Monday, December 8, 2008

Friend Connect now open

I had many people ask me about Friend Connect when I put it on my blog as part of an early beta, so I figured I should post quickly about it again... While it's been pretty cool up until now, there were only a few blogs which had it - so a bit less "connecting" on my blog. But now, anyone can add it to their site.

If you haven't noticed it, or don't even know what I'm talking about - it's those to little windows (gadgets) on the right side of this blog. The first shows people who "follow" my blog, and the second provides a place to quickly comment on the blog or on a specific post (comments on a specific post page are separate from other comments).

Check out the Friend Connect blog post to get the accurate info.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Spreadsheet visualization of industry-sector political contributions

The Sunlight Foundation posted a great video showing how money has flowed into the Republican and Democratic parties from different industry sectors over time. In normal circumstances, I might have said "(yawn) pass the nuts"... but... they used the Motion Chart in Google spreadsheets to visually show the changes in these flows over time. If you love data, whether you're politically interested or not, you gotta love this visualization... I'm embedding it here for convenienve... full credit to Sunlight for this specific video, to Gapminder team and the Trendalyzer (Motion Chart) team at Google responsible for this great chart type and to Yossi for pointing this example my way ;)

From the Sunlight Foundation Blog:

The gadget gallery has this chart type and others where you can get your own examples to play with...

Friday, September 26, 2008

An unexpected political post with an expected spreadsheet

I never talk or post politics - but on this eve of the first presidential debate, after a semi-wild week of news (semi? huh...), I figured I may as well fix up that electoral vote calculator I've been toying with and let others have a go at it...
If you want your own copy in your Google Docs account - there's a link at the top of the full published version. With your own copy, you can change who you think will win each state to see the impact on the electoral vote.... quite fun.

Summary - according to CNN as of Sept 26, 2008:

See the full version...

The initial data comes from CNN's Political Site - just after this first presidential debate which took place tonight between Barack Obama and John McCain. There, they have an electoral vote map - showing which states are either strong or leaning to one candidate or the other, or undecided. On their map, you can click the state to change the result.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Brainless marketing to parents

Please look at this picture - and imagine if you can being a parent (if you're not) and receiving this amongst the piles of mailed marketing waste that enters your home un-invited. Why do you think this one got my attention? What's wrong with this marketing story and this picture?

In case you can't see it clearly, it's two kids playing with toys in the backseat of a car. "Make Getting there half the fun" is the headline of this little story... What's the other half of the fun - seeing these two kids go flying past their safely restrained parents and through the windshield? The genius who put this little marketing story together forgot to strap these kids in! As a parent, I can tell you that there's a visceral reaction to seeing kids in a car without their seat belt buckled... And, in this case, it's so obvious (again, to a parent) since these kids are likely small enough to require (by law in some states, I think) to be in a childs car seat. And don't tell me the car in this picture is not moving... the door is closed and the sun is shining and it's clearly summer (the kids are in shorts) - so the alternative is that they are playing with toys in a parked, closed car in the summer sun... nah - let's stick with the seatbelt badness...

If you plan to sell toys to me, try to avoid that "we don't care about kids safety" angle... not effective.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Go wide (or narrow) with your Blogger Template

When I created this blog, I couldn't seem to find a blogger template that had both the look I wanted AND full-width (filling the browser window as it re-sizes - both wider and narrower)... So, I took the template I liked the most (thanks Darren) and then fiddled with the template code a bit to make it fill the width of the screen the way I wanted it to and to fill the empty space between the top header, the main content area (the posts) and the right pane (side-bar).

A few people have asked me which template I used (I know, hard to believe), so I am finally posting both a sample blog using that template and instructions on how to use my adjusted template... I figure at least I'll have a place to point the people who have asked for this.

The sample blog shows how the template looks and gives a link to the template file itself... Don't be scared off by the colors, as those can easily be adjusted using the blogger layout tools from the dashboard.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Explaining death is hard enough...

It was a special moment - a memorable one - when my sons both got their first pets as birthday gifts from their Aunt. A first pet is just so magical - no matter what kind of pet it is. In this case, it was 2 hermit crabs - crab-like critters who live inside, and drag around, abandoned snail shells. For a couple of weeks, my sons were rather good with them - the younger for *not* using his crab as a stringless yoyo ;) and the older one for thoughtfully feeding and caring for both of them.

