June 2011

Food trucks are delicious, fancy and coming to a street near you

I love street food and food trucks.  There’s something about them that is so communal and specialized; you can’t replicate it indoors.  On a hot summer night, the air in the line of a taco stand or Thai food truck is wild and delicious.  And eating steaming food off of paper plates with plastic utensils makes it that much better. Now that it’s summer (or pretending to be), it’s the perfect time to sample the fresh ingredients, local foods and bright culture of your neighborhood food truck scene.  Here are some of the best food trucks across the country.

Don Chow.  Los Angeles.  This truck blends Asian and Mexican flavors in unique, and uniquely Los Angeles, flavor combinations.  One of their specialties is the “chimale,” a tamale with Asian meats and tomato salsa.  Like most vehicles on wheels, you’ll have to follow this truck on their website to see where it's parked.

Austin Daily Press.  Austin, Texas.  Co-owners Cory Nunez and Amy Hildenbrand serve up grilled sandwiches wrapped in a piece of newsprint from The Onion. This truck also functions as a delivery service, so hungry patrons can call up the truck and have sandwiches delivered straight to their homes. 

Condescending Ways Companies Try to Relate to My Generation

Mining youth culture for profit is in like never before

It's cute when enormous, faceless corporations try to convince me that they're my best friend in the world. The kind of branding that gets thrown at young people tries to be awfully familiar, like the big guys in capitalism are in on the same jokes as you. But like most corporate attempts at the cutting edge, this kind of marketing tends to look silly after companies beat a certain trend into the ground or overestimate our gullibility. These are my favorite attempts corporations have made at trying to "relate" to me and my money.


Putting everything in lowercase


Unsure if a certain brand is supposed to be hip, young, or fresh? Check the capitalization. If there's none, odds are a marketing exec decided somewhere along the line to make the brand speak to the current generation of youngsters. We text, type, and tweet, you see, and we're far too busy to slide our pinkies to the shift key. An all-lowercase typography gives a brand a sly smugness, a nod to the in-joke of texting culture, an edge that you just can't get with proper syntax. Or so the suits would like to think. CB2--Crate and Barrel's "hipper" offshoot--is super guilty of this. Their layout, with the exception of some generic copy, is rife with lowercase sans-serif. I'm sure you've seen the lack of caps elsewhere. Chicago apartment hunting service domu.com is all over the trend, as are plenty of supposedly hipper startups. 


Slapping text speak on things


OMGWTFBBQ, amirite? Sure, plenty of people use digital shorthand for their everyday conversation these days, but that doesn't mean that we want to accessorize with it. These throw cushions from CB2 just seem a little desperate. I'm not even sure what AYS stands for. On a similar note, this is called the PXL8 clock and it was originally priced at $120. Yeesh, CB2. 

Collective intelligence in the digital age is peer-reviewed and international

If you think that people are sheep, you may be right.  Pacificists torture civilians in times of war, environmentalists toss their trash on the ground at big music festivals, kids taunt their best friends if they are the brunt of jokes in their classrooms.  This is defined as “groupthink,” or a common behavior and state-of-mind within a group that may be completely different than what the individual would do on his or her freewill. The collective that is the opposite of groupthink—working for good—is called “collective intelligence.” Scientists think collective intelligence can be used more collaboratively for intellectual good and to overcome personal bias. This kind of thinking has taken place since the beginning of time in humans, bacteria and animals, but can be applied differently and more liberally in our technologically sophisticated age. 

Collective intelligence comes about from collaboration and competition between many individuals, eventually creating a group decision. The group must be permanent, if only for a short time, and tied together in some way that encourages a collective feeling. For example, a group of randomly assembled individuals on a bus that ran out of gas on a country road would have to make a collective decision. The marker of the group mentality is if one of the individuals has a different belief, that person will be cast out of the group.  The only way the collective intelligence of the group is dismantled is if the group is disbanded or if new thoughts challenge the group’s core beliefs.

