Around the Web: Marketing Muster. Creating Crayons. Joe’s Journalism. Going Graphene. Feather Photography. Car Colors. Checking Chuckling. Fish Fiasco.

Marketing Brew reviews the most popular and underrated marketing trends in 2022. The history of crayons is the subject of a new book. Dr. Joe gives a radio documentary in four parts about newspapers and radio dramas from the past. Graphene could replace silicon as the base of all electronics. Smart elevators will take us on a ride. Facial recognition for birds via a “smart feeder.” BMW’s E Ink-wrapped car can display millions of colors for quite the road show. Electronics printed for therapeutic wearables. The cool upgrade on Brava’s smart countertop oven is a…glass window. The “LOL Verifier” is a device that will only let a user type LOL when they are actually laughing out loud. A Berlin hotel’s huge aquarium bursts. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Overlooked, Overhyped

So what were the most overhyped—or overlooked—marketing trends of 2022? Marketing Brew has a complete list. Top of the hyped list (big surprise!): The metaverse. (“Companies still struggle with getting their employees to master Teams, Zoom and Slack. The metaverse is going to be a long way off.”) On the overlooked list: welly, welly welly:

Marketers Do seem excited about something that’s a little less technological: direct mail. About one-quarter of respondents chose direct mail’s comeback as this year’s most overlooked marketing trend, handing it the most votes. It was only 2% that thought it was overhyped.

Respondents to their survey had mixed feelings about BeReal, which they consider the most terrifying social media platform.

Marketers also seem torn on the value of BeReal; while 10% said that brands on BeReal was 2022’s most overhyped trend, another 10% also agreed that it was the most overlooked.

“I think BeReal is the next big social platform and if brands can make it work this early on, then that is huge since it doesn’t have traditional features for advertising,” one respondent said, while another said they “don’t see realistic growth happening because of BeReal. It seems people join because they want to escape consumerism, not have more of it.”

Yeah, well, that’s what’s they said about the Internet itself in 1994 and look how that turned out.

Crayons: Waxing Eloquent

One of the staples of any childhood—and even many adulthoods—is crayons. While technology is always evolving, the crayon remains a constant. The crayon we all know was an invention that came about relatively recently. Over at Print Magazine, interview with John Kropf who recently published a history on crayons called Color Capital of the World – Growing up with the Legacy of a Crayon Company.

How did the crayon become such an omnipresent drawing/writing tool?
Two elements were combined in the early 1900s. The American Crayon Company and its rival, Binney & Smith, working independently, figured out a method to combine paraffin wax with safe pigments to create a usable crayon. These crayons were practical and affordable at a time of increased creativity and art in American schools. The crayon was born at the right place and time. 

… Binney & Smith successfully launched Crayola through a coloring contest. American Crayon responded to the challenge by launching an educational division in 1912, which initiated a Crayograph competition across all public schools in the country. The company enlisted members of the Manual Teachers’ Association. Florence Ellis, a former Cleveland Public Schools art teacher, led the education work publishing books for students and materials. 

However, crayons weren’t originally designed with children in mind.

The American Crayon Factory’s 1874 debut of a new crayon product, 888, was the name of the original crayon product. Railroad crayons. Railroad surveyors used black crayons to mark rail points and freight conductors to mark cargoes. The 888 crayon is insoluble. Ordinary chalk would have been washed away by a storm.

Around the Webb: Into The Dusty Attic

Are you a fan of newspapers? Old-time radio shows? Dr. Joe Webb? Good news! Radio Talking Books Service presents “The Dusty Attic,” a tribute to newspapers and newspaper reporters of the classic radio era. This four-week exploration of society’s role in newspapers and their representation in audio dramas is hosted by Dr. Joe Webb. Episode 1 is available at 11:05 ET on Saturday and will be repeated at 10:10 ET Sunday. Listen to the stream at or subscribe to TuneIn radio.

As you may recall, Dr. Joe is former director of WhatTheyThink’s Economics and Research Center who retired several years ago and has been immersing himself in old-time radio programs.

Here’s the rundown for this weekend’s edition:

The Big Story – Audition show 1946-02-04 Feature Assignment (never aired). The series’ original plans were different from the one that aired in 1947. The famous story about a young boy sent to prison for his role in a cover-up of police corruption during Prohibition. His mother cleaned offices for years overnight so she could give her life savings to someone who would reveal the truth.

