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“David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut — and it may just change the way we see the world.”
They’re still “seeking”:
- an oceanographer
- a chemist
- a marine engineer
- and at least one expert on the problem
(yeah, might need at least one of each of these…)
but a group of Dutch architects and engineers has started up a research project to explore the idea of creating a sustainable island nation out of the trash floating in the Pacific. The project has been heralded “Recycled Island,” and the goal is a livable and scalable habitation the size of Hawaii’s big island.
The early mock-ups bring Venice, Dubai, and science fiction to mind, but the project is still very much in the early R&D stages and far from a reality. People love Dutch design for architecture and urban planning, not to mention their credibility in environmental solutions, so despite the distance from the potential island, this idea has sparked in the Netherlands. And why not beckon the world’s greatest minds through online publishing and networking? The project has been spreading across magazine websites, blogs, and press releases this week (I saw it here), and the group networks through Facebook to various other sustainable design groups.
We’ve laid off the “Infographic of the Day” posts for awhile, as so many other blogs feature similar content. This one demanded attention though. The information itself is important and interesting, but I found the interactive functions of this home energy use tool to be so well-designed that I couldn’t pass up the chance to pass it along. This infographic works in three dimensions: question asked (there are 4 options); appliances selected and their individual data; and the running total usage at the bottom. If only there was a way for the user to indicate when they own multiples of these products…
Click through and around to assess your home’s energy usage:
January 21, 2010 in emerging technology, web innovation | Tags: books, culture, e-readers, magazines, media, publishing, tablets, technology, trends, viral, web 2.0 | by Andrew Willard | Leave a comment
Just before the holidays, BERG and Bonnier R&D published articles and a great demonstration video on a new concept for electronic magazines. It seems this concept could be easily applied in both the e-reader and tablet format in the very near future, offering smarter design and a better reader/user experience than currently offered by online magazines.
Sports Illustrated and Wired also proposed e-magazine concepts recently, but the BERG/Bonnier concept seems to take a best of both worlds approach and suggests ways in which this approach can be easily adopted. The interactive control features and the modern take on presentation of content really add to the reader’s experience – hinting at engagement beyond mere push-button page flipping, pdf scrolling, zooming, and flash animation.
When we write market research screeners, to ensure research respondents or participants are qualified for our studies, we sometimes craft questions that include misleading “red herring” answer options. The idea is to include some answer options in the set that do not relate to the research topic. We then randomize the presentation of the answer options for each respondent so that it is harder to pick an answer just to continue on towards a participation incentive. This obscures the topic of the research, helping to ensure respondents/participants are truly qualified.
For example, we may pose a question similar to the following for a textile category survey:
For which of the following purchases are you the primary or secondary decision maker in your household? Please select all that apply.
- Clothing (continue)
- Automobiles (red herring)
- Groceries (red herring)
- Toilet tissue (red herring)
- Fast food (red herring)
- Laundry supplies (red herring)
- Over-the-counter medicines (red herring)
- Home textiles (continue)
But where does this expression come from?
For a long time, it was thought that the metaphor had something to do with either fox hunting tradition, food preservation on overseas trips, horse training, and/or prison breakouts. In 2008, the Oxford English Dictionary clarified the etymology of this expression, as explained in this totally mental article in World Wide Words by Michael Quinion. I recommend clicking through and reading the full article when you have a few minutes and need a weird break in your day, but here’s an excerpt (and a quick answer):
“OED now trace the figurative sense to the radical journalist William Cobbett, whose Weekly Political Register thundered in the years 1803-35 against the English political system he denigrated as the Old Corruption.
He wrote a story, presumably fictional, in the issue of 14 February 1807 about how as a boy he had used a red herring as a decoy to deflect hounds chasing after a hare. He used the story as a metaphor to decry the press, which had allowed itself to be misled by false information about a supposed defeat of Napoleon; this caused them to take their attention off important domestic matters: “It was a mere transitory effect of the political red-herring; for, on the Saturday, the scent became as cold as a stone.”
This story…was enough to get the figurative sense of red herring into the minds of his readers, unfortunately also with the false idea that it came from some real practice of huntsmen.”
Okay, now you know!
A lot of businesses are trying to make heads or tails out of social media and how to use it, especially the micro-blogging site Twitter. While a company may not be able to direct the stream to where it wants it to go, being aware of how it can positively or negatively impact your brands, products, corporate image, etc. is becoming increasingly important. Case in point: summer movies.
A few summer films expected to be hits were panned by early audiences leading to consumers shunning the films later that weekend. It appears that Bruno suffered from a rather acute form negative word of mouth catching fire. This past weekend, however, a success story was in the works as Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds actually picked up steam from Twitter, despite mixed initial reviews from traditional news sources and critics.
I know I’ve said this before, but it’s another great example of the conversation taking place independent of traditional media or the intent of marketing managers. Consumers are discussing everything from products to brands to customer service. Knowing what they’re saying is becoming increasingly important to keeping them satisfied.
As was seen in the wake of Michael Jackson’s death, Twitter has become the new go-to place for news. It was one of the first to report Jackson’s death, it was correct, and it was significantly faster than most of the main news sources. So what’s the problem with this? Well according to Twitter, Rick Astley, Britney Spears, Natalie Portman, and Jeff Goldblum are all dead. Clearly, this is not true.
It seems that people are more concerned with obtaining information quickly than worrying about the validity of the content. What people are forgetting is that, despite delivering compelling hearsay, Twitter is not a legitimate news source.
Perhaps Twitter’s only positive affect on the news industry has been restoring faith in fact-based news reporting of the New York Times, CNN and Fox News. Still, it is a shame that it’s now the job of reputable news sources to clean up Twitter’s mess.
April 28, 2009 in Uncategorized | Tags: Creative Class, culture, durham, local, market research, media, New Orleans, New South, Research Triangle, Richard Florida, South, viral | by Andrew Willard | 1 comment
Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen an increase in marketing research work focused on constituencies in the south. This work has not just focused in the area in which we’re based (the Research Triangle of North Carolina – Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) or in Atlanta, but all over the south. Some have been targeted to populations of certain southern states; some target hand-picked Southern DMAs; and some studies have focused on select counties or parishes in certain southern states. And this work is not just coming from clients who are based in the South.
I don’t think it’s a sign of major economic or social turnaround for the region, but it is interesting to see populations within the south considered as representative on a national scale. Marketers are not just looking to middle America for feedback before moving forward with strategic initiatives – there is an increased regional focus. There is also increased focus on the Northwest and the Southwest as regions, and we’re working there too. But the exploration of Southern lifestyles and opinions sparks a particular interest for me. Read the rest of this entry »