Monday, December 22, 2008

The Reckoning - Bush’s Philosophy Stoked the Mortgage Bonfire - Series -

The Reckoning - Bush’s Philosophy Stoked the Mortgage Bonfire - Series - "Today, millions of Americans are facing foreclosure, homeownership rates are virtually no higher than when Mr. Bush took office, Fannie and Freddie are in a government conservatorship, and the bailout cost to taxpayers could run in the trillions."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Eco-Friendly Treehouses

Eco-Friendly Treehouses:
"Dustin Feider challenges anyone to give him a tree where he can't build a treehouse. He's designed and constructed his eco-friendly 'O2 Treehouses' in four different states, and now clients in Southern California are keeping him busy building his innovative all-green structures. Asha visits the treehouse visionary on the site of his latest masterpiece and learns how he adheres to eco-conscious design...and why treehouses aren't just for kids!"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ethical Corporation: Columnists - Stakeholder engagement – Judge by actions not words

Ethical Corporation: Columnists - Stakeholder engagement – Judge by actions not words: "An important first step in the process is for a company to assume ownership of the negative impacts of their business rather than being in denial or steering public attention elsewhere through unrelated corporate responsibility initiatives. Before spending time and resources on stakeholder processes, a company must determine how committed it is to getting something done, and state this very clearly."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Forbes: Boulder is country's smartest town : County News : Boulder Daily Camera

Forbes: Boulder is country's smartest town : County News : Boulder Daily Camera: "Forbes Magazine this week released its top 10 list of America's best-educated cities, with Boulder earning the top spot. The magazine said it based its rankings on the proportion of people older than 25 with bachelor's, master's, professional and doctoral degrees"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Best Buy CEO Interview on Use of Social Media

Is Best Buy a technology company? Obviously they are a retailer, but their innovative approach to the social web is developing a new set of information age competencies.

Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson in conversation with Peter Hirshberg at Google Zeitgeist from peter hirshberg on Vimeo and Minnov8: Minnesota Innovation in Internet and Web Technology

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How Obama Tapped Into Social Networks’ Power -

The Media Equation - How Obama Tapped Into Social Networks’ Power -
"Special-interest groups and lobbyists will now contend with an environment of transparency and a president who owes them nothing. The news media will now contend with an administration that can take its case directly to its base without even booking time on the networks."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Online Communities: The Tribalization of Business

O'Reilly Radar, which is a great Web 2.0 resource, recent did a post on online communities. Online communities are groups of people wth shared interests, beliefs or values. And in terms of sustainability, you could say that these online communities represent different shades of green. Your actions and contributions authentically relate to these online communities. Its important not to have ulterior motive, this is where autheticity and transparcy provide the context for engagement. Corporate contribution to online communities need to provide real value to their members.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Eco-Products Environmental Transparency

There are many shades of green so how does a company called "Eco-Products" prove its dark green? Well, by showing in real-time energy production of the solar panels on their Boulder CO office.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Video of Jason Fried 37Signals

Jason Fried of 37Signals has an innovative and provocative presentation on work and project management.

While is his focused on the software industry, I think there are many relevant concepts to all companies competing in today's information economy. Here are few take away items:
# Less is more.
# Meetings are useless.
# Working remotely and collaborating is better then being in an office and interrupting each other.
# Break large projects into smaller bits which can be completed quickly.
# Progress feeds morale
# Don’t do specification, wireframing or usability studies.
# Invest in what doesn’t change like speed and customer service.
# Roadmaps and planning are useless.
# Focus on speed rather then perfection.
# Avoid large problems and focus on small problems and simple solutions

The_Social_Web_Analytics_eBook_2008.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Below is a link to a great Web 2.0 reference report in PDF format

The_Social_Web_Analytics_eBook_2008.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

WorldChanging: Solutions Twin Cities

Featured on WorldChanging, Solutions Twin Cities showcases solutions in media rich 20 slide presentations. Previous presenter include Peter Rich with the Micro Finance Alliance. Its great to see my friends getting recognized for making Minnesota a better place.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Who's Your City?

