What better way to spread holiday cheer to those that need it most than downloading Google Chrome! Not what you expected? Well, Google Chrome has a new promotion that for every tab opened in Google Chrome between December 15th and 19th, they will donate to the charity of your choice (out of a given 5 options). This is a great opportunity for people to give without having to leave their couches and computers, but it's also an incredible marketing ploy for Google Chrome! This is something that other websites could take note of in order to increase webpage views, however, most don't have the extraordinary power that Google possesses. All in all, it's pretty impressive, so I hope some of you out there will try it out!

Toyota Ideas for Good

Many of you may have seen the Toyota commercial where a mother talks about how she is more confident with her son's safety playing football due to Toyota technology regarding head injuries. If you haven't, you can watch it here. This commercial is part of a new Toyota campaign called "Ideas For Good". There are 3 steps to becoming part of Ideas For Good. A contributor first picks from five different Toyota technologies. They then think of a creative way to improve our lives using that technology, unrelated to cars. The last step involves the users sharing their big ideas online to make the world a better place. I thought this sounded similar to something we might learn in class and it turns out the challenge is a collaboration between InnoCentive and Toyota. There is one winner for each of the five technologies, and they get to pick from a new 2011 Prius, Venza, or Highlander Hybrid. It's amazing to me that one of the world's most successful car companies is asking the general public to contribute in order to change the way we think about car technology. What do you think? Is Toyota Ideas for Good a step forward for the car industry?

I found this article very interesting and thought it was relevant to post it on the blog. RockMelt is the newest Internet browser (Safari, Firefox, IE, Google Chrome) and it offers some really innovative features. Instead of having the go to a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter, RockMelt has sidebars with these applications already built in. While you surf the Web at your leisure, you can simultaneously access all features of Facebook (chat, posts, photos, etc.) and Twitter. You can also subscribe to other websites like CNN or NYTimes. Whenever a new article is written, you receive a notification. RockMelt brings the media to you rather than you having to go out and search for it. I encourage everyone to check it out. Currently it is invite only, but send me (Evan Diamond) a Facebook message and I can send invitations. Thanks!

On October 27, 2008, a new video game called LittleBigPlanet was released on the Playstation 3 vidieo game console. Developed by an innovative group of developers at Media Molecule studios, this game took an entirely new approach to gaming by giving the players full control over their gaming experience. Players were given all of the tools that the developers at Media Molecule used to build the game so that they were able to create their own levels. In this manner, players were able to cater their gaming experience to their own tastes. Furthermore, by being able to share your creations with other players around the world, LittleBigPlanet created a sense of community that is unrivaled by any other video game--this community has already built over 3 MILLION LEVELS, and remember that this was purely for their own satisfaction and pleasure.

While earlier games had given players similar creation tools, the experience in LittleBigPlanet was much more refined and user-friendly, which is why the game saw such great success and sold over 4.5 million copies worldwide.
Now, in 2010, Media Molecule is getting ready to completely revolutionize the video game industry once more. Recognizing the success of LittleBigPlanet (LBP), Media Molecule is prepping to release its successor, LittleBigPlanet 2 (LBP2) , by the end of this year. Arguably more so than LBP, LBP2 is offering players unlimited capabilities in creating their own gaming experience. LBP was marketed as a "platforming game," but LBP2 is being marketed as a "platform for games." I'll explain:
LBP certainly gave users the ability to innovate and contribute their creations to the rest of the LBP community. However, their creation tools were limited to a 2D plane--everything in the level design had to be built around this side-scrolling, 2D game platform. Now, with LBP2, Media Molecule is removing this limitation, giving users FULL control over the creation process, in 360 degree 3D environments. Imagine the possibilities this provides to creators...they can essentially replicate any other gaming experience that exists, spanning across a variety of genres. Thus, in LBP2, expect to see not only side-scrolling platform gameplay, but racing, first-person shooter, role-playing, adventure, puzzle, strategy, sports, arcade, and any other gameplay types that the LBP community can think of.
Conceivably, this unlimited ability to create video game experiences in LBP2 could change the way developers approach the video game creation process. If LBP2 is as successful as LBP (or more so), this type of game could take over a large part of the market. Imagine if there were only one type of video game--one with an open platform--and its users created all the various types of games that currently exist on their own. For example, if I were in the mood for a sports game one day, I could just create it and then play it. The next day, I could create a puzzle game, play it, and so on.
Whether or not this trend would be a good thing or not is up for debate. The video game industry would become completely homogeneous, with the initial content in video games varying only in their titles and themes. Some might argue that this would limit the quality of games, since everyday users do not possess the same expertise and skill in creating video games as do professional developers. On the other hand, others might argue that this could improve the variety of gaming experiences, since the collective imagination of all the players would vastly surpass the creative capabilities of a select group of developers.
Either way, it will be extremely exciting to see what people create when LBP2 is released this year.

