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Collingswood, NJ : Innovation + Job News

7 Collingswood, NJ Articles | Page:

South Jersey's Collingswood Book Festival celebrates its 12th year

It was on an autumn Saturday some 13 years back when Jeanne Brennan, a longtime trustee of the Collingswood Library Board, stumbled upon a modest outdoor book festival during a trip to New York City.

"It was on the small side, but it intrigued me," she recalls. "And I thought it would be something that would be beneficial for our area."
Indeed, South Jersey in 2001 was not a region known for its public celebrations of the written word, and that doesn't seem to have changed much. In the northern stretch of the state, Jersey City has an annual book fest. Newark hosts a respected biennial poetry event. The Princeton Public Library runs a children's book fest.
But for the past 12 years, the Collingswood Book Festival, which Brennan launched with help from friends and family less than a year after that trip to New York, has been the sole annual option for South Jersey dwellers with an interest in street fair-style literary entertainment.
The event has become a beloved fall tradition in the small borough of 14,000, which sits halfway between Camden and Cherry Hill (it's an easy trip on PATCO). The borough's commissioners and its mayor are staunch supporters, says Brennan, who adds that attendance has grown steadily over the past decade.

"The first [festival] was kind of bare-bones," she says. "We didn't have any tents or any audio equipment."

Still, roughly 3,000 people showed up to see 15 authors speak. This October 11, Brennan expects 8,000 attendees to converge on Collingswood's Haddon Avenue.

Fifty authors, some self-published and some relatively well-known (including Wesley Stace and Leigh Gallagher) will be on hand to read and sign books. Writing workshops and panel discussion will also take place. And an entire block, dubbed "Loompaland," will boast books and activities for children.

All events are free.

Correction: This year's Collingswood Book Festival takes place on Saturday, October 11; not October 15, as a previous version of this story incorrectly reported. 

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Jeanne Brennan, Collingswood Book Festival

Father's Day is every day with ManCaveKingdom

"There's no such thing as a typical man cave," says Joe Chiaccio, founder of ManCaveKingdom. The bootstrapped startup is in the business of creating safe havens for every man, no matter what his taste.

Maybe you're the kind of guy who's just waiting for beer o'clock. Or maybe you are more of a Super Street Fighter. Whatever your particular escape, ManCaveKingdom will help make it happen.

While Chiaccio, based in South Jersey, has full time designer Amanda Burke on staff, he explains it's more of a DIY thing. "Guys are traditionally not the decorators of the house. Typically women are the primary decorators. If a guy is lucky enough to get his own space, ManCaveKingdom makes it attainable for guys who have an idea of what they want," says Chiaccio, who adds that wives are often more than happy to hand over an area of the house where a guy can get as sloppy as he wants.

The target demographic for the fledgling company is pretty wide, ranging in age from men in their early 20s up to their 60s. "Younger guys live in apartments, and then there are guys who have been married 40 years and want a little bit of space," says Chiaccio. Most commonly, men are looking for a bar and a really nice TV viewing area. Add-ons include stand up arcade games, ping pong and pool tables.

How much is this going to set you back? "How much does a diamond ring cost?" jokes the recently married Chiaccio, citing a budget range from a few hundred dollars all the way up to the tens of thousands. In fact, it was Chiaccio's own experiences building out his man space that gave him the idea for the business.

Chiaccio reports that Philly Tech Week was great for business, and now counts among his clients a recently divorced local entrepreneur who does web analytics by day, but wants to get loose at night. We're not naming names, or even initials. What happens in the man cave stays in the man cave.

Source: Joseph Chiaccio, ManCaveKingdom
Writer: Sue Spolan

Copyright, innovation and whack-a-mole: Protecting technological innovation in the 21st century

"I've been thinking a lot about Napster," says Rutgers-Camden law professor Michael Carrier. "Google just gave me a research award to examine the effects of Napster on digital innovation." Nice gig if you can get it, and Carrier gets it.

The author of Innovation for the 21st Century: Harnessing the Power of Intellectual Property and Antitrust Law, which came out in paperback earlier this year, Carrier promotes a new way to look at copyright, anti-trust and patent law as technology rapidly and dramatically changes commerce in several areas, including media, pharmaceuticals and innovation.

Ever since the advent of the VCR, issues of copying and sharing have kept courts busy. "Peer to peer offers real benefits to consumers," says Carrier, who points to the concept of dual purpose use, where a technology can be used for both infringement and non-infringement. As long as there is a single substantial non-infringing use, the technology should be upheld, he explains.

