Food Fetish

Lately I have been running across a lot of blogs and web sites dedicated to food. Not the eating or cooking of food, but fetishistic passion for how food look and how it is an artictic medium (in the visual sense).

It all started with a Flickr site called Obento! The story behind the food is thus… “Cute lunches made for me by my girlfriend!”. His girlfriend (should be wife considering those lunches!) has a sister site Anna the Red’s Bento Factory where she dished the dirt on how she makes the lunches.

Along similar lines, I stumbled across a page on “How to Make Peepshi = Peeps Sushi” where people turn those adorable Easter peeps into sushi. A great treat for the kids.

Finally, there is the more mundane but yummy site Pretty Foods & Pretty Drink which bills itself as “Too Pretty to Eat. Too lovely to Drink.” Enough said.

As a proud non-foodie, I heartily approve of this approach to food as art (that you can opt to eat).

Differences in Male & Female Friendships

The other day the WSJ has an interesting article on the differences in how the friendships between men and women are different. The gist of the article is that male friendships are “side by side” – doing things together – whereas friendships between women are “face to face” – sharing feeling with each other. As is always the case with this type of research, there are some choice insights that we can all relate to… “Two female strangers in a public restroom would share more personal information in five minutes than you guys talked about in a week!”

This is right in line with the work Deborah Tannen has done on the relationships and interpersonal communication of men and women. A great example of this work can be found in her book “You Just Don’t Understand: Conversations between Men and Women.”  She’s often knocked for being on the side of easily accessible, pop psychology, but her insights are relevant nevertheless and she does a great job of illustrating her concepts with a plethora of real life anecdotes.  Some of her  more recent work which I haven;’t had the opportunity to read is focused on the relationships between mothers, daughters and sisters. Her books also make great summer beach reading if you are looking for something funny, accessible, light and informative this summer.

WSJ “Why Men’s Friendships are Different

iPad, Alice & The Diamond Age

Yesterday I saw a new eBook for the iPad called Alice for the iPad. This is an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” for the iPad that incorporates wonderfully interactive illustrations that move when you rotate or shake the iPad.

In seeing it, it became clear that the publishing industry is undergoing at least two major disruptions. Not only does the iPad disrupt traditional distribution models (i.e. publishers in conjunction with traditioanl retailers as gatekeeper and the only viable distribution channel) by allowing authors to go directly to consumers through the App Store, but it also is on the verge of creating a disruption in terms of content. Content is now free from the static limitations of print and moving into a truly interactive realm. Imagine textbooks with built in simulations and interactive diagrams in place of static images. Imagine books that actually teach rather than present information to be consumed. It’s a true convergence of print, video and interaction into a single, portable medium that hasn’t existed before. Add to this the ability of the iPad to connect to the Internet and you now have the potential for entirely new notions of publishing.

Imagine that same textbook with interactive diagrams and simulations with online forums for students to pose questions and engage in discussion. Links to additional content examples and excerpts from class lectures on YouTube. Add in the professor teaching the course and you have a textbook that is fully integrated into the classroom curriculum. Add in Wikipedia and you now have the ability to expand on the content itself by letting authors, professors and student augment and change the content so it becomes a living document rather than a static record of our understanding at a fixed point in time. The notion of textbook “editions” become obsolete – the only edition is the edition available this second.

Depth of content and progressive disclosure also become possible now. Imagine a textbook where you can adjust the depth and complexity of a story or explanation on the fly. For example, move a slider on the interface to go from the “4 year old” version of why the sky is blue to the “PhD” version.

It’s not inconceivable to think of the iPad as a giant leap towards a real “Young Lady’s’ Illustrated Primer” as envisioned by Neal Stephenson in his wonderful book, “The Diamond Age.” A book of all the essential knowledge one needs to know to grow up to be an educated and interesting individual that adapts to your age and level of understanding over time. The iPad makes this notion start to sound more like reality than science fiction.