Monday, 17 December 2012

Random act of kindness

Do you ever feel like life just passes by in a tearing rush. it’s like you’re standing between two railroads and trains keep passing and passing. Left…right…..left….right…right…left… 

The one question you can ask yourself at any time is: How are you right now? Right in this moment, how do you feel? Are you ok? A little stressed maybe? When you ask yourself this question you will notice that most of the time you feel ok. You are managing life, you are alive and running. If you live life in the moment it isn't that

Sounds easier than it really is, huh? The daily grind is making it hard for us to live in the moment and we do not really take the time to pause for a sec. to think things over. Tiny moments of happiness are the ones we value the most. We value them because they surprise us and make us value those special moments even more. We are able to create tiny happy moments for others by creating a random act of kindness. A random surprise on the streets, a compliment, a flashmob, a flirtation etc. Tiny acts that create happiness and that take us out of the daily grind. 
A random act of kindness is the best way to change a normal day into a special one. Enjoy random surprises, they’re rare. And surprise someone else once in a while to make people smile and good karma will come. It’s not that hard!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Tweet, tweet, I'm hungry

While feeding birds pork fat through the winter in Latvia, Valdemars Dudums decided to have a little fun. The fat was carefully arranged onto a keyboard which allowed the birds to construct tweets on Twitter. The account @hungry_birds has over 10,000 followers. Additionally, a live webcam was set up to prove it really was the birds constructing the tweets. On an average day the birds produce 150 tweets.

It might sound like a silly concept, but isn't their a lot of nonsense on twitter? Personally, I'd rather read a tweet that is made by some cute birds eating pig fat, than about what some random person is eating today.

Watch the tweeting birds here:

Thursday, 15 November 2012

A love letter from a stranger

Sometimes you just feel in need for some positive attention. And sometimes it doesn't even matter if it is from a close friend or someone you barely even know. It could be a hug, a compliment, a pat or some kind words to hearten someone. Wouldn't it be great to receive warm hearted words at a moment and in a way when you least expect it. Hannah Brencher is such a person that believes in the power of pen and paper, and has started a global initiative that encourages strangers to exchange love letters.

More love Letters

Hannah Brechner has always loved that her family communicates via handwritten letters. In October of 2010, she began writing love letters intended for strangers and tucking them away in libraries and cafes across New York City, for people to randomly discover. Soon, she offered on her blog to write a letter to anyone who needed one. Over the next year, she mailed out more than 400 hand-penned letters. Today she runs The World Needs More Love Letters, a letter exchange dedicated to connecting strangers across the globe through the art of letter writing.

Old-fashioned loveIn addition, Brencher works as a copywriter and creative consultant, helping brands inject human touches into their communications plans. This way she responds to the trend 'Random act of kindness' that describes our need for qualitative attention for eachother and giving and receiving pure old-fashioned love being more important than ever, since we live in a world where we don't often relax and where we focus on likes & status instead of quality of life.

Watch Hannah Brechner perform a TEDtalk about her initiative here:

Thursday, 1 November 2012

4 steps & 8 tips to make a qualitative app for children

How do you make a good childrens app? That's the question with which I went to Amsterdam with Thursday, October the 25th. Cinekid and Mijn Kind Online were organizing an expert session about apps for children in the 'KunstENhuis' in Amsterdam. There is a steady increase of children who use mobile applications. How can we encourage the potential and the opportunities of mobile apps for kids in a positive way?

Step 1 The Objective

Eline Kwantes from Dromenkroon speaks of the different steps you need to take to develop an app. Eline showed us  an example of an app she's developing right now, with the KidsVitaal foundation. 'An app always starts with a goal', says Eline Kwantes, 'the goal of the app we are working on is: awareness and behavioral change among children in terms of a healthy lifestyle. 

Stap 2 The idea

A logical way to achieve a healthier lifestyle among children would be banning advertisements of fast food restaurants like MacDonalds or candy manufacturers like Haribo. The commercials of such brands are always very well conceived. But wouldn't it be nice if, instead of prohibiting the fast food commercials, we could make an even better commercial to acclaim healthy food? Wouldn't it be nice to bring vegetables to the attention in a very positive way!


The app 'Groentemans', which basically means greengrocer, that Eline Kwantes is developing with the KidsVitaal Foundation, is based on the children's book ˜De Buitengewone Opmerkelijke Dagboeken van Gregor Groentestein", which means; The extraordinary remarkable journals of Gregor Groentestein". A book about a boy inventor and that transforms his vegetables into living friends.

Stap 3 The budget

Holland is a small country with a grant culture which allows us to realize great initiatives. However, with a small amount of money we can also achieve great things if we use our creative minds. With a limited budget we look for creative solutions that help us to realize great ideas.The app 'Groentenmans' has been lucky enough to have found a great sponsor: The 'Fiep Westendorp Foundation'.

Stap 4 The Strategy

When developing the app Eline Kwantes has worked together with several parties. But the main party is of course the children themselves. The foundation Kids Vitaal visited a group of children and asked them the question: How can we make vegetables exciting? Without telling the children that they already had designed some of the concepts for the app, including a variety of funny characters around the different vegetables, the children started drawing their first ideas.

Miss & Mr. Carrot

The ideas of the children confirmed the suspicions of KidsVitaal and the designs they were working on. Almost all the children had come up with characters like Miss and Mr. Wortel, baby sprouts and so on. Eline says that, by involving the children, she got the right insights to know how to make vegetables as exciting as possible for children. Also she learned that she has to take into account that it is important to ask the same amount of boys as girls about how to make vegetables exciting, because they have very different ideas. 'If you want to reach both girls and boys you do have to take them both into account', says Eline Kwantes. 

