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This category contains 106 posts

Documentary Funding: The Need to Be Cunning… and Funny

“The more idealistic you are about your work the more cunning and savvy you have to be about the business side” of it says, Ira Glass, presenter of NPR’s This American Life. In this lecture to journalism students he describes what makes good journalism, and how to tell important stories in a way that does them justice. Some of his other observations include:

Don’t wait for permission to make the work you want to make… just start
Be super-ambitious – keep trying things until luck kicks in and you find your story
Amuse yourself – it’s not enough just to be idealistic, you have to love your work if it’s going to move the audience and ultimately make a difference to the world. Provoke a reaction – and humour is a good reaction.
It should be your goal to make memorable work – people remember things that make them smile (Photo by JD Hancock CC BY 2.0)

India Outsources Call Centres to the USA

The Washington Post reports that rising wages in India have led Indian outsourcing companies to staff their call centres with workers in America. The workers, largely uneducated African Americans earn around $12-14 an hour plus bonuses, which is four times the wage for a similar worker in India. They get dress-down privileges and free lunch […]

Bootleg Toys Gone Wrong

You’ve got to admire the cheek of some bootleggers, but not all are as clever as they think they are. Cracked has found some corkers, such as: RobertCop SpaderMan Polystation See more here.


Swedish retailer Papercut has added a sense of urgency to online shopping. Go to their site and you will be presented with a bargain offer, but you only have 4 seconds to decided that you want it and click to secure, before a new item appears to increasingly frantic circus clown music. Try it here. […]

Most Innovative Countries

Judged on the number of product patents filed in relation to research and development spend, Korea is the most innovative nation, with Japan, China and Russia not far behind. See where you fit on this map.

Cat Cafes and Dog Yoga

Japanese pets are some of the most pampered on earth (second only to the USA), with yoga, tap-dancing and aromatherapy for dogs and acupuncture and cafes for cats. The Japanese pet industry rakes in more than a trillion yen a year. Read more on PSFK

Health Books for Kids

Medikidz has produced a series of comic books that explain serious illnesses such as breast cancer, HIV, depression and autism to children.  With clearly defined facts, irreverent humor, and a comics format, the titles in the Superheroes on a Medical Mission series offer accessible, entertaining introductions to health topics from sleep issues to HIV. Every […]

Get Laddered

Another advert featuring parkour, this one with a rousing soundtrack and ladders:

Historic Orchestra Faces Bankruptcy

The 111-year-old Philadelphia Orchestra is facing the possibility of bankruptcy even though it has assets that outweigh its debts. If the vote goes through it would be the first big US orchestra to take this extreme measure. They are planning to mount a campaign to raise $160 million in their biggest ever  fundraising drive. But […]

Nose to Tail Tattooing

Here’s a night class I’d like to try… Will Smith went to a tattoo parlour in London’s East End to be taught how to tattoo by world-class tattoo artist Mo Coppoletta. Wisely banned  from trying his inept hand at tattooing a real person, he’s given a hunk of pig skin to practice on (much as […]

Twitter Yourself a Private Flight

When a group of Dutch party promoters and DJs wanted to get to the Ultra Music Festival in Miami on 21st March, 2011 they realized there was no direct flight. So DJ Sied van Rieland and filmaker Wilco Jung used Twitter to ask KLM why not. Instead of being fobbed of or treated to a […]

Keep an Indian Girl in School

Seven out of ten girls in India fail to make it all the way through the school system. The Girl Store has been set up to help people buy school supplies that will help keep the girls in education. A number of girls are featured, along with their school needs – pencils, backpacks or clothing. […]

Are Copy Editors Becoming Extinct?

Has commerce and marketing taken priority over careful crafting and editing of books? It’s a question asked, and discussed at length, by Alex Clark (and some more by the many people leaving comments). Rather inevitably, there appears to be an error the text that hasn’t been picked up by the copy editor. Can you spot […]

The Secret History of Board Games

Ever wondered who came up with the world’s favourite board games and where they got their inspiration? For example,  Anthony Pratt, a WWII fire warden, thought up Clue/Cluedo during Nazi air raids, and originally called it Murder! And it turns out that Monopoly looks suspiciously like a board game patented by a Quaker woman 3o […]

Entrepreneurship Starts at 45

Although there are a lot of famous (and rich) twenty-somethings who have been successful (Mark Zuckerberg is an obvious example), it turns out that older entrepreneurs have an edge when it comes to start up success. It’s likely that this is because they already have some personal wealth to cushion them, a better credit record […]

Black Farmers

Last year’s Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference in Brooklyn aimed to raise awareness of ecological and food related issues and career opportunities for the African American community. They quote some startling statistics, including: almost 50% of African Americans will suffer from diabetes heart disease and stroke in the African American community there are 30% […]

Hunting for Dinner

Urban Quest gives diners a series of clues that lead to a slap up restaurant dinner… if only you can find it. The clues lead diners on scenic journeys around Ottawa, Kingston or Toront, Canada and might be by foot, cycle or bus. Read more on Urban Quest