Screen Director’s Playhouse 1949-12-09 Call Northside 777 starring Jimmy Stewart – Hollywood offers a superb treatment of the very same news story, with Jimmy Stewart’s top-notch radio acting skills and a big-budget production.

You should check it out!

Graphene’s View to a Kill

Did graphene news have a great week? It’s always a good week for graphene news! Could graphene become the base of all electronic devices? It could be! Says (who else?) Graphene-Info:

Walter de Heer, Regents’ Professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and his collaborators, have developed a new nanoelectronics platform based on graphene. This technology can be used for conventional microelectronics manufacturing. It is a requirement for any viable alternative to Silicon. They may also have discovered a quasiparticle in the course of their research. This discovery could allow for smaller, faster, more reliable, and more durable computer chips. It also has potential implications in quantum and high-performance computing.

“Graphene’s power lies in its flat, two-dimensional structure that is held together by the strongest chemical bonds known,” de Heer said. “It was clear from the beginning that graphene can be miniaturized to a far greater extent than silicon — enabling much smaller devices, while operating at higher speeds and producing much less heat. This means that, in principle, more devices can be packed on a single chip of graphene than with silicon.”

This won’t happen tomorrow; they believe it will likely be another five to 10 years before the first graphene-based electronics appear. “But thanks to the team’s new epitaxial graphene platform, technology is closer than ever to crowning graphene as a successor to silicon.”

Smart Elevators are on the Rise

This is just asking for trouble. Says Axios:

The latest generation of elevators Can recognize your face and greet you by name, taking you to your place on the floor.

Are elevators able to breed? Is there a way to breed elevators now?

Why it matters The widespread fear of elevators that hit during the pandemic served to turbo-charge new innovations.

The ride is safer, more efficient, and faster, but it comes at a high price for building owners.

For developers who want to spend the cash, the sky’s the limit: AI and facial recognition can push customized entertainment and advertisements on elevator screens to passengers who opt in.

Horizontal travel elevators may soon be possible, opening the doors to new architectural innovations.

If you’ve ever stayed at the pyramidal Luxor hotel in Vegas, you have experienced elevators that travel diagonally, which can be quite disorienting.

The big four [elevator manufacturers] are planning for cloud-connected elevators becoming an integral part of smart cities and smart buildings — coordinated with local transit schedules and, of course, rooftop air taxis. 

What could go wrong?

Part of the sales pitch is that smart elevators can turn a mundane ride into a seamless experience — or even immersive entertainment.

We want to go to the lobby.

“Now the lights in the cabin can become blue because we know it’s your favorite color. Your favorite music can come on,” says Jon Clarine, head of digital services at TK Elevator North America.

Oh, come on, it’s a three-minute elevator ride. Kenny G can be endured for as long as we want. And let’s not even get into all the privacy issues this opens up. We prefer to use the stairs.

AI-YiYi-Yi: Part the Infinity for the Birds

Sometimes it seems like we’re living in The Onion’s vision of the future. Axios is your source of dystopian news.

A preview of the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, which formally kicks off tomorrow, Bird Buddy showed off a smart bird feeder that takes snapshots of feathered friends as they fly in for treats.

Startup According to its AI, it can recognize more than 1,000 species. Users can share photos with the app and get them recognized by AI. AP reports

“We try to kind of gamify the collection so it’s … like a real-life Pokémon Go — with real animals and wildlife in your backyard,” said Kyle Buzzard, a Bird Buddy co-founder.

Kyle Buzzard is Bird Buddy’s co-founder. They should consider Ethan Hawk becoming their spokesperson.

The company It was launched as a Kickstarter campaign in 2020. The company began shipping bird feeders in September. Since then, all 100,000 of its stock has been sold. Basic feeders start at $199

So…facial recognition for birds? What do they think?

Part 2: Every Color You Like

Just about a year ago, we linked to a story about BMW’s iX Flow, which used E Ink panels to allow the car to change color from white, to black, to gray. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), taking place this week, they have gone further. According to The Verge

the i Vision Dee — which looks like a kind of cross between a vintage BMW and a Tesla — can change colors on command. 32 colors are now available instead of only black, white and gray. The i Vision Dee can be controlled individually by using 240 E Ink epaper segments. This allows the i Vision Dee to change from one solid color to another or even put on a great light show. 

… this concept uses the latest tech from E Ink, called Prism 3 film, which is fully programmable and meant to be low on power consumption for sustainability. Prism 3 can be made in almost any shape. There are many industrial design possibilities. 

This could be an interesting alternative to vehicle wrapping—it was really only a matter of time before some kind of electronic display came to vehicle graphics. Still, it’s a ways away from commercialization:

For now, it’s an in-house R&D project — but one that has attracted a lot of attention both inside the automaker and in the wider world. SlashGear notesthat the brains behind the project, Australian engineer Stella Clarke and her team, have been working to develop and refine the e-paper since last year’s CES.  

Right now, they’re working on making the e-paper panels tougher and able to stand up to things like flying insects and car washes. Panels that are damaged by road traffic, such as the black-and white iX Flow, will soon become non-functional. The team’s ultimate goal is to make a spray that can be applied to body panels more easily, but that’s a ways off. Clarke said that the costs of the spray are not yet known, but they might be less than you think. 


Sure, we poke fun a lot of these wacky new technologies, but in some cases, technology breakthroughs have the potential to change people’s lives for the truly better. Conductive Technologies is a company that makes smart textiles for medical uses. They basically print electronics on textile substrates. Their ElastaTrode Case Study:

Atlantic Therapeutics began product design in Innovo 2017. Innovo is a smart garment that is used to treat urinary incontinence and uses Conductive Transfers’ ElastaTrode printed circuit technology. The electrodes are printed to deliver electrical muscle stimulation to the pelvic floors muscles, which treats the condition.

Following successful trials and regulatory approval from the FDA, Atlantic Therapeutics signed a manufacturing and supply agreement with Conductive Transfer (see press release). Conductive Transfers have supplied more than 85,000 ElastaTrode circuits to Innovo over the past eight years. In 2021 Atlantic Therapeutics licensed Conductive Transfers’ patents and technology to support its growth plans.

The company has a variety of other “Elasta” technologies for smart textile applications that can be used in a variety of therapeutic medical applications.


Here’s an interesting craft project via Queen City Minis A craft store book box is turned into a diorama of an abandoned lab.

Now You’re Cookin’

You gotta love it when a product’s technological breakthrough is a glass window. Gizmodo

Brava is a better alternative to traditional electric ovens, which rely on heating elements made of metal that can take a long time to heat up and can be very expensive. [smart countertop oven]’s big innovation was its use of six lamps inside that cooked food using a combination of visible and non-visible light. Brava’s smart oven was claimed to heat food to 500 F in less than one second. It also required less energy to cook a whole meal than it would take to heat a traditional oven.

Sounds cool…or…not. Anyway:

One of the many features of the $995 Brava smart countertop oven we really liked when we reviewed it back in 2018 was a 5MP camera that live-streamed the food inside as it cooked. 

Soon to be a Netflix series. If something cooks as fast as this oven is supposed to, it is a wise idea to go wandering off to the extent that you would need to check a livestream to see what’s happening with it? It gets worse:

that camera was the only way to actually see inside the oven to ensure food wasn’t being overcooked or burned.

Good grief. Well, it’s good to see that this Bug This feature has been fixed:

The new Brava Glass’s solution is to borrow a feature you’ll find on even a $20 toaster oven: a door with a glass window featuring a 97% tint that keeps the heat trapped inside while allowing users to see their food cooking without having to reach for their phones. 

What’s most surprising about the Brava Glass is the price. When we reviewed the original Brava smart oven, it sold for $995, but is now available on Brava’s website for $1,295 as part of a “Starter Set” that includes pans and temperature sensors, or a larger “Chef’s Choice” set for $1,695. The new Brava Glass, which will ship in early 2023, is only available as part of a $1,995 “Chef’s Choice” set that includes “two glass trays, two metal trays, a muffin tin, square pan, loaf pan, egg tray and the cast iron chef’s pan.” As with hotel rooms, airplanes, and houses, you’ll be paying a premium here for a view.

And as with hotel rooms, airplanes, and houses, no, we won’t.

A Real Robot Detector

On many an occasion, we have emailed, texted, Slacked, or whatevered something potentially humorous, and have received the reply “LOL.” But did they Really Are you ready to laugh? For those who are extremely insecure, it is possible to find out. Via Laughing Squid, Brian Moore has created a “LOL Verifier,” a device that will only let a user type LOL when they are actually laughing out loud. It’s a small box with different programs that recognize different types and types of laughter.

The Verifier will allow the user to type LOL if the person actually laughs, chortles, or laughs out loud. If not, they’ll be required to type a substitute.

This video is available via Instagram.