In a globally connected world where we can work form anywhere you'd think place wouldn't matter. Actually it matters even more. Basically, creative people are moving to cool places. And when you have a bunch of creative people together they get even more creative. As a result these cool places are emerging as centers of economic growth. Check out the best cities at Who's Your City? by Richard Florida

Flordia was also on the Colbert Report a few months back

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Food As A National Security Issue

Food As A National Security Issue : NPR: In a open letter to the next president, author Michael Pollan writes about the waning health of America's food systems — and warns that "the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Food Clock

Food Clock Yep, a clock that measures food. It gives you an idea of the scale of the industrial food system. Also linked to an article about how Peak Oil is going to create a food crisis.

Colbert verse Oprah

I wanted to watch Oprah because she did a special on how we treat the animals we eat.

And to my surprise you can't watch Oprah online, except for a few "illegal" copies on youtube. Why isn't Orpah online? I know her audience isn't their known for their Internet usage, but surely a few million people would be interested in watching her show some time other than the middle of the afternoon.

Contrast Oprah's head in the sand strategy with that of the Colbert Report. Thanks to Hulu his show is right here, embedded on my blog, streaming full length episodes.

David Houle: The Shift Age

This week I had the privilege of attending a presentation by David Houle, futurist and author of Shift Age. The Shift Age is the next stage in human develop, after the Information Age. In addition to 3000 times more change now than at any point in human history, these three forces will define the Shift Age.

1. Global Consciousness: technology is enabling personal connections to all of humanity. Anyone can share experiences with anyone else.

2. Emotional Individual: power is flowing to the individual and people are seeking emotional connections. The best things in life tend to be economically irrational.

3. Sideways Connectedness: unbundling of corporate assets combined with collaborative interactions. The exchange and management of intellectual property (information) will emerge as the new profit centers.

So in addition to globally aware, emotional, individuals, collaborating to create and share information, what other things can we anticipate?
  • Societal values and economic power centers are shifting from institutions to individuals; from producers to consumers.
  • Individuals define themselves by joining groups of shared interests and values.
  • Decentralization and disintermediation: the middle man is out and the network effect may overtake economies of scale and the key to profitability.
  • Intellectual Property is wealth in the Shift Age.
  • Media is the message: broadband now in more than half the households: online video is will soon be mainstream
  • Western Science Proved Eastern Philosophy:
  • Global (re)organization: The West (winners of WWII) and their institutions (UN, IMF, World Bank, NATO, etc) will shift some hegemony to the global East and South.
  • Long term economic downturn (3 to 5 years) and a result of a sharp decline in stock market, housing market and consumer spending (on credit).
  • Cleantech: Wind and Solar next huge market opportunity, long term space based solar.
  • Peak Oil: Production will sharply drop in 2015 and the world will run out of oil by 2050. Indicators that we are currently at peak oil: price increases, volatility, and demand out stripping supply.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Twittering Bagels

An one going example of what Twitter is used for is the hypothetical tweet "had a bagel for breakfast".

This type of message is about flaunting technology. Technologies like Twitter have yet to be widely adopted by business so they are being flaunted by current users. It about personal expression and connecting with your network, not the bagel.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Heli Skiing in New Zealand

My buddy AC just spent the last few months in New Zealand and Australia and even managed to upload some cool images. TR: Summer of a Lifetime - Teton Gravity Research Forums

Thursday, October 2, 2008

MIMA Summit08: Feeding the conversation

At this year's summit, Mima presented concept of feed. Information flows of into, across and out of individuals and organizations; people feed off each by sharing information. These information flows were the focus of this years summit as industry experts showcased their respective thought leadership.

Morning Keynote Speaker: Rebecca Lieb, ClickZ
  • Advertising and content are coming together
    • Either you are content or you are competing with content
    • Ad agencies need to think like publishers
    • Campaigns need to create an environment around the product
    • Things are reverting to early days of TV, Texaco Star Theater
  • New media needs to be:
    • Useful: informative and educational.
    • Playful: interesting enough for your audience to opt in.
    • Authentic: tell your whole story, yes address the bad stuff, if you don't some crazy blogger will.
    • Human: show personality and voice, but remember to listen and respond, its about relationships.
    • Viral: stories that consumers spread, that can take on a life of their own. UGC keeps content fresh and boosts SEO.
    • Examples
      • The Great Schlep: note creative freedom is no longer constrained by FCC decency standards.
      • OPEN: lots of help for running a small business, and plenty of links to open and American Express account
      • WOOT: one day, one deal. Moving items with creative writing.
      • Sony Bravo Ads, Recycling content is free!

