Google Glass: altering marketing as well as reality.
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“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great, creative people.”
– Leo Burnett
At a breakfast meeting of a nonprofit organization dedicated to good deeds, Ed started talking about a funeral. A friend had died and the family didn’t have the money for burial. So Ed and another DJ put together a benefit and in less than 24 hours raised thousands of dollars for the family. Ed’s a DJ who does karaoke for the local bars. With wild hair and wiry beard, he looks more like a deer hunter than an artist. Yet he developed an innovative solution to a problem that would have challenged most of us.
Later that day, NPR broadcast the story of an out-of-work scientist who raised $25,000 to research the effect of drugs on the brain through an avenue not associated with medical research: crowd-funding. Two days before, the ASPCA hosted a live dating show on Twitter called Puppy Love that matched potential owners with pets . . . just in time for Valentine’s Day.
That isn’t what we’d expect from a night owl, a scientist and a pet shelter. And that raises an interesting point: who do we consider creative? The art director who concepts a campaign or the surgeon who reroutes the body’s plumbing? If we don’t paint or act or play an instrument, if society doesn’t sanction our work with a degree or title, do we even consider ourselves creative?
“If you put fences around people, you get sheep,” William McKnight, former chairman of the board of 3M, once said. “Give people the room they need.”
And the credit they deserve.
You’ve had an inoculation and you’re still concerned about contracting the flu. Aside from living in a bubble or wearing a mask, technology can only do so much to protect you. If you do get sick, these three smartphone apps might help speed relief.
- iTriage. The app lets you diagnose symptoms, identify an illness and book an appointment with the appropriate doctor. HCA West Florida Division uses iTriage to promote its 15 hospitals, including Blake Medical Center, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and Englewood Community Hospital. Sarasota Memorial Health Care System uses AppBrain to provide users with a dynamic listing of its services, locations and physicians. Venice Regional Medical Center uses ER Extra to let users see the current emergency room wait time for the hospital and receive a map and directions to the facility.
- RXmindMe Prescription. The app tells users when to take their medicine and offers nine types of reminders, from daily and weekly to a customizable schedule.
- ZocDoc. A more social version than the others, ZocDoc allows users to check a doctor’s availability, view his or her credentials and rate the experience after the visit.
If that doesn’t work, take two aspirin and have the smartphone call you in the morning.
Jeff Widmer is a PR and social media strategist.
If your New Year’s resolution includes learning something new, Sal Khan has a lesson for you. And it’s free.
An indefatigable educator with three degrees from MIT and a Harvard MBA, Khan has built an online learning library of 3,600 videos on topics ranging from medieval history to hypertension to mortgage rates. He narrates and illustrates many of the 10-to-15-minute clips in an easy-going but passionate manner. The Khan Academy offers interactive knowledge maps and dynamic exercises as well.
Khan says the success of the program hinges on the way the lessons are taught. “The lectures are coming from me, an actual human being who is fascinated by the world around him.”
The world has noticed. More than 41 million people learned from Khan Academy video tutorials last year. One of them was Bill Gates, whose Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with Google, has donated a combined $7.5 million to the nonprofit.
Khan’s resolution for the New Year? “We’re reaching over five million students now a month, and our big push is to find ways to make the video lessons more interactive,” Khan told The Rotarian magazine.” That includes having questions show up during the course of the video, like ‘How would you add fractions?’ to get the students really invested, or ‘What would you do as the next step?’ before showing them the right answer. Then there’s our community push – we’re developing software to get the students to help one another, quickly and effectively.”
Now there’s a resolution worth keeping.
This holiday season, get ready for the blitz. We’re not talking football. We’re talking tech.
The National Retail Federation is projecting 2012 holiday sales will rise 4.1% from 2011 levels. A good portion of that will go to consumer electronics. Researchers at Booz & Co. expect a 4% rise in consumer purchases of downloadable gifts such as digital music, movies and books.
The shopping season is already off to a fast start. Amazon reported Thanksgiving holiday sales of its Kindle e-reader products doubled over the same time last year. And Apple alone may soak up a lot of holiday spending. Writing at forbes.com, Chuck Jones predicts sales of updated iPads and iPad minis should boost the company’s December quarter revenues by 19% year over year.
Sales enabled by technology continue to rise. Online retailers predict a record $43.4 billion in holiday sales this season as shoppers increasingly rely on social networks and mobile devices, according to Bloomberg. It estimates Internet sales will grow 17 percent over last year, or more than 10 percent of U.S. retail spending, excluding gas, food and cars.
What does that mean for those of us looking for gifts this Hanukkah and Christmas? Besides the usual smartphones, video games and big-screen TVs, expect to see a lot of so-called labor-saving devices.
Amazon is selling a wireless child locator shaped like a Teddy bear for $28.99. For the man cave, Sharper Image is promoting a Pac Man Arcade Machine for $2,999, with free shipping. And for people who like to drink, Bed Bath & Beyond offers a carbonator that turns water into soda for $129.99 and a cordless wine bottle opener for $29.99. Too bad they can’t turn water into wine. It would fit with the birthday celebration.
If all this strikes you as commercialized corruption of the holiday, you’re not alone. Charles Schultz expressed the sentiment 47 years ago with “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” As for the rest of us, some will light candles. Some will assemble the crèche and head to church. Others will give quiet thanks for good friends, family and health, realizing that in this holiday season, gratitude is one of the greatest gifts of all.
My boss and I saw the Dark Star Orchestra channel the Grateful Dead the other night. He’d seen a Pink Floyd tribute band earlier in the year with his brother-in-law, who racks up 20 or 30 such concerts a year.
My wife and I had just attended a concert by the three remaining members of the Moody Blues. In the summer we’d watched Ringo wow the audience at Woodstock and, before that, seen a smattering of old-timers try to resurrect icons of the 1960s—the Yardbirds, Zombies and the Spencer Davis Group.
Now we’re looking forward to the upcoming season. Several legends of pop are scheduled to appear this winter at the Van Wezel Center, including Paul Anka, the Fifth Dimension, the Beach Boys, the Temptations with the Four Tops and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. And across the country, the Rolling Stones will have no sympathy for the devil or aging critics as they hit the road to commemorate 50 years in show business.
Once upon a time, white-haired musicians were the province of symphony orchestras. No longer. Watching 60- and 70-year-olds bounce across the stage is both jarring and inspiring. Questions like “How did we get so old?” mix with statements like “I can’t believe he can still hit the high notes,” let alone spend an eternity on a tour bus, bring energy to songs older than most audience members and stay up past 11 on a weeknight.
Sometimes there are so few original musicians in the bands of that era that the reincarnations seem like the original tribute bands. At times the copycats sound better than the originals. But most of the time we rejoice in the music and give thanks to the musicians who brave the road to bring us a glimpse of a time when we were young and moderately hip. They keep on truckin’ so we can keep on hoping. It’s an example all of us can appreciate.
Jerry Garcia’s dead. Long live Jerry Garcia.