Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for December, 2008

Why I buy local (and organic)

Posted by shannonclark on December 27, 2008

I buy almost everything locally, mostly from small, often independent (or at least local small scale chains) stores. Most of the food I eat and cook for my friends comes from local shops and for the most part local farmer’s markets. For the most part I buy organic produce, eggs, milk and other products including meat when I can. The rest of my meat is at a minimum free range and cage free (though as I noted in earlier blog posts I was against the recently passed Proposition 2 which mandates larger cages/cage free raising of poultry in CA).

However, when you talk about Organic (especially certified organic products) and the dilemma of large scale businesses starting to produce and others to sell organic products the arguments against buying organic usually assume that people buy organic because of health concerns (no pesticides etc) or from a belief that the flavor is better. And then an argument is made that the health claims are dubious and the flavor differences minor.

That is not, let me repeat, not why I buy organic or why I mostly shop locally.

I buy locally and buy organic for many other reasons. First and foremost I prefer to spend my money with people who care about what they do – who value their own labor and strive to be the best at what they make. I have to eat, I far prefer to spend my food dollars as directly as possible and with vendors who are passionate about what they grow and/or sell. That passion translates in no small part into a focus on selling high quality (and in the case of food usually great tasting) items.

Organic farming is also highly innovative farming. It is looking for creative and as importantly sustainable ways to grow and cultivate products. This innovation usually permeates all aspects of a good organic farm’s business – from the soil to the packaging they use to present the final products at the market.

I usually go to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market run by CUESA (The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture), a group well worth supporting if you have money to donate and/or employer matching funds to use before the end of the year.

At the market this morning, a smaller scale market between the Holidays, I spoke with one rancher who sells a wide range of meats they raise and slaughter themselves. Usually they have poultry but he said that they would not until the spring due to it being out of season for chicken at the moment. While that means that today they lost a bit of my business, it also is a reminder of the seasonality of all food and it encourages me to look at other proteins this month.

Another merchant, Frog Hollow Farms, who I personally think is one of the premier orchards in the entire US (and probably the whole world for that matter) unveiled new packaging they designed specifically for their pears. It suspends each pear in an individual sling of material so it neither touches other pears nor touches the overall packaging, they keeping their amazing pears fresher for longer and bruise free.

Shopping at the farmer’s market, which I do nearly every Saturday morning, gives me a real appreciation of the seasons here in northern CA, by going to the market without planned recipies or menus most of the time I have learned to buy just what looks the best at the moment. I also always talk with the farmers about what is really good at the moment, usually they offer samples, and I then adjust my menus. At the moment there are some great pears, lots of citrus, still great brocolli and caulliflower and indeed quite a range of other flavorful vegetables.

By being flexible I am also able to spend not much more (indeed less usually) than I would if I were shopping at a large, national supermarket chain. Today one of the butchers at the Ferry Building had a special on Sirloin Tip steaks (free range and locally raised and very very good, I’ve had them before) offering 5 individual steaks – ranging between 1/2 to 3/4 of a lb each for $20. I don’t eat a lot of red meat, but that is 5 quick and tasty dinners or lunches in the next week (or longer if i freeze a few) for $4 a meal. And these steaks cook in about 5-6 minutes total in my cast iron skillet on the range top.

For the most part I buy my meats from my local butcher’s shop, a store which has been there since 1889 (making it probably the oldest continously open butcher’s shop in CA), Drewes Bros. Christmas Eve there was a line of over 60 people waiting to pick up holiday turkeys, hams and standing rib roasts. They only sell extremely high quality, mostly local products from passionate producers and offer great service and very fair prices (often cheaper than large supermarkets in fact). Plus they greet me by name when I enter or stop by.

I would much rather that my spending support such a fantastic, local treasure, than to help pad the profit margin of a large supermarket chain such as Safeway (and full disclosure, I say this as someone who does in fact own a few shares of Safeway).

I choose to buy mostly organic because to grow vegetables or to raise animals in an organic manner requires a lot of attention to detail, it requires a committment on the part of the farmer and most of the time it also involves returning to a focus on seasonality and on techniques such as crop rotation and multiple use farming. By “mulitiple use” which isn’t quite the right term I mean techniques such as raising both crops and animals and via rotation grazing those animals on some fields for a few years, then alternating with growing crops on those fields taking advantage of the natural fertilizer from the grazing animals.

When I do shop at larger stores a Safeway or a Trader Joes, I try to mostly buy organic, seasonal, and when possible local products from those stores as well. While I prefer to buy closer to the actual producer, such purchases do help shift large dollars to organic methods – and in turn that means more people working on innovation around large scale, organic agriculture. That, in turn, lowers costs (for the farmers as well as consumers) and should draw more and more farmers and farmland into organic methods.

In the long run that should also have an impact on US (and other countries) agricultural policies which currently prevent many of the simplest and in fact easiest forms of organic techniques – such as wide scale crop rotation or cover crops (which US policy prohibits on farms recieving certain forms of subsidies such as corn or wheat – they can’t use fallow fields to grow market crops such as vegetables or fruits).

From a health standpoint one of the best aspects of buying seasonally and fresh is I can spend around the same amount as I would at a big chain, but instead of getting lots of calories from say processed baked goods, I can get far fewer calories but much more flavor from a perfectly ripe local pear.

I’ve chosen to emphasize quality over quantity in my food buying.

So please do go out and sample your local farmer’s market (there are new markets opening up and extending their seasons all throughout the country). Also when you are choosing where to live, look to live somewhere where you can walk to a local shop to buy great quality local foods. Since my butcher’s shop is literally on my way home (it is across the street from the Muni stop I use to get downtown most days) I can pick up a piece of meat or fish for my dinner and walk home – with less effort and time than navigating the parking lot of a big supermarket (if I had a car which I do not). And for produce, when I can’t make it to the farmer’s market or when I need something midweek, there is a great local produce market also on the same few blocks across from the same muni stop.

Many a night I have picked up some vegetables, a loaf of bread baked that day, and some great meat of fish on my way home. All for less than the cost of a single dinner out at a low cost restaurant and usually (day before xmas excepted) taking far less time than just waiting to pay at a big chain supermarket.

the photo above is a shot I took of a drink from Blue Bottle, a local coffee roaster and cafe who import their own beans directly and roast them here in the Bay Area in the East Bay

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How to make chicken soup – part 1, the shopping and my recipe

Posted by shannonclark on December 24, 2008

Today I am making Chicken Soup, entirely from scratch. This post is my first post on what I am going to be doing, as well as how I prepared to make soup. I’ll post this, then later add a bunch of photos as well as a second post (or two) about the final results.