From the moment those creatures entered our house (the crabs, not my kids) I knew their longevity would be unpredictable, and I'd eventually need to have that dreaded, but important, "what is death" conversation with my kids - I just didn't think that day would come so soon.

So... the other night, after the kids went to sleep, while cleaning the "crabitat", I picked up my older son's crab, and the limp limbs and body of the crab just fell out of the snail shell. I practically jumped back, I was so shocked... and then I felt really sad that my kids would have to deal with this reality.

The next day, I called them both to the tank, kneeled in front of them, and said to my older son, "Your crab is no longer with us - he died yesterday". Well - he went through the classic stages of mourning... demanding a new crab "now", then jealous that his brother still had a crab, then anger (that I killed it, of course), then, finally, sadness, followed by the logical decision that he didn't want another crab at all.... Ok, maybe these aren't classic stages - but this was all new to me.

They actually both dealt with it well... so, after the boys were sleeping, I began preparations for putting the crab into his final resting place (NO! Not the toilet!) - a small paper bag, that we would bury together in the backyard.... I picked up the crab's snail shell again and turned it over... and saw.... AHH! The crab! Alive! I had this sudden nervous energy... I kept thinking "boy, that death conversation was hard enough - but the resurrection conversation is going to be even harder!"... so I grab their "Hermit Crabs for Dummies" book (you think I'm kidding?) and quickly realize that I made a classic, well documented mistake. Molting hermit crabs are often mistaken for dead. Whew... It's not resurrection, it's just the "daddy made a stupid assumption that when a creature's limbs all fall off that it is dead" discussion.

Anyway - the kids were pretty happy about the end result... young son may have been slightly confused that this previously dead crab was now alive, but older son said "I told you he was molting!"... and you know what? He did... a few days earlier - after he read that darn book for daddies - I mean dummies.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Friend is a Friend - but...

The lyrics of this lesser-known, but great Pete Townshend song keep running through my head practically every time I use any web site with any form of "friends" community... (doesn't hurt that it's on my ipod at the moment)...
"When eyes met in silence - a pact can be made"

I visit facebook after a few weeks' absence, and see that I have 6 or 7 new friend invitations. Of course, human nature strikes first - and I think "yay!" - and then I see that I only actually really know a couple of them... so I quickly accept those and then click on the names of the others to jog my memory - clearly I must know them, but just don't remember... let's see
"A lifelong alliance - that won't be betrayed"

This first person's name actually sounds familiar, and we do apparently have 3 friends in common - hmmm... two of whom are popular bloggers with, in one case, 5,000 friends (I think I just saw the facebook friends limit)... so now I notice that this 'friend to be' of mine has 2,300 friends himself...
"A friend is a friend - nothing can change that"

...and so, clearly this person really is depending on my friendship ;) - so I accept (for the first time, actually giving in to becoming friends with someone blindly - unless my memory is really failing me here and I actually was roommates with this person in college or something). Hey - a new "friend" - what could be bad about that.
"Arguments, squabbles - can't break the contract..."

Then I look at the profiles of some of these other friend invitations - hey, they're pretty friendful too... 1800, 1300, etc... is that good or bad? Clearly some of those hundreds of electronic friends are actually friends - but can they tell the difference anymore?
"...that each of you makes - to the death to the end"

And now I feel compelled to look at my own profile. 131 friends. huh. Is that too few? or is it too many? I remember a while back, when I stumbled upon my proile page on YouTube, it boldly announced back to me in something close to a 24-pt font,
"You Have No Friends".

I stared at that message for a while and really contemplated it with an ever so slightly broken spirit (drama: mine)... thinking about my friends... Luckily, I was able to conjure up a few real friends at the time and closed that window with a slightly higher velocity, middle-finger click. Interesting that when I went back to find that message again (wish I got a screen shot), it was no longer there... even though I still have no YouTube Friends...
"Deliver your future - into the hands of your friend"

So, I'm sure, as I know you are too, that online friends are a mix of offline-online friends and online-only friends... but I'm also wondering to what extent the simple peer pressure to have lots of friends has driven the activity - the compulsion - to connect to people online. Clearly there is monetary motivation for bloggers and recruiters. Fair. But for the rest of us - once you go beyond your "real" friends and acquaintances - and start inviting - or accepting - online friends... what's the motivation? Is the usefulness of that action becoming diluted - and will we reverse the process eventually - where everyone online is everyone's friend - and then the compulsive action can be to trim down the list to the smallest possible list of true friends.

