Monthly Archives: January 2015

Name Art & Science

This post inspired by:

The Weird Science of Naming New Products by Neal Gabler
New Yorker Artilcle About Lexicon

Linguistic Concepts:

“Fricatives” convey speed
(f, s, y, z — these consonants are a class because they are all consonants spoken by forcing air through the narrow channel between tongue and front teeth)
“Plosives” or “Stops”
(b, d, p, t — these consonants are a class because they are all consonants in which air flow is blocked)
“Morphemes” — those parts of words that convey meaning
Plato’s Cratylus — associated sounds with physical characteristics

Naming/Branding Agencies:

Lexicon (David Placek is Founder)
Idiom (and their system Lingtwistics)
Anthony Shore (lone operator, formerly with Landor for 13 years)

Linguistic Experts
Will Leben — Linguistics Professor at Stanford.
His “Sounder” Study (“the physical characteristics of sound are what determine associations”). Note this study focused on the first syllable – either consonant, vowel, or both.
“Sounder II” was conducted in 2002 to determine whether sounds could be associated with emotional states. Answer: YES. Note this study focused on the first syllable – either consonant, vowel, or both.
“Sounder III” was a study to determine.

These studied revealed:
– voiceless stops like k, p, and t are more alive and daring than voiced stops like b, d, and g. voiceless convey less luxury than the voiced.

Websites: (how words work with other words) (how a word appears in many texts) (how a word rhymes with other words)
Glossary of Science Fiction Ideas, Technology, and Inventions

UniversalTextCombinationGenerator — combines fricatives and stops

Cool Names:

Important Ideas

“Placek maintains that the best brand names, like poems, work by compressing into a single euphonious word an array of specific, resonant meanings and associations. But he prefers to emphasize the practical aspects of his work. “I’ve learned that if I use that with prospective clients—‘Hey, what we’re creating here is a small poem’—you can see people sort of get concerned,” he told me. “Like, ‘This isn’t really about art here. This is about getting things done.’ ”

Brand naming has existed for centuries. Italians made watermarks on paper in the twelve-hundreds. During the industrial revolution, companies sought to inspire consumer confidence with names borrowed from their owners’ families: Singer sewing machines, Fuller brushes, Hoover vacuums—all names that are still in use. Before the First World War, there was a wave of abstract names ending in “o” (like Brillo and Brasso), followed, in the nineteen-twenties, by one of “ex” names: Pyrex, Cutex, Windex. But, according to Eric Yorkston, a marketing professor at Texas Christian University, modern brand naming—with its sophisticated focus groups and its linguistic and psychological analysis—began in the years after the Second World War, when the explosion of similar products from competing companies made imaginative naming an increasing necessity.”

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“Most projects at Lexicon start off with free-associated Mind Maps—large diagrams of words that spread out like dendrites from a central concept. A map of hundreds of words, generated at the pace of a brainstorming session, can take less than ten minutes to produce and can resemble a Cy Twombly scribble painting. The maps help to stake out linguistic territory, and to bring forth the deeper associations that a particular product evokes—“the words underneath the name,” as Placek puts it.”

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“Placek …had become a devotee of the 1970 book “The Practice of Creativity,” by George Prince, a former adman who, with the inventor and psychologist William J. J. Gordon, created an organization called Synectics, which ran workshops on how to increase creativity in small groups. The method stressed openness to ideas that seem irrelevant to the problem at hand; one of Gordon’s maxims was “Trust things that are alien, and alienate things that are trusted.” At the workshops, Placek said, he developed many of the techniques he employs at Lexicon. He guided teams on “excursions” that elicited creative responses by introducing unexpected stimuli, “maybe passing out sports magazines if we’re naming a women’s cosmetic.”


Creativity and Synectics

FAB LAB – Update

The subject is digital fabrication.