But first as I would argue in every case when it comes to food, it all starts with what you put into the food you are making. Yesterday I spent much of the day shopping for the three+ meals I will be cooking over the next two days. First a few dishes I’m bringing to a party this evening (for Jewish friends and other refugees from Xmas) and then on the 25th a brunch and likely dinner I’m hosting also for friends for whom the 25th is a day off work when most things are closed.

For my soup I shopped at three places this evening.

First, my butchers, in my case Drewes Bros Butchers which is reputed to be the oldest continuously open butcher’s shop in all of California, now owned by the fourth family to own it, it is an amazing neighborhood institution and bastion of really amazing food (and service). There I purchased a whole, free-range roasting chicken as well as two very full bags of chicken backs & necks. The parts will go into making the stock, the whole chicken into the completed soup.

Second, to my local neighborhood produce market, another amazing local institution and literally a corner store. There I bought bunches of celery, large (and baby) carrots, fresh Thyme, and onions (sweet and yellow) which will all play a part in the final soup.

And third, before I went to see the movie Milk this evening I stopped by another neighborhood institution, Cliff’s Variety where I purchased a conical sieve to use while making the stock.

To make the stock my plan is to take the chicken backs and necks out and place them into a roasting pan and roast them until a bit browned. I will also roast a few carrots roughly cut, celery, and a roughly cut whole yellow onion. When these are a bit softened I’ll put them in a lot of water which I will let boil. I’ll then deglaze the roasting pan and pour those juices into the pot as well. For spices I’ll add fairly course sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, fresh thyme, a few very high quality bay leaves, and probably a few cloves of fresh garlic.

I will let this simmer until the meat is falling off the bones, the bones are separating, and the vegetables are quite fully cooked.

Then I will pour this mixture through the conical strainer into containers and will seal those containers and place the stock into the fridge.

Next I will take the whole roasting chicken, rub it with butter, sea salt and fresh pepper and will roast it. Probably with some of the fresh Thyme in the inside cavity. As the chicken roasts (I’ll occasionally check on it and baste it if it looks necessary) I will also dice into bit size portions some organic carrots from the farmer’s market, celery, a few sweet onions, and will also use the baby carrots I bought. These I will roast (for about half the time as the chicken) – tossing them in a little bit of olive oil (extra virgin) and sea salt.

When the chicken is done and the vegetables are roasted (but still slightly hard – i.e. not entirely soft) I will take the chicken out and let it rest. Then I will carve the chicken (skin included) into small, bite sized portions, though I may leave some bones (legs, wings).

For the final soup I will skim off any fat from the cooled stock, heat the stock and then add the vegetables and let that simmer for a while, then I will add the chicken and taste (it may still need salt or other spices). For the final touch, just before serving I will stir in a few just cracked organic, cage free eggs into the piping hot soup, stirring as I do so to create egg drop soup.

I hope the result will be fairly tasty. It should, deliberately, be relatively mild, though the carmelization as a result of roasting (both of the bones for the stock and the whole chicken) should add layers to the flavor. I’m cooking for about 10-15 people later tonight so I suspect there may not be a lot of leftovers.

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Two models of retail – the Dollar store vs the Apple store

Posted by shannonclark on December 14, 2008

DUDES + DOLLAR STORE = VISALIA 07'Apple Mini Retail Store - Stanford Shopping Center

I contend that there are two primary models of reatail, at least in the US (there is a third model I’ll mention at the end which is rarely seen in the US).

In the title I called these The Dollar Store and the Apple Store but more accurately these are the “everything and the kitchen sink” versus the sparse and mostly open. 

In the first model, call it the Kitchen Sink model the buisness model is to have everything that someone might possibly be looking for, to have a surplus of choice and options, to fill most available space with products for sale and to, in theory, sell a lot to everyone who comes through the door. Typically these models combine having everything (or trying to appear to have everything) with a lot of emphasis on price. 

The logical extreme of this model is the Big Box Retailers such as Walmart, Costco, Home Depot, Target and countless others overwhelming the suburban malls of the US (and occaisonally making inroads into he urban centers as well). Typically these stores attempt to have most active inventory right on the store shelves with the customers pulling their own products as they shop. Employees restock the shelves, sometimes help guide customers to the right aisle, and only in select departments of the store (if at all) have a direct customer service role, often taking custom orders for those products which the store does not keep in stock. 

Though in many of these models the store deemphsizes such products in favor of products which can be kept in stock on the stoor “floor”.

In contrastthe other model of retail is the Curated Experience, of which The Apple Stores are a fantastic example. In this model the emphasis is less on keeping a wide selection of products in stock, but rather on highly currating what is avialable for sale. 

Typically these stores have displays which highlight the products which are available but the full inventory of the store is not on the main storeroom floor but rather is kept in the back in a storeroom, off limits to the customers. Most (non-Payless) shoe stores operate in this manner. As do most higher end designer clothing stores. But the Apple Store is an example which many more people have likely experienced directly.

In many ways this is a very old fashioned retail model, this is how, for example, the old fashioned grocery stores operated in the days before the grocery cart and customer self service. Speciality food shops occasionally still operate in this manner, with all the products behind displays and cases and only available via a direct interaction between the customes and the shopkeepers. 

This model of retail is labor intensive, most of the staff has to be able to inteact with and literally serve the customers. It is also built upon the taste and curatiatorial skill of the store’s buyers. In place of trying to have everything that anyone might possibly want this model of store posits that they can choose between those goods (or services) people should want and those which they should not. 

It is the model of a bookstore which instead of cramming every available inch with books stacked upon books (and often barely if at all sorted) is highly seletive with what they buy, turning away more books then they choose to purchase (here I’m describing mostly a used bookstore but the same model also holds for new bookstores to a lesser degree). 

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In my experience though I occasionally will suffer the cramped, overly full bookstores, it is the stores such as Aardvark Books here in San Francisco which I return to time and time again, and from whom I buy many books over the course of a given year (in 2008 I’d guess around 100+ books perhaps). What often draws me into the store is a carefully currated window display of the latest used book purchases of the store – almost always hardcovers, in perfect (or nearly so) condition, and not infrequently books which I had recently read reviews of in national publications (I’m fairly certain that they buy books from a number of locals who receive review copies as nearly every book which is getting active reviews ends up in their store window within a month or so of publication). 

