Thursday, November 17, 2005

Turn your blog into a book (and sell it)

So, you've been writing a blog for quite some time now. You are proud of some of your work. You are particularly proud of some of your old stuff, now burried deep in the archives never to be seen again. Who reads archives, after all? You don't want to repeat yourself over and over again, and have never felt at ease with constantly linking back to your old posts (I never had such qualms). So, what can you do to make your old stuff more accessible and available?

Well, now you can turn it into a book form - yup, the real, physical book - and sell it through your blog, as well as through all the regular online booksellers (e.g., Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's). And it is easy and fast these days to do so. Here, the guy who writes the Coyote Blog describes the entire process - it took him several hours of work and in two days he got his books in the mail.

Apparently, the best and cheapest place to go to publish a book is Lulu makes it easy for you by providing a ready-made template and tips on formatting, so the whole process appears really easy.

To get the people excited about this, they have now opened a contest - the Lulu Blooker Prize - for books that originated as blog posts, or what they call 'blooks'. As the blooks come in they get listed on the sidebar of the Lulu blog, so you can go and check them out, as well as keep track of the contest on the blog.

There will be prizes for three books, one in each category - fiction, non-fiction and comic strip. The best of those three will get $2000, the other two will get $1000 each. Not shabby for a poor blogger. You can learn more about the contest and see the rules if you are interested.

The judges are not associated with Lulu, but are respected bloggers themselves: Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing, Robin Miller who writes at a lot of places including Slashdot, and Paul Jones, the director of amazing Ibiblio. If you win, they'll write you blurbs for your book!

Well, they don't do pop-up books so I have no idea how can one deal with the links. After all, the link is the currency of the blogosphere (or ATP, if you are a biologist). Coyote Blog guy just copied and pasted, after very mild editing, all his posts from the first year of his blog and - voila - here's the book. But what can you do if your blogging style is profuse linking and building a network? I guess that is just not suitable for turning into book form.

I actually have a backup MSWord file of all my original/substantial posts from my blog (in chronological order, as opposed to blog-traditional reverse chronological order). I don't bother saving one-liners, copyrighted cartoons, linkfests and carnivals. Seeing this whole blook thing unveil, I looked at that file again. It is almost 800 pages long (OK, it's in New York Times 12pt, which can be and should be changed)!

All those posts, even the longest and most "mine", still contain bunches of links. Should I edit the links out, change the fonts (I just did - it is still about 600 pages in Palatino 9pt) and see if it looks like anything? I'd like to have a few hardcopies to send to people who are unable to read my blog (e.g, my mother), though I have no chance of winning a Blooker Prize when Washingtonienne and Belle du Jour have already submitted their stuff. There are so many much better writers than I am, and their blogs are so much more focused. My blog is just too ecclectic, as well as uneven over time, with ups and downs in quality - every reader would like some posts and hate, or be indifferent to, most of the others. Should I go ahead and do it? Would anyone be interested in it? After all, I am most proud of some of my oldest posts - the recent stuff is just so scattershot and scatterbrained.

Actually, what I will do, but not yet, is put together the "Clock Tutorial" posts from Circadiana and publish them as a textbook. I need to work on those much more, though. That may take another year of writing.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Poets For Dinner

Here's yet another way to use blogging as a means of promotion for you or your business. This one is called Poets For Dinner but I'm sure it could work for lots of other ideas as well.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Preventing Further Katrinae

New Orleans may well be dead. Surely 10s of thousands of people are dead, and surely more hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and ice storms are going to recur again and again. But what can you do?

Well, one thing that can be done is to share ideas, and develop yet others. But too often, ideas get pegged as left or right, liberal or conservative, republican or democrat, and so on. Knee-jerk reactions boil up, and before long there is as much incentive to prevent an idea as there is to promote one.

To get beyond all this, I think it is important to reach out to all people, around the world, and from all walks of life...sharing at least one thing. Ideas. Visions.

But wait! That is two things!

OK. Two things.

Thinking thusly, I have invited idea people and visionaries from around the world to join us here, and maybe share what they have learned, or ideas they may be developing. We hope they do join, and that they feel at home here.

And if they have wisdom to impart concerning Katrina and concomitant problems...this would be a windfall. Perhaps I should find a different metaphor...

- Dave Beckwith

Fellow Idea Consultant, Jude Nagurney-Camwell is guest blogger on John Edwards' One America Committee blog

Jude Nagurney-Camwell

Jude (Iddybud) will be the guest blogger on OneAmericaCommittee blog for the entire week.
Go and give her a comment or a shoutout. Jude's work has been seen on CNN, and other national broadcasts and publications, and is reputed to have an IQ of 190. I personally think it is a conservative estimate.

Creative Minds Worldwide/CIWI

CIWI homepage
Also check out SICU Synergy: SICU - Synergy Integrated - Connects the Unconnected, which is hosted by new Idea Consultant, Tom of Finland, who is also the mind behind Synergialaitos, and who, like me, is a big fan of Sibelius. (Finlandia is a staple in my piano repertoire.)

We have also been joined by Jan Karel Kleijn of Amsterdam (See IdeaBroker) and Henk Buist, now in Bulgaria. From our own shore comes Connecticut's Aldon Hynes, whose work I have enjoyed for years. Welcome all!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Houston Astrodome Concert and Job Incubator

Idea: Bring emergency clean-up experts into the Houston Astrodome to teach able-bodied men and women how to carefully and properly clean up after, say, hurricanes. Teach them also how to construct emergency shelters. Then bring them back to New Orleans and put them to work constructing their own (then others') shelter, from which they do what they were taught, radiating from their shelter.

For their efforts they will be compensated with work, money, food, water, and shelter. And as a bonus, will be given a free concert by A-list musicians.

Do it!

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Ideabroker features such visionaries as Peter Luiks, Jan Karel, Michael Pococky and others.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

More on Blog Carnivals

If you want to learn more about blog carnivals (in the context of the future of journalism) go here. It also contains a list of all extant and extinct carnivals - there's something for everybody.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Cooperative Advertising For Bloggers

Now for those of you who know what cooperative advertising is, then you know there’s nothing new about it. From the early 1900s until just a few years ago cooperative advertising ruled when it came to advertising for small businesses and while it does still exist, overt examples are getting harder to come by.

Now, for those of you who don’t know what cooperative advertising is, please let me explain: Cooperative advertising is when two businesses-- usually one very large business and one small business split the cost of advertising by advertising together. One of the most common examples were the soft drink signs on the front of curb markets and country stores that were once quite common all over the country. Often a small business couldn’t afford a sign of their own so a soft drink company like Pepsi or Doctor Pepper would sell them a sign at less than cost, that included not only the name of the store but the name of the soft drink as well. The small business got a sign for cheap and the soft drink company got themselves a building to advertise on. Occasionally, when competition was at it’s fiercest, the drink companies would give the signs to the store owners free of charge.

Stick with me now as I’m going somewhere with this.

Cooperative advertising is found in print, radio, and television as well on the walls of buildings and on billboards. AC-Delco (a division of General Motors) has entered into hundreds, perhaps thousands of cooperative radio spots with local auto parts dealers and back in the days when department stores were locally owned and operated it wasn’t uncommon to see newspaper ads pairing manufacturers of name brand products with the local department, appliance, and hardware stores.

The most common examples of cooperative advertising still in existence today are the heating and air-conditioning advertisements that pitch a manufacturer’s brand such as Trane or Carrier with the local dealers shown at the end of television commercials.

Like I said, I’m going somewhere with this.