In the real world - when my laptop is off - YouTube(0) isn't right, but it is closer to the truth than Facebook(131)... Being a good friend to a dozen or so people is plenty if they really are friends.

"A friend is a Friend - nothing can change that" - Pete Townshend

Friday, June 13, 2008

I really do have more than 4 friends (I think)

You've probably noticed that I added this new feature to my blog which lets people become "members" of my blog... It's the Google Friend Connect product. The features I'm using let people show interest in my blog and even leave comments - not on a specific blog post, but on the blog as a whole. It definitely adds a level of connectivity to my blog which was missing before. Readers can now connect more directly and tell others about my blog through their membership...
I love it! but...
... like other online social networking tools and sites, there's a level of transparency that can either be encouraging or seemingly require defensive justification.

In the case of my friend Orli, it must be encouraging! She's got tons of friends immediately joining her site as members, and even press coverage of her use of this new tool..

In my case - uh... I really must say that, uh, all my friends are not on the web... well, actually, they are... but they're pretty busy, you know... no time to become members of my blog.. 'cause that would take like 2 clicks... well... maybe all my friends are on vacation without their laptops... oh, wait... How many "real" friends do I actually have?... let me see... (1, 2...uh...5... hmmm....... 6...) - yeah - 6. So... let's see... 6 members today, not including me and my mom (seriously)... So, on a percentage basis of real-life friends to Friend Connect members, I'm pretty popular!!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Spreadsheets are sexy?

The Google IO conference got plenty of press coverage, as this CNet video proves... It was actually a fun interview, but what was i doing with my hands? Is it better to lock them behind my back or let them fly around uncontrollably in front of me? ;)

In another video, a local reporter with independent station KRON4 in CA used some special effects (ok, just some editing) to avoid my flying monkey arms... See that video clip on the KRON4 site - Tech Report with Gabriel Slate (what a cool name).

The two things I liked about this conference: First, it really did feel a bit like a day at Google (with a little bit more junk food than normal), and second, the focus seemed to stay with educating developers rather than getting across a corporate message.

me? biased? probably... but trying not to be.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lots to learn at Google IO conference

If you're looking for one of your web developers, you can probably find them in San Francisco at Google IO... a conference for developers to learn more about Google development tools and web services. Reported in varying levels of detail, and focused on many vertical topics, by plenty of bloggers... so no reason for me to give detail... but the energy here is very high and the sheer number of cool tools to learn and use could keep me busy for a decade.

I realize now that adding FriendConnect to my blog last week was a good exercise in learning more about the Social tools being made available to web sites and to people who trust their friends more than they trust other sources. If you want to start somewhere - start there... It's those two boxes on the top right of my blog - where you can see who has "joined"... think about how useful it might be, when you're using the web or web-accessible services/information, to be able to ask "what do my friends use? Who do they trust? what do they think? Expect to see this in more places than my insignificant blog so you can get that advantage of friendly advice and guidance for any web page, business listings, etc... and be able to combine the power of your relationships with your activities on the web. Have Fun.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Heaven on Earth for some of us

There's a special place, near Princeton, NJ, which my Dad and Mom discovered (as far as I'm concerned, it didn't exist until they discovered it). They would go there together constantly, as it was close to home for them - in fact, it was 'home' for them (if, like my Dad, you listen to Roger Waters and believe that "everybody got somewhere they call home").

There's art amongst the trees and ponds and open fields. There's vision and beauty and mystery. There's love and friendship and childhood dreams. It's practically an imaginary place you'd visit in your dreams - but it's all right there for you to touch and experience with people - which is probably the part that makes it so special. It sheds the one most regrettable part of a great or mysterious dream - the inability really share the experience with anyone.... At this place, called "Grounds For Sculpture", you can share it.

That's what my parents did. They shared this place with each other and they shared it with us ("the kids")... My Dad always told me about this place and gave me that "Jonathan... in your wildest dreams..." pitch (which I just loved), but, regrettably, I never got to experience it with him... so I guess that part will always make this place seem just a bit dream-like for me.