The curatorial model is not limited to physical retail stores, if anything it has even more value online. It may seem paradoxical, as online it is technically possible for many stores (especially any store selling digital goods) to have nearly infinite inventory. And I’m not arguing that there is not a place for such mega stores (call them the Amazons of this world) but there is equally a great deal of value in culling away the cruft and of practicing great curation to only highlight a select group of pruducts.

Buyers will then shop such stores less on pure price comparisions and more on an appreciation of the service offered in making them (the buyers) aware of products that they should own and enjoy. 

A short sidenote here. A few days ago I was at a local seasonal market, the Mission Market, which was an experiment where a number of local vendors (many without physical stores) had a booth at a converted Armory in the Mission district of San Francisco. One of these merchants sold music, mostly CDs. Now I have not bought a lot of physical CDs in the past few years (though I have bought more music in the past years than ever before). But I ended up buying two fantastic CDs from this man, entirely because he had a very select collection of works for sale, all clearly curated with care. And of the works he had in genres I enjoyed (which were nearly all of the genres of music he stocked) I already owned a pretty large portion of the works he was selling. 

And not just owned the works, but these were among my favorite albums of the past few years, music which exactly defined what I like.

So I was immediately favorably inclined towards him and especially towards the works which he had for sale that I did not already own – assuming, correctly as it were, that since clearly our tastes overlapped considerably, the works he also chose to stock would quite likely also be works I would enjoy.

And indeed that was exactly the case.

And that, in short, is the Curatorial Retail model. 

At the start of this post I mentioned that there is a third retail model, but one which is rarely seen in the US. That model is the Bazaar Model which can be a variation of either the Kitchen Sink or the Curatorial model but with the addition of a highly variable price. In many parts of the world this is the dominant model, where price is nearly infinitely negotiable and most (though not all) goods and services are subject to rounds of bargaining before a price is agreed upon. 

In the US this is not a common retail model, though to a degree the proliferation of discount codes (especially online) and complex sales at larger stores (Macy’s for example) combined with loyalty cards/store credit cards sometimes creates an environment which feels like every price is variable and subject to many factors. Online the purest form of Ebay historically was intended to be this exact model with the buyers competing to offer the best price to the seller. 

However what the pure auction does not capture in the true Bazaar model is that most of the time the negotiation is not multiparty (i.e. an auction with many buyers and only one seller) but one-on-one. One buyer, one seller who negotiate between themselves about a transaction which can either happen at a price, not happen at all, or be modified (expanded to include other products, shrunk to be something smaller).  The buyer always has the option of walking away (and the seller of simply not agreeing to sell).

With the exception of most tourists to such markets (who usually get the worst prices in part as a result of my next point) buyers and sellers who have a history with each other, who expect to do additiona business in the future (sometimes with the roles reversed) have more complex incentives in the negotiation process than just maximizing revenue/minimizing expense on a given transaction. 

Instead when there is an expectation of repeat business many other factors come into play. 

It is here, in part, that curation can add value, considerable value in fact, to even the Bazaar model of retail. A buyer who trusts the tastes and instincts (and fair dealing) of a seller will often value that the seller put something aside for that buyer over getting the lowest possible price for the product. 

It is my view that in the long term success will depend more on curation than on stocking the kitchen sink. 

And I mean this for both online retailers and for physcial stores. 

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Found, one moon, briefly glimpsed

Posted by shannonclark on December 12, 2008

 

on the night before the largest moon of the year

on the night before the largest moon of the year

My blog is named after a play I wrote back in college, called Searching for the Moon. I’ve written here before about the orgins of the name, though as that was back in 2003 and in my very first post in May of 2002.

The short summary is that in the play the Moon is a metaphor for Love. In my first, serious (if also a bit odd in many ways) relationship in college one evening that stands out my then girlfriend and I drove south from the University of Chicago literally chasing the moon, looking for a patch of cloudless sky where we might observe that evening’s full Lunar eclipse. We never did find that moon, though we drove as far south as Gary Indiana. And in many ways that relationship was not to last much longer than that evening either (in part she left me for another woman, who had proposed to her while we were on spring break – and this was in the early 90’s) 

Though that is not all of the story, far from it, I was not at all blameless and I had known about her other love though she would later decide that she was not, in fact, bisexual. So though we had been in what seemed quite a passionate relationship (if young, exploratory, and though sexually charged had not “gone all the way”) it was also just my first relationship, though not alas my first love (all of which previously had be unrequieted).

Alas the rest of my life with a few year exception in the early part of this century has been very much still one of Searching for the Moon – and rarely if ever finding it. 

I haven’t looked at that play I wrote in many years, as I recall it was more than a bit experimental, even had elements which called for (I kid you not) interperative dance. But though I suspect much of my writing might need to be rewritten if I were ever to try to do anything with it, the impetus behind still holds and as I looked at the moon last night I found myself revisiting it yet again.

I’ll look, if I still have a digital copy of the play I’ll find a way to convert it to a modern format and put it up online somewhere, as a curiousity if nothing else, but perhaps some parts of it will stand the test of time. 

But that, if you were wondering, is why this blog has the name that it does. Though I write about many topics, my writing has, since I started doing it seriously late in high school, been at least in part (or in whole) about the neverending search for love, the search for the moon.

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Business advice case study – Bohdi restaurant in San Francisco

Posted by shannonclark on December 10, 2008

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This post is my personal opinion and advice, unsolicited and uncompensated for by anyone, so take it accordingly.

A few nights ago I had dinner at Bohdi restaurant, a  Vietnamese restaurant here in San Francisco which I have long walked past but haven’t previously had a chance to try. It is a huge restaurant occupying two storefronts in the Mission, in a part of the Mission which has long been borderline but is rapidly gentrifying with new restaurants, shops, galleries and cafes opening up all around Bohdi.

As I ate my dinner I looked around, counted the chairs and tables, counted how many other people were eating that evening (a Sunday night), I watched the one waitress managed the two large dining rooms, and I puzzled on what and where this restaurant had gone wrong. 

Unfortunately based on my observations of hundreds of restaurants over the years, I would predict that Bohdi restaurant will close within the next year, probably sooner rather than later unless they make many changes. 