What about double sided business cards for bloggers and small businesses? Take me for example: I pass out 200 business cards each week advertising my websites, and but the back side of my cards are blank. What if a business or nonprofit decided to furnish me with business cards with my websites on one side and their website on the other side? For starters I would probably pass out more than I do now as I can’t afford to print more than I do. Secondly, that business would get some of the cheapest advertisement any business can buy. And number three is the fact that business cards are often seen by far more people than just those people they were handed to. For me that means more readers come to my website and for the business that decided to pay for my our business cards-- more sales for less money.

If you’d like to know where to mail my business cards and what to put on my side, simply send an e-mail to idleblogs (at)

Oh, and another cheap advertising idea I’ve used for a couple of years at one of my other domains,, was to have my bank add my domain name to my personal checks in the lower right corner just above where my signature goes. The bank added it to my checks for free and there’s no advertising cheaper than free, right?

Got an idea for the Idea Consultants? Feel free to contact any of the Idea Consultants to discuss it and don’t forget to return to for more great ideas.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Biggest Picture Ideas

One of the great "idea consultants" of our era, IMHO, is Jared Diamond. I have read his latest book "Collapse" and posted a review here.

How to pitch an idea

Scott Berkun shares his ideas on the matter.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


I've yet to run out and buy one, but have no doubt I know of the huge popularity of the Apple I-Pod-- the portable music player from Apple Computer.

Anyway, that got me to thinking: people love their I-Pods, they carry them everywhere, even wear them while they're driving, but did you know it's against the law in most states to drive while wearing headphones or earphones?

So what if someone manufactured an in-dash I-Pod holder that ran the sound through those big car audio speakers instead of those tiny earphones. You could even design it so that it charged your I-Pod's battery while you drive. Imagine listening to your favorite mixes or pod casts while you drive?

Got an idea you'd like to see someone do, an invention you'd like to be able to buy? Send it to any of the Idea Consultants here at and we'll tell the world about it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Blog Carnivals And The Future Of Journalism

What is a blog carnival?

A blog carnival is a blog-post that contains links to posts on other blogs. How does that differ from a linkfest, or for that matter from most of the stuff that early blogs (and many blogs today) routinely did? In the early days of blogs, there was no original content - blogs WERE collections of links. How are carnivals different?

Yesterday I assembled the fifth edition of the monthly Meta-Carnival, a round-up of all known blog carnivals. I have previously archived my posts about blogging in the Category Blogging and posts specifically about carnivals in the Category Blog Carnivals, though I need to, now that my computer is OK again, update these two categories. Some of the posts archived there are longish musings on the role and meaning of carnivals so I urge you to go and read them. I have added another link, a repository of Meta-Carnivals here. Some other people also collect carnivals, most notably Ferdy The Conservative Cat who has developed the Universal Carnival Submission Form. Bigwig of Silflay Hraka, the inventor of the very first carnival (as well as the term "carnival"), used to collect them but has recently decided to just link to my latest edition of the Meta-Carnival.

Rounding the carnivals up every month, in addition to frequent hosting, sending entries and linking to new editions, gave me, I think, some insights into what makes a carnival and especially what makes a succesful carnival. I'll now attempt to systematize what I think I learned. I will repeatedly use analogies to hard-copy journalism and to physical spaces.

What makes a carnival successful?

In order to succeed, a blog carnival needs to: a) have a clearly stated purpose, b) appear with predictable regularity, c) rotate editors, d) have a homepage and archives, and e) have more than one person doing heavy lifting. Let me go over these one at a time.

A) Purpose. Several carnivals, particularly the older ones (e.g., Carnival of Vanities), are all-purpose "Best of..." blog-newspapers and magazines. Nothing wrong with it, of course. NY Times is an all-purpose newspaper and Time is an all-purpose magazine. However, nobody collects NY Times as a prized collection: once read, the issue gets recycled or used for lining the bird cage. Similarly, having a post on - or even hosting - such a carnival may bring you an avalanche of hits for a few days but is highly unlikely to bring you new regular readers. If you prefer a physical analogy, it is like going downtown or to a park when the weather is nice and bumping into a lot of nice people, yet it is unlikely that you will exchange e-mail addresses with any of them, or ever see them again. This was a chance encounter.

Contrast that to more narrowly focused carnivals (e.g., Grand Rounds for medicine and Nursing Moment for nursing). They are blog equivalents of specialty magazines or even technical journals. In physical space, they are analogous to political rallies, MeetUps, seminars, or even scientific conferences. These are the places to go when you are looking for people who share a specific interest with you. You are likely to exchange a lot of e-mail addresses because you want to stay in touch with such people. Sending an entry to a specialized carnival exposes you to bloggers who are inherently interested in your writing. Hosting one makes you even more visible (like giving a plenary lecture at a meeting) and after the temporary avalanche of hits subsides, you will realize you have acquired a number of new regular readers, bloggers who put you on their blogrolls and on their RSS feeds, who keep coming back and linking to your posts. This is how a community is built.

B) Regularity. It really does not matter how often a carnival is posted as long as it is posted at regular intervals. Blog Of The Day and Funny Stuff are dailies. Most carnivals are weeklies. Some carnivals appear every two (e.g., Tangled Bank and Smarter Thank I) or every three weeks (e.g., History), or once a month (e.g., Balkans), or even quarterly (e.g., Carnivalesque and Carnival of Bad History). More narrowly focused a carnival, and more expertise it requires from the bloggers who submit their entries, less frequently the carnival can appear and still retain a decent size and a high level of quality of posts. Carnivals with unpredictable schedules tend to be neglected as unreliable. Can you imagine a newspaper that sometimes shows up on news-stands and sometimes does not? Ferdy, for instance, does not link to carnivals that have irregular schedules. Do it right, or don't do it.

C) Rotation. The first blogs in history were link-fests. Content appeared later. So, if you publish a blog-post that contains a bunch of links to other blogs, how is that a carnival? How is that different from just any other blog-post that is full of links? Even if you give it a name, and a theme and very regular schedule, it is only YOUR post. It better be a very creative and unique service to the blogging community (e.g., Friday Ark) or else nobody will come.

Most carnivals rotate hosts. Every issue is hosted by someone different. Some carnivals have definite "homes", yet the carnival makes regular trips to other blogs for guest-hosting (e.g., Carnival of Education, or Carnival of Sin). Best Of Me Symphony is always on the same blog, but the editor is always somebody else (a guest-editor), and that carnival is always done very well textually and visually and has earned a reputation over time.

Carnivals that are always hosted on the same blog, always by the same editor, and are sometimes irregular in scheduling tend to die off. Add to that linking primarily to posts chosen by the editor (e.g., Blog Tower and Carnival of Insanities) and I would not call it a carnival any more, but a vanity press. It is just a link-rich post by that person on that person's blog - something we all do at least occasionally.

D) Homepage and Archives. Whenever I assemble an issue of the Meta-Carnival, it takes me a few minutes to update carnivals with homepages and hours to update the carnivals without homepages. In a sense I am a "professional" while doing this search, but how about "amateurs"? They'll find it even harder. Imagine a new blogger who first discovers a carnival and reads an issue #23 or so, and wants to check out previous issues. If there is a homepage (or home-blog-post) that contains the archives of all previous issues, it is a breeze. If there is no such thing, the task is extremely difficult, in some cases impossible. Now imagine 50 years from now, when there is an issue #2523. Imagine the immensity of the archives and its value to historians. Start your archives now, while it is still relatively easy to have everything organized. If mainstream media hides its archives behind subscripton wall, while carnivals keep well-organized archives for free, guess who will be more relevant in the future?

