Saturday, September 05, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
We’re Talking About Humans Here
Everyone associated with environmental communication needs to read The Cluetrain Mainfesto of 1999 and take it to heart. The environmental struggle is one big exercise in persuasion. What the Cluetrain folks pointed out is that humans respond to human voices. You can “frame” all you want, but if the communication is coming from robots, the only ones who will respond will be the robots. People have enormous perceptual power and instincts, the science of which is only beginning to be explored. Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink” provides a starting point. The bottom line is it only takes a few seconds for people to listen to a voice and decide whether they trust it or not. If that voice is devoid of human qualities, and worse if there is a clear sense that the voice is speaking with “messages” that have been “framed” and “focus grouped,” it just ain’t gonna work for the masses. And double that for the younger masses.
Obama is making enormous strides now on science and environmental issues because he’s been placed in the position of power to do so. He got there not through cold, calculated messaging, but by being an EXTREMELY likable (a crucial trait for today’s increasingly style-driven world), deeply humanized person who is able to convey the central human qualities of humor and emotion. When he addressed the Reverend Wright issue in one of the pivotal moments of his campaign, he did so with an impassioned and vibrantly human voice which succeeded in putting out a potentially lethal fire.
These are elements of style in communication which are central to our information-glutted world. Yes, language does matter, but that is primarily an element of substance (i.e. the text of what is communicated). You can come up with all the clever terms you want, but if they are spoken by environmental leaders who are perceived as cold, calculating, and manipulative, the broader audience will simply disconnect. Not because of the language, but because of their basic instincts leading them to not trust the voice they are hearing.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Nation's Girlfriends Unveil New Economic Plan: 'Let's Move In Together'
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Oh, please, Death of Print. Oh, be merciful and take Cosmo with you!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Monday, March 09, 2009
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Names turn preschoolers into vegetable lovers
Do you have a picky preschooler who's avoiding their vegetables? A new Cornell University study shows that giving vegetables catchy new names – like X-Ray Vision Carrots and Tomato Bursts – left preschoolers asking for more.When 186 four-year olds were given carrots called "X-ray Vision Carrots" ate nearly twice as much as they did on the lunch days when they were simply labeled as "carrots."
.... "Cool names can make for cool foods," says lead author Brian Wansink. "Whether it be 'power peas' or 'dinosaur broccoli trees,' giving a food a fun name makes kids think it will be more fun to eat. And it seems to keep working – even the next day," said Wansink.
Similar results have been found with adults. A restaurant study showed that when the Seafood Filet was changed to "Succulent Italian Seafood Filet," sales increased by 28% and taste rating increased by 12%. "Same food, but different expectations, and a different experience," said Wansink, author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Eat More Than We Think."
How about, Mindless Typing of Typing of Book Titles? Here's another, where the researchers decided to open "The Oldest Trick in the Book Book" for publishing:
Politicians can use fear to manipulate public
Arthur Lupia and Jesse O. Menning examined how select attributes of fear affect a politician’s ability to scare citizens into supporting policies that they would otherwise reject. They argue that politicians’ use of fear will depend on critical aspects of mass psychology.
For example, manipulation is more likely when the public doesn’t understand an issue or is unlikely to be able to overcome the fear created by politicians. By contrast, the easier it is for citizens to observe that the politician has made false statements, the less likely it is that politicians will attempt to use fear at all.
It must have taken them the entire Bush presidency to figure that one out.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
As a result of our combined braininess and fecundity, humans have managed to colonize the planet; exploit, marginalize or exterminate all competing forms of life; build a vast military-industrial complex all under the auspices of Bernard Madoff and with one yeti of a carbon footprint, and will somebody please hand me that baby before it’s too late.
- Natalie Angier, In a Helpless Baby, the Roots of Our Social Glue, New York Times science section
I'm working on a similar piece about the role of mothers in human evolution.
