18 December 2006

XPLANE opens office in Europe!

Here's a happy announcement:

XPLANE is opening a European office. Quietly, last fall, we acquired a Madrid-based information firm called IdeaMaps. I am happy to say that in January I will be going to Madrid to formally launch the venture and train the IdeaMaps team in "the XPLANE way." Going forward, IdeaMaps will be known as XPLANE EU and will be serving XPLANE clients in Europe and neighboring regions.

I'm so excited that I keep hearing Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison singing in my ear:

"The rain in Spain falls mainly on XPLANE."

There will be plenty more to come on this subject, I have no doubt. Meanwhile, if you are in Europe please leave a comment on this post and introduce yourself! I'll be looking forward to meeting you in person.

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How to find movies you would probably like

Well it's the holidays and if you're anything like me you're scrambling for last-minute gifts, preferably ones you can buy on Amazon.com.

The Movie Map is not only an excellent example of visual thinking in action, it's also a cool tool that can help you out with gift ideas (if you like to give DVDs).

Just enter any movie that you like, and the map will show you, for people who liked that movie, what other movies they liked. The search above shows movies you might like if you liked "The Matrix."

So if you have a friend and you know what movies they like, you can find other movies that they would probably like. Bingo, gift idea!

Check it out.

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14 December 2006

DIY Visual Thinking School

Visual thinking school, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.

Visual Thinking School (VTS) is a two-hour time slot that XPLANE sets aside each week, specifically for our teams to improve their visual thinking skills.

You can set up and run your own "DIY" version, either at work or at home. Here's how:

The trick is to remember that visual thinking is a holistic skill that involves training the eye, mind and body. The "XPLANE way" is evolving constantly -- most XPLANERs probably learn and try something new at least once a week.

You don't need to be an expert to run visual thinking workshops. Instead of thinking of yourself as a teacher, think of yourself as a learning director. Learning, as opposed to teaching, can be largely self-directed and is usually about a person trying to figure out a way to achieve a goal.

You don't need to be a teacher as much as a goal-setter. Once you have set learning objectives, you can have your team design learning activities themselves.

You could try rotating ownership of VTS to a different person each week.

Give the "VTS owner" a training goal and let them design the session. They can then make calls to subject-matter experts or do some research to fill in any gaps in their knowledge.

You will be amazed at what results you can get with that approach.

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13 December 2006

Still life with book

Still life with book, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.

Just listed a couple of paintings for sale on eBay. Details here.

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11 December 2006

The Dutch Golden Age, art markets and the Internet

Still life with cheese by Floris van Schooten

When the Dutch East India Company was established in 1602, the impact on global trade was massive -- similar to the internet's impact on trade today. The art world was changed forever.

The emergence of international trade on a broad scale also set the stage for the rise of a merchant class, who used their new income to buy large houses. They covered the walls of their new homes with art, and in so doing unleashed one of the biggest revolutions in art history.

Prior to this time, most artwork had been commissioned by the rich -- that is, by monarchs or churches, and most subject matter was either religious in nature, or served to exalt royal figures and aristocratic ideals.

But in the Golden Age of Dutch painting, still lives and domestic scenes took their place as worthy subjects for art. Painters like Rembrandt and Vermeer created wonderful paintings of apples and pears, home and hearth, feasts and wine and beer.

Today a similar market revolution is underway; one that threatens to turn the art world on its head. Artists and art collectors can now connect directly with each other, no matter where they are in the world.

Personally, I have decided to start a new blog where I'll sell my paintings by eBay auction, starting at 99 cents. The idea is to let the market decide, and let the market for my paintings evolve over time. If you're interested I hope you'll subscribe.

I am also excited to see how the paintings take on a life of their own, and hope collectors will share photos of how they chose to display the artwork in their personal environment.

In this thread, let's discuss the following questions:

1. What do you think is happening?

2. How will it impact you?

3. How can we work together to create a new art, for a new world?

4. What other thoughts do you have?

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03 December 2006

Look Me Up Under "Missing Link" on Wikipedia

Timely article in today's Washington Post:

Look Me Up Under "Missing Link": On Wikipedia, Oblivion Looms for the Non-Notable

I wish they had called me for a quote!

Funnily enough, I found the article on the Wikipedia talk pages.

Here's the latest installment of the XPLANE Wikipedia saga.

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How can our spaces improve creativity?

In reply to my post about process, anonymous said:
I truly believe if there were more environments that fostered and encouraged innovative and creative thinking...we'd be a different place.

For once I'd like someone to walk up and say "let's reinvent the wheel just for fun." I know these people exist everywhere, I think they just need a little push.

Maybe that's a deeper conversation for another place...sorry for the rambling.
I agree, it's a deeper conversation. So let's have it.

How can we create work environments that encourage innovation and creative thinking? I look forward to hearing your thoughts here.

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02 December 2006

Cityscape for sale on eBay

Cityscape for sale on eBay, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.

Ok, here goes. My first original painting for sale on eBay.

It's a cityscape, a view of downtown St. Louis from the south.

I am going to let the market decide what it's worth: bidding starts at 99 cents (plus $10 shipping, if you're in the US).

You can bid on it here.

Bidding ends Saturday December 9th.

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