Textsfromlastnight.com is a wonderful reminder that user innovation can take place even when the contributors are operating at less then optimal mental capacity. Users send in their entertaining text messages to the sites editors, who then decide whether or not the text is worthy of publication on their site. The funny thing is, these texts are likely remembered far more clearly by the readers of the site than the people who originally sent them. The site has recently expanded into the t-shirt business, selling t-shirts bearing the text from last night that you wish. They have also put out a book showcasing the most profound texts. It looks like all the dumb things you say while under the influence do have value after all!


I remember we talked a little about digg.com in class. I recently stumbled across reddit.com and found it similar to digg. Users submit links that they find interesting and people upvote or downvote it depending on if they like it or not. The links with the most votes get moved to the top. Everyone can check it out at reddit.com

I came across a business news article that mentioned this site and decided to check it out. Blank-label.com is a co-creation site that lets users design their own dress shirts (at the moment, only men's shirts are offered, though). First, you pick the fabric of your shirt, and then the style of the cuffs, collar, placket, pocket and shoulders. Next, you can individualize buttons, create a monogram, and design a label. Finally, you get to individualize sleeve length, collar size and fit preference. Shirts start at $55 and add-ons cost and additional $2-$12.

Overall, the site is well-designed and the whole creation process is really easy and user-friendly. I think a great next step for the company would be to introduce a women's shirt as this is an idea that I could see appealing to a lot of women.

In my opinion, cooking is a form of innovation. I happened to stumble upon this concept of "incubator kitchens" while researching for a paper and it really reminded me of Sector 67. Incubator kitchens are kind of like the food version of a tech shop, where people pay for use of a commercial kitchen to produce things and innovate. Incubator kitchens help entrepreneurs to start up small food businesses by providing "on-demand" use of a commercial kitchen with kitchen equipment at an affordable cost. The incubators can also provide marketing and technical assistance to get products and businesses up and running. Madison doesn't currently have an incubator kitchen, but there are plans underway to develop one here.
I'm glad that there are toolkits available for ordinary people who might not have the resources in their kitchens or in their pockets to create wonderful (and edible) works of art.

Here's the link to the article

Imagine how many trees are cut down and sold to be decorated in living rooms across America every Christmas season. I recently saw a story on the news where companies across America are making it possible to buy a potted Christmas tree that can be picked up and replanted after the holiday. I can't think of anything better than helping the environment and not having dead pine needles all over the living room. Check out the short video on this "growing" trend.

No the picture to the left is not a sports car pumping gas, it's actually the new Tesla Roadster 2.5 hooked up to an outlet. The Roadster is a high performance fully electric car being rolled out in the near future. The car gets over 200 miles in a single charge, and can go from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds!

Over the past decade it has seemed like new car technologies; plug-in hybrids, fully electric cars, and the ever highly touted fuel cell cars, have been continually hyped but when it comes to rolling them out into production, it always seems like they are just a few more years off from actually being produced. Much of this hype and then continual disappointment has lead a green enthusiast like myself to become increasingly skeptical of when the "future" of green cars would actually arrive. But with the production of the Roadster it looks like we have finally reached that point. The main barrier to widespread sales of electric vehicles is the perception about lack of performance, combined with high prices.
The Roadster proves that electric cars don't have to sacrifice functionality and style to be environmentally friendly, but even the cheapest Roadster sells for a staggering $57,000! What gives me hope though, is that the large auto manufacturers like Ford, Toyota, Nissan and GM will all be releasing much more reasonably priced plug-in hybrids, or fully electric vehicles in 2011 and 2012.
Is the future of car innovation finally here, by all estimates it looks to be a resounding yes!

Innovative Ideas

When going through the course recap one thing really struck me. What I believe all of us really enjoyed, and definitely something we will all take away from MKT 440, are all of the stories that we heard about. This could be a form of innovation discussed in class, or more likely, a cool innovative product that we watched a video of or discussed. It really makes one realize how many creative people there are out there, and that not all good ideas have to come from the corporate sector. In fact, it seems that many of the best ideas come from innovative individuals who identify a problem they have in their own lives and seek out a way to fix it. Here's a link to a website that has photos of what are definitely consumer created products. And while I don't know what the functionality of many of them are, and realize that many will never hit the market, it's refreshing to see all of these creative ideas, and I got a kick out of it.


