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Month: November 2005

Ski Dubai. This makes sense…

Ski Dubai

erk. In the middle of a desert. 5 slopes, all at “a comfortable” 1-2 degrees.

I was about to decry the adverse ecological effect, but then I wondered whether solar cells might as yet be efficient enough to create/maintain the snow?

Then I got tired of wondering and mentally filed this next to the 18-hole championship golf courses…

Steve Carlson: 10 years of NowEurope

nowEurope: About

Interesting reflection from Steve Carlson about the 10 years of the site-from-mailing list.

Steve started the list as a way of maintaining a ‘conversation’ with people he’d met at a conference Esther Dyson had organised. The list grew to some 4000 people, interested in “doing business online in Europe”.

Steve notes:

It may seem unlikely, but in 1995 it was still fairly controversial to talk about using the Internet for business. Few people were willing to use their credit cards online. We spent a lot of time sharing our experiences about what business models were working, and what directions looked promising.

In those early days, one role I played with nowEurope was introducing people to one another. In late 1999 I invited my readers to meet me on a business trip to London (I live in Budapest, Hungary). Fifty people expressed interest. Ivan Pope stepped up to organize the venue. I did the same thing in several other cities.

The focus is now upon Central/Eastern Europe since the feeling of ‘newness’ and the rush to growth there is greater (and having spoken last year in Prague I experienced the dynamism and bear-like embrace of the new economy by businesses there.

While the site is now more of a group blog/publishing exercise than a mailing list, it’s an interesting example of how the format of communication and expertise can change over time while remaining true to the founding purpose.

Wonder how it’ll be 10 years from now?

Business of Flirting

Flirtomatic – Public Beta

Well well well. Two and a half years ago I commented on rather tetchily about the various business networks that were the rage at the time. I noted that they were no better than “business flirting”, thinking in particular of Ryze and it’s “be my friend, leave a comment, tell me weekly how many doggies sniffed my lamp-post” brand of ‘networking’.

Curious and amusing therefore to see
looking for all the world like Manga-meets-Ryze.

At least F-o-M has a business model: hardly any more than a text to flirt with Carrie, Playgirl, Stuart, Warren and Hammersmith… Good luck to them: could be enough of a laugh to get the teenies to part with the equivalent of a text or two a day.

Google Base: guerilla zone for annoyed customers…

Joho the Blog: It’s getting harder to hide from your customers

Go to Google Base and search for “gold’s gym” (no quotes required). (Clicking here will perform the search for you.) The first entry, at least today, is from Mark Dionne who provides Gold’s corporate address, information that Gold’s Gym doesn’t like to make public, perhaps to ignore letters from unhappy customers such as Mark.

Hadn’t thought of the “democratic” angle Google Base. I’d seen it simply as a promotional vehicle, but this is neat.

For good companies, yet another place to monitor for reputational attacks. For crap companies another way for activist, hacked off customers (ex-customers?) to promote their disgruntlement even higher than you promote the empty promises of services…

However you view this it’ll be interesting to see how Google plans to moderate this or offer redress…

BBC R4’s Peter Day on Peter Drucker

BBC NEWS | Business | Remembering Peter Drucker

This is a lovely piece from Peter Day on the passing of Peter Drucker. You get a flavour of both men’s personalities from this piece.

It also served to introduce me to Day’s “Work in Progress” pieces, an:

exploration of the big trends upheaving the world of work as we steam further into the twenty-first century; and it is a work in progress, influenced and defined by my encounters as I report on trends in business and organisations all over the world

Peter Day covers a lot of ground at the BBC on business, but my favourite is “In Business”. When I think I know about a topic I always learn more, and when I know I know nothing (!) I find the presentation accessible.

Best of all the programme’s available to download (when it’s on air, that is. Check out the “Listen Again” page on the BBC when the new series begins).

Hand. Battery. Oh dear.

What the…? – Gizmodo

I can add nothing to this. It’s not really work-safe if your company is anal (oops – that’s got us blocked) about blocking everything (apart from the IT team’s porn collection, of course!).

