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An end-of-the-year idea grab bag: Smelly videos, photo stickers, dissolving staples, and darkening ink for NAs

Here's a collection of various ideas I've come up with over the last few months that didn't warrant their own posts. However, I wanted to share them before the year's out - just for fun. Other silly/crazy ideas welcome - please comment or email. Cheers!

Removable image labels for kids

Here's an idea I had a long time ago. I would love to print photo contact sheets on removable labels, for kids. A few application ideas:
  • At a kids party: Take digital pics, run through program, print on labels, give out during or at end as take-away gifts.
  • At preschool: Use pictures instead of words. For example: To show where things go at clean-up time

Dissolving staples

The problem: After having adopted David Allen's GTD, I've found I print more often - Read/Review articles, emails for projects, and web pages for my Someday/Maybe list. When I'm done with them I like save those that are blank on the back for reusing (one of the three Rs - Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle). However, the staples are a bit of a pain to remove. So the idea: Why not make staples out of a substance similar to dissolving sutures. The thought would be they'd be strong for a few weeks or so, then dissolve rapidly so that they're gone when it's time to reuse the paper.

Fading paper, darkening ink

This set of ideas all come from the problem of physical objects that need increased or decreased attention over time. For the case of decreased attention, here's an example: At my research lab I initialized a Wall of Fame which is a portion of a wall that showcases our work - publications, software releases, jobs, etc. However, we're running out of space, and it's hard to decide what to get rid of to make room for new items. The solution: Paper that's chemically treated to fade with time. Thus, the oldest will be most faded. This happens naturally with most paper, but I'd like something that's "time released" so as to fade at a predictable rate.

The opposite of this is the problem of something needing more attention over time. In my case, how about those old GTD Next Actions (NAs) that are getting stale? The solution: The inverse of that disappearing ink you played with as a kid: darkening ink. Better yet, I'd like ink that changes color over time, say from black to red. This would make those old NAs really stand out.

(Of course, this is an overly elaborate and exotic solution to something that GTD has already solved via the weekly review. By checking each Next Action list at least once a week, I should be noticing cringe tasks, and dealing with them accordingly.)

Progressively smelly books/videos

The final idea addresses overdue books or videos. (Yes, simply writing the due date down in the calendar GTD-style is the way to go, but sometimes one forgets. Also, this might help our non-GTD friends.) The problem: Items become due without giving any sense of it - due dates are intangible. The solution: Use a scratch-and-sniff approach in which the item gets progressively smellier as the due date approaches. For example:
Friend: Matt, what's that smell? Reminds me of Stinking Bishop!

Me: Oh - that's my copy of The 7 Habits. Damn, I really need to finish it; it's really smelling up the place!
This could also apply to books that I want to make progress on reading but haven't. I.e., as an olfactory trigger.

Variations: A progression of different (more noticeable) smells: blue cheese, compost, then finally rotten eggs. Of course they wouldn't have to be "bad" smells, e.g., lemon.

Reader Comments (4)

Smelly library books! Er, no thanks ;P

December 19, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAlvin

Don't worry - they'd clean right up!

December 19, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

What if you made paper+ink that was erasable like rom chips used to be, with UV light. Maybe you could make it where it would take seriously intense amounts of light (like more than sunlight) and just have an eraser machine.

Not for time erased purposes but for recycling paper after you've read it..

The paper companies probably wouldnt like you much though.....

January 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFjr

I love the suggestion, Fjr. Thanks for the post. I enjoyed reading your blog, as well.

January 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

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