Raphie Frank :: business artivist

Tomorrow’s Melody

photo by *Christine

Hello [Friend],

Indeed, as you say, “the spaces between things are important i feel! the spaces between each musical note.” Think about it. What’s the present if not tommorow’s melody in the making? And what are all our yesterdays but a series of notes that guide us towards tomorrow’s composition? In other words, the space between the musical notes is right here and now, the choices you and I and everyone make at each and every moment are as infinite in their possibility as the universe. Speaking only for myself, I’ve no desire to live life in a minor key. Do you?


June 4, 2006 Posted by | Philosophy | 3 Comments

What the hell is “boojummy”?

I belive i can fly?
photo by Giampaolo Macorig

What the hell is Boojummy? I’ve been asked this question many times in 2006. Well, I’m going to let the cat out of the bag finally. The term is a derivation of boojum, just one more figment of Lewis Carroll’s fertile imagination.

And what’s a boojum? Why, it’s the most dangerous kind of snark, of course! And what’s a snark? via Wikipdia

The eponymous snark in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark is a fictional animal, the quarry for a hunting party comprising some highly unlikely characters.

There are several different varieties of snark. Some have feathers and bite, and some have whiskers and scratch. Some are Boojums, which are the most dangerous kind. If anyone meets with this variety, he will softly and suddenly vanish away and never be met with again…

… the domain of the snark is an island filled with chasms and crags, many months sail from England. On the same island may also be found other creatures such as the Jubjub and Bandersnatch. It is the same island where the Jabberwock was slain. The snark is a peculiar creature that cannot be captured in a commonplace way. Above all, courage is required during a snark hunt. The most common method is to seek it with thimbles, care, forks and hope.

There. Now you know what a boojum is. And boojummy? Nothing more than the idea of the boojum hunt stripped down to the esoteric essentials: Courage, hope, care and imagination.

June 4, 2006 Posted by | Philosophy | 6 Comments

The New Internet Math

Why better client communications are necessary but all too infrequent

Einstein's ShadowThink of it from the perspective of the client. An out-of-the-box “vanilla” website can be had for $29.95 or so, and a branded brochure for about $5000. To the client’s’ way of thinking, steeped in Newtonian mathematical models as he or she likely is, put the two together and the gross cost of their website should be $5029.95. That makes sense, no? And, because it’s a package all-in-one deal and your client is a business person, one might easily forgive him or her for proposing “Hey, since we’re doing this all together, how about 25% off on the website?”

Laugh at your own risk, because, as much as those within the interactive industry may complain that no one else “gets it,” the truth of the matter is that the industry has simply not done a good job communicating to clients that when it comes to online the old mathematically based media models don’t work. This isn’t Newtonian Math, but Internet Math, a virtual world of every and no dimension where 1+1+1+1 may equal 14 or 15 or 16, or even 32 or 64, but most certainly not 4 with 25% off.

Continue reading

June 4, 2006 Posted by | Business, Internet | Leave a comment

Say it Again Sam, Don’t Pay it Again

The case for usably stated usability

Decision TimeUser-centered Design is not brain surgery. Noted usability specialist Steve Krug summed it up best in his well-regarded usability bible “Don’t Make Me Think!,” the very title of which says it all as elegantly and eloquently as this website producer has ever heard it put. It’s not such a difficult concept. People want things to be easy. And that concept is at the very heart of user-centered design. “Make it easy for me. Don’t make me think. Life is hard enough already.”

Yet to peruse usability literature out there on the web, one might be forgiven for thinking that user-centered website design is indeed brain surgery. That, to my way of thinking, is a big part of the problem bringing clients on board as partners willing to commit to a course of action so clearly in their company’s own best interest. Call it a failure to communicate. Quite the interesting failure when you consider that this failure is one being committed over and over again by communication professionals.

