Category Archives: Off Topic


Great story on user experience and how it influences the consumer.

IHOP has a new menu, and now customers are spending more. That’s not a coincidence: The new menu was carefully designed to encourage diners to order more. It’s like a Jedi mind trick that gets customers to order a side of bacon.

via How IHOP’s New Menu Design Gets Customers to Spend More – Businessweek.

We’re fat because our neighborhoods are designed poorly

This is fascinating:

When designers try to maximize the number of cul-de-sacs in an area, they create a dendritic—or treelike—system of roads that feeds all their traffic into a few main branches. The system makes just about every destination farther away because it eliminates the most direct routes between them. Connectivity counts: More intersections mean more walking, and more disconnected cul-de-sacs mean more driving. People who live in neighborhoods with latticeworklike streets actually drive 26 percent fewer miles than people in the cul-de-sac forest.

via Why cul-de-sacs are bad for your health: Happy City by Charles Montgomery..

Transmedia rules

Solid list of thoughts for people who may be considering some form of transmedia component to their next book, movie or whatever. Go read the whole thing:

Transmedia storytelling affords even modest productions the ability to be extended to touch points that would not ordinarily be available to the filmmakers. If you have integrity as a storytelling, you\’re going to want to reach as many people as possible. Transmedia content, when done well, maintains the essence of that message.

via The 3 Rules of Transmedia Storytelling from Transmedia Guru Jeff Gomez | Filmmakers, Film Industry, Film Festivals, Awards & Movie Reviews | Indiewire.

All those little symbols mean something. Huh.

This is fascinating.

This handy infographic, Origins of Common UI Symbols, was put together by Sofya Yampolsky, Warm Gun, and 500 Startups to explain just that. And even self-professed tech geeks will learn something.

via The Esoteric Symbols Behind User Interfaces, Explained | Co.Design | business + design.


Innovation and disruption are two very different things

A recent Fast Company story makes the casethat big companies are essentially incapable of churning out new, hugely innovative products.

Questioning the status quo, cutting costs, eliminating hassles, bypassing middle-men, and removing fees certainly go a long way. But being naïve, clueless or wildly–and perhaps inappropriately–ambitious also helps.

I know the point he’s trying to make but, while he gives some lip-service to the idea, I’m not convinced he actually differentiates in his own mind between innovation and industry or business model disruption. The former can happen anywhere and often does, in fact, happen within large companies where someone figures out how to do something better or in a radically different way. The latter does, admittedly, rarely happen within companies like that since such disruption tends to put those businesses *out* of business.

The war between the states

When I was in junior high or so – 20+ years ago – I remember the thinking being prevalent that the Civil War wasn’t so much about slavery but about state’s rights. It’s interesting, then, that the pendulum is starting to come back around and people are pointing out that yes, state’s rights were the core issue but in practice it was about a state’s rights to hold slaves.

Along these same lines, I’ve been greatly enjoying the Disunion posts from the New York Times that follow the events leading to the war on a day by day basis, meaning we’re watching the country move to war in more or less real time as we approach the 150th anniversary of the beginning of hostilities.