Friday, June 20, 2008

Good Idea #2: Turning the perception tide for women in tech

I'd love to start a company that hires out college-age business, marketing and computer science majors to conferences.

I've been at CES the past two years (2007 and 2008) and while many booths conducted themselves professionally, I was surprised at the number of "booth babes" employed by even the big companies.

To be fair, many companies had live bands and a diverse blend of smiling marketers, men and women alike.

But sex obviously still sells, and nothing says "innovative tech" more than a vacuous blond in a tight-fitting company tee.

Enough. This is the 21st century, and women are tech consumers, too. Companies should stop hiring booth whores who aren't allowed to understand the finer points of their products.

Here's the beauty of matching young, fast-learning entrepreneurs with companies:

  • assuming the college program had a rigorous selection process, companies would be assured of receiving excellent, high-caliber volunteers
  • these conference booths are often staffed by the product leads and execs themselves, giving the students a unique mentorship opportunity leading to internships and career starts as well as the chance to see a product in development at the cutting edge
  • the product teams would gain the insight of a key young demographic
  • students can learn a product, promote it, engage the audience and match the passersby with the correct product lead more effectively than the aforementioned vacuous blond
  • female students taking part in this initiative will accurately represent the face of women in technology and business, while being made aware of the lingering chauvinism first-hand
  • the program could be worth college credits as part of a semester co-op agreement or similar
  • assuming local colleges would be engaged for major conferences, the students could also be an on-the-ground logistic team, helping to collect floor materials ahead of time and providing insight into the location

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Good Idea #1: Fantasia shorts for aspiring artists

Leading animation houses should promote and preserve animation talent by holding a competition to create Fantasia-like shorts which would then be short-listed to appear before major theatrical releases like Wall-E, Ratatouille, Toy Story 3, etc.

The group of semi-finalists would spend a summer on their creations at a design shop like Pixar where they would be mentored on the pro tools by the best in the industry. At the end of the season, one short (or a few) would be selected to accompany an upcoming movie release.

Other thoughts:

  • The work of the entire season would be archived and made available online / via disc for entertainment and study.
  • A single company like Pixar could sponsor the event single-handedly, but a wider association of animators (ASIFA) could easily assemble and participate (e.g. ILM, DreamWorks, Pixar and others), fueling healthy competition and cooperation.
  • Global participation could certainly be encouraged.
  • "Animation cook-offs", and other challenges designed to focus on a particular element of animation (depicting emotion through stance and body language; traditional sketch cartooning vs. rendering and implementing mo-cap; cueing to musical and programmatical events etc.) with reasonable time limits would mix up the talent group a bit to expose different approaches to creativity.
  • While pre-recorded music would be an obvious tribute to Fantasia (Tchaikovsky's 3rd movement from the 6th Symphony would be awesome!!!), student composers could undergo a similar competition and/or partner with the design teams to produce brand new creations.