January 28, 2011

hipster celebrities

my classmates started planning for a flashmob this week, and it reminded me of my favorite article ever written for harper's magazine. in "my crowd," bill wasik, the self-proclaimed inventor of the flashmob, describes the rise and decline of flashmobs as a cultural meme. in the essay, he reviews other cultural trends, and includes this beautiful 2-by-2 of hipster celebrities:

January 26, 2011

professional network map

i'm a huge data visualization buff, so linkedin's new mapping tool is making me giddy. it literally maps your social graph, creating a personalized infographic of your professional connections. in the tool, you can zoom in and see who each individual dot is, but i actually like looking at the macro view and trying to identify purely based on patterns. my buddy austin is pretty easy to spot. i also have no idea why stanford (orange) is so far away from everything else.

January 25, 2011

make it till you fake it

if you are what you eat, apparently, i'm a crunchlet.

last week, i read an interesting piece on NPR about the blueberries found in many cereal, breads, and other packaged snacks. they turn out to be not so blue...nor berries, actually. in fact, these sometimes creatively named "blueberry-flavored crunchlets" boast ingredients like oils, starches, sugars, and artificial coloring. here's a melodramatic video to hammer it home.

reminded me a lot of the impostors we faced when i worked at POM in los angeles. POM defied the fruit juice category by making its juices only with 100% pomegranate juice, unlike competitors who undercut on price by diluting their product with cheap grape juice and other fillers.

an even more disturbing, but perhaps less surprising, story surfaced on jezebel today condemning taco bell's ground beef filling. turns out actual meat makes up only 36% of my beloved hose meat -- so called because its appearance suggests dispensation via hose. the disturbing ingredient list included oat product, cocoa powder, and anti-caking agent. yum. (pun intended.)

i worked in food for many years, yet i'm still surprised by the lengths food manufacturers will go to drive down ingredient expenses. with increased cost pressure, they have every financial incentive to convert real food products into cheap fillers. it's a dangerous trend.

when i was in shanghai last month, a representative from LVMH railed on china as the "land of fakes," pointing out, among other things, the prevalence of fake food products. america has traditionally turned up its nose at the quality of chinese products vs. the supposedly high-standards of the US, but if our food industry doesn't shape up soon, we won't be able to rest on those laurels for much longer.

January 23, 2011

what i tell you three times is true

in summarizing the key messages from "the four hour work week," tim ferriss often talks about the importance  of identifying common problems brought to your desk and delegating their solutions. similarly, i've heard russell simmons say that the key to success is making yourself obsolete by delegating to "someone smarter than you." this same advice popped up again this week in a great post by my friend derek sivers. derek's post "delegate or die" is well-written, straightforward, and lays out some concrete steps for entrepreneurs and business owners. derek, tim, and russell are very different in person, with pretty divergent entrepreneurial experiences, but the fact that all of them are giving out this advice makes it worth paying attention to. derek's money quote:
To be a true business owner, make sure you could leave for a year, and when you came back, your business would be doing better than when you left.

January 14, 2011

social technology serendipity

naysayers like to bag on social technology, claiming that it doesn't actually create real world connections. i have a true story that begs to differ...

i've been (sort of) using path, a relatively new social network i've written about before. like my early days as a twitter user, i'm mostly a casual observer until i get a better sense for the platform. for those of you who haven't seen it, it's a twitter-like stream of real-time photos that people choose to share with up to 50 of their friends.

the other day, i was scrolling through my path stream and i saw that my friend shervin pishevar went to coffee with alexander ljung, founder of soundcloud. i don't know alexander, but i remember the photo standing out to me because he was wearing these cool looking glasses.

i noted the hip eyewear and went about my day.

fast forward several hours. i'm hustling to catch a caltrain to the city for one of nicole johnson's famous goodbrains dinners with many friends from summit series (incidentally, where i met shervin). my schedule encountered some complications related to a backpack and a robot (long story), so i had to take a later train than i was intending. as i was boarding the train and looking for a seat, i noticed a young guy sitting across the aisle from me wearing some cool glasses. he looked sort of like the guy from shervin's path photo. in fact, he looked so much like him that i whipped out my iphone, pulled open the path app, and looked at the photo again. jacket was the same. it was totally the same guy.

i slipped into the empty seat next to him and delivered the warning: "this is going to be the weirdest conversation you have today." i asked if he used path, and he said he was familiar with it. i flipped my phone around to show shervin's photo. "is this you?" i asked. he laughed. "yes! that's crazy!"

we chatted briefly and ended up connecting on facebook and twitter. despite the fact that we met somewhere between menlo park and redwood city, he actually lives in berlin. total serendipity. glad to have made a new connection with someone who seems like a neat dude -- he's got cool glasses at least.

two days later, i was on the caltrain again with a friend telling him this serendipity story. the guy sitting behind us happened to overhear, and it turns out, he knows alexander! and not even from the bay area -- they're old friends from the europe scene. too crazy.

January 11, 2011

latin dreamboat

so proud of my buddy gustavo galindo, who just announced today the release of "barco de papel," the second single off his much anticipated album "entre la ciudad y el mar." goose (as i call him) has performed everywhere from hollywood lounges to mexico's bicentenial, sharing the stage with stars like enrique iglesias. latina magazine, arguable authority on the topic, said gustavo galindo is the next juanes. he's talented, he's dreamy, and he's a damn good guy. check out the music video for his first single, "te perdi."