Friday, October 30, 2009

2009 - 42% less fun?

After the layoffs, and the bailouts, and the economy doing the two-girls-one-cup on itself, we here at Shadow Government headquarters have noticed a significant drop in our initiatives of FUN. StreetWars and Rental Car Rally have combined to have 42% drop in sign ups for 2009, an unprecedented decrease in our five years of operation.

My own theory is that so many people just have the wind knocked out of them these days, and somewhere in the fear and discomfort, we all lost a bit of our adventurousness and fun seeking (especially if it costs money). Excessive merry making to some degree seems inconsequential or inappropriate.

Case in point is the general lack of costumes I have seen all day today in downtown San Francisco.

Of course, the presentation I attended at IDEO this week on "Innovation", reminded me of the fallacious theory that product innovations are stifled as companies entrenched during recessions.

Also, video games are doing great. So people still want escape. But halloween costume making, and investing a whole month of your life to be destroyed (in a fun way), is not exactly escapism oriented fun.

I could be entirely wrong and I am making too much out of a small sample size.


Monday, October 26, 2009

NBA weirdness. China = Lower Merion High?

Current system:

At the beginning of each game, the NBA uses the player's last U.S. based school as part of their introduction. For foreign players, they use the country they came from.

A problem of taxonomy: 

China, a country of over 6 billion people, is essential being presented as of the same object class as Lower Merion, a high school of roughly 1,500 students. That is a strangely incongruent and possibly denigrating way to frame our view of the world outside of the United States.

We can do better:

I understand that Americans love NCAA basketball, and this tradition is responding to that passion. But I would like to argue that as basketball continues its rise as a truly international sport, if the NBA is to remain the top draw internationally as the premiere basketball league, we should strive to expand past our provincial prejudices to fully embrace and respect  what the rest of the world is offering to our beloved sport.

Two possible solutions:
  • No references to school/countries
    Discard this process all together. Just introduce the players.
    "at guard, in his 5th year, number 3... Chris Paul!" 
  • A more relevant and balanced history
    If we want to ensure a player's history/roots/past stays in the folds of the NBA story, where they grew up makes for a better narrative than where they played mercenary basketball for a college coach for a year or two. I think the fact that Dwyane Wade grew up in Chicago, is a lot more interesting than the fact that he played two years at Marquette.
    "at forward, from New York City... number 37... Ron Artest!"
    "...from Barcelona... number 16... Pau Gasol!"  
Thoughts? Disagree? Hit me up on the comments.