With bells on

Feet wearing different multi-coloured socks.
Little Miss Matched

My five-month old daughter has just been given a great pair of Lamaze Foot Finder socks. As well as being very colourful, the two insects on the tips of the toes contain rattles. They’re supposed to stimulate development, and they were an immediate success with our little girl.

Colourful socks with insects on the toes.
Lamaze Foot Finder socks

I wonder if this is a sign of things to come, however? Little Miss Matched is apparently a big hit with 8 to 12 year olds in the US!

Making the news

Here’s an interesting story: Bloug Entry (Dec 02, 2004: Using Search Log Analysis to Predict the Future).

It seems the Financial Times analyses it web site search statistics to identify unpublished stories that interest its readers, and the editorial staff then consider running stories on those subjects.

This approach to news-making obviously has significant implications for the traditional definition of “news worthy”, and gives new meaning to the suggestion that the media simply “give people what they want to hear”.

Well, I thought it was interesting!

Dominica discovered

News of the Caribbean island of Dominica has been like waiting for a bus. Nothing for years, and then three items come along all in a row.

The first reference to the nature island of the Caribbean was on television a few of weeks ago. BBC2 included footage of the island in its documentary series on family history, Who do you think you are?, when featuring the news presenter Moira Stuart. Some of Ms Stuart’s maternal ancestors came from Dominica.

Then on Wednesday BBC Radio 4’s programme Woman’s Hour reported on the Dominican author and politician Phyllis Shand Allfrey. It seems some of her short stories have been republished.

Finally on Friday Woman’s Hour interviewed Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC, who’s been declared Parliamentarian of the Year. Not only does she have family history in Dominica, but she’s also a member of the Bar of Antigua and the Commonwealth of Dominica.

With all that out of the way, it’s probably safe to assume that we won’t hear anything more about Dominica for the rest of the decade.

I’m a Londoner

The Londonist, a “website about London”, believes that:

You don’t have to live in London long before you get offered a pair of bargain “high spec” speakers out of the back of a white van. It’s like a coming-of-age ritual…once you’ve been offered some dodgy stereo equipment you can truly call yourself A Londoner.

Well, that’s exactly what happened to me once while I was walking along Holland Park Avenue. I’d no idea it was a scam, let alone such a common one! Of course, I’m far too straight-laced to even consider such an offer, but I also had two pairs of stereo speakers that I wasn’t using, so no harm was done.

Guess I’m a Londoner now though!

McLuhan strikes again

This week’s Economist magazine contains an interesting article (subscription required) on the survival of high street bookshops despite the increasing success of their online rivals.

It seems bookshops were expected to disappear once we’d all switched to Amazon:

“Everyone got the internet wrong when they assumed it would replace retail,” says James Heneage, the boss of Ottakar’s. “It’s simply a new channel.” That may be a comforting thought for other [high street] retailers as Christmas approaches.

Of course, Marshall McLuhan wouldn’t have been surprised. In 1964 he wrote:

“…it is only too typical that the “content” of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium. It is only today that industries have become aware of the various kinds of business in which they are engaged. When IBM discovered that it was not in the business of making office equipment or business machines, but that it was in the business of processing information, then it began to navigate with clear vision. The General Electric Company makes a considerable portion of its profits from electric light bulbs and lighting systems. It has not yet discovered that, quite as much as AT&T, it is in the business of moving information.”

From Understanding media: the extensions of man (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.)

6 Myths Of Creativity

From Fast Company | The 6 Myths Of Creativity:

5. Competition Beats Collaboration

There’s a widespread belief, particularly in the finance and high-tech industries, that internal competition fosters innovation. In our surveys, we found that creativity takes a hit when people in a work group compete instead of collaborate. The most creative teams are those that have the confidence to share and debate ideas. But when people compete for recognition, they stop sharing information. And that’s destructive because nobody in an organization has all of the information required to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

I knew it all along.