Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Facebook Will Kill Photo Filters for Everyone


Great, thought-provoking article from Sam Biddle on Gizmodo ... definitely give it a read if you're into a) Instagram; b) facebook; or c) the relationship between the elitist digerati of the former versus the swarming masses of the latter.

On one hand, I agree that Instagram is special for two reasons ... it gives me, an amateur photographer, the tools to create photos that don't suck without investing thousands of dollars and hours to do so. Second, it give the the opportunity to share those photos with friends ... and in turn, it gives me a window to understand and appreciate those friends more deeply through the photos that they create and share.

On the other hand, I see here much ado about nothing. If, as Mr. Biddle asserts, Instragram will go on about its business; immune to facebook's copying of its service ... and if facebook users start using filters to make crappy photos crappier ... who cares?

What people do behind their own backyard fence is no business of mine - I don't see it, and I couldn't care less. For that reason, this article feels more like elitist claptrap than any kind of real social commentary. But I do thank Mr. Biddle for the thought-provoking piece, and Grant Harrison for sharing it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The evil of food labeling

Today's trip down memory lane is another post from Grant Harrison on the lamentably lost  Grant's wry wit is clearly displayed here; you'd never know that his ancestors were shipped from Millbank Prison to Australia generations before. [Note: This is not true.  Not every Australian emigrant was a criminal.  Especially the ones from New Zealand.]
The evil of food labeling
By: Grant Harrison.  Originally posted on December 7, 2008

the evil of food labeling

If you’ve ever studied any foreign languages it will probably have dawned on you that there’s a link between the language itself and the character of the peoples who use it.
German is a very structured and precise language and breeds a very structured and precise population. People we want to build our cars and nuclear reactors. French is very lyrical and beautiful language but you can’t tell what they mean till they get to the end of the sentence. Even the varieties of English around the world can tell us about the character of the speakers or users. George Bush relishes his capability to present every idea using only ten one-syllable words. We can see how this simplicity has been reflected in US foreign policy!
My point is that the language used affects the ideas that tend to be generated by it. Take this thinking and apply to food labeling. Have you noticed that water has no nutritional value at all? Zero percent of what you need daily in carbohydrates, protein and fat.  
So water doesn’t really matter?
Well… actually, according to the Feinberg School at NorthWestern.
“Water is considered an essential nutrient because it must be consumed from exogenous sources to satisfy metabolic demand. Water constitutes approximately 60% of adult body weight. It is a catalyst for a majority of enzymatic reactions including those involved in nutrient digestion, absorption, transport, and metabolism. It is also required for facilitating excretion of metabolic waste by the kidneys. Inadequate intake of water compromises cell functions by contributing electrolyte imbalances, contraction of plasma volume, and inability to regulate body temperature”
It seems to me that water is an important part of nutrition. In fact we should be consuming approximately 2.5 to 3 liters (10.4-12.5 cups daily) to be healthy.
I suggest that our food labeling is not working right. The nutrition facts on my bottle of water (Im recycling the bottle as a Christmas decoration) says there are zero grams on trans fat and sodium – that’s good news. However, given that the water gives me 0% of what the label says I need in my daily 2,000 calorie diet I have to question why I'm bothering.  
I just checked my Czechvar beer bottle – while it has 5% alcohol, it says nothing whatsoever about nutrition values. I have to assume it’s similar to water. Hurrah!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Welcome back to "The Best of!"  This was my second installment recounting how I started out in social media ... fun nostalgia time.
Greg is Having Eggs for Breakfast, Part II
Originally posted on December 10, 2008