Ad Networks & Ad Exchanges
    • Online advertising spend will double in 4 year to $50B
      • Video fastest growing, with highest CPM and sell out rates
      • You Tube most popular content is: news, entertainment, music; not UGC
    • Content is growing faster than online advertising
      • More impressions than buyers
    • Online is really about sophisticated brand engagement
    • Scale and precision are improving targeting and optimization
      • Re-targeting and behavioural
      • Site transparency and control of where ads are displayed
      • BTW Google is all over this
    • Privacy
      • No effective government oversight (The feds can't regulate wall street, forget about online)
      • Google is self policing, (and I'm sure we can completely trust they won't be evil)
    • About media relationships
      • Ad exchange customer service is spendy, in house technical competencies can lower costs
      • Need expertise in managing campaigns
      • Industry consolidation will occur through relationships, friends will merge
How to be a UX team of one User eXperience Design
    • Design principals are a combination of business needs and user needs
    • Opening up the process, generative design
    • Generate ideas: brainstorming
      • Structure ideas with conceptual frameworks
        • Spectrums
        • 2 x 2
        • Grids
        • Word associations
        • Surround your work area with inspirations

    • Refine ideas: engage a team
      • Informal secessions
      • Concept sheet
      • Present the design, articulate the experience with nouns, verbs, and adjectives
      • Get real feedback, have the team play devils advocate

    • Design the solution
      • Focus on the big things and pick best ideas
Ze Frank
    • Technology is developing exponentially faster human capacity
      • "No big break throughs in saying I'm sorry"
    • System, place, persona
      • When you are a kid fun was a place, like chucky cheese, and your friends were defined by whoever your parents invited to your birthday party. In tech this this stage translates to being online (system and place), a first step.

      • When you are a teenage fun is hanging out with the cool kids in a mall parking lot, its about who you associate with. At this stage persona (personality and coolness) is the priority. As technology matures relationships will become more
        important: emotional proximity.
    • Lifestyle and relationships
      • How do you be cool?
      • Interactive is like hosting a dinner party, need to respond to social gestures, and people assume different roles.
      • Brand is a guideline for your manners, voice and personality
Corporate Blogging: Angel or Demon
    • Conversation Agent: Valeria Maltoni
    • "Customers want to buy, not be sold"
    • "Be in the4 channel where your most active customers are."
    • "They [customers] don't have to like you, but they have to respect you"
    • Humanly authentix
      • self awareness
      • organizational alignment
      • culture and passion
      • honesty is the basis for truth
      • just be real
    • High touch economy:
      • Emotional purchases
      • Educate with rational information
    • Old media: one message many times
    • New media: many interactions simultaneously
      • B2C is now P2P
    • Listen before you start
    • Blog Council: a support group for executives that blog
    • MIMA Blog of this event

  • Making a Customer Connection
    • I didn't actually attend this session but am always impressed with what Zappos does to totally redefine customer service.
PRI: The painful transformation of incumbent organizations
  • One of my friends worked at PRI spent a couple of years trying to drag them into the new media world. So I attended this presentation to check up on how far they've made it.

  • What is interesting about the PRI presentation is not what they have done but how they have done it. Interactive is easier when you have a bunch of hipsters collaborating via twitter. But when you need to transform a 40 year old business model with a bunch of baby boomer bosses saying "no, don't and stop", things become a bit more of a struggle. So far PRI's content strategy is not nearly as bleeding edge as the rest of the mima presenters, but to their credit PRI in not a .com startup, they have 40 years behind their current business model. PRI has plated flags in some new media channels (iTunes, You Tube, Yahoo, etc), which is good. Content needs to be in the distribution/technology channels where your customers are. However, they could do a lot more to integrating and innovate. Let users personalize (time shift, embed and edit) the content. As with most incumbent institutions, PRI is reluctant to develop transformational platform because of concerns they may bypass their current business model. So I asked them how do you transition baby boomer bosses into interactive? "Its a constant ducation process" Lunch and learns are effective "New media at noon". Also show them examples from the old media talking about new media: HBR, Wall Street Journal, the stuffier the rag the more creditable.

