March 30, 2011
Long Live the OLD & Traditional Adirondack Chair
One of my favorite memories (period) is sitting in an Adirondack chair with my grandfather in the Adirondack mountains where I grew up, talking about Indian arrow heads while overlooking a peaceful Caroga Lake at the end of a sunny August day.
The weather was perfect with only a slight breeze and the waterskiiers were coming out for their late afternoon ski when the lake once again turned into a glassy glaze as the wind settled down. I was often one of those afternoon skiiers as a teenager, around the time I had started to ban early mornings. As a kid however, I'd scurry out at dawn ready to take a dozen or so cuts on the not yet touched water we all loved about early mornings on the lake.
We had both just gathered some twigs and dry wood for the fire pit where we'd often cook burgers and kielbasa on an old small grill that my grandad would throw over the pit.
Equally magical to gazing out over the lake in our Adirondack chairs was reading a novel on an Adirondack hammock overlooking the same lake, but that's for another blog post.
Alas, the Adirondack chair. When I was really young, we had about four of 'em, all made of wood, all rustic, some with splinters from wear and tear and years of rain. We painted a couple over the years, always dark green, since that was the traditional Adirondack color (same goes for the hammocks), and as they would fade and the paint would wear away, we often wouldn't touch them up right away since the half painted, half natural wood look and feel of the chairs often told the story of our lives at the camp.
In other words, it was outdoor living: life wasn't perfect, it most certainly wasn't modern, we didn't have central heating, the water tank for the showers was small, the plumbing was outdated, our small TV set rarely got a channel, Internet didn't work and until we sold the place, it had an old fashioned rotary phone. (the one we had since the early 1970s).
The Adirondacks are not modern and to try to throw a modern title, label, or experience on top of "Adirondack" anything feels just plain wrong, at least for someone who grew up there. You can imagine my horror when I received this subject line in my inbox: The Classic Adirondack Lounge goes Eco-Modern. The Eco of course is there to make you feel good about buying it. Take a look at their visual:
All I can say is UUGGLYYY. It feels like Walmart plastered blandness on top of authentic Adirondack wholesomeness. Gotta love the tacky plastic looking orange circular thing with the pretzels next to them to add to all that modernity.
It's not as if I don't love modern things. Sure, my house has more antiques and woods than it does modern pieces, but its a mix. And while I have some classic pieces of art, there are some abstracts (photography and oil paintings), as well as some Salvador Dali-like pottery and toy-ish etchings scattered along my walls.
This felt more like a classic American marketing decision: take something that was and is great and cheapen it, while throwing some fabulous persuasive language (and of course sustainable messaging since "green and eco" are important adds right now) on top of it to make it appear that you're going to purchase something of substance.
The materials may be solid - that's not what I'm arguing here. And, I'm all for environmentally friendly materials. But, let's call a spade a spade and let it have its deserved glory. A little history is in order.
The Adirondack chair (also called the Muskoka chair) is used in rural, outdoor settings. The precursor was designed by Thomas Lee in 1903 when he was on vacation in Westport, New York, in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, and needed outdoor chairs for his summer home.
After arriving at a final design for the then called "Westport plank chair," Lee offered it to a Westport-based carpenter Harry Bunnell, who manufactured these chairs for the next twenty years.
The original Adirondack chair was made with eleven pieces of wood, cut from a single board. It had a straight back and seat, which were set at a slant to sit better on the steep mountain inclines of the area. It also featured wide armrests, which became a hallmark of the Adirondack chair. In searching for a chair that was closer to what I grew up with, I came up with the following image on the web although even this one isn't quite right....ours tended to lean back a bit more but those I found with stronger slants, were painted in shiny colors or their original design was altered.
In the yards, patios and on the docks of all the camps we used to hang out at including our own, the chairs were rustic and wooden, often made by locals. Sadly, more of the modern Adirondack chairs are made out of plastic lumber or engineered wood instead of wood.
There have been so many replicas and variations of Adirondack chairs, that its original design is getting muddled, I guess you could call it a furniture mashup. Take a look at the variations from a Google image search:
Remember that I live my life in the modern technology world where mashups happen in my circles every day. In fact, I may be at an event where a mashup of an old technology and the creation of a new one may occur within the hour and a new way of creating, curating or organizing the web is born before my very eyes. I think mashups are great as long as the original "piece" whatever that is, is honored in some way for what it stood for.
In the case of Adirondack chairs, they are all about life in rustic rural environments and frankly, experiencing the Adirondacks on any lake in a modern home with tons of bells and whistles isn't the same, including the furniture. Of course, the designer of this new modern eco chair Mark Daniel will likely not be impressed by my opinion.
While the sustainable, FSC-certified solid eucalyptus wood with a grey stain which is made in China btw (how ironic for an all American piece of design), may be a fit for some, it doesn't preserve what the Adirondacks is all about.....in my humble local opinion that is.
Long live the old and traditional Adirondack chair for sitting in anything other than an original is like experiencing China in Orlando's Disneyland instead of China itself.
December 22, 2010
Bob Metcalfe, Bill Warner, Kiva, CarWoo, TerraPower All at 5x5
XConomy's “5×5” Forum in Boston this month attracted some of the best and the brightest in the technology industry. Below is a summary, largely taken from Greg Huang's excerpts on-site.
1. Bill Warner emphasized his more unconventional approach to startups. “I intend to help people follow their heart,” he said. “I believe people are pushed to follow their head.” A startup’s philosophy boils down to what he calls the “negotiated invention” model—what most entrepreneurs follow by leading with their idea or technology and making compromises based on the market and egos versus from their soul and heart.
2.Client CarWoo provided tips on how to become the next Groupon. Founder and CEO Tommy McClung, from the Bay Area, talked about targeting established business models in big markets, which are “usually ripe for disruption”; riding the emerging trend of “online to offline” and balancing incentives for customers.
Disclosure Note: I am a consultant for CarWoo.
November 08, 2010
Meet the 2010 PopTech Fellows
November 8, 2010 in America The Free, Europe, New England, On Africa, On Being Green, On China, On East Africa, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On Science, On South Africa, On Technology, On the Future, On Women, Social Media, United Kingdom, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Legal Risks in the Digital Age: Social Media & Net 2.0
The opportunities presented by new digital media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media tools, create significant legal risks for businesses. Employers need to be proactive in this time of rapidly expanding technology to guard against the misappropriation of confidential information, harassment of employees via digital media, and danger that employees will waste time playing with these new toys. Employers also need to implement policies to ensure that they have the right to review employees' use of these technologies at work without infringing anyone's privacy.
October 23, 2010
XConomy's 5x5 Forum: 5 Great Ideas Across 5 Cities
XConomy is hosting something called the XConomy Forum in Boston on December 8, 2010. The theme? 5 Cities, 5 Big Tech Ideas. Five innovative companies will present from five cities across the U.S., including Boston, Detroit, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.
What are the next big ideas in technology, and where are they coming from? How will they rock your world? And how are entrepreneurs and investors building viable businesses around them? Xconomy has canvassed its national network for the most potentially transformative tech ideas—across mobile, software, hardware, energy, robotics, Internet, and more—and only a handful disruptive solutions will present at this day-only event.
Fast Company co-founder and author of Mavericks at Work Bill Taylor will kick things off and featured 5x5 presenters include:
Kiva Systems, Boston—warehouse robots for retail, distribution, and manufacturing applications
On-Ramp Wireless, San Diego—wireless monitoring and data tracking for the electric grid (World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer)
TerraPower, Seattle—nuclear power startup backed by Bill Gates, Nathan Myhrvold, and Vinod Khosla
Arbor Networks, Detroit—mobile and Internet security firm recently acquired by Danaher
CarWoo, San Francisco—online car-buying startup out of Y Combinator incubator
October 20, 2010
PopTech Kicks Off in Camden Maine (Listen Via Livestream)
This year's PopTech kicks off in Camden Maine, with more than 80 extraordinary speakers and performers participating this year.