On the day these photos were taken - which, by the way, don't do justice to the place like my Dad's photos did - we happily and permanently made this a place to share with my Dad. We dedicated a bench to him - at his favorite spot, overlooking the sailboat in the pond, in the foreground of the painter's scene. His best friends and family helped make this happen - and now, we all have a new place to sit... a new home...
Thanks, Mom.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Convert Anything on a spreadsheet

Ok, maybe not 'anything' - but pretty close... It uses a lesser known feature of the Google search box. For example, If you want to know how many feet there are in 12 meters, you type "12 meters in feet" and you get your answer. Or let's say your british friend tells you he has a friend who wants to get to know you better - and you say "describe him" and he says, "right... he's got a good personality, and...well... he weighs 14 stone". Of course, instead of seeming like a naive American (of course not, not you), you quickly go to the google search box and type "14 stone in pounds" and then decide... and maybe then you can use this same method to figure out how many USD (yes, that's dollars) you'll need to buy dinner in GBP (of course, that's pound sterling) - it's not a pretty answer.

Well - now that you know that trick - here's the real trick. In a spreadsheet (yes, on Google, of course) you can send that query to the Google search page in the background, get back the answer, parse it and display the answer in your spreadsheet. All this through the magic of the "ImportHTML()" formula.

I'm not going to go into the details of how to do that here - but I will give you a link to get your own copy of this sample spreadsheet (yes, you'll be asked to login to your google account, if you aren't already, to get this spreadsheet added to your doc list).

I must admit, I've had this fun thing (wha? you don't think this is fun?) lying around for a bit - but I figured I should clear the decks given that I've got some new ideas to post...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Digital Culture what?

In February, I was interviewed on a show (which, for you wine enthusiasts, is the equivalent of the second label of Good Morning America) called Good Morning America Now - shown on cable TV and on the web. This was a bit of a tanget for me, but there was definitely some relevance to cloud computing and the intersection of our social lives and the web.

Funny part #1 was to see how sensationalism drives the media. It's clear from the way they framed this story, that it was deemed interesting only due to the snippets of sensationalism which could be drawn from a consumer survey. Funnier part #2 was how they titled me in the first half of the clip... almost Seinfeld-worthy.

Whatever the result, it was really a fun experience...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A dinner-time story to break the monotony

I looked at my blog today... and I didn't like what I saw... a very sparse set of posts, all of which seemed like boring recalls of what I've been doing in the world of conferences (ouch! I just yawned so wide I pulled a muscle)...
so... just to break that cycle... here's something complete irrelevant:

I haven't felt that feeling of uncontrollable laughter in a while - but last night at the dinner table, my four-year old son triggered it.
he: "Daddy - I saw a squirrel today.."
me: "oh, really?"
he: " was dead"
me: "awww... that's sad"
he: "his eyeball popped out"
(I swear, he said it so matter of factly... and at the Dinner table!... and I'm supposed to be the "that's not proper dinner-table talk" daddy, and instead I'm trying to hold back extreme hysterics)
me: (bouncing up and down from in-audible laughter) "oh... uh... that's not great dinner table talk..."
he: "yeah... and a bird was eating it"
me: all-out laughter... no holding back... too much pain...

Sometimes it just feels so good to be 4 again.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Web Services at UPenn's Wharton

I spent my Friday at the Business Technology Conference at Wharton Business School (University of Pennsylvania). Besides feeling under-dressed next to all the MBA students in suits, it was a very satisfying day - I met a new group of great people and learned things about activities in this area (Web Services) which is slowly becoming a standard part of the foundation of business and life.

The Panel I participated in was really high energy (I thought) and interactive. It was entitled: Internet & Web Services Panel, Subtitled: The Web as Platform: How Cloud Computing Will Change the Software Industry. The Panel was moderated by Jeff Barr - Senior Web Services Evangelist,, and the panelists were:
  • Alex Chan - Director, Connected Systems Division, Microsoft
  • Ramon Estopina - Strategy Director, BT Design, BT
  • Adam Gross - Vice President of Platform and Developer Marketing,
  • Rick Treitman - Entrepreneur in Residence, Adobe Systems
  • Me