Far too often, discussions of User-centered Design employ such industry-specific, emotionally affectless terminology as “navigation,” “information architecture,” and “”Section 508 compliant.” The net effect is to present User-Centered design as little more than the implementation of individual items on a checklist of discrete, disconnected components, rather than in a qualitative, unified manner that non-technically inclined business people might more readily connect with. Continue reading

June 4, 2006 Posted by | Business, Internet | Leave a comment

Internet II – Business Reads

photo by
“>Sean Sheridan

Internet Democracy Wikipedia

…people use the Internet to collaborate or meet in an asynchronous manner—that is, they do not have to be physically gathered at the same moment to get things accomplished. Due to all these factors, the Internet has the potential to take over certain traditional media of political communication such as the telephone, the television, newspapers and the radio.

Is it Still Craig’s List? Fast Company, August 2004

Craig Newmark: It’s in my blog. It sounds complicated, but I figured it would be smart of me to spread the equity around in case I ever got tempted to sell out; I have the same weaknesses that anyone else does. So I gave some to him, figuring that we’re all on the same page here — no one’s going to sell it — it doesn’t have a dollar value. But he sold it…

How Google Got Its groove Business Week, September 19, 2005
… the two founders display a bullheadedness that borders on arrogance. In one exchange, Page seems to lecture Silicon Valley legend Vinod Khosla on market dynamics… such headstrong ways, in retrospect, seem to mark Page and Brin for success. Even a glimmer of self-doubt, after all, could have sabotaged the founders’

The Long Tail Wired, October 2004
Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream…For too long we’ve been suffering the tyranny of lowest-common-denominator fare, subjected to brain-dead summer blockbusters and manufactured pop. Why? Economics. Many of our assumptions about popular taste are actually artifacts of poor supply-and-demand matching – a market response to inefficient distribution.

The MySpace.com craze, your friend Tom making Millions. GNEXTINC.com, August 2005
Tom Anderson is living a slightly altered but wholly modern version of the rock-and-roll dream. His previous San Francisco band, Swank, lived and died in musical obscurity in the late 1990s. Since then Anderson started music orientated social network site, Myspace.com. On July 18, its parent company, Intermix, was acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for $580 million and some change.

June 4, 2006 Posted by | Business, Internet | Leave a comment

The Evolving Principles of “Boojummy”

  1. Create win-win scenarios where everyone gets what they need and feels good and no one feels taken advantage of.
  2. Recognize that we can’t just sit on our a$$es and do nothing if we want to have any right to complain about the respective states of our existence
  3. Embrace the ego because if you’re not getting what you need, you’re not going to be able to give others what they need. Accept that altruism and egotism are not incompatible concepts.
  4. It’s OKAY to make money doing something you love. And it sure as hell ought to be okay making money making the world a better place.
  5. Change happens ONE PERSON AT A TIME. It starts with the self and spreads outwards like rippling water
  6. No one person is Boojummy. Some people, however, have a greater grasp on big picture issues and that grasp should be respected, but never go unchallenged. The goal of the teacher is to have the student surpass him or her.
  7. Power abhors a vacuum. If the “good” people don’t seize power, the “bad” ones will because the they’ve made the rules and the rules are stacked in their favor. Many good people are co-opted into the system simply because there is no other viable alternative.
  8. We can do just fine by ourselves, but we can do better together than apart. Collaboration and sharing are to be considered a competitive advantage.
  9. Flexibility is key. Changing opinions resulting from growth and learning are never to be considered a “flip-flop.” Precisely because of that, transparency, honesty and openness are key.
  10. Business is personal. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. The idea that it is not is just a “believeable fiction” we tell ourselves to ease those nagging guilts we feel when we screw others over.
  11. Receive an ounce of kindness? Try to pass on two and it will even out in the end. If you don’t know what I mean, try being the guy who collects the money at the end of a group dinner…
  12. Boojummy is OPT-OUT at any time. If you’re not getting what you need, go someplace where you have a better chance to get it. Just don’t hate us for keeping the door open for you to come back.

The aforementioned principles 1 through 12 apply on personal, business and political levels all. And all dialectically feed back and influence the other levels. Personal and political are no less related than quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity. Societal norms are simply Newtonian constructions of the mind.

June 4, 2006 Posted by | Philosophy | 6 Comments

Steal This Business Concept!

There’s money to be made in “doing good.” It makes business sense any economist ought to understand:

  • It’s an underexploited market.
  • There’s high demand and low supply.
  • Market barriers to entry are low.
  • Psychological barriers to entry are high.
  • Technological advances have revolutionized the means of delivery to the end consumer.
  • Industry “leaders,” such as the Catholic Church, are vulnerable.
  • Anecdotal indicators suggest the “good” market is on sale.

This is a hell of an investment for the daring, innovative early adopter. Any angels out there want to figure out a way to create an empire? Afterall, Google, Apple and Ben & Jerry’s can’t do it alone!

Steal the concept if you want…

But I’d rather work with, not against, you. Because, well, that’s kind of the point, right?

June 4, 2006 Posted by | Business, Economics, Philosophy, Politics | 7 Comments

Personal History

Planning Warhol in Prague: Part I: The Asylum Culture House & The Warholesquian Sensibility
The Asylum of cultural myth, for those who were in Prague and in the sub-cultural know during that winter and spring of 1993, lingers in memory as a crazed Bacchanalian Warholesquian happening, even if, public nipple piercings and simulated urination aside, a generally less explicitly sexual version. One minute you might go into the café, a smallish cave-like hole-in-the-wall we always thought of as the Soul of Asylum, and there would be a bongo, guitar and violin foot-stomping Celtic jam. Ten minutes later there might be a cultural film about Rodin flickering across the wall, and another half hour after that you might find a wanna-Kerouac poet spouting Beat banalities or diamonds across the room and over the cheers or heckles of his temporarily captive audience. Read Essay

Planning Warhol in Prague: Part II: Kafka and The “Refounding” of the Asylum Culture House
Look at an old 19th Century Italian landscape painting and you might think “Wow! What unique vision those Italians had! Look at the gem-like fragile clarity of the leaves and their sparkling translucence. Look at those elongated spidery trunks! ” Then you go to Italy and look at the actual landscapes and the actual trees and you realize those painters were simply painting what they saw. That’s what it looks like.

To read Kafka is a similar experience. “The Castle” and “The Trial” are not the twisted mad ravings of a genius, but simply faithful recordings of the daily Czech experience with authority. That day was the first, but certainly not last, day I think I truly understood that. Rik felt it too. And that understanding came upon us this time not in a twisted brow knowledge kind of way, but more in a brown coal smog, nowhere-to-get-away-from-it, kind of way. Except that instead of being everywhere all at once, it’s nowhere all at once which is so… Czech. So… passive aggressive. Read Essay

Yes, Virginia There is Still A Santa Claus
Interestingly enough, I think that moment bothered me more than — sorry to blow the lid on this Virginia — finding out my parents were Santa Claus four years previous. On some level I already knew Santa was a fraud even before Brian Kux, my red-haired neighbor two doors down back in Washington D.C., cemented into eternity my collapsed North Pole house of card illusions one Christmas Day. Playing outside together with our new toys, he told me with an almost conspiratorial glee that he had seen his parents putting presents under the Christmas tree the night before. It didn’t come as much of a surprise and, although he was a full year older than me, I didn’t need his wizened input to immediately understand the exact implications of what that meant. The writing had already been on the wall for some time now.

After all, Santa looked different every time we met at the shopping mall and sometimes he was in two places at once; I would see him again on the way home from the mall collecting money for the Salvation Army on a street corner, the helicopter he’d come to the mall in nowhere in sight. And didn’t Santa use a sleigh anyway? I knew there was something fishy going on by the time I was four. Read Essay

Riven Hearts
I said “no” a couple times, A little too loudly. Guess it made me mad, that unpaid electrician waking up at 3am to catch a train to an isolated Long Island train station the producers “forgot” to pick up. Guess it made me mad having shit bubble up the drain in the shower of the rooms they gave us. And we were told we’d made the choice. After all, we were offered a ride back to the City each night; eight hours between call times. Three hours home and three hours back. And the Assistant Camera Man with a child at home to support who said he was mad as hell cowered in fear when the time came to say “Yes” or “No” to the face of the Producer when I spoke for the crew at the request of the crew.I understood, but wished they had not said they would if they wouldn’t. Read Essay

