Six Ideas That Made Us Think

1. Making Drones Meaningful

IBM has been issued a patent for a drone that delivers hot coffee. Here is a sketch:


Beyond the convenient delivery, the patent claims that the drone “uses sensors to scan the people for individuals who have gestured for a drink or for whom an electronic analysis of sensor data indicates they are in a predetermined cognitive state.” 


2. Aretha Discovered

Aretha Franklin’s death in August unleashed a wave of remembrances, YouTube clips, and appreciations for one of the greatest all-time voices. But perhaps the best is this 1972 interview, in which John Hammond of Columbia Records (who signed Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, and later Bruce Springsteen) recalled his reaction to hearing Aretha sing the first time: 

I’ve always been a freak for gospel music. So one day a songwriter named Curtis Lewis came in with a demo of about five of his tunes. The third tune was a thing called “Today I Sing the Blues,” and it was just this girl on piano. And I screamed! I said for Chrissakes who is this? He said: “She’s a 17-year old girl from Detroit.” And I said can she do anything else, and he said she was a gospel singer who sang with her father’s choir with Sam Cooke. So I said, uh-oh, if RCA ever finds out about her, I’m in great trouble.

Also worthwhile: Stephanie Zacharek’s Time essay on Franklin’s ability to reinterpret someone else’s song, and these incredible photos of her recording in New York in the 1970s. 

3. How Not to Think About Brands

The indispensable Bob Hoffmann, veteran agency head, pokes holes in the prevailing wisdom about brands:

The biggest assumption that marketers are making is that consumers are “in love” with the brands, that consumers want to “have relationships” with brands, and want to read branded storytelling, and all that stuff. Consumers don’t care that much about brands. Consumers have lives of their own to worry about. Our brands are very important to us marketers, but not very important to most consumers.  

4. Interview with Penn Gillette

Vulture’s interview with magician Penn Gillette covers a lot of territory: entertainment, politics, growing up, David Copperfield, and Donald Trump. Among the many nuggets is Gillette’s observation about what has changed the most in the magic business:

The biggest trend I’m seeing in magic is what we saw in comedy 15 years ago, which is that the boys’ club is crumbling. Three years ago, it was maybe one girl every two years who would come up after a show and say she was interested in magic. Now it’s about three girls a week – 12-year-old girls with a deck of cards in their hands saying, “I’m going to be on Fool Us.” This year on Fool Us we had six women magicians working solo. And out of those six, five fooled us. Now the average rate we have for being fooled is 12 percent. But solo women fool us almost 100 percent of the time. 

5. Where People Are Flying

The Spectator Index has published the list of the world’s busiest air routes. Thought provoking.

 1. Jeju to Seoul
2. Melbourne to Sydney
3. Mumbai to Delhi
4. Fukuoka to Tokyo
5. Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo
6. Sapporo to Tokyo
7. LA to San Francisco
8. Brisbane to Sydney
9. Cape Town to Johannesburg
10. Beijing to Shanghai

6. Amsterdam Gets Strict

Tourists love Amsterdam, but Amsterdam doesn’t always love them back. Der Spiegel reports how, in a city with 850,000 residents but 18 million annual tourists, a backlash has started:

 The city’s new marketing coup, "Enjoy and Respect," is an unprecedented campaign aimed at scaring people into better behavior. It is targeted at Amsterdam's most frequent guests: party-loving men between the ages of 18 and 34, devoted to alcohol and other drugs. Whenever these men log onto the internet in the red-light district and the entertainment district of Leidseplein, images pop up with slogans explaining that Amsterdam deserves respect, and noting the 140-euro fines for loud singing, rambunctious behavior, littering and urinating on building walls. Even drinking on the street is punishable by a 90-euro fine. Two weeks ago, the mayor announced that the so-called Handhaver, municipal employees who enforce new rules, can and will collect fines immediately using card readers. 


Websites Worth Reading

Trade β Blog Everything about trade

PolicyViz An analysis of every graph published in the American Economic Review since 1911

Ad Contrarian Still one of the better ad blogs


Feeds We Follow

@SpectatorIndex Fascinating lists

@WOFAnswers Funny Wheel of Fortune possibilities

@DCPL The DC Public Library has a great Twitter feed!