Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This ad doesn't convince me that planned communities work.

This article includes a CDC video ad trying to make the case for planned communities. There's just one funny thing that's missing: the people. In any video snippet, there were never more than 4 people enjoying the benefits of these planned areas, and usually there were fewer. This is the whole problem with planned communities: what good are they if people don't use them because they prefer the benefits of purchasing houses in non-planned areas? (There's another article on the topic the next day, but it is made of analysis and references to analysis without any real examples of approaches that actually work.)

I believe there are ways to achieve what you're discussing, and I'd like to hear more, but you'll have to have a different approach than the typical urban planner mandates to get us there. There are bountiful studies and reasons why the traditional government approach doesn't work, so please overcome those obstacles in future attempts to convince me.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Effective Teaching

In this talk, Benjamin Zander doesn't just lecture about the abundance in life, he demonstrates it by teaching a young musician as we all watch. What a great example!

Learn lessons from the pirates

Matt Mason talks about piracy, how it's always going to be with us, and the best approach for everyone is to deal with it creatively and constructively. (It actually reminds me of the story about attitude heard in another talk: two shoe salesmen go to Africa, and the first despairs because nobody wears shoes while the second rejoices at the opportunity!)

He talks about how he was a "pirate DJ" in London, which sounds interesting, but then he discusses how things often start in the pirate network and then move to mainstream. When the "legal" players start to address the problems that create piracy, they become truly powerful and profitable. He uses "Heroes" as a great example of this: they're the most pirated show on the web, but they've made over $50 million on their alternative revenue streams. He also points to a pharmaceutical company Novartis who learned to do something about their piracy problems in Thailand by offering products for free. You cannot buy the kind of goodwill that comes from that type of positive action.

We really are in an age of abundance (at least in my industry), and the long-term successes will be those who learn to build organizational models that share that abundance rather than restrict it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"Breaking the Cycle of Poverty-Related Illness"

Vera Cordeiro Rio tells her story about working for the poorest people whose children are hospitalized repeatedly. She started working without money so she sold her stuff and begged for money from friends, and now she is running a large organization Renascer that even has a profit-making arm Fish Hook. One quote about the non-profit/profit combination:

"Nowadays, if you want to change the world, a non-profit has to have a branch of profit. And also the profit companies, they have to have a branch of [social work]."

support for First Amendment is poor (but improving)

The First Amendment Center published their 2008 survey results about American's knowledge and opinions of the First Amendment.

Beware: they are frightening! People have very little knowledge of their freedoms, but worse of all they are willing to give up many of them. Thankfully, if you look at the numbers for the past few years, the trend seems to be improving (from my 2-minute scan of the data), though the improvement is very slight. This is not very encouraging news.

(Thanks to the Deseret News for their op-ed warning about American's attitudes.)

10-month blog anniversary!

Well, it's now 10 months since I've started writing online, and it's been enjoyable to learn what I want to do as I do it. At this point, I am recommitting myself to something I think I've forgotten: I am trying to publicize all the projects and stories that are making this world a better place, emphasizing those that encourage free association and also identifying where unlimited government is getting in our way. I want to make effective analyses, but I also want to point out every good project I hear. One improvement I'm going to try: I'm going to bookmark ALL the good projects I see, since is still improving and they have a great interface for searching through your tage; then I'll reference my blog entries from there so I can find the ones that are interesting enough to comment about.

Onward and upward!