There has been a lot of controversy of late about refereeing and umpiring in professional sports. Let's look at baseball specifically. In 2010, Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers had a perfect game ruined on an obvious blown call by umpire Jim Joyce. Joyce called the runner safe, when instant replay clearly showed that he was out. However, according to the rules implemented in 2008, instant replay in baseball can only be used to determine: whether a home run was fair or foul, whether the ball actually left the field, or whether the ball was subject to fan interference. This week was the annual Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida and instant replay was certainly discussed. If commissioner (and UW-Madison alum) Bud Selig decides to implement instant replay on safe/out or ball/strike calls, it will be truly innovative to the National Pastime. Personally, I like where the game is at. Baseball should not have a replay system but, that is just my opinion. What do you think? Is it time to innovate baseball?

After listening to a presentation in one of my other classes about 3D TV, I googled the topic and came across this...a 3D Camera?! Personally, I like my standard TV and camera, but this invention seems to open a whole new realm of possibilities! In the article it talks about how these devices would allow users to do the impossible and gives examples of its users being able to "walk on the soccer field" and "stand where the goalkeeper is."

Confused? I was too while reading the article, but check out the video because it clearly explains how the gadget works and what it will be able to do.

Typically, the equipment necessary for performing DNA diagnostic testing would cost about $500,000. However, a small company called Ion Torrent has developed a "desktop" DNA sequencing chip that sells for around $50,000. I found it very interesting that the inventors essentially modified or "tinkered" with semi conductor chips that are already able to be mass produced cheaply, in order to make an affordable machine. The article mentions that at this new low price, money-strapped hospitals around the world will now be able to afford these machines and perform DNA diagnostic testing. It is also mentioned that the semi conductor chip used in the machine is proprietary. If the chip is eventually made open-source, I would imagine the price of this technology would quickly plummet further as more and more individuals could collaborate on the design.
Check out the article for yourself!

This subject is particularly relevant for most the students on this blog because we are either looking for jobs/internships or have been recently hired...

I found an article at www.bankrate.com about innovative job search strategies. One of the strategies that was mentioned was using Facebook to connect with potential employers. One freelance writer placed an advertisement on Facebook in which she simply said 'I want to work for Harper Collins, can you help me?' Along with the ad she included a link that took the reader directly to her resume. Although the writer didn't get a gig with Harper Collins, she did get connected with about 100 people in a 2 week span, and even received a job offer from one. Instead of searching for someone who would take her, she instead had potential employers doing the work and looking at her qualfications and connecting her.

I think that the article and innovative strategy to find a job is thought provoking. Obviously this is not the most direct way into a specific company, but it is a creative way to potentially meet someone in the industry, or network with people who know people. At the very least it shows that perhaps trying something new in the job search and wandering off the beaten path can be a good thing, as it is a way to sepate yourself from the other 100 resumes in a dusty pile in the Recruiting Directors office.


I stumbled across this site recently and found that it is similar to Threadless.com They have users contribute artwork to be made into T-shirts and then there are contests to see which T-shirt well received. The pricing is pretty similar to Threadless. Also, Woot.com sells other products such as toys, daily deals, and wine. I believe the wine is mostly made by users, trying to promote their brand.

LEGO Revived Its Brand!

This article relates to our class because it talks about LEGO, and the challenges the company created by changing strategies throughout the years. One point in the article describes how Lego let its designers and customers "run free" with designs, only to find that these new designs required additional capital in new parts and were far from "kid friendly". LEGO needed to realize its customer and strategy, and has managed to revive its brand by doing so.

Although this is the first story I have read about the IPhone acting as a safety device, apparently it is becoming a common thing. The article points out how it taught a basketball coach along with a Haitian earthquake survivor how to save a life in a pressure packed situation. This could lead to a lot more individuals learning activities such as CPR due to the accessibility and not needing to take a class. This will hopefully lead to even better apps and hopefully make the world a safer place.

Its seems as if Google has launched yet another technology application to compete with an established competitor. Just as Google TV and attempts to infiltrate social media Google has officially opened an e-bookstore to compete with Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Apple. In partnership with Sony and over 4,000 publishers the Google bookstore will offer more than 3 million books including millions for free. Google has made apps compatible with smartphones, e-readers and PCs so, in theory, a person could read a book on his/her e-reader at home, then on their phone on the way to the office and finally at the computer when they get there. Although this isn't really considered innovation because it isn't an original concept, there is a sense that whenever Google does something it is looking to one-up the companies that occupied the market before them. Time will tell how much importance the market will place on Google's brand name compared to the already established e-readers like Amazon's Kindle. Did Google make meaningful enough improvements to the concept to draw customers away from Amazon or bring former skeptics into the market?