Dinner and a Movie

Cinemas are trying to lure customers with the promise of food served with the movie, such as burgers and alcohol served at your seat and often ordered from your seat too. For example, the Bear Tooth Theater Pub in Anchorage, Alaska has turned it’s popcorn counter into a servery where cinema-goers order tacos, burritos, salads […]

The Daily Grommet – Crowd Sourced Product Recommendations

Daily Grommet tells stories about innovative products or services that help shoppers find things that have a backstory that aligns with their personal values. Everyday a new story – submitted by people from around the world and consisting of a video review and text – is broadcast on the web to encourage word-of-mouth recommendation for […]

The Real Peggy Olsen R.I.P.

Phyllis Robinson, who died on New Year’s Eve 2010 aged 89, was one of the advertising pioneers when she was appointed to run the copy department at a new agency Doyle Dane Bernbach and she was called “the first great modern advertising writer” by former Esquire art director, George Lois. She was responsible for successful […]

Poor Medieval Britons? Not So Much…

Economists at the University of Warwick have worked out that medieval Britons had a per capita income of around $1,000 (1270 – 1870). In 2009, countries such as Ghana, Cambodia, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Burundi all had per capita incomes of less than $1,000. This medieval prosperity allowed people to live much more comfortable existences than […]

Eat Like a Movie Star

Matthew Sweet spends a day hanging out at the catering truck on a movie set to see what actors do, or don’t eat, when they are working. The caterers have to serve three meals a day plus snacks to pernickity thespians on £15 a day.  Read the full article  in More Intelligent Life. As always, […]

Why Things Don’t Work

Marketing guru Seth Godin explains why things don’t work – such as lines for taxis outside airports – in this TED Talk. He also outlines several types of broken, including “it’s not my job syndrome”. Seth Godin at Gel 2006 from Gel Conference on Vimeo.

Being a Fake Businessman

Mitch Moxley describes in an article in The Atlantic Magazine describing how he got a job as the token white guy and fake businessmen at a Chinese company that wanted to give the impression of being an internationally connected business. It’s a lucrative gig for expats who want to make good money by pretending to […]

Power Networking Hair Salon

The Wall Street Journal has been pressing its nose up against the windows of ladies’ hair salons to find the most popular salon amongst the power women of NYC. The winner is the Louis Licari salon on Fifth Avenue, Manhattan. Loyal clients, who go for a week-lasting blow dry include Harper’s Bazaar publisher Valerie Salembier, […]

How a US Law is Born

How Our Laws are Made is a colourful infographic that describes the process of getting a US bill made law. It is the winner of The Sunlight Foundation’s Design for America Challenge. The Sunlight Foundation aims to make US government transparent and accountable.

Sustainable Knickers

PACT produce ethically sound underwear with the slogan “change starts with your underwear”, which aims to promote organic cotton farming and socially responsible employment practices. Read more at the New York Times. Watch the Office Eden ad here. P.S. it’s not the same PACT that looks after indie producers’ rights, just in case you were […]

Stolen Recipes

The Stolen Supper Club is a London catering company that uses recipes from famous restaurants, such as Nobu, E&O, the Ivy and Marcus Waering. Every Monday, fifteen guests converge on Notting Hill, BYOB in hand, to sample the Stolen menu in return for a donation (approx. £30 depending on menu). Read a review in The […]

Virtual Farming

Le Vedure Del Mio Orto (The Vegetables From My Garden) is an Italian website where, like the massively popular Facebook game Farmville, you can grow your own crops. The difference is that you can actually eat the crops you grow, as the website will actually plant them on its farm near Turin, harvest and then […]

Night of the Ad Eaters

The Night of the Ad Eaters is an international travelling show that screens five and a half hours of adverts from around the world, including Russia, Asia, Africa, and South America, Mongolia, Iraq and the Guarani region of India  in “an enthusiastic fairground cum rock concert atmosphere”. The tour happens annually and visits 40 countries. […]

Zero Baggage

Zero Baggage is a new service that aims to take the lug out of luggage. They offer a range of options, all designed to make it possible for you to travel with just hand baggage by allowing you to rent new, or almost new clothes and other goods that you need for a trip abroad. […]

Five Hundred Ship Wrecks

Mauritania’s Nouadhibou Bay is home to some of the world’s last Monk Seals. It’s also the resting place of around 500 derelict ships; most of which have been abandoned and reported as sunk to insurance companies. The ships are gradually rusting away, polluting the surrounding ocean with diesel and oil, and creating a hazard for […]

Lion Burgers and Camel Cutlets Anyone?

A restaurant in Arizona got more publicity than it bargained for when it promoted lion burgers in its newsletter as a tie-in to the football world cup in South Africa: bomb threats. But reporters found a more intriguing story when they tried to find the source of the lion meat – via a butcher called […]

Starbucks Enters Its Middle Age

In 2011 Starbucks turns 40, and argues an article in Reason, it’s battling with a mid-life crisis as it tries to reestablish its authenticity and trailblazing credentials.  Read all about it.

