Linkpile (via Delicious)

Commodify your followers

followermugLike anything else that’s popular, Twitter has inspired plenty of physical and buyable things for those who wish to express their fandom for the service by way of products. One probably inevitable example: Tweet-based Threadless T’s.

But reader Kevin Dugan points out a more interesting twist: Twitter Mosaic. You type in your Twitter handle (or, it seems, anybody’s Twitter handle), and the site produces a “mosaic” of all your followers’ avatars, which you can then have printed onto a coffee mug, T-shirt, tote bag. (So if you use a photo of yourself as your avatar, someone you follow could put your mug on a mug.)

I suspect one of the great appeals of Twitter for many of its users is in fact racking up a high follower count, and seeing that pleasingly high number signaling to the world some notion of importance and/or influence (or “connection,” if you like). So converting that into an object that transports a version of that signal into the physical world makes a certain kind of sense.

Personally I’d prefer something that did the same with the Gallery of Default Anonymity.

[Previously: Consumed on Fail Whale + merch; Consumed on Threadless.]

Linkpile (via Delicious)

Linkpile (via Delicious)

  • 40,000 Insipid Party Pics Reveal Cause Of Dorm Fire: Citizen journalism in action! Very funny Onion video.
  • The Benefits of Distraction and Overstimulation: I found this too boring to get past the first page. Maybe I’ll read it later.
  • Dopamine myth: Commonly linked to pleasure. Here’s why that’s not really right.
  • Message in What We Buy, but Nobody’s Listening: A theme of Buying In. But this article is about someone else’s book. “The grand edifice of brand-name consumerism rests on the narcissistic fantasy that everyone else cares about what we buy. (It’s no accident that narcissistic teenagers are the most brand-obsessed consumers.) But who else even notices? Can you remember what your partner or your best friend was wearing the day before yesterday? Or what kind of watch your boss has?”
  • Danger Mouse Releases a $50 Blank CD: “To skirt the legal situation with the record label, it only comes with a blank CD.” (And a poster and booklet.) Buyers are encouraged to find the music ‘by whatever means’ and fill the disc up themselves.” And it’s limited edition! Yes.

Unconsumption update

The Unconsumption Tumblog: Still awesome.

And now: Beginnings of the unconsumption wiki. This is more oriented toward practical resources — links and tips for fixing it, making it last, repurposing it, getting rid of it responsibly. Whatever “it” may be.

Collaborators Tom Hosford, Andrew Whitelaw and I have made tentative first steps to rounding up & organizing such resources. But it’s a wiki, so it’s never too soon to say: HEY, get involved, chime in, add the resources and links that you know about. Here.

This will be exactly as useful as you can help us to make it. We value, appreciate, and need your input. Tell a friend, too.

Linkpile (via Delicious)

Immaterialism critiqued

Today the NYT has an item headlined “Virtual Goods May Be A Blip,” noting the sales of Facebook gifts and the like, and suggesting  that despite the surprising sales numbers, there are problems that may undermine growth in this category. “How fast do prices drop when such items are mass produced?” the item asks. “Companies will have to churn out different goods in limited editions just to keep users amused.”

And: “How long can a product with no real-world value stay useful? … There’s the chance that users will realize they’re paying something for nothing.”

All very rational — and like many rational analyses of consuemer behavior, almost certainlly inadequate. I’m not sure what to say about the “price drop” issue, since virtual goods are already incredibly cheap (and frequently “mass produced”), partly because production costs, as it were, are low.

On both the specific issue of variety and limited editions (already happpening) and the more general question of whether such goods have “real-world value” or represent “something for nothing,” see this April 29, 2009 Consumed.

Linkpile (via Delicious)

  • Andrew Keen: The Demise of Web 2.0: Entertaining video interview with Keen. I always enjoy this guy. Whether you agree with him or not, he’s a welcome antidote to the rah-rah gurus he opposes. Plus, unlike most of them, he actually has a sense of humor (albeit rough-edged).
  • Spending Money: “It’s worth pointing out that the steep decline in American savings rates coincided with lots of financial innovations that make it much easier for us to spend money.” That’s right. And none of them will be rolled back. Worth consideration when talking about thrift etc. trends in the long run.
  • Self-serve commercial licensing: Proposal for “a new kind of self-serve, lightweight “commercial commons” that would allow makers to do small-scale commercial manufacturing of goods that remix copyrights and trademarks, with no upfront payments, and a fixed royalty rate that lets the makerverse operate as a giant, well-compensated R&D lab.” While this could have been expressed a lot better, the underlying idea actually sounds pretty clever.
  • Peeved at Auto-Warranty Calls, a Web Posse Strikes Back: “Dozens of activists who have peppered the warranty company with messages including elevator music, threats and offers of rude services.” Activists? Is that the right word?
  • ‘Youth Magnet’ Cities Hit Midlife Crisis: “Few Jobs in Places Like Portland and Austin, but the Hipsters Just Keep on Coming”
  • Mercketing: Pharma giant published its own “scientific” journals.

In the New York Times Magazine: Lending Club

As Americans rethink the debt idea, peer-to-peer lending attracts interest

Debt, credit, lending — these are financial matters, to be evaluated empirically and mathematically. But that’s not all they are, especially lately. Value judgments about both personal and corporate borrowing and lending abound in this time of tight credit: who deserves to borrow and on what terms, who abused the idea of debt and why. As Margaret Atwood observes in “Payback,” her fascinating book about the meaning of debt: “Like air, it’s all around us, but we never think about it unless something goes wrong with the supply.”