Crowd Sourced News

Global For Me is an interesting idea - a website that provides 'crowd sourced news'. How it works is that it allows users to post story ideas. The stories can be able anything (within reason) that a user is interested in being reported. Once a story is suggested and approved, a reporter is commisioned to seek out the information on the story, and publishes a full report within 30 days on the story.

Global For Me definitely seems like an interesting and innovative idea, though from searching the site it seemed that there are some inherent problems with it. First of all, it requires the submitter to provide compensation for his story. This makes me wary that it may be some sort of internet scam, or that a user may end up paying for a story that is subpar. Additionally, the website seemed to indicate that a group of users could work together to commission a story they are interested, though when I clicked on a link to past stories, I was given an error message.

Though Global For Me may not turn out to be 'the one,' the idea is intriguing and certainly has value. Most everyone reads some sort of news (be it entertainment, sports, finances, local, etc) in a variety of forms (newspapers, online, magazines). One problem though is that all this news being published is selected by the major companies for the most part! This gives a voice to each and every user, and lets them have the ability to say what stories are important to them. This is beneficial to everyone, as people will be more interested in reading a news source that addresses their interests, which in turn makes the publishers bank accounts more full. Hopefully Global For Me or some other company can figure out the right business model to take advantage of this idea

Google recently launched a new television platform (Google TV) that will replace channel surfing with Google searching. Google TV allows users to search their available television programs and the web at the same time. There are currently three ways to buy Google TV. Sony has come out with an internet TV and an internet Blu-ray player. The third way, and my favorite is The Logitech Revue. The Revue has a full keyboard equipped with a mouse pad.

There are two things that really stick out to me about Google TV and the future of our living rooms. The first is that Google plans to release Google TV as open source software in the near future. In my opinion, this will ultimately lead to more pirating of television shows and movies. The small inconvenience of waiting for ads to play will be altered and removed from TV by computer programmers around the world. The best thing about opening the source code to the public is that itcan utilize the most powerful computer engineering team on the planet. I personally can't code a thing, but I am excited to see more open source software being released. It improves the quality of the program, not only by listening to user feedback, but also letting them take action to resolve their own problems. The second thing is that Google is building an App Store. Until recently the only thing our televisions did was watch the channels you paid for. Now there are televisions that are able to watch youtube, use pandora, and stream netflix. You can also use your android or iphone as a remote control for some of them. These are just the beginning of the apps that will improve our television experience. Soon enough our television and computer will be fully integrated.

Oprah loves it, Google wanted to buy it (for 6 billion dollars), and it may be the fastest-growing company ever. Groupon is a two-year old company that offers a different deal-of-the-day to registered users of Groupon.com. The deals that Groupon offers are typically for 50% off at a local retailer; whether or not the deal is offered depends on how many users sign up for it. The interesting part is that Groupon keeps about half of all revenues from sales and by utilizing Groupon, retailers are often giving away their products at a loss. For example, if Groupon offers a $200 credit to a local retailer for only $100, that retailer only gets only $50.

So why would a retailer want to use Groupon? According to this article, there are three reasons: 1)When you get someone inside the door, they're likely to spend more than the Groupon value. 2)People bring their friends. And 3) first time customers are likely to become repeat customers.

Although Groupon's business model isn't particularly innovative, the company is innovating the way retailers reach new customers and markets. Groupon mainly works with small businesses that don't yet have a solid customer base, so reaching new customers is essential to their success--even if it means taking on a bit of a loss.

Given Groupon's massive success and easy-to-copy business model, similar sites have been quick to emerge and are eager to offer consumers even better deals than Groupon. It will be interesting to see how long Groupon can maintain its success and whether or not they can continue to innovate relations between retailers and consumers.

Outsourcing Art

An interesting example of artists utilizing a community to co-create art was recently featured in Esquire magazine. A project entitled "Ten Thousand Cents" paid 1 cent to 10,000 individuals, working in isolation, to draw a fraction of the overall project. However, the individuals did not know what the end project was supposed to be. The end result, as you can see, is a pretty good looking $100 bill!

Two key factors helped the project succeed. First, the 10,000 "artists" who worked on the project were sourced through Amazon Mechanical Turk. Mechanical Turk is based upon the idea that even in a world of incredible computing power, humans are still better at performing certain tasks. Examples include identifying pictures, transcribe audio recordings, or in this case, creating art. Mechanical Turk allows users to submit projects they need help with (the Requestors) and others to be compensated for completing the tasks (the Workers), in a model reminiscent of InnoCentive's brokering strategy.

