Archive - Nov 28, 2008

Apples to Apples via Twitter

This evening, I played Apples to Apples with my family. For those who aren’t acquainted with the game, people draw a hand of seven red cards. Whoever’s turn it is draws a green card and everyone else places one of their red cards on the table; the card they think the person who drew the green card is most likely to associate with the green card.

Whoever’s card gets picked wins the turn. So, let’s say that I drew the green card “Weird”. One person might have the words “Spam”, “Steve Martin”, “Falling Down”, “Bagpipes”, “Fast Food”, “Toasters” and “Summer Camp”. They might know that I used to play bagpipes and find nothing weird about falling down, spam or Steve Martin. They might choose “Summer Camp”, knowing that I had some weird experiences at summer camp.

Another person might have “Toasted Marshmallows”, “The FBI”, “Construction Workers”, “The End of the World”, “Global Warming”, “Crazy Horse”, and “The Titanic”. They might think that I would be unlikely to find any of these weird, but would choose “The Titanic”.

Finding “Summer Camp” weirder than “The Titanic”, I would choose “Summer Camp” and the first person would win the round.

So, could we play this online? It might be fun on Twitter or a similar microblog. The simplest way would be if everyone just used their Apples to Apples cards and had a middle person act as an Apples to Apples moderator. The play, with the example above might look something like this:

ahynes1: @a2amod Weird
khynes2000: dm a2amod Summer Camp
fehynes: dm a2amod The Titanic
a2amod: @ahynes1 The Titanic or Summer Camp
ahynes1: @a2amod Summer Camp

Then, whomever’s turn is next would draw a green card and send a message to the Apples to Apples moderator.

Anyone want to play?

Beyond that, it could probably be set up as a good Web 2.0 application where you are dealt the cards by the server automatically, and the server would gather responses, keep score, etc. That would take some programming to set up, but seems doable. The problem would be to get the rights to do this from Mattel, or to create a game that is substantially different enough to not run into infringement issues. Considering that Mattel already has a website up to promote Apples to Apples, which has a simple hand of the game played against a computer, instead of against other people and microblogged, that might be a challenge. However, a smart marketing person at Mattel might job on this.

Instead of using words from existing Apples to Apples decks, using popular hashtags in Twitter might be an interesting variation.

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Black Friday, Green Friday

I’ve never been a big fan of shopping, so Black Friday is a day that I especially like to avoid stores. This year, with the economy in shambles, everyone is wondering how black this Friday will be for retailers. Other people celebrate today as “Buy Nothing Day”, saying “There’s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth: we have to consume less.”

Yet it seems like there must be some happy medium between Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day. For me, it is the idea of a Green Friday, a Friday where people who shop, attempt to do so in a way that will help us make better use of our resources. On a simple level, this might mean buying come compact fluorescent light bulbs, or a new solar powered clothes drier.

A week ago, the Wall Street Journal had an article, Surprise Drop in Power Use Delivers Jolt to Utilities. It starts off wondering whether “An unexpected drop in U.S. electricity consumption ... isn't a byproduct of the economic downturn, and could reflect a permanent shift in consumption”. I am hoping it is a permanent shift in consumption.

The same day, NPR ran a story, New EPA Rules Imperil Parks, Critics Say. In the story, the proponents of the rule change argued that “the change is needed … to meet the growing need for electricity”. Somehow this seems to disconnect with the Wall Street Journal article.

So, beyond moving towards more energy efficient devices in our lives, what else can we do to help make Black Friday a little greener?

I’ve become more and more interested in buying local. We get much of produce from Gazy Brother’s Farm in Oxford, CT. We get a large box of fresh, in season produce that has been grown locally each week. We got our Thanksgiving Day turkey at Gozzi’s Turkey Farm in Guilford, CT. We washed this all down with some home made hard cider.

We got the sweet cider from Beardsley Cider Mill in Shelton, CT. We used some brewing equipment that Kim had to ferment the cider, and got some additional supplies from Maltose Express in Monroe, CT.

This leads to the next part of Green Friday. We are trying to have a good frugal Christmas this year, and part of what will make it successful is giving lots of homemade gifts, including some of the hard cider. For those who like to shop online, I would encourage you to buy crafts from Many Etsy merchants use EntreCard to get more traffic to their blogs and stores, and I’ve found many great sites that way. A few shops to check out include Lova Revolutionary, Steam Powered Rings, and Gold Toned Designs.

Yet for us, one of the best places to go for Christmas shopping is Alpaca Hill Farm in Seymour, CT. They sell alpaca rovings for those who want to spin their own yard, alpaca yarn, for those who want to buy the yarn and do their own knitting or crocheting, as well as ready made garments. It is a fun family outing, and that is saying a lot, coming from someone that doesn’t like shopping. They will be having their open house from ten until five on November 28th and 29th as well as December 6th, 13th and 20th.

So, perhaps instead of Black Friday, where either people buy a bunch of stuff they don’t need, or retail sales plummet, we can move towards a greener Friday, where people buy things that help all of us live a kinder, gentler, happier life, that reduces all the junk we consume.