Best of 2010

They are a huge cliche, but I love them and this year I’m contributing to the culture by submitting my own: This Year’s Best Of List.
I’ve listed my favorites for a few media categories and, where appropriate, I’ve separated fiction from non-fiction.  Without further ado:

Music: The Way Out – THE BOOKS

Movie: Fiction > The Secret in their Eyes – JUAN JOSE CAMPANELLA
Non-Fiction > Touching the Void – KEVIN MACDONALD

Book: Fiction > Let the Great World Spin – COLUM McCANN
Non-Fiction > The Lost City of Z – DAVID GRANN (notice how having a name that ends with a double n really helps your chances in this category)
Honorable mention (Flemish) > De Laatste Liefde van Mijn Moeder – DIMITRI VERHULST

App: Instapaper

Website: This one is hard…  There is such a wide range of websites that I enjoy: New York Times, McSweeneys, The Selvedge Yard, etc.  It feels like comparing apples to oranges to pick a favorite.  But the first one that came to mind was BikeEXIF, so let’s just keep it at that.

TV: Fiction > True Blood (HBO)
Non-Fiction > Circus (PBS)
Honorable mention (Flemish) > Van Vlees en Bloed (VRT)

That’s it!  Please share your ‘Best Of’ in the comments!  I’d love to know.  Feel free to add your own categories too.


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Tron mini-ramp

This is pretty awesome.  Here I am thinking about building a treehouse, or maybe even a ‘treehouse mini-ramp’.

But maybe I should up the ante a little and build one of these instead.

Tron Legacy Premiere – A Light Session from ENESS on Vimeo.

Manual to the world #4

ManhattanI know, it’s only part 4 in this series and it’s already the second time I’m featuring a map.  I’ve explained before that I love maps and I really couldn’t resist this one.  It’s so interesting to see how racially divided New York City (still) is.  It would be even more interesting to see an extra layer on this map showing average rent prices. Or would that not be politically correct?

It’s no surprise to see that my neighborhood is primarily Hispanic (80%) but I was surprised to see there are so few black people (4%).  White people are pretty well represented at 15%.  That doesn’t sound like much, but the neighborhood bordering us has 83% whites which tilts the scale.  Up in Washington Heights and Inwood, Broadway is seen as a divider between the primarily Hispanic neighborhoods in the East and the white neighborhoods in the West.  It’s interesting to see how accurate this seems to be.

BrooklynThe division is even more pronounced in a couple other places.  Just have a look at 96th street on the Upper East Side.  And check out how Flatbush Avenue and Prospect Park divide Brooklyn.

Further reading: Mapping America — Census Bureau 2005-9 American Community Survey – NYTimes.com.

Le Pain Quotidien on Facebook

Because I like to know what the soup of the day is without walking over to Le Pain Quotidien, I follow them (@lepainquotidien) on Twitter.  While I originally started following them for this very mundane and practical reason, I’ve been surprised at how well they use this channel to communicate with their customers.

One of the things I like is that they don’t send out a million tweets everyday. Some companies and individuals I follow, tweet so much that I’m tempted to stop following them altogether.  And if I continue to follow them, I hardly ever read their tweets anymore. I’m looking at you @mashable and @nytimes! A twitter feed is not an RSS feed! Sometimes less is more.  On Twitter, less is almost always more!
Another admirable characteristic is that they occasionally reply to people that have mentioned them, but only if they have something worthwhile to say, not systematically and definitely not through some automated process. This way they really show their customers that there are real people behind the brand. However much we all hate the term social media, there is a reason why these media are supposed to be social.

OK, so these are two examples of why Le Pain Quotidien has a healthy Twitter strategy. Surely, they are not the only company that does things right? Why single them out? I could say it’s because they are Belgian and so am I.  But if that was the reason, I could have also used @waffletruck as an example because they are Belgian too and they have a pretty good Twitter feed too. The real reason is this link that @lepainquotidien tweeted yesterday.  “Ever wondered why we serve our organic coffee in bowls?” Honestly? No, I haven’t.  But now that you mention it, I am curious to know.  If you are too, you’ll have to follow the link to read all about it.
You’ll find a cute, tongue-in-cheek explanation of something as trivial as the absence of handles on their cups.  They briefly touch upon a number of details that makes the company a little more unique and a lot more like-able.

I don’t know who was behind this, it might have been a marketing agency, or it might have been someone in their own marketing team.  It doesn’t matter.  I think it’s a great example of using the individual strengths of both Twitter and Facebook.  I love how they used Twitter to get my attention and, with a little teaser, pulled me over to their Facebook page. Furthermore, once they had my attention they didn’t ruin it by trying to sell me something.  Instead they gave me something that I’ll be able to remember and smile about the next time I have one of their hot drinks from a bowl.

Tim Burton’s Cadavre Exquis

Tim Burton is using Twitter to crowdsource a new Stainboy story! The writing technique is based on the Cadavre Esquis way of writing. Every contributer only adds one sentence to the story after which it is passed on to the next person.
Put together the best 140 characters you can come up with and add ‘co-wrote a short story with Tim Burton’ to your resume!
http://burtonstory.com

Manual to the world #2

It’s already Friday again?  When I decided to make this a weekly feature, I forgot how short a week really is.  I might have to change the frequency and make it biweekly or monthly.  If every other entry in the journal is going to be a part of this series, things might get boring real fast!

For now there are plenty of cool tips to share, so here’s number two:

OasisNYC is a great online resource for community maps.  I love maps, so I had a lot of fun with this.  The OasisNYC map is an interactive map that shows you the location of community resources like public gardens, playgrounds, tennis-courts, parks, and much more.  You can even create your own map with just the information you are interested in and save it, print it or link to it from your own website.  While this is primarily aimed at New York city dwellers, it could be a great tool for visitors too.  And who knows, maybe something similar is available for where you live?

The OasisNYC website has a lot of other interesting information that you won’t on the map so definitely check that out too!  The menus might not be the most user-friendly and the copy on the website gets a little ‘governmental’ at times.  Here’s a little example from their mission statement:

The OASIS website is guided by a collaborative partnership of private and public sector representatives that seek to sustain an accessible information system that helps enhance the stewardship of open space so these areas are linked, diverse and sustainable for the benefit of all people, organisms, and ecosystems in and around New York City.

One of the best things about living all the way uptown is the amount of green space. That's what I always remind myself of when the A-train decides to go local!

Yes, that was one sentence…  All of the information given here is relevant, and most likely accurate too, but I would argue that there is a better way to communicate it.  However, this entry is not about copy-writing or web design, it’s about a great resource for information that is otherwise hard to get by.  And most of the information is presented in an awesome map! what more do you want?  It’s Friday today, go look for a nice park or playground to visit this weekend!

I went to Miami

This past weekend, Laura and I went to Miami.  My mom turned 60 last month and my dad had the great idea to treat her to a vacation in Miami, where we had a surprise mini family reunion! It was a lot of fun and we saw some pretty epic halloween costumes. Our visit to the Everglades was definitely a highlight, swimming in the warm Atlantic Ocean water wasn’t too bad either and finally seeing Eclectic Method perform live was awesome!  I’d post some pictures here, but in my attempt to declutter the internet, I’ll just refer to Laura’s blog instead.  Also, the pictures are on the desktop computer at home and I’m at work.