I'm at that age where most of my friends are starting families, so I find myself shopping for a lot of baby stuff. In fact, I've developed a bit of a reputation for giving the kind of wildly impractical baby gifts that only a non-parent would buy. But the Squirt baby food dispensing spoon just might help salvage my reputation as a gift-giver. Parents can fill the bright orange bulb with up to three ounces of baby food, then secure the spoon on the end. A squeeze of the bulb dispenses a bite of food onto the spoon, … Read more
Henrik Franzon is a Swedish statistician who's created a remarkable site called Acclaimed Music. Over the last seven years, he's compiled hundreds of lists that rank music--best albums of all time, best singles of year X, and so on--from every source he comes across--the Rough Guide to Jazz, Rolling Stone, Attitude magazine's top 50 gay albums of all time. (Can an album have a sexual preference?) Then he's aggregated the results, organized them into a sort of "best of the best of" list, and provided links to various views. You can see the … Read more
I've written about CD Baby before. It's a great way for independent musicians to sell their recordings.
For a one-time fee of $35 per album, it will set up both mail-order distribution (for which it takes $4 per CD) and digital distribution through all the major music stores, including iTunes (for which it takes 9 percent of what the store gives its artists, which is usually about 60 percent of the list price).
Baby naming has suddenly become a hot topic. News sources from Salon.com, to conservative commentator David Brooks have recently weighed in on the significance of a baby's moniker. The Wall Street Journal even framed the naming decision as "the art of 'branding' your newborn."
Parents' stress levels may be rising as the naming the baby becomes a high-stakes decision. Expensive consultants have even cropped up. The Today Show featured a self-proclaimed "nameologist," who charged a couple $300 to help them choose among combinations of Charles, Robert, and Matthew. I say keep the three hundred bucks and choose a name out of a hat if you are that undecided.
Luckily there are many free or low-cost naming tools that can add to the fun rather than the stress of baby naming. In addition to the many books on the topic, from the thematically-organzied Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana, to the encyclopedic 100,000+ Baby Names, there are many free resources available online.… Read more
Last week the new "Baby Einstein" study came out suggesting that "educational" baby videos are ineffective teaching tools. The most memorable conclusion from one of the researchers: "I would rather babies watch American Idol than these videos."
Over the weekend I was invited to debate BabyFirst TV co-founder Sharon Rechter about the relative merits of these products. BabyFirst TV is a 24-hour cable channel that broadcasts "educational" shows aimed at infants and toddlers. Their programming includes the Brainy Baby video series, some of which were included in the recent study.
Unfortunately, a technical glitch meant I didn't get to participate in the discussion as planned, but preparing for the segment gave me a chance to examine the culture behind these products. Why are these videos so appealing to today's parents? As I thought about it over the weekend, and re-read Susan Gregory Thomas' new book Buy Buy Baby I came to realize that there is a perfect match between the marketing messages coming from companies like BabyFirst TV and Baby Einstein, and the culture and socialization of Gen X parents in particular. … Read more
When I wrote about "marketing to your reptilian brain" on Tuesday, I was just hearing the news breaking about the new study that suggests that babies' viewing of Baby Einstein videos may hamper rather than accelerate language acquisition. Since I was writing about unconscious marketing techniques, I ran with the McDonald's Wrapper research rather than the Baby Einstein findings.
The runaway reporting of the Baby Einstein story caught me by surprise, because I had assumed that on some level we all knew these videos were just a crutch we used to keep the kids occupied while we … Read more
New York Times workplace trendspotter Lisa Belkin writes today about the culture clashes arising now that four generations are in the workplace at one time. The World War II generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y have very different values and expectations that are not always compatible co-existing in the workplace. Think belly rings clashing with Brooks Brothers, or flex-time worship versus yuppie ladder climbing.
Belkin writes about programs designed to translate workplace standards and communication styles across these boundaries: "Summer is the season of culture shock in the working world, when the old guard comes face to face with a next wave of newcomers, and the result is something like lost tribes encountering explorers for the first time."
This trend story feels a little pat and overgeneralized, but Belkin's article made me smile because I had just been thinking about what it means to have four generations online. In this case, the tables are turned with the younger generations as the experts who have grown up with online technology as their native culture, and senior family members more or less along for the ride. In our family, the grandparents are online, which is a good thing, but I have run into my own case of culture shock when my father reads my blogs. … Read more
Intergenerational tech musings today: The New York Times has an interesting report about new advances in hearing aid technology. Companies are motivated to meet the needs of aging baby boomers facing progressive hearing loss.
But how to overcome the stigma of hearing aid use for this potential market of 78 million people? Recent innovation has led to new devices that look more like Bluetooth headsets or iPod headphones than older models that resembled "a chewed Circus Peanut."… Read more
Want to know the origin and popularity of your name? Wonder why you love certain names and hate others?
Nymbler provides shorthand to figuring out what names you might like, based on 6 names you choose for inspiration. You can type in your own suggestions or choose from a list to start. You can then change your inspiration, as Nymbler makes suggestions.
Nymbler uses an algorithm that identifies patterns in personal taste, then makes educated suggestions based on those through its "Hunch Engine." Names are analyzed for things like ethnicity and historic popularity, as well as consonance and … Read more
Throw away those beanie babies; they are old news. There is a new sheriff in munchkin town.
Webkinz.com is a Web site children can join and interact in an online society while adopting a physical representation of the pet. The catch is that a Webkinz stuffed animal must be purchased first, followed by entering the "secret code" found on an attached tag. The cute plush toys have been quite popular, grossing over $45 million last year for Canadian gift company Ganz, the creators of Webkinz. Like its TY Beanie-Baby predecessor, Webkinz also has a high collection value, … Read more