Wordle + Delicious

Wordle + Delicious =

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chandran Nair: Consumers Cop-out

Back in 2006 I studied under Chardrand Nair while at HKUST. During his course we tackled many corporate responsibility issues, and I was always impressed by his nuanced understanding of the issues. Mr. Nair is now sharing his expertise with a wider audience as a columnist for Ethical Coportation.

In his article Ethical Corporation: Columnists - Ethical consumers – Cop-out at the checkout Mr Nair calls out the green consumer as figment of our imginations. People love to say they would do the right thing , but when it comes down to it they don't come through. (Like the Bradley Effect, but for consumers) However, this doesn't mean that ethical companies are screwed, quite the opposite infact. Not only are ethical companies better able to avoid or handle negitive PR. They are in the position to capture the benefits of sourcing ethically as regulators continue to increase the price of externalities.

Best Buy opens up

A recent article Open beats Closed: Best Buy & new APIs - O'Reilly Radar discusses how Best Buy is leveraging information to creating value. In this case is Best Buy is opening all the data that drives for anyone to create their own personalized Best Buy stores or mash ups or whatever. The cool thing is Best Buy is using information to develop a potentially transformational business model.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chrome Your Industry

If you think social media has shaken things up wait until Google takes things to the next level of collaboration with their Chrome platform. How to Chrome Your Industry, by Umair Haque details the transformation aspects of this potentially ubiquitous operating system. Be preprepared for the largest knowledge circuit the world has ever seen.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Guatemalan Eco-House

Matt Panetiz, of Long Way Home, just sent me the following update on their eco-house.

"We just finished the the inside of our prototype rammed earth tire house. As you can tell from the photos we have set the foundation for a kitchen to be built with earth bags. We are going to combine these two construction styles to build the vocational school on the new land. Combined with an improved cooking stove, a dry composting latrine, water harvesting gutters, water harvesting tanks, and solar heated water we have quite the eco household...Mateo"

You can see photos of the house on Slideshow

If want to know more about building structure from tires and other recycled materials check out Earthship

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Flickr: kkhelgeson's Photostream

The other night I help my mom post a few photos of her paintings. Check out her artistic talent at Flickr: kkhelgeson's Photostream

Monday, August 11, 2008

DK, making green

Denmark, a country where I studied aboard back in 2000, is now a renewable energy power house. Not only is wind powering the almost a quarter of the electric grid, its also powering the economy. He's Tom Friedman's with a recent op-ed.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pizza Farm

Talk about a food experience. So my friend Mali invited me to the Pizza Farm this last week. I agreed and the next thing I knew I was in a right hand drive Mercadies van (felt like I was in New Zealand again). A scenic hour and half later we were at the Pizza Farm near Stockholm Wisconsin, which really isn't near anything else. However, this remote location did not deter the crowds. When we arrived there was a 2 hour wait for pizza (we were ahead of the game and had a friend place our order). I'm not sure if the ingredients were locally raised or organic, but they were delicious.

If you want more details check out the article in Rake.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Random thought: couldn't Target effectivly turn all of its stores into supertargets just by hosting a farmers market in the parking lot?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


This past week I had the pleasure to hear a presentation from Mark Hardy at Earthsense, a market research company. The presentation broke down consumers beliefs of what makes a product sustainable. There are six key metrics, such as production, composition, distribution and disposal. The really cool thing about Earthsense's research is they can define sustainability attributes by product categories. For example, people care way more about the production and composition of their food than they do for their cars or electronics (for those items the green thing is to reduce energy usage). While some the findings are kind of obvious (like the example above), earthsense does do a great job of presenting the business case for sustainability in a way that can help management make more effective and profitable strategies.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Corn v Crude

Looks like the folks over at World Changing are taking up the Corn v Crude debate.

Please refer to my post "If mom cared" to get my take on this subject.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Whatever 2.0

If you need help explaining your Whatever 2.0 strategy try the "Web Economy Bullshit Generator"

Monday, July 7, 2008


Today the Star Tribune published an article that mentioned Transportation for America,, a group that advocates for "a major multidisciplinary effort to reform transportation policy." They basically want to increased public transit and decreased energy usage. What I found cool, is they invite you to join the conversation. Keep track of them via RSS; read what you want, comment if feel like it, its a conversation!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

User Generated Tahoe Ad

So a few years back GM thought it would be a good idea to let people create their own Tahoe SUV ads. They provided some canned footage and a program to create messages, (read this Wired story for more details). Here is one of my favorite ads.