The debt supply was abundant back in 2005, when Renaud Laplanche dreamed up Lending Club, now one of the best known of a batch of companies that have added Web-enabled “peer to peer” lending to the ways that individuals can borrow money….

Read the column in the May 17, 2009, New York Times Magazine, or here.

Discuss, make fun of, or praise this column to the skies at the Consumed Facebook page.

Linkpile (via Delicious)

Flickr Interlude

organization, originally uploaded by Diego Cupolo.

From a set titled Infinite Bushwick: “Green Village Used Furniture and Clothing – Bushwick, Brooklyn.”

[Join and contribute to the Murketing Flickr group]

To Do: Candela Structures Show


Learn all about these “cool little fiberglass structures out in Queens,” at The Candela Structures: A New York City History Mystery, opening at the City Reliquary this Saturday (opening reception: 7pm); on view at least until June 28th. More about this in The NYT today.

Linkpile (via Delicious)

  • An ethical proposal for Firefox’s popular ad-removal tool.: “Firefox’s ad-removal tool is its most popular add-on. Now its creator wants to let you use it ethically.”
  • Angry Ads Seek to Channel Consumer Outrage: “Campaigns that seek to channel the outrage, frustration and fear felt by consumers hit hard by what some are calling the Great Recession.” Wait, I thought the downturn was making us all pull together and feel good about what really matters. What happened to that?
  • Pod office: Actually putting this in your yard would be stupid. But there’s an art project ready to happen here.
  • Software to track our emotional outbursts: “We have come to rely on spell and grammar checkers to pull us up on poorly formed emails and documents. Perhaps we will also become dependent on word processors or email clients to warn you have hit the wrong note in an email complaining about an undelivered eBay purchase, or that a job application doesn’t make you sound intelligent enough.”
  • How the Wealthy are Spending Their Money This Year: ‘Very carefully. People are being wary of risk and waiting to buy; they’re even booking vacations closer to the wire to “get a good deal.” Still, a high percentage of respondents agreed — “A few luxuries are important in tough times.”‘
  • Banks, Reborn: Pix.
  • How the Recession May Change NYC: Evidence is dubious, but: “Could create a more neighborly, civic-minded city.” Basically volunteerism is up and crime is down. The former could simply be explained by free time. The latter doesn’t square easily with the relationship between crime and economically depressed cities. We’ll see.

Is there an app for that?

Actually I don’t care if it’s an app, a site, a widget, a service, whatever, as long as it’s free (or perhaps very, very inexpensive). But:

1. I am a fan of three sports teams: The Houston Astros, The Houston Rockets, and The New Orleans Saints. I would like to know when those teams’ games will be broadcast in my area (which is not Houston, or New Orleans), on whatever channel, on my specific cable setup. That’s all I want to know. I don’t want to comb through the teams’ sites to find out, I don’t want to read the listings on every possible station where a sporting event might be televised. I want regular updates, in advance of the broadcast.

Does this exist?

[UPDATE: I think I actually have an answer for this second one!, suggested in the comments, seems to do almost everything I wanted… ] 2. I use Netflix. Sometimes we watch movies quickly, sometimes they sit for weeks on end, gathering dust, next to the DVD player. I want something I can sync to my Netflix account that will tell me how much I am paying per movie — a running tab. I want, in effect, to be prodded: “Do you realize that you have now paid $30 to rent that documentary about The Weather Underground, and you still haven’t watched it?” I also want to be able to find out, easily, how much I’ve paid per rental, during whatever time horizon I choose. (The last month, the last six months, the last year, etc.)

Does this exist?

If so, please tell me!

If not … well, some of you are clever young entrepeneurial techie types — make ’em!

Linkpile (via Delicious)

  • Gallery of default anonymity: A work in progress: A link to my own site? Yes. The gallery has grown to 50+ and is awesome. So there.
  • The Magic of Mystery: Interesting essay addressing, among other things, the weird hunger for spoilers. “Lately I go to Amoeba Music in Hollywood just to watch people flip through albums. It’s a lost art.”
  • Happiness research & policy: Overview.
  • What’s Your Story? The Psychological Science of Life History Research: Fascinating overview, via Mind Hacks. “Life stories are based on biographical facts, but they go considerably beyond the facts as people selectively appropriate aspects of their experience and imaginatively construe both past and future to construct stories that make sense to them and to their audiences, that vivify and integrate life and make it more or less meaningful.”
  • Do professional movie critics evaluate films the same way as the rest of us?: Results seem obvious, but this is “one of the first studies to compare expert and lay opinion on films in a systematic way.”
  • It’s cheap — but can you swallow it?: Salon tests fast food “value” meals.
  • Quantified Stand-ins for Social Status: Those of you who came by my Blowing up the Brand chat should be interested in this: Interesting thoughts about measurability and social capital from Alice Marwick.
  • Thinking man’s filter: “The deeper question has to do with whether the mountains of data now available to us inhibits thought or enables it, or has no particular effect on the quality of thought.”
  • Irish student hoaxes world’s media with fake quote: Depressing. “The sociology major’s made-up quote — which he added to the Wikipedia page of Maurice Jarre hours after the French composer’s death March 28 — flew straight on to dozens of U.S. blogs and newspaper Web sites in Britain, Australia and India.”
  • Book about fan-films and the obsessives who make them: “Homemade Hollywood delves into the technique, meaning, and creativity behind fan films, showing how imitation can be original, and how great creative people get their starts copying the things they love. Young also explores the love/hate relationship copyright holders (especially big studios) have with the fans who knock off their goods.”