Shoppers wait outside a San Francisco Apple store on the eve of the release of the iPad 2 in March. (David Paul Morris/BLOOMBERG)

Good morning!

Happy Monday and welcome to the morning read. Let’s get started:

1) What tech start-ups are learning from nightclubs

In the last three weeks, two of the most significant new, Web-based product roll-outs happened on an invite-only basis. Both Google Plus, Google’s new social media platform, and Spotify, the popular music-streaming application, launched with only a select few individuals being granted invitations to access the new services in their early days. In Spotify’s case, the invitations were for access to their free, ad-based service.

Alitmeter Group consultant Susan Etlinger told The New York Times’s Jenna Wortham that the key is making sure organizations have time to smooth out any rough edges before they offer full access to the general public. Setting high expectations that are ultimately un-met can “bite them later,” Ettinger says.

And Google Plus and Spotify are not alone in taking advantage of the velvet-rope marketing approach. Entire sites, like TechCrunch-acquired InviteShare, have been developed to take advantage of the phenomenon by connecting those who have invitations with others who want them.

(The New York Times)

2) FDA launches new “innovation initiative”

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg announced a new initiative to help streamline the approval of new medical products for U.S. companies. Hamburg made the announcement Friday, calling the project an “innovation initiative,” going on to say that the pipeline for medical products in the U.S. is “distressingly sparse.”

The FDA would, as part of the initiative, create an Entrepreneur in Residence program, which would assist small businesses that lacked the knowledge and resources to navigate the FDA’s approval process. The announcement comes in the wake of complaints that the approval process for new food and drug products is so cumbersome that it is pushing companies to launch their products overseas.

(Cleveland Plain Dealer)

3) Exploring innovation at the Smithsonian “Hall of Wonders”

“The Great American Hall of Wonders” — a Smithsonian exhibit at the Museum of American Art features artists’ renderings of American landmarks and the inventions created during the 19th century. “We all have to be inventors,” says the exhibit’s chief curator Claire Perry of the attitude at the time. Perry spoke with NPR’s Linda Wertheimer. The exhibit features art in homage to the natural wonders of the United States, including the buffalo and Niagara Falls.

The display also features a number of U.S. inventions, including Samuel Morse’s electro-magnetic teletype and Thomas Edison’s light bulb. “The Golden Spike,” the final nail driven into the track that connected the eastern and western sections of the transcontinental railroad is also featured. The spike, which looks like a large, golden nail, is an icon for train enthusiasts. It is rarely seen on the East Coast — its home is at the Stanford Museum in California.

The exhibit can be seen at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. through January. If you can’t make it to Washington, here’s a gallery of photos of the exhibit.


4) Pen, paper, innovation

In the age of the tablet, laptop and smartphone, the simple tools to draft new ideas seem to have been lost. Think about how long it has been since you sat down to do a significant body of work with just pen and paper. Writer and photographer Nancy Messieh attempted to draft a piece for The Next Web and couldn’t finish. In the piece, which she finally completed in the digital realm, Messieh argues in favor of not eliminating the pen (or pencil) and paper:

Today, the pen and paper is possibly the most underrated creativity and productivity tool. It’s easy to get lost in a complex system that leaves no stone unturned. But it’s also just as easy to take a step back, keep things simple, and write it all down.

(The Next Web)

5) Bus terminal ad as phone charger? Yes, this exists.

If you own a smartphone, you know how quickly you can go from having a full battery to a dead lump of plastic, glass and silicon chips. The marketing team for VitaminWater has used the problem to fuel their ad campaign. The ad company Crispin Porter + Bogusky is behind the marriage of the bus shelter billboard and the phone charging station. The ads are in New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles.