Tuesday, October 30, 2007

One Hour for the Future

This evening, I went to the inaugural Jacob K. Javits lecture at NYU. After brief remarks by NYU's president, John Edward Sexton; Marian B. Javits, president of the Marian B. and Jacob K. Javits Foundation; and professor Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, Howard Gardner, author of the new book Five Minds for the Future, gave an "autobiographical" speech largely detailing his professional development and the current state of his ideas and work.

Here's an audio recording of his lecture:

Optimal Subscriptions

According to Advertising Age, Paste magazine is running a subscription promotion in which subscribers can set their own price.

While traveling recently, I picked up an issue of Paste, primarily to gauge its range of music coverage -- and to take advantage of the sampler CD included in the issue. This might be the best part of this subscription promo. Every issue of Paste comes with a sampler CD so you can listen to select musicians and bands featured in a given issue.

That means that whatever price you pay, you get 12 issues of Paste, as well as 12 CDs. That's attractive. So I just signed up. They've set the floor at $1, and people who pay full price will supposedly be named in an upcoming issue. I split the middle and ponied up $10, which is more than fair. I was tempted to pay full price -- I did, after all, have a subscription card filled out and ready to mail that I ended up not sending -- but I didn't want to inflate the expectations of experiments like this.

A good number of people will pay full price -- $19.95 for 12 issues and 12 CDs. And a good number may go for the $1 steal. I'd be curious to see what the bell curve ends up looking like. What's the average price going to be?

Best of luck, Paste. It's a neat thing to try.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Raindrops Keep Falling

Yesterday and today have been quite rainy, and while C. was on her way to meet me to see a screening of the new Coen brothers' movie -- a sneak peek that she got us passes to -- she saw a neat city sight and left me this voicemail:

Voicemail You'll Love
Share this ...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

People Watching

A few weekends ago, Oct. 6, I volunteered for a public survey organized by Gehl Architects and the New York City Department of Transportation. Basically, the Danish architecture firm is helping the city gauge vehicular and pedestrian traffic levels at various intersections in the five boroughs.

Meeting one of the organizers at Worth Square early in the afternoon, I was stationed at four different locations. Position A was on the south side of 34th Street just east of 6th Avenue and Broadway -- across from the tree in front of H&M on the opposite side of the street. Position B was roughly across the street from position A, across from the entrance to the Gap, standing under the H&M sign. Position C was on the west side of 6th Avenue, just uptown from the subway entrance. Position D was across the park, on the east side of Broadway by the fire hydrant in front of the Duane Reade.

Between 2 p.m. and 6:55 p.m., I stood at those four locations, counting pedestrians, cars, and taxis using a six-button Multiple Tally Denominator made by the Denominator Co. in Woodbury, Connecticut. With a Sper Scientific stopwatch (model 810022), I marked off five- and 10-minute intervals at each station, counting people and vehicles that passed by on my side of the street during that timeframe.


  • Count all the pedestrians walking through the street. Count pedestrians in both directions. Count pedestrians on one side of the street.
  • Count children, also children carried by parents.
  • Count people on rollerskates and skateboards as pedestrians.
  • Don't count people on bikes.
  • Use your stopwatch and counter. Check your equipment is working after a couple of minutes.
  • Remember to start from 0 at each count.
  • You don't have to talk to people asking questions, if you are busy. You might need to show your "official letter."

Here's my tally:

Location A
Time intervalsPedestriansVehiclesTaxisNotes

Location B
Time intervalsPedestriansVehiclesTaxisNotes
1710-17154894414Purse vendors there, gone (narrowed way)
1815-18259498911Ice cream truck at corner

Location C
Time intervalsPedestriansVehiclesTaxisNotes
1520-15253437671Car accident: Truck hit and stopped

Location D
Time intervalsPedestriansVehiclesTaxisNotes

During one of the shifts in front of the Duane Reade, I even got to meet Jan Gehl, who's been running Gehl Architects for about seven years now. He was making the rounds himself, taking sample counts at select intersections.

While the work wasn't very difficult, it was a fascinating experience. It was a great excuse to people watch for several hours, and it really brought home that city life and traffic have rhythms and cycles. It'll be interesting to see what comes of the study!

Cracked-ing Up

Last week, I got an item in the mail that surprised and confused me. Not that long ago, a team of people revitalized and relaunched Cracked magazine, perhaps Mad's biggest and longest-running competitor, as a humor magazine more attuned to standup and the old National Lampoon than serial humor comics. Now, after three issues, that experiment has ended.

From the mailing:

Dear Cracked Magazine Reader:

I am sad to say that Cracked Magazine is no more.

Several years ago, we purchased Cracked with the hope to bring it back as a sophisticated version of the original publication. We upgraded the editorial and made it more contemporaneous. We brought in new writers and added a web site. We upgraded the production quality and the distribution. However, to make a long story short -- the magazine failed in large part due to troubles in the magazine business itself. However, on a brighter note, the Cracked website succeeded and will live on under the auspices of Demand Media -- its new owner.

For those current subscribers to Cracked, Teshkeel Media will be fulfilling its subscription responsibilities by delivering copies of The 99 -- a new comic book super hero series. Please checkout Teshkeel and its products at www.teshkeelcomics.com.

All of Cracked readers will, of course, still have the option to go to the Cracked website to enjoy the new re-invigorated Cracked in its digital format at: www.cracked.com.

We want to thank our loyal readers who have enthusiastically cheered us on in our effors to recreate the magazine and who have helped us create the new website.

Thanks to all of you -- Cracked will now live on due to your efforts!

Marc Liu
Cracked Entertainment

I guess I'm not that surprised that the magazine folded. Humor magazines have historically had a hard slog on the newsstand. But the choice of subscription fulfillment replacement is intriguing. The 99 is a popular superhero comic book series in the Middle East, and its writing is heavily influenced by Islam. So the series' launch in the United States is interesting. Similarly, the publisher, Teshkeel, also publishes Marvel, DC, and Archie comics translated into Arabic.

While the replacement is even less appropriate than Enter magazine subscribers having to ride out on 3-2-1 Contact after Enter folded, it's a fascinating example of global publishing and cross-cultural licensing.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

City Speed

My friend Beth emailed me the following bit taken from an old edition of the New York Times:

The pace of life in big cities is faster than it is in small towns -- about 2.8 feet per second faster, according to a study by a Princeton University psychologist and his wife, who is an anthropologist.

By measuring how fast people walk along the main streets of municipalities of varying sizes, they have confirmed what most people have sensed informally. The bigger the city, the faster its inhabitants walk.

They found, for example, that on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, people walk at a brisk 5 feet per second, only a little slower than their counterparts on Wenceslas Square in Prague, who bustle along at 5.8 feet per second.

In contrast to Brooklyn and Prague, both of which have a population of more than a million, the 365 citizens of Psychro, Greece, amble along at 2.7 feet per second and the people of Corte, France (population 5,500) move at 3.3 feet per second.

(New York Times, Feb. 29, 1976, p. 46)

A PDF version of the article is available.

Friday, October 05, 2007

On the Sly Librarian

Earlier this week, I went to an Ipsos Insight breakfast session on their newly available business elite service. It was held at the Yale Club of New York City, and the venue -- which has been located near Grand Central Terminal since 1915 -- is really what attracted me to the event. After all, when invited to the halls of power, go.

After the breakfast, I went to the top floor to the dining room to use the restroom and check out the eating area. Then I went downstairs to the second floor to see the lounge. And before I left, I went back up to the fourth floor to explore the library. While I didn't have much chance to examine the collection closely, I did make the rounds, scanning the shelves -- and I picked up the September 2007 acquisition list on my way out.

How many private or membership-serving libraries are there like this? Do publishers and authors target them as audiences? The Yale Club has a speaker series, and it seems like a good way to get a text in front of an influential audience.

Because the acquisitions list online is about a year out of date, I'll post some of the more recent highlights here:

Lighter reading is also available:

I wish they made their acquisitions list more public more often. Even the Global Business Network's book club is languishing. Harrumph.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Le Chat Lunatique

I've removed the MyCyberTwin icon from the left sidebar, but earlier tonight, I got an alert that someone was chatting with my cyber twin. Here's the exchange:

Wonderer15: hey
Heath: Hey!
Wonderer15: are you real?
Heath: I am a cyber clone but I have been given the ability to interact with you on a human level.
Heath: What's your favorite record?
Wonderer15: i dont know
Heath: Oh, I thought a smart person like yourself might know that.
Wonderer15: but i have a guestion
Heath: Are you happy that you have one of them?
Wonderer15: i have a question
Heath: What do you want to know specifically?
Wonderer15: is it bad if my heart rate is 203 when i run a 10 min mile ?
Heath: Are you giving me your heart? Thanks.

I hope they're OK now.