Creation, experience, implementation

It is clear that the app must focus on humour, because a serious story about eating vegetables is something no child would want to read. The app should be fun to play with and it should remain challenging. This way children are more concerned with vegetables in their heads and they will think of vegetables in a more positive way. The app 'Groentenmans' starts with the creation: the children can customize a vegetable of their choice. After that a bit experience is added: you can bring your vegetable to life and check out what it does. What it does depends on the accessories you put on your vegetable character. The third aspect of the app is the implementation: here you can read recipies you can cook with the different vegetables. This way KidsVitaal hopes that children will also use the app in the kitchen to cook healthy meals.

Tips in a row

1. Always start with the formulation of an objective.
2. When you focus on humour a usually boring topics (like vegetables) a lot more fun
3. Always involve your target group in developing your app
4. Be creative with the budget you have at your disposal
5. Use the knowledge and expertise of your partners
6. Don't immediately show your own ideas to the target group. First ask them how they would approach the target. 
7. Think of the target group beyond just children and a certain age. There is a huge difference in interests between boys and girls.
Always inform the parents so they what the app is about and what their children can do with it. This way you create awareness and parents can stimulate their kids to use the app. 

Originally I wrote this blog for Jong & Je Wil Wat, I translated it especially for this blog.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

This is a part of the painting 'The Allegory of Good and Bad Government' (approximately from around the year 1338, 1339) made by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. It's about the effects of good government on town and country.
I was inspired by this painting thanks to Carolyn Steel's TEDtalk about how food shapes our cities. She shows this painting when she's talking about the balance between cities and country. What would Ambrogio have painted if he lived right now?  Watch it here.

Monday, 8 October 2012

3 trends from the 2013 Trendspeech in which young people are the precursor

'TrendRede 2013 outlines negative vision of the future' was one of the headlines I read in the Dutch paper 'de Spits' when I was traveling to the 'TrendRede 2013' (which means Trendspeech 2013) itself. 'De Spits' was pretty early with this anouncement and seemed to find this sentence enough to summarize the speech and its already published version. But I must say that, after I heared the TrendRede live, I was far more positive than this 'de Spits' headline.

The TrendRede 2013 celebrates what we can achieve by joining forces at a local level, firstly zooming in and then zoom out. We shouldn't depend on big companies but get to work ourselves. Young people seem to take this step easier than adults. Their entrepreneurship, dedication and their ability to adapt easily to the multidimensional reality is something adults can really learn from.

Here are the three trends from the TrendRede 2013 in which young people are the absolut precursor, and the rest will follow.

1. Dividing lines disappear

The TrendRede 2013 tells us that we are exploring the different dimensions of reality. This means that we need to look at problems and chances from different angles, which will make the dividing lines between them disappear.
Youth already lives in this multidimensional world and are perfectly comfortable with it.

Conversations at school blend smoothly into answering a whatsapp message and then they continue to chat on Facebook, either on their smartphone or the tablet or PC. Youth doesn't seem to worry about the blurring lines between individual and 'virtividual'. What we mean by 'virtividual' is: the human being who sees the virtual world as a real world where he can develop himself and chase its dreams. These worlds are already so far blended with eachother that youth lives in a combination of both worlds. 

2. Dedicated attention

There is a need for craftsmen who can work from the core of their profession. Dedicated creators, such as the TrendRede describes them. An example of one in the TrendRede is Epke Zonderland. He is the living proof that the combination of talent and dedicated attention can lead to a new level of craftsmanship. Boundaries are invisible by shifting this combination and make the impossible possible.

Click here to view the winning gymnastics performance that Epke did at the Olympics of 2012 in London.

What you don't hear in this clip is that commentator Hans van Zetten afterwards said something in order to encourage every little boy in the Netherlands to chase their dreams: 'Boys of the Netherlands, it is possible! Even if you live in the Netherlands, so go to work! Set a goal!'

A boy who achieved his dream thanks to dedicated attention is the 9 year-old Caine from Los Angeles. He built, entirely out of cardboard, his own arcade. Unfortanetely there were few pedestrians who passed the spot where he built the arcade, so the only thing missing were the customers. But one day one customer came into the arcade and that customer made Caine's greatest wish come true. 

3. The data gold rush

Because of technology, knowledge, communications and capital becomes widely available for everyone, but really everyone. Young people have grown up with this and are able to distinguish relevant from not relevant. For example, the 15 year-old Jack Andraka developed a cheap and effective test by using Google during his biology classes. And with this information in his mind he started experimenting. With this he won the most prestigious science award for high school students.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Amsterdam International Fashion Week

Dear all,

Last I week I went to the Amsterdam International Fashion week to on the latest fahion trends for Science of the Time and Code Magazine. I saw a lot of shows, f.e. Bas Kosters. Here's my photo overview of last week. 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Redbull Crashed Ice 2012

One year ago I was there. The first time the Netherlands were the place to be for the International Iceskating World Championship 'Redbull Crashed Ice' on the Cauberg in Valkenburg. There were about 35000 people who wanted to see the ice skaters skate as fast as they could down the big Cauberg. And this year on the 4th of february it's coming back.

The special thing about 'Redbull Crashed Ice' is that it's accessible for everyone. Not only to come and see the ice skaters but also to enter the competition. Everyone can join in and give the spectacular ice rink a try. 

I think this sport is a sport for the next generation. It's not only more spectacular but also much more of an event. It's fun for everyone because of the whole atmosphere. It all fits with the Redbull concept: nice and trendy music, nice food, nice entertainment. All energetic, dynamic and full of fun.
It really feels like sort of a festival with instead of artists, ice skaters.
I think this will eventually grow into a much bigger event as this is just the second edition of it. And as you can see it also provides a VIP party this year.
In ten years there will not only be much more space, much more people and much more contesters, but also more entertainment like live music if this event will keep on growing.