Saturday, June 7, 2008

Attending ArtFest in Iowa City

My team went to Iowa City's annual Artfest, a summer arts festival featuring several dozen artisans and craftspeople. There were quite a few people enjoying the festival, despite the occasional rain and sudden gusts stirring up the festivities. We managed to get several pictures, and even interview some of the artists. The smattering of rain and wind did little to discourage many of the vendors (although visitors were caught huddling under shelters), but they were told by organizers to pack it up early on Saturday.

Most of the artists were very receptive to our questions, although a couple told us not to take pictures of their work - bad reviews for them, lol! You have to be friendly with people, it's just common courtesy. But our article on Artfest describes a little of what went down, and details some of our artisan interviews.

Yuriy Maltsev and his wife were selling landscapes, but would rather use his masters in Fine Art to present people, emotion, and movement. Among jewelers, the Ellicksons were appreciative of the crowd, and appreciated the work of the festival organizers.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Blue Ocean Strategy

A couple of years ago I briefly read through Blue Ocean Strategy, a book about winning in marketing by "making the competition irrelevant". The strategy divides the market into two categories: red and blue. Red consists of all market spaces already known and contested - they are filled with blood as epic marketing battles take place in this space. Blue oceans are everything that has not yet been crowded with competition, but mostly market space that has yet to be discovered. In a blue ocean you create demand, instead of fighting over. Imagine the first computer developers. They created something new, and also created the demand for it. It was a blue ocean at that time. A blue ocean can become a red ocean, of course, once enough competition arises. The focus on a Blue Ocean Strategy is the creation of value for both the buyer and the seller - basically adding new innovation to the market.

In my business, and my campaigns, I hope to come up with these sorts of innovations - unique additions to what currently exists. There are so many potential opportunities still unexplored, so many ideas still unthought. I will be certainly working closely with everyone creative around me to come up with these ideas, and I will be sure to use them to quickly win over new markets.

Find that you can't come up with brilliant new ideas? There's always alternatives. There are plenty of ideas already floating around that simply need picked up on. Many things have been tried once, but things have changed since then and need tried again. Research some unique business and marketing ideas that didn't quite work the first time, then tweak them to fit your style. You may find this to be your easiest option, sort of like entering a murkier blue ocean. Businesses newsletters featuring unique businesses, like Springwise, might be an interesting place to get ideas going.

Advancing My Ruby Knowledge With The Ruby Way

I picked up a copy of The Ruby Way and The Rails Way today at Barnes and Noble, and decided to sit down and start reading through the first chapter of each. The both struck me as highly useful resources for my programming needs, but each cost it's own small fortune. In the end of my visit to BNN, I bought The Ruby Way, leaving The Rails Way for another day.

This book is pretty great, I've realized as I begun reading deeper into the first few chapters. Although I have used Ruby for quite a while, these books help bring to the front of my mind many of the concepts that have been a bit more abstract in the past, which is probably exactly what the author Hal Fulton intended to do. The book is, of course, a high authority on the subject, being the second edition of the second English book ever written about Ruby. Even "Matz" has heaped praise for Fulton's understanding of the ideals built into Ruby.

Simply reading over the first section was enlightening. I had the chance to compare some of the many day-to-day uses of the language, and could see a concrete comparison between some things that I never thought too deeply about. For example, Fulton detailed a comparison between at least 8 different types of loop statements (of course showing my favorite for item in list), which really helped to demonstrate the flexibility of Ruby. I should encourage you all to by The Ruby Way if interested in learning the advanced stuff in the Ruby programming language.