Online Insights on FIVEaa Sunday March 06 2011

March 6, 2011

This month on Online Insights we take a kite’s eye perspective on hobbies with international appeal,

Let’s go fly a kite. Up to the highest height!

Kevin Saunders' soft, inflatable kites loosely based on road signs
Kevin Saunders' soft, inflatable kites loosely based on road signs

I had two very interesting South Australians take part in my Online Marketing workshops last year and their “hobby” of kite flying blew me away (is that the best term to use?).

Kevin and Linda Saunders know everything there is to know about making a flying kites and this passion has helped open up the world to them.

Who would have thought that designing and making kites would lead to invitations to appear at international festivals all over the world, or that international kite festivals even existed? I didn’t. They have been flying the flag for South Australia at:

  • “Jakarta International Kite Festival”
  • “Toronto International Kite Festival”
  • “Weifang International Kite festival” – China
  • “Smithsonian Kite Festival” – USA
  • “Cape Town International Kite Festival” – South Africa
  • “Colour The Sky” – Thailand
  • “Berck sur Mer International Kite Festival” – France
  • “Kites for Wishes” – Guam
  • “Taipei International Kite Festival” – Taiwan
  • “International Kite Festival Vung Tau” – Vietnam 2009
  • “Cartagena International Kite Festival” – Colombia
  • “Balikpapan International Kite Festival” – Borneo

Can you believe it? Makes me think twice now, when I see my little daughter wanting to fly her kite for hours that I should be viewing this passion and any other supposedly “trivial” passion as something that has potential for a life of wonder and experience beyond my imagination.

Get Kevin talking about kites and you’ll have to try hard to get away. There is so much involved. And as you can see in the picture, above, he now creates inflatable kites based on road signs. What next?

You can read more about his involvement with kites, and Linda’s too, she holds an international title within the Kite Association at their kite page.

And if you want to relive a young child’s wonder with kite flying, here is the Let’s Go Fly A Kite song from Mary Poppins. Enjoy.



Want to know something? Don’t ask me, ask quora. Quora is a relatively new social media tool where users can create free accounts to ask questions, provide answers, and search the growing database of answers and questions.

And it does seem to be building steam.

Here are some of the interesting Q&As that I have noted:

  • What were the reasons behind Jonathan Abrams losing control of Friendster? Interestingly, Jonathon Abrams, himself, answered the question.
  • What are the health benefits of eating spicy food? Pras Sarkar, Founder at Gourmaide, answered that “Though there are numerous benefits (look at the link Murali posted), the most prominent are higher metabolism, improved circulation and lowering the body temperature (this is why spicy foods are most popular in Asian countries)
  • (And in honour of Valentine’s Day tomorrow) After the first date, what are some indicators that the girl doesn’t want you to ask her out on a second date? Mindy Gaebel, Student of Life, wrote “She hesitates for more than a nanosecond when you mention “We should do this again sometime.”

I have not played with Quora a lot, just yet, but from what I see, I can understand why established commentators like Steve Rubel have said this is a dynamo to watch and has a bigger future that many of the shining stars of Web2.0 that we currently know and love.

Start asking at quora yourself.

Your footprint

This site eloquently explains itself on the opening page: Ever wondered how much “nature” your lifestyle requires? You’re about to find out. The Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates the amount of land and ocean area required to sustain your consumption patterns and absorb your wastes on an annual basis. After answering 27 easy questions you’ll be able to compare your Ecological Footprint to others’ and learn how to reduce your impact on the Earth.

Well, it is an interesting, 5 page survey and the end result was that if everyone lived the lifestyle I live, we would need 8.34 Earths. Yikes.

What you do with this information is up to you but it means I am going to start listening to my wife more about getting our vegetable garden going, turning off more things around the house, and recycling electronic equipment or passing it on to others rather than have a mini stockpile of ghost gadgets growing in my cupboards.

You can check your footprint online here.

Self-drive cars

Google caused some buzz late last year when it revealed some of its secret work on a self-drive car. However, this past week in the US, it has given test drives to attendees at the TED conference in California.

About a minute and a half was captured on video, both of inside the car and the outside view, and allowed to be shared online.

Now, when I picture cars that drive themselves safely, I imagine cars moving at a comfortable, nanny-state, 40km/h (a bit like driving through Unley Council area).  However that is not the case here, These cars pick up speed quickly, even squeal tyres, and seem to handle tight turns well.

Tonight’s link will give you a little more explanation and both videos.

It has got me thinking though (especially in light of spending a few 20-minute sessions playing an air traffic controller game on my iPad) that it would be very good if all car journeys were logged, permitted and guided just like plane journeys. Surely one factor in air travel being safer than car travel is that experts are at the controls and flight plans are coordinated and controlled by a third party.

These self-drive cars, if connected to a super traffic controller that could, on-the-fly, slot your journey from A to B in with the hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands of fellow road users behind the scenes, our road toll should surely reduce to almost zero, our mental health could improve because commute time could be spent relaxing or learning/reading, and our society’s fuel consumption should drop because firstly, the super traffic controller could optimise travel plans and road usage avoiding bottlenecks and allowing for smoother traffic flow while, secondly, the thought that your journey will be logged and managed might actually put some people off unnecessary journeys, aimless drives, and car theft. Something to ponder on your next drive, perhaps?

Take a look at the Google self-drive cars here.