letters from the past

Remember doing time capsules back in elementary school? Drop in a couple of baseball cards, a note to the future, a toothbrush, pair of shoes, sunglasses, popular books, etc.

The LA Times had a great story over the weekend on a more personalized take on the idea. A couple of guys started a site that allows you to create an email time capsule - send an email to yourself anytime in the future between a month and 30 years from now.

The public entries have a very PostSecret-like feel, uplifting and hilarious at times, with plenty of bitter and sad notes.

photo from flickr user jek in the box.

if only something like this would actually happen

The Onion

Mike Lupica Uses Final Thought On Sports Reporters To Ask About His Missing Dog

NEW YORK—Sportswriter and pundit Mike Lupica, a regular panelist on ESPN's The Sports Reporters, used the time given him during the...


no more albums?

The NYT has a great article today on the future of the album, or what will be left of it in a few years. The article states that the current pop music climate and mp3 driven world are making singles much more popular than whole albums these days. This trend goes back decades ago to the 50s, when popular artists had high sales of singles vs. albums. The album gained popularity in the late 60s-90s, but the single is back, at least for now.

Here's an excerpt:

A decade ago, the music industry had all but stopped selling music in individual units. But now, four years after Apple introduced its iTunes service — selling singles for 99 cents apiece and full albums typically for $9.99 — individual songs account for roughly two-thirds of all music sales volume in the United States. And that does not count purchases of music in other, bite-size forms like ring tones, which have sold more than 54 million units so far this year, according to Nielsen data.

One of the biggest reasons for the shift, analysts say, is that consumers — empowered to cherry-pick — are forgoing album purchases after years of paying for complete CD’s with too few songs they like. There are still cases where full albums succeed — the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ double-CD “Stadium Arcadium,” with a weighty 28 tracks, has sold almost two million copies. But the overall pie is shrinking.

Wired recently had a cover story on bite-sized culture, something that the rise of the single sheds even more light on. Society as a whole may not shed a tear for the fall of the album, but I will. When bands like Arcade Fire who make albums meant to be listened to from beginning to end it's crazy to think someone may only hear one or two songs as part of a playlist mix. Would we really know the power and emotion of Picasso's Guernica if we only saw 1/10 of it?

This is more related to the packaging itself, but with albums, I love the smell of it all, reading the liner notes, etc. - especially if the packaging is done well. You can't get that with a cd single (do they exist anymore?), and even buying an album on iTunes can't quite replace this stuff for me. Opening that little sticker on the top of a cd has kind of a ceremonial feel to it that just can't be replicated online... at least not yet.

Steven Johnson says it best at the end of the Wired piece,
"Yes, it sometimes seems as if we're living off a cultural diet of blog posts and instant messages - until we find ourselves losing an entire weekend watching season three of The Wire. The truth is, we have more snacks now only because the menu itself has gotten longer."

thanks to ypulse for the NYT tip.


video of the week


calling all planners

A friend and fellow Texas grad, Heather LeFevre, has launched her annual survey for account planners, this one's the 3rd time around.

From Heather:
It's time for the third annual planner survey. If you haven't participated before, the survey is designed to let us all see what planners at different agencies think about their jobs, understand what drives salaries, and hopefully learn more about how our discipline is changing. Each year it has grown and changed. 192 people participated last year and you are all receiving this email by blind copy. If you are not a planner, we're hopeful that you can forward this email to the planners you know. The first link below will send you to the survey - please only take the survey if you are working as a planner (freelance and those who work outside the US are welcome). The second link captures your email so I can send you the results and your answers stay anonymous.

UPDATE: The survey is confidential - which is why the survey and results links are separate. The results are for you to gain a better understanding of what planners think about their jobs and how it's changing, compensation/benefits issues, etc.

Take the survey.

Enter your email address here to receive results.

email if any questions, plannerliness AT gmail.com, or hklefevre AT gmail.com


box tops for addiction

A couple of months ago I was taking out some old cereal boxes for recycling pick up, and a maintenance guy who works in our community stopped me and asked if he could have my box tops. I was a little startled - what could he want with the tops of my boxes? Was he trying to steal my identity somehow by knowing what type of cereal I eat? I had always seen these little logos on boxes in the cereal aisle, but didn't know the reason why a relative stranger would want them.

My sister, who's an elementary school teacher, helped explain about a week later that these little cut-outs can earn elementary schools a lot of money, $0.10 at a time. For every 10 cent cut-out schools receive, they get money from General Mills, and sometimes the school system will match. So I started taking notice and cutting them out when we bought golden grahams, lucky charms and other general mills cereals, I would send them down to her when I got a dozen or so.

Every addiction starts slowly - after cereal it moved on to kleenex boxes, ziploc bag boxes, chex mix - everywhere I looked the little "box tops" sticker was, it had taken on a life of its own and was following me, and I started to feel delighted to find more box tops in unexpected places. I recently did some research at work into the collector's mindset for a project on a local historical association that sells collectible products, and I was going down that path, except instead of antique furniture or baseball cards I was collecting these little cardboard cut-outs.

After a little searching it appears like a black market has developed for this new currency - on eBay people are selling box tops for about face value. On craigslist people have put up "wanted" posts:

Box tops for education has changed my shopping habits, my recycling/getting the trash ready habits, and it all seems worth it to help out the kids 10 cents at a time.


video of the week

The classic Care Bear Stare. If only we humans could shoot rainbows from our bellies.

thanks eliz.


the summit

I really wanted to make it to the Future Marketing Summit in NYC this week - quite a list of speakers to be seen, but just couldn't swing it.

Luckily, ihaveanidea.org comes to the rescue with a blog that looks to be updated throughout the sessions today and tomorrow.