E) Community Effort. On my own blog, I am the King. So are you on yours. Why should I come to your blog and submit to your iron-fist rule? One reason why carnivals hosted by a single blog/editor do not have wide readership and tend to whither away is because of a lack of a sense of ownership by a broader community. All the points above, e.g., a sense of purpose, rotation of hosts, regularity/predictability, and the existence of a central place and archives, tend to foster the sense of community. People find each other through the carnivals and keep coming back for more. They see how entering a carnival leads to an increase of regular readership, and hosting one even more so. The originator of the carnival wisely fades into the shadows and lets the carnival take a life of its own.

Carnivals as the Glue of the Blogging Community

There are two ways blogs in general and carnivals in particular can foster community. One is to introduce to each other people from all over the world who are interested in the same topic. I have written at length about this process, with a particular example of how blogging is going to change the future of science. In a sense, that is what one tends to think of first about the benefits of the Internet in general. If you have access to the Web, it does not matter who you are or where you are - you are an equal participant in the global endeavor, whatever that may be. If you like cats, you will meet other cat-lovers from all around the world at the Carnival of Cats.

The second way blogs foster community is on a local level - meeting people locally. This is particularly relevant for political organizing, and to some extent for doing business locally, but meeting local bloggers with similar hobbies and interests (or even dating!) is just around the corner. Geographically delineated carnivals help people in finding each other. So far, carnivals of Indian, Asian, Iraqi and Afghan, British, Canadian (separated into Lefty and Righty) and Balkan bloggers have been doing well. While Blogger, Google and Techorati estimate that there are about 10 million blogs worldwide, with thousands being started every day, I have heard recently that there are additional 10 million bloggers in China! I am assuming they developed their own software and are thus invisible to our search engines. However, those are still large land areas to cover. More recently, two even more narrowly local carnivals appeared (I guess a certain critical mass of bloggers needed to be attained first): North Carolina bloggers and Montana bloggers. These carnivals serve as virtual MeetUps, and often lead to real-life meetups as well as community action.

Lefty and Righty Carnivals

Why does it appear that conservative bloggers are dominating carnivals? It could be due to chance, or perhaps there is a reason, or perhaps this is just an illusion. Is it the greater connectivity of conservatives? Is it the greater individualism of liberals?

Let's look at it historically. The very first carnival, Carnival Of Vanities, was started by a conservative blogger and attracted primarily other conservative bloggers. How many liberals regularly read Silflay Hraka after all? So, this was natural.

For about a year, this was the only existing carnival. During this time, many conservatives got aquanted with the idea of a carnival and soon started a few new ones (e.g., Bonfire Of Vanities, Carnival of Capitalists, Blog Mela, and SEVERAL! Christian carnivals), while most liberals have still never heard of the concept. Another year passed. Once new carnivals got started around topics that have nothing to do with one's political persuasion, e.g., medicine (Grand Rounds), science (Tangled Bank), history, or philosophy, the liberal bloggers got gradually introduced to the concept.

Last year saw an explosion of new carnivals. Every month I have to add a few new ones to the Meta-Carnival (while also reporting on the demise of some). Is there a Liberal Carnival as an equivalent to and balance to the Carnival of Vanities? No. An early attempt was Blog Tower, but it violated all of the rules (A through E above) of successful carnivals and I doubt it will recover. A few weeks ago, the idea was broached on Crooked Timber (and a cool name - Speaker's Corner - was suggested), but nothing came out of it due to, I suspect, a conflict between the wish of Timberites to make it a Crooked-Timber-kind-of-thing, and the wish of others to have it community-run. Recently, a new (and excellent!) Carnival of Un-Capitalists was founded with an explicit purpose to counter the Carnival of Capitalists, i.e., to put together best posts about economic issues from a Progressive perspective. Canadian Liberals have the Cavalcade Of The Canucks, as a counterbalance to the Canadian Right wing's The Red Ensign.

Some recent carnivals are dominated by liberals, even though politics is not important for the topic. For instance, Carnival of the Godless, Skeptic's Circle, Carnival of Bad History and Tangled Bank tend to attract the folks from the reality-based community who are largely liberal. Carnivals of the Balkan bloggers and Montana bloggers are liberal due to chance: their founders are liberal and the first entries were naturally from other liberal blogs. Some other carnivals are pretty evenly balanced, e.g., carnivals of history, philosophy, kids, education, and Tar Heel Tavern (NC bloggers) are consciously kept politically balanced. Thus, while MSM may be perceived as liberal by the Right, and perceived as spineless sellouts to the Bush regime's propaganda machine by the Left, the carnivals, all in all, are pretty balanced. There is a complete range of opinions voiced from one extreme, through the moderate middle, to the other extreme.

I think that the New York Times of the Lefty blogosphere is DailyKos! Every year Markos Moulitzas gets irate when people nominate DailyKos for Koufax Awards in the category of "group blogs". He loudly proclaims that it is HIS blog. But, it is not. Not any more. Ever since he enabled Diaries, Kos has lost control of his blog. I personally almost never read the posts by Markos. I rarely ever go to the front page. But I go there often and read the Diaries. DailyKos has grown into the biggest and best carnival online today. It is the Carnival Of Record in a sense that NYTimes is a Newspaper of Record. Likewise, in comparison to DailyKos, Carnival of Vanities is like Washington Times: the main Righty outlet, but far from the influence of NYTimes.

Carnivals as Journalism

Blogs themselves, no matter what is written on them, are often thought of as "new journalism", a bottom-up kind of journalism that will complement (and keep on their toes) the better-funded top-down journalism of the MSM. With 10 million Chinese blogs and another 10 million blogs around the rest of the world, and the numbers rising fast, the amount of material on blogs is overwhelming. Daily news aggregators (like and other blog aggregators are worthy attempts at sifting through the mass and concentrating worthy information in one place. Blog-specific search-engines, like Technorati (and the invention of Tags), is another attempt to organize the enormous amount of blog-generated information.

I have a hunch that in the future it will be the blog carnivals that will emerge as the online equivalents of hard-copy media. Carnivals organized around strong concepts, published on rigorous schedules, well-archived, and community-run will outlive their mushy competitors and become the online equivalents of not just TIME magazine, but also GQ, Vogue, Parenting, National Geographic, People, and, why not, Science and Nature.

Carnivals are still new and young. Most people are trying to be nice to each other. Hosts/editors are usually quite happy to publish links to every entry they get. However, this is already starting to change. With an increased popularity of carnivals and number of entries, the editors are starting to, well, editorialize. Recently, a host of the Carnival of Vanities, Dr.Zen, quite rightfully and forcefully slammed some shallow ideological pieces submitted to the carnival, resulting in quite a discontent in the conservative blog circles. Even more recently, an editor of Skeptic's Circle published but strongly criticized one of the entries, leading to an excellent discussion in the comments. The Modulator, host of the Friday Ark has very strict rules about what is accepted: only posts that contain photographs of extant animals. However, he still publishes the links to posts that are not accepted (e.g., fossils, drawings, plants, bacteria, etc.) in a separate "chapter" of the carnival. I have hosted nine carnivals so far an once I decided to not include and entry that was a pure piece of political propaganda, chockfull of erroneous "facts" and much misleading language. I never mentioned that I did it. It was my editorial prerogative to chose what not to include in the carnival. I assume that other hosts have done the same over time.