So Long, Tanks for All the Fish

If you were staying at the Radisson Hotel in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz last month, there is the very real possibility that you would have been assaulted by live fish. A 50-foot AquaDom tank, which houses close to 1,500 tropical fish, wraps around the central elevator. It’s the largest tank of its kind in the world. It was. At 5:45 a.m. on December 16, it somehow burst, sending 264,000 gallons of water—and all the poor fish—rushing through the lobby. The following was the statement: New York Times:

The entire block surrounding the AquaDom was still soaked by 264,000 gals of water. This water rushed out from the lobby and uprooted plants. It also ripped out telephones.

The powerful water jets that came off the street were so strong that seismographs located nearby picked it up. Several shops nearby were damaged — with chairs upturned and windows shattered.

Foul play was not expected (“the fish sleep with the fishes”?It could have been worse if it happened later in the day.

“It’s a tragedy for the fish,” said Markus Kamrad, an official at the Berlin Senate responsible for animal protection. “We were lucky that it happened at a time that only two people were slightly injured. But it’s unfortunate, of course, that so many fish died.”

The rumor that UberEats delivers sushi in this manner is false.

Did anything catch your eye “around the Web” this week? Tell us at [email protected].

This Week in Publishing, Printing, and Media History

January 2,

1818: A group of six engineers founded the British Institution of Civil Engineers. Thomas Telford would be its first president.

1920: Isaac Asimov is an American science fiction writer.

1929: Charles Beaumont, American screenwriter and author is born.

January 3,

1749: The First Issue of Berlingske, Denmark’s oldest continually operating newspaper, is published.

1870: Construction begins on New York’s Brooklyn Bridge.

1892: J.R.R. is an English writer, poet and philologist. Tolkien born.

1926: George Martin, an English composer, conductor and producer, is born.

1947: First televised broadcast of proceedings of the U.S. Congress

1957: The Hamilton Watch Company launches the first electric watch.

1977: Apple Computer is Incorporated.

2000: The final daily edition Peanuts Comic strip.

January 4

1643: Isaac Newton, an English mathematician & physicist, is born.

1809: Louis Braille, a French educator and inventor of Braille, is born.

1853: Solomon Northup is freed after being kidnapped, sold into slavery and taken to the American South. His memoirs are here. Twelve Years as a Slave Later, it becomes a national bestseller.

1958: Sputnik 1The Soviet Union’s first artificial Earth satellite, launching in 1957, fell to Earth from orbit.

1960: Albert Camus (b. 1913).

1965: T. S. Eliot, an American-English playwright and poet, is killed (b. 1888).

January 5,

1932: Umberto Eco, a novelist, literary critic and philosopher from Italy, is born.

1944: The Daily Mail The first transoceanic newspaper.

1953: The play Waiting for Godot First performed by Samuel Beckett

January 6

1838: Alfred Vail shows a telegraph system that uses dots and dashes (this was the precursor to Morse code).

1852: French educator and inventor of Braille Louis Braille (b. 1809).

1878: Carl Sandburg, American poet, and historian, was born.

1912: Alfred Wegener, German geophysicist presents his theory about continental drift. (All people gradually moved away from him thereafter.

1931: Thomas Edison signs the last of his patent applications.

1931: E. L. Doctorow was born, an American playwright, novelist and short story writer.

1946: Syd Barrett is an English singer/songwriter and guitarist.

2000: Kerplonk! American cartoonist Don Martin dies (b. 1931).

January 7

1706: German publisher Johann Heinrich Zedler born.

1831: Heinrich von Stephan, German Postman and founder of Universal Postal Union, is born.

1873: Adolph Zumkor, Hungarian-American film producer and cofounder of Paramount Pictures, is born.

1894: William Kennedy Dickson is granted a patent for motion pictures film.

1912: American cartoonist Charles Addams is born.

1927: Establishment of the first transatlantic telephone line from New York City to London.

January 8

1547: The first book in Lithuanian, Simple Words of Catechism, is published in Königsberg.

1642: Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher Galileo Galilei dies (b. 1564).

1775: John Baskerville (b. 1706).

1824: Wilkie Collins, an English playwright, novelist, and short story author, is born.

1862: Frank Nelson Doubleday, American publisher, is born.

1889: Herman Hollerith is issued US patent #395,791 for the “Art of Applying Statistics”—his punched card calculator.

1904: Dedication of the Blackstone Library, which marks the start of the Chicago Public Library system.

1935: Elvis Presley born.

1941: Graham Chapman, an English screenwriter and actor, was born.

1942: Stephen Hawking is an English physicist.

1947: David Bowie is an English singer-songwriter and producer.

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