Sunday, September 30, 2007

Is this the right path to alternate fuel? Ethanol, food prices, fuel, energy, commodities trading... I think not

My personal view on ethanol is that it's a handy way to add something to the commodities markets so that first-world nations can trade on corn and it's backed by the US government with money. Have we as a planet screwed ourselves out of food sources in order to cut our CO2 emissions and run our cars? Perhaps.

Everyone has an opinion about this. I've selected 4 sources that I think make a good argument or at least have a point-of-view that is fairly balanced in its representation. You be the judge of what you think.
Big Oil's Stall on Ethanol from BusinessWeek 1-Oct-07 (apparently, written in the future but published in the past ;) )

" A more moderate conclusion comes from a recent study by the University of California at Davis, which last year received a $25 million grant from Chevron to study biofuels. It said the energy used to produce ethanol is about even with what it generates and that cleaner emissions would be offset by the loss of pasture and rainforest to corn-growing. Only a small part of the research backed by the grant will involve ethanol, says Billy Sanders, UC Davis' research director. The primary focus will be developing alternative processes and feedstocks for biofuel that is not ethanol.

Infrastructure problems are behind much of the oil companies' resistance to E85. It adds "too much complexity and cost," says Shell spokesperson Anne Bryan Peebles, since it requires separate pumps, trucks, and storage tanks. Any mix with more than 10% ethanol may cause corrosion and other problems in existing pipelines."

One Molecule Could Cure Our Addition to Oil from Wired magazine 24-Sep-07

There's just one catch: No one has yet figured out how to generate energy from plant matter at a competitive price. The result is that no car on the road today uses a drop of cellulosic ethanol.

Today's cellulases are the enzyme equivalent of vacuum tubes: clunky, slow, and expensive. Now, flush with cash, scientists and companies are racing to develop the cellulosic transistor. Some researchers are trying to build the ultimate microbe in the lab, one that could combine the two key steps of the process. Others are using "directed evolution" and genetic engineering to improve the enzyme-producing microorganisms currently in use. Still others are combing the globe in search of new and better bugs. It's bio-construction versus bio-tinkering versus bio-prospecting, all with the single goal of creating the perfect enzyme cocktail.
Go Back to Basics Before you Buy Commodities from the Financial Times 29-Sep-07

Take the drastic shifts in the grain market wrought first by the demand for corn to make ethanol and then by the drought in Australia. Farmers switched from wheat to corn, contracting the supply of the former. Then the drought further constricted wheat supply.

The result: wheat futures have doubled over the past six months, while corn futures have declined. But you would have needed to do a lot of homework to see this coming.
As Prices Soar, US Food Aid Buys Less from the New York Times 29-Sep-07

Corn prices have fallen in recent months, but are still far higher than they were a year ago. Demand for ethanol has also indirectly driven the rising price of soybeans, as land that had been planted with soybeans shifted to corn. And wheat prices have skyrocketed, in large part because drought hurt production in Australia, a major producer, economists say.

The higher food prices have not only reduced the amount of American food aid for the hungry, but are also making it harder for the poorest people to buy food for themselves, economists and advocates for the hungry say.

Biodiesel vs. Ethanol, why biodiesel is the way to go
Biodiesel Boom Heading Towards Wall Street from Business 2.0 magazine 26-sep-07

These days biodiesel isn't just good for the environment - it's good for the bottom line. The U.S. market for the combustible stuff has more than doubled every year since 2004 and will hit $1 billion this year. The number of retail pumps nationwide has grown from 350 in 2005 to more than 1,000 today. A couple of biodiesel IPOs are in the offing - and opportunities abound...

Biodiesel is 30 percent more fuel-efficient than gasoline, which in turn is 30 percent more efficient than ethanol. And while most ethanol produced in the United States comes from a single feedstock - corn - biodiesel has many sources: the oil of seed plants, such as soy and canola, french-fry grease and animal fat. That means the market can weather a price increase in any one raw material. Solazyme, a South San Francisco biotech firm, has even started making biodiesel from genetically modified algae.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

For those of you also trying to figure out what to do next with your professional life

There's a good article from Harvard Business Review (of course): How to Stay Stuck in the Wrong Career from their December 2002 issue

A good quote:
"You’re ready to chuck it all and start afresh. Just make sure you don’t listen to the usual advice about changing careers...

Everyone knows a story about a smart and talented businessperson who has lost his or her passion for work, who no longer looks forward to going to the office yet remains stuck without a visible way out. Most everyone knows a story, too, about a person who ditched a 20-year career to pursue something completely different—the lawyer who gave it all up to become a writer or the auditor who quit her accounting firm to start her own toy company—and is the happier for it."

And this is the part that really spoke to me:

When I consider the experiences of these people and dozens of others I have studied over the past few years, there can be no doubt: Despite the rhetoric, a true change of direction is very hard to swing. This isn’t because managers or professionals are typically unwilling to change; on the contrary, many make serious attempts to reinvent themselves, devoting large amounts of time and energy to the process at great professional and personal risk. But despite heroic efforts, they remain stuck in the wrong careers, not living up to their potential and sacrificing professional fulfillment.

Many academics and career counselors observe this inertia and conclude that the problem lies in basic human motives: We fear change, lack readiness, are unwilling to make sacrifices, sabotage ourselves. My in-depth research (see the sidebar “Studying Career Change” for an explanation of my methods) leads me to a different conclusion: People most often fail because they go about it all wrong. Indeed, the conventional wisdom on how to change careers is in fact a prescription for how to stay put. The problem lies in our methods, not our motives."

Monday, September 24, 2007

non-stick gum: good design for the planet and your body or gimmick?

It's a non-sticky gum. Helps to keep our cities' sidewalks from the black circles known as 'gum on the sidewalk'. Dissolves in a few months (rain water does it) after it ends up on the ground, apparently tastes pretty good, and won't kill you!

And for those of you playing at home, you won't be the least surprised that it's from a bunch of researchers in the UK. Another reason to be an anglophile. This time we're talking Wales!

If you live on a coastline of the US

This is really something: Research and a visual representation of how high the water will come in to various coast areas of the US. I'm not sure if this is what Al Gore shows in the movie An Inconvenient Truth or based on similar data. As a current Manhattanite, I'm really sad that my apartment would be underwater if sea levels rise 5m. Most of my neighborhood would be gone, and I can't help but think that it is unnecessary. I'm sure Hawaiians will be more distressed about Honolulu mostly going under, although maybe they won't. "Real" Hawaii isn't in Honolulu anymore, although there are a ton of historic sites.

Then there's my other favorite continental US city, San Francisco, which will also be affected with less than 2 meters rise, while only 1meter sea rise, we lose most of New Orleans, which would be more than a shame -- it would redefine so much of what is an American city. The midwest, which coastal residents mock with pride, could be the centers of what defines American city life.

I guess this gives new (or reinforced) meaning to "head for the hills!"

I begin to wonder cultural, social, economic and political impacts such a dramatic shift in environment and political boundaries means for the US and other countries. Particularly when a country's major cities are the worst hit; cities that are the center of a country's commerce and cultural identity.

Like with so many other future-predicting environmental work, this could be hysterical. I'm going to guess that it's not entirely. It's the way I feel about religion. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's all a human-ego farce, but if I'm wrong I don't want to end up in hell so I'll at least listen to what is going on.

I think it's time to add The World Without Us by Alan Weisman to my reading list

LEED buildings, all hype and no substance?

I recently read this article about LEED Certification in Fast Company in issue #119

Bank of America's One Bryant Park is made an example of here. I don't think the quote's facts are accurate with regard to energy consumption and glass for the building. The building has the ability to heat and cool itself using run-off and gray water. Let's see how much it pulls from the local ConEd grids before we start throwing stones, eh?

What I do agree with in the article is that the LEED point system is a bit flawed and that points don't' consider the building's geographic and environmental location, among other things.

LEED is not perfect, but it's not broken from Environmental Design + Construction is a good piece to put LEED into perspective. I have respect for Rob Watson, and think that his awareness of LEED's current limitations as a 'good' certification can be improved, as well as requiring increased resource reuse/savings for each building to hit baseline. And yet, having something as comprehensive and achievable (and publicly recognizable) as LEED is a great starting point and better than nothing. After speaking with an architect or two I understand better that designing smart buildings could do more to save on resource use and improve indoor health than relying strictly on LEED.