What I was trying to do with the previous paragraph was to illustrate that many carnivals are now in the process of leaving the initial phase of sweet-tempered grab-bags of whatever people submit, and entering a phase where editors are starting to pay attention to quality. The "rules" of submission are being tightened. Entries are being denied. Editors are starting to editorialize. The comments are not just "good job on hosting the carnival, Bob!" but actual discussions of the pieces presented in the carnival. The carnivals are now well on the road to becoming real journals, but, importantly, they will ALWAYS remain bottom-up community-run journals, and that is what is going to revolutionize the world of journalism.

(cross-posted on Science And Politics)

Monday, May 30, 2005

Making Money On Your Blog

I just posted at my own site a story on making money on your blog. I didn't want the idea to be posted twice, so here's the link. I felt it needed to be shared and is a different angle on making money blogging.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sticky Content= More Business

“What’s sticky content?” you ask.

Sticky content is something you publish for free that others are allowed to place on their websites in order to drive more traffic to their website as well as yours. Sticky content is sometimes used in print media as well.

Let’s say you own an automobile repair shop and need more business. You could advertise in your local newspaper but ads cost money and you’re broke so what do you do? Well it just so happens that many newspapers (especially the free weeklies) need content but don’t have enough cash to pay writers. Why not write an entertaining column each week about cars and car repair and offer your column to the local paper for free? Just make sure you get a byline that reads something like, “Monkey Wrench is the owner of Clunker Auto Repair on 4th and Main Streets in downtown Clunkersville.”

Same thing works for other businesses as well.

You see, each column you write for free ends with a short advertisement (byline) for your garage. In a matter of weeks or months you’ll have customers lined-up to get their cars repaired just like those Click and Clack Brothers on NPR.

If you own a website or write a blog there’s already lots of sticky content available, everything from joke of the day features, cartoons, this day in history, and lots more. Most require that you add a bit of .html or java code but once added they update themselves automatically. For some sticky content you’ll have to pay, but most of it is free as the code you install on your site includes a link back to the site where it originates. Some providers of sticky content will even link back to those persons who use their sticky content.

I have several pages of sticky content at and if I find something I really like I wouldn’t object to adding more. (Any ideas?) Not only does it keep my readers coming back each day, but it’s great for driving search engine traffic to your website or blog. You see, search engines love sites with lots of constantly updated pages of content that changes from day to day. The more often you update your website the more often the robots spider your site and the more often they spider your site the higher your ranking gets. Google now spiders my blog on a daily basis.

If you’re able to create sticky content for others to use then I’d suggest you do that as well. If I understood coding I’d be doing it already. An example of sticky content found right here at is the Scripting News RSS reader on the right. Scripting News provides us with sticky content via RSS and we gain readership due to increased search engine placement and Scripting News gains readers via the links back to their blog.

By the way: Group blogging and guest blogging are a sort of sticky content as well.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Evolutionary Origins of the Weblog

The weblog -- far from being a mere fad -- is a technological expression of our evolutionary heritage.

“Blogs haven't displaced media, US study finds”, reads the latest Reuters headline about blogs. This headline is part of a sudden blog-bashing trend which I predicted would occur two weeks ago[1]. The article’s headline reeks of typical MSM anti-blog bias. Even the word, “displaced”, means literally: “to remove from the usual or proper place.” As expected, the actual truth is buried in the middle of the article:

“The study dispels the notion that blogs are replacing traditional media as the public's primary source of information, said Michael Cornfield, a senior research consultant at Pew.”

The refuted notion, of course, was not held by any credible observer of the media&blogosphere. Nevertheless, Reuters set the record straight: Anyone who claims, "blogs have replaced radio, TV, and print as the public’s primary source of information" is a liar. Personally, I don't really call that newsworthy -- that is unless you're a reporter for The Villiage of Idiots Dispatch.

Now, what is newsworthy is the recent decision of a few news organizations([cough]…the NYTimes) to voluntarily fade into irrelevence. Through out history, its always been like this: some adopt the new, others bury themselves with the old. Whether the established media likes it, or not, it’s a forgone conclusion that blogs are a highly disruptive development. However, lately some members of the press have showed a newfound love of writing them off both foolishly, and with ironic confidence. For example, the notion that blogs are a “fad”, the new “pet rock” as one dinosaur put it. I refuse to give their arguments (if that's what you call them) much attention. If they bothered to think, they might realize that the forces fueling the rise of the weblog are anything but fashion trends.

The nourishing roots of the blogosphere are older than the very cave paintings which signified the birth of media. Our expanding web of conversations, and connections is providing a large and constantly growing percentage of our population with something that humans have always sought: knowledge of our world and environment; to be heard; to converse… To say that the blog is a fad is to say that conversations and the formation of communities is a fad.

The blogosphere’s size and influence is expanding rapidly. The ever so self-centered MSM attributes the success of weblogs to Dean, Rathergate, and mob that lynched Eason Jordon. The shortsightedness of their explanation is consistent with their world view. MSM’s motivation is primarily economic and profit driven. It is difficult for them to move past questions such as, “how do bloggers make money”, or delusions such as “we still have most of the audience(read ad revenue), so blogs are dead; we survived”. This narrow view misses the true force that is driving the rise of the blogosphere.

The MSM is sustained through legal safeguards, readers and watchers who have no where else to turn, and revenue from ads. In contrast, the blogosphere’s growth is sustained by our natural desire for social belonging; to find meaning through cooperation towards common goals. Look at those two models again. Which is more likely to outlive the other?

Human beings emerged 150,000 years ago as a physically weak, and fragile species; just one of many bi-pedal monkeys with big heads. Yet we survived, and flourished by evolving a unique set of common social algorithms based on cooperation, community, and communication. As humanity begins the 21st century, it faces unprecedented peril. Overpopulation, global warming, disappearing resources, plagues, nuclear weapons, and natural disasters all threaten the foundations of our fragile, so-called “global civilization.” Our governments, religious institutions, and traditional sources of information are incapable of averting the impending nightmares of the late 21st century.

But there is hope for us, and perhaps it is hidden in this beautiful thought: The blog -- far from a technological fad -- is in fact a technological expression of our evolutionary heritage.

If that is too outlandish of a thought for your seasoned mind, than be my guest and accept MSM’s version: Blogs get you fired, they are not credible, and MSM is still in charge. Go back to bed little blogger, rest well baby audience member, we’ve got everything taken care of. The couch is your friend.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Dave Beckwith's "Idea Management" comes of age

Information Week and more on "Idea Management"

A few years ago, Information Week called me on the phone and asked me to tell him about Idea Management, since they had ascertained that I have coined the term, and had the first website on the topic. I told him I really hadn't done much with it other than create the website, which wasn't what he wanted to hear. So sorry Charlie!

Here is an article they wrote about it. Not sure if it was the one I was to be involved in.

It is amusing to see how it has grown, and now I think I will take up the reins and get back into it. First I want to see what others are doing with it.

In May, years ago this month, this article surfaced:

A Proposal for Web Idea Management
by Alexei Falaleev

in which the author has the following couple of paragraphs:

The term "idea management" is a little idea itself, as well as a unique word pattern that is searchable after the idea of the term appeared. I tried Altavista to check whether I was first to find it, and alas, I found that "Idea Management is a term that was coined ... by Dave Beckwith". I spent just a minute for the checking. That is the way it should be for a huge amount of little and large ideas identifiable by word patterns.

The first idea banks and idea searching tools have already appeared on the Web. They are easily searchable, so I am not going to describe them here just to show my competence. As a start point for surfing, I could recommend
Idea Management.

It's mine! It's mine I tell you! And I want it back, as well as all of the profits made from it!
Gimme gimme!

Aw...what the heck. Keep your money. I have enough.