The comments are amusing, in that wholly-prodictable, juvenile kinda way we’d expect 🙂

Araki: Self*Life*Death

Barbican – Araki: Self•Life•Death

Vicky volunteered to put the girls to bed last night so I nipped in to the Barbican to see a major exhibition of Araki’s work.

Araki’s one of those photographers that one doesn’t “like”: his mix of porn, food-that-looks-like-genitalia, his haunting photos of Tokyo (curiously de-peopled) alongside very intimate (friendly and humourous) views of people, all however remain in the mind. One remembers Araki’s imagery long after the context (in one of his 400 books? a small exhibition?) and this exhibition at the Barbican was wonderful in showing the whole range of his work, sensibly themed.

The exhibition covers phases in his work I’d not known (eg the work around the death of his wife, the ‘invention’ of “i-photograpy”, matching the Japanese “i-novel” – a form of first-person literature, based on experience, and requiring a dedication to photographing everything that borders on obsessive).

Indeed, the impression I was left with (after hundreds of photos of flowers, food, women, genitalia, bondage, cloudscapes, cityscapes etc) was a weight of obsessive documentation and focus on the pleasures/engagements of life. I was surprised to find that the plentiful nakedness did not feel pornographic, but rather had an aspergic, quizzical and playful aspect to it. This surprised me. From the (excellent) notes, and the arrangement of the images, one felt that this was his life through a lens, rather than voyeurism.

There’s an interesting and informative overview, btw, of pornography in Japan – from middle ages to now – that gives some of the background to the formal allusions and structures that were otherwise lost on me.

As I left the exhibition I felt that I’d reconnected in a funny way with two other artistic influences: Bukowski and Atget. I can remember the impact that Bukowski’s work had on me: by turns foul and foul-mouthed, depraved and debasing, yet also self-aware, unafraid, open and uncompromising. Equally, Atget’s Paris is an encapsulation of a love affair with the city’s streets. I mean “streets” – there are barely any people in the 800 pages, except when they’re pulling a cart or somehow ‘part of the scenery’.

Araki’s work, seen in retrospect comprehensively, is a visual fusion of the obsessive but loving catalogue of the landscape of Tokyo, women, food, cats that’d do Atget proud; allied to the narrative impact (shock, revulsion and compulsion) in Bukowski’s work.

Not that I wish to pigeon-hole him – heaven forbid! – I’m just surprised at my own response to his work.

Guardian’s “Been There” – web2.0 contributive guide

The Londonist’s comment on the Guardian’s “Been There” service caught my eye.

Just looked at Been There service looks neat: a contributive travel guide – think of a personal Time Out guide, meets urban pub directory meets the Londonist.

Initially, it’ll be sketchy and thin. Then it’ll blossom and be full of crap, marketing crap and contributions that’re impossible to evaluate…

What’d be nice is to link this with a FOAF approach so that I can filter my view of a city to a given type. This could be liberating: the annoying museum geek who ordinarily would bore for britain would all of a sudden be the ideal person to have recommending obscure cultural haunts. Surely, with Web2, it’s only a matter of time until someone adds this 🙂

Digital manipulation: behind the scenes


The Conrad Digital site dishes the dirt and shows the secret ‘before and after’ images behind current advertising work.

The page is a hefty download, but the wait is worth it.

Check out the Tylenol Ad: click on the image and then mouse over the pop-up image. You’ll see a larger version of the “finished” article and the original, untouched version. A pretty face is pulled, given a nose job, new skin texture, different eyelashes… All to get a ‘perfect’ look.

Even more scary is the Paul Mitchell ad: what a transformation. Bingo wings ‘shaved’, cellulite removed, colours changed, new hair…

The Photoshopper notes that the:

image was pretty demanding as EVERYTHING needed work. I had to create hair where there was none which is often quite a feat when you don’t have a similar image to pull from. Her legs were in need of some smoothing(dare I say excerise) and the overall image needed some attitude. Not a HUGE difference from the original, but once the cast was removed and the problem areas dealt with, we had ourselves a wonderful little image.

Problem areas? Goodness – imaging what he’d say about us mere mortals!

Just trying to remember what the point of photography was: the starting point for cartoon-like manipulation?

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