Some scientists say that collective intelligence allows groups of people to form strong communities united in a single goal.  Personal bias can affect decision making and thinking, they say.  In uniting with a group in a common goal, individuals can make better decisions. Essentially, collective intelligence allows for a surival of the fittest of ideas—only the best will rise to the top and the less potentially successful ones will be dropped.  This idea is called “The Golden Suggestion,” or a group’s willingness to accept an idea no matter who in the chain of command it comes from.

Here are the four principles necessary for collective intelligence:

  • Openness—the willingness to share ideas.  Collaboration and sharing of ideas is more productive than keeping an idea to oneself. 
  • Peering—the ability to share ideas with peers and to edit and collaborate—usually electronically—on ideas and documents.  This is in contrast to the old model of business where there was a divide between the people in charge and the people who listened to their instructions.
  • Sharing—This is the business model of sharing some ideas with other companies, while still keeping some intellectual property and patent rights. 
  • Acting Globally—The Internet allows for new, global companies to emerge with little to no actual physical space.  Geographical boundaries are no longer so important in global business. 

One of the most progressive centers studying and innovating in the field of collective intelligence in the United States is the one at MIT, called the Center for Collective Intelligence. The center conducts research on emerging technologies and the way that collaboration functions in today’s society.  In essence, the Center defines collective intelligence as something that has been around forever, but has different and new applications in the digital age.  Google and Wikipedia are just a few of the Center’s examples of using international individual intelligence to create strong, peer-created collective intelligence.  

How to Enjoy Facebook Again

While many people can stand Facebook’s constant presence in their lives fine, some of us need a break every now and then. I know plenty of people who leave for days or weeks at a time to come back after they feel as if they’ve had a long enough break (or they miss out on invitations, baby pictures, or even family news from leaving—like I did!). Some even leave forever and say that they don’t miss it; I certainly don’t blame them. I don’t like how public our lives have become, how you can’t go anywhere without being added to someone’s pictures or videos (that they’ll, of course, post online), and it’s as if Facebook and Twitter are our way of becoming instant reality television starts. Barf.

But sometimes, instead of just taking a break, it can be fun to mock it all. Seeing the funny side of things can help us put them into perspective and remember not to take anything so seriously, and thankfully there are already websites out there that put together strings of the best Facebook ridicule for us all to enjoy.

Today a good friend of mine shared a hilarious article entitled, “The Best Obnoxious Responses to Misspellings on Facebook.” Most of us have felt pretty irritated a time or two when we log on and evrythg iz speled lik this, often with numbers thrown in for good measure. I have actually removed people from my feed—family members, even—just because that sort of thing is so annoying (then again, it makes me want to leave Facebook, so maybe I should just stick to reading their weird text talk?). We all misspell things now and again, but not words like “of,” “the,” or other simple words. And people who intentionally spell things wrong—like “iz” instead of is, which doesn’t even shorten the word!—are even more annoying!

So this article is a must-read by anyone who has felt as disgruntled about spelling as I have. It may be the funniest thing you’ve read all day. Most of the statuses are simply riddled with spelling mistakes, but my personal favorite is a poor churchgoing woman who only spelled one word wrong: “Just got home from church. We had a good crowd and a wonderful semon. The little ones were running around hunting for eggs afterwards. Happy Easter everyone.” A friend then responded, “Holy type-o.”  

Another good friend of mine (read: person I actually know off of Facebook as well as on the site) often shares posts at Lamebook, where some of the most ludicrous posts at Facebook are shared every day. Today there was a particularly funny one about how a girl gave her boyfriend “Her Pies,” to which another friend asked if he, too, could have some pie, and if they were any good, and the original poster—still completely oblivious to what he’d done—responded, “Herpies is bumps on your d***!” I would never laugh at someone getting herpes, of course, but this was just such a ridiculous exchange that I had to laugh—hard.

You can also spend some time playing around at Failbook, where you can search by topic (such as crazy things that parents say, or party fails) and find some of the funniest (or stupidest) posts ever found on Facebook.