All in all, Americans love to win awards -- especially when they are silver, gold or platinum named (or colored). We're competitive, so this is a great segue to a next stage in environmental health and rewarding excellence in architecture and construction.

In the next 5 years, we'll have to do better than nothing. In the meantime, keep moving forward!

P.S. here's another publication I enjoy as a layman (er, laywoman) who is a fan of architecture and interior design and have no formal background in either: Green Source magazine from McGraw-Hill Construction

P.P.S. check out information about the Architecture 2030 initiative for where the future of sustainable architecture is hopefully going:

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nerds will rescue the earth...

I'm a huge fan of Clive Thompson's articles in Wired. As you can tell from these 3 most recent postings to this blog, I was enjoying the previous issue of Wired magazine a lot.

Clive Thompson Explains Why We Can Count on Geeks to Rescue the Earth

The article is for the most part, centered around the fact that nerds can handle imagining and dealing with large numbers. Something most non-nerds don't quite fathom or at least don't on a regular basis.

My comment on this topic (not Mr. Thompson's) is that I've known less than a handful of people with Aspergers in my life. I can assure you in addition to being good at a bunch of things like having a memory of facts that doesn't deteriorate with age, they are good with numbers. Depending on the individual and the severity of aspergers, don't expect them to be particularly social or emotional. And I think if one is going to deal with human catastrophe, and needs to focus on large numbers to do it well, then not being overly emotional can only be a boon.

Hence, my favorite (for many reasons) quote from the piece is thus: "What we need are more Bill Gateses — people with Aspergian focus, with a direct sensual ability to understand what a million means. They've got to be able to envision every angel on the head of a pin. Because when it comes to stopping the mass tragedies of today's world, we're going to need every one of them." (Wired, issue 15.09)

UK terrorism trial judge making it hard to keep a straight face

UK Terrorism-Trial Judge Gets Lesson on Internet

Another article from
Wired magazine, again issue 15.09

For those of you who don't know, the British court system is often thought of as stodgy and out-of-touch with the modern world. Judges and barristers wear wigs as part of required attire in court. Well, this comment from the trial judge makes me wonder just how out of touch parts they are.

"...Openshaw [trial judge] cut in, asking the prosecutor whether al-Ansar [online forum] was 'itself a Web site.' Not quite, Ellison [prosecutor] responded... 'The trouble is, I don't understand the language,' the judge said. 'Can I help?' Ellison offered. answered Openshaw, 'I do not really understand what a Web site is.'"

Good god, man. was he so ignorant as to have never used the internet in the past 10 years or just never bothered to understand it. This type of question leads many, including me, to wonder if he was genuine or just being obstructionist. I'm going with the former. What was even more hilarious was the before in British legal history there were judges who said "What are the Beatles?" and "What is a McDonald's?"

What's more, I wonder if Yunis Tsouli (the accused) got a fair trial after all.

I wonder if they are paid, perhaps, too much money or work too many hours or, better yet, live in opulence or too-posh digs whereby they miss, entirely, the rest of the world. As I understand it, the US legal system is based on English Common Law. Dear god, I hope we have judges who say less laughable things. And, yes, I know, we aren't immune to that embarrassment either.

Interesting reads on the mind

A book I'm going to read (after the two that I'm reading now) is going to be The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker.

Wired magazine has an interesting review on Pinker's book which came out this September. The book covers more than this, and what I'm interested in is the fact that cursing may be something from a primordial part of our brains. It comes out of my mouth so naturally at times, and when frustrated or angry are the words of choice. They are satisfying. So that Pinker proposes that swearing was the first form of language. "He points to the fact that brain-damaged patients who lose the power of articulate speech often retain the ability to curse like a sailor. 'Since swearing involves clearly more ancient parts of the brain," Pinker says, "it could be a missing link between animal vocalization and human language.'" (Wired, Issue 15.09)

A completely different style of book review by The Financial Times newspaper on The Stuff of Thought (review by David Crystal). This review pulls out the overarching purpose of the book that is nuances in semantics and therefore the corresponding nuances in meaning. (I wonder if finally, there will be time when people realize one can not be objective, even a newspaper reporter, when one is forced to use language. More often than not, one's choice of words exposes one's opinion. Perhaps that is a different book and day: the choices with the written word and the objective press.)

Either way, I'm interested in the design of the human mind especially when related to language so it's going on my wishlist for when I'm ready for a new book.

Another book, again reviewed by Wired (same issue, 15.09) Is a British authored one entitled "The Book of General Ignorance". Revaling the world's biggeset misconceptions, which according to the review includes that Centipedes dno't have 100 legs and Alexander Graham Bell didn't invent the telephone. I knew both of these things, and want to know more. (I personally think that Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Alva Edison were opportunistic bastards (see why I'd like The Stuff of Thought?) who didn't invent anything but had a keen business mind for taking advantage of a time and someone else's clever developments. Neither have my respect, both seem to be given adulation in history classes as men more important than they are.) Again this book is going on my wishlist, too.

Friday, September 21, 2007

web design and coding

This is possibly the most accurate and funny pie chart to the kind of work I've been involved with past 6 years.

parody on carbon offset, being carbon neutral
I probably like this too much because I'm an Anglophile and I just find so much of British humour clever and funny and, therefore, worth knowing about. It's a nice spin on being carbon neutral... really nice end to the video.

PS If anyone knows where I can get a copy of the season of Bang! Bang! (Reeves and Mortimer) for US DVD players, please please please let me know.

PPS In case you are wondering on my stance on carbon offsetting. I agree with these two lads. Just stop bad practices. Use good design to improve your process and carbon 'footprint'. Make the easiest (lowest hanging fruit) changes first. On a personal level (not necessarily big business) here's a good place to start getting ideas:

visual learners probably like heat maps

I'm a fan of heat maps and other visualizations of data... since we're looking for a new place, this one is helpful:

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I'm not sure if this is available only in the UK, but at the very least it appears to be only available to schools, universities and offices. (of course that won't stop me from contacting my beloved Design Council to see if i can get myself a license or copy.)

Truthfully, it maybe be something that DM students already know quite well: that design can impact life and lifestyles well or badly. I think this would be great for design students to do before they leave undergrad, and business students to do before they leave undergrad or grad level degrees. Lord knows there's a lack (although improving) business -minded knowing by design graduates and a complete lack (again improving) of appreciation and awareness of design (big D design) by business graduates.

Ideaplay is an interactive design innovation kit for young entrepreneurs, developed by design consultancy Engine and the Design Council. Ideaplay aims to sharpen and refine entrepreneurial skills, improve teamwork and develop students’ understanding of the value of design by looking for design opportunities in everyday scenarios.

* The challenge is simple - follow the experiences of the characters across the storyboard, identify their unmet needs and then propose and develop new products and services
* Learn about the key part that design processes play in entrepreneurship and innovation
* Learn how to use these processes to help identify, enrich and pitch ideas

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Natural Clay plaster for interior

I read this in a recent e-newsletter from Global Green USA. The good folks rebuilding New Orleans in a more sustainable methods. I'll probably get smacked on the wrist for posting their e-newsletter here, but maybe not. I'm not trying to steal their thunder or copywrite, just want to get people talking about it and to know more the lazy-man's way --aka answer my blog post for me.

I'm wondering if anyone has used this type of plaster in his/her home or has an opinion on it, especially on the bit about the charge humans are accustomed to being around in nature. I wonder if I would know I was experiencing it consciously or if I would just 'feel better'. I like that it's renewable, non-toxic and low-energy usage to create.

Green Product of the Month
Natural Clay Plaster

clay plaster Natural clay or earth based plaster for interior finishes including walls, ceilings, and bathrooms are natural, renewable, and non-toxic materials. The manufacturing process requires low energy usage. Plaster walls help to regulate temperature and sound within a home or office. In addition, natural lay or earth based plaster does not attract dust.

