Now this is some Halloween costume. Via Gizmodo, which offers a few more pix that show a bit of how this was made.

Coinage alert! “Meganiche”

In Wired, Clay Shirky writes that as Web usage has gotten huge, thin slices of the overall Web audience are, not surprisingly, bigger than they were when the overall Web audience was smaller. And thus:

I define a meganiche as a thin slice of the Web that nonetheless represents roughly a million users. The meganiche is something new, and it will have a lasting impact on online business and culture…

[T]he Net is chockablock with special-interest sites and services you’ve never heard of but whose user base exceeds the print circulation of The Washington Post.

Examples include Howard Forums; Gaia Online; and You’re The Man Now, Dog. It wasn’t always clear to me how “user base” is defined, and I’ve always been skeptical about measurement claims about millions of “unique users” for some sites. But in general this seems like a logical — or really a mathematically inevitable — development. And now it has a name.

Something to do in NYC

Tomorrow night, November 1:

Photographs from the New World, an exhibition of new work by James Deavin on view from November 1 – December 9, 2006, at jen bekman, located at 6 Spring Street, between Elizabeth and Bowery, New York, 10012. Photographs from the New World documents user-generated landscapes in the online, virtual world Second Life.

Jen Bekman will host an opening reception for the artist on Wednesday, November 1, from 6:00 – 8:00pm at the gallery.

I say check it out, even though Consumed is referred to as a “trendspotting” column in the press release. Ew.

Anyway, you may be sick of Second Life, but I’m not.

Packing Detail of the Day

This weekend I happened to need a long extension cord to do something outside. E picked up what I needed: One of those long, orange cords. You know the ones. I was amused to see that such an item is longer a “cord” — it is now a “Do It Yourself Cord.” So now I’m all DIY! I’m so on-trend!

Petra Cabot and the Skotch Kooler

Until reading her obituary yesterday, I had never heard of Petra Cabot, or the “Skotch Kooler.” Cabot invented this item, which she described as “the best-looking bucket anybody ever saw.”

The Skotch Kooler, copyrighted in 1952, was made by the Hamilton Metal Products Company of Hamilton, Ohio. It could keep ice cream firm for two to three hours without ice and was handy for a fishing trip: it kept groceries cold on the way to the lake and fish cold on the way back.

The container held four gallons and had three layers of insulation: one of fiberglass, one of inert air and a heat-reflecting outer surface. It was airtight and waterproof and, long before the practice was common, it carried the signature of its designer. (Knockoff versions, without the signature, were made as far away as Thailand.) The coolers are now popular collectibles.

In fact, the image above is something I swiped from an eBay listing. Looks a bit chavvy, doesn’t it?

One other note about Ms. Cabot from the obit: “From 1938 until 1950, she worked for the designer Russel Wright, who brought modernism to the American home with his inexpensive, mass-produced dinnerware, furniture, appliances and textiles.”


No Consumed column today; I was out. It’ll be back next week.

Flickr Interlude

Flickr photo by Mamish.

Potentially interesting books roundup

Then again, maybe they’re all terrible. But each is potentially interesting.

Leggings up… Sort of…

Who’s wearing leggings these days? And who isn’t? And why?

Entertaining answers offered in the Washington Post by Robin Givhan:

Leggings have been touted on must-have lists as one of the surest ways for a woman to announce that she is acutely aware of this season’s fashion trends. They identify her as someone who keeps track of hemlines and silhouettes, probably has at least one subscription to a fashion magazine and may have, upon occasion, even put her name on a waiting list for a particularly desirable handbag.

The fashion industry desperately needs this trend-conscious shopper — even as it mocks her….

The rest is here….

T Time

Clearly I’m still in catch-up mode. Here’s something else I meant to post earlier: At the Museum of Design Atlanta, a show opened recently called To A T: T-shirt Culture … Cute or Couture? Here’s something from an article about it:

With the wildfire growth of the D.I.Y. and affordable-art movements, T-shirts — already synonymous in American life with totemic expressions of selfhood in washable form — have now also become as symbolic to artists as to consumers. As the Wall Street Journal‘s Jamin Warren notes, the limited run of artist-designed shirts also gives them an exclusivity, that elusive “cool factor” that younger consumers treasure.

Laura Moody, a co-curator with SCAD-Atlanta of the MODA show, says the new “Art T” serves two markets: “With the rise of D.I.Y. designers and indie crafters creating limited-edition shirts, you probably won’t be caught wearing the same shirt as your neighbor. For the designer or artist, T-shirts offer an affordable medium for experimentation.”

In any case, we’re actually going to try to see this, maybe in January. I believe it closes January 13. If we go, I’ll report back….

Dept. of Hollow Pronouncements

“Everyone has the right to have great stuff.”

— John Remington, VP-Marketing, Target

Car parts

Also in the Journal is a story about the “outsider” running Fiat and apparently doing well so far. Part of his cost-cutting approach has been to lay off managers rather than close factories. The story says this guy maintains that: “Labor is only 6% to 7% of the cost of making a car.”

Is that right? It surprised me. Certainly the impression I’ve gotten from the restructuring tactics of the big U.S. automakers has been that labor-related costs are a huge problem. It’d be interesting to see a breakdown of those costs. How much is materials? How much is R&D? How much is marketing? How much is executive/management-related?

Race and races

Interesting bit in a WSJ story today about Tennessee’s Senate race, where Democratic candidate Harold Ford is doing well and may become the first black Southern senator since Reconstruction:

Tennessee has one of the lowest African-American populations in the South — about 16%. Logically, that should put African-American candidates at a disadvantage for statewide office because they can’t count on a massive bloc of votes to give them a head start in a statewide election. But political scientists say the reverse may be true: In states with smaller black populations, whites don’t feel as threatened and the state isn’t as polarized. For instance, African-Americans make up a very high percentage of Mississippi and Alabama — 36.5% and 26%, respectively — and black voters tend to vote Democrat while white voters go for Republicans. The “blacker” the state, the larger President Bush’s margin of victory in 2004.

Pleasing Things Roundup

I wasn’t familiar with Adam Neate before encountering this on the Wooster Collective site a few days ago. Clicking away, I really enjoyed the work. Apparently he’s got a show at Elms Lesters Painting Rooms, a London gallery that’s also shown KAWS, Dalek, and others of note. For those of us not in London, more of Neate’s stuff can be seen here.

Next up: I was looking at Drawn! The Illustration and Cartooning Blog, which is consistently interesting, and was struck by the above image. The artist is Esao Andrews, who I’d never heard of. Here’s his site. This was by far my favorite image, but some of the other stuff is cool, too.

And finally: A skateboard as a band-aid. By Thinkmo, via High Snobiety.

Only commune

A new social/community/etc. site called iLike has launched, notes iLounge. It’s another site where you create a profile and bond with others through consumption habits — in this case, music-consumption habits. “iLike will help you find new music based on what you and your friends like,” the site says, promising “a more democratic music industry,” and the slogan: “Music of the people, by the people, for me.”

I think it’s about time for a community-community site. You could go on and create a profile and share with your friends all your opinions about the other community sites you’re part of, and discover the cool new community sites that are enjoyed by other community site members who are just like you. The result would of course be the democratization of online community-ness. Community of the community, by the community. For you.