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Archive for July, 2005

Beach recap

by henrycopeland
Sunday, July 31st, 2005

A hot and hazy week, with one night of spectacular thunderstorming. We putputted on a lengthy grass course and experienced lots of the card-game “golf.” By day: boogey boarding in rough surf, baseball tossing, jellyfish, tiny clam watching. Why does everyone leave the beach at 5PM, just when it becomes most beautiful? Two days of surf-casting with blood worms and plastic proxies produced two whiting, one spot and one croaker. We’re hooked. Surf lessons next year?


by henrycopeland
Saturday, July 23rd, 2005

Well, we’ve just hired another programmer in Budapest and, as of August 1, have tripled the size of our US staff versus the beginning of the year. So I’m heading to the beach for a week to recharge. As the Hungarians say: chew while you’ve got teeth.

Update from the front lines: folk industry

by henrycopeland
Saturday, July 23rd, 2005

If you’ve seen my Powerpoint spiel recently, you know I’ve got a page called “new media = new merchandise” devoted to the most interesting advertiser on the Internet, the archetype in a coming consumer revolution in which people customize their owns goods and experiences. Volvo? Microsoft? Google?

Here’s a hint.

Though I think this is really a business story in the long run (and was covered very nicely in the WSJ a couple of weeks ago), its worth noting the NYT’s coverage in the style section last week

Lately limited edition T-shirts, most likely made in someone’s cellar in Brooklyn, have suddenly become the hipster’s preferred mode of expression. Whether produced by college pals with studio art degrees or sold by highly organized Web companies like threadless.com – visitors to the site offer ideas and vote on designs, which are then put into microproduction – the limited edition T-shirt has become impossible to avoid.

Often crude and uncommercial-looking, its imagery represents a kind of generational response to the bland uniformity of the mass-marketed “vintage” lines found in every mall. This development has not been lost on those same manufacturers, however. Some are already producing T-shirts that mimic the do it yourself look of indie T-shirts. “T-shirts are a really cheap blank slate,” said Ariel Foxman, the editor of Cargo, Condé Nast’s shopping magazine for men. “People have found a relatively inexpensive way to distinguish themselves.”

The trend partly reflects the great democratic welter of the e-commerce ether, and it partly serves as a marker of hipness, defined by the savvy with which a consumer can navigate the Web labyrinth in search of the coolest obscurities. For a snapshot of the estimated 1,500 sites now selling limited edition T-shirts, one might double click on Wowch.com, whose designs ring changes on the visual conventions of painting-on-velvet kitsch, or to Trainwreck Industries, a 10,000-shirts-a-year site run by a San Francisco designer, Alec Patience, whose motifs run to sight gags like Mao as a D.J., or Che Guevara’s face morphed into that of Ace Frehley, the lead guitarist of the rock band Kiss.

For that matter, one might even check out Prada’s recent foray into the arena, a collaboration with the Chilean graffiti artist Flavien Demarigny, also known as Mambo. His shirt, the first in a series of proposed limited edition T-shirts grouped under the highfalutin’ title “Unspoken Dialogues,” has a drawing of a figure and a boom box that could politely be termed an homage to Keith Haring, as if drawn by a 5-year- old.

So some combination of the Internet, Moores’ law, network computing, swarms and outsourced production have made it historically easy for anyone to create and popularize blog posts, podcasts, software, jamCDs, home-brews, t-shirts.

The common theme here is that individuals — folk! — are producing and distributing their own wares through networks of their peers. (Pause to reread Ctrain.) The old production chains and sales channels are being bypassed. Viewed in the context of Christiansen’s distruptive technologies life cycle — cheap, weak, new gizmos slowly create new markets and evolve up-capacity to fill old markets — we can expect that these gizmos will invade other markets and slowly disrupt established industries. Expect home-brew cars, PCs, furniture, blue-jeans, movies, house-blue-prints…

How might this work? Take Dell’s model and fold in Cafe-press. Right now Dell lets you “build your own” computer and CafePress will print/sell anyone’s t-shirt designs. What if Dell let you “build your own” laptops (with a funky screen size or panel color or configuration?) and then sell them yourself via a relabeled Dell page to your peers. Dell gets a new sales channel. Consumers (producers!) get the goods they really want/need.