Looking over the old site, which I haven't touched in years, I notice that the original Idea Consultants site is linked...although it no longer works, since I turned over Charlotte Internet to Mr. Scott Huffman, the president of Webkorner Internet Services, and good friend. Since he is an ISP, I figured a domain named Charlotte Internet would better serve his ends than mine...although I used it, and still use parts of it, as a place to hold certain things, such as the Morningside website.

Here is the original Idea Consultants website's projects page, as found on the Wayback Machine. You will notice a number of very good domains, all of which we owned...we being me, Darryl, and Woody. Arcturus, however was not ours, but a friend in Hawaii.

These, however, were ours:
Birdfinger, GeniusSearch, INeedSpeed,
CharlotteInternet, Enviropress, EarMusic,
TradeStreetJournal, Brainchild Press, iBMW,
IdeaManagement, SeersCatalog, ShadeWear, GrowLife,
TheHomeLoaner, MajorAdvances, SexyJets, FloodMoney,
UpperClassifieds, GreenModerate, HighTextiles, WritersCafe,
YouthInternational, HDcableTV, OutreLimits, FutureGoods,
TheFirstTrillionaire, People'sEmpire, VirtualBohemia,PeaceGoods,
UnitedStatesOfEarth, eBiz Incubator, GiftEconomy, GreenWitchVillage,
TofuChicken, FreeSouth, 4-MD, LoanLow,
RVking, GoToDo, PeaceFutures, Sharevenue,
InfoMinutes, CharityBrokers, a1Eats, and BandwidthRX.

Most have now lapsed, and one I was offered 750,000 dollars for...and turned it down. Stupid is as stupid does.

Idea Management Resource Center

InnovationTools - Idea Management Resource Center

Idea management is the practice of gathering and evaluating ideas in a structured fashion, with a goal of selecting the best ideas with the greatest bottom-line potential for implementation.

This Idea Management Resource Center will help you to learn more about idea management -- what it is, how it can benefit your company, and the amazing new idea management systems that can help your organization to cost-effectively leverage the creative ideas of all of your employees.

KMWorld Magazine - Once and future KM

Knowledge Management

Sunday, May 15, 2005

How to act like a millionaire

I often chuckle at the young professionals going around driving leased BMWs, talking on their three hundred dollar cell phones and their five hundred dollar suits. They often have to have the late trendy fad and run out to purchase it at top dollar thinking that every millionaire out there acts similarly.

They flash clothing with brand names plastered all over them thinking that's the way of the money. Little do they know:

Turns out millionaires save their money instead of spend it, focus on their goals, and take calculated risks. (Interesting tidbit regarding the risk part: “a majority of male millionaire entrepreneurs had been in trouble with school authorities or the police during their adolescence.”)
Little something that my father told me long ago. People that have money, dress in clothing that don't have the labels on the outside. People that don't, have it plastered to act like they have money. Interesting isn't it.

Via LifeHacker

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Next Killer App

An article in Smithsonian Magazine last year on the invention of the photocopier and the affect it had on offices around the world got me thinking about what truly new inventions or gadgets have had that kind of impact on the white collar workplace since I entered the workforce in 1982. One might think about the personal computer, but frankly there's little being done on PCs today (productive work, at least) that wasn't being done or couldn't be done on a mainframe or midrange server from a dumb terminal. Certainly e-mail in and of itself has created revolutionary changes in how people do their jobs in day-to-day business and if PCs in general have created more of an evolutionary rather than revolutionary change, the mobility revolution of laptops, cellphones, Blackberries, PDAs and wireless technology have in fact created massive changes in where we work and when we work (and unfortunately shrunk dramatically the time that we DON'T work).

But there's another technology out there that has quietly become one of the most used tools in office life, one that has the potential to become the next "killer app" yet one that seems to get little acknowledgement and is provided mostly for free. That, my friends, is instant messaging. In the global workplace that I'm a part of, IM systems have become an essential tool in getting work done. E-mails are great for long messages, for creating a virtual paper trail, for sending attachments - we can't live without it. Phone calls and voice mail are vital as well, but during a normal business day, I'm successful in actually completing a call only about 20-25% of the time - usually the person I want to talk to is on a conference call or on the phone to someone else or they're not answering the phone because they're trying to wrap up that memo they've been working on for 45 minutes and they know an interruption will cause them to lose their train of thought when they're almost, almost done. But instant messaging is somewhere in between - you get a message that pops up like a telephone ring, but it'll sit there patiently until you finish your memo and unlike a ringing telephone, it won't care if you're already having two or three or four other IM conversations. It's a multi-taskers dream! I rarely call someone anymore without "pinging" them first on IM to see if they're available. (I may have to follow up this post with one on the origin of the term "ping" and its implication that we're turning into little network droids instead of people, but I digress.) And it's not just the IT outsourcing company that I work for - I've seen the same in every customer of ours that I've dealt with as well as every vendor and partner that we deal with.

So the industry should be making a killing on this, right? Right? /* crickets chirping */

Kids, most of us are using this service for absolutely nothing. We're using AOL Instant Messenger or MSN Messenger or Yahoo or some other service and we're paying nada for it. This is a tool that was basically developed as far as I can tell as an attractant to get young people interested in whatever Internet service was offering it and has now been adopted (not without some reservations) by the office world. I suspect the providers are struggling with finding a way to differentiate between consumer users and corporate users in order to charge the one and not the other, but I suspect that's difficult to do. I believe they do offer to put servers in-house for a fee to keep data secure inside a company's firewall (Lotus Sametime is usually implemented this way and I know we pay for it, but it only helps with internal communications), but that only really works if you have little or no contact with companies outside yours and that happens more and more infrequently these days. What's it going to take for someone to really make money at this?

Maybe looking at a couple of the drawbacks would help. First of all, there are too damn many of them. Between messaging my co-workers and messaging my customers, I am usually logged in to AIM, MSN Mess and Lotus Sametime. I should probably be logged into Yahoo as well. Truth be told, I can look at those three systems and find most people I work with on at least a weekly basis show up in at least 2 of the 3. Sure there are clients like Trillian and Miranda that try to support some or all of the different systems, but it is in the best interest of the AOLs and Microsofts to make that difficult and they do - I've found none of those products satisfactory. Another problem that seems to generate little thought but scares the heck out of me is the fact that companies are using these tools more and more to get decision-making information in real time to the right people at the right time. Nothing wrong with that - one of the real benefits of the tools, as a matter of fact. But it means that the quick message from a sales guy to the person back at the home office of "did we quote $300K or $3M to ACME?" is answered across the Internet with only the security provided by the service provider on a system that was really set up to allow teenage girls to chat about how cute that new boy in their history class is. Or at least I think that's the case and that itself is maybe a little bit of a problem as well - I understand the secure and insecure aspects of the computer networks I use at work and of e-mail and of wireless. I'm not so sure I do understand those same aspects of a technology that I not only use every day - I depend on it.

So, there ya go, smart guys. Here's a technology that we're not only using for free - we're coming to absolutely depend on it. I think there's enormous potential for someone to develop a product that allows for secure controlled IMing across companies - gimme something with the security of an in-house-run Sametime, the functionality of an AIM or MSN Messenger and a universal interface that will talk to the other major IM systems and I'm betting that it'll sell. Big.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Not Just an Alliance, An Organization

There are a lot of bloggers forming groups on the net. Alliances, so to speak. The foremost question I still here is about our credibility and our responsibility. Lets look into this and then I'll pose a challenge to the blogisphere.

