Technology

Geeks Win! CDs Still Reign in Japan

Curated by CLAI

What’s out may stay be in and what was out is now in. It sounds like fashion, but today we are talking about CDs and geeks.

The CD is still popular! In Japan. Maybe I’m nostalgic, but in such an intangible world of SnapChats and Vines, I love flipping through a book or admiring a CD cover (because someone actual put thought behind creating the art). It’s real and touchable. Though let’s see how long the CD will last compared to the cassette tape.

And geek culture is now in??? Movies like 21 Jump Street where Channing Tatum doesn’t get the girl and 17-year old millionaires who built and sold apps have made being smart and intelligent something to aspire to. Will magazines now start focusing on brains instead of brawn? Probably not. Sex sells.

GEEK CULTURE MAINSTREAM: Never before has the boundary between geek culture and mainstream culture been so porous. Becoming mainstream is the wrong word; the mainstream is catching up. Growing up, pre-Internet, possession of knowledge was such an identifier. That is no longer true; the Internet flattens things out. From gadgets to social networks to video games, the decision not to embrace the newest technology is a choice to be out of the mainstream.

  • With millions watching via computer, Tim Cook, the Apple chief executive, who has an industrial engineering degree, unveiled three versions of the watch, hoping to broaden the appeal of a fashion accessory traditionally worn by the calculus crowd.
  • With millions watching via computer, Tim Cook, the Apple chief executive, who has an industrial engineering degree, unveiled three versions of the watch, hoping to broaden the appeal of a fashion accessory traditionally worn by the calculus crowd.
Don't That Geek

Don’t That Geek

CDs STILL ALIVE IN JAPAN: Japan may be one of the world’s perennial early adopters of new technologies, but its continuing attachment to the CD puts it sharply at odds with the rest of the global music industry.

  • While CD sales are falling worldwide, including in Japan, they still account for about 85% of sales here, compared with as little as 20% in some countries, like Sweden, where online streaming is dominant.
  • Japanese consumers’ love for collectible goods. Greatest hits albums do particularly well in Japan, because of the elaborate, artist-focused packaging.

Bye Bye iPod. Bye Bye Cereal.

Curated by CLAI

1,000 SONGS IN YOUR POCKET: $400 was more than my car payment, but I didn’t care. This iPod — whatever that meant — was beautiful, and I wanted it bad. It promised the never-ending mix tape, the opportunity to program a radio station that served a market of one: Fountains of Wayne to Janet Jackson to Nirvana to Alan Jackson to the Pretenders? No problem.

Breakfast (Catherine A Cole, NYTimes)

SNACK CRACKLE POP: Cereal, that bedrock of the American breakfast, has lost some of its snap, crackle and pop. For the last decade, the cereal business has been declining, as consumers reach for granola bars, yogurt and drive-through fare in the morning.

  • The drop-off has accelerated lately, especially among those finicky millennials who tend to graze on healthy options.
  • Birthrate is declining — and children traditionally have been the largest consumers of cereal.
  • Many surveys have shown that Latinos and Asians prefer other breakfast foods.
  • General Mills is marketing its iconic cereals as family brands in an appeal to nostalgia: Adults account for almost half of the consumption of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Extravagant Happiness, Emails on Holiday Mode

Curated by CLAI

EXTRAVAGANT V. ORDINARY HAPPINESS: Extraordinary experiences bring great joy throughout life. No surprise there. But the older people got, the more happiness ordinary experiences delivered. In fact, the happiness-making potential of everyday pursuits eventually grows equal to that of ones that are rarer.

Extraordinary v. ordinary happiness

Extraordinary v. ordinary happiness (Robert Neubecker, NYTIMES)

EMAILS ON HOLIDAY MODE: At Daimler, the German automaker, employees can set their corporate email to “holiday mode” when they are on vacation.  Anyone who emails them gets an auto-reply saying the employee isn’t in, and offering contact details for an alternate, on-call staff person. Then poof, the incoming email is deleted — so that employees don’t have to return to inboxes engorged with digital missives in their absence.

  • Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom have adopted policies that limit work-related email to some employees on evenings and weekends. If this can happen in precision-mad, high-productivity Germany, could it happen in the United States?
  • White-collar cubicle dwellers spend 28% of their workweek slogging through email. They check their messages 74 times a day, on average. 38% check work email “routinely” at dinner peeking at the phone under the table

New Instant Pop-Up Shops and No Tofu

Curated by CLAI

POP-UP SHOPS: Need a real live shop for your startup business for one day to do market testing, promotional event, or sell merchandise? Welcome to the next stage of evolution after mobile food trucks. The “Clicks to Bricks” business model is innovative in a way, and that’s because you can now start a company on the Internet, and there’s this intermediate step between a brick-and-mortar where you pop up and have this tactile, real experience

  • Pop-up shops are temporary retail spaces that spring up in unused premises. Leases can last as short as a single day, when brands use the spaces for a promotional event instead of testing out a market.
  • The pop-up concept is proliferating in trendy, high-foot-traffic neighborhoods like SoHo. As long as you can change it back, you can do whatever you want with the space, says OpenHouse, a company that owns storefronts in the always fashion-forward SoHo neighborhood in New York.
  • Today, an old subway stop in SoHo is a place to get designer pants at 40% off. On other days, it’s a test kitchen and bar. Next week, it might host a press event. The one thing this place doesn’t do is anything permanent.
Pop Up Shop in NYC

Customers can get a tactile experience trying on glasses at Warby Parker’s shop in New York City. (NPR)

NOTO LANGUAGE: Google is working on a font that aims to include “all the world’s languages” — every written language on Earth. “Tofu” is what the pros call those tiny, empty rectangles that show up when a script isn’t supported. This is where Google’s new font family, “Noto,” gets its name: “No Tofu.”

  • Right now, Noto includes a wide breadth of language scripts from all around the world — specifically, 100 scripts with 100,000 characters. That includes over 600 written languages.
  • This month, Google & Adobe has released a new set of Chinese-Japanese-Korean fonts — the latest in their effort to make the Internet more inclusive.
  • Even when more widely-spoken languages are supported, their scripts may not accurately reflect the culture within which they’re used. Urdu is one example. Nastaliq Urdu — ornate and calligraphic with distinctive hanging characters — is not supported
Noto font by Google

Google’s Noto font as it displays for Devanagari script, used to write Hindi. (Google)

 

Wine by Prison Inmates & Cuisine by Camera

Curated by CLAI

KILLER WINE BY THE MAFIA: 18 miles off Tuscany’s coast, Gorgona is Italy’s last island prison – where its inmates serving 30-year sentences for murders and serious crimes make the region’s best wines.

  • “In other prisons I was locked up for 22 hours a day in a cell 2-by-3 yards wide. Here I’m outdoors from morning to night.” Prinzi, who’s 43, is serving a 25-year sentence for murder.
  • Gorgona Prison director Carlo Mazzerbo is a staunch environmentalist who says Gorgona is an ideal place to discuss issues such as organic farming, vegetarianism and animal rights. He believes inmates should be encouraged to take part in the dialogue.
  • Wine writers chatter and mingle with prison guards and inmates as long-stemmed glasses are filled with an amber-colored liquid. Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi is hosting a wine-tasting under a pergola on a terrace overlooking the sea.
  • Frescobaldi has signed a 15-year winemaking agreement with Gorgona. And he says he’s willing to hire some of these workers once they’re released.
Italian Wine by Inmates

Marquise Lamberto Frescobaldi (right), of the winemaking dynasty, talks with prisoners Brian Baldissin (left) and Francesco Papa at his vineyard on Gorgona island (NPR)

CAMERA CUISINE: A side effect of the digital age in food photography, camera cuisine is any dish that was inspired by a picture or aspires to be one. “It’s become a visual medium. We’re eating with our eyes first.” Digital food photography is a cheap marketing tool as well. A snapshot of a new dish uploaded last night can cause a bump in reservations this afternoon.

Digital Food Photography

Digital Food Photography (NYTIMES)