Carrier's work also extends to brand name and generic pharmaceutical products, a topic close to home, with the world's largest drug manufacturers within a 100 mile radius of Philadelphia. The big brands, says Carrier, pay generic makers out of court settlements to keep them off the pharmacy shelves. "The brand company is able to pay $100 million, which is a drop in the bucket for the billion it will make. The problem is that consumers don't have access to generic drugs," says Carrier.

On a grander scale, when asked if Carrier's bent is pro-consumer, he responds, "That's such a loaded term. Pro-consumer is consistent with what I am doing, but I would characterize it as pro-innovation." says the Rutgers-Camden prof, who also mentions threats to locally based media giant Comcast.

Two controversial bills were recently introduced into the U.S. Congress. The Protect IP Act, now known as the E-PARASITE Act (S. 968), goes after piracy and rogue sites all around the world. While E-PARASITE may be too controversial to move through congress, yet another bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act, was just introduced into the House on Oct. 26.

"It's a whack-a-mole game, designed to allow the government, and even private parties to shut down websites. The proposed laws are not as nuanced as those we have now," explains Carrier. "Internet service providers like Comcast would have to take measures to make sure these sites would not be able to be accessed."

While Carrier says anti-corporate sentiment is fashionable these days, he adds, "I don't know if I need to go that far. I believe in patents. Patents are needed for innovation, and for companies to able to make money." Rather, Carrier stands against the overly aggressive use of laws that limit innovation across a wide range of business practices.

Source: Michael Carrier, Rutgers-Camden Law
Writer: Sue Spolan

Rutgers-Camden prof gets $500K call, 'genius' status

Jacob Soll was on his way to the library, which is one of his favorite places in the world, when he got the call that changed his life. "It was raining. I was suffocating. I thought, 'Oh God, what's this?' I thought it was a joke."

No joke: it was the MacArthur Foundation informing Soll that he was the recipient of the so-called genius grant, a $500,000 no strings attached gift. It was all quite unexpected. Soll, a professor of history at Rutgers University-Camden and West Philadelphia resident, says, "I just think it's really lucky. I work in a really interdisciplinary way, in all different fields and countries."

While the selection process is shrouded in mystery, Soll points to his 2009 New York Times Op-Ed piece as a possible call to attention for the Macarthur committee. Soll's research, at its most elemental, is about the juncture of numbers and letters.
Beginning with Louis XIV's finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Soll redefines history, tracing the relationship between libraries and accounting and tracing the birth of information technology. The 16th to 18th century is where large scale libraries are invented, and where, says Soll, the modern computer comes from.

"It's the most fascinating thing," he says. "Colbert was an accountant by training. Accountants keep massive amounts of books. They're basically financial librarians. Colbert understood he could harness a library system for power. It's an incredible vision -- kind of dark -- it was used for repressive power. It was completely innovative. This guy invented the modern world."

These days, Soll laments that for the first time in history we are not that interested in our libraries. While he terms our country's founders 'real book people,' and points out that the Library of Congress sits across from the U.S. Supreme Court, the push is toward digitization. "Today, we're having financial crises, and no one asks how good are your accounting skills. Our founders thought that without that kind of knowledge, you wouldn't be effective at running an enlightened state. Political currents are running counter to those of the original founders."

While at the moment, Soll is overwhelmed with a life that "is literally like something out of a movie, "with 800 forms of people contacting me," he expects to be able to settle into a very comfortable routine of reading and writing, without having to worry about the electric bill, or paying the babysitter. "It's not just the money. It's also the moral force and the publicity. I've received a hundred emails from former students. They're all great emails, and make me feel like everything was worth it. I'm not going to second guess myself as much."

Soll is now at work on a book that traces the entwined history of politics and accounting, and is allowing himself to admit aloud that his dream is to write a series of books on how states work and what politics actually mean.

Source: Jacob Soll, Rutgers University
Writer: Sue Spolan

NJ farm-to-table distributor Zone 7 doubles sales, hiring

There's a whole lot of hiring going on in Zone 7. Lest you think you've slipped into a science fiction world, Fresh From Zone 7 is the name of a fast growing company that's, well, all about growing. Founded in 2008 by Mikey Azzara, the Cranbury, N.J.-based farm-to-table distributor serving Pennsylvania and New Jersey has doubled in sales every year.

Right now, there are five job openings for energetic people who are committed to providing local food to local eaters: sales, warehouse crew, warehouse crew leader, drivers (multiple) and a sales team intern. While the positions are primarily part time, the right candidate could combine several to create a full time gig. Currently there are 9 people on staff, and the new hires would represent about a fifty percent increase. The company began with just two employees in 2008.

