Let’s Be Frank: An Ode to Smart


It seems like every brand and client is on the “smart” bandwagon these days.

Turn on your new Samsung TV and SMART is very likely to be the first thing you see. Walk down the street and see a compact, SMART car. Most phones these days are SMARTphones, and the any other cellular device is known colloquially as a dumbphone.

Amazon fashion smart billboard

You can find SMART Brand Promotions on Facebook, and big brands market “smart” across the board, an example being Amazon, with their Smart Is Beautiful fashion campaign, or the multitude of Smart is the New Cool or Smart is the New Sexy campaigns.

Why the rush to Smart?

Perhaps it’s the culture we live in and the human desire to feel good about ourselves. (This seems to be in short supply these days.) Maybe it’s the immediate opt-in connection point that brings emotion into play for brands. And if content is king, shouldn’t smart be the king of content marketing. Why? Because people are likely to connect with smart as it relates to their immediate behaviors. The things they love to do and the brands that totally meet their needs.

Hmm. Maybe SMART is “sensible, modern and remarkable thinking” and this ode is a sensible keeper for brands in the long run.


On the Subject of the Alien Attack

On this day, 75 years ago, a radio broadcast of dance music performed by Ramon Raquello was interrupted by frantic breaking news segments, reporting meteorite impacts in New Jersey, followed by a terrifying invasion of aliens in gigantic tripod machines. They swept aside all resistance with heat rays and poison black fog, and crushed the army and depopulated New York City in minutes.

All of this came over the radio in 1938, a time when the confluence of the Great Depression, the rise of Hitler, and the multitude of upheavals that came to define the era were all reported in breaking stories over the radio. No wonder that 1 million people believed that aliens from Mars were invading.

This radio broadcast was the brainchild of Orson Welles, who succeeded in striking fear into the hearts of thousands with his extraordinarily realistic retelling of the novel The War Of The Worlds by H. G. Wells. Although disclaimers stated that the broadcast was a dramatization, many listeners tuned in late and missed the caveat, instead only hearing the breathless breaking-story style reports of aliens swatting the army aside like flies and black poisonous fog flooding the streets of New York City and killing anyone who breathed it in.

According to reports, a great many people reacted with confusion and panic, with some running from their homes holding wet cloth over their mouths. Later historians would say that about 20% of the audience, about 1 million people, believed that what they were hearing was the truth. Even as a minority, this is an incredibly large amount of people who were affected by this broadcast.

This is because of the unique power that radio had in the 1930’s. It was the most immediate mass media channel that the world had ever seen, and for many it was the first, best contact with the outside world that they had. The realistic nature of the program evoked memories of other broadcasted breaking stories, like the “Munich Meeting” which preceded the beginning of Nazi power, or the destruction of the Hindenburg. Orson Welles used this memory, and the imagination possible with radio, to write, direct, and star in a program that the listeners fully and truly believed.

What Sparks Our Fire: The power of mass media to take ahold of the imagination and create entirely believable content.

If a reputable internet news site reported an alien attack, would you believe it?

I Think My Phone is Leaking


The smartphone in your pocket is a miracle of technology, the confluence of years of technological innovation and improvement. However, while the new computer chips and hardware are extraordinary, they are not energy efficient, as anyone who has ever held a hot iPhone can attest. As chips become more powerful, they expend more heat, and need to use more energy to cool down.

One potential solution postulated by IBM is to mimic the cooling process of the human brain, to use fluid rather than air to dissipate heat. Two IBM techs built a proof-of-concept computer chip that is cooled by running fluid through small channels past the electronic components, both cooling and delivering energy via electrodes which pick up electrons from the fluid and use them to create a current. This method of cooling would allow scientists to greatly increase processing power and stack chips on top of each other in order to save space.

This project entitled, The Human Brain, is only one aspect of a larger idea, to make a computer work the way the human brain does, ie. more efficiently, with less electricity while producing less heat. However the system still has to overcome several hurdles such as what type of fluid to use and the fabrication challenges of creating computer chips that have circulatory systems.

What Sparks Our Fire: Using the workings of the human body as a framework for the next generation of computer technology.

Do you think this is a viable direction for computer developers to go in?

To Clear The Air

China is one of the most polluted countries in the world. There is consistent, dangerous amount of poisonous or carcinogenic pollutants in the air around Beijing on a regular basis, leading to an almost constant smog problem. In certain parts of China, air-filtration masks are so common they have become fashion statements. Air pollution is the fourth-leading cause of death in China, leading to 1.2 million premature deaths.

To combat this problem, Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde wants to use an “electronic vacuum” to help clear the air somewhat. The concept involves burying copper wire under the grass at a city park, which will drag the smog particles to the ground, where they will be compressed and removed. This will be only a small measure, clearing a 22,500 square-foot hole in the smog that would open up over the park.

“This won’t be the real answer for smog, the real answer is different industry,” Roosegaarde said in an interview with Mashable.com. “I think it’s a very radical statement of what could be.”

Roosegaarde was inspired to create this technology after an experience he had in the city. “I realized that day one I could see the skyscrapers, and day two I couldn’t.” Roosegaarde doesn’t consider project to be a real solution, but rather he wants to draw attention to the problem and focus thought on long-term large scale solutions.

What Sparks Our Fire: A creative call-to-action to a dangerous problem.

Do you think this will spark change in China?