I should pause here a bit and explain my views and my purpose in writing this post (especially if you are reading this without being a regular subscriber of my blog or a long time reader). I’m a fairly serious foodie and longtime “chowhound”. Back in Chicago I was an active poster and participant on Chowhound, and then later on LTHForum which friends of mine started as an alternative to Chowhound (this was before CNET purchased them). Since college (early 90’s) I’ve been an avid explore of restaurants, especially Asian restaurants, and eat out often. 

I’m the amateur in my family, my father has had a 40+ year career in the food industry helping to design and build food processing processes and factories throughout the world. He’s written many textbooks on food processing and hundreds of academic papers on the food industry. I grew up learning to cook from both of my parents and talking serious food with my whole family. My sister’s long time boyfriend is a former food critic for the New York Times and has recently sold his 3rd and 4th cookbooks which will be published next year. He’s edited recipes for many cookbooks and has worked on multiple TV food series. 

In short my immediate family takes food very seriously. I’m also a serious cook.

And professionally I’m a consultant and entrepreneur, so I look at restaurants not just with the eye of someone who loves food, but also with the eye of someone who is an entrepreneur and who advises businesses. 

So with that said, here are some of my observations about Bodhi specifically and my suggestions for them to consider – and more broadly for anyone who has a food (or indeed other retail) business to think about. 

The good news

  • Bodhi serves flavorful and tasty food. The food is good, not without some serious issues (more on that below) but at least they are starting from a good basis of chefs who cook their cuisine well
  • Bodhi has a large space with lots of potential. They literally have one of the largest restaurants I’ve seen in San Francisco, not the absolutely largest but a very big space, I counted a bit over 90 seats as they currently have their tables and chair arranged and they are legally licensed for 108 people.
  • The location has a lot of potential. They are located on a stretch of Mission St which is almost at the beginning of SOMA. It is a still rough neighborhood but all around them are new galleries, restaurants, shops and cafes which have opened in the past year. The location does not get a large amount of foot traffic, but it is close enough to many parts of the city and parking is still manageable that they could draw a good crowd, and indeed within a few blocks of them are restaurants which are always busy and usually packed. 

The bad news

  • They are nowhere near busy enough. They should be serving 200-300 covers nightly for dinner in a space this large, if not more. Instead I’d guess that they rarely serve more than 40-50 covers a night, if that, with perhaps a few additional takeout or delivery orders. 
  • Their portions are far too large. Large portions may seem like a good deal, but for a restaurant they mean people do not order as many dishes or as many courses. In many cases they likely mean wasted food and certainly increase the costs to the restaurant of dishes they serve. In large part I think this is in part because they serve food on overly large plates.
  • The decor, especially the cheap tables and chairs without any tablecloths is at odds with the menu. They are using uncovered, cheap four or two top rectangular tables and basic standard stackable chairs. In short tables and chairs right out of a discount restaurant supply house. The have a single flower in a small vase on each table but not tablecloths. Everything except the physical size of the space shouts discount, cheap location.  The prices, however, are not exceptionally cheap though neither are they overly high, a few dollars higher for most dishes than the cheapest of Vietnamese restaurants, though the quality is higher. 
  • They only have a wine & beer license and no bartender. Though they have a large bar with 9 barstools at it, they have no bartender and are licensed (based on what is for sale) only for wine and beer. And they do not stock a wide range of drinks at that, nor do they push them on customers. Alcohol makes up much of the profits of any successful restaurant, yet they are seriously forgoing this. 
  • The layout and single waitress does not draw people into the space. As I sat and observed people walking by and on first entering the restaurant they often looked around a bit puzzled. Here was a huge restaurant spanning two storefronts yet only a few patrons and you have to walk in, past a fountain, and look around to find someone, anyone to guide you to a table somewhere in the vast space. 

So what does all the above mean in terms of suggestions I would offer?

For starters I would suggest that Bohdi make the following changes:

  • update the decor at a minimum by adding tableclothes to hide the cheapness of the tables. Better would be to replace the tables and chairs with more natural and rich appearing materials. Tables of real wood, chairs with some design to them. This would be much more in keeping with the neighborhood which is edgy and arts oriented and would make the space feel higher end
  • leave no part of the space unfinished, cluttered with storage or apparently unused. At present there is an entire seating area, between the bar and the bathrooms which looks like it is never used. The tables and chairs are just scattered around that space haphazardly. If the demand for that space as a dining area is not there, then perhaps it should be transformed into an extension of the bar and made more functional.
  • Remove much of the visual clutter, such as the odd central fountain and the very old (and cheap) art hanging on the walls. Did I mention this is an arts district with countless galleries in the area? Make a deal with one or more of them to hang art on a rotating basis that is more in keeping with the neighborhood (and not coincidentally might suggest holding an opening party in the space each month)
  • Simplify the menu still further to have fewer dishes which are even more seasonal and always using fresh ingredients. Write about the choices and suppliers used. Reduce portions (while keeping prices at current levels or even higher in some cases – use local, organic meats and charge a few dollars more for example) . Add weekly or daily specials to try new recipes and to make it special to dine in the restaurant. 
  • Upgrade the wine, beer and sake selection. Again look for local supplies, there is Sake brewed here in the Bay Area for example as well as many local breweries and lots of local wine. Include imported sake, beer, and wine but emphasize quality and pairings with the food. Add special beverages for non-alcohol drinkers and train the waitresses on selling pairings. 
  • Get demand higher so that the bar has a full time bartender and give very serious consideration since the space is so large to transforming one section to a lounge and to upgrading the license to a full liquor license (which is, I admit costly especially for a space this large). Consideration should also be given to getting a public performance license though that depends on if the space would be used frequently for non-dining events. At a minimum a license that permitted use of one of the two rooms for private events on a regular basis would be a good idea.
  • Add the chef’s name to the menu. This is assuming that there is a chef behind the restaurant (if not, get one). But restaurants with the chef’s name attached enter a different category in the mind of patrons than those that are seen as ethnic, cheap dives. With a space that could seat nearly 100 people and should probably see 300+ people a day if not more (since they are open for lunch as well as for dinner) they should be targeting a higher end audience. 
  • At the moment I would guess the average cover is less then $20, making these changes would likley move that closer to $30 perhaps even $40 if most tables are getting a bottle of wine or a couple of beers or cocktails. At the moment few patrons would get appetizers, entrees and desserts for everyone at the table, and it did not appear that most were buying wine or many drinks. However throughout San Francisco there is clearly demand for restaurants where the average cover is far higher than $40 and indeed this could be a great date or group dining restaurant where a couple could have a great experience for less than $100.
  • With new furniture make a wider range of table types to signal a wider range of customers. At present they have only a very few two tops and every other table is a four top. There should be a few tables set up for larger groups, perhaps arranged for semi-private dining experiences and there should be far more two-tops set up as with only one exception every single group I observed at the restaurant was a couple out on a date.

