Wednesday, December 1, 2010

soundtrack to your life

RjDj app creates a sound track for your life based on the sounds it picks up from your phone's microphone. Playing with it now, can't wait to try it out on the subway! One writer wrote that it reminds them of 'Inception.' I can totally see how it might make you feel like you are removed from your surroundings, experiencing it on a different level. I dig it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

reform school

Redu held an event called Reform School in Soho. They got artists like Shepard Fairey, Swoon and Chris Johanson. They took over a four-story school and covered each classroom with thought-provoking art that questioned the current education system. Very cool stuff.

We got to participate. They asked us to decorate cards with what invention, change or one other thing (can't remember) meant to us). Was kind of cute seeing a bunch of adults in the little school desks.

They had a cello player seated next to two shallow pools of water. As he played the water reverberated and jumped. Really neat experience.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

a hit and a major miss

I've been feeling more and more fed up with the dropped calls on AT&T and the sluggish speed of my 3G iPhone. I popped into a RadioShack to check out the HTC EVO 4G phone. Found it on a display, picked it up to play with it and guess what... the display was just a static sticker. You could not actually EXPERIENCE the device.

RadioShack, friends, that is a miss. A major miss. Perhaps the Shack doesn't have the dough for the electric juices to power every phone in the store. Ok, understandable. But it's frustrating for me, as a consumer and a fan of technology, to see products that I think have huge potential be treated in-store like the same old crap on every other shelf. If you haven't seen the ex-Best Buy employee video about why EVO is better than the 4th generation iPhone, check it out.

If you're going to launch a new product that huge, you have to let people experience it. When you are shopping for a phone it's like you are shopping for an external organ. You are shopping for a critical piece of machinery that connects you to your world. The commercials can list off the devices' capabilities until robots take over the world. What it comes down to is the phsycial interaction for the user and the ease with which they can use those marvelous capabilities. 

Come on RadioShack and HTC. Put your heads together on this one.

Friday, September 17, 2010

skip the new new

Why is it that all social networks all trying to become more robust versions of each other? Facebook and Google are like dogs chasing one another’s tails. Google bought Aardvark which allows users to ask questions and gain answers from the communities’ self-proclaimed experts. Now Facebook has Facebook questions. Where are the true originals?

Sam Altman, founder of Loopt, was interviewed by BusinessWeek about his competitor, Facebook Places:

“How will Facebook change the market?

This is going to be the best thing ever to happen in the history of Loopt. Facebook is going to educate lots and lots of people who have never heard of these services before. Given that Facebook takes the approach that it’s going to be the platform for the entire Web, we now have access to 100 times more data than we did before. If we could show you where 11 of your friends were before, now we can show you where 110 of your friends are. So Loopt will offer unique services on top of what Facebook is offering. It would be suicidal for anyone in this space not to integrate with Facebook, and I expect them all to do it. Then the question becomes which of us can build the most differentiated user value experience on top of this very basic data layer.”

I like how he sees the goliath of a competitor as the greatest opportunity for his company yet. Very smart sense of optimism.

So is it that these companies will make enough money riding one another’s coat tails? Is chasing the newest new thing not really worth the long struggle? Should they all just wait until enough consumers have adopted the new idea and follow by introducing their own souped up version?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

asking questions

The ability to ask provocative questions is a gift. Just discovered this tumblr via @kthread. Guess it’s a part of an ITP class. Full of great questions that really make you think.

Check it out:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

mystery of possibility

Something that has been spinning through my head recently is the realization that I am more interested in what isn't possible than what currently is. This came to me in part as I shifted through my favorite TV shows and movies (e.g. True Blood, Lost, Avatar). And maybe that makes me a fantasy/sci fi geek, I'll have to hit up next year's Comic Con to know.

I was watching this old TED talk featuring JJ Abrams and I feel like he really hits on why using our imaginations and considering what could seem ridiculous is so exciting. He says that the thing that he realized is that perhaps there are times when mystery is more important than knowledge.