It is compatible with the "breathable" construction recommended for both historic and new buildings. Surrounding your interior environments with clay plasters, or paints, that produce Negative Ions will not only help neutralize the electromagnetic effect created by computers, appliances and synthetic plastics, but also will help eliminate static charge on walls and floors. Not only do your walls stay clean, but by using clay surface materials you are helping to filter air of pollen and dander. You surround yourself with the ''charge Humans are accustomed to when living in nature."

Negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy. Normal Ion count in fresh country air is 2,000 to 4,000 negative Ions per cubic centimeter (about the size of a sugar cube). At Yosemite Falls, you'll experience over 100,000 negative Ions per cubic centimeter. On the other hand, the level is far below 600 per cubic centimeter in an office with computers.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

considering motherhood, new york, and being environmentally responsible (but not neurotic)

Here's one for the personal files... having just gotten married last year at city hall and our church wedding this past summer, we're talking through starting a family. So, here's the things we are mulling over, most of which I'm concerned with: money and space, location, health and environmental quality of life, and noise.

Space: Simply put, we're going to have to move. We live in a studio in the East Village and if we bring another person (or any single thing more) into this apartment we're going to lose our minds. We need more space. We need more space where there is a door that we can close to a bedroom. We have two doors now, the one into the apartment and the one into the bathroom. If our family expands, we really want to have another door. And that brings me to the next point.

Money: We have no cash for a downpayment on anything. The economic and market conditions are not good for people in our financial position to buy something anyway. Interest rates are too high for us to be able to keep up with, and as I said we don't have any cash anyway. Prices in new york are so high right now and vacancy levels in Manhattan are around .5% to .8% That means almost nothing is available and it's all expensive. Every new construction/development is luxury in our neighborhood. And the few environmentally-responsibly architected buildings in the city are so completely out of our price range its frustrating. So we want to move into a place that has enough space, only one of our paychecks can afford (in case i decide i want to raise my own child for the first years of his/her life (blasphemy!), and dammit I want to keep shopping at Whole Foods in Union Square and the farmer's markets. I have such a love affair with Whole Foods (The layout, the products, the design, the food, the principles/beliefs, the wind power supply, etc). I actually think about how it's more expensive (sometimes) to do all my shopping at Whole Foods vs. how happy it makes me and so I secretly make that a requirement when pricing apartments. In fact, I've decided that becuase I believe so strongly in not using chlorine to bleach toilet paper, paper towels, flour (baking/cooking), paper products of any kind -- that I simply can NOT buy normal/cheaper toilet paper.

I must have Seventh Generation toilet paper and paper towels. I believe in the research they've done to prove the eco-value of their products. I must have ecover or Seventh Gen dish washing liquid. I must use 100% post-consumer, non-chlorine paper for my printer. I must be able to have all the extra money (even if it's not THAT much more) to keep these things in my life because I believe it is better. There isn't anything -- except reliable and credible research over a period of at least 5-10 years -- is going to sway me otherwise. And I must be able to have wind-powered energy supply from ConEd or another energy company. Now that I have it, I don't want to go back.

I'm not even going to buy my children baby food, organic or processed. They're getting fresh veg and fruits, and I'll mash them up in a food processor or by hand. I loath sugar derivatives in food. I'm known to buy plenty of products for my husband (like pop tarts) that are probably slowly poisoning his body -- but that's my personal line between being responsible and being neurotic. Sometimes the joy that something brings is okay in my mind vs. the environmental or social impact. Luckily, Pop Tarts aren't cigarettes. Don't even get me started on that in my home. I can't and don't want to control other people's personal habits, just don't come in my home with that one.

So where was I?

Location: I want to stay in New York City. Be that in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens (the Bronx and Staten Island aren't our thing). I spent most of my life in New Jersey and I'm not going back unless there is no alternative. I crossed the river, I'll go visit my family, I'm not living there... unless we start thinking about public school systems and then I'm likely to begrudgingly go back. I'd love to stay in our neighborhood, anywhere between West and East villages. And of course with all the luxury developments going on what's a couple (who needs to spend less than they make so they can save up to own something one day) to do? We've decided we're not going to spend as much as we can afford, otherwise we never get out of the renting race. I know we'll end up somewhere far away (subway-wise) from where we are now. I'll miss having Minca across the street (eco-friendly or not I LOVE MINCA. Ramen noodles rock my world!). I'll miss my favorite NYC pizza and fresh pasta at Luzzo, which is a few blocks away. There are 6 movie theaters within walking distance of our apartment, and Union Square a short bus ride (or 20 minute walk) away.

