Blockbuster is dead. It has been a long time coming but the demise of the cultural icon of home movie viewing is officially over, heralding the end of an era where renting a movie was an “event” that offered a sense of excitement and anticipation of leaving the house to wander the aisles of the video store in search of an evening of entertainment.
What I find particularly interesting about Blockbuster closing its last 300 stores is the juxtaposition of the demise of the video store with the revival of vinyl and the rise of record stores. Every city and town that I have been to lately has one, if not a few, record stores. The growth of record stores confounds all logical explanation in a world where analog technology is going the way of the dodo.
All of this makes me wonder if VHS tapes will eventually make a comeback. I realize there are all kinds of arguments about the quality of sound that vinyl produces that probably do not apply to the quality of video that is possible with VHS technology. But nonetheless there is word creeping out about VHS watching parties in such hotspots as Hollywood and Brooklyn and VHS swap meets in Seattle, Portland, and Austin. So if you have an old VCR and VHS collection that you just haven’t been able to part with, don’t throw it out just yet. And as for your old Blockbuster membership card… you may want to hold on to that too, because once VHS comes back around the way vinyl has, you may just be able to use it again.
This week has Samsung announcing a smartwatch, the crowds anticipating a new iPhone, Google announcing the next version of Android (KitKat) yet I’m reading more and more about people using pencils. It’s too early to consider it a reaction to all of the technology we carry, but there is something nostalgic about carrying and using pencils. I’m old enough that there is something slightly more real about handwriting lists, thoughts, ideas, etc.
I’ve also noticed there is an almost cult-like devotion to the pencil in various pockets on the internet. Field Notes has created an entire business around pencils and quality paper for writing things down. Even Kottke.org recently featured an article on loving pencils. So, as back-to-school season is in full swing, grab a #2 and start writing.
You might anticipate, or even expect, skincare company Nivea to provide a steady stream of innovation in the personal wellness and beauty category. They’ve always excelled in creating products that add a bit of sparkle and sensation to everyday necessities. But now for something innovative <em>and </em>unexpected from the skincare giant: an interactive ad that gives consumers a little extra boost of power. Just in time for the sweltering summer heat, Nivea’s new line of suncare products was introduced with a little something extra for consumers-a solar power charger for smartphones. The ad is constructed with an interior solar panel and exterior phone plug. The premise is simple, with Nivea’s line of suncare products you never have to leave the sun. Not even to charge your phone.
Of course, Nivea can’t take sole credit for the ad. They had a big helping hand from advertising agency, Giovanni + Draftfcb (São Paulo, Brazil), who masterminded the concept. From my perspective there are several things to love and note about this ad. First off the word play is cheeky and fun: the ad links the idea of maximizing your day in the sun by wearing Nivea suncare products to “solar power” by literally charging your phone and metaphorically charging your self through the sun’s rays. Second, and perhaps most important, this ad increases consumer’s engagement with the brand by bringing them an immediate, tangible, and memorable benefit.
Nivea’s new suncare ad premiered in Brazilian magazine, Veja Rio, and there’s no word on whether the ad will make it stateside before the summer rays have left. Some of you may disagree with me and think this is a silly execution of a concept (no one should really stay out in the sun all day after all and the need to charge your phone isn’t that compelling of a reason to leave the beach), but I think the concept of the “functional” ad is pretty inspiring and might just stick around beyond the last splash of summer.
We often hear about technology’s double-edged sword: it’s intended to bring us closer together but more often than not, it distracts and disrupts us from making real human connections. As we continue the debate on technology’s role in facilitating honest and emotional communications, engineers, programmers, and designers are taking baby steps toward making technology feel more human.
Take for instance, the new free app from Rebtel: Re:Beat. This is the first app to take a function of the human body-the thud thud of a heartbeat-and turn it into a digital “love note.” The app works like this: the camera and flash function on a smartphone “senses” the beat of a person’s heart by measuring subtle changes in the color of their fingertip. Next, the rhythm is animated as an image of a beating heart. As a Valentine’s Day bonus, the app provides a couple of heart warming messages to send along with the personalized heartbeat.
Rebtel, one of the world’s largest mobile VoIP providers, designed the app as an homage to the everyday connections their services provide. According to the company “…sending your heartbeat to someone dear to you is a perfect way to express the depth of your love, especially if you’re not able to see them in person.”
Want to send a human connection in a digital package to your sweetie this Valentine’s Day? Here’s a link to the app. And from me to you, dear reader, Happy Valentine’s Day!
Despite the looming Mayan apocalypse there are still those looking boldly to the future and offering their prognostications for what our world might be should the poles fail to shift and the tides not rise.
Here is an assortment of trends for 2013 and beyond.
Frog Design examines the future of technology with the Tech Trends that Will Define 2013.
Mashable is looking ahead too with 11 Big Tech Trends for 2013. There is a lot to be excited about. I’ll give you one hint: ROBOTS.
Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013 is 17-5641, otherwise known as Emerald.
Say hello to baby Thor. Ancient names are among the Baby Name Trends for 2013.
“Snackification” and more in Baum+Whiteman’s Food and Dining Trends for 2013. (PDF)
The National Intelligence Council, the strategic thinking arm of the U.S. government, is looking far ahead to the Global Trends for 2030.
Harper’s Bazaar’s Most Anticipated Hair Trend for Spring 2013: Knots.
What you’ll be watching: the Atlantic’s 18 Films to Look Forward to in 2013.
And finally, no one is looking forward to the apocalypse more than Jets’ fans: 5 Changes the Jets Must Make in 2013.
Merriam-Webster has released its list of new words being added to the 2012 update of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary. This years list includes 25 new words and their exact definition as defined by Webster. From “brain cramp,” “e-reader,” and “underwater” to “f-bomb” and “sexting,” the list provides a revealing look at American culture.
Who determines which words make the cut? Merriam-webster.com says their editors monitor the changing language and add new terms to the dictionary once those words come into widespread use across a variety of publications. Influences range from the global financial crisis to technologies to Oprah Winfrey and her signature phrase “aha moment” (a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension).
Curious as to what made the list in 2011? Here’s a nice recap: