Kicking the anthill

No guts, no glory.

When you are a late entrant on a market, you learn from your precursors' mistakes, or at least shake up the existing norms they have instored. You are forced to think different if you want to emerge. Virgin does it every time they launch a new venture, and that is also what Kodak has done when finally entering the home printing industry.

Having "slightly" missed the momentum of the digital photography revolution, the Rochester manufacturer has learnt the hard way that me-too can be a difficult strategy to sustain, so they decided to change the rules. And it all started with this now famous video which was the signal that a wind of change had started blowing: a big American company decided not to be politically correct anymore...

"Wind of change"

Forget the blades

As you might have read in the press (here or here), Kodak has indeed decided to step on HP and Epson toes as they launch their new all-in-one printer, the Kodak EasyShare 5300. If the technology behind it seems to be aligned with the expectations you can have from such a name, the greatest innovation does not lay inside the machine though, but in its business model. The tradition in the home printing was to replicate the famous razor and blade model: an affordable hardware balanced by high-priced supplies... Well, this time, the machine is slightly more expensive than the competition, but you are due to save on the ink which is marketed at a lower price than the competition. Kodak claims that you can save up to 50% on everything you print.

Kodak EasyShare 5300 - www.printertherapy.comThe new Kodak printer with its accessories. More pictures and videos available here

Out of the (soap) box.

Obviously I will let other people the opportunity to comment on the product performances. I am not qualified to do so, and one might consider my opinion as biased. However what interested me in this approach was that what was once seen as a norm could be reconsidered, and by a big player even.

It reminds me the Ford T story. When Ford decided to launch its people's car he changed the paradigm of the car industry, turning an elite vehicle into a mass market product. No philanthropy here, don't get me wrong. The intention was to answer the consumer needs to make a commercial success (i.e. less expensive cars and higher wages, the demand meets the offer). Sounds like a marketing 1.01 lesson, but it was not that obvious at that time.

There are some people who are inspired and make things change. They are philosophers, manufacturers, economists, politicians, scientists, writers, artists and sometimes very common people like you and me. They contribute to political changes, to easier and richer lives, to research breakthrough... Potentially we are all vectors of change, even if we are not necessary propelled by the above-mentioned wind:)


Let the blog rolling...

From spring water back to the source.

A few months ago, I wrote an article about Flavien, a French friend of mine who decided to cycle from Paris to Jerusalem, in order to take a break in his career as spring water sales rep. His ambition was to size this opportunity to go back to the source, the source of civilization though. So beyond the physical adventure there was also a human adventure, the need and will to meet the various peoples that constitute the wealth of the Mediterranean region.

He is now reaching his final destination after having crossed several borders, discovered so many cultures, witnessed the evolution from western to eastern lifestyle...

SyriaKFOR in Kosovo
A few pictures fom Flavien's journey on the Mediterranean shores

Reading his lines allows to capture the cross-cultural influences between the various countries of the zone. It also allows to realise that the Internet is a fantastic mean of communication which lowers the barriers and minimises the distance. As a matter of fact, Flavien managed to maintain a constant flow of information which was certainly a relief for his family and friends.

But his experience made me realise one more thing: the power of blogs.

The fifth power.

I recently read an article from French newspaper La Tribune which was acknowledging that Blogs could well be the long-expected fifth power: the communication channel that can destabilise or at least counter-balance political powers. The journalist was comparing blogs with the other communication means which were monitored and "influenced" in dictatorial regimes to misinform the public. Chinese officials are for instance said to censor blogs as they do with other information channels like TV or press. However it is way more difficult to control a proteic form of information than a vertical information flow managed by a few journalists... You can certainly use this Internet for the sake of your own propaganda, but your opponents have the same channels at reach and can fight the fire with fire.

The thing is that with the constant flow of information coming through your TV set, you tend to create a distance with the events occurring in other countries. Iraq bomb attacks, Lebanon explosions, Israel raids... All this becomes more and more abstract as the information becomes redundant. Casualties become statistical figures and although you are informed of the reality you are no longer in touch with it.

Unless the information becomes more personal. When I read Flavien description of his tour in central Beirut, I suddenly realised what could be the daily life of the locals. Thanks to blogs the information becomes personal, real, impactful. Blogs encourage responses and provoke thoughts. Blogs are good for your sanity. Unless if, like me, you spend too much time on the Internet instead of having a well-deserved rest :-)


Urban nature or natural city


A snapshot of our environment

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am spending a lot of time on FlickR to look at creative talents, find some inspiration and sometimes, yes sometimes, upload my own pictures in this giant iconographic agora.

Last night, I looked back at my pictures shot during the last semester and found two very interesting pictures which were echoing each other, well which were mirroring each other in fact. The first one was taken during a mountain hike in the National Natural Parc of Vannoise back in March. The later was shot in the immediate suburb of London, a city of which you can see the skyline in the background.

The reason why these two pictures stroke me is that, although being antagonists, they are the embodiment of an interesting trend: the urbanisation of the nature and its reciprocation.

Yin meets yang.

Of course, with the rise of environmental movements, the need for greater green patches in our cities is becoming always more obvious, and in a sense expected by everyone (even if the proper actions are still lagging behind the intentions). Look at the success of Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth, there is now a real collective consciousness about the environment. But this was not the case just a few years ago. As a testimony of this not so ancient time, an animation by the young Graphic Designer François Chaperon who produced this film as part of the HyPegallery project in Paris back in 2004:

Stop! Access to grass prohibited.

But anyway, the probability that we will come across a stag in another city than London and its Richmond Park is still very deem. Unless you are heading towards Brighton on a Saturday, but I reckon the stags will be of a very different species...

Mind the gap between the plains and the platform

On the contrary, as the winter picture reminds us above, the propensity to uncover urban elements in the nature are increasing. And I am not talking of dumped cars rusting in river banks here. The urban codes are spreading. For instance, when I started snowboarding in the 80s, we were assimilated to snow surfers, living in harmony with the nature. Nowadays most snowboarders are influenced by skateboarding and urban styles, snowblades are a direct transposition of in-line skating to the mountain slopes, in some US ski resorts patrols are controlling your speed with handheld radars...

So yes, nature and city are intimately bond one to the other. Like the Yin and the Yang, they need each other to exist, they balance each other, but for once I would like so much that one takes over the other...


Quote of the day

"Entering in a relationship is like starting a journey. You have to go far away to see if you are close."
from The Russian Dolls by Cedric Klapisch (1961-...).
The Russian Dolls - Original BillboardI strongly recommend any films by the above-mentioned director, and more specificaly Pot Luck of which the Russian Dolls are second opus. I watched it again tonight and this line stroke me particularly since it has become so relevant to me... Whoever followed my trips in the most exotic valleys will certainly agree with this excerpt. Official outcome on Octobre 20th!


God save the king (Pelé)

After a stressful week I decided to relax in front a good football match on Friday. England was playing Brazil in the new Wembley stadium. Beckham was back with his old mates. Ronaldinho and Kakà were playing first roles in their auriverde outfit. Southern America against Old School Europe. A football cultural choc in perspective.

Noisy tribute

But amazing enough, the only choc I experienced took place before the match. One minute before the match started, the players gathered in the midfield. The crowd became quiet. A second of silence and suddenly, in a general communion, the entire stadium started cracking a two uninterrupted minute round of applause. On the screens of the stadium the portray of recently deceased and 1966 World Cup winner, Alan Ball.


Cheerful was indeed the word which came to my mind at this precise moment. In France, in such a situation, the crowd would have paid tribute to the hero by respecting a minute of silence. In a country renowned for its babbling habits, silence seems indeed to be the highest mark of respect.

But after all, footballers spend their life running after a ball and waiting for the fame and the public recognition. So, what a better tribute than a national stadium proceeding to an ovation? Fabien, Laurent, Zinedine, Didier, Bixente... I live to live this moment of communion. But the later, the better.