PopTech explores the issues, trends and technologies that will shape the future of our businesses, economy, society and world.
Speakers include the likes of Annmarie Ahearn and Ladleah Dunn, Carol Bothwell, Niguel Waller, Tony Salvador, Oscar Schofield, Habib Dagher, Erika Wagner, Brandon Kessler, Phillipe Newlin, David de Rothschild, Graham Hill, Dan Ariely, Kevin Dunbar, Kim Cobb, Brian Hare, Kevin Starr, Ned Breslin, Ben Lyon, Sinan Aral, Reggie Watts, Ryan Smith, Mike Blum, Marcia McNutt, Brooke Betts Farrell, Carlo Ratti, Casey Dunn, and dozens of others.
September 10, 2010
Camden International Film Festival Next Month
The Camden International Film Festival returns for its sixth season in October 2010. The festival will shine the spotlight on a number of great artistic works.
All films are selected because of their ability to arouse discussion on documentary film as an art form, a catalyst for change and as an outlet for the independent voice.
Each year, the event takes over multiple venues throughout three coastal towns in Maine.
Nestled against the mighty Atlantic during fall’s explosion of color, the festival becomes a unique setting to experience the very best in international documentary film.
Accompanying the screening of nearly fifty features and shorts are Q&A’s with directors and producers, the Points North Documentary Film Forum, musical concerts, interactive and video art installations, parties, panels and an opportunity to connect with eager audiences and industry leaders in an extremely intimate setting.
The main venues they use are Camden’s Opera House and Bayview St. Cinema and Rockland’s Strand Theatre and Farnsworth Art Museum.
Some of the films you can view this year include:
A ROAD NOT TAKEN Directors Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller | USA | 2010
The story of the solar panels that former US President Jimmy Carter had installed on the roof of the White House. His successor, Ronald Reagan, had the panels removed – accompanied by a radical alienation from Carter’s energy program. Thirty years later two filmmakers tracked down the panels and traced the story of their journey back from Maine to Washington D.C. BUDRUS Director Julia Bacha | Occupied Palestinian Territorries, Israel, USA | 2009 | 82 min A Palestinian leader unites Fatah, Hamas and Israelis in an unarmed movement to save his village from destruction. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter jumps into the fray.
CAPE WIND (Work in Progress) Directors Robbie Gemmel and Daniel Coffin | USA | 2010 | 90 min
Cape Wind Illuminates the divisive controversy of the Cape Wind Project, a proposal to build 130 massive wind towers five miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Nantucket Sound. The film translates the furor which exploded on Cape Cod into a definitive battle which will be replicated hundreds of times over as industrial-scale renewable energy projects are proposed for America’s deserts, ridgelines and waterways.
CIRCO Director Aaron Schock | USA | 2010 | 75 min
New England Premiere Set within a century-old circus, CIRCO is an intimate portrait of a Mexican family struggling to stay together despite mounting debt, dwindling audiences, and a simmering family conflict that threatens this once-vibrant family tradition. This cinematic road movie opens the viewer to the luminous world of a traveling circus while examining the universal themes of family bonds, filial responsibility, and the weight of cultural inheritance.
DAVID WANTS TO FLY Director David Sieveking | Germany | 2010 | 97 min
US Premiere In search of enlightenment, young filmmaker David Sieveking follows his idol David Lynch and uncovers the billion-dollar industry behind Transcendental Meditation.
DO IT AGAIN Directors Geoff Edgers and Robert Patton-Spruill | USA | 2010 | 85 min
It is a quest. Geoff Edgers, a newspaper reporter dreading the approach of his 40th birthday, decides to take a most improbable leap. He sets out to find the still-surviving members of the long dormant British rock band, the Kinks (“You Really Got Me,” “Lola” and “Come Dancing”), to convince them to reunite.