The other crucial part of the project was that the 10,000 artists utilized a toolkit that provided online drawing capabilities (basic brushes, paint buckets, color swatches, etc.) to assist those lacking artistic abilities, enabling them to contribute. Overall, this project was a interesting look into the power of crowdsourcing, noting that some projects can be performed faster, cheaper, and more efficiently utilizing a large number of users working in isolation. Ten Thousand Cents really embodies an adage we all know: "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

My mom is a painter, and for that reason the colors of the walls in my house change almost as often as the season. It certainly keeps things interesting, but not everyone has their own personal stash of Sherwin-Williams color fans. If perhaps you're looking for a new fun and funky color scheme for whatever reason, this website has just made your life a whole lot easier. You can also see what the color scheme would look like to all your color blind friends. Maybe someday you'll be able to find and compare colors online and have them sent straight to the paint store?

Do you currently own a smartphone with a camera? You probably use that camera to send picture messages to friends or post photos to Facebook. What if you could use your camera to instantly search for any information about an object, product, or location?

Google, Amazon, and many other companies are currently working on a new technology that could revolutionize the way we search for information. The idea is that you could snap a picture and instantly be able to access search information about the objects in the picture. For example, you could be on a vacation and take a picture of a monument to instantly view information on the name and history of the monument etc. You could also be in a store and take a picture of a pair of shoes to instantly see product ratings and other online vendors selling the same item.

What do you think about this technology? Do you think this would change the way you search for information?


In my internship last summer I was asked to use a new form of technology to put together a presentation for the marketing team. I am, as I’m sure everyone else is, accustomed to power point so I was a bit leery. After a few hours on prezi.com, however, I found that I really liked the presentation style. A Prezi is an image based story board approach to presenting information. It is supposed to be more digestible for the audience and easier to map out ideas for the creator. PowerPoint is so ingrained in how we present that I think branching out to new ways of presenting information is incredibly innovative and worth a look. I highly recommend prezi.com.

A lot of people have issues finding a good not too personal but not too generic holiday gift for their bosses. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article featuring Young Yun from American Express and tips for how to find the perfect gift.

1) Listen throughout the year for tidbits about what they like. Ex: Your boss likes to cook and likes a certain restaurant... Gift basket with sauces from that restaurant and how to use them
2) If you haven't been listening for useful bits of information, a little facebook--- "searching" doesn't hurt either. Google, facebook, twitter, and even foursquare can tell you a lot about the person AND can lead you to a great gift idea!
3) People like to eat - even better if its something they can share with their team!
4) Flowers are okay, but not the best idea
5) Avoid anything prepackaged
And that's your Holiday gift advice!

A recent article in Wired magazine titled, “Everyone Hates Ticketmaster- But No One Can Take It Down,” highlights the struggles that startups are having in cracking into the lucrative ticketing business. Ticketmaster is the unquestioned giant in the ticketing industry, and despite its lack of innovation and how despised it is among consumers, it continues to dominate the industry while facing only minor threats from competitors. While new online ticketing companies like Ticketfly and Veritix are slowly gaining business, they still face an uphill battle in challenging Ticketmaster’s dominance.
This is a sobering reality, as one would think that Ticketmaster’s widespread unpopularity due to gouging customers on ticket prices would lead to an innovative upstart to begin to seriously cut into their market share. This hasn’t happened and it is vital to examine this when one discusses the possibilities of innovation, especially in relation to challenging the established corporate structure. What becomes evident when reading this article on Wired, is that individual consumers have very little power in changing the dynamics of this industry. Ticketmaster is able to continue to reap huge profits because it provides concert and sporting venues with what they want, high margins on ticket prices. Ticketmaster can continue to charge exorbitantly high prices as long as they are benefitting the concert and sporting venues that host these events. Because of the nature of the industry, it is the venues, rather than the end consumers who ultimately dictate which ticket provider is used. Thus, until widespread boycotts are organized by disillusioned concert goers, or venues decide to take an ethical stand against such high “service fees” being charged to consumers, it looks as if Ticketmaster is here to stay.

LEGO Build Together

I was watching TV before and came across this commercial for LEGO build together. It got me thinking about our LEGO exercise, and how many of us did not think that it was such a good idea. Some said they did not see fathers and sons being able to work together on the computer program, and some said that they could not see kids buying their creations online and rebuilding them. This new ad campaign (called Build Together), shows a father and son working on a LEGO project. I think that this was put into place as a way to reinforce the idea of a father building with his son, or a son building with his father. It seems to me that LEGO was well-aware of the difficulties we were raising as a class, and as a result, but these commercials into place.

Co-Created Abortion?