Are bloggers credible? Are bloggers responsible? Well, a major part of the blogisphere is. Of course, there is always the "I stubbed my toe today, let me know what you think" guy out there. I feel the majority of bloggers are trying to convey the truth about what there topic is. The mainstream media is covering blogs. We are on CNN, MSNBC, the local papers and local TV reports. We are getting White House press passes, and I'm not speaking of Jeff Gannon. We are a self-policing community, that is quick to strike down fallacies and falsehoods. "We will fact check your ass", I have heard time and again. There are times when we too get bad info. There is always the opportunity to correct our work and right a wrong, and that usually happens quickly in our community. After all, if you were to publish incorrect facts, that deface an individual or their integrity and caused them damage of any sort, you are just as liable as the New York Times. That's right folks, you are responsible for liable and slander. Credible, depends on the material. Responsible, you have to be. I like to follow the ethics guidelines supplied by I highly recommend them to all. A bloggers credibility is based on their material. If it is credible, factual and offers insight into a specific subject, then by all means yes. If it is OP-ED stuff then that's what it is.

Here is my idea and challenge to the blogisphere: Enough alliances. The Associated Press is a news force. Reuters is a news force. Why can't we have a similar news force. The Associated Bloggers Press? I challenge us to start one. We are credible and responsible. If we are supplying content to the mainstream media, we should be compensated. Shouldn't we? Yes, it requires money and connections. Most of all it requires that we all band together as a community and start valuing what we do.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Okay, So I'm Showing My Taste In Music, So What?

A boom away, a boom away, a boom away, a boom a way, a boom away, a boom away, a boom a way, a boom away. In the jungle, the concrete jungle, the boom box roars tonight. In the village, the quiet village, the boom box brings us fright. A boom away, a boom away, a boom...

Okay, so my parody of In The Jungle will probably never be a hit song, but if you spend your days and nights being awaken, annoyed, or otherwise disturbed by jerks playing their music way too loud then the Boom Away just might be an invention you’d love to see made available to the public. If you lived where I live then I'm sure you'd understand how annoying it is when your computer monitor starts shaking its way off the top of your desk.

Of course, what I’m talking about is an electronic device that would temporarily disable the radios of people who play them too loudly. Imagine not being awaken at 2AM by the sound of a car stereo going boom, boom, boom, and rattling every window in your house. Think how nice it would be if your car radio was the only car radio you could hear while waiting for the traffic light to turn green.

Maybe it could be something like the TV B Gone-- the device that turns off almost any television anywhere. Hey, maybe we should tell the TV B Gone folks about it? Naw, let them read it at just like everyone else.

Hey, maybe you could use my song parody in the advertising campaign? I’m sure we can work out a deal. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll go update my BMI membership ASCAP.

Want us to feature your idea at Or maybe you’ve built it and want to tell the world about it first? Maybe you’re working on an idea and would like to find someone to collaborate with you? Send it to anyone on the Idea Consultants team and we’ll consider it. And if you’ve got a blog or website we’ll link back when we post your idea to the world. bringing ideas to the world as quickly as our stubby little fingers can type.

CSS Examples

Play with CSS on this site, which allows you to see changes as you make them. Not a bad learning tool for those interested in CSS.

Blogger Help : Blogging Your Novel (Part One)

Biz Stone

Introducing NaNoBlogMo...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Chipping Away At National Public Radio

Are you sick and tired of the pledge drives on your local NPR (National Public Radio) stations?

If you’re a fan of NPR (and most bloggers are) then I know you’ve endured your share of the dreaded pledge drives. To give credit where credit is due, the folks who run the pledge drives really do a great job but how can grown people begging for mine and your hard earned money not get to be a little over the top from time to time?

Here’s an idea I got from listening to an on-the-air caller to one North Carolina, NPR station:

Someone needs to design a computer chip that could be installed in radios that would allow those listeners who have already contributed to only listen to the regular programming without having to listen to the pledge drives. Give the volunteer folks at NPR your credit card number, tell them how much you wish to contribute, and as soon as they key in your info your radio switches back to your favorite NPR show-- without all the begging.

Now for those of you who are in the know, I know there is no way this can work-- yet. You see, our radios are for the most part, analog, but more and more radio is changing to digital everyday and such a chip and/or program could be designed to work with digital programming. In a few years digital stations and digital radios will be standard equipment everywhere you happen to be. Many NPR stations have already started broadcasting dual signals so they can get on satellite radio channels so it’s only a matter of time before all radio becomes digital. If you could design the necessary chips and/or programming then you would be ahead of the game.

Hey, maybe the satellite radio people could use this same feature to help in their billing.

And don’t forget, television is going digital as well. Can you say, “Public Television chip?”

Got an idea? Want to share it? Is there something you wish someone would do, invent, or sell that would make your life easier? If you’d like to share your idea then send it to idlehandsmag (at) and maybe the world will soon know about it. If you’re a blogger and want a link back simply include your URL in your e-mail and we’ll be happy to link to you when we post your ideas.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Business Branding

Some tips on marketing the ideas of branding. Too often, many small businesses adopt a name that ties themselves to the very first product line that they sold. But history shows that successful businesses that depend on branding have names that were unique and general.

For example: Nike sells sporting goods, and shoes before that. The name itself stems from the Greek goddess of "victory". Tieing the products (shoes) to the goddess was their greatest achievement. Thus, now you wear "Nikes".

In the same example, you would never expect Nike to succeed if they were called "Sporting shoes Inc". It just wouldn't pan out. Even if it did, the title itself doesn't allow the store to expand in the future since the brand name is already sold as a "shoe store".

This is a problem that if small businesses promoted for themselves, they would have a better time trying to market their product lines. With a good product line and a successfully marketed name, you could perhaps become the next Google, Inc..

Monday, May 02, 2005

May 2 - Dave Winer Day

Idea Consultants would like to consider May 2...Dave Winer Day in honor of the gentleman who made much of our fascinating lives possible, through his tireless efforts and inventions.

Happy Birthday, Dave! Nice to know there are other demicenturians hovering about.

4-Peds, Are They For You?

Are you looking for an idea whose time is now?

With gasoline going for $2.20 or so a gallon here in North Carolina and higher in most states, a lot of us are looking at ways to save a few dollars at the pumps. Mass-transit is the answer for some but in states like North Carolina where mass-transit is rare, often hard to use, and rarely goes where you need to go, that may not be such a good option. Besides, have you ever lugged 5 bags of groceries onto a city bus? Maybe it’s a hybrid car you need, but with year long waiting lists and car payments that many of us simply can’t afford, a new car may be out of the picture. If so, then 4-Peds may just be the idea you’re looking for. Okay, I know you’re asking, “What the bleep is a 4-Ped?”

If you’re thinking a Moped with four wheels you’re getting close-- very close-- but let’s think outside the box, shall we? (I know, it’s cliche but the analogy works, okay?) A Moped is a hybrid-cross between a bicycle and a motorcycle-- a device that is powered by an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) but also peddled when necessary to crank the engine or boost the power of the tiny 2-Stroke engine when pulling a hill or accelerating. Most hybrid cars and most Mopeds get about 60 miles per gallon but my younger brother’s 1964 Opal Cadet station wagon got 60 MPG and it had a heater-- there’s got to be a better way. Besides, little brother totaled his Opal when it crashed into a ditch in Slidel, Louisiana about 30 years ago.

I say forget that dirty little buzz bomber 2-stroke bee engine altogether. Moped engines are noisy, they stink, and most are worn out in just a year or so. Instead of powering the 4-Ped with gasoline and 2-stroke oil, why not power it with an electric engine and a battery with pedal power used to help in charging the battery? That’s right, the peddles would be connected to an alternator or generator that charges an on-board battery pack. Add a solar cell to the roof and a drop cord so that you can plug-it-in when you get home each night and you should be able to travel 30-45 miles per day at 30 miles per hour. That just happens to be my daily cross-town commute.