Mystery allows the creative side of the brain to fill in the gaps where the knowledge is absent. That small exercise of gap-filling one could argue helps the brain grow more so than the knowledge that was possibly a given and memorized fact. Time recently wrote an article about great schools and in it they talk about schools who assign projects which require both convergent and divergent thinking. Solving a mystery is when the brain takes the hard evidence, convergent thinking, and uses conjecture, divergent thinking, to figure out who done it. Considering what could be within reason is where the brain really gets to explore and grow. It breathes possibility and allows us to create and invent.

Check out the TED talk: J.J. Abrams' mystery box | Video on

Saturday, August 7, 2010

#filmthis 1

New series. Likely to be as spontaneous and unpredictable as any series I've ever started. I begin with that as a warning so that I won't feel the need to apologize for my erratic publishing schedule in the future. This one will be called #filmthis.

We all imagine film story ideas or even just clips we'd like to see in a film. Maybe a favorite actor in a certain tone of film, filmed in a specific place you've found. Or a type of character that matches that interesting friend of yours in a situation that you imagine. So that's what #filmthis is. It's my random filmatic moments. It's the blips of imagination that I hunger to produce to a full story and feed on through a movie screen.

1. Film directed by Christopher Guest about a married couple, both psychiatrists.

2. Take the bizarre and dark structure from Greenwood cemetary and use it in a dark, brainy, twisted film. The structure would be the home of a dark character, acted out by Johnny Depp. The inspiration of the story-line would be a dark version of 'Le Petit Prince.'

Monday, July 19, 2010

only the scruffy and swift will survive

We live in a paradox. On the one hand we have the practice of branding. Of creating a perfectly sculpted piece of culture and business that we will protect. On the other, is the practice in society of acting upon our creative energy immediately. We quickly create cultural pieces that live to be spread, remixed and respread. These published rough drafts are left to be polished by remixers, or not at all.  Taking the time to perfectly polish something like Mike Relm's remix of the @OldSpice campaign would have meant rounds of approval from numerous sources and weeks of revisions. By the time the thing broke it would have felt like old news arriving to the scene.

Luckily, people get that every creative bit that hits YouTube won't be perfect. I'll never forget the advice that my art teacher gave me as a kid. She said "art is never finished." You could continue tweaking and obsessing over a piece of art for weeks or even years. But this is branding, it isn't art. Brands need to stop being overly precious and start getting swift and scruffy with their creative to be culturally relevant.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

magic dust don't last forever

Ahh antibiotics. They're like magic. They make you go from feeling completely wiped out to shiny and new in 2.5 days. But, when you head out for your 6.6 mile training run, the magic starts to fade. By the last mile this morning I realized that no matter how fabulous Ticker Bell's dust may be, once you've worn out the glow you stop flying and gravity has it's way with you.

What I'm saying is. I'm tried of having allergies that make me sick. And maybe I should have only gone for the 5 mile run today.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

weekend trip tool

I get one Friday off a month this summer and want to take quick, relaxing, cheap trips. Wish there was a site that showed you a map with circles surrounding your immediate area telling you what was within a 1, 2 or 3 hour plane, train, or bus ride of you. It would be matched up with Foursquare's API or FB or Loopt or something that would tell you which of your friends were within those circles.

So let's say that I was using it (like my terrible drawing?), I could see that Philly is only a 1.5 hour train ride away and that my friend Erica lives there. Then I would be able to drop Erica a line to see if she would mind me visiting for the weekend.

Alright. So who can build this?

Monday, May 31, 2010

chugging along slowly

An hour and 45 minutes after we were supposed to depart, we have now loaded the train. Conductor just announced that we will be waiting here until they fix the track, or something similar to that. No one on the train could really hear the announcement so it's that's our best guess. Great.

How is it that the oldest form of mass ground transportation still hasn't figured out how to get people from A to B on time and without headache? Makes me think of the old Einstein quote: "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it." Maybe it's time for Amtrak to think outside of it's own antiqued level of consciousness and typical methods of problem solving. We may be able to find a new way to fix trains or track issues, a new way to construct the equipment entirely or perhaps even just a way to make the wait worth a traveler's while. 