A few general underlying premises behind my suggestions (here’s where things may be a bit more broadly applicable):

  • Curation adds value. It is hard to create a streamlined space and in the case of a restaurant menu. But a tightly focused menu (or selection of goods) signals quality – the assumption being that there is nowhere for a chef to hide on a short menu. Also that every decision has been made with care and attention (as it should have been). A short menu also allows for frequent changes to reflect the best possible ingredients and suppliers. In a non-restaurant context think about the visual difference between higher end retail shops and dollar stores – very few (if any) high end shops are cluttered – instead they sell a relatively small but in theory highly curated selection of goods. Likewise a restaurant with a short, tightly focused menu signals that the chef is very confident – and is only offering the best possible dishes and is not catering to the broad public but to discerning patrons (and everyone wants to be respected)
  • Design suggests audience and price. In an artistic neighborhood show respect for art and design. Lazy choices about art to hang on the walls (i.e. stuff that was very cheap) or the use of bulk, cheap furniture, signals a lack of design. Just a few blocks away the new Four Barrell Coffee shows one great approach to furniture – they have all custommade from recycled materials tables and chairs, the effect is striking and well in keeping with their desired audience of “hipsters”. Their other choices, such as playing vinyl for their music and not having wifi are other signals. And they are almost always packed with customers paying premium prices for high quality coffee. 
  • If you don’t ask people won’t buy. Years ago I met a professional waiter who shared with me his secret to having average covers which were nearly double his fellow waiters, if they averaged $20 he averaged closer to $40 (which meant his tips were also double or more than double his fellow waiters’ takings). His secret – he asked people if they wanted things. He asked if they wanted to start with a cocktail, he asked if they wanted appetizers, if they wanted wine with their meal, if they wanted dessert, if they wanted an after dinner drink. Especially with couples on a date his technique worked extremely well. 

Sure this last point is simple – but the simple things are often the most important. I’m always surprised by how few restaurants train their waitstaff to always ask if I want something to drink, to check if I want dessert before giving my the bill for my meal. To see if I want some appetizers to start the meal. The better restaurants train staff to do this as a matter of course – and as a result sell much more.

I do not know all of the numbers for Bohdi restaurant, but my very rough estimate would be that between lunch, dinner and delivery they gross far less than $500k a year, probably less than $400k. In s apce that large, however they should be grossing over $3M or more a year (potentially a lot more). And yes, to gross that much they would need to have far more staff, buy more supplies, do more active promotion, spend more on printing, cleaning of tablecloths and the like, but I suspect they would net vastly more than they do today – and with some further changes could net far more than $3M a year (which is based on an average cover of $25, shift to $40 or higher and to high alcohol sales on a regular basis and profits could be much more. 

If I were wokring with a client such as Bohdi restaurant I would start with the following questions (see above for some of the probable results):

  1. What strengths does the business start with?
  2. What is working already?
  3. What resources does the business have?
  4. What is the initial impressions of the business (if retail on walking past, on first entering, if online on first visiting the site)
  5. What does that impression signal about the target audience and especially about the price expectations of that audience?
  6. Does the actual experience then reinforce (or call into question) those initial impressions?
  7. What could be done immediately to start to change? 
  8. And then what further changes should happen, ideally looking to make changes that reinforce other desired outcomes and build on it (i.e. start with tableclothes, move to partnering to improve the art, then throw opening parties to build awareness and get people in, then change the menu to help grow revenues, then reinvest in getting better/higher quailty furniture, then in expanding/enhancing the bar options etc)

As I noted this is based on my experiences of walking past Bohdi and of eating there once as well as my long time observation of the restaurant industry. It is certainly possible that I’ve missed some key aspects to Bohdi’s particular situation (they might do a booming lunch business for example though I doubt it). And as in every case, if I were working with the business it is likely that there would be other issues that would be discovered and would need to be addressed – every situation has surprises and unique aspects.

But hopefully this (admittedly long) post helps them (if they see it) and inspires others to rethink their particular business.

And yes, I’m available to do extended versions of this type of consulting work (the first meeting is free but after that I charge).

Posted in customer service, Entrepreneurship, restaurants, reviews, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

My goals for 2009 a bit in advance

Posted by shannonclark on December 9, 2008

Yes we are only just into the holiday season and as 2008 ends and 2009 begins we face a rather dismal economic outlook around the globe.

That said I have a number of personal goals which I have been thinking about (many for well over a decade or more) which 2009 is, I hope, the year I accomplish most of them. So here is a list for me to refer back to over the rest of 2008 and 2009, these are not in any particular order, these are highly personal and all subject to adjustment and changes. I’m not going to rate myself at the end of 2009 by whether I have achieved all of these goals – but I hope to look back on this list with pride.

If I remember to – as I accomplish goals in the future I’ll update this post by scratching off that tast and linking to some posts on the subject.

