Sunday, September 18, 2011

You. In 160 characters or less.

Maundering around the web as I am wont to do, I happened upon these "best" Twitter bios. I had to share.

@DianaSilvaSays — I love my husband, my dogs, all things marketing, three-day weekends, high-heels, reading, running, knitting, sushi, wine, long walks on the beach…wait, what?

@badbanana — Sometimes I just want to give it all up and become a handsome billionaire.

@smuttysteff — I tweet hard, fast, & often. I’m opinionated & swear CONSTANTLY. Don’t like it? Don’t follow. Otherwise: You’ll take it & like it.

@katefettie — You know the burnt-out college student in front of you in line at Target who was intermittently chuckling to herself? Nice to meet you, too.

@ZacharyColbert — S P E C T A C U L A R V E R N A C U L A R

@bgibbs73 — Currently working towards an MBA with an emphasis in fantasy football.

@TheBloggess — I have friends in spite of myself.

@cubedweller — Brand igniter, angel investor, public speaker, former Virgin.

@jpundyk — Nice guys finish lunch.

@cryjack — Fight stupidization.

@HotAmishChick — Will show ankle for five minutes of wireless

@JeffCThorson — I recently gave up Warcraft so my productivity, and drinking, have increased dramatically.

@wanderingbiker — Unemployed computer guy takes off on his motorcycle seeking fame, fortune and adventure.

@howardgr — A man of mystery and power, whose power is exceeded only by his mystery.

@ohyesshecan — social strategy & implementation. will work for shoes.

@radmul — If I could sum up my life in one line I would die of embarrassment

@nancyfalls — I’m @JasonFalls’s wife. I am not on Twitter. Go do something useful.

@QueenRania — A mum and a wife with a really cool day job…

@Glinner — I apologise in advance.

@oilman — Recommended by 4 out of 5 people that recommend things.

@TheMadHat — Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with, and then the different branches of arithmetic — Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.

@AllisonBatof — Naturally and artificially flavoured

@RebeccaWoodcock — I am a sample size of one, not statistically significant, nor representative.

@KRCraft — An ounce of perception – a pound of obscure.

@EzraButler — I’m the illegitimate love-child of Strategy and Creativity. Now neither parent admits to having me…

@cshirky — Bald. Unreliable. Easily distracte

Culled from The 20 all-time funniest bios (parts 1&2) and 20 Twitter Bios that Demand Attention. Nicely done.

Oh, mine?

@AnswerG — Wait. I'm still thinking.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ah, yes, I remember it well

  • Him: We met at nine
  • Her: We met at eight
  • Him: I was on time
  • Her: No, you were late
  • Him: Ah, yes, I remember it well
(If you’ve never seen the movie, you can watch the clip here).

Has this ever happened to you?

You know you were with the Johnsons when you got food poisoning.

Your spouse knows you were with the Macintyres, and in fact you’ve never even had Chinese food with the Johnsons.

Fear not. According to Dr. Steve Dewhurst from Lancaster University, memories, it turns out, are not faithfully recorded in our minds as we like to think, but are “updated each time we bring them to mind to fit our current knowledge and beliefs.” Yep, that's right. Memory is mutable.

The book The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us — the title comes from the famous, and infamous, Gorilla Experiment (I won't tell you any more, you can try it for yourself here... it only takes a minute) — explores these “everyday illusions of perception and thought, including the beliefs that:

  • we pay attention more than we do,
  • our memories are more detailed than they are,
  • confident people are competent people,
  • we know more than we actually do,
  • and our brains have reserves of power that are easy to unlock.”
One of the authors puts it this way:
“we assume that when we recall a personal experience vividly; that the richness of our memory means it must be accurate. The idea that we can remember our experiences as if our brain were a camcorder is fundamentally wrong.”

So the next time you remember a different when, what, where or who than your husband, wife, father, sister, or son — try remembering this: you could both be wrong!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

2011 Without Steve Jobs?

Can you imagine the world without the iPod? The iPhone? iPad? Pretty weird, huh?