Azzara reports that each week of the 2011 season, Zone 7 has been adding deliveries at an almost explosive rate and at this point is maxed out in terms of staffing.

"On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, all three of our trucks are out," says Azzara of the fleet that picks up from all over New Jersey and Pennsylvania, delivering to over 80 establishments, including The Farm and Fisherman, Southwark, Garces Trading Company, Weaver's Way, Greensgrow and the Fair Food Farmstand in Philadelphia. The New Jersey territory stretches from Atlantic City to West New York, NJ.

The 40 farms that supply Zone 7 include Blooming Glen, Jah's Creation Organic, Griggstown Farm Market, and Branch Creek, where the original seed for Zone 7 was planted.

Azzara had been working for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey for five years when he sat down at the table of Mark and Judy Dornstreich, pioneers of the local food movement and founders of Branch Creek Farm, which has been growing and delivering organic produce to Philadelphia restaurants since the 1970s. "They supplied me with the truck, the name and the idea," says Azzara.

Zone 7, named for the USDA Hardiness Zone in which we live, is a 52-week-a-year operation, says Azzara, and its busiest months, surprisingly, are November and December. "Our time to catch our breath is January, February and March." Starting in April, asparagus and swiss chard are the first crops to harvest.

Source: Mikey Azzara, Zone 7
Writer: Sue Spolan

Industry recognition, validation for Cherry Hill's icueTV and its t-commerce platform

Being at an awards dinner with cable giants like Showtime and Starz was a thrill for the self-professed TV junkies at Cherry Hill's t-commerce solution company icueTV. But standing next to them on the podium as finalists for the same award took this gratification to a new level.

At the New Orleans, LA banquet this week, icueTV was announced as a finalist for Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM)'s "Get Interactive" Awards. icueTV creates a sales portal for advertisers to connect directly with TV viewers as they watch. Watching Shark Week on Discovery? You can buy the DVDs right from your remote. icueTV has been steadily expanding, now represented within the six largest cable providers in the nation. But even with great traction, this is still a new technology and icue hopes this award signals recognition from the cable television industry that it's time to make a move.

"For years, people have thought about using the TV remote to buy products," says icueTV VP of Business Development Ralph Nieves. "We feel that this award signals that t-commerce is an idea who's time has come."

Starting out in political polling and other on-screen data tracking applications, icueTV developed a platform that expedites the purchase process, integrating a PayPal account, e-mail connectivity and one-touch purchasing. And while this is still an emerging technology, no one told icueTV. They have already begun hiring engineers tasked with finding new applications and clients as if this platform was old news. The company hopes this award will cement them as an industry leader as its technology becomes standard in digital sales and marketing.

"Our customers know who we are but to become certified and vetted took us four years," says Nieves. "We are not arrogant enough to think competition doesn't exist already but we are confident that no cable labs are examining commerce applications in the way we are."

Source: Ralph Nieves, icueTV
Writer: John Steele

Interactive mapping platform launched to connect Philadelphians to their local communities

It's one of life's great mysteries: you can travel to a thousand cities and eat at a hundred fancy restaurants and drink a dozen craft beers at each of the bars along the way. But a meal never tastes as good as one at your favorite neighborhood haunt. And according to Philadelphia's sustainability leaders, this phenomenon is not just good for your appetite, it can be good for your neighborhood and your city as well.

Based on a concept created by the William Penn Foundation, partners from the Sustainable Business Network, Azavea and NPower created Common Space, a new mapping platform that creates a network of neighborhood establishments within a certain walkable, bikeable or busable distance to help residents support local business.

"The really cool thing is, I can map my friend's common space as well as my own," says SBN Executive Director Leanne Krueger-Braneky. "So if I am leaving from my office in Center City and meeting my husband who is coming from our house in West Philadelphia, he could say he is going to bike for 15 minutes and I could say I was going to walk for 20 minutes and Common Space will map the area where we would be able to meet up and map local culture events and businesses in that field."

Partnering with tastemakers like UWISHUNU and Yelp, Common Space shows you the best spots in your transit area, allowing you the most sustainable way possible to hit your next favorite haunt. After their trial run, organizers hope to partner with citywide festivals and cultural events like LiveArts and Philly Beer Week.

"Sustainability was one of the values William Penn outlined, which is why they wanted to partner with us," Krueger-Braneky says. "Because the application does encourage walking, biking, and public transit, it's a way of showing what's going on in the city while encouraging alternative transit."

Source: Leanne Krueger-Braneky, SBN
Writer: John Steele

7 Collingswood, NJ Articles | Page:
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