I'm a downtown girl. I sometimes wish I could plead with the NYC gods to make it 'not so.' Alas it is, and if I'm going to be someone's mom I should at least be a good one. And by good, I think that means making family most important. I'm working on figuring out a way to make ramen noodles and a healthy baby live on the same block. Is that asking too much? Do I sound too much like someone who has never had a child? Probably, but that's who I am now.

I'm going to jump ahead to noise now...

Noise: Anyone familiar with the East Village, or Manhattan, will be thinking: how can noise be something you care so much about -- you live in one of the nosiest-at-night places. True. I did score my studio on a street that is one-way, with a school on one side and low-income housing on the other. So the street doesn't have traffic that goes through. Our street is, therefore, a lot quieter than others above and below us. There are 3 bars and any drunk person who has ever walked past our building and spoken, yelled, sang, barfed, yodeled, became violent, had a fight, or did anything louder than a normal-office speaking voice. I heard you. You woke me up, and I half-asleep plotted violent ways to end you. My favorite are the car alarms.

Let me tell you car owners who park on the street overnight this: (a) if your car alarm goes off no one will call the police for you, mostly it's someone too drunk to stand up who set it off or a garbage truck going by in the morning, and (b) be in a place that is near enough so you can turn it off. The most torturous night of sleep I've had due to a car alarm was the night someone's was parked in front of my apartment building, it went off for 28 seconds every hour. I know this because it went off every hour and I could count it. I plotted so much violence against this person that when they appeared in the morning I considered throwing things at her. My neighbor across the street must have been equally livid since he came out of the building, yelling at her and telling her what her car was going all night. She told him to f-bomb off and he was a lying gay man. Insert your own derogatives and curses as she did. See? Not nice AND no one cared to steal her car, we just wanted it to stop making noise.

Otherwise, we're really lucky. My building is by-and-large quite. My neighbor likes to play his electric guitar badly but will stop around 10pm. Sometimes it's until 11pm, but whatever.

I guess I really am part of gentrified East Village life. I should probably not have the audacity to look for quite in this place. I do. I will. It's how people think, and I do a lot of that.

So in terms of moving, we're never going to live near Times Square, Columbus Circle, any of the tunnels, or anywhere on Broadway.

This brings me to quality of life...

Quality of life (environmental and health): Unless you have no other choice or the activity and noise makes you happy, I find it hard to stomach the idea of living (especially street-view) on a major through-way in the city. I love that so many of the busses along the UES or UWS are electric-powered. Quieter, less CO2 emissions, and lower to the ground so you don't have to jump up to get on there (I'm a bit short) and they don't have to make that noise when the bus lowers and raises by air-power. I don't particularly love the UES or UWS, but again I'm a downtown girl. I love vising up there, but it doesn't strike me as a place I want to spend so much of my time. (I work in midtown and I can assure you it's not a place I want to spend so much of my time. I did, however, discover a great new-to-me lunch spot called Kafi Roll on 39th Street at 6th Ave (a little in on 39th from the northeast corner, orange flag sign) Excellent roti filled with veg or non-veg. Like an Indian 'burrito'.)

Back to the point. I would rather live on the back-facing part of a building (especially if there was grass or a tree or two behind it) than street-side. I'm done with hearing every drunken conversation from the 2nd floor here. I also have a lot of allergies, or reactions like allergies, which is just exacerbated by living in a city. (We went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to do some consulting work for a month and I felt great. We came back and I realized how polluted cities are, even the 'cleaner' ones.)

And yet we both want to stay in New York City for now, so we will.

Stay tuned for the wearing down of all of my 'wants' into a single 'need' and how this all pans out...

Friday, September 7, 2007

our girl, nathalie's project in the news!

A Global Vision From the New Man at EA Sports

EA Sports is one of the most powerful, lucrative brands in the video game business. That’s not enough for Peter Moore.