DREAMLAND Director Andri Snær Magnason | Iceland | 2009 | 89 min
US Premiere A film about a nation standing at crossroads. Leading up to the Iceland’s greatest economic crisis, the government started the largest project in the country’s history: to build the biggest dam in Europe to provide the Alcoa company cheap electricity for an aluminum smelter in the rugged east fjords. Today Iceland is left holding a huge dept and an uncertain future.
THE DISAPPERANCE OF MCKINLEY NOLAN Director Henry Corra | USA | 2010 | 77 min
New England Premiere Private McKinley Nolan vanished forty years ago in Vietnam on the Cambodian frontier. Some say he was captured, some say he was a traitor, some even say he was an American operative. The U.S. Army officially claims he was radicalized and “went native,” joined the Viet Cong and was later murdered by the Khmer Rouge. The film follows the Nolan family from the cotton belt of Texas, to the battlegrounds of Vietnam, to the killing fields of Cambodia and unfolds as a mysterious fever dream filled with doubt, longing and the will to believe.
FAMILY AFFAIR Director Chico Colvard | USA | 2010 | 80 min
At 10 years old, Chico Colvard accidentally shot his older sister in the leg. This seemingly random act detonated a chain reaction that exposed unspeakable realities and shattered his family. Thirty years later, Colvard ruptures veils of secrecy and silence again. As he bravely visits his relatives, what unfolds is a personal film that’s as uncompromising, raw, and cathartic as any in the history of the medium.
GENERAL ORDERS No. 9 Director Robert Persons | USA | 2009 | 72 min
Northeast Premiere One last trip down the rabbit hole before it’s paved over. An experimental documentary that contemplates the signs of loss and change in the American South as potent metaphors of personal and collective destiny.
GOODNIGHT NOBODY Director Jacqueline Zünd | Switzerland/Germany | 2010 | 77 min
US Premiere A journey through night, space and time. Four protagonists from four different continents share the same affliction: they can't sleep. With varying tactics, they resign themselves to the fact that they must live around the clock without interruption. A hypnotic journey through the most beautiful of all film settings: the night.
GREETINGS FROM THE WOODS Director Mikel Cee Karlsson | Sweden | 2009 | 75 min
New England Premiere Life follows its peaceful course in a remote little town in the Swedish forest. The unforgettable characters introduced enliven the sometimes absurd little scenes in this immersive exploration of everyday life in a particular place in Sweden.
HEAVEN AND EARTH AND JOE DAVIS (Work In Progress) Director Peter Sasowski | USA | 2010
Thirty years ago, a peg-legged motorcycle mechanic named Joe Davis walked into the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT. They had not returned his calls. The police were summoned. Forty-five minutes later he walked out with an academic appointment. This film documents the life of an artist who is driven to pursue questions that can only be answered in the space where the boundaries between science and art blur.
LA BELLE VISITE (JOURNEY’S END) Director Jean-Francois Caissy | Canada | 2010 | 80 min
Northeast Premiere In the far reaches of the Quebec countryside, between a road and a headland that plunges into the sea, an abandoned motel has been converted into a retirement home. In this former travelers’ retreat, time seems to have ground to a halt. This film is an elegiac exploration of old age, set in a place at once physical and allegorical.
MARWENCOL Director Jeff Malmberg | USA | 2010 | 82 min
After a vicious attack leaves him brain damaged and broke, Mark Hogancamp seeks recovery in Marwencol, a 1/6th –scale World War II-era town he creates in his backyard.
MY PERESTROIKA Director Robin Hessman | USA, Russia | 2010 | 88 min
This film follows five ordinary Russians living in extraordinary times — from their sheltered childhoods, to the collapse of the Soviet Union during their teenage years, to the constantly shifting political landscape of post-Soviet Russia.
