Steve Kulp

Archive for October, 2006|Monthly archive page

the white wonder

In technology, words on October 26, 2006 at 10:18 pm


Came across this great article by Michael Agger on Slate.com, questioning the almost mythical status the iPod has taken in our culture. Here’s a brief excerpt:

I’m willing to concede a lot to the iPod. People compose intricate playlists for morning runs, parties, and studying, something that a Walkman couldn’t do as well. The “shuffle” option can save you from a musical rut. Those boombox guys don’t seem to be around much anymore. The right song at the right moment can make you feel like a champion of the world. But we are all still sniffing the same old glue: Yanni, Bach, Pet Shop Boys, Sinatra, Iron Maiden, Young Jeezy. The iPod is not a paradigm shift; it’s simply music to our ears.

It’s an interesting point of view. We seem to be so enamored of the device that some of us tend to forget why we have the device in the first place—the music. Does iPod empower us to surround ourselves with new and interesting music, or simply enable us to keep listening to the same, god-forsaken old crap?

John Hodgman (aka PC)

In awesome, books on October 26, 2006 at 3:12 pm


Recognize this guy? His name is John Hodgman. You probably know him as PC from those ubiquitious Apple commercials that everyone loves to hate.

What some people ddon’t know about Mr. Hodgman is that he is also an author, podcaster, blogger and Daily Show contributor. His book, The Areas of My Expertise, is one of the funniest things I have come across in a while.

The book is an almanac, or rather a faux almanac, that collects all of Mr. Hodgman’s expertise in subjects he actually knows nothing at all about. Hodgman is authoritative and academic in the way that Stephen Colbert is unbiased and insightful. He isn’t. Topics include cryptozoology, cheese and an ongoing obsession with hobos. Oddly enough, one of the topics he covers in the text, the theory that squirrels are, in fact, furry lobsters, has been scientifically proven (sort of.)

Sound confusing? It isn’t. Just give it a read for yourself.

Or listen to this NPR interview.

Or, if you’re here in the Triangle, go see John Hodgman at The Regulator Bookshop on Friday, October 27th at 7pm.

a GOOD magazine

In awesome, design, news on October 23, 2006 at 8:52 am


There’s been some media coverage surrounding the launch of GOOD Magazine, but not nearly enough, as far as I’m concerned. I picked up the premiere issue the other day, and am thoroughly impressed.

In the pages of its first issue, GOOD takes on some big issues, the biggest being our collective love/hate affair with America. Great minds like James Surowiecki and Neal Pollack join in the debate, offering their unique perspective on what it means to be an American in this day and age. On a lighter note, GOOD also tells you how to buy a US senator, tracks the fame and fortune of Paris Hilton and introduces you to 8 individuals who are trying to change the world.

While other magazines take on similar subject manner, the beauty of GOOD is that is does so without being too abrasive or self-righteous. It may be a bit snarky at times, and even I can’t deny that it leans to the left a little. Such minor “faults” can’t diminish the importance of attempting to make its readers stop and think about what really matters.

Putting their money where their mouth is, GOOD has also pledged all of the proceeds from charter subscriptions to charity. Better yet, you get to choose the charity to which your $20 goes.

Jesus hates bloggers?

In rants, what the %&$#? on October 17, 2006 at 9:14 pm

I don’t want to dwell on this article too much, but as soon as I saw it, I knew I’d be blogging about it. Actually, I initially thought is was an Onion-type piece of satire, but it’s not that well written.

The Restored Church of God has decided that blogging and participating in online communities is sinful. In one way or another, they equate blogging with drug addiction, sexual promiscuity and bad grammar. Virtual communities, democratic governments and publicly-traded companies are all acts of collective vanity, each a denial of God and a sign of the end of days. I can see the headline now, “Second Life To Blame For Second Coming!”

My favorite line…”If you blog, are you sure you do not partially enjoy it because your carnal nature is inclined towards vanity?

I’m not sure who the author is, but in my mind, he looks and sounds alot like the John Lithgow character in Footloose.

Thanks to Jason Kottke for finding this in the first place.

inspi(red)

In awesome on October 13, 2006 at 10:24 am

In case you haven’t noticed, (PRODUCT) RED has launched in the US. (RED) is Bono’s initiative to raise money for the Global Fund, an initiative to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria worldwide. Here’s a CNN story on the campaign.

Here’s how it all works. Several companies, namely Gap, AmEx, Armani, Motorola, Converse and Apple, are offering special (RED) editions of their products. A part of the proceeds from the products goes back to the Global Fund. In the case of the (RED) iPod, the product is priced identically to all other comparable iPods at $199. If you purchase this iPod, rather than the blue one or the silver one, $10 goes to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. It’s that simple. The more we buy, the more we help.

The beauty of the concept is that it naturally leverages the power of the purchases we were probably going to make anyway. A new iPod? A pair of sneakers? Clothes at the Gap? Chances are, I was going to buy one or more of the above in the next few months. I’m sure this is true of most of us. Now, all we need to do is buy the right one. I mean, the (RED) one.

These products, and the sentiment behind them, give new meaning to the words “special edition”.

I can’t write this without giving credit to my friends at Modernista!, who worked so hard to bring this great idea to life and build the (RED) brand. Great work, as always.

et tu, dennis?

In rants, television, what the %&$#? on October 12, 2006 at 10:18 pm


I’m persistently annoyed by these financial planning commercials aimed at the baby-boomers. They’re so formulaic it makes me sick. Take some hippie imagery, pair it with the sixties track of your choice, add some voiceover about “redefining retirement”, and stir. They completely stereotype an entire generation. I can only wonder what they’ll be trying to woo me with when I turn 60. My money’s on Oasis’ Live Forever.

This Ameriprise/Dennis Hopper spot offers up a slightly new, but no less lame, variation on the theme.

Wait, the same Dennis Hopper who wrote and directed Easy Rider is now shilling for the man? No, it can’t be.

wood-tech

In awesome, design, news on October 12, 2006 at 9:41 pm

Images of Olympus’ prototype for a wood-bodied digital camera have been circulating for a while now. It’s such a great idea, taking something hard and cold and making it smooth and warm.

Olympus did something similar back in the nineties. Traditional 35mm cameras were all being designed as tech objects, even though it was obvious that digital cameras were the way of the future. Olympus bucked the trend by releasing the 35mm LT Series. The LT stands for “leather tech”. I own one. I never use it, but I do take it out and look at it once in a while. It’s a thing of beauty.

All of this remings me of a great post by account planner extraordinaire Russell Davies’ about how products are “designed to be new” and don’t age well. It used to be that things gained character and patina as the got old. Now, they just get old.

the handwriting is on the wall

In news, words on October 11, 2006 at 8:16 pm

It seems that keyboard culture has put a serious dent in the penmanship business, according to an interesting article in the Washington Post. Educators are starting to see a decline in student’s ability to write, literally. Of the 1.5 million students who took the 2006 SAT, only 15% chose to write the required essay portion in cursive. The rest were printed in block letters. Keep in mind that this is a timed test that (more or less) determines the trajectory of these students’ academic and professional futures. And they chose to write it the “slow way”?

I suppose I saw this article coming. I have been pretty much unable to write in anything except architecturally-correct block letters since about the age of 17. No cursive. No lowercase. Just bold, uppercase lettering. Four years of high school drafting, followed by four years in architectural school will do that to you.

Is this a problem? Is cursive necessary? Will we miss it?