Too bad there seems to be no recording or video of the panel - and not even too much blogging activity about the content, 'cause I think there were some good questions and good points made. If you attended, feel free to comment to either counter that point or provide some detail that you might remember (....crickets...).
Hey Rick - How'd you get the title? I gotta get me one a those ;)

Monday, February 11, 2008

More conferences and panels about web 2.0

Somehow it seems I've gotten into the habit of logging my participation on conference panels and speaking opportunities here on my blog... not in a timely manner in most cases, but logging nonetheless. So let's continue the tradition with two conferences and panels from the past 2 weeks:

Today (hey - that is timely!) I was at the Web Services on Wall Street conference, on a panel entitled "Beyond Web 2.0" (with a much longer subtitle which related it back to the enterprise). On this panel, I joined Tom Steinthal from BSG Alliance (Moderator), Marc Adler from Citigroup, and Michael Ogrinz from Bank of America. This session really dug up some old (for me) large corporate investment banking memories and challenged me to relate all that to my current role... interesting... fun...

Two weeks ago, I was at the Web 2.0 conference put on by WebGuild in Santa Clara, CA two weeks ago - my panel was called "Future of the Web Office", where I was joined by Raju Vegesna and moderated by Ismail Ghalami.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Computing in the Cloud at Princeton U

I participated on a Panel at Princeton University last week, as part of the "Computing in the Cloud" workshop, hosted by the Center for Information Technology Policy. Definitely a valuable experience for me... I met great people and learned from other panelists and participants. The panel I was on - moderated by Andrea LaPaugh and called "What's Next", included Reihan Salam and Jesse Robbins - both of whom are great story tellers and brought completely different perspectives to the subject.

Overall, panelists and attendees of the workshop conveyed a general net positive attitude, balanced with useful caution regarding privacy and security, with strong hope that Cloud Computing (should I be capitalizing that?) will bring increased transparency to such things as government collected information. As in most areas of new technology ("new" is a relative term), there are some valuable pessimistic views which keep people like me - call me a pragmatic optimist - deeply appreciating the skills of security and legal specialists who act as the sherpas (lower-case 's') in their respective mountain ranges (or jungles). I personally still have a strong view that "I trust the cloud more than my laptop" - to sum it up as simply as I can. You can watch the video of our specific panel (that one alone is 90 minutes - and all the others are also posted thanks to the UChannel). I also thought it might be useful to post the notes I put together before the panel, to organize some of my thoughts (opinions) about Cloud Computing...
(click here for the whole post, including my pre-panel notes)
My notes used at the panel:
  • Computing in the Cloud - "software and data being served from the web" - will continue to grow and will be the norm. The benefits for vendors and customers simply outweigh the risks
    • Software distribution is an obvious win. Ridding the distribution process of physical delivery gives:
      • higher margin for the vendors
      • lower prices for the customers
      • better service for customers - bug fixes, security issues, new features can all be delivered to customers faster, since there's less motivation to batch these up into the next costly snail-mailing.
      • better products - similar to the above, this gives good developers the ability to respond to user feedback and deliver improvements continuously.
      • happier developers (working remotely and getting quick feedback from real users)

    • NOTE: I have an XO from OLPC (OLP2C - one laptop per 2 children, soon to be OLP3C, once the little one notices)... that further convinced me, seeing how this super-light technology gave me basically everything I needed since all I needed was the browser (notwithstanding the slow speed or issues with that specific browser)

  • Some are still betting on desktop-to-cloud synch products - like SoonR bought by Cisco (mobile access to your desktop).

  • I've learned to really hate explicit SAVING of my desktop stuff... Somehow, easy autosaving came along with the web products I use.

  • Capitalism will drive "good" products (doing the right thing if people demand it)...with companies meeting the needs of other companies and individual customers... INCLUDING all the new challenges
    • privacy, security, safety
    • relevance, integration, convenience

  • Collaboration will be an expected feature
    • so much of what we create is intended to share...
    • existing products and services take on new value with collaboration...
    • Creating content TOGETHER, reviewing expenses TOGETHER, planning projects TOGETHER

  • MICRO-INNOVATION will grow fast as it becomes more achievable - can you say "Gadgets!" ?
    • Platforms, tools, delivery
    • "pay-as-you-go" Operations and commerce
    • Commoditized services make operating a micro-innovation more viable... for example, legal agreements, support, etc.