ON COAL RIVER Directors Francine Cavanaugh and Adams Wood | USA | 2010 | 81 min
New England Premiere Coal River Valley, West Virginia is a community surrounded by lush mountains and a looming toxic threat. The film follows four longtime residents as they confront a notorious coal company, their local school board, and state government to protect their families and community from the effects of an increasingly mechanized and destructive coal industry.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF LIFE Directors Stefanie Brockhaus/Andy Wolff | Germany | 2009 | 88 min
To survive in a Cape Town township, brothers Lucky and Bongani learned their lessons early. They move through ever-shifting worlds, cultures, and traditions in a film that transcends a social environment study to become a far-ranging essay about the future of an Africa ground to pieces between tradition and modernity.
PRODIGAL SONS Kimberly Reed | USA | 2008 | 86 min
Returning home to a small town in Montana for her high school reunion, filmmaker Kimberly Reed hopes for reconciliation with her long estranged adopted brother, Marc. But along the way she uncovers stunning revelations, including his blood relationship with Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, intense sibling rivalries, and unforeseeable twists of plot and gender that force them both to face challenges no one could imagine.
Special Work-in-Progress Screening: Untitled Film About Light Pollution & Disappearing Dark USA
When a filmmaker and amateur astronomer moves into his apartment in New York, he climbs atop his Brooklyn rooftop to survey the night sky. But bathed in its glow of orange streetlights, the City that Never Sleeps only has a dozen stars to see. One disappointing autumn evening becomes a journey to answer a simple question: do we need the dark?
SUMMER PASTURE Directors Lynn True and Nelson Walker | USA | 2010 | 85 min
A film about a young couple living with their infant daughter in the nomadic pastures of eastern Tibet. With rare access to an area seldom visited by outsiders, the film opens a unique window into a highly insular community and offers a sensitive portrait of a family at a time of great transition.
SUN COME UP Director Jennifer Redfearn | USA | 2010 | 38 mins
New England Premiere This film follows the relocation of some of the world’s first environmental refugees, the Carteret Islanders – a community living on a remote island chain in the South Pacific Ocean. When rising seas threaten their survival, the islanders face a painful decision: they must leave their beloved land in search of a new place to call home.
TANKOGRAD Director Boris B. Bertram | Denmark | 2010 | 58 min
US Premiere Chelyabinsk, in Western Siberia, is infamous for its extreme pollution and its vibrant dance community. This film is a lyrical documentary about a world-class modern dance company that examines the hopes and struggles of a group of young Russians trying to find meaning and expression in the dreary and frightening reality of New Russia through the art of dance.
WAR DON DON Director Rebecca Richman Cohen | USA | 2010 | 83 min
In Krio, war don don means “the war is over,” and although today Sierra Leone is at peace, the specter of war remains ever-present. Can the trial of one man uncover the truth of a traumatic past? With unprecedented access to prosecutors, defense attorneys, victims, and – from behind bars – the accused himself, War Don Don puts international justice on trial for the world to see.
WASTELAND Director Lucy Walker | Brazil | 2010 | 89 min
We follow renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of "catadores" – or self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s collaboration with the “catadores” to recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both dignity and despair.
July 07, 2010
The Paradoxes of Interactive MediaThe Wharton Club of Boston is hosting an event on August 12, 2010 with Professor Peter S. Fader, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Co-Director, Wharton Interactive Media Initiative.
The event will revolve around the emergence of interactive media as a crucial paradigm in virtually all sectors of the economy and how it has led to countless new ideas about consumer behavior and marketing activities.
The discussion will explore that while many of these concepts, when implemented and examined closely, have led to surprising conclusions – many of which contradict the validity and relevance of these ideas in the first place.
They plan to present a provocative “Top 10” list of such paradoxes, intended to get managers to think more carefully about the nature of interactive media and the way that firm customer relationships have – and haven’t – changed in this new era of marketing.