Here is Neil Gershenfield – MIT Center of Bits and Atoms, Founder of FAB LABS – speaking about FAB LABS to a group of 1000 in Monterrey, California. He speaks about the digital revolution and the new twist – which is to move from two dimensions into three dimensions:

The FAB LAB Talk

He argues that the revolution underway is a revolution akin to mini-computer’s role – they were the bridge between tops-down thinking a la mainframes and bottoms-up thinking represented by personal computers.

The Essence
He was talking about the role of integrating “bits” and “atoms”.

The canon of computer science – prematurely froze the model of compassion, based on what was available in the fifties.

“We still look at fabrication as top down. A revolution is underway that will break organizational boundaries, just as happened with computers, when mainframes gave way to mini-computers, which in turn gave way to personal computers.

My (random) notes:
“Personal fabrication helps make you unique”

These FAB LABS are the cost and complexity of the

“we are now in this mini-computer era of fabrication”

“There is a fabrication divide.”

“a micro-VC fund”

Empowerment: “I can do it!”

$20,000 in equipment
– focused nano-beam writers
– etc

Kelly – my “scream body” – a portable container for holding a scream.

“you can’t segregate digital fabrication”

“how to make almost anything”

The Internet of Devices

Fungible computers – prototype that make small chips and pour them out by the square inch. “Computing as a raw material”

Chemistry as bubbles.

“We all know we have had a digital revolution but what is that? Shannon took us (in the forties) from a phone as a wire that degraded with distance…he proved that if you add information and remove it to a signal, you can compute perfectly with an imperfect device.

Self-Replicating Templating

Laser Micro-Printers

Internet Zero – web server costs $1
(the way it encodes the internet – let’s devices inter-network)

Computers that are tools.

digital communication

analog fabrication

digital fabrication

Deep Learning Update

This TED talk by Jeremy Howard in Brussels, created in December 2014, reveals the staggering progress made in the field of deep learning:

Jeremy Howard’s TED Talk on Deep Learning

In this TED talk, he speaks about:

– Amazon and NetFlicks use machine learning to suggest products that you would like.
_ IBM’s Watson beat the two world champions in Jeopardy
– Google’s car has now driven without a driver over a million miles without an accident.
– Jeffrey Hinton beat all the others, in just two weeks, to identify new drugs.
– Deep Learning learned how to recognize a wide variety of German Street signs.

He demonstrates:

– that computers can see …. image recognition application where 1.5 million pictures of cars are classified, where a human help the machine learn by “training” it to recognize “front”, “back” “angle” etc. He says that there are 16,000 dimensions to the analysis. He asks: can a pathologist look for areas of mitosis? Can a radiologist ….? A second image Stanford application where a computer can look at an image and describe in text, with some success, what is the image about. Humans asked about the text preferred the computer description 25% of the time – he predicts it will pass human performance in less than a year.
– computers can understand …. showing how a Stanford-based approach can read a sentence and understand the sentiment.
– computers can search images …. and match them to text …. he points out that this breakthrough is just in the last few months. The approach by Google searches text tags of the image (and thus is not this)
– that computers can listen ….voice recognition application where an English speaker can have his voice (not another voice) translated real-time into Chinese.
– computers can write ….

He speaks about the exponential growth in understanding which is underway. He believes that in the next five years, machine Learning performance will exceed human learning performance.

He does not believe better education will help. He thinks now is the time to begin adjusting our social structures to accommodate this new world.

He also speaks about applications:
– medical diagnostics through analysis of cancer tissue.

From Wikipedia:
Jeremy Howard
Jeremy Howard (born 1973) is an Australian data scientist and entrepreneur.[3] He is the CEO and Founder at Enlitic, an advanced machine learning company in San Francisco, California. Previously, Howard was the President and Chief Scientist at Kaggle, a community and competition platform of over 200,000 data scientists. Howard is the youngest faculty member at Singularity University, where he teaches data science. He is also a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum, and spoke at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014 on “Jobs For The Machines.”[4] Howard advised Khosla Ventures as their Data Strategist, identifying the biggest opportunities for investing in data driven startups and mentoring their portfolio companies to build data-driven businesses. Howard was the founding CEO of two successful Australian startups, FastMail and Optimal Decisions Group. Before that, he spent eight years in management consulting, at McKinsey & Company and AT Kearney.

