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Archive for May, 2003

New server and adstrip counts

by henrycopeland
Saturday, May 31st, 2003

Moving adstrip caching to a new server this weekend, so page counts may be a little squiffy.

Tales ads tell…

by henrycopeland
Saturday, May 31st, 2003

Ads as history: “In 1853, Ed Hughes wrote, in The Newark Daily Advertiser: ‘Ten dollars reward will be given for the detection of the author of an anonymous letter containing indecent scurilities, reflecting on my character, on Friday last. It was directed to Miss Rosanna Rourke, No. 53 Liberty St.’”

Big declines in print classified ads are attributed to the slow economy, but could they also reflect digitalization? Anyway, the drop is startling: “The Conference Board’s help-wanted advertising index [which tallies classifieds in 51 newspapers around the US] dropped to 35, the lowest since September 1961, from 38 in March. It was the third consecutive monthly decline. The index stood at 47 in April 2002.” According to the Conference Board, a group that tracks business activity, “steepest declines occurred in the East South Central (-32.0), Middle Atlantic (-18.4), Pacific (-16.4%) and New England (-15.7%) regions.”

Entrepreneurs shoot for Mars

by henrycopeland
Friday, May 30th, 2003

Pierre Omidyar writes about going to Mars (but he could be writing about entrepreneurship), “Having fewer resources usually means you are forced to innovate. It also means you can avoid the trap of top-down design, which usually only works if you’re solving a well-known problem. Since as far as I know, we haven’t been to Mars that often, going to Mars does not qualify as a ‘well-known problem.’ That’s why I’m most optimistic about these sorts of scrappy, bottom-up approaches (relatively speaking, anyway) than I am about top-down, big-budget bureaucratic approaches.”

Chess infection

by henrycopeland
Thursday, May 29th, 2003

Three months ago, armed with nothing more than a couple of “chess for kids” books and three chess sets, my wife ventured into our son’s kindergarten class. She spent one hour two mornings a week teaching small groups of children how the chess pieces interact.

Now, my wife says she’s lost control. The kids have taken over and she can’t get a word in edgewise. These 23 kids are chess fiends, scrimmaging constantly, offering each other advice, comparing queen kills. The “Big Blocks,” 50 wooden blocks that used to be the gold standard of play joy for this rambunctious class, lie abandoned.

A lot of the credit for this collective chess passion goes to the kindergarten teacher, an incredibly gentle woman who has inspired a great spirit of camaraderie and love among the children. But a big dose of credit also goes to the network effect — we love to join communities, play games with each other, interact and/or imitate our peers. Too bad this same principle can’t be applied more often to learning.

In fact, while I didn’t start writing this post with polemics in mind, I should also note that five of these kids are tracked into a Transitional Bilingual Education program, which is to say that they get dragged out of class every day to practice their “native” Spanish. (I put native in quotation marks, because four of them were born in the North East and speak good English.) The theory behind TBE is that these kids will be better students if they learn to read in their home language first. (Although Massachusetts citizens voted overwhelmingly last November to ban TBE, Amherst is lobbying to keep TBE next year.)

Phlewy. These kindergartners have infected each other with a passion for an arcane and abstract game like chess — it is a shame we can’t trust them to infect each other with the love of language too.

New York X 20

by henrycopeland
Thursday, May 29th, 2003

An e-mail CCed among 20 New York Times reporters gets republished and becomes a wonderful example of the numedia moebius we all inhabit.

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Vienna through a 14-year-old’s camera

by henrycopeland
Thursday, May 29th, 2003

Dave Weinberger has posted some souvenirs of Vienna. I too was struck by how damn orderly and clean the city was. It comes off as both sleepy and sophisticated. Before my notes from Vienna disappear into the pile on my desk, I should thank again Thomas Burg, who organized Blogtalk, and Hans, who runs the great broadband-ennabled Hotel Karolinenhof. Now, if we could just convince Hans to go with a musicless and text-only site.

In praise of advertising…

by henrycopeland
Thursday, May 29th, 2003

A brilliant ode to advertising.. (Via MarketingFix.)

Housing and the economy

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, May 28th, 2003

Apparently Greenspan has been fascinated by the link between mortgages and the economy since the 1960s. The WSJ connects the dots and offers a great graph of the correlation between falling rates, rising construction, rising prices, and money “cashed out” and spent on other things. Some economists argue we are stealing growth from the future and will get mauled when rates finally stop falling (since they can’t go below zero.) Others argue that enough immigrants and lower income people remain to keep house sales powering ahead. I’ve put the graphics in the (more…)

Advertising in harmony with the zeitgeist

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, May 27th, 2003

In the comments on Dave Weinberger’s post on my Blogtalk, Mark Federman (from this blog) writes: “The most important effect of advertising today is to confirm for people that they made the right purchasing decision. People feel good when they have bought something, and then saw an ad telling them, in effect, that they Did the Right Thing. Today, blogs are wired directly to the zeitgeist, so they would be the best indicator of Right Thing (and my fingers initially, and Freudianly hit “Right Think,” which, in retrospect was probably the more correct…) Hence, blogs and advertising are a natural to create the desired effect that advertisers seek (whether they admit it or not.)” Sounds good to me.

Hopping through Amsterdam

by henrycopeland
Monday, May 26th, 2003

I’m sitting in one of Schipol airport’s many cybercafes. This is definitely the nicest airport I’ve used and offers a back massage kiosk, a free museum with Rembrants, sushi and even McDonands. Just noticed that Dan Gillmor blogged our early morning prognostication about the looming cocktail of blogs and presidential electioneering.


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