Did you know that many electric companies including North Carolina’s own Duke Power Company sell electricity for charging electric cars at a reduced rate?

Yeah, there are electric powered scooters and motorcycles out there but my 75 year old mother never learned how to ride a bicycle even though she rides her exercycle (stationary bicycle) for over an hour every day. This way she could stay in shape and save some of her Social Security check as well. Besides, have you ever lugged 5 bags of groceries on a two-wheeler?

I like this idea so much that I’m already doing research and drawing up plans in hopes of building my own 4-Ped but there’s no reason any good mechanic or handy man couldn’t build one for yourself. If you beat me to it then I’ll be able to learn from your mistakes. Or maybe I’ll buy one of yours. Sure, you might still need a real car for those weekend getaways, late night trips to the emergency room with the kids, and vacations, but think how much money the average American two car family could save if you were only buying gasoline for one car. Even if you had to buy a “factory built” 4-Ped you can bet your monthly gas savings would be more than enough to pay it off in a year or less, and unlike gasoline powered Mopeds whose engines are worn out in a year or two, electric powered 4-Peds could last a lifetime or more. As a matter of fact: I’ve seen 50 year old electric motors in industrial applications that run every day with almost no maintenance. Sure, the rest of the 4-Ped would need occasional repairs but nothing your average mechanic, bicycle mechanic, fork lift mechanic, or above average handy-man or woman couldn’t do for his or herself. And have you compared the cost of a bicycle tire to say, the 265-60 LR-16 Radial tire on your SUV? Bicycle tire $10 bucks, SUV tire $200 bucks-- cost of helping end the world’s energy crisis-- priceless.

This could be the next automotive revolution and it could be powered by a thousand small manufacturers just like you and I. You know, just like the first automotive revolution was powered by thousands of little folks just like you, me, and Henry Ford.

Hey Readers: Got an idea for a product, service, or invention you’d like to see someone do? Or perhaps you’re already doing something new, different, unique, or sorely needed, and would like to be featured here at If so, then send it to idlehandsmag (at) and let us know about it. Who knows, in no time at all, you might be exposed to thousands of readers.

PS. If you or someone you know about is already doing something we feature here on, then please let us know via either the comment box or an e-mail to any of the Idea Consultants as we love to tell the world about innovations.

High Tech Styles/High Textiles

YesButNoButYes: Digital Textiles

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Ideas That Make A Difference

Are your ideas making a difference?

As all the other Idea Consultants will no doubt agree, sometimes your ideas have to be bigger than yourself. Sometimes your ideas have to be about giving (paying forward) rather than receiving. After all, if the world cannot continue to prosper then neither will you or I.

Take myself for example: It’s not a big thing when you consider the world as a whole, but you can bet the eventual winner of the first annual Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere Election will no doubt be proud to have been the first Poet Laureate in the history of the world to be elected to his or her post.

The truth: I would love more than anything in the world to be elected to serve as the first Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere. Problem is: I could see no fair way to preside over an election in which I was a candidate so I chose to sit this one out in the interest of the common good.

Now don’t make me out to be some sort of saint-- I’m not. The truth is that I have already gained from this election in ways that can be measured as well as ways that can’t, but I thought it an important idea that a poet laureate finally be elected rather than appointed by some nameless, faceless politician, board, or bureaucrat. I’ve always had issues with how our various laureates are crowned so I decided to do something about it.

Who knows, maybe it will come back to me in the future, but even if it never does I’ll know I did a little part to try and make a difference. After all, life is full of failures and I’m no different than anyone else.

So give it some thought. Is there something you can do, change, reactivate, repair, revitalize, revamp, or otherwise make better? Whether it’s picking-up trash from the streets in your neighborhood, finding a cure for cancer, or anything in-between, I’m sure the world-- as well as your heart-- will be a better place for your having worked to make it better.

I’ll be back in a few days with some ideas you can do for yourself. Until then, why not think about making the world a better place in which to live? After all, there is profit in it.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

The life of the mind

Architect Ricardo Guillermo in dance performance

"Every day acts of healing,
caring for others, acknowledging the
joy of interacting with, elevating and
experiencing our fellow travelers, and
that joy of our own miraculous lives,
we encounter opportunities to bring
about a greater sense of community,
cooperation, enjoyment of each other'
s company and the force that binds us
all as one, indivisible with all life, the
planet and the universe."

I love the Internet. I used to love card catalogs. You look up one thing, find a dozen other things that interest you even more, and then that leads to yet other adventures. Of course, the adventures are only in the mind.

But why do I say "only"?

Are not all experiences experienced in the mind? And has it even been settled what"mind" is?

Leaving that question for another day, let me just say that my father was right when he said that one who doesn't read only experiences one life...and append that to day that through the Internet, one may experience thousands, millions, billions! Well, thousands. Hundreds maybe.
OK. Six.

Whatever the number is, it is surely more than one, and less than one hundred billion.

The Internet is Megamind. Not to be confused with Megajesus, say, or Metatron, who are, alas real people and myths. In the Internet, you can find people you haven't seen in years, decades, yugas. Ricardo is one such person. I wonder if I can remember our very last conversation. Will have to think on that one. Strange how divorces and such can weaken fabrics.

Ricardo was certainly an Idea person. When I knew him, and hung out, he was working on his Master's thesis at MIT in Architecture. He had coined the term "Aquatecture", and was designing life pods and environments that could exist in and under water. One of his colleagues, Mr. Javed Sultan, was also working on projects that benefitted humanity. Javed was working on ways to create homes, boats and such out of such inexpensive and lightweight materials as mud and chickenwire, and, as I recall, he had these strong, low-cost shelters built in impoverished places.

We would have potluck dinners at Ricardo's or Javed's or our place, or Jan Brown's, or some other's kitchen in the weird salad of Cambridge intelligentia. Sometimes we'd head over to Tom Trainor's beautiful place over in Brookline. Javed might give a slide show of his travels, or Ricardo would explain his newest creation, or Monty Allen, the Peace Corp animal photographer would share his latest shots. (Monty had a way with animals. Once on a whale watch, he was the only one to whom the eventual whale showed its full greatness. Sprang straight out of the water! We were huddled below deck, having given up. New England oceans can be cold even in summer.)

Anyway, to make a long story is good to see people doing well. It is also good to able to see that people are doing well.

The life of the mind. Not a bad invention.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Ever Longed For An Idea?

Where Do Ideas Come From?

Have you ever looked at someone else’s success and asked yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Or are you perhaps the guy who thinks up a new invention but never acts on it only to get it rubbed in your face when you see it being pitched on a television infomercial months or years later?

Or are you someone who simply wonders where all those ideas come from?

If I’m known for anything it’s the thousands of ideas I come up with for poems, stories, song lyrics, and inventions. While most of the world may not know my work, my friends are always asking, “Billy, how do you come up with so many new ideas?”

“Creativity begets creativity,” I always answer. You see, the more you exercise your creative muscles the more you create and the easier it becomes to create more. It’s a rare day that I don’t write two or three poems or pen a few hundred words in one of the two or three novels I work on simultaneously. You see, I’m not frustrated by a lack of ideas as much as I am a lack of time to complete them all. And I’ve lots of ideas for products, services, and businesses that few have ever done before.

But I’ve still not told you where my ideas come from, have I?

