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They’re still “seeking”:

  1. an oceanographer
  2. a chemist
  3. a marine engineer
  4. 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.

Some virtual ships, machines, and robots and things building Recycled Island in Waterworld, er, the Pacific


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.

Related links:

BERG article
Bonnier’s MAG+ Blog Post

I keep reading articles that state how companies don’t get social media. As I look for solutions for my personal social media organization I think I realize why. There’s a lot out there to keep up with and figure out. I plan to write more on the topic, but for now I think this map from Brian Solis’ PR 2.0 website is a good start at trying to make sense of it all.


logo_bookofoddsSteve and I have been exploring the online reference site, The Book of Odds. Some of the site’s key functionalities are still in Beta, but for over three years they’ve been compiling odds to create a large database of “the odds of everyday life.” You can sign up for free and provide a little profiling information to begin exploring statements of probability related to your profile, or to anything you want to look up.

The idea is to explore the odds of something happening, and then to calibrate the probability in a comparison. If the topic you explore is included in the database (the four main current topic portals are Health & Illness, Accidents & Death, Relationships & Society, and Daily Life & Activities), you’ll get confirmed probability data on that topic, but you’ll also get leads on unexpected connections, as you compare unrelated events by their likelihood of occurring.

The site also has social and learning functions, and content aside from the odds database (newsletters, blogs, related links, etc.)  We’re just getting started exploring this resource, and brainstorming about how we can apply it to our day-to-day reference needs. It’s actually pretty challenging to think about life in terms of probability statements – thinking up queries to get started. But once you dig into the site, there’s quite a bit to learn – not only the small bites of data, but how to calibrate probability, and new approaches to classifying and comparing phenomena.

New Picture

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.

Advertisers seem to have developed a love/hate relationship with Twitter. As the fastest growing social media site, it is obviously important that brands establish a presence on Twitter. However, what happens when the user-generated content of Twitter works against the brand, instead of working for it? What happens when good buzz goes sour?

The recently launched responds to this issue. (Check out Adage coverage of the ANA Brand Innovation Conference.) Tinker is linked to users’ Twitter accounts. It compiles all of the Twitter tweets about a specific topic, brand or event, such as Apple Computers or the American Idol Finale. Tinker then filters through tweets to find only the positive remarks (excluding competitor mentions, profanity, and other negative publicity), and displays them as a stand-alone feature. Marketers can connect their Tinker display to their webpage, Facebook page, etc.

It will be interesting to see how Tinker will develop as users catch on to the trend. But despite new marketing options, I still feel like Twitter is the way to go. The internet is full of brand messages crafted by the brand, delivered to the consumer. What consumers ultimately care about (and what Twitter could provide if used correctly) are consumer messages about the brand. Imagine the possibilities if advertisers could influence users to tweet 140 character blurbs to the effect of: “This Coke is better than–,” or “The Carolina Hurricanes are the best thing that ever happened to the triangle.” How to get users to mention products in their tweets is the real challenge.

posterousEveryone has a blog these days.  They’re sprouting up like mushrooms, covering every walk of life, topic, niche interest, and viewpoint (even market research). It’s interesting that while some tools like WordPress here are getting more robust there are also tools on the other end of the spectrum.

I recently discovered (thanks to my wife) Posterous. A blogging tool that is so simple, it seems infinitely powerful. The site bills itself as “a dead simple place to post everything.” Essentially all a user has to do to set up and blog is e-mail their thoughts, pictures, files, etc. to Posterous and they’re off and blogging.

While part of it will mean more meaningless pictures from last night or odd bigfoot-style celebrity photos, I wonder if this kind of blogging will result in more and more instant complaint sites. Didn’t get satisfaction at the local fast food chain, don’t call 911, instantly complain via your not-so-microblog. Brands thought Twitter was rough, imagine what one would be able to do with more than 140 characters.

The Techneos team have started a blog in the past few weeks to publish their thoughts about trends in the mobile survey research world.

tech0505smartphones_385x270We’ve found mobile survey research very useful in the past for studies that are aimed at B2B targets, or highly mobile and/or tech-savvy consumers.  With the growth of smartphone and netbook usage, particularly over the past couple of years, this methodology seems more and more vital.  It’s great to be able to connect with research participants while they’re on the go, or engaged in their lives (whether for work or play) – not just when they find time to check their email or call back for a phone interview.

We find that expertise in both questionnaire design and data management is absolutely necessary to do in-depth analysis on data collected through this medium. It’s important to be concise in wording your questions and answer options, and you need more than just quick polling data to illuminate insights that lie beneath and behind survey responses.  But that’s why we’re here – to recommend a technology solution if and when it’s appropriate for a research initiative, and to exercise our skills and perspectives to take the strategic insights to the next level.