Sunday, May 23, 2010

television set, there's hope for you yet

Was reading an article about Google TV. Google TV will allow us to surf the web and watch video via our televisions through a device that we will buy and attach to our sets.

So we went from group television watching - sitting around the tube with our friends/family sharing a bowl of popcorn to watching solo via laptops and Hulu. For many, television via web has become the preferred method of access to our favorite shows. It lets us watch when we want and with limited commercials.  However, it's made what used to be a shared experience into a lonely activity. Head-phones on, sitting in front of a 13 inch screen doesn't leave a lot of room for companions.

I think the opportunity in Google TV is that it can introduce group watching to Hulu-watching. It will allow us to marry the shared experience of watching television with the benefits of online-show watching. Welcome back to the age of social television.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Brilliant idea by artist Nic Rad. With his recent art exhibit PeopleMatter, Nic painted over 100 portraits of people who have pushed ideas and influenced others in journalism, media, blogging and music. 99 of them were given away for free to people who contacted the artist with a solid reason of why they wanted that portait.

Nic made the fans the curators of the exhibit, asking them to decide which people belonged on the free wall and who should be banished to the pay wall. If you felt that you belonged on that wall, you could petition Nic with your reason why you are an influencer.

The wall ended up with a wild mix from Malcolm Gladwell and Barbara Walters to a porn star and Perez Hilton.

I got the painting of Meagan O'Connell.

Here's why I wanted that painting:

Ended up on the video coverage that Gawker did of the show, kinda funny. Nice voice over from Nic about the show:

Nic*Rad - PeopleMatter - Rare Gallery 4/29/2010 from Richard Blakeley on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

rva or no?

Urtak 2600

It is a 6 hour bus ride... but would be really nice to get down there... See the professors, old friends and some of my old haunts. Erg. What to do?

Friday, May 7, 2010

dream on dreamers

Weird mix of reality and dreams for me. Was filling out the entry form to win HGTV's dream house. Every year they build an amazing house in a picturesque location, fill it with top furniture and then give it away for free. If that isn't good enough, they also give the winner a new car and $100,000 cash. I noticed a poll next to the entry form asking "what will you do with the $100,000?" I was surprised to see that the answer with the highest votes what "pay off debt." '

That website was all about dreams - dreaming of starting a new life where you live in a perfect house in a lovely neighborhood. Clearly though the more we see we could have the more we realize we lack. Seems like so many dreamers out there find their realities too heavy to dream with abandon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

how to become a good brand

Really like this report from PSFK on good brands.

family fun: recession's resulting laughter

One of the positive results of the recession (as difficult as it is to find positives from that situation) was the return to family-time. Families were shifting their entertain budgets to staycations and board games, keeping them closer to home and bringing them closer together. The return of family-time means a need for more family-entertainment and hence we have emerging family entertainment.
Welcome back to the good ol' days of TV family comedy. We've gone from television portraying a desperate and deranged suburbs to television that entertains us by celebrating the beautiful imperfection of family life. 'Modern Family,' 'Glee' and 'Secret Life of the American Teenager' are there to show us how our wholesome American values live in the modern world.

Makes you wonder... Do families that laugh together, live together more happily? Could stronger family values and ties lead to fewer divorces? During the recession many couples put off getting divorced because of the high associated costs. What's become of those couples? Are they enjoying a laugh on the couch with the kids? Could the time have mended those wounds? As we gracefully exit the recessive stage of the union, will more couples remain united?

Monday, April 19, 2010

poll says...

@heyamberrae just shared this new polling site with me - You create your own polling question, then people can add relating questions (or otherwise I suppose). The eventual results are layers of interesting human insights. Some interesting potential in this one...