Shop at a Street Market Anywhere in the World

24 Hour Market allows you to browse the stalls in street markets around the world – Hong Kong, Shanghai, Stockholm and London – and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the local market experience. For example, in Hong Kong, you can visit Mr Wong’s Comb stall and buy an aluminum comb for $6 […]

Middle Eastern Women Entrepreneurs

There are increasing numbers of women entrepreneurs in the Middle East but they face a number of obstacles to success: it’s not acceptable to network with male business colleagues after normal working hours; sexism of male colleagues and archaic an unpredictable laws waiting to be broken. Read more about challenges they face and how they […]

How to Be a DJ

Where did the time go..? DJ Danny Rampling, one of the titans of the dance and rave scene has been commanding the decks for twenty years. He’s got a book coming out –  Everything You Need to Know About DJ’ing & Success –  in which he shares his insights and tips for DJing and business […]

Edat Shams Traditional Yemeni Jewelry

Edat Shams is a Dubai-based company specializing traditional Yemeni jewelry and handicrafts. Set up by Dhuha Awad (an ex-colleague of TV Mole), the company has an  interesting back story. It was set up after Dhuha was shocked to discover a cousin too poor to buy new clothes for a family wedding. She decided to set […]

American Able

Canadian Jes Sachse is disabled. She’s also  “your average genderqueer, slutty-lovin, maoschistic poet type, with an affinity for emulating drag divas”, who features in a piss-take of the American Apparel ads – American Able –  which always feature beautiful, young and nubile ‘ordinary’women. Check out the photos here. Via Three Billion

Newspaper Club

Newspaper Club is an online venture that uses the down time of newspaper presses to allow people to print small runs of 12-page tabloid-sized newspapers. There are simple design and layout tools on the website, or they provide a bespoke layout service. Prices range from £35 for five black and white copies (£7 each) to […]

Deaths in Disneyland

Three staff at Disneyland Paris have committed suicide since the start of 2010. The union says that workers are under stress from demands for greater productivity. Disney is investigating whether employees are suffering from stress or harassment. Read the full article in The Times

Dreaming in Mono

McDonald’s has launched a novel new advertising campaign in Northern Europe, which looks more like a TV miniseries (McDonad’s doesn’t feature in the episodes). It consists of a series of seven episodes of a story about Nordic dreams and rivalries and stereotypes of the Danes, Finns, Swedes and Norwegians who are attempting to break the […]

Design for Health

UK design firm Priestmangoode believe that healthcare could be improved by applying the same design principles to hospitals and clinics that are applied in the luxury travel trade and first class cabins in airplanes. They have written a manifesto, which revolves around the following principles: Healthcare doesn’t need to be in a hospital; Buildings need […]

Law Degree for Sale

A young, cheesed off Silicon Valley lawyer has put his law degree up for sale on Craigslist for $59,250 (the outstanding amount of the $100K student loan). Read his reasons, which include boring colleagues and a screwed up work/aspiration balance, here. Hat tip: @jonathanfields

Making Over Carlisle Train Station

Carlisle’s railway station platform was turned into a lounge and garden area for filming for a TV ad for DIY store homebase. Commuters enjoyed the sofas and garden landscaping that they started a Facebook page to try to keep the newly made over station as it was. The number of fans has reached 8,000+ but […]

The Boneyard Aircraft Cemetery

Beautiful photograph of an airplane cemetery can be seen courtesy of Google Earth in The Telegraph.  The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is in Tuscon, Arizona and its four square miles are populated with partially dismantled or decommissioned aircraft, which are sometimes recycled and sometimes restored and sold on. Read more. Via @richpayne88

Disloyalty Card

World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies has come up with an disloyalty card that encourages his customers to try the coffee of his rivals. He’s chosen eight quirky, quality coffee shops in east London – buy a coffee and get a stamp from each of them and Gwilym will give you a free coffee. It seems […]

What Went Wrong

What Went Wrong is an eight-week online interactive series that looks at the causes of the global financial crisis, from Big Think, a “global forum connecting people and ideas,” which has an archive of video interviews with more than 600 experts including and astronaut and a former mayor of NYC. What Went Wrong features interviews […]

Gay is the New Black

Dangerous Breed is home to political T-Shirts that make you think: the slogan that is provoking  most comment at the moment is “Gay is the New Black”, which refers to the denial of gay marriage rights in the USA. Others include “Ski Iraq” (as seen on Six Feet Under), “Gaza Strip Club” and “Petrosexual”. Get […]

Blight Society Street Art

Help street artists sell out this Christmas by buying their prints and T-Shirts from Blight Society. With prices from £1 – £50 it could be your cheapest, and coolest, Christmas shopping spree ever. Even better, commission an original.