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Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

DIY Days, a roving conference for those who create, comes to Philly on Aug 1

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DIY Days logo big

Feel less guilt about the Indienomics blog, as my time is going directly to an independent media conference this weekend. If you are in or close to Philly, consider checking out DIY Days this Saturday. It’s free and interesting 🙂


Written by @hellopanelo

July 27, 2009 at 8:06 am


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Folks, there is entirely too much information out there!

Back from a month-long hiatus, gathering loose ends, tying them up, cutting them off.

Here are some links to keep you busy, but watch this space for updated news shortly…

DIY Days
How do we sustain ourselves as storytellers in this day of shifting distribution systems? How do we monetize our work and get the word out? Presented by WorkBook Project – DIY DAYS aims to answer these questions with a day of panels, roundtable discussions and workshops: A look at how to fund, create, and distribute and sustain.

TARGET AUDIENCE Anyone wanting to make creative work – film, music, games, art. Self-identified Independent storytellers, Creatives and Tech-philes.

The Workbook Project
Our goal is to create a free resource for content creators that will become a user contributed repository of information. The concept is part of an “open source social experiment” called the workbook project. It’s a simple concept, the workbook is meant to be spread and edited. Meaning that content creators can add their own info, war stories, advice etc. We’re hoping that the workbook can grow as a resource. We’re building it with an open source “client side” wiki called tiddlywiki that can be saved to the desktop, edited and then uploaded again.

[Their description is deceptively simple. Visit their website to get your mind blown by information overload.]

Using Storybids’ powerful creative and auction house tools, you can sell your creative ideas to advertisers who want to place their products. You get your work noticed, the advertiser gets product placement and you get paid for your ideas. Pretty cool, huh?

IndieGoGo is an online social marketplace connecting filmmakers and fans to make independent film happen. The platform provides filmmakers the tools for project funding, recruiting, and promotion, while enabling the audience to discover and connect directly with filmmakers and the causes they support.

In Defense of Distraction
Twitter, Adderall, lifehacking, mindful jogging, power browsing, Obama’s BlackBerry, and the benefits of overstimulation.
by Sam Anderson

This week’s NYMag cover story.

Written by @hellopanelo

May 20, 2009 at 10:18 am

Posted in DIY

The edible microenterprise

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Food startups in the small batch economy

Forget silicon chips, search algorithms, and semiconductors — the most delicious startups today aren’t tech, they’re food startups! Instead of garages, the tinkering goes on in communal kitchens, with yummy results just waiting to be monetized.

Take a look around your nearest local market (especially the outdoors ones) and you’ll observe the artisan effect — the interest that people take in small food vendors who make a great product.

Brooklyn Flea is the trading floor of the food micro-enterprise market. A recent NYMag article highlighted this year’s newest small-operations vendors (among them, Elsa’s Empanadas, Saxelby Cheesemongers) and noted:

When the Brooklyn Flea launched a year ago on an asphalt schoolyard in Fort Greene, no one expected it to become a dining destination—never mind a springboard for the fledgling careers of the food vendors who gravitated there. The Flea, in fact, has become something of an incubator for micro-batch, locally made products, from pickles to ice pops.

Kathrine Gregory formalized this incubator concept in her communal kitchen operation in Long Island City, called Mi Kitchen is Su Kitchen. She owns three facilities, each one with its own specialty and equipment. Food manufacturers (bakers, quiche-makers, etc) come and rent a few shifts at a time, to get access to commercial equipment you couldn’t fit in a typical NYC apartment (nor would you necessarily want in your personal living space): a revolving rack oven, an 80-quart mixer.

“Food operation startups are capital-intensive,” says Kathrine. “If you’re going to grow a food business, you need a proper foundation, some kind of legal entity like a DBA or LLC or Inc. You need commercial space with licensing and the structure to grow your business.” In other words, once your home-made chili mango salsa recipe becomes a hit and you want to distribute outside of your friends and family, your home kitchen becomes a liability. You enter a professional space that requires inspection by insurance companies and the State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Kathrine was a guest on WNYC radio yesterday, when The Brian Lehrer show aired a segment called “Growing Together” — about the power of collaboration in today’s small businesses (listen here, 19 minutes).

Elsa's Empanadas

Elsa's Empanadas

Kathrine’s food incubator doesn’t target the “business people” who run food enterprises, it targets the “manufacturers” who actually make and craft the food products.

In her words, “It’s not the restaurateurs and it’s not the cafe owner, it is the brownie-maker and the pickler. This is the manufacturer who is going to sell their product to the Dean & Deluca’s, the cafe owners, the restaurant.”

Like baby chickens, young businesses are vulnerable. They need protection from the harsh world if they are to survive and grow. A business incubator provides that protection to young startups, according to another guest on the “Growing Together” segment — David Hochman, CEO of the Business Incubator Association of New York (whose logo is in fact a hatched egg).

