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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Laptops for kids

Laptops for $100 for kids to help their education or as they claim

"a more cost-effective alternative than hiring additional teachers. A lot of learning comes form explorations, interactions, curiosity," Negroponte said Wednesday at an MIT emerging technology conference sponsored by Technology Review, an MIT magazine. "That's how we learned how to walk, how to talk. It's the kind of learning kids do very well. This [laptop] is a tool to make that more continuous, seamless versus … today, when we say at age 6, 'Stop learning that way, and learn by being told by books and teachers.'" "

Somehow this does not resonate well with me.
Could be that I am a former teacher.
Could be that I have some bias in this area.
Could be that as a parent having raised two children (not alone by any means, my wife had a major part in this) I don't accept the exploration argument.

Exploration will work within a proper framework.
Recall that I am an environmentalist in this area.

Imitation comes first. Then with some confidence, exploration can follow.
If the bread crumbs are not left there for positive reinforcement, don't expect exploration to work for long.

Hence, I do agree
Another problem that must be addressed by the not-for-profit group, One Laptop Per Child: a possible gray market in which laptops distributed free to children are instead illicitly sold by parents or others, especially those in third-world countries. One way to thwart this is allowing PC makers to manufacture commercial versions of the laptop at a relatively inexpensive price, say $200 each, with part of the profit going back to One Laptop Per Child.

There are so many other uses for these systems at a low entry point, they do not need to go to children first. If anything, that would be the last place I would put them.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Mark Hurst on Branding

Mark Hurst has his summary of branding today in his Good Experience blog.

With this in mind, let's simplify that definition:
The brand is the customer experience.

And that's all it is. It's not primarily a story, or a logo, or a style, or even a value proposition. Primarily the brand is just what customers tell each other about: their experience.

So if you want to create a good brand, the best - perhaps the only - investment to make is in the customer experience. This means learning from customers through direct observation, and crafting a strategy built from that customer input.

I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Talking Story Headline

Yes, a shameless self promotion alert for this one.

I am honored to be a guest author at Rosa Say's Talking Story today.

I took the opportunity to add my two cents on her theme this month of Life Long Learning.

Please read it and let me know what you think!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Passion alert - 100 Bloggers

There is a new blog in the neighborhood and it is bound to show (if not build) some passion.

100 Bloggers has been resurrected (was it ever dead?).

In any case, it is coming alive!

Add it to your blogroll to read along, or better yet
accept the invite and join the group!

PS - yes, I am part of the group and will post there.

Staples Recycling

The morning paper arrived in a plastic bag this morning as usual. What was catching about the bag was the advertisement for Staples. Not that an advertisement is unusual. The plastic bag is arriving more frequently with some promotional sample or coupon enclosed.

The unusual aspect was how it promoted recycling.

Easy to recycle.
Easy to save.

Place your empty cartridge(s) in this bag.
Bring the bag to a cash register at any Staples store.
Get a $3 off coupon every empty you give us.

Staples. That was easy.

Now this is a promotion that works for me:
  1. You reuse the plastic bag. (re-enforces recycling)
  2. You recycle printer ink cartridges. (recycling itself)
  3. You get a reward for doing so! (rewards and re-enforces recycling)

That was easy! Go Staples!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

We the bloggers...

Check out this statement made to Congress on behalf of the bloggers by Bloglines:

We the Bloggers...

Blogs have given individuals of any and every background the ability to freely speak their minds and share information with anyone who chooses to read it, at any time they wish to do so. Bloglines was created for people as a window to access this world of dynamic content and a way to participate in its creation. We believe blogs have helped enable an open exchange of information that has never before been possible. As some of you may have heard, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is reviewing its regulations concerning political speech on the Internet, including blog activity. Bloglines is committed to the continuation of open exchanges of information and opinions throughout the blogosphere and the Internet in general. Today, the Committee on House Administration is having a hearing on this issue. In the spirit of these beliefs, I have provided the Committee with the following statement. We encourage you to express your opinion on this matter in any forum you choose.

