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IdeaLab 0624: Ice Cream, attitude, danger, and dishwashers

A continuation of the ever-enlightening IdeaLab series from the patented IdeaMatt My Big-Arse Text File.

  • "Flight of six" ice cream: While walking with my daughter around town (it's summer here and I get to spend a lot of time parenting - very good stuff, but does cut back on work time [1]) we decided to enjoy some ice cream together [2]. Immediately two thoughts occurred to me. First, because here in the U.S. restaurant portions are ridiculously large [3], so a "regular" is two large scoops - must be 20 WeightWatchers points! This will make me fat and unhealthy. Second, I love trying many different flavors, rather than one huge helping of one flavor (variety, spice, life, etc.) So I hit on an idea: Why not have an option for a "flight of six" - instead of one large scoop, serve six small tastes of different flavors. So Katie and I headed out to try it - and our local ice cream cafe was happy to accommodate! Perfect. A nice presentation would be to serve it in a pretty glass scalloped dish with six separate scoops to keep the flavors from running together, something like six of these connected.

    After a bit of research, it turns out that this option is common with alcohol, including beer, scotch, and tequila. I found only one mention of an ice cream version: The Phantom Gourmet Guide to Boston's Best Restaurants 2008 mentions ice cream "shooters" at Smith & Wollensky (I've never been there). What do you think? What else would this apply to?
  • 2x2: Dangerous vs. Exciting: In patented ASCII-Vision(TM):

    Dangerous Safe
    Exciting | Sky Diving | Roller Coaster |
    Boring | Cell + Car | Dilbert |
    I'm not totally happy with the names. Thoughts?
  • Attitude self-coaching: Here's something I like to do before important interactions or events (e.g., consulting, sales calls, or workshops): I write out the top two or three positive attitudes I want to bring to the occasion. For example, if I'm nervous about a call regarding a possible problem I might go in Curious, >GraciousTransitions: A Secret Ingredient To Getting Things Done?) and has helped me a lot.
  • Productivity tips from my automated dishwasher: (With apologies to Jack Handey and the ever amazing Nicholas Bate):

    • Like filing, does one prioritize ease of storage (just putting the dishes, cup, and cutlery willy nilly) or ease of retrieval (sorting likes together)?
    • Clearing cleaned dishes (e.g., emptying the inbox) is a kind of a forced closed list: All the clean ones must be removed before putting new (dirty) items in. Implications for collection tools...?
    • Emptying should require minimal thinking, which means batching likes (see above). This relates to the power of structure: Once we're in "plate mode," doing plates as a batch requires far less thinking than handling individual items. Implications for working your tasks list?

  • Less is more: A quote from one of my clients (they're always teaching me something):
    Having less stuff on your list is not necessary selling yourself short.

  • Attracting life: While sitting in my kitchen I noticed something moving in the potted tree on our back deck. Surprise! It had attracted a Robin. So a nice test in life: Does what I'm doing attract life?
  • Matter, energy, and information: Is life all about inputs and outputs [4]? If so, implications: we can control the inputs (what we invite into our lives: people, media diet, thoughts), the process (e.g., the efficient turning of inputs into outputs - my specialty), and the outputs (what is valuable for us to do). Stimulated by this passage from Nicholas Carr's [5] book The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google:
    All living systems, from amoebas to nation-states, sustain themselves through the processing of matter, energy, and information. They take in materials from their surroundings, and they use energy to transform those materials into various useful substances, discarding the waste. This continuous turning of inputs into outputs is controlled through the collection, interpretation, and manipulation of information. The process of control itself has two thrusts. It involves measurement - the comparison of the current state of a system to its desired state. And it involves two-way communication - the transmission of instructions and the collection of feedback on results.


Reader Comments (7)

2x2... perhaps: Risky / Safe, Exciting / Dull?

Idea for IdeaLab: Some of these ideas are nice and small and look like they might be a good candidate for microblogging (ie. twitter or plurk). There's probably even a way to monitor your RSS feed for the "idealab" tag and auto-forward so you don't have to do any extra work. Alternatively, you could post IdeaLab's from a service like ping.fm and have it post to many areas all at once.

June 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Kyle

Thanks for the ideas, Doug. I think you're right on about those sites and the level of granularity of IdeaLab posts. I'm putting them here to a) provide some variety, b) share some of the smaller ideas that might be useful to readers, and c) continue to drive traffic to my site via helpful content. Hosting on those other sites wouldn't address c). I played with Tumblr a while back: http://ideamatt.tumblr.com/

And http://ping.fm/ is cool, BTW. Thanks for the tip.

So Doug (and anyone else): Any concerns about the format, or was your comment more an observation about possible tools that are better matched than a "normal" blog? I'm still treating it as an experiment. What I'd love is an 80-20 thing: 80% of reader value with 20% of effort on my part (these are easier to write than my usual...)

Thanks for your comment!

June 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

The format works for me. It's a nice quick read and the bold sub-titles make it easy to comment on. My comments where just on other possible tools. I'm in the opposite situation as you right now... no blog or site to drive traffic to, but I'm using many tools.

The 80/20 idea is where I like ping.fm - from one place I update my facebook and bebo status, twitter, plurk, tublr... and the dozen other sites I signed up for just to test ping. The end result is a lot of sites being updated, all with some sort of linkback to my homepage. It's still in beta though, so who knows where it will go (use beta code "letmeping" if you want an account). At this point, it's purely for fun as there's nothing overly significant at my page to drive traffic to, but I've still managed to pick up a handful of twitter followers (twitter.com/dougkyle).

I was actually thinking these sites, via link backs might drive more traffic to your site... I wonder if there's a way to post just the title & first sentence or two of each blog post to ping.fm. Sort of throwing a hook out to many venues to reel in the readers.

Also, if you're looking for low effort - A one time setup on Twitterfeed.com and Facebook's Notes application (both subscribe to RSS feeds) can re-post your blog on Twitter and Facebook respectively.

June 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Kyle

A friend and I had a few ideas. They both involve making changes to the email program itself. Idea 1: Implement a "you started it, you finish it" rule for new messages in which you are forced to dispatch a message once you open it. I.e., it's impossible to put it back. Idea 2: Make the whole inbox work like a "closed list:" Once you open the inbox it stops showing new messages. Like the dishwasher you're compelled to empty it - "No new messages for *you*, young man, until you finish your job!" It's like a more rigid version of Gmail's new
[ email addict | http://www.gfanatic.com/lab-features-for-gmail/ ] lab feature.

June 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

Thanks, Doug. We're clearly in a shake-out when it comes to these kinds of sites, esp. the "kitchen sink" ones - those that try to combine contacts, social networking, news/feeds, etc. It looks like a Web 2.0 version of application "islands" on the OS - data that isn't centralized, so must be duplicated or accessed inelegantly. A business opportunity?

June 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

I have been using a bunch of feeds on my blog, to completely unknown effect at the moment! I have feeds two and from my two blogs (one general, one tech oriented). Then I've got a twitter feed going. I love Tumblr for the ability to quickly post items. I use it a bit like a public bookmarking site. So I have two Tumblr feeds, one for general and one related to a new investment fund I'm starting. You can see all this on the right side of my blog, http://www.blog.steig.com. Oh, and also when I tag something for "share" on Google Reader, that feed also shows up on my blog.

July 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph Steig

Neat! Thanks Joseph. I've been migrating to my own domain, so using Twitter has a negative consequence, I think...

July 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

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