Urtak 2185

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

broadband - causing the downfall of the elitist art world

In a Wired Magazine article, Banksy discusses power in the art world: "There’s a whole new audience out there, and it’s never been easier to sell it, particularly at the lower levels. You don’t have to go to college, drag ’round a portfolio, mail off transparencies to snooty galleries or sleep with someone powerful. All you need now is a few ideas and a broadband connection. This is the first time the essentially bourgeois world of art has belonged to the people. We need to make it count."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

location-based drink-thinking

The mobile-tech trend of location-based is moving beyond social media. How could a beverage brand adapt the idea to location-based drinks? One idea, a drink could create it’s own Foursquare check-in that drinkers would check into when drinking. Or maybe a hashtag that a Foursquare user writes into their message when drinking that drink in a particular place. For a reward, they could earn a badge from Foursquare for associating with that drink. The reward for the brand is an association with a particular moment or type of venue. That, along with the fact that when you check into Foursquare it sends all of your users a text, so lots of exposure for the brand coming from trusted sources. 

Wrote this for, reposting. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

racing for a cure!!

I'm training to run the NYC Marathon November 7, 2010 with the  Leukemia Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Team In Training. In order to run I have to raise $3,800 for cancer research and programs for cancer patients. Support the cause and this diabetic kid running the marathon by donating through my page!

Friday, March 26, 2010

political slap party

"For Democrats, having a health care bill is not only a 'major policy victory' but also a 'badly needed psychological boost' for a party that was growing increasingly desperate for a major accomplishment with the November election looming, according to [Charlie] Cook [of The Cook Political Report]." - Washington Post

What the leaders of the Democratic party aren't seeing is that the entire party is not sitting around the table with them. I am a member of their party, many people I know and you know are members of that party. But WE don't see this as a win. What has been won? We can't even understand how this bill is going to affect us as every news source says something different and the hidden negatives of the bill are popping up in sources that aren't necessarily trustworthy. This is not about a slapping game between two old stubborn parties who are disconnected from the citizens they are meant to serve. This is about creating justice and fairness in the health system so that we can have healthier citizen.

What makes me even more sick is this:
"Politics Daily reports: "The Democratic National Committee announced it will begin running ads Thursday praising House Democrats who voted for the health care reform bill and calling out Republicans who opposed it. The ads -- 25 on television and 10 on radio -- will run in markets across the country." 

Chest beating? Seriously?
This is going to bite the Democrats in the ass if it doesn't solve the problem. The reality is that solving problems can take time, more time than there is between now and November. The current confusion that citizens have over the bill will only lead to more discontent. Good luck hanging on to Congress in Novemeber guys. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

virtual latte anyone?

Just read this article in fast company about BooYah, a location based service that is now partnered with H&M to offer discounts on clothes for those checked-in. This is very similar to what Foursquare is working at.

I recently learned about how on another location-based service, Gowalla, you can leave virtual items in the ether of a space you've checked into that another user can choose to take. It's all fake little gidgets, say I leave a teddy bear and someone else who checks in can take that and leave a toy train. This makes me think of Second Life and how real currency is converted to digital currency and whole businesses are run across the bizarre platform. Wondering if that's where Gowalla's idea may head next? Could they release items virtually, only in specific venues that people could buy/sell? Granted buying a virtual cup of coffee while standing in a coffee shop may not be as enjoyable as buying the physical version, but I feel like there's something in that. Want to discuss and explores possibilities in this.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

google the translator

Was recently chatting with a group of friends about how language is the biggest fence for technology to jump over. Here, Google Goggles has found a way to scan a line of text taken in a photo and translate from German to English. So it appears that the Android is now a mobile translator. Would be great if the Droid could not only translate, but pick out key words in that translation and provide links to related content. Example: in this video, it could link to wikipedia page on herbs or to a page of recipes using similar ingredients.

One day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

tell the tube you've had enough

Starting a movement when the world got their entertainment through the tube was as simple as giving a good speech. But now everything is a moment or is attempting to start a movement. We're all mad as hell and yelling out the window is pointless, no one would be able to hear you over their ipod headphones or ringing cellphones. We're all in our own little movements standing for what we believe in, even if we don't really know what the hell that is. Insanity ensues.

What's especially neat about this clip is if you go to Youtube and look at the comments, it's making people think. It applies ever more today and we still don't know how to respond or take control of the messages we are receiving.

Monday, January 4, 2010

colorful emotions

First post of 2010!

Just found this book called We Feel Fine that explores emotions through blogging. Beautifully done. One of the 10 trends to watch in 2010 according to JWT is new forms and uses of visual data.