Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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New Year, Great Writing

I don’t know what’s causing it, but I have run across a ton of interesting reading over the last few days. Since I know you all enjoy it as much as I do, I thought I might pass it on with a little commentary where appropriate.

I apologize for giving what kind of feels like another half-assed post, but sometimes I just don’t have 2,000 words in me (and I’m sure sometimes you don’t feel like reading it either). So now you can pick and choose. Of course, you could always subscribe to the sidenotes via RSS and get the constant flow.

By the way, one last thing before I get started with the links, I’m looking for an opinion on a slight design change from some people who visit the homepage, if you meet this criteria and wouldn’t mind contacting me, I’d greatly appreciate.

Okay, enough boring stuff, onto the links . . .

  • The Laws of Attraction: This Psychology Today article breaks down the laws of friendship. There’s some great stuff in here and I’d like to do a larger post that talks a little about the ideas of friendship brands. The article talks about the importance of things like reciprocity in this kind of relationship. Really interesting stuff.
  • The Long Tale: I had been hoping that Abe would post this for months. In it he talks about how The Long Tail doesn’t really address the massive inequality and, in fact, attempts to redirect our attention away from it.
  • Can Google Come Out to Play?: This one only gets a link because I just had lunch over at the Google office. The Times article discusses the new NYC mega-office and all the Google-perks. The one thing I couldn’t help feeling after reading it, though, is that they’re creating a dangerously closed system. Sure they hire incredibly talented people, but encouraging employees to not interact with outsiders can have disastrous results in the long run.
  • Designs for Working: Special thanks to Jecklin for this old Gladwell article. In it he talks about how companies are using some city planning ideas to design offices. It’s especially fascinating after reading the Google article. Especially interesting to me were the different employee profiles, which reflects some Tipping Point thinking within the office environment.
  • The Return of the Yuppie: This one comes courtesy of PSFK and suggests that the yuppie never really died. I’ve been thinking a lot about luxury culture myself lately and this is right in line. People seem much more comfortable being whatever they want to be, even if that identity falls into a stereotype. “Here are some of the things, according to The Yuppie Handbook, that the budding yupster could not live without: gourmet coffee, a Burberry trench coat, expensive running shoes, a Cuisinart, a renovated kitchen with a double sink, smoked mozzarella from Dean & DeLuca, a housekeeper, a mortgage, a Coach bag, a Gucci briefcase, and a Rolex. Oh, har har har, that crazy yup!”
  • Ephemeral Profiles: danah boyd writes about how data lock-in isn’t really a big deal to teens. If they lose a password to a profile and have to start over it’s okay and in fact is something that they might do every so often on purpose. In one way, I can’t imagine changing my domain name or screen name, but in another sense, the idea of being able to start fresh is incredibly appealing. It’s something we can’t really ever do in the physical world. I know I love to format a hard drive and start from scratch again: There’s a kind of freedom associated with it.
  • Wave v Particle Model of Messages: I’ve really been digging Joe Andrieu’s blog lately. In this entry he suggests that the metaphor for a marketing message is shifting from the wave to the particle. A particle, Andrieu suggests, is better suited for todays landscape where: “1. Once a message is in the medium, the source relinquishes control. 2. It doesn’t necessarily matter what causes a message. If its out there, it affects the environment. 3.The only way to mitigate an unwanted message in the environment is to seed new, credible replacement messages with such potency and saturation that it displaces the previous. (Preferably, one does this without offending the environment.) 4. It pays to shape your messages effectively. Make them smell good. Make them believable and understandable. Make them effective tools at helping your organization. Because once they are out there, they are out of your hands.”
  • How I Did It: Sidney Frank: I had heard about this guy for a while, but never really knew the whole story. Basically Frank alone turned Jagermeister from a 500 case a year business into the shot-of-choice it is today and created Grey Goose from scratch into a multi-billion dollar brand. In this interview of sorts he talks about his many successes and how he accomplished them. My favorite snippet: “The big-selling high-priced vodka at the time was Absolut, which was $15 a bottle. I figured, let’s make it very exclusive and sell it for $30 a bottle. I said, France has the best of everything. I asked a distiller there whether they could make a vodka. They said sure. The product manager and I tasted about 100 vodkas on my front porch here, and we agreed on one vodka as the best-tasting.”

Well, that’s it for now. If you’ve got anything else I missed and should check out, please leave it in the comments. If you want to talk about any of these articles, please leave that in the comments too.

January 4, 2007