December 25, 2009
Loss Always Provides An Opening SomehowToday, Christmas Day, I received sad news from an old childhood friend about the passing of another old childhood friend. After spending a chunk of time in Paris this month and knowing that I'm heading to Vegas soon for CES like I do ever year, the memories from an era and part of the world that seem so incredibly far away, are chilling but also bitter sweet.
You see, hearing about the loss of Jimmy Green (only 53) brings up countless vivid memories from a very simple life that would be hard to recapture in my life today unless I moved to a rural New Zealand village next to a lake, with no bandwidth or any hopes of getting it. And why go back? The future is the future and that's where we live our lives.
Yet, like a great old novel, there's nothing like an old childhood memory that brings up every taste, every sight, every sound, especially when it's so damn vivid that you can reach out and touch and feel its very core. You're so present with the moment that it becomes your current reality even if only for a flashing moment. Like being able to see and hear Jimmy Green's voice again (he had a great laugh), and saying "you were a great contribution to this planet."
But life moves on. In and around us, it moves, constantly surprising us with miracles and sad, shocking news, like this. Today, I also heard of another friend who just had a triple bypass, which came out of nowhere. Healthy, young, fit, but an awkward bout of heartburn suddenly had him in surgery. And then? Well, he's still with us, but other old friends are not so lucky, like Marc Orchant, who I continue to think of often.
What Jimmy's death did in addition to making me think of him and the best of childhood, was to reflect and sit still.
As I was making blueberry pancakes yesterday, this statement literally came out of mouth -- into the wide open space called air, with no one to hear it but my own ears. "I don't have time to be interesting anymore." I almost laughed out loud it sounded so absurd and yet......it felt more true than any other loud or quiet outburst of late.
It takes time to be present. It takes time to reflect. It takes time to sit. It takes time to hear. And only with presence, reflection, a voice, an ear and time, can you grow. When you're in a growth process, you ARE interesting.
It is in this place that you constantly ask questions, yearn for more, push boundaries and move beyond your comfort zone. Ahhhh, that comfort zone. It's a miracle every time you leave it, isn't it? Sometimes we just need reminding.
Christmas is intense for so many people because it brings up the best, the worst, the happiest moments in our lives and the saddest ones. The times we were closest to our families and the times we couldn't have been more misaligned. It brings up birth, rebirth and it brings up loss - all the people we may not see because they now live on the other side of the world or are no longer living.
Jimmy was part of my earliest memories. We lived on a lake in the Adirondacks, the other side of heaven as people who have visited may have to acknowledge if they spent enough time there.
Thanks for the memory Jimmy and to you for all that you brought to this world in your 53 years. Remember the old boat? I know you're seeing this wherever you are.
You will be missed.
October 08, 2009
Crisis Management: How Rules Have Changed With Advent of New Media
In 2002, criminal charges were brought against five Roman Catholic priests in and around Boston. This spark brought to light thousands of cases of sexual abuse across the nation and around the world. Amidst cover-ups, resignations and countless victims of the tragedy, many were having a crisis of faith.
As a PR professional, how would you handle this crisis?
There's an interesting panel in Boston with Director of PR & Corporate Affairs for the American Red Cross (NE Division) Donna Morrissey, who will share her experiences in managing communications during the Boston Archdiocese scandal.
Prior to the American Red Cross, she served as Cabinet Secretary for PR and Communications and Chief Spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.
Other input will come from Captain Vic Beck, US Navy, Chief of Media Operations for the Multi-National Force in Iraq and Thomas Lee, Partner & Director of Public Relations, 451 Marketing at Managing PR in a Crisis.
They'll cover how to prepare for a crisis, key tools and techniques to manage a crisis, rules of media engagement during a crisis, how and when to respond to negative exposure, leveraging new media for damage control and how dealing with a crisis situation has changed due to the advent of online news, blogs, & social media
If on the east coast, it will be held on Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 at the Exchange Conference Center in Boston.