Greg is having eggs for breakfast - Part Two

This is the second of several posts (click here for the first) about my plunge into the deep end of the social media pool.  In addition to being wonderfully self-indulgent, I hope that it'll be instructive (and soothing) to anyone who's as cautious as I was about social media.
Once I was up-and-running on my blog, it was time to turn my attention to Facebook. I changed my name from Elmer Fudd to Greg Matthews, posted a picture and a few likes-and-dislikes, and went searching for friends. I was and am fairly careful about who I “friend” in Facebook. As a general rule I only friend people whom I actually know. When possible, I restrict the list to people I’m actually interested in, although I have another rule: Don’t refuse people just because they’re boring. It’s mean. [NOTE: It is perfectly acceptable to de-friend boring people who are also loquacious; nobody wants to have their newsfeed filled with drivel, after all! In fact, I had to de-friend several people during this year’s political campaigns; there are just so many Sarah Palin parody videos you can watch without feeling nauseated.]
When I jumped into Facebook, I jumped in with both feet. By this time, exploring social media had become part of my job, so I made it my business to take that exploration seriously. I was updating my status 3 or 4 times a day, searching for friends regularly; adding applications that made my page more fun and interesting (cool! A movie compatibility test!) and posting pictures of myself. I found myself getting hooked on being able to check in with old friends and acquaintances I hadn’t seen in years . . . and yes, there was definitely a voyeuristic element to the pleasure in reading their correspondence and looking at their pictures. 
I still have fun with Facebook, but I am a lot cooler now. I don’t really care about applications anymore; most of them are pretty stupid, filled with bugs, and send your personal information to God-knows-where. [NOTE: Any application WE develop will be cool, unintrusive, and lots of fun.]  I like to use Facebook as a way to share cool pictures of places I go (in real time, thanks to iPhone’s brilliant Facebook app), to create clever status updates, and most of all to exercise my rapier wit with funny comments on my friends pictures and posts. 
I should note here that my wife has played an important role in my development as a social media creature . . . and the best way to describe that role would be “wet blanket.” My wife is still very much where I was a year ago in terms of her distrust of social media. When I dive into something, I dive in all the way. So when I started spending too much time on Facebook (especially at home, especially after the kids were asleep) we had a big conversation about keeping Facebook in perspective. [NOTE: Conversation is a diplomatic word for this exchange, as my contributions consisted primarily of, “yes, dear.”]
In our next installment . . . Greg tells the world what he is having for breakfast using Twitter.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wellness in the news - August's CoHealth Tweetchat

For those of you who don't know, I co-lead a workplace wellness community called CoHealth (#co_health; @co_health on Twitter).  This group meets once a month to talk about how to help people be healthier at work.  You can learn more on my co-founder Fran Melmed's blog, free range communication.  The next CoHealth tweetchat will be at noon EDT on Wednesday, August 17.

CoHealth is nothing if not topical.  We've been super-focused on some big topics for the last few months (Employee benefit trends in July; Jamie Oliver's workplace nutrition initiative in June; Health incentives at work in May).  Next week is going to look a little different for two reasons:

First of all, I'm going to be "going solo" - Fran is going to be on a well-deserved vacation.  The second is that we're not going to have one huge topic to dive into ... instead, I've combed the world of wellness (OK, Fran did 99% of the work) to find the hottest topics in health and wellness.  Welcome to the first Wellness News and Comment show!  

Here's what I think we should delve into:
I. There are two conferences coming up in Philly in September - Social Health and the ePatient Conference.  Who's interested?
II. Fowler and Christakis (the authors of Connected.  Don't tell me you haven't read it.) are being questioned by the health establishment.  Do you see aspects of health or unhealth as shared between your employees?
III.  An Israeli study claims that your coworkers can kill you.  Do you see aspects of better or worse health in various groups of employees?  How can you reverse this trend if you can spot it?
IV. Walgreens is widely reported to be offering a health insurance product in the future.  What plans is your company making in the run-up to 2014 when health reform has its deepest impact?

If there are new stories that come up next week, we may build them into the schedule ... or if you've been intrigued by a new story, article or trend that isn't mentioned above - let me know!  This is your big chance to shape the agenda for the tweetchat! ;-)

Just comment below, or tweet your idea out using the #co_health hashtag.  Can't wait to see you next Wednesday at noon eastern ... and the third Wednesday of EVERY month.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CrumpleItUp Redux: Is Consumerism Making Us Sick?