  1. See an English Premier league game, preferably a Hull City game as I’ve been following them from afar all season. (and yes, this requires that I make it to England – see related goals below)
  2. Spend around a month or more outside of the United States. A few weeks in Europe (England, France, and hopefully Spain and perhaps elsewhere). One or two weeks in Turkey. Hopefully another trip to India and ideally China, Hong Kong and Japan. I’d also love to get to Africa where I increasingly know people I’d like to visit.
  3. Eat at The French Laundry, el Bulli, or at least one slightly insane bastion of serious food. I am a foodie, my cooking is serious (and quite good), my local restaurants in SF are decent, but I want to eat a few serious meals in 2009. Preferably in the company of one (or more) fellow foodies (ideally one of whom is a female I’m dating)
  4. Buy an original work of art and hang it in my home. Preferably not from a painter on a street corner (unless his or her work really moves me) but a somewhat serious work that moves me, that I want to have in my homes into the future. I want to start buying art that appeals to me.
  5. Turn my own work into art for my home. I’m a serious photographer with my own style and viewpoint. Yet I haven’t printed out a photo of mine in many years. In 2009 I want to print out and hang a large number of my favorite works to share with my guests and enjoy in high resolution myself.
  6. Resolve my various dental issues. If you follow me on twitter or if you know me and wonder why I haven’t been at as many events in the past month+ I’ve been getting a lot of dental work (with much more to go). Not fun, definitely not cheap, but around 8-9 months from now (or so) I’ll be much, much happier (if also poorer). Too long delayed, not fun to deal with but well in progress already and will continue throughout 2009.
  7. Lose weight. I’m not setting a specific goal but to lose weight I need to eat healthily, avoid eating excess calories, and exercise on a regular basis. I’m not a gym rat (far, far from it) but in 2009 I plan to do a few things. First, walk a few miles almost every single day (more on the weekends). Second, find a great pool here in SF and start swimming a few times every week. I love to swim – a good at it – and it certainly would be good for me to do on a regular basis. This won’t be free – and it won’t feel entirely comfortable for me for many, many months, but I’m going to try (I may have found the pool I’ll join – looking at a few options)
  8. Have a serious fling (and ideally a relationship) in 2009. This means something more than just a first date, more than even a second date. The last time I was in a relationship was in early-2006. I’ve only even kissed (beyond a quick peck goodnight) one woman since 2006 – and nothing else. And yes, this is not much fun. So I’m setting my goal relatively low – would be happy if I far surpass it (either with a few relationships over the course of 2009 or better yet a serious and long lasting relationship – as my longterm goal is not just a relationship but to start a family sometime in the next few years)
  9. Write a book (or two). In November and so far in Decemeber I have been working on a new novel (I say new because back in 1995 I started two different novels, neither of which I have finished). So far it is going well and I’m enjoying the writing process – still in the first draft, don’t look back, don’t edit, just keep writing stage. But so far it is fun to write and flowing well and my goal is to get a lot of writing done in the otherwise relatively quiet month of December. I also have a non-fiction book on Economics which I would love to finish (though there I would start by writing a book proposal – sell that – then write the book)
  10. Pay a lot of taxes. Okay this may seem strange – but in order to pay a lot of taxes I have to do one or more things that generate a lot of income (or other – say capital gains – forms of revenue). I look forward to having to pay a lot of taxes – as it means I have earned a lot of money. I’m a bit agnostic as to the sources of this income – indeed my expectation would be that I have multiple streams of income from different efforts – but my goal for 2009 is to have to pay a lot of taxes.
  11. End 2009 with nothing of mine in boxes and all the rooms of my home furnished (if never quite finished). I have too many boxes holding too much random detritus of my life. Piles of unsorted papers (in no small part because I don’t have enough file cabinets). Many boxes of books (including a few hundred still at my parent’s home in Illinois). My upstairs is mostly furnished – though there is still a lot I want to change about it (need a standing mirror, some rugs, need to hang art, get a real buffet, wine rack, and china cabinet, etc. My downstairs, however, is horribly unfinished – and my goal is not to end 2009 with it still in that state.
  12. Attend an art festival. Could be a film festival which I purchase a full festival pass and just watch tons of films, could be a design or arts festival I fly to, attend (not just the main show but also parties, galleries etc). In short I want to enjoy art & design in a way I haven’t allowed myself for far too many years. Back in Chicago I would attend a few serious art festivals (at least the show) every year. I also made it to many festival screenings – if not usually to the whole festival.
  13. Read more books than I buy. Or more accurately work down and put a deep dent into my large stack of books to be read. I seem to buy more books each week than I finish. In 2009 my goal is to catch up a bit on my to-read piles (including editing them down by removing books I’ll never get around to reading). I will certainly continue to buy books (my many friends who keep publishing at a torrid pace will insure that) but I want to catch up the many books I own but haven’t yet read – that loom over my bed as reminders that I haven’t yet read them.
  14. Get a massage. And then repeat. The last time I had a massage was many, many months ago – and that was one, short massage at a conference. My shoulder and back are, I’m afraid, more knots than muscles. Best would to again be in a relationship which included massages (though the last time that was the case for me I was also in college – yes that’s depressing, not sure why I’m reminding myself). But this may also be in the category of things worth spending some money upon for my overall health and comfort.
  15. Plan ahead more than a few times in the course of the year. This is highly personal and bit complicated to explain. But for nearly two decades I’ve had an aversion to buying tickets to events in advance, to making any type of plan more than a few weeks (heck more often more than a few days) in advance. One large reason is that to attend an event (a concert, a convention, a trip) I’ve wanted to do that with someone else. But having been single for 90%+ of my life I’ve rarely assumed I would have a date to go to any event which I might want to attend. If I bought just one ticket then I’m guaranteeing I can’t go to the event with a date – if I bought two tickets pretty much every single time in my entire life that meant I didn’t end up going at all (and usually the tickets went to waste). I said this was a bit complicated. Working for myself (and not having a lot of income) certainly hasn’t helped either – even when I know there are events I want to attend (SXSW for example) I’ve rarely felt comfortable making plans for them all that in advance. Yes, this in the end probably costs me money (though more often than not it means I don’t end up going to the event at all). Nothing about this is good – and it is intertwined with earning more money (and paying more taxes) and with not being single. But it is also a factor of I need to get over my fear that money will be wasted if I plan in advance in the least.
  16. Buy a car. Or less likely (since it is rather inconvienent for me) start using Zipcar. I haven’t owned a car since the end of 2004. In that time I’ve barely driven a car at all (<2000 miles in 4 years total). But not having a car means I don’t do far, far too much. This weekend I’m not in Sonoma with a bunch of my friends who are there celebrating a friend’s birthday and doing wine tastings. In fact I’ve NEVER been to Napa or Sonoma to do the wine tastings (not before I moved here and not since I moved here in 2006). I don’t go across the bay to Marin where my grandfather lives. I don’t drive down to Santa Barbara to visit my grandmother (neither of whom are getting any younger). I rarely if ever go down to Silicon Valley for events or to connect with friends who live there. As much as it pains me, I need to get over my distaste for owning a car and need to buy one. It MUST be an automatic (I refuse to learn to drive stick) and it has to be reliable (I have zero interest in paying much attention at all to maintaining my car – I want to just get the oil changed and tires rotated occasionally). I’m not a car person. But I will need to rejoin the masses of car owners in 2009. And yes, this also hinges on that whole paying more taxes… My tastes are for quality – but don’t need a lot of flash – just reliability and utility as well as comfort when I’m driving (very much for me this means amazing – not just okay – sightlines which are my primary complaint about the majority of current cars I’ve driven, including the Prius which I HATE to drive). Zipcar does not work well for me because I also hate deadlines – and as critically the nearest zipcars are a significant distance from my home. When I drive somewhere I don’t want to have a deadline – I’m not going somewhere for a single purpose – generally I want to be able to change my mind and do a lot of things at once (plus many times when I want to use a car I’ll need to drive pretty far distances).
  17. Throw frequent dinner parties. I love to cook and to entertain, in the past year I’ve had many dinner parties at my home. In the upcoming year my hope is to have such parties on more regular basis. For some the focus may be food, for others it may be discussions. I also, equally, want to have many more games nights at my place – get a bunch of friends together (both old and new) and play a bunch of games – board games, role playing games (perhaps) and even the occasional poker night.
  18. Hack. I’ve joined Noisebridge which is a new hacker space here in San Francisco. Now, my interest is not in the nefarious forms of hacking – rather I want to stretch myself, break out and use my collection of most issues of Make magazine, remind myself of years ago when I built electronics, install Linux in more of my systems, perhaps build a few new computers, and more.
  19. Game. For most of my life I have been a gamer – it has kept my brain sharp. But for the past few years I have played fewer and fewer games. In Chicago I played regular games of chess at the North Beach chess pavilion in the summer and at local cafes the rest of the year. For years I also played LARP (live action role playing games) in Chicago with a large group of friends, even traveling to other states to play the game. Somehow, however, though I’ve long been interested in gaming I have never been a computer gamer or a console gamer. Indeed now I do not even own a TV or monitor on which I might play a console if I were to have one. But professionally and personally in 2009 I want to actually see what I’ve been missing. This means trying both PC (and/or Mac) and probably console games, which may also mean getting a monitor or a projector on which to play them. On the one hand I probably don’t have the time for this, but on the otherhand games like WOW are in many ways the golf for my tech peers, by not playing them, never having ever played it in fact, I am truthfully missing out on a deeper understanding.