Howard first became involved with Kaggle, founded in April 2010,[8] after becoming the globally top-ranked participant in data science competitions in both 2010 and 2011. The competitions that Howard won involved tourism forecasting[1] and predicting the success of grant applications.[2] Howard then became the President and Chief Scientist of Kaggle.[9]

In August 2014, Howard founded Enlitic with the mission of leveraging recent advances in machine learning to make medical diagnostics and clinical decision support tools faster, more accurate, and more accessible. Enlitic uses state-of-the-art Deep Learning algorithms to diagnosis illness and disease.[13] Howard believes that today, machine learning algorithms are actually as good as or better than humans at many things that we think of as being uniquely human capabilities.[14] He projects that the application of deep learning will have the most significant impact on medicine out of any technology during this decade by effectively aggregating data.[15] On October 28, 2014, Howard announced Enlitic’s seed funding round.[16]


The field is going to explode.

The model for co-working is ROAM. GREAT business model – huge uptake. Place was packed.

They currently are in Alpharetta and Dunwoody, and are opening a Buckhead facility in Tower Place this summer. They have a mini-cafeteria, office space, mail handling, membership services, printing, etc.

Here is the download:

“Roam is the innovator’s workplace; a meeting and gathering experience for the new workforce. We are partnering for success by creating environments where people focus, collaborate, learn and socialize.”

“We are a Collective, a Local Community of Innovators, Pioneers and Visionaries.”

From a member: “Patrick also thinks that energy is Roam’s differentiator. “When you walk into Roam Dunwoody, it’s like you walk into a room full of vibrations,” he says. He loves interacting with the other members here and feeding off of that energy. “Every Roam member is passionate about whatever they do. They really want their business to make an impact.” The members as a whole are a forward-thinking group, open to new ideas and supportive of innovation, “


The human brain’s wiring diagram – with 100 trillion connections between neurons – is called the “connectome”. The idea has been around since the 1960’s but there is a new explosion in understanding.

The last time there was this much excitement was in 1986 when Sydney Brenner, Nobel Laureate, was given the entirety of The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (this was Isaac Newton’s venue). Brenner published “the Book” where he documented the mapping of a transparent worm and its 302 neurons.

Even so, “The race to map the connector has hardly left the starting line”.

“If the cells and fiber in one human brain were all stretched out end to end, they would certainly reach to the moon and back. Yet the fact that they are not arranged end to end enabled man to go there himself. The astonishing tangle within our heads makes us what we are.”
–Colin Blakemore, a physiologist from the UK

Since 2005, Sebastian Seung at MIT has been trying to map this incredible phenomenon, and NYT Magazine wrote about his work this Sunday, January 11, 2015 (“Mind Games” by Garath Cook). He just left MIT in 2013, and now joins his mentor David Tank at the Princeton Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics.

He started by studying (in Germany, with two graduate students in 2006) the high-resolution brain imaging analysis of Winfried Denk, a scientist who built a device. The device, according to David Tank, imaged brain tissue with enough resolution to make out the connections between individual neurons. The problem was that the images were very blurry and articulating them, mapping each one, etc was a “herculean effort’. So the big problem to solve was – could this task be automated?

Obviously, this relates to the phenomenal leaps ahead in mapping made possible by computer analysis. Another example of this is the Human Genome Project, which mapped the DNA that provides every cell’s genetic instructions. This was obviously breakthrough work, and following after this work was work on Proteome (proteins), Foldome (folding of proteins). Note the U.S. Government has “The Brain Initiative”, which is a 12-year, $4.5 billion brain-mapping project.

So the “connectome” is the brain’s physical structure, which must be mapped. At the same time, a major effort is underway that is separate – namely, to map the areas of the brain that “light up” and therefore are related to certain cognitive functions.

This reference to “physical structure” is meaningful – because people tend to relate to the brain in terms of movement….a dynamic “flow” like a river, and not a physical structure like a river bed.

