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Sunday Random Bits & more creativity on speed

It's not too late to get in on: record an album in 28 days, the RPM'07 Challenge. You've got until the end of the month to do 10 songs or 35 minutes of original material. It shares the philosophy of the wildly popular nanowrimo (National Write a Novel in a Month) and the 24-hour filmmaking festival I talked about in my earlier How to make something amazing, right now (and in creativity on speed).

There's also a new book about creativity on speed (or at least on restrictions) called The Houdini Solution, by Ernie Schenk, and I really enjoyed the book. I hesitated before recommending it because as good as it is, it's kind of preaching to the choir here at this blog... making a case for constraint-based creativity isn't something most of you need to be sold on. But two things prompted me to post it anyway:

1) Even if you're already up the curve on these ideas, chances are pretty high that other people you know and work with are not. It's a great long-plane-ride book to give to others.

2) Given that I read it with the, "This is great stuff, but we already know this..." attitude, I suddenly realized that I'd dog-eared more than 20 pages. That's a lot, and I'm the mistress of dog-earing. (You might want to just skim the first 3 chapters, then start reading every word at chapter 4).

Other Somewhat Random Things

My friends over at the The Enthusiast Group know a lot about passion and community--it's what their entire business is about (check out the mountain biker's group). Very, very roughly it's kind of the Dogster of sport activities for people who have a passion for running, cycling, or climbing (hey, we're from Boulder, CO where it's a law to participate in at least one of those). These guys at the Enthusiast Group are doing a lot of things right including the tagline that we could ALL take a lesson from:

Your stories. Your photos. It's all about you and the road.

They're doing an excellent job of getting members/users involved in submitting stories, and I'm amazed at how much they've managed to do in a short time. [Disclaimer: I've advised them, but only the tiniest bit. In other words, not enough to take any credit for any of the good things they've done.] I simply reminded them to keep focused on making it about helping their users/members grow. One thing I would really like to see them add are tutorials (even just one) on how to write good stories (and take appropriate photos).

This goes for any site that depends on user-submitted stories, or even just discussion forums. For example, in the javaranch forums, there's a link from the main forum page to an article on how to ask--and answer--good questions. But in a community site where you're expecting articles and stories, anything you can do to help people improve their knowedge and skills ("Here's how to write a killer travel story!") would help everyone.

In other words, turn your "citizen"-member-users-participants into good amateur photo-journalists.

Let's see... Six Apart's Anil Dash has a fun post about tuxedo t-shirts.

Ahhhh HELP me with this easter-egg-in-a-logo that Gnome Guy Dave Neary sent to drive me nuts. I think I've got it figured out (but he had to give me a hint first), but I'm not sure. So before I ask him, I'll ask you guys. It's from the train company TGV.

Matt Heinz from Matt on Marketing pointed me to a great post on yet another thing we can learn from entertainment: the idea sandbox: elevator pitch. I recommend it!

I'm interested in getting this book: The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies by professor Scott Page, who looks like he's doing some really interesting work. (example: teaches his students about heuristics by having them play the game Rush Hour)

Vincent Flanders (who brought us Web Pages That Suck ) has a safe-for-work-and-politically-correct version for non-profits at Is my website inneffective.

Searchbots.net looks really interesting. Anybody know more about it?

I'm a little slow to getting to this (everyone has probably seen this by now), but Josh Clark (global moxie) wrote here about the "Empathy Suit" for designers.

There's a new site that could be REALLY helpful, but only if a lot more people were using it -- it's called Hallway Testing, and the idea is simple: you submit your site to ask for usability feedback, and participants can tell you what they think. I think it's great for two reasons:

1) The obvious: targeted feedback by people who aren't necessarily our users (who may not be as objective).

2) By participating as a reviewer/evaluator, you can build your skills in usability.

Superbowl Commercials Update: for those of you who, like me, do not have television, the only downside is not seeing the superbowl commercials. So... iFilm to the rescue!

• IFILM will be live-blogging commercials during the game.

• In addition to the new 1007 ads, IFILM's archive includes Super Bowl Ads
from 2002-2007 here.

• An IFILM original remake of Miller Lite: Catfight, a Super Bowl classic.

• Uncensored, banned, behind the scenes, and alternate edits here.

• Super Bowl classics like Apple 1984 here.

• A blogger's kit with embeddable players and XML feeds here.

Have fun!

Posted by Kathy on February 4, 2007 | Permalink


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» Is Your Web Site Ineffective? from smArts
Having just gone through some recommendations on designing an effective web site with my students, today I found a great guide at Nonprofit Tips (via Creating Passionate Users). “Is my Website Ineffective?,” by Vincent Flanders, is looooong, but very m... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 15, 2007 7:11:38 AM


Fyi, tonight's Super Bowl ads are also available at

Posted by: Bill Mietelski | Feb 4, 2007 8:14:33 PM

It took me days of following FedEx trucks around to find the Easter Egg in their logo ;) ... but what the heck, I'll take a shot - the top of the TGV logo kinda looks like a railroad spike.

Of course, this is coming from a city boy who's only train trips were on the Subway going downtown :)

Posted by: Bill Mietelski | Feb 4, 2007 8:35:08 PM

TGV sometimes runs multiple train sets for increased capacity. Where two sets meet looks like the letter V. This is my guess as to the logo's "easter egg."

Posted by: Jonathan | Feb 4, 2007 11:42:38 PM

I think if you look at the logo upside down, it looks like a snail, funny for a TGV (high speed train).

Posted by: fred | Feb 4, 2007 11:59:00 PM

Thanks for linking to Idea Sandbox... the bit on the "Elevator Pitch." I'm glad you found it linkworthy! - Paul

Posted by: Paul (from Idea Sandbox) | Feb 5, 2007 1:25:56 AM

About the TGV logo :
- a) 'TGV' stands for 'Train à Grande Vitesse' : 'High Speed Train' - commercial speed up to 320km/h.
- b) take the logo and move it upside down : you get a snail. Which is kind of a cool joke for a train that goes that fast ;-)

Posted by: Marc Duchesne | Feb 5, 2007 4:03:25 AM

For the cute logo, the TGV (aka Train à Grande Vitesse, High Speed Train) is a subsidiary of the Venerable, French Railway Company (www.SNCF.fr). 2007 is a very special year for the TGV because, the eastern part of the network will be open to the public in june. It will put Strasbourg (500 km from Paris) at say, 02h20 minutes instead of 04:.. -I'll save you the minutes-.. Cute !

From Paris,


Posted by: Liberté | Feb 5, 2007 8:10:56 AM

Thanks for the kind words, Kathy. We've definitely stole- uh, borrowed a lot of your ideas. :)

Posted by: Derek Scruggs | Feb 5, 2007 10:14:13 AM

Is the fact that the TGV logo is also an image of a gazelle too obvious?

Posted by: Nils Davis | Feb 5, 2007 4:24:20 PM

I thought it was pi!

Posted by: Kitty | Feb 5, 2007 6:56:22 PM

Ah, I used to love that Miller catfight commercial.

Posted by: TeesMyBody.com T-Shirts | Feb 6, 2007 9:08:38 AM

It looks to me like someone lying face down on an exercise ball, hands and knees on the ground.

Posted by: Sarah | Feb 22, 2007 12:42:41 AM

I am passionate about customer retention, and so much of what you write is so true.

I love the images you've posted up. They're really funny, and again, painfully true.

Posted by: Eliezer Gonzalez | Feb 26, 2007 3:38:54 PM

Thanks to this post on the RPM07 challenge, I have spent the last three weeks creating music, sometimes working til *very* late. Three weeks of little sleep, on top of the 9 til 5 has left me a little jaded but delighted that I've completed the challenge. 9 tracks, 37 minutes. All RPMers have to have their CD in the post to NH by 1st March, so we're very close to the deadline now. Mine went in the post an hour ago.

Thanks for sharing the link!

Posted by: Mike K Smith | Feb 28, 2007 6:03:56 AM


Posted by: Grup hepsi | Jun 19, 2007 10:50:27 AM

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