Another early post in this series of "The Best of CrumpleItUp" ... this time from Grant Harrison.  Grant was never one to mince words (and still isn't).  He's still shaking up the health establishment at his health design firm called The Future Well that he runs with Dr. Jay Parkinson.  If you asked Grant today, I'm guessing he'd tell you that this post is truer than ever.
Is Consumerism Making Us Sick?
By Grant Harrison - Originally published on on November 26, 2008

Sport and Recreation Active New Zealand survey released a few days ago showed that more than 50 percent of people do 30 minutes or less "exercise" a week. Where "exercise" is a "noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate'. This is pretty bad. It is also unchanged from 1999 despite an estimated $900 million dollars spent per year (more than $200 per man, woman and child per year). They must be disappointed.
And this is not just a small pacific island thing. The UK is just starting a similar program which I fear will have the same level of success.

Why has this happened? I don't know. But let me share an argument with you.

Let's say there are 2 key factors behind so little sport, recreation and fitness:
1. people are lazy
2. our world economy is built upon consumption

The entire engine is built on all of us spending more money, buying more stuff - food, entertainment, things to take the effort out of daily life. As we learnt in the US after 9/11, a major act of patriotism is to shop. The dollars or pounds spent on promoting consumption are monumental. No one is selling self control.

Is there an answer?

Here's a "starter for 10". If people don't pay for it, it's not valuable. If it's not marketed (a lot), it won't be bought. I truly believe the answer will be a pill or some form of nanotechnology. Something that involves us reaching into our pockets, not strapping on our running shoes.

So what does this mean for all of us?

We'd better build a compelling health entertainment industry. Cos no one's buying "keep your mouth shut and go for a walk"!

Do you think I'm on to something here?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CrumpleItUp Redux:Greg is Having Eggs for Breakfast, Part I

Per yesterday's post, I am re-publishing some of the "greatest hits" from CrumpleItUp.  This was my very first blog post on, the internet hub of Humana's Innovation Center, back in 2008.  Seems pretty basic now, but back then it was pretty "big stuff" for a health insurance company to be publishing a health innovation blog!  This post is recounting my first experience with Twitter ... fun to look back on now.

This is the first of several posts about my plunge into the deep end of the social media pool.  In addition to being wonderfully self-indulgent, I hope that it'll be instructive (and soothing) to anyone who's as cautious as I was about social media.
Greg is Having Eggs for Breakfast, Part I
By Greg Matthews.  Originally published on on November 21, 2008

When I joined Twitter in late 2007, I did it out of obligation. Everyone in business – at least our business – had started talking about social media. But most of us had done nothing more than read about it in Fortune or Fast Company.

It was starting to look pretty hypocritical. But I can tell you that I was not the least bit interested in making "friends" on Facebook or MySpace with total strangers. I didn’t have the energy to be interesting enough - often enough - to be a blogger. And I certainly didn’t care to tell anyone – whether I knew them or not – what I was doing every minute of the day on Twitter.

Up 'til that point, I had guarded my online identity with great care. My Yahoo profile page (way, WAY before real social media) said my name was Herve Villechaize (bonus points to anyone who can tell me who THAT is). My identity on Facebook and MySpace was Elmer Fudd – a 72 year old polygamist from Arkansas (most of those identifiers are not accurate). I had to introduce myself to the 1 or 2 friends I had in each place by stating that I was really Greg Matthews.

