Friday, October 28, 2011


148 2196 899 324

Infographic: The Most Valuable Digital Consumers

October 21, 2011
These days, Social/Local/Mobile seems to be driving much of the conversation about online opportunities. But at the end of the day, there is only one constant common denominator across the Web: the consumer. An understanding of this consumer and how they are influenced by social, mobile and local experiences online is vital to big brands looking to reach them on the Web.  Nielsen and NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey company, illustrate some findings that highlight digital consumer behaviors and consumption patterns that can help brand advertisers understand their most valuable customers and how they’re engaging across social, local and mobile.
social for wire
local for wire
mobile for wire
For press inquiries or for more information on this article contact Nielsen

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sixth Sense

CHRONICLE ON LINE Cornell University Oct. 11, 2011 Study: 96 percent of vertebrates descended from common ancestor with 'sixth sense' Jon Weinstein and Lance Grande, Field Museum of Natural History A juvenile paddlefish filter feeds in a tank at Shedd Aquarium, Chicago. By Krishna Ramanujan Although humans experience the world through five senses, sharks, paddlefishes and certain other aquatic vertebrates have another sense: They can detect weak electrical fields in the water and use this information to detect prey, communicate and orient themselves. Now, a study in the Oct. 11 issue of Nature Communications that caps more than 25 years of work finds that the vast majority of vertebrates -- some 30,000 species of land animals (including humans) and a roughly equal number of ray-finned fishes -- descended from a common ancestor that had a well-developed electroreceptive system. This ancestor was probably a predatory marine fish with good eyesight, jaws and teeth and a lateral line system for detecting water movements, visible as a stripe along the flank of most fishes. It lived around 500 million years ago. The vast majority of the approximately 65,000 living vertebrate species are its descendants. "This study caps questions in developmental and evolutionary biology, popularly called 'evo-devo,' that I've been interested in for 25 years," said Willy Bemis, Cornell professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and a senior author of the paper. Melinda Modrell, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge who did the molecular analysis, is the paper's lead author. "The crucial pieces came from techniques of developmental and molecular biology. Such a synthesis of modern techniques, classical questions and basic anatomy is the cornerstone of 'evo-devo' research, and it promises to help us better understand the origin and evolution of many organ systems, including the brain," Bemis added. Hundreds of millions of years ago, there was a major split in the evolutionary tree of vertebrates. One lineage led to the ray-finned fishes, or actinopterygians, and the other to lobe-finned fishes, or sarcopterygians; the latter gave rise to land vertebrates, Bemis explained. Some land vertebrates, including such salamanders as the Mexican axolotl, have electroreception and, until now, offered the best-studied model for early development of this sensory system. As part of changes related to terrestrial life, the lineage leading to reptiles, birds and mammals lost electrosense as well as the lateral line. Willy Bemis A scanning electron micrograph of the head of developing paddlefish shows pores of the lateral line and electroreceptive organs. Some ray-finned fishes -- including paddlefishes and sturgeons -- retained these receptors in the skin of their heads. With as many as 70,000 electroreceptors in its paddle-shaped snout and skin of the head, the North American paddlefish has the most extensive electrosensory array of any living animal, Bemis said. Until now, it was unclear whether these organs in different groups were evolutionarily and developmentally the same. Using the Mexican axolotl as a model to represent the evolutionary lineage leading to land animals, and paddlefish as a model for the branch leading to ray-finned fishes, the researchers found that electrosensors develop in precisely the same pattern from the same embryonic tissue in the developing skin, confirming that this is an ancient sensory system. The researchers also found that the electrosensory organs develop immediately adjacent to the lateral line, providing compelling evidence "that these two sensory systems share a common evolutionary heritage," said Bemis. Researchers can now build a picture of what the common ancestor of these two lineages looked like and better link the sensory worlds of living and fossil animals, Bemis said. Co-authors include Glenn Northcutt, a world expert on vertebrate neuroanatomy based at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and Claire Baker at the University of Cambridge, whose lab contributed molecular analyses. The study was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council in the United Kingdom, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Whitehall Foundation and Tontogany Creek Fund.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cultural Differences

Santa Rosa Press Democrat Dan Berger: Europe's culture of food, wine in sharp contrast to U.S. By DAN BERGER FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT October 11, 2011 at 11:22 a.m. The food/wine culture of Europe is so vastly different from what we experience in the United States there’s almost no comparison. After spending two weeks in the Mediterranean, briefly visiting towns in four countries, it was clear that those who are adventurous eaters and drinkers can find an almost infinite array of comestibles in Europe — a culture of dining that puts America to shame. We have developed chain eateries that have essentially spelled doom for thousands if not millions of family-owned dining establishments. By contrast, Europe’s “pre-prepared food” culture remains, for the most part, mom-and-pop. And regionally fascinating: Simple sandwiches displayed in ways that would make a U.S. restaurant inspector apoplectic. Evidence of this culture is obvious in the wine offerings. Whether it was in Portugal (where wine is so cheap you think it’s a misprint), in France (with a mind-boggling array of choices), or Italy (with wines from grapes most people never heard of), wine lovers are in heaven. Well, maybe not all wine lovers. If you want a 15% alcohol fruit bomb with a slug of wood residue, you’ll be out of luck. Nor can you find fat, lugubrious Chardonnays or over-the-top Syrahs. Wine is everywhere, even included with some “fixed-priced” lunches. In some cases the wine was simply termed “vin de table” or “vino rosso.” When we asked English-speaking servers what grapes were used, we merely got a shrug. And for 3-4 euros ($4 to $5.30) for a quarter-liter, the wine was fine with our pasta. American chain restaurants, by contrast, offer us soft, higher-alcohol wines with less food compatibility at prices that would seem to a European to be absurd. A major reason for this is simply that most of Europe considers wine to be an integral part of a meal. By contrast, most Americans look at wine as one of two things: Either it’s equated with all intoxicants or it’s a specialty drink for the snooty. Another factor is that many American wineries have an exalted view of their products. But at most smaller, family-owned wine farms in Europe, prices are routinely remarkably fair. In particular, we visited two wineries on this trip, one in Cadiz, Spain, one in Ajaccio, Corsica. Each one made an excellent dry rose wine. Each sold for less than four euros, about $5.50. Most California wineries with roses this good charge at least twice as much. Even the “reserve” red wines sold for less than $20 a bottle. Perhaps one reason for the success of so many California wine brands is familiarity. Brand loyalty is a key factor for many; people find comfort in buying wine with a recognizable name. But real wine lovers — those who worry more about aroma and taste than they do brands or grape varieties — know that the most excitement today comes from the obscure. And one key point: Price is usually unconnected to quality. A lot of exalted wines are far less interesting than they should be, and many lower-priced wines are perfectly compatible with food. About one bottle in every three sold here is an import, an all-time high. That indicates that what we found on our trip isn’t going unnoticed. Dan Berger lives in Sonoma County, where he publishes “Vintage Experiences,” a weekly wine newsletter. Write to him