Most people under the age of 30 probably won’t believe this, but... Apple did not invent the portable music player. That would have been Sony, in 1979, with something called the “walkman." Nor did Apple invent the laptop, the tablet, or the cell phone. In the last 10 years, under CEO Steve Jobs’ leadership, it only seemed as though it did.

Last month, Steve Jobs announced his resignation from Apple, leaving a legacy of breathtaking design innovation and juggernaut market dominance. Instead of invention, Apple focuses on transformation, impacting our expectations as much as, if not more than, our capabilities. Apple didn't invent those consumer products, it's true — what it did do was redefine them.

Believe it or not, it was only 10 years ago, in 2001, that Steve Jobs introduced the very first iPod. Which, with an LCD screen, a click wheel and a whopping 5Gb of storage, retailed for $399. (FYI, the current iPod Classic comes with a full color screen and 160Mb of storage — and retails for $249.) While Sony brought us a miniature version of our same music experience, Apple gave us an entirely new music experience.

The iPod was simple, slick and — with the iTunes 99¢/song music store — so easy, my grandmother could use it. As Steve Jobs put it, “design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but here are what a few analysts and reporters had to say about the device (from at the time:

“An analyst at NPD Intelect said that the iPod… may have trouble digging out a niche in the market.”

“An IDC analyst said Apple may take some heat for entering the consumer electronics market, which typically has lower profit margins than Apple gets from its computers… but… It's another incentive for them that can convince people to buy a Mac.”

Let’s see. Dig out a market niche? Check. Lower profit margins? Hmm… not so much; it’s estimated that Apple makes close to 60 percent profit on each iPhone. As for convincing people to buy a Mac? That may be so, but as of 2010, the iPod and iPhone accounted for twice as much of Apple’s revenues than the entire Mac product line.

And so the iRevolution began.

Author and consultant Simon Sinek, in his presentation at the TED conference, talks about what makes Apple stand out. Apple, he says, doesn’t tell you they make computers and music players and cell phone — all of which look cool and work great. No, what Apple tells you is this: “Everything we do – we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. We just happen to make great computers (music players, cell phones). Wanna buy one?”

Apple may not be responsible for inventing the laptop, the tablet, or the cell phone, but Steve Jobs is responsible for changing our perspective and raising our expectations of how those things should work — for us.

Don't you have to write it to own it?

In a seeming triumph of culture over commerce... of high art over pop art... of the little guy over the big, bad mogul... author Chinua Achebe has succeeded in forcing rapper 50 Cent to change the title of his upcoming movie.

As reported last week in the culture blog, Vulture (and HuffPo and EW, etc.) the facts lay out as follows:

In 1958, Achebe wrote what is widely acknowledged as the most read African novel of all time, titled "Things Fall Apart."

In 2010, 50 Cent wrote, produced and financed a film directed by Mario Van Peebles, about a football player diagnosed with cancer, also titled "Things Fall Apart."

In 2011, Achebe's lawyers contacted 50 Cent to rename his movie prior to its release. In response, 50 Cent offered Achebe $1 million to be allowed to use the title. Mr. Achebe's legal team refused 50 Cent's offer, saying "the novel with the said title was initially produced in 1958 (that is 17 years before [50] was born). [It is] listed as the most-read book in modern African literature, and won't be sold for even £1bn."

This is the point at which 50 Cent agreed to rename his movie “All Things Fall Apart.”

Were I 50 Cent, rather than acquiesce, I might instead have replied to Achebe's representatives, "tread softly, because you tread on my dreams," and then gently reminded them that Chinua Achebe took his title from a William Butler Yeats poem, "The Second Coming":

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world...

I might have gone on to note that 50-some years ago, when Mr. Achebe's novel was about to be released, Yeats' legal team evidently declined to ask Mr. Achebe to re-title it, nor did they point out that "the poem with the said phrase was initially published in 1920 (that is 10 years before [Achebe] was born). It was written by one of the most venerable poets of the 20th century, and won't be sold for even £1tn."

"The worst are full of passionate intensity." Indeed.

(This post is dedicated to my big sister, who introduced me to Yeats, and to Achebe and Didion, and to a whole assortment of great authors — and who can recite this poem from memory.)