Monday, March 02, 2009
I'm feeling like this gift amaryllis has been genetically bred to a fine sense of instant gratification. Rocket-like growth, gigantic blooms that last, little feeding or watering requirements, it's all too good to be true. Too good to be... evil?
One of the downfalls of living alone is that you always suspect that someone might be stalking you - "What's that sound?" "Did I leave the blinds like that when I left?" "Wasn't that photo facing slightly the other way?" These thoughts plague me when I'm alone. At first I thought it was just my nerves, which as I'm a lady, naturally run on the side of hysterical. But no. I've been told I am an unusually rational woman.
So I'm beginning to think that these thoughts are triggered by this massive plant with its passionate red blooms, which pulls itself up and hops around on its bulb, doing reconnaissance in my apartment for its higher masters (aliens, inevitably), which it accomplishes by changing my stuff in tiny degrees. Then it carefully sweeps up its trail of copper growing medium (or is it something which provides more sinister sustenance?), and plops back into its pot before 5pm, so I suspect nothing when I get home from work. Well, not this time, "amaryllis"! I've caught on. Your eagerly growing "gift boxes" are infiltrating American homes to create a standing army for your alien overlords.
But, I just can't bring myself to throw you out of my home. You look all dramatic and fiercely pretty. Who knows what lies within your dark and sterile stamens? I shiver at the thought. But I will tolerate it, for the sake of home decor.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Peas which I ate off the vine yesterday. So sweet.
I ate the main crown of this broccoli with some pasta. Then it grew these precious wee sprouts.
I was too late to devour this one, and it flowered.
I'm most excited about this pepper plant now. It was planted by an anonymous gardener, who expanded the garden area to fit this pepper transplant and his larger companion. Someone guerrilla gardened my guerrilla garden! All is going according to plan.
This is my amaryllis, in my apartment. My mom gave it to me for Christmas. It comes all easily packaged in a little box with its bulb and "growing medium," which was pressed into a coin shape. When I got it home, I opened the box up and looked at it, then put everything back in the box. Fast forward a couple of weeks later, I'm cleaning my apartment and the bulb has already sprouted a few inches of green. I'm like, "Hang on, overachiever! Let me get you in a pot." It has continued at a freakish rate of growth that would excite small children tremendously, and then bring them false expectations of all future planting experiences. Trouble is, it's tremendously phallic. And now that it's about to bloom, it's going through a brief hemaphroditic period. All blushing and pink up there.
Friday, February 20, 2009
I saw this book reviewed in my local newspaper years ago and it threw me for a loop. "I definitely didn't do that," I told my mom, and saved the clipping as testament to the weird occurrences of the universe. Lindsay Patterson as editor of African-American erotic literature.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Monday, February 02, 2009
You can read more about it on the Garden Posse blog.
I only have time to tell you these things about some music I listen to:
1. This band from Houston, the Wild Moccasins, have been playing in my head for the past week. They played (outside my brain) at Marshall's last show. Then they slept over at his house and appeared in the morning like high schoolers at an awkward boy-girl slumber party. They are tiny and twee and goddamn catchy.
2. I bought Juana Molina, Un Dia, yesterday, and am very glad I did. It's beautiful.
3. I'm going to see The Morning Benders at Stubb's tomorrow night. I'm taking my Posse.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
2. Being guardedly hopeful and generally happy
3. Population ("are we screwed?")
4. My Studio 360 piece about an amateur fossil hunter and intelligent design versus evolution and how I need to get cracking on that
5. Integrating video into radio and if video could kill the radio star all over again, or it might just be really frustrating
6. Arranging a seed bomb making workshop for the Garden Posse
7. SKIING!!!!!!!!! I MIGHT GO SKIING THIS YEAR!!! OH MY GOD
8. How people think I'm maybe 16 or 17 years old and whether or not I need a makeover, and if so, how would I do that without reality TV or Oprah.
9. I really like O magazine.
Possible expansion upon one or more of these subjects may or may not be upcoming.