How it ought to be for the most peaceful people on earth

Monks on the beach

An image of joy and peace (thanks to my colleague Steffen, who shared it with me a long time ago) as I am reading the sad news about the violence and pain inflicted onto Birmanian Buddhist monks, who must be among the most peaceful people on earth, in their fight for freedom and democracy.

Beta testers wanted

Well, I should say “tasters”, not “testers”. And it’s not really a beta anymore – although traditional Modena balsamic vinegar takes years and years to ripen, I think we can safely say we’re out of beta by now. Our barrels (durmast oak, chestnut, acacia, ash, and cherry wood) have been working their magic and the stuff that comes out the small end of the line is liquid brown gold.

If you’d like to come see us in Modena, this trade show on the first weekend of October is a great time. Everybody who’s anybody in balsamic vinegar will be there, and your taste buds will have the time of their life. Other interesting exhibitors, at least judging from names and locations, will be: Osteria Caserma Guelfa & Nudo e Crudo, Vinaigre del Condado de Huelva, Consejo Regulador Vinagre de Jerez, Vinaigrerie La Guinelle, Pars Yeema Biotechnologist Co., Wuhan Polytechnic University, and the College of Food Science and Technology of Huazhong Agriculture University.

Finally, a few words on the show’s visual identity. The model is good-looking and the product is appealingly shown on a chunk of Parmesan (although fans believe that dunking, not sprinkling, is the recommended tasting solution for traditional balsamic and Parmesan). But it feels like we’ve seen this advertising trick (show model’s mouth, hide model’s eyes) a gazillion times before. Creatives, some more creativity next time, please.

How the Web is not happening in Italy

I have always been amazed by LinkedIn stats about my network. Why?

Because I have lived by now for the past 12 years in Italy, after coming back from California. Granted, I always worked in fairly international environments, so about 50% of my direct (first-degree) contacts are in Italy, and the other half is abroad.

But when I look at the total people I could theoretically reach (up to the third degree), it’s a completely different picture. The top five locations (see upper right corner in the screen shot) are all in the US and UK. Paris has also been part of the top five in the past. Italy, not really.

My LinkedIn network stats, September 2007

What does this mean? It means that my non-Italian contacts have many more contacts, and their contacts have more contacts in turn, then my Italian contacts. Which does not, I think, reflect what happens in real life: Italians are strong and talented networkers, and much if not most business gets done through networking. Yet, it seems to be less of a priority for my Italian contacts to track their contacts through a platform like LinkedIn. Maybe it’s because we don’t move around so much: if we hardly ever lose track of each other, then “getting back in touch” is less important. Other explanations are welcome.

I am also often amused by the other two network profile boxes – add a colleague in Netherlands, and the Netherlands becomes the fastest growing location; link up with a friend in Finland, and Finland shoots up the ranking. Hey, and should I ever go to Daytona Beach, I can probably go out for drinks with someone. But what’s not amusing is that New York, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, and London are in the fastest growing most of the time – I feel like a character caught in the wrong spot in a Richard Florida book. No Italian location (not even the Milan area, where most of my Italian contacts are) ever gets to the fastest growing. Maybe it’s good that I don’t often link with one of those “power networkers” who suddenly double my Milanese network in a single burst – networks should be built slowly and patiently. But I can’t help thinking that the humble microcosm of my LinkedIn contacts is a mere reflection of how the Web is not growing in Italy.

Using conceptual art to sell handbags: did they ask John Baldessari, or did they just do it?

Ad for Orciani leather goods
This ad appears in women’s magazines today. It promotes leather goods by a manufacturer in Fano, Italy. Anybody who is even remotely familiar with the conceptual art of the last forty years will recognize the imprint of the artist John Baldessari.
So the question is: did they think it was a cool look and just pay homage to it? Or was Baldessari himself involved or informed in any way? and if so, why not acknowledge it?

“What about the Internet?” “Oh, we did the whole parental-control schmear, but Kevin cracked it in a day.”

Yesterday I talked about Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, which I recommend even more now that I’ve finished it. About a third into the book, Eva recalls her civil trial for parental negligence:

“You see,” I proceeded, “by the time he was eleven or twelve, this was all too late. The no-gun rules, the computer codes… Children live in the same world we do. To kid ourselves that we can shelter them from it isn’t just naive, it’s a vanity. We want to be able to tell ourselves what good parents we are, that we’re doing our best. If I had to do it all over again, I’d have let Kevin play with whatever he wanted; he liked little enough. And I’d have ditched the TV rules, the G-rated videos. They only made us look foolish. They underscored our powerlessness, and they provoked his contempt.”