So that’s a few (okay a lot) of the goals that I have for the upcomming year. I’m sure there are many I’ve missed that at this time in 2009 I’ll look back and wonder why I missed a few big goals and may not weigh all of these goals quite the same (and indeed some of them are far more important to me than others). Family, friends, health all come first.

And this is very personal – but I’m curious what you readers have as your goals for next year. Write your own blog post and either link here and/or leave a comment. I look forward to helping you achieve your goals if I can.

Posted in digital bedouin, Entrepreneurship, geeks, personal, reading, San Francisco, working | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

brainstorming about business opportunities

Posted by shannonclark on December 3, 2008

Exit

I am an entrepreneur. When I dream, I dream in business models (seriously, though not every night). That said, I need to find a way (or more likely many ways) to make money in the current economic environment. Projects or businesses which will prosper now and as the economy turns around will have many growth opportunities. Businesses which may have some “exit” in mind – though my dream exit is less an exit and more a route to enduring success and sustainable growth.

What do I mean by that?

I don’t particularly want to build something to sell it – even to sell it to the public (i.e. via an IPO). Rather in my ideal world I build something which can stay private, but can also grow into a large and comprehensive entity, with ongoing growth into new opportunities while building on a solid base. A business which would employ a lot of people, share great rewards with those people (as well as with partners and customers) and in turn have a large impact on the world.

Why would I want to keep such a business private? Well first and foremost when I think of great companies only a handful of them are public – and if anything being public limits them in a wide range of ways. I think a very well run, private company, has much greater flexibility than a public company and can more often place long term bets (which admittedly is not always doable in the tech world – but then again my fantasy company though almost certainly driven in part by technology is not a pure tech company). Yes, being private means that as a company you have to be a bit more creative with how you reward your employees – and with how as the owners you diversify your own finances – and with how you obtain the resources to grow and build the future.

So unlike some of my peers here in the valley, my goal is not to build something to sell it, or to make a “quick hit” for myself (though certainly I wouldn’t complain about that) instead I want to build a business (or likely related businesses) which give me a base to explore lots of ideas and a platform from which to have a big and oversized impact on the world. Starting by the customers I serve, the business partners I help, the employees (and their families) I help support.

On a personal level money matters to me – but only up to a point – what matters more is the freedom and flexibility to have a big impact on the world. I want to travel a lot – not just to be elsewhere – but experience a lot. I want to spend a lot of time around the smartest and most impactful people in the world – from formal experiences and conferences – and less formally at lunches, dinners, salons, and meetings all over the world. At somepoint in my life I want to live in many different cities (including outside of the US) and even when I have (as I hope to sometime not all that far from now) a family I would hope to raise that family in multiple cities and countries – and to expose my future children to many cultures and ways of engaging with the world.

So with that as my goal(s) what opportunities should I be pursuing in 2009 (and the rest of 2008)?

In the past few weeks I’ve blogged about a number of business opportunities and ideas I have had: Radio Schedules 2.0, a new(ish) approach to local media, the future of media being curation, and what I would have submitted to the Knight Foundation

A common theme to many of my current ideas have been some degree of rethinking of media – both on and offline – as well as a newish approach to how commercial content plays a role in the media – more than it does currently online but in somewhat different ways than it does offline.

I am still also passionately interested in the core idea which led me to start Nearness Function over a year ago, ideas around how a new form of advertising network could function as a buffer and valueable partner for software and new media firms and a valued partner for advertisers and their agentcies and media buyers. At the core of my belief is that brands matter – more so now than perhaps ever – and that to build great brands requires sustained, ongoing investment and engagement – and that as attention shifts to the “web” (or more accurately to services and communities woven together largely over and via the web) brands will have to engage with audiences via these same services.

And unlike many in Silicon Valley I do not find this inherently a bad thing – if anything I think it is inherently a good thing – that great brands at all scales of brands serve a very valuable and useful purpose. A few months back I launched a new blog, which I need to update more regularly, Slow Brand to discuss my views on branding (and occasionally food) though I need to blog there on a more consistent basis to build up that blog and get my voice out more often.

My friend Tim Ferris (yes of the 4 hour workweek fame and who is launching a new TV show Trial by Fire this week on the History Channel) talks about Lifehacking and indeed to a degree I should implement many of his lessons and suggestions, but my goals are not entirely (or at least not solely) about myself – my body, my life experiences – but are also very much about what I can do for others, what I can build and help create.