Do it for science

by henrycopeland
Saturday, July 23rd, 2005

“>Take the MIT Weblog Survey


by henrycopeland
Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

36 years ago, man stepped on the moon. See Google’s map of the landing area. (via Sploid.

I was seven and my family spent that summer in an apartment in Boston. I remember finding $1.75 is silvery change in a playground sandbox. I remember walking around on Old Ironsides in awe. I remember bargaining with a couple of street-stumbling flower children for a bongo drum; they wanted $5, but ultimately gave up and gave me the drums. I recall playing lots of games of “memory.” I remember the glass flowers in some Harvard museum.

And I remember waking up at 1AM to watch some black and white dots move across a borrowed TV screen… which way was up? which patch was man or foot or moon dust?

Somehow that summer branded my senses and today I have a strong affection for steamy cities.

Candidate blogads

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

William Beutler is covering politician blogads for the National Journal’s Hotline. See halfway down this page for an overview of ads bought for Louise Slaughter, and comments on the Robert Byrd ad here.

To keep better track of these pages, I’ve started a “recent candidates” section on our site here.

One of my favorite meals

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

Fish stew.

And this story of a lost Hungarian-speaking parrot reminds me of a story Kati, my wife’s mother, tells. The family gets a parrot. Raised by a teenage boy, the parrot becomes known for its profanity. One day, the parrot flies away. Fliers are put on telephone polls. Grocers (the cisco routers of village life) are consulted. Kati sleeps on the porch, hoping the parrot will return. Finally, word comes that someone two villages over has found a parrot. Kati puts the parrot’s cage on the back of her bike and rides to the village. “How will I know it is your parrot?” asks the savior.

Growing up (side down)

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

While the rest of us read Revenews, WSJ, Gawker and Adrants, what are the kids reading? Well, eight-year-olds are playing Runescape. And, when they are not buried in Xanga or AIM, the kidz slightly older are enjoying flash animations like these, at least according to Steve Locke, who wrote this morning from Amherst. Check out in particular: piehole, nader, doodoocaca, apple, avacado.

Lots of ideas in there for advertisers. Roughcut, profane, nihilist, unPC… how will corporate media/advertisers compete? Is there any media magazine (or blog) that focuses on kidz media consumption? What other stuff do you guys see going on?

Summer weekend

by henrycopeland
Monday, July 18th, 2005

Saturday’s activities included learning to play “9” and “golf,” hiking to the top of the east ridge of Montreat, picking blueberries by Rattlesnake Rock, watching Taco pant furiously, eating at Salsa and listening some some folks jamming under the trees at the Bele Chere festival.

So far this summer, I’ve seen Willie Wonka (3/10), WarofWorlds (8), Batman (7), Herbie (5). I fell asleep during Wonka, and might have given it a 2 if I’d seen the whole rotten thing.

Patriotic ads…

by henrycopeland
Monday, July 18th, 2005

I was in a junk store in Black Mountain, NC this weekend and stumbled on a stack of old Life magazine ads, circa World War II. Many of the ads used a patriotic theme and often weren’t peddling a specific product or service.

An ad for Greyhound buses noted how a Greyhound movie travelogue was touring the world and entertaining GIs and Russian privates and Eskimos.

Royal Crown Cola’s ad headline was “How to get your second wind for 5 cents” and included photos with these captions: “If you are a Sub Machine Gunner” … “If you are a Parachute Maker”… “If you are a Airraid Warden” … “If you are Jeep Driver”…”

There was an ad for Western Electric, showing a submariner talking on a headset. “Every branch of the Armed Servcies uses the Telephone.”

And there was a Chrysler ad with a brutish cartoon of a bespectacled Japanese naval officer grimmacing in a flood of light. “It was dark, it was black as Tojo’s heart”… the searchlight came on and “we could see those Japs plain as day scurrying around like rats in a ship.” As it turns out, the spotlight mirror was polished by the same machinery used to make Chrysler engines.

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