Personal blog of Alicia Fowler, aka @aliciaef, senior strategist at FutureBrand. Topics covered include brands, branding, technology, and space, and more!

Social links round up 28 July 2013

This week in social media I explored, albeit unintentionally, the crossroads of culture and technology. Read below to learn about how URL availability influences new names,  how the English language might evolve to meet 140 character limits, how a robot does parkour and more!


The new method of naming


Over the years, I've seen my fair share of naming projects. And regardless of the client's industry, size or focus, one thing is universally true: creating a name with an available .com URL is next to impossible. Even the most incomprehensible arrangements of letters, like XRZF or PWQD, are taken. So what's a company to do? Well many strategies, but this might be favorite (though I would never recommend this as a primary method of naming). Write yourself an algorithm that spits "out all the pronounceable three-syllable or fewer combinations of letters for addresses that [are] still available." I applaud the 'getting-down-to-brass-tacks' effort, but if you want proof that the method doesn't work as a primary means of naming, just look at the lead name created by the algorithm: Kaggle. No, it's not the name of a women's movement or a kinky store. That, my friends, is the new name for data community. 


The fun office space


Office environments amaze me, as I've said before. So naturally I'll share ways to make the office more fun and less blah. Would my ideal office have a dog? Yes. (Okay, every knows that would be my answer.) Do I feel closer to my coworkers when we sit down and share a meal? Why, yes! These small things go along way to build community and own a culture. 


"The" new logogram


By now you know I love language, so when some Australian chap wants to give the word "The" its own symbol, I was hooked. Logograms (symbols that represent words) fascinate me, especially languages that rely on these sorts of symbols (think Hieroglyphics, or actually, just read about them on wiki). And I gather that as we move into an even more globally connected civilization, language symbols will become more popular and ever-present. Think of how often we use symbols like @ # $ & (or even abbreviations like LOL) to replace words, and even how Emoji are bridging communication across languages. So, onto the THE symbol. Here it is:


My trouble with this symbol is exactly the very reason its creator loves it. The symbol looks too much like a letter, or rather the letters T and h combined. The reason that the ampersand (&) works so well is that it looks nothing like a letter, so there's no confusing it with some flare of handwriting. And perhaps more important, I question if for text messages or twitter updates "the" is even needed. You understand "going to apple store" to mean "I'm going to the Apple store" even though I've left off the pronoun, verb and definite article. But if we want to still sound like good grammarians in short form, I suppose a symbol would be nice. If of course, it looks more, well, like a symbol.


The music of a dancer 


Well now this is just cool. You can't go anywhere, let alone listen to anything, without hearing something about 3D printing. It'll revolutionize manufacturing (okay, perhaps), it'll extend the lifespans of hard-to-fix things (sure, I'll keep that sink faucet cover now), it'll even make space exploration easier (AMAZING) . But did you ever think it would make music? No. Don't pretend you did; you know you never imagined that. Well two Ph.D's at McGill have you covered. They've created eerily organic looking 3D printed prostheses that, when attached to dancers, transform movement into sound. The video is amazing. I highly recommend watching it, if for no other reason than to make your hair stand on edge.


The contagious idea


Jonah Berger is a Wharton professor, who I unfortunately never had, but gosh is he smart. (How rude to be young and smart!) If you don't know him, he wrote Contagious: Why Things Catch On. It's on my reading list, so a review to come soon, but I already know it's good and you'll love it. But back to this article. In this post, he explores six principles of contagious ideas. From a branding perspective, these six principles are spot on, and really rather spot on about connecting with consumers in more meaningful ways. 


The loveable hexapod


Seriously, this one is just cool. University of Pennsylvania students invented a six-legged robot whose bouncy gait reminds of a greyhound's stride. The cool little robot can even jump and scale like a regular Parisian teenager performing parkour. Go ahead. Click the link. You know you want to watch a hexapod do a backflip. Here's a taste.

RHex, the hexapod.

RHex, the hexapod.

Alicia FowlerComment