As I think about what I want to do I find myself pulled in a number of not entirely complementary directions.

  1. I am a very value-adding consultant. My primary skill being to brainstorm with people, especially senior management/founders/investors asking tough questions and helping explore business models, potential partnerships, avenues forward and technical evaluations and decisions. I’ve been told by one VC friend that my 1 hour, emailed evaluation of a company they were looking at, entirely on the basis of public data about the firm, came to the same conclusions it had taken them over 1 month to reach. Now, there are challenges packing up and promoting my consulting and much of what I have done in the past has been on a fairly informal basis – I’d love to do much more of this type of advising/consulting, for a high but fair fee (mostly $ but in some cases perhaps also equity). I think I’d also be very valuable for an investor or M&A person in helping evaluate potential deals.
  2. I am a skilled facilitator. I’ve been doing “open space” events since the mid-90’s and have become skilled at the art of facilitating open space events and meetings, as well as the related skill of helping curate other forms of events. This is an art – done well my role almost disappears into the background – achieved by means of the invitations, the settings, the structures lightly imposed upon the event and the group, and gentle nudges and one-on-one conversations and slight changes to the schedule made on the fly. I enjoy such work – whether for a non-profit event or for for-profit businesses and I would like to do more. Especially events which might involve the MeshWalk format I’ve used many times quite successfully. I’ve organized dozens of evening events, helped with lots of weekend and multi-day conferences, and organized a couple three+ day conferences on my own. (The first of which was over 20+ years ago when I was in high school, a science fiction convention which still occurs to this day in no small part because we designed into it a great sustainable structure & financial model)
  3. I am a writer. In the past years I’ve written hundreds of blog posts and lengthy emails to mailing lists, not to mention over 7000 tweets. My non-fiction writing has blossomed in the past few years, occasionally even earning me if not direct income then some value in trade (conference passes and access for example). I have multiple non-fiction as well as fiction book ideas, just a few weeks ago in fact I started a new fiction book which is going well so far (though as I write this post it is still early, about 4000 words written but it is going quickly and I have much to write). I also have a major piece of non-fiction I want to write on Networked Economics a topic I have been thinking about since at least 2004 and which I started and ran multiple conferences in no small part to help myself learn.
  4. I enjoy connecting people and businesses and serving as a translator between industries. Yes, I am a geek, I wrote my first application when I was about 8, am the 3rd generation of my family to write software (my grandfather was one of the first employees of Rand Corporation and then later at Aerospace Corporation he oversaw the deployment of early IBM mainframes to detect nucluer explosions, my mother has been a programmer since the late-60’s and I would do her student’s flowcharting homework as a child). I’ve had a server on the Internet since about 1991, served as an editor of some IETF standards. In short I have deep and extensive “geek cred”. But I am also passionately interested in business and economics – in topics such as branding and business and process innovation which are non-technical. I find that I can offer a lot of value bridging between the possibilities of technology and the needs of business.
  5. I come up with business opportunities. However though I have, I think, had many great ideas I also need to work with others to implement my ideas. While I have many skills I do not have every skill needed to build a successful business (or at least have not had them all so far – still working on it). I have ideas about technology and design which are best implemented by others. While I can and have sold at a very high level, my sales process is too slow and sporadic for sustained growth – I need to work with others to keep myself closing (and/or to help close and implement deals). I will keep practicing the art of the close and of selling – it is a necessary part of being a successful business person, but I also know that my value is multidimensional and that in many ways I would make more money with the right partners than I could alone.

So those are where my thoughts are at the moment. I have many opportunities I’m working on and many ideas (probably too many ideas) but I am faced with the dilemna of evaluating which to pursue now and how to best go from my current state of not enough income to one of a surplus of resources – cash but also other resources such as great staff & partners.

I welcome suggestions and opportunities.

Posted in advertising, digital bedouin, economics, Entrepreneurship, personal, San Francisco, venture capital, web2.0, working | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

a business idea – radio schedules 2.0

Posted by shannonclark on December 1, 2008

I’m old enough, just barely, to recall a time when local radio schedules were printed in the local newspaper. As a kid I used this to track down “old time” radio shows and Dr. Demento. Today almost no schedules here in the US are available in any form, individual stations may publish them somewhere on their website, and a few specific shows publish a schedule of when their show may be syndicated, but there is nothing (at least that I have found – if there is please leave a comment) as good as the extremely well done The Radio Times in the UK.

So a thought for a modern 21st century twist on a very old idea – simple, location & timezone aware radio schedules – probably driven via a community powered wiki like tool (with options for “official” schedules from any station interested). Schedules which would be published in many formats – with full, open API’s to access them (as well as iCal subscription links and probably RSS feeds including search driven feeds).

I’m thinking a website and likely iPhone app (probably for other devices as well). And it should be platform neutral so have options to also display Internet radio stations, streams, satellite radio and also podcast links for shows which have them (many commercial as well as non-commercial shows do).

And ideally there could be many interfaces to this data – time & day & location being just one.

Not neglecting very basic data would be key here – call letters but also the actual dial location (or locations) & URL’s etc. Best case also some estimate of reception for a given geo location – though this is wildly hard.

And don’t neglect AM and non-English stations (heck don’t limit this to US stations).

I suspect I am far from the only person who has moved to a new city and now has no dial sense – ie I don’t know where to find radio stations which I might be interested in or specific shows on those stations.

Anyway a thought for a service which I’d love to see – and a reminder that factual data isn’t copyrightable (so while show descriptions might be the fact that a show starts at a given time on a specific station is not) plus I suspect anything which helps rebuild audiances/build them will be welcome.

Consider this idea cc-atribution licensed. Feel free to turn it into a commercial project – though if you do I’d love to be involved and even if not, would appreciate some attribution. 

Done well I think such a schedule could seriously help terrestrial, online, and satelitte radio. It could also include other “scheduled” audio (and perhaps video) content – so might also include the expected release schedules for podcasts, video series, online shows and more. 

A bit of my background, for many years I worked on and build calendaring systems and served on the IETF iCalendar working group, including a brief stint as an editor of the RFC for iCalendar. I’ve been thinking about calendaring issues for many, many years. I’ve also been a lifelong radio and audio entertainment fan. I even did audio sound effects for a college production of the entire Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Posted in digital bedouin, geeks, internet, iTunes, mobile, networks, podcasts, time, web2.0 | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »