The Inner Struggles of Ketchup
Ketchup has a single duty but it misbehaves. It is notoriously difficult, and often messy, to get out of the bottle. But Cambridge Professor Michael Cates understands it. Soft matter—from shampoo to chocolate—is composed of tiny particles, some of which may act like solids when the rest is running like liquids. In disagreement, they create… Read…
I’m an Ad Man, and I Use Ad Blockers
Last week I installed my first ad blocking software. I had not cared to do it earlier because, well, I am an ad man, and I have a professional interest in advertising. But last week I changed my mind. I was trying to learn the results of presidential elections in Argentina by checking the local media… Read…
On Death, the Mask and the Person
Cultures assimilate what’s alien. Halloween, a Celtic feast, and the Day of the Dead, an indigenous rite that the Church made its own, celebrate the dead for their new life wearing masks, which Etruscans called “person.” Since Roman times, we use the word to designate whoever is behind the costume.
The Reports of my Death are Greatly Exaggerated
Digital books were going to kill print this year. But in 2015, e-book sales dropped whereas paper’s rose. And TV was going to kill the radio, and video the movies (remember Blockbuster?). Not for nothing working at Amazon can be demanding. Will we ever learn?
The Mission and the Vision, from Seville to Seattle
Microsoft launches hardware and the Steve Jobs movie is released. The fabulous Xerox PARC in the 70’s inspired Jobs and Bill Gates. Xerox bet on the photocopies. And the venerable Venetian seamen turned down a Genoese peer, who went on to cross the Atlantic, 523 years ago yesterday.
A World Without Advertising
A world without advertising would miss information about the food we eat, the cars we drive, and almost everything we buy. And everything would cost more. Advertising fosters competition. Do you remember your first cell phone? With ad blockers, only those that inform without screaming will be left.
The “Think small” campaign in 1959 changed the history of Volkswagen. A company founded in the Germany of the 1930s became the brand of progressive customers in the U.S. and the world. The fraud on emissions invites to rethink the slogan with the best rhetorical tool: the truth.
From Tablet to Tablet by Way of Paper, in Western Progression
Around 5500 BC there was portable communication in the East: clay tablets that recorded news and transactions. Seven millenia later, tablets and calculators return after a millenium of paper, light and practical, that also hailed from the East and which will come back to laugh last, and better.
The Universe Fits in Eight Characters
We compress text to the size of a mobile. There is an old, and brief, solution: the word. “In the letters of rose there is the rose, and the entire Nile fits in the word Nile.” A wine label can be art. Symbols surround us. And we don’t always want them to change, like Google did.