June 4, 2006 Posted by | Philosophy, Storytelling | 3 Comments

Political Essays

Silencing Those Who Speak of Those Who Are Not Silent
Think of ECD as a 1960’s mass sit-in updated for the Information Age. In addition to brick and mortar spaces, protestors also occupy virtual spaces, and instead of 100 participants there might be a million participants variously converging towards a single online “target” or diasporically seeding trans-global flash-mobs. That’s good news for “the people” out there yearning to have their voices heard in a world tending ever more towards corporate oligarchy, but it’s bad news too because “the evil ones” have access to the exact same technological power as the “good guys.” What’s more, the barbarians aren’t just at the gate; they are already inside it because everyone is everywhere and nowhere all at once. Read Essay

Voodoo Security?
In other words, toss out Bush’s worst year out of four for which statistics are available (2001), and toss out Clinton’s worst year of his final six (1998) and Bush’s comparative record on fighting deaths related to international terrorism is worse by a factor of more than 4x. On average, the Johnny-come-world citizen has a 306% greater chance of dying as a consequence of international terrorism under Bush than under Clinton. And those numbers don’t even include attacks against soldiers in Iraq… Read Essay

Eyes Yet Wide Shut?
The United States, apparently, has found a fall guy for all that’s wrong with our country. President Bush, the Emperor with no Clothes. That’s good news for Americans who prefer to look “out there” rather than “in here” for the source of our nation’s ills. While the national conscience has stirred, prodded by those unhappy judges of the collective superego, a cogent case can be made that we ourselves have been at least equally diligent spinners of the Emperor’s elusive threads. We are waking perhaps, but are those sand-specked eyes we rub yet wide shut? Read Essay

The Rapture List
Back in November of 2005, just after the election, Bill O’Reilly invited terrorists to attack San Fransisco. Apparently he wasn’t much pleased that the city had banned army recruiting in schools. On his radio show he blasted the city:

…if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, were not going to do anything about it. Were going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco.

Interestingly and somewhat inscrutably, O’Reilly took exception to retorts from the “far left” anti-death movement that he ought not to invite wholesale destruction of entire city populations, including the 40 percent or so who had voted for the recruiting… Read Essay

On Clinton, Hypocrisy & Me
Clinton, as far as I’m concerned, knew none of us were perfect and wanted us all to be better; and to to be better together. And Bush? Well, with Bush there’s no room for us to get better because he’s already the best. He doesn’t believe he’s made any mistakes. He is already perfect. And we, as a country, are trapped by that perfection whereas Clinton’s imperfection and his own striving to be better helped make us all better… Read Essay

What Did We Know and When Did We Know It?
After reviewing that correspondence, what most strikes me with respect to current day rhetoric, even more so than the continuing lack of transparency and seemingly deliberate obfuscation of the Bush “cabal,” is the constant Democratic refrain these days that “we didn’t know then the things we know now.” By and large I see more clearly than ever, after reviewing my own thinking, and knowing that I was not alone, that we did know then much of what we now know, or at least we knew enough then to know that we weren’t sure. The truth was out there, or at least plausible alternative views were, for anyone willing to look for it beyond the Bush Administration spoon-fed front pages of the New York TimesRead Essay

The Things We Really Thought and Said Before the Iraq War
On March 3, 2003, just prior to the U.S. liberation of Iraq I sent out an appeal encouraging friends and family to sign a petition in support of continued diplomacy backed by force. Two days later I received a somewhat accusatory, certainly scathing, reply from a male relative, in which he told me in ad hominemly spiced form, that it was easy to backseat quarterback up on high from the safe perch I occupied, but that Bush knew things I did not know and we as a country needed to trust him; that Bush had to act because the risk of not acting was too great; and that, in any case, we would be greeted by the Iraquis with bouquets of flowers. I responded in great detail to his email on March 7, 2003… Read Essay

More Political Blogging:
Covered-Up (contributor)
Political Cortex (contributor)

June 4, 2006 Posted by | Politics | 2 Comments

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Related Essay: Planning Warhol in Prague: Part I: The Asylum Culture House & The Warholesquian Sensibility
Related Essay: Planning Warhol in Prague: Part II: Kafka and The “Refounding” of the Asylum Culture House

June 4, 2006 Posted by | Business, Producing | 3 Comments

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