The Naming of Things

Fascinating article about the product naming industry {new york times}:

He administered a questionnaire to 150 Stanford and Berkeley students, asking them questions like: Which sounds faster, “fip” or “fop”? Leben found a consensus. “Fip” was faster than “fop.” Why? Because of the way the sounds were generated in the mouth, Leben says. “Fip” feels lighter and faster because the vocal tract is open only a small amount. There is less acoustic substance for “fip” than there is for “fop,” the pronunciation of which causes the jaw to drop and the tongue to lower, creating a heavier, more powerful sound.

Reminds me of this episode from the Startup podcast, How to Name Your Company, in which business partners Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber talk with friends, family, and professional namers to come up with a name for their new podcasting company.

App Tells You How Many Times You Check Your Phone

It’s called Moment, and it’s:

an iOS app that automatically tracks how much you use your iPhone and iPad each day. If you’re using your phone too much, you can set daily limits on yourself and be notified when you go over. You can even force yourself off your device when you’re over your limit.

I’m not going that far. But it’s interesting to see how many times I check my phone. (For the record: less than the average but still a lot.)

Apparently boredom is actually good for creativity, which makes sense—I rarely come up with a novel solution to a problem while actively thinking about it. It all happens in the magic of the subconscious.

And the research backs this up:

“You come up with really great stuff when you don’t have that easy lazy junk food diet of the phone to scroll all the time,” says Sandi Mann.

Mann’s research finds that idle minds lead to reflective, often creative thoughts (we discuss her projects in depth in this week’s show). Minds need to wander to reach their full potential.

Heard about it from the New Tech City podcast, which cites the following statistics:

58% of American adults have a smartphone today. The average mobile consumer checks their device 150 times a day, and 67% of the time, that’s not because it rang or vibrated. 44% of Americans have slept with their phone next to their beds.

Listen to the episode to find out more about the research, including a really cool experiment that had its subjects read the phone book.

Freedom of Speech Must Include the License to Offend?

The second-ever Intelligence Squared U.S. debate was about this motion: Freedom of speech must include the license to offend.

It aired in 2006, less than eleven months after the Danish Muhammad cartoons controversy {wikipedia}.

The debate featured Christopher Hitchens and a bunch of other knowledgable folks, including a cartoonist for the Philadelphia Daily News.

It’s a great debate and well worth a re-listen in wake of the tragedy at the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

Hey I Made This

Story about fashion designer Bernadette PaolucciI learned one of the newer apps in the Adobe suite, Muse, over the holiday break.

Here’s the first story I made using it, part 1 of a story about fashion designer Bernadette Paolucci.

It utilizes that cool scrolling feature you’ve probably seen on websites a lot lately. It’s called parallax. As you scroll down on the page, different objects move in at different speeds.

This one combines photography, illustrations, and a story I wrote for an interview class at Penn last semester.