Abortion is a highly politicized topic with important ramifications. The decision to abort a pregnancy is extremely personal in nature and one that typically entails substantial anguish. Well, that was then; this is now. Pete and Alisha Arnold of Apple Valley, Minnesota, who are currently struggling with this difficult dilemma, have decided to elicit the power of the Internet to help them reach a decision. They have created a blog for their unborn child (birthornot.com) and are asking for your help. On this blog, you can learn more about them, see an ultrasound image of their unborn baby ("Wiggles") and vote whether or not they should have an abortion. Their tagline claims, "You can vote and choose whether we abort or keep our unborn child." They claim that they will follow the wisdom of the crowd (The final day for votes is December 9). In essence, they appear to be engaged in co-creating an abortion. Is this democracy in action or an example of really bad parenting?

An Intel researcher, Beverly Harrison, is designing computers that bridge the virtual and real worlds. Harrison feels there is a better way to interact with computers besides, "logging into the box." Read about the projects Harrison is currently working on in this article.
Do you think human-computer interactions, such as the ones described in this article, could become commonplace and part of our daily lives in the future?

3D Printing

Here are some pictures I took during last week's class on 3D printing. I hope these come out okay, but if not you can e-mail me and I can send them over. I know this is just my opinion, but I feel like I am speaking for the class in saying that this was one of the most interesting and entertaining lectures I have ever attended at the UW. Thanks for an awesome class, Prof. Aric!

Madison Dance Conference(MDC) is the largest dance collaboration ever on the UW-Madison campus and probably the largest across all campuses. It is a collaboration of 16 dance-oriented student organizations. The premise is a celebration of all forms of dance. MDC teaches lessons and on the final night has performances from all the dance groups. Here's the catch--groups pair up to do fusion dance performances. For example this year include mixes like the Irish step dancers dancing with break dancers and salsa dancers with bhangra crew. MDC for this year was yesterday, November 21, 2010. There were over 600 attendees, 8 performances, social dancing, and lessons. For more information check out the website. The video will be posted soon. You should watch it because it was awesome.

Recently posted on wired.com, an article discusses the DIY toolkits now available for people interested in building airplanes. Like the subtitle of the article says, it really is from toolkit to takeoff in two-weeks. At the hangar outside of Seattle, you can work on your plane with assistance from on-hand professionals to increase time efficiency and to meet FAA regulations (the "51%rule discussed in the article). The hangar provides all the tools and instructions you'll need; they even lay out the tools for the day before you arrive each day! This reminded me of working process of Local Motors, and yet the risk factor of the final product in this case seems much greater. Taking my life into my own hands on the road is one thing, but up in the air? I'm not sure I would have the guts, but kudos to all the customers worldwide who have participated in such an adventure.

In a burst of science-is-fun educational invention, a Brooklyn dad built a carrier for an iPhone (the current model) and an HD video camera, out of a takeout box, tied it to a weather balloon, and let it go with the camera running. It reached a height of nineteen miles, or about 100,000 feet, which is high enough to show the earth's curvature and a black sky above the atmosphere. At that height, the low pressure means that the helium expanded and the balloons burst, whereupon the little cushioned capsule came down, down, down — and landed 30 miles outside New York, signaling to its owners via the iPhone's GPS, whereupon they went and picked it up. The resulting six minutes of rivetingly weird film are sure to make Mythbusters fans weep with joy.

Video can be found here:

Jimmy Wales, one of the co-founders of Wikipedia talks in this video about the last ten years of Wikipedia and the growth he expects to see. It's an interesting and enlightening interview that sheds light on new projects like opening a new office in India. One thing I found very interesting was explaining how he believes Wikipedia formed because of the dotcom crash of the 1990s. I never thought about how consumer innovation really started to blossom from this event. Check it out!

Grow Your Own...Car

I saw this and instantly thought of Local Motors. To my surprise it is actually the new Biome concept car by Mercedes-Benz. The theme is "growing" your own car from start to finish in a "nursery" using a Symbiosis system. The results will be a unique and specialized car for each driver since no two cars will ever be the same.

Girl Talk, a "musician" discussed during our talk on tinkering, has just released yet another studio album entitled "All Day" that is available as a free download via his record label, Illegal Art. A large tour to back the album includes a stop in Madison on Monday, March 7. If you haven't seen Gregg Gillis live, definitely check it out (and grab your ticket SOON). Dance party!