Two months ago Mr. Moore stunned the game world with the announcement that he would step down as head of Microsoft’s games operation to be president of the sports division at Electronic Arts, the No. 1 game publisher. He started his new job yesterday, and today in a presentation to journalists at the company’s headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., he is to share his vision for moving EA Sports beyond video games to a global sports and entertainment enterprise.

“There is a great opportunity to take EA Sports and turn it into a general sports brand that can compete not only with Take-Two and Konami and the other usual suspects in the video game world,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday, but also “to look at ourselves in a different way and compete with the likes of Nike and ESPN to win the hearts and minds of a very desirable demographic group, which is the 14-to-34-year-old male worldwide.

“That could mean broadcast sports, sports camps, the ability to license consumer products around the EA Sports brand,” he continued. “That means technology that brings sports to life for coaches, players and television viewers, and it means services online for sports fans to connect with one another.”

Ben Schachter, an Internet and video game analyst at UBS Securities, agreed that Mr. Moore’s big challenge was to find different ways to compete for the time and eyeballs of young men.

“They have certainly been successful in areas like football, but the big question going forward is whether they can actually grow the user base and get these young male consumers to buy more EA Sports products,” Mr. Schachter said. “They are competing not only against nonsports video games but also the MySpaces and Facebooks of the world, and they need to find new ways to bring in those potential customers.”

The company’s cornerstones Madden football, FIFA soccer and Tiger Woods golf games continue to sell millions of copies each year, but both Electronic Arts and its sports operation have grown sluggishly, if at all, in recent years. John Riccitiello, who took over as Electronic Arts’ chief executive in spring, has pledged to reinvigorate the company and seems to have brought in Mr. Moore as one of his prime agents of change.

“It may sound like heresy, but I’m not here to just sell more Maddens and more FIFAs,” Mr. Moore said. “Protecting our base is very important, but I didn’t come here to just maintain the status quo and build the business 5 to 7 percent a year.”

In particular, Mr. Moore said, there could be an opportunity for Electronic Arts to set up a global news and social networking service for sports fans.

“As a sports fan, for the information I have to collate every morning, I have to go to 8 to 10 to 13 different sites just to hit my favorite bookmarks,” he said. “Yahoo has a lot, and ESPN too, but ESPN is very North American. I think we have an opportunity to aggregate information and bring it to life with video technologies.”

In general, he said he would push his operation to develop more online products and to pay more attention to the PC, which is the dominant gaming system in Asia outside of Japan, especially in China and South Korea.

The overall concept, Mr. Moore said, is to focus on opportunities to use technology and the EA Sports brand to connect sports fans. As an example of his intended direction, he said he planned to unveil today EA Sports GameShow, a live online trivia game to be made available free for PCs this fall.

In GameShow, which will be advertising-supported, players will log in to compete in live trivia contests, both individually and as part of teams. Mr. Moore said if the initial game was a success, it could potentially move to the online services associated with major game consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3.

“We continue to talk a good game about online, but we as publishers have not taken full advantage of that opportunity,” he said. “In some ways GameShow is a pilot for what we hope to be a much more substantial online presence going forward.”

Mr. Moore’s background may be particularly suited to the challenge he has set himself. Before working in the games business at Microsoft and as president of Sega of America, he was a senior marketing executive at Reebok and president of the United States operation of Patrick, a French sportswear company.

“If we look at this connected world we’re entering, sports is a sort of social and cultural glue that reaches across the globe,” he said. “There is an opportunity for EA Sports to evolve beyond a games brand to become a true global sports and entertainment brand, and I think we can compete there.”

Thursday, September 6, 2007

future of the notebook: interlocking notebooks

Click on Shop, and watch the flash demo on how it works. Nice design!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

newspapers: print vs. online

I'm still a huge fan of the printed word. I get my Financial Times delivered daily and they keep trying to get me to read it online, and I just don't want to. It's more convenient to read on the train, I can rip out and circle/underline articles I want to keep or reference later, and the is there if I want to email someone an article. I still prefer to read on paper and not online.

There is an image created that "tracks the front page of from 1996 through 2006, illustrating how quickly online presence can evolve. Note how the page structure and hierarchy have changed as images (yellow) and advertising (orange) have gradually become integrated with editorial content (blue)."