Haim Sompolinsky studied this structure to understand “aha” moments in learning. This idea relates to an ancient idea- from Plato and Aristotle – that meaning emerges from the ones between things. And in the 21st century, it appears that their is physical terrain that describes this ancient concept: the likes between neurons (note William James described mental processes as associations).

A typical human neuron has thousands of connections. A neuron can be as narrow as one ten-thousandth of a millimeter and yet it can stretch from one side of the head to the other!


Wikipedia on Connectome

NYT Article on Connectome

Santiago Ramon y Cajal – illustrations of neurons and neural networks

Nobel Laureate Sydney Brenner mapped the 302 neurons of a transparent worm in the seventies. He wanted to understand how behaviors emerges from a biological system.

EyeWire – online game that challenges the public to trace neuronal wiring in the retina of a mouse’s eye (has 165,000 players in 164 countries).

connectionism – a cross-disciplinary idea that simple units, connected in the right ways, can lead to surprising abilities (memory, recognition, reasoning).

Harald Hess – a genius in creating scientific tools.”MERLIN” – new brain imaging system. Janella Reseach Campus. They believe they will have mapped a fruit fly’s neural network within two years

Google: announced in September, 2014 at the White House that they had launched their own connector project. Tom Dean is a Google Research Scientist, who also works with the Allen Institute. He wants the “Google Earth of the Brain”!!!!

Turntable Health

Downtown Las Vegas is the site for innovation in Health Care:

Las Vegas’s Turntable Health

Primary Care Physicians, Behavioral Health Specialists, and Coaches for a subscription of $80.

I see BeWell and Turntable as being the client-facing community provider. These are the doctors etc!



Turntable Health
Turntable Health is a direct primary care clinic in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. It began as part of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s $350 million economic revitalization project in Downtown Las Vegas. The clinic was founded by Zubin Damania, known by his YouTube screen name as ZDoggMD, who Hsieh recruited from the Bay Area in 2012.[1] The clinic is made in partnership with Iora Health.[2]

The clinic does not use the fee-for-service model and instead charges per patient per month capitation to sponsors (or membership fees to members). Individuals can gain access to Turntable as a benefit offered by an employer, through insurance,[3] and directly as a subscription.[4] There are plans to expand and build new locations as the clinic approaches a capacity of 5,000 patients. Turntable Health has been featured on TheNextWeb as one of “eight startups changing the healthcare industry.”[

Fernandopulle, Rushika (2014-01-14). “Welcome to Zappos-Style Health Innovation”. Xconomy. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
Pogorelc, Deanna (2013-12-17). “YouTube’s rapping doctor and Zappos’s CEO bring a new model of primary care to Las Vegas”. Medcity News. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
Rake, Launce (2013-12-17). “Downtown Clinic Promises “New Model” Of Health Care”. Las Vegas CityLife. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
Spillmanlas, Benjamin (2013-07-21). “Downtown Project lands a provider for downtown medical clinic”. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
Gerber, Scott (2014-01-26). “8 Ways Startups Are Changing the Healthcare Industry”. Retrieved 2014-03-25.


MARVELS for Wellbeing

MARVELS is a way of dimensionalizing wellbeing. The acronym stands for:

M – MEDICAL ID (conditions, medications, allergies, emergency contacts, etc)
A – ACTIVITY (what I do with my body, including walking, running, calories burned etc)
R – RESILIENCE (key to managing stress and its harmful effects)
V – VITALS (pulse, BP, weight, height, body mass, etc)
E – EATING (what I put in my body, including what I eat, drink and smoke, calories consumeed etc)
L – LABS (blood, urine, sputum, hair, stool, screening, as well as genome mapping)
S – SLEEP (duration, deep sleep, etc)

The argument for MARVELS can be simplified by simply saying: every person’s wellbeing will be a function of who they are, and what they do in any given time period. Who they are requires quantification, including M (MEDICAL ID), R (RESILIENCE), V (VITALS), AND L (LABS). What they do in any given time period is a function of A and E – what they do with their body and what they put in their body.