David’s organization draws on national academic research on business incubation, citing an 80% survival rate of startups, 5 years after graduating from an incubation center — and a majority of those startups stay local, in the region where they started. This is encouraging news for regions that need to harness local entrepreneurial activity into a focal point, like an incubator, whether the industry is high-tech or new media or food-related.

While there is no typical business incubator space, Mi Kitchen is a literal cookie-cutter place, and proud of it.

making cookies at Mi Kitchen est Su Kitchen

making cookies at Mi Kitchen

Gabriele Stabile for NYT, When Cooks’ Dreams Outgrow Their Ovens

Written by @hellopanelo

April 17, 2009 at 9:44 am

Brand extensions for the common man

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celebrity, bottled and sold

celebrity, bottled and sold

Brand extensions are a natural for celebrities.

Britney has a fragrance, Puffy has a scent. Celebrity chef Rachael Ray sells santoku knives, EVOO (a Rachael-ism for Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and other kitchen products, including that infamous “garbage bowl” of hers. Jessica Simpson has literal brand extensions, a HairDo line of synthetic hair accessories.

But what about the common man or woman? How do we break into the market with our own product lines?

Breakout: Lauren Luke

user-generated content: packaged, branded, and sold

user-generated content: packaged, branded, and sold

Case study of a sell-sumer turned celebrity cosmetics purveyor:

Sometimes, you get discovered. Ad Age recently had an article on Lauren Luke, an unemployed single mother in the U.K. who started selling makeup on eBay, and then posting video tutorials of herself applying the makeup on YouTube.

Lauren’s video tutorials are amateur, unscripted and ad libbed, with a yapping dog in the background. This informal, no-frills approach to makeup application has brought more than 34 million visitors to her YouTube site. Eventually, the online attention brought her into a partnership with 1) a professional makeup manufacturer and 2) NYC ad firm Anomaly, who will help brand, market, and launch the new product line: By Lauren Luke.

Launch Your Line

Thoughtful bling by Furnish

Thoughtful bling by Furnish: do you have a better idea than foam jewelry?

What if you just want to get in the game now and partner with manufacturers and marketers immediately?

Lucky for you, this is the core business of Launch Your Line, a new turnkey service that lets people with a product line idea bring their vision to market faster. Their motto: “Start with a dream, end with a product line.”

Entrepreneurs sign up for free and get to line up all the business and service processes at once. A central “Dashboard” controls how you outsource processes like drafting, prototyping, production, manufacturing, marketing, advertising, distributing.

So there you have it. I expect to see some quirky brand name product line in the works from you budding entrepreneurs…

Written by @hellopanelo

April 15, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Posted in, biz strategy, DIY

The next Big Idea — the insaner, the better

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What’s a meta for?

Metaphor has scandalized philosophers, including both scholastics and semiotics, because it seems to be wrong: It asserts an identity between two different things. And it is wrongest when it is most beautiful.

– Walker Percy, The Message in the Bottle

Like the artist with collage, the author who arranges a metaphor has to ask — will it blend? That is, will the two disparate concepts come together and create a metaphor of new meaning?

Shakespeare says the world’s a stage. Life, to Forrest Gump, is a box of chocolates. A dream deferred, says Langston Hughes, is a raisin in the sun.

Creating and marketing nonsensical products

Big Think Strategy — a book from marketing maven Berndt Schmitt — continues this line of reasoning. What are the seemingly unrelated ideas we can pull together to inject new life and meaning to a brand?

Schmitt likes to rip up magazines to mix the metaphors.

The Big Idea is a card game you can play for the same effect:


Game theory + chaos theory = idea generation

The deck of cards features nouns and adjectives. Mix and match the cards, then try to market and pitch the resulting wacky products — Erotic Chowder, Mentholated Shampoo.

Sumana H. — intrepid marketer when she wants to be, and a previous interviewee — brought my attention to this game, by way of her pitched ads for these nonsensical products:

  • Edible High-Priority Chowder, to cure anxiety of choice at the salad bar
  • Herbal Natural Chainsaw, strong enough for a logger but made for a hippie
  • Networked Beer, to ensure you never feel like you’re drinking alone [Ed. note: Isn’t that what meetups are for?]

Cheapass Games, the cheeky manufacturers of this boardgame, challenge your marketing wits: “Do you think you’re the marketing whiz who can talk the public into a Perforated Kilt? Then you’re ready to play The Big Idea!”

[Note: Cheapass Games is an indie-nomics enterprise on its own, noting that most games are overpriced and generic. Dice, pencils, plastic parts — “these generic bits and pieces can account for as much as 75% of a game’s production cost, and that cost gets handed to you.”]

Not just a game: wacky product/service combos in real life

These (seemingly) nonsensical products — and services — are the wave of the entrepreneurial future folks! Just scroll through the list at, a running tally of new business ideas just ridiculous enough to work.

Like this, my current favorite — a mashup of current obsessions:


Written by @hellopanelo

March 27, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Mood-altering “motivationals” — kitten posters, possibility books, and physical talismans

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In his book Snoop, psychologist Sam Gosling says we keep some stuff around to assert our identities (brand-name goods, affiliation markers), but other stuff we own to regulate our moods.

Sound familiar? What are all the things we surround ourselves with, to subtly or obviously motivate us towards goals?

Successories is a company that has seized this market for “visual motivation.” (I like to think they got their start from that inspirational “Hang in There” kitten poster from the 70’s.) You’ve seen the Successories posters before — a majestic bald eagle accompanies a pithy statement on “Excellence”, or a crew team rowing in early dawn exemplifies some proverb on “Teamwork.” The imagery and language of Successories is ripe for parody, not lost on, whose line of Demotivators posters are committed to “Increasing Success by Lowering Expectations.”

Successories is cheesy because it’s manufactured and corporate-minded. What does a DIY approach look like for motivational propaganda?

In the 2005 film Last Holiday, Queen Latifah keeps a “Possibilities Book” — a scrapbook of magazine clippings and handwritten notes of her dreams for the future. When she finds out she has a terminal illness, she sets out to fulfill every dream in her possibilities book (which apparently involves going to chef GĂ©rard Depardieu’s hotel chalet restaurant in Prague.)

In the web 2.0 world, a possibilities book could be something like, a site that “makes your life a list.” You put you goals down, 43 things you want to do before you die, and get encouragement from others and presumably the motivation that comes from just expressing a specific ambition.

dollar1Sometimes the things you carry, literally, are an expression of your ambition. A young Jim Carey — way before his big break, working the stand-up comedy circuit in L.A. — once wrote himself a post-dated check for $10 million and carried that around as a tangible reminder of his goals.

But back to web 2.0 and the DIY approach.

Why not make your own visually motivating posters? After all, only you know what gets you out of bed in the morning. For these people, it’s simple: Make Something Cool Every Day. For Jeffre Jackson, blogger at Pink Air and inspiration for this post, he’s created his own nifty set of DIY motivation collages…


Written by @hellopanelo

March 21, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Events roundup

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Spring (er.. snow… for the New Yorkers) is in the air…. it’s open season on open conferences!

1. Open Everything NYC

April 18, UNICEF House @UN

True to it’s “open” nature — and much like an unconference — this event is pretty much unplanned and up to the attendees. I’m a little skeptic of how productive these sessions are, so I’ll check it out, especially since the United Nations is sponsoring and hosting. What does the UN have to do with free culture and the open source movement? This statement from the website gives me a clue…

Let there be no confusion, Open Everything is not a tech conference. There is much more to ‘open’ than technology, part of the goal of the event is to bring the less known aspects of ‘open’ to the attention of the general public.

2. Open Video Conference NYC

June 19-20 @NYU Law School

Okay, it’s a conference at a law school, so all the big conversations will revolve around legal and cultural dimensions of online video.

However, this indie-nomics minded gal is interested in the “secondary programming” on DIY video creation and programming. I like to see how people can bring their creative expressions to life with $0 budget and a laptop computer.

In Nina Paley’s case, it took her 5 years but she created something that may not have existed had it gone through normal film studio production barriers: Sita Sings the Blues is an animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana… and set to the 1920’s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw.


“Dear Audience,
I hereby give Sita Sings the Blues to you. Like all culture, it belongs to you already, but I am making it explicit with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. Please distribute, copy, share, archive, and show Sita Sings the Blues. From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes.”
– Nina Paley

3. Ultra Light Startups: Monetizing Online Video

April 2 @For Your Imagination

Exactly what the title says. If you’d rather get straight to the $$$ and skip the philosophical discussions about free culture, this is your event!


* How to most effectively monetize online video and what revenues to expect.
* What are the most valuable online video properties right now? What content/audience niches are they serving? What are their revenue models? What technology are they using for marketing and distribution?
* What online video ad units are the most effective? Linear (Pre/mid/post-roll) vs. Non-linear (overlays, skins, etc) vs. display ads (alongside an embedded player). Interactive vs. non-interactve ad units.
* What are the most commonly used standards for video metrics. What determines the prices of video advertising and what are the ranges being paid now?
* What are the different video advertising networks and what differentiates them?
* What non-advertising revenue models have been tried for online video? Subscriptions/memberships? Product placement? Affiliate marketing? Live streams? Syndication? Which have been the most successful?
* What are the main video hosting/sharing websites and relative advantages/disadvantages of each for monetization?

Written by @hellopanelo

March 21, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Posted in DIY, Events, film, storytelling