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10 days and 700+ pages later, I have finished reading James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales' in-depth look at the creation and evolution of, in-my-opinion, the greatest sports company in the world — ESPN. I followed much of the buzz surrounding the book's launch, of which there was a lot (see: Vanity Fair, GQ and WSJ to name a few), and finally spent the $15 to buy ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun after listening to Jim Miller's podcast with my favorite ESPN personality, The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons. I can confirm that the book is a must read for any sports fan. 

The authors, mostly successfully, use firsthand accounts from a combination of ESPN's most prominent members (past and present) and industry players (think: David Stern, Dick Ebersol, Paul Tagliabue) to detail the company's incredible rise to the top of the sports world. I enjoyed hearing the stories straight from the proverbial horse's mouth, however, I think Miller and Shales could have done a better job segueing in and out of the various topics; on several occasions there was an abrupt end or beginning to a subject, which I found more than a little bit irritating. That said, the book in general was an easy and fast read, with a good sprinkling of humorous anecdotes making the 700 pages fly by. In particular, I found the the chapter detailing ESPN's birth and initial formation as a business to be the most interesting while any parts involving a discussion of the highly-volatile Keith Olbermann to be the most compelling, especially as a dedicated fan of mid-90s SportsCenter. If 700 pages sounds like a lot to bite off in one sitting, I think the nature of the way it's authored makes the book perfect for the intermittent reader too. - K

 
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Doing the kind of "book publishing" that my craft-loving wife dreams about, Play Studios (based in Alicante, Spain) recently released the results of their 2nd Future Generations/Future Environments Workshop — a student-inspired vision of the city's future image which, of course, was exhibited in pop-up book form (why not!). The shared experience first asked primary-aged school kids to imagine and draw how they envisioned their urban city in the future, then those sketches were interpreted by university-level students and ultimately rendered into three designs, which have been animated and captured on video. It's beautifully done and worth a few minutes to check out just how creative some people can be. - K

 
A few weeks ago, Kevin posted about our dismay over President Clinton's commencement speech given at my little brother's NYU graduation. I, for one, was looking to be inspired; to be brought to my feet with applause for his words of wisdom; both on behalf of my brother who is about to embark on an exciting career in writing and also for myself.

Being at a college graduation brought back clear memories of all the hopes and expectations I had for the world that I was just waiting to burst into, and definitely, all these years later, through the highs and lows of creating our own business, I was in need of a little re-invigorating of the just-graduating kind. It turns out, I was at the wrong university commencement!

I should have been at Dartmouth College where Conan O' Brien was giving the most hilarious, honest, and wisdom-filled speech that I've heard in while. Some of his gems included discussion of Dartmouth's school motto — Vox Clamantis in Deserto (voice crying out in the wilderness) — to which he remarked, "This is easily the most pathetic school motto I've ever heard!" and his message to parents that, "If your child majored in Fine Arts or Philosophy, you have good reason to be worried: the only place they are now really qualified to get a job is Ancient Greece." Brilliant!

But all the laughter aside, he had a very wise message to share about the ever-changing journey that life takes us on and that, "it is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique." For any of us entrepreneurs who are constantly battling to define our business and our roles within that business, Conan's speech is one to both enjoy for it's outrageous humor as well as absorb for its honest inspiration. — Yun
 
Let me preface this post by saying that I am by no means an art buff. I probably couldn't tell you a Manet from a Monet, but Yun and I are art enthusiasts who enjoy checking out museums when we get the chance. So, to my great surprise, and as a result of my continuing effort to watch every TED Talk out there, I stumbled upon a presentation by Amit Sood of Google this weekend, and learned about the Google Art Project, which will make accessing some of the world's best museums a little easier (as long as you have an internet connection).

As I've mentioned previously, I'm a big Google fan. They create so many useful products and services that we use on a daily basis and most of them are free! My only "complaint" about the company is that they're doing so many different things that it's often difficult to keep up when they launch something really cool, like the Art Project. Google's new tool makes it possible for us to see over 1,000 works of art by taking a virtual tour through many (17) of the top museums around the world, including some biggies like the Tate (London), the Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), and The Met (NYC). Admittedly, seeing art online isn't the same as being there in person, but it's a great alternative if you don't have any frequent flyer miles lying around. Plus, using their Street View technology, the Art Project is actually able to display the works in super high-resolution. In any case, I encourage you to watch Amit Sood's presentation and then click here and check it out, I think you'll agree that Google has given us something pretty cool. - K
 
We are busy working on our second app, Zoozoo Readables, for iPad, iPhone, + iPod Touch. Along with our Letter Buddies characters, Zoozoo is the second property we developed for our Cavallo School Publishing line that we are now hoping the larger public, beyond the school market, will enjoy!  — K+Y

Please take a look at our preview video for the upcoming app:
 
I had a working man's lunch today, just a sandwich (though it was no ordinary sandwich - a "GodMother" from Bay Cities) at my desk. The upside of eating in front of the computer is that I can catch up on some of the TED Talks that I've tagged for viewing - next on the list was Conrad Wolfram. Wolfram, whose older brother Stephen founded Wolfram Research, runs the European arm of the company that developed the software - Mathematica. Wolfram's presentation last November at TED provided a compelling argument for why we should change our approach to teaching math in schools.

For those of us who have a love/hate relationship with math, especially those on the "hate" end of the spectrum (Yun!), I think you'll find Wolfram's points make good sense. At the heart of his presentation is the idea that schools should focus more teaching the applications for math (ie understanding the practical uses of math in solving real world problems) and less on the longhand mechanics behind mathematical computations. His point: use computers to do what they do best which is to efficiently calculate things while humans can apply the concepts/results in the real world. I hope that this is the direction for math in the future because I think it would make it more interesting and accessible to those who would otherwise be turned off and overwhelmed by having to grind out such things as quadratic equations... — Kevin