-Mark Fletcher and the Bloglines team

The full statement here:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Emergence of the minipreneur

Want to get into business on your own.

Find a market need that you can fulfill.

This bit of insight might help... From Andrew Taylor at The Artful Manager

According to Trendwatching:

Ask yourself how you can help them to make money by facilitating their admin, their production, their advertising, their insurance, their travel, their networking, their selling, their tech needs, their learning, their payments, their suggestions, their hosting, their new business ideas. Don't ask them to consume; help them to create, to produce. Or...help them to become journalists, banks, human billboards or headhunters!

Read the full posting here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Those who can do, teach!

From Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users comes this gem of a quote:

Nobody becomes passionate until they've reached the stage where they want to grow in a way they deem meaningful. Whether it's getting better at a game or helping to save the world, there must be a goal (ideally, a continuously progressive goal) and a clear path to getting there. It's our job, if we're trying to encourage others to become passionate, to enable it. And the only way to do that is by teaching.

Look carefully at the words Kathy is using here:

Nobody becomes passionate until they've reached the stage where they want to grow in a way they deem meaningful.

Kathy, you have chosen your words carefully to reflect your insight in this important matter.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Superman Shoes for Women?

My daughters found this in a recent TitleNine catalog that arrived via snail mail.

TitleNine is marketing for women.

The shoes are interesting in and of themselves for their cameleon nature and dual purpose.
1 - A comfrotable looking, slip on type clog. Stylish with a leather upper.

2 - Step out of them and you can have a nice flip-flop for that appearence in the Rose Garden.

The shoes are called "Clark Kent Clogs".

So how does this product name work for you?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Unmasking Appearence Over Performance - Taking Action

Dan Blohowiak writing at BNet's Leadership. Now. blog has this good posting.
"Much better to look good than feel good, dahlink," joked comedian Billy Crystal in his old Saturday Night Live character Fernando.

There’s a strange twist on that strange maxim that has grabbed the psyche of too many large, self-important institutions: Much better to look good than do good.

Appearance over substance has become a high art form in the marketing-dominated West. The adage, "Perception is reality," too strongly guides the thinking of too many top managers (who repeat that over-worn phrase ad nauseum).

And so, not surprisingly, perception management becomes the priority of the highest magnitude. Even in places no responsible person would dream of prioritizing perception over performance.

Perception reality becomes exposed when the emperor really has no clothes. Dan goes on to highlight this case with the recent events (and mismanagement of them) by the government agency chartered with disaster response, FEMA. Political appointments have been exposed once again. Maybe this time we can do something about this to save lives and headache in the future.

We need to heed people like Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By. Her series "We interrupt this blog" has been good writing on the events in New Orleans. In particular, Part 2, she calls for

" ... today I have a suggestion for the coming months and years: ignore this secretive, imperial White House; it is beyond redemption. Concentrate instead on our three Congressional representatives. We can each demand of them the following – and any other items you would like to add – as long as we are reasonable. These are reasonable:
  • Reject any appointee to any agency who is not fully qualified for the job. End patronage appointments.
  • Reject any bill that further enriches the individually wealthy or corporations over the middle and working classes. Reject the upcoming bill for the elimination of the “death tax”. Roll back the previous tax cuts for the rich.

  • Never again insert even one piece of pork into future appropriations bills.

  • Join the rest of the world now in addressing global warming.

  • Create universal health coverage and enact it before the 2008 general election.

  • Reject privatization of Social Security.

  • Immediately establish an independent election monitoring agency which answers to no one but the public.

  • Enact now an election reform bill – without loopholes – that gets corporate and special interest money out of elections and returns the process to the people.

  • Figure out now how to extract our soldiers from Iraq while arranging to rebuild the infrastructure which the U.S. has wantonly destroyed.

  • Tell your two senators and representatives that unless they do these things, you will vote next time (that’s 2006) and the next and the next for the other guy, whoever he or she is. Tell them you will be monitoring their every move in Congress - and then do it."
It is now our choice to take action or sit by and await another disaster.