Megatablets: Cool for Collaboration

The Wall Street Journal: “Gigantic touch-screen devices are sneaking into business, both as tools for customers and to get serious work done … Until now, collaboration on computing devices has been through the devices; think of a chat session or a shared document. On megatablets, collaboration happens with others, in person, as participants manipulate the device or share their work. It’s a new model of interaction, and in the right circumstances, it works beautifully.”

“In a sense, these ginormablets combine four devices found in most office conference rooms: a whiteboard, a videoconferencing system, a projection system and the laptops people bring to meetings to take notes and manipulate shared documents … Most of the devices can run Tactivos Inc.’s collaboration software Mural, which lets a roomful of people write, add sticky notes, bring in graphics from the web and perform a dozen other tricks on a giant, scrollable whiteboard.”

McDonald’s “is testing gigantic touch-screen kiosks for ordering meals … Aside from their visual impact, gigantic screens can make it easier for families to collaborate on orders … At some point, it might make sense to put gigantic touch-screen devices anywhere they might be useful—at home, at school, at work. Anywhere, in other words, that people collaborate.”


Streaming Didn’t Kill The Video Store

The Wall Street Journal: “Owners and customers of the more than 100 independent and nonprofit video stores still kicking throughout the U.S., often in places with strong locavore food scenes, say the stores offer variety film lovers can’t find elsewhere … They allow a browsing experience impossible online and serve as libraries for movies and TV shows that will likely never transfer to an online format.”

“Creative marketing and a 90,000-title library have helped keep 25-year-old Movie Madness in business in Portland, Ore. Customers there can explore a collection of authentic movie costumes and props, including a dress worn by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and a bar of soap used to promote Fight Club.

“Kevin Swan, 29, was mostly a mainstream movie fan when he first stumbled upon Chicago’s nonprofit film organization, Facets, which rents films in person and via the mail. When he began dating his wife, who is Iranian-American, he rented some of Iran’s most famous offerings. Ongoing conversation with the Facets staff turned curiosity into true love for foreign films, and he now takes advantage of Facets’s large Middle Eastern catalog. ‘You can’t do that on Netflix,’ Mr. Swan says.”


Iceland vs. Iceland: Frozen Food Fight

Quartz: “For decades, a supermarket chain called Iceland has been selling food—much of it frozen—to the UK public. But in recent months its name has begun to annoy the island nation of Iceland, and now the country has decided to take the supermarket to task.”

“Iceland, the supermarket chain famed for its chilly bargains, contests that there’s little likelihood of actual confusion between the shop and the sovereign state of Iceland, the country famed for its hot springs and volcanoes. The chain has about 800 stores that employ 25,000 people—a workforce close to 10% of Iceland the country’s total population in number.”

“The chain, which is run by a maverick millionaire but caters to mainly to poorer shoppers who buy very cheap products, said it processes about 5.5 million transactions every week. It therefore seems safe to assume that more people shop in Iceland the supermarket than live in the whole of Iceland the country, which has a population of 323,000.”


Frozen Poets: Storytelling in Iceland

The New York Times: “Iceland, it seems, is full of hidden poets. When they’re not at their day jobs, a great many of the island’s 330,000 inhabitants dabble in verse, including politicians, businessmen, horse breeders and scientists who study the genetic isolation of the island in pursuit of medical breakthroughs. Even David Oddsson, who was prime minister in 2002 … and central bank governor in 2008 … is a poet by training.”

“Birgitta Jonsdottir, the leader of the anarchist-leaning Pirate Party, which did well in a recent general election, describes herself rather loftily as a ‘poetician’ …. Poetry is a national pastime … said Sveinn Yngvi Egilsson, a professor of Icelandic literature at the University of Iceland. ‘It’s part of being an Icelander,’ he said. “In earlier times, verses were an integral part of social gatherings and were often improvised, he said. Poetry contests were held, with the prizes going to the wittiest, sharpest verses.”

“Poetry was the third-largest category of books published in the country in 2014, after fiction and the arts, according to figures from the national library. Far more poetry books were published in Iceland that year than books about economics or public administration … The cold oceanic climate and long winter nights may also have something to do with it. ‘People usually get bored, and they try to humor each other. One of those ways is poetry,’ Professor Egilsson said.”