged with the everyday mundane as if it was an exotic land.

Most of the things we create as designers are used by people incidentally or in passing. People aren't setting out to just use an object, they have goals in mind and the tools we've designed are simply a means to an end.

But in creating those tools we must not only help people get their work done, but also disrupt the blinkered malaise of expectations, and create opportunities for people to re-engage with and re-interpret the things they do every day.

On the Importance of Strategic Planning as a Service

Interestingly, the capability of strategy is found to be needed and integrated into the core competencies of many industries, and now, the light has been thrown on advertising and marketing. This seems to tie in to the overall trend that companies need to step up their game, or, to make more apparent what they are already doing.

-- from adage, 4/16/07 --
'According to agency-search consultancy Bedford Group, one of the top reasons that clients terminate agency relationships is the lack of strategy and creative linkage.
'Louws Management recently commissioned a study to understand both the advertiser and agency sides of this issue.
'The results support the decline in agencies' leadership role in marketing and advertising strategy: Nearly 42% strongly agree or agree that "strategic thinking is a lost art," yet 89% strongly agree or agree that their agency provides "proactive strategic brand and marketing leadership." '
The full story... (subscription required)

Your New Digital Home

-- from cnet --
The Internet in 2016 will be an all-encompassing digital playground where people will be immersed in an always-on flood of digital information, whether wandering through physical spaces or diving into virtual worlds.
"What happens when video games meet Web 2.0? When virtual worlds meet geospatial maps of the planet? When simulations get real, and life and business go virtual? When you use a virtual Earth to navigate the physical Earth, and your avatar becomes your online agent? What happens is the metaverse." - according to a report compiled by the Accelerating Studies Foundation.
> the full story...

Bottling Innovation

-- from springwise --
A patent pending package design, the VIZcap allows consumers to release vitamins and other supplements into water just before they drink it. The technology was developed in response to what VIZdrinks considered to be underperforming sport and health drinks, which lose their potency while bottles and cans sit on store shelves.
The cap works with standard bottle sizes and can be installed on any bottling line. Not just for sports drinks, VIZcaps can also deliver syrups, freeze-dried crystals, baby formula and even over-the-counter medicines.
AGFL (VIZcap's inventors and designers) is actively seeking partners, so hit springwise's site for the rest of the story if interested.

Game Together for a Brighter Future

-- from sfweekly, april 18, 2007 -
It's been envisioned in sci fi novels, this alternate reality where actual work gets done. With today's computing power and people's inclination to be very social by digital means, McGonigal's strategy could actually get somewhere.
"Jane McGonigal wants to harness the power of the communal cerebellum her games create and put it to work solving real-world problems, and then she wants the work to win a Nobel Prize.
"Maybe young folks in warring countries could play games together, and would be less inclined to shed each other's blood. Maybe players could analyze real scientific data in the course of a game, crunching numbers and looking for patterns just as they always do, but with a payoff that goes beyond advancing to the next stage of a game."
> the story...