By the end of 2007, I decided that it was time to come out of the social media closet and put myself "out there" if I was ever going to have any real hope of understanding the phenomenon I was reading about. I started a blog. You can still find it at It was about whatever I felt like writing about – and it still is. It is composed mostly of updates on my family (lots of pictures and videos of my daughters that I still don’t feel comfortable posting to YouTube) but was interspersed with my commentary on whatever issues are on my mind . . . usually around politics and religion (and the separation of the two), health and health care, cool technology and IU basketball. My only regular readers are my immediate family, and I rarely say anything interesting to any group of people beyond that. I may someday, but I've decided that it's just not worth forcing. My little blog has served two nice purposes. 1) It got me out there testing stuff out. I know how blogger works, I know how to use Google Analytics to track traffic on my site, and I can even write simple HTML code to program buttons and links on my site. I also learned the art of the link, which was the beginning of my education about the new currency of social media.

You see, while there are a few people who are making money blogging, there are millions and millions more who are blogging because they have something to say, and they can always, ALWAYS find someone to listen if they try a little bit. After I'd been blogging for a couple of months, I noticed that other blogs I liked had "blog rolls" on them – links to other blogs that were relevant (or not) to the author. I decided that I might as well start a blog roll of my own as another way of sharing a little bit of myself – in this case, things I was interested in. What I didn't realize is that I was giving "link-love." What most bloggers want is an audience. And having other sites that link into your own is a great way to accomplish that – particularly because Google searches take the number of relevant links into consideration as their algorithm orders search results.

I had discovered a site called "Inside the Hall" – a blog about Indiana University basketball written by a group of young amateurs (by which I mean that they're not professional journalists - yet). I loved this blog because it was insightful, funny, and updated almost daily with good new material. In fact, it became my primary source of information about my favorite team very quickly. Since my family (the main readers of my blog, if you'll recall) are also Indiana fans, it was only natural for me to provide a link to Inside the Hall on my blog roll.

After doing so, it took about 12 hours for me to get a thank you note from one of the ITH bloggers. He had tracked back to my blog, read it, and realized that I was an IU fan living in Louisville. We sent a few emails back and forth, and formed a relationship of sorts. I am still a regular reader of and commenter on his blog. And I'd learned a great lesson about how to grow a network in the web 2.0 world.

Coming up next, Part 2 in the series: How I overcame my fear of Facebook, and what I've learned as a result

Monday, August 1, 2011

Remembering CrumpleItUp

In 2008, I had the honor to lead the team that created one of the healthcare industry's first (if not THE first) innovation blogs.  As the "face" of Jack Lord and Grant Harrison's vision of health innovation, wound up being talked about in places as diverse as the Wall Street Journal, John Moore's Chilmark Research blog and Fred Wilson's Google Talk on Innovation and Disruption.

In that mass of links, you'll probably notice that there isn't a link to the subject of this post -  The reason is that Humana's innovation team has gone a different direction, and elected to take the site down.  You can find more about their current innovation efforts on the front page of  Because CIU was a team blog, I elected to pipe the RSS feed into my Google Reader - which means that although even the Wayback Machine doesn't have archived copies of those original posts, I do.  And believe me, when I discovered that I had an archived copy of every single post, I felt as if I'd just found the dead sea scrolls.  Those posts document our journey towards truly transforming the healthcare industry to a health industry.  For the next few weeks, and as often as I feel the urge, I will be re-publishing the best of those original blog posts, sometimes with my comments and annotations.

I'll share the first of them here with you ... written by Grant Harrison, who was at the time the VP for Consumer Innovation under Jack Lord, the Chief Innovation Officer and founder of the IC.  Hope that you enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as I plan to.

By Grant Harrison.  Originally published on on November 21, 2008

Welcome to crumple it up. It's our experiment to involve people from all over the world in healthcare innovation. As you explore you'll notice that we are linking across the web to YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Flickr. We are trying to make as many connections as possible.

Hopefully will become a health innovation hub - sharing ideas and developing inspiring health experiences.
We are passionate about bike sharing and social networking, the link between personal and planetary health, the potential for exergames and virtual worlds to entertain people to greater health and the potential of laughter to make people happier and healthier.

If you are passionate about this stuff, please let us know, tell people about us, reach out to us. Thanks for reading.

Grant Harrison
VP Consumer Innovation
Humana Inc