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Archive for the ‘trends’ Category

My always insightful brother, wearing his hat as MD of Slingshot Studios, home of such films as the upcoming Infidel starring Omid Djalili, was asked for his advice on what it took to start innovative companies by Richard Wray of the Guardian… Here’s some of what he said:

Advice when starting an innovative company: work out what the points of industry and consumer resistance to your proposed innovation will be (i.e. vested interests, legacy technology or organisational structures, consumer behaviour etc). Assume they will be uncompromisingly disinterested or actively opposed to change.  Work out a SPECIFIC and TESTED plan as to how you will overcome that opposition. Put as much time into that as you do into the innovation itself.

A lot of the people with great ideas you see (on Dragon’s Den and elsewhere) only get as far as the innovation itself. Overcoming cultural change or the perception that things need to be done in a certain way is a massive challenge in all contexts, whether raising money for a startup or deploying a new process or technology within a business. Throw off the status quo, rebel against the man, man.

More on the Slingshot blog and perhaps in the Guardian this weekend. Keeping eyes peeled for brotherly fame.

Cross posted at Division6.

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As the biggest bike race in the world enters its second week, Brit Mark Cavenish is racking up the stage wins and the rivalry between Lance Armstrong and his “team-mate” Alberto Contador has reached fever pitch but other than the battles on the road something interesting is also happening with how the tour is being reported on – especially on twitter.  Cycling is a relatively niche sport and doesn’t generate huge amount of coverage in the back pages of the UK nationals – so how is Twitter helping the cycling enthusiast?

I”ve talked before about how Lance Armstrong successfully uses a variety of social media tools to boost the profile of his LiveSTRONG charity but this year for the first time, loads of the riders involved in the race are posting regular twitter updates, before and after each stage – giving followers a real insight into how each rider is feeling. The tweets are also being used more and more by traditional media as direct quotes in articles – sometimes forming the basis for an entire article, an example from yesterday here.

So not only can cycling enthusiasts get more frequent and timely updates direct from their favourite stars but the real time coverage on twitter is better than the normally reliable BBC Sport. Thanks to ITV’s Tour De France twitter feed – followers can get updates on the race quicker than ever before. Updating in 140 characters speeds up the process a bit!

Twitter being useful – might sound amazing to some but to a cycling geek during the Tour it really is.

And just because I can – here is Mark Cavendish wining stage two of this year’s tour via this YouTube clip.

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Hedge find

Forget hedge funds – hedge finds are where it’s at in 2k9.

If you’re stuck for something to do this weekend, why not head for the Bedfont Peacocks, in Middlesex.

This is where you’ll find a totally topiary-tastic bit of bush, in a lazy subburb in the shadow of Heathrow airport.

You can read more at ‘Nothing to See Here’ a great blog dedicated to quirk British places that most people overlook.

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I think Spotify is fantastic – www.spotify.com. It is great to have an on-line jukebox with millions of songs with high quality sound. You can listen to all kinds of tunes once only, including those naff ones you would never dream of buying, without having to buy them. I introduced Spotify to my kids who now use it a lot too. Their response made me think about how they will be about security when they come into the workplace. They have created one account which they share with their friends  at school and then they create playlists for each other. A bit like the way people used to give each us compilation cassette tapes but less hassle. I wonder whether they will need lessons on security and privacy when they start in the workplace. However it does make you realise how open tomorrow’s workforce will be to collaboration technologies.

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Feeling blu

We’ve been researching Blu-ray a lot this week. As a relatively young format it’s been through a lot – the initial (and ultimately victorious) battle with Toshiba’s HD-DVD, widespread consumer confusion and the threat of digital downloads.

But now the tide seems to be turning. Increasing adoption of HD programming from the likes of Sky, Virgin and Freesat is getting the message through to consumers that their shiny new HDTVs are only really HD when a proper source is plugged in. Prices of Blu-ray players and the discs themselves are falling, they’re becoming more visible in stores, and adverts which would previously have DVD as the main format are now leading with the Blu-ray version.

The technology is also evolving. Interactive content through the BD Live service is being realised, moving away from simple web pages with more trailers to real dynamic content that isn’t available anywhere else. A good example is last year’s The Dark Knight, which featured a live, community commentary with the director. A new development this year will be seen with the release of Watchmen, where a special edition will also include a PS3 game, taking advantage of that format’s shared userbase.

So, what do you all think of Blu-ray? Have you seen it going and do you think it lives up to the hype?

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I have a confession to make: I’m on my knees thanks to a filthy new addiction: growing my own grub.

Every day I end up covered in organic soil from seeding, potting, planting out, digging in, uprooting, weeding, and going toe-to-toe with zombie-like slugs and death-from-above wood pigeons. And before you think I’ve lost the plot, I’m not the only one.

Urban farming is a dirty new trend taking root in London’s zone 2 neighbourhoods and beyond, thanks to projects like Landshare, which just launched this week. Landshare matches untended (or unwanted) gardens with garden-less growers.

Swapping Starbucks for PH soil tests

As a grower – I ran my first urban farming project last year – I’m all for it, and have signed up to assist less-able folks in their growing efforts. Plenty of people in my area are taking part, as East Dulwichians swap their Nars varnish for soil-caked fingernails, their Converse sneakers for Hunter wellies, and Starbucks for soil PH tests. There are a number of drivers behind this behaviour.

Trends like the slow food movement, the food miles debate, and the economic nosedive are convincing people to think differently when it comes to their scran. London needs 125 times its own area to provide the resources it consumes,  so it’s no surprise people are taking matters into their own hands.

Mutant carrots

Some people are even calling for participatory landscaping with a greater sense of urgency than Landshare, an article on which features my highly experimental mutant carrot strain from last season.  However, if you’re not convinced about turning London’s available spaces – from decked yards to vacant lots – into urban farms, then at least sharpen your secateurs for fashion’s sake.

Gardening as vandalism

If you need any more convincing that it’s hip to grow, then look no further than achingly hip sportswear brand, Adidas, whose guerrilla gardening project last year saw the brand ‘vandalise’ public spaces with flower power. What’s next I wonder – Banksy ditching his spray paint for mushroom spores to save the world?

Crossposted at my other blog.

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