  • CONTENT value with further differentiate:
    • Original, creative, popular content gets market-driven value assigned, while repetitive, derivative content gets super-commoditized

  • Simpler integration / commerce / delivery will give better channels to creative talent, allowing them to:
    • easily syndicate
    • easily gain attribution (back to their service/site)
    • easily monetize
    • gain celebrity status (e.g. Youtube publishers)

  • Collaboration brings new productivity - and new issues.... (see "issues" section)

  • INTEGRATION between services will increase...
    • Integration can be more seamless, bringing customers to even the smallest granular service.
    • Access to customers / markets
    • Micro-Innovation becomes profitable - with canned legal process, pre-defined service delivery and support, etc...
    • GADGETS become a platform not only for micro-innovation, but for integration of services.
    • Web Services finally become a reality.

  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for web services and data will become more important, but they will be simplified, standardized and improved - driven by the Service Integration Supply Chain (below) and the need for simplified "service commerce" (the buying/selling of services).

  • A new "service-integration-supply-chain" exists and will expand:

    > Containers for gadgets > platform for gadget development > gadget types (content free) > content-relevant gadget instances

  • Collaboration and aggregation of services will result in derivative (sometimes larger) products/services

  • Do-It-Yourself web creation tools will be improved - to meet new(ish) demand.
    • the tools are too disparate and hard to find, and still hard to use

  • Great Development tools - still an opportunity, since new components are available for integration (and new methods)... supporting micro-development and distribution

  • Great User-Interaction design (UX) still wins
    • Usability and designs really do improve applications and the web overall

  • Semantic Web-like Structure for much more interesting products
    • we used to cal it a "data model"
    • Great contribution products (community tagging) will drive this...

  • Ubiquitous Identification - let me be me wherever i go... without worry.... (OpenID?)

  • Increase in Premium Services model - advertising has been over-used by non-relevant publishers
    - Maybe even a Premium "absolutely private" web

ISSUES LIKELY TO OCCUR - which, themselves, drive opportunities...
  • Ownership and control of Content:
    • Collaboration:
      • who owns that document which 3 people collaborated to create?
      • 3 people collaborate - 1 leaves and "shuts off access"...

    • Integration:
      • Content from one source being used in another service - how to split value?
      • example: 1 company publishes data - 2 others use it as a basis to create their own service - who's the owner? Who gets the revenue?
      • similar issues as those in traditional media - e.g. actors or writers demanding part of the revenue stream of syndication...

Note: These were just my notes that I used for the panel, since the format included each panelist giving a 10-15 minute no-slides discussion of their views. Nothing Google in here - just some semi-random personal views and not organized into a standalone presentation.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Sarcasm can ruin a kid's vocabulary

(First of all - Happy New Year to those of you who haven't heard that useless greeting enough already - I know, none of you)...

Over the break, I had a few interesting revelations... well... one... well... maybe not interesting, but, revealing, if nothing else...
My 4 year old asked me something about something (huh?) - I can't remember actually what it was - but it was something like "Hey Dad! " (which I'm sure he repeated 7 times before being convinced that he had my undivided attention) - "look at this thing I made! Isn't it cool?"... which I replied: "Yeah - that's great!!"
(here's the semi-interesting part...)
He said: "What does that mean?"
JR: "What does what mean?"
4yr-old: "great"
JR: "great? You know what 'great' means! ... don't you?"
4yr-old: " " (stare at daddy until he realizes that you thought you knew what it meant until now)
JR: "great - you know, 'GREAT!' - like 'That's really great!' - it means really really really super good!"
4yr-old: "Oh, yeah... 'great'!... that's great!"

Then I realized... He had heard the word 'great' lots of times... from me, and others... but in a very different context... like, when he spills milk all over the table and floor, and I say 'Oh, that's great'... or when we miss his brother's school bus, and I say 'oh great'...
You get the idea...
great = 'not so great' in the bizarro world of sarcasm where adults find minimal humor in the context of something not so great and kids who are learning their native language find confusion and reverse meanings for everyday words.
My seven year-old, on the other hand, loves sarcasm - and is likely half the source of his brother's confusion...

It might kill the effect to add "That was sarcasm - I actually mean the opposite of what I just said" to the end of every sarcastic comment I make at home - so maybe I'll just stop....