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.

Starting today (11/1) through November 11, Mitsubishi is offering customers the ability to test drive their all-new Outlander Sport vehicle. The real innovation comes in that Mitsubishi is allowing you to do this test drive, live, over the internet. The user is in complete control of the vehicle from the comfort of his/her own home. This experience is sure to be a very unique experience for buyers in the market for a new car. However, this is likely to serve as a purely promotional campaign as it is unlikely that this will replace real test driving. Check it out here

Community Beer!

This would happen first in Wisconsin. A new brewery with ingredients coming from the surrounding community right here in Madison. Subscribing to be a community supported beer member (CSB) comes at a cost but will be well worth the money. What a beautiful innovation! Check out the article here


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