Right in front of my face. Every idea I get comes from things I see everyday and my own view of the world in which I live. How many times have you slaved away at a task you had to do while thinking, There has to be a better way?

You see: Necessity is indeed the mother of invention, and all one needs to do is look no farther than your own life to discover the next RONCO Pocket Fisherman, George Foreman Grill, or plot for your next novel. As a matter of fact: If you’re searching the world for the next big idea in hopes that it will be the next big thing then you’re wasting you time and energy.

Over the course of my time here at Idea Consultants I’m going to start tossing-out ideas I have for new products, new books, small businesses, and even large businesses. Most of them are things lots of people could be doing so there’s no real need to be the first in the world as long as you get up and running quick enough to establish yourself in your local area and most areas could use several of most of the ideas I’ll give you.

I’ll also pass along a few tips to help you get more readers to your blog or website.


How to break the habit. Not taken.


is taken. :(

And so much potential...

Blogger Ad Survey

Since Dave promises that this blog will be occupied with thoughts from the brightest minds (why I was invited, I don't know), allow me to avail myself of the brainpower expected here.

I'm doing a survey of blog advertising to help strucutre a blog ad network that is as beneficial and responsive to the needs of bloggers as possible. If you have a blog and three minutes to spare, take the survey.

Mandelbrot & Fractals

Never met Mandelbrot but think his findings represent the beauty of math and art, much like Todd Siler's work.

Life could be uglier than this:

Between fractals and Hubble photos, it is hard to say which is more beautiful, or which added more to our appreciation of the world, ideational and real.

Patients and Healers in the Context of Culture

Anthropology Faculty, Arthur Kleinman

I would never have predicted that one of my favorite professors would have been in the Medical field, but alas, it is true. Dr. Kleinman generously offered a class entitled "Patients and Healers in the Context of Culture", and I, shy of science credits, took it...and have never been sorry. I have fancied myself somewhat of an amateur healer ever since. But more than that, he helped me to appreciate the good work of many medical professionals and researchers, but also showed, in glaring detail, the many pitfalls.

For ideas in the medical realm, I can hardly imagine a better person from whom to learn many wondrous things.

Philip Glass - Official Web Site

Music as Ideas

If you go to movies, you have heard the music of Phillip Glass. Along with Thomas Newman and Lisa Gerrard, he is one of the most sought after composers in the industry. One wonders why Steve Reich has not been afforded such honors.

Perhaps his most recognizable work is Powaqaatsi, which served as the theme music for "The Truman Show"...but his work also graces the other -qaatsi films as well.

When I first heard his music, I frankly though he had stolen from me, as I was working out minimalist themes, mainly as a meditation, in the late 70s and early 80s.

The first time I met Philip was when he was giving a sneak preview of his work-in-progress, "Satyagraha" -- a piece done in Sanskrit, and based on the life and work of Mohandas K. Gandhi -- still one of his loveliest works.

The second time I met him was when he was performing Powaqaatsi at George Mason U...with the film playing behind the ensemble. After the concert, a dear friend and I chatted with him and Linda, his manager, about various things, including the possibility of an internship...which a year later came to pass, and which made a tremendous impact, or impaction, on the young artist/friend's life...affording her the ability to move from VCU through Glass to Berkeley, and now on to exhibitions around the world, and a life doing and teaching theatre and performance art in Bangkok.

Glad to be of service. Not even a thank-you note either! :)
As Chopra once said though...think "How can I help?", not "What's in it for me"?

As an amateur composer, meeting the venerable Mr. Glass, and other living composers, was always a joy and an education. We need to lure them South. Too few pass this way.

Let me know when they get here.

Tom Trainor ROCKER HEAVEN / apocalyptic satire /

Author, photographer, systems theorist, linguist, friend.

One of my first experiences with Tom was when he and I drove from Boston, down to Manhattan, where he was to deliver his PhD dissertation to NYU, in quadruplicate if my memory serves. When we got there, we parked near Central Park and he showed me his old hangouts, and a fair portion of the Upper East Side.

When we returned, his trunk was popped, and his dissertations were stolen. We checked dumpsters a while and gave up. All was not lost, however, as he had placed the original under the front seat.

During the next few years, he was always a good sounding board and inspiration, helping me to get through the traumas of university life.

Check out his astonishing first novel, Rocker Heaven.

Think Like a Genius - Todd Siler | Biography

Where Art meets Science

When I met Todd, he was working on his Master's thesis at MIT. His thesis was bipolar, for lack of better words. It dealt with the connection between art and science, right brain/left brain...both of which he was maxing out. Much of his life and work, since then, has been a continuation of that work. A great and protean mind...and heart.

Idea Management

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Idea Management
An old site cobbled together in the 90s, but containing seeds for what may yet grow into a lovely garden...

I like gardens!

Welcome to the Joseph Campbell Foundation Website!

"Transparent to the Transcendent..."

Joseph Campbell was a mythic figure. His contribution to the understanding of myth in our life sealed his fate as one of the permanent stars in our ideational sky. I got to spend a day with him back in '80 or '81, but have yet to meet Kevin Bacon, although I know that Francis Bacon was also fond of gardens. But just as with Bucky Fuller and Anthony Burgess, they all died only a few months after after our meeting. Is it my breath?

The lesson for me was...get to know your elderly masters. They will not be around as long as a lot of other folk. And they invariably have the best wisdom to offer.

The Buckminster Fuller Institute

No one interested in ideas can avoid the great Bucky, who is often cited as being the father of the Holistic Movement. Aside from his Harvard and New England connections, he was among the throng of genius pullulating in the mountains of North Carolina, back when Black Mountain College was in its heyday. Others present were John Cage, Josef Albers, Robert Creeley, Rauchenberg, Merce Cunningham, and other pivotal figures in art and the history of ideas.

Key Theorists/Theories in Psychology - PETER SENGE

Among the more protean influences... and a veritable idea factory, Mister Senge spoke to a class of us knuckleheads about metanoia and the seeds of what would become what he calls Learning Organizations.

Robert Fritz: creator of Creating

...the book!

Peter Senge (author of The Fifth Discipline) says that Robert Fritz ’… is without a doubt one of the most original thinkers today on the creative process in business, the arts, science, and life in general. His work has deeply impacted my life and the lives of many of my colleagues.’

The same can be said for Mr. Senge. Bob Fritz used to give good, great seminars on creativity, the creative process, vision, structural tension and all that, under the rubric of what he called DMA, but has sinse moved beyond acronymics and into arcane acornimics, which is the naming of acorns. Not really, but he could if he wanted to.

His books and seminars are highly recommended for anyone wanting to tap their creativity. He has figured it out.

NameLab - Naming names

What goes into a name?

How NameLab arrives at a name...

Idealab Companies

What pretty little logos!

Idealab's mission:

Idealab's mission is to turn innovative ideas into successful technology businesses. Founded in 1996 by entrepreneur Bill Gross, Idealab has developed and evolved a process for maximizing the potential of its new businesses. Once an idea is prototyped, Idealab shares with its operating companies its market-tested knowledge, operational support and strategic guidance. Today, Idealab is focused on creating technology businesses based on proprietary technologies that enjoy high margins and have significant potential for sustainable, profitable growth.

Sofea, Inc. Named "Cool Vendor" by Leading Analyst Firm

Vendors Selection Based on How Innovative, Impactful and Intriguing They Are

Gartner defines a cool vendor as a company that offers technologies or solutions that are: Innovative, enable users to do things they couldn't do before; Impactful, have, or will have, business impact (not just technology for the sake of technology); Intriguing, have caught Gartner's interest or curiosity in approximately the past six months.