Friday, May 16, 2008

If mom cared

So lets imagine Mom drives little Johnny 10 miles to McDonald's in her flex fuel Chevy Tahoe. As they finish their meal mom tells her child “finish your food, there are starving children in Africa”. So little Johnny pops another chicken nugget in his mouth, consuming 40 calories of food energy, which came from 120 calories of corn.

However, if mom cared about starving children in Africa she would tell her political officials to get the corn out of her fuel. Mom’s FlexFuel Chevy Tahoe consumed a whole gallon of E85 for the 10-mile trip to the restaurant.

One gallon of E85 contains more than a 53,000 calories of corn. In other words, it takes 443 times more corn to make one gallon of ethanol (E85) than one chicken nugget. Even if mom fills up with normal gas (which typically has a 10 percent ethanol blend) she is still consuming 6200 calories of corn or 52 times more corn than one chicken nugget.

53,000 corn calories for one gallon of E85, seriously?

A gallon of Ethanol requires 26.1 pounds of corn.
There are 2400 calories in a pound of corn

(26 .1 * (.85))* 2400 = 53,244 calories of corn

And the math for the chicken nugget
There is about a 3 to 1 calorie conversion from corm to chicken meat.

40 * 3 = 120 calories of corn

Monday, April 28, 2008

Process not Personality

Corporate America has Darwinist character, the most adaptable thrive. Winning ideologies increase shareholder value. To pull this off companies need to have processes that are scalable. A designed centric business will function with discipline and confidence. Yet, even the best business designs need to adapt to consumers even changing perception of what your brand stands for. To keep up innovation and flexibility are key. Experienced personalities often excel in achieving short-term results. But a company needs to know why it’s successful so it can share that information and reinforce the behavior. This systemization goes against the creative personality, vital for innovative new ideas. Therefore, the key contradiction to overcome is how to balance process control with creative personalities.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Rome & MPR

So on an early morning in late March my brother gets a call from my cousin inviting him to join my extended family for a last minute trip to Rome. One of the reasons I thought he should go was they were staying with the Brudvig’s. The Brudvig’s have been family friends for as a long as I can remember and Lee has an interesting and successful career with the State Department. Right now Lee stationed at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. Agencies in Rome and is working with the UN’s World Food Program and Food and Agriculture Organization.

Coincidentally, this morning MPR did a story on the fight against hunger and interviewed Tony Hall. Tony Hall was the previous ambassador of the embassy where Lee works, which is right in the neck of woods where my brother and extended family are traveling.

It’s a small world after all.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Natural Step

As a long time advocate I’ve realize sustainability is still a very nebulous concept. Despite all of media hoopla on greenwashing and glossy corporate social responsibility reports, I think very few people really grasp what being sustainable really is. To my relief I attend a class put on by Responsible Minnesota Business on The Natural Step Framework (NSF).

You may ask, why is the NSF such a relief? Because it gives a simple yet comprehensive approach for how individuals and organization can be more sustainable. Its four principals embody basic science and systems thinking to come up with an approach that both grade school kids and corporate executives can understand.

Basically the NSF is: 1 what we take, 2 make and 3 break to meet basic human needs 4. This nifty diagram that shows what I mean (and its linked to where i found it if you'd like to read more.)

Like good design simple, yet sufficient.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Like a Piece of Modern Art

Comparing green consumer products to local art museums

In Minneapolis we have two prominent art museums, the Walker Art Center
and The MIA (Minneapolis Institute of Art). Both museums have respectable collections; the MIA has more antiquities, while the Walker holds a more contemporary assortment. Another way of comparing these establishments, the MIA is more aesthetically pleasing, while the Walker’s surrealist and abstract works often need context to be understood.

Green products can be compared to traditional products in a
similar way. Contrast a masterpiece painting from the MIA to a modern abstract
piece at Walker. Looking a 300-year-old masterpiece, the value and
benefits are immediately apparent. Traditional products are purchased at face
value and the purchase decision is often based on the immediate benefits. While with the modern abstract one may need to know the context or the back-story to fully appreciate why its art.

Green products also derive their value from a back-story. Consumers of green products are usually concerned about where their products come from and where it will go when they are done with it. The similarity between green products and modern art is that one needs to know the societal and environmental context appreciate its significance, and therefore its value.