The Groundswell

I had an internship last summer at Robert W. Baird & Co. in the marketing and communications department. Baird is a financial company that works mostly with customers in their 60’s. I spent most of my summer reading about mutual funds and diversification but I was also asked to read the book “Groundswell.” The book included a lot of examples about user innovation that we used in class (like LEGO Digital Designer) but also had some suggestions for companies like Baird who think they are immune to the innovation in the business world. I thought it was a pretty interesting book—especially if it has big financial companies reading it for help—so I thought I’d recommend it.

Although this isn't all that cool to most individuals, it is quite a big breakthrough in a field that is very straightforward and lacks a lot of innovation. Skygrid teamed up with American Family Insurance to offer a new Ipad app that allows its customers to walk through a variety of homes and learn about possible exposures based on the area they live. This is just the first step to eventually offering a lot more in depth online appraisals of individual homes and eventually saving a lot of customers and businesses a lot of time trying to figure out what type of insurance they should buy.

Repo Men

After learning about the innovation of producing body parts, I thought of a movie that I recently saw, Repo Men. It gives a chilling interpretation of the consequences of placing organs on the market.

I'll be honest, I'm wasting time on the computer right now, with the TV on in the background. One of my favorite features of the up and coming Google TV is picture in picture: browse the internet, do some searches, all while your show is playing in the bottom right corner- now that's multi-tasking.

I haven't decided yet if this is actually as cool as it sounds. It's easy enough to plug a laptop into a TV and do a lot of the same things. Plus, Hulu and many network channels have yet to make an App for Google TV, so the sites and access to their free shows are blocked until further notice.
I definitely think this is the future of television but it's not quite there yet.

Google TV Review

In just the past six years Kiva, an online microfinancing provider has managed to raise over $171 million dollars to help 445,000 entrepreneurs in 54 developing countries! Microfinancing is the process where local banks or lenders provide small loans to impoverished small business owners in developing countries, who would not be able to receive financing otherwise. What has been found, is because of the great debt these small business owners feel to the lenders, the repayment rates are much higher than bank repayment rates are.
What Kiva is doing, is connecting entrepreneurs in developing countries to lenders, primarily located in the United States. Entrepreneurs, or the local microfinancing institution they are working through, post a description of their proposed project and a brief bio about the person, group or family. Then lenders can search Kiva's website and look at all of these various projects in need of financing, and can select which ones they would like to loan their money to.
This project has been incredibly successful and helped enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. I think it really shows some of the positive power of innovation to generate greater social welfare worldwide.
Below is a link to Kiva's website where you can learn more, and even make a loan today!


What is ethical when it comes to tinkering with patent protected hardware? Is it different for hardware than it is for software? This article introduces Adafruit which is a company that sells DIY electronic kits and open source software. They are searching for programmers capable of hacking the new Microsoft Kinect device. Adafruit is offering a $2,000 reward to programmers that can produce drivers that will unlock the devices RGB camera, a depth-sensor, four microphones and motorized pivot. Microsoft is not supporting their efforts to unlock the device and has mentioned the possibility of a lawsuit. The situation is similar to the launch of Linux, but on a much smaller scale. Software giant Microsoft is trying to control the uses of its product, but creative programmers see potential for more functionality.

Microsoft fosters a containment culture. I think that if Microsoft allowed their customers to modify their hardware products they would see growth in sales. They need to capitalize on the modifications that their users are going to make regardless of their support.

I read an article yesterday about an undercover officer who videotaped a college student modifying an Xbox 360. The student was charging $60 for a modification on the Xbox that would allow you to download old school games to the hard drive. He is facing up to 10 years in prison. I think that something is very wrong with our laws if they are going to sentence a creative college student to 10 years in prison for making the Xbox better than it was.

In an effort to increase publicity for their green initiative "Ecomagination," GE is marketing in an unusual way...to a nontraditional group of consumers. In their campaign, "Tag Your Green," GE encourages younger consumers to let people know what environmental responsibility means to them. The site provides several interactive methods and suggestions as to how these younger consumers can engage in the campaign, citing YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook as possibilities.

In addition to the "Tag Your Green" Website, GE has also recruited YouTube "cewebrities" popular with teenagers and younger consumers to create videos advertising the campaign.  The YouTube cewebrities posted videos whose goal was  " [...] encouraging their fans to engage with the idea [of green living] by asking fans to come up with their own inventive ways to make nice with the environment." Fan videos and ideas are then posted and recognized on the "Tag Your Green" website. Michelle Phan (a cewebrity who offers beauty advice) posted this video as a part of the campaign.

By encouraging youth to innovate and collaborate with GE initiatives, GE hopes to expose future customers to their brand in an engaging manner early on. 

Backed by Netscape, the new social media-based browser "RockMelt" was launched today. The browser, developed conjointly by innovators Tim Howes and Eric Vishria (in complete secrecy), has been dubbed a "social browser" and holds the intention of "build[ing] your online connections into your Web browsing experience." As social media and the social nature of the Internet has crescendoed, Howes and Vishria noted that many users spend the vast majority of their online time interacting with sites like Facebook and Twitter. Consequentially, the browser seeks to integrate user profiles into the browsing experience.

A major concern with the browser is privacy - in order to use the browser, one must log in with his or her Facebook or Twitter account access information and give RockMelt permission to access listed information (including newsfeed, chat, friend list, profile information, photos, and more). Although the creators claim privacy is of utmost importance and that "they do not store personal information about users or track what they do online," I foresee a lot of potential users initially being turned off (even though the software is free). What do you think?

In this YouTube clip, Sir Ken Robinson, a world-renowned education and creativity expert discusses the modern paradigm of education in an RSA Animate production. This caricatured interpretation of our nation's obsession with the "ADHD epidemic" explains why our standardized system of educating children should be taken in a different direction.
Robinson explains that our education is modeled on the concept of industrialization; we need to move away from this production line mentality. This runs parallel to the evolving concepts of product development and consumer co-creation that we talk about in class. Children should be encouraged to learn by expressing their ideas and understanding that there are a lot of possible answers to the questions they face. Robinson says "most great learning happens in groups," and that classroom cheating should be simply labeled as collaboration. The consumer world is changing, so the same concept should trickle down into our educational models.


Last week, Dunkin' Donuts introduced a new food item, Sausage Pancake Bites. These items sound like a normal breakfast item, but for a chain that has prided itself on donuts (especially Munchkins), people have been drawing the comparison between the pancake bites and Munchkins. Many websites have dubbed these items as "Meat Munchkins," which do not sound too appetizing. I personally do not think these items will last on the menu, especially if the term "Meat Munchkin" sticks. Innovative? Yes; but successful? Probably not. To see a video of a brave man trying one of these "Meat Munchkins," click here.


Something to Give is the vision of Andy McRea stemming from the belief that increased community involvement is a powerful solution to many social problems we face in the USA. The mission is to create a social network of people giving their time as a volunteer or an opportunity, experience, or reward. A common reason why people do not volunteer is because of the "what's in it for me" mentality. Something to give allows volunteers to earn credits by volunteering hours for certain organizations and they can win rewards posted by other people!

This is extremely new and it is not even launched yet. They hope to be up and running in 6-9months. It will start in SeattleThe website up right now is just a mock of what the real one will be. They are looking for volunteers, financial donors for start up, and contributors of rewards and experiences.

After completing the open-source case on Linux last week, I discovered this article which features an interview with Dries Buytaert, the founder of the open-source software project, Drupal. The volunteer project has grown immensely since its beginnings in 2000 and is used by big names such as The White House, Harvard, and MTV.

Towards the end of the article, Mr. Buytaert addresses the issue of commercialization within the open-source community. Obviously we have discussed this topic in class and it was interesting to get an outsider view on the matter. Mr. Buytaert explains that by ensuring that the leadership and decision-making parts of the project are not influenced by commercial interests, the project remains in a healthy balance. The project is driven commercially, but directed democratically. Open-source companies struggling with commercialization may want to start taking notes...

An innovative robotics company, Kokoro, introduced a new Japanese android that strongly resembles a human nurse. The newly released android looks incredibly life-like and even tested by some hospitals in Japan. The purpose of this "nurse" is to provide patients with some company as they spend time on their hospital beds; they only sit beside the patient as the patient undergoes various tests. Heres a link to the video that demonstrates its movements.


When we think of innovators, we usually think of inventors, or businessmen. Most people do not think of athletes. I am here to tell you that there might be a new innovator in the world of sports, pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. The origins of such classic pitches as the four seam fastball and the classic curveball are unknown, but recently, pitchers have been finding new ways to throw the ball. In the 1930s, Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell perfected the screwball (the anti-slider), in the late 1970s, Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter created and perfected the splitter (a dropping fastball), and in the 1990s, future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera invented the cutter (a breaking fastball). Now, in the 2010s, Matsuzaka could be working on inventing and perfecting the "gyroball." Unknown to most American baseball fans, this mysterious pitch creates a spin on the ball with an axis of spin in line with the direction of the throw (like an American football). If perfected, Matsuzaka could continue his career with the Boston Red Sox with as dominating numbers as the innovators Hubbell, Sutter, and Rivera put up before him.

To watch video of Matsuzaka throwing the alleged "gyroball," click here.


Est. 2008 | Aric Rindfleisch | Wisconsin School of Business | Banner Image by Bruce Fritz