Thursday, September 24, 2009

Colorful characters?

I've heard that three occurrences make a trend, so here's the latest trend I've observed. A number of colorful, creative types who have started or manage top-notch design firms are losing their vibrancy. Well, not them -- it's their photos. A quick glance at my "Network Updates" homepage on LinkedIn shows more than a few are now using black & white portraits.

I know B&W can be more dramatic, with rich tones across the gray scale, but consider the medium: The Internet, with a photo smaller than a postage stamp. Just how much detail is possible?

Actually, I'm a fan of B&W photos, having grown up souping negatives from film cameras and watching images emerge in darkroom developer trays. An Ansel Adams exhibition can still bring me to tears. The use of B&W to stand out from the clutter of color can be quite effective -- until everyone starts doing it.

Maybe a postage stamp isn't such a bad model for the kind of photo to use on a social networking site. Consider the Simpsons postage stamps unveiled in May. Simple. Colorful. Memorable. Almost makes you want to pay bills the old-fashioned way: by mail.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Buddy up to run

In my spare nanoseconds, I'm the race director for the Women's Distance Festival 5K Run/Walk. I've been doing this for five years, and each time I look to introduce something new or different that will encourage more participants to "run for fun and fitness," which is the motto of my running club.

Three years ago, I introduced the concept of holding training runs on the same cross country course as the race. This year, I stumbled onto an idea that has really taken off: buddy up. The intent is for seasoned runners to pair up with newbies on the training runs, and for people who run a similar pace to find new running buddies. For the race on Oct. 10, there is a reduced buddy-up entry fee for runners who register together by mail.

The results so far have been a significant increase in women coming out to the training runs -- and about half the registrations being of the buddy-up kind.

As one of the members of the race committee remarked, "Women like to race with someone; men like to race against someone. I guess they are basic differences between the sexes."

Whether it's a gender thing or just that misery loves company, it doesn't matter. What I'm thrilled to see are more women taking the time for personal fitness...and a little bit of fun for themselves. Winning and medals are beside the point.