June 30, 2008 by Colin
Earlier today, a truck overturned on the Trans-Canada Highway. There was a slight hiccup, though. The truck was carrying 12 million bees used to pollinate crops. The media, of course, showed up in force to cover the story.
After all, who’s going to miss a potential swarming death?
” … [RCMP Sargeant Dan] Strong said there were no serious injuries although a reporter trying to get a clip of the bees buzzing, suffered 15 stings.
“It’s all about the clip,” he laughed. (Canwest News)
For amusing footage of reporters waving their hands in the air, check out this .mov clip from the CBC.
June 28, 2008 by Colin
… from Popdose: Lists You Didn’t Ask For: Consumer Safety Edition.
“… 8. God is a white lie perpetuated through the ages to keep people distracted from the fact that life is long, cruel, and holds no meaning. Also, Mitchum deodorant contains actual chunks of Robert Mitchum.”
June 28, 2008 by Colin
What do they say? That the average person is subject to 5000 advertising messages a day?
I think I saw 500 of them while I was waiting for my movie to start this afternoon.
I remember being impressed by the six or seven previews … but I can’t remember the title of any of those upcoming movies.
Of the thousands of marketing messages shoved at me over the past three or four movies, I can honestly say that the only ad I remember was the long form Coco-Cola piece – the one eveyone remembers.
June 27, 2008 by Colin
… and most of you know you aren’t deep thinkers. Come on, admit it.
If you can spin through your feed reader inside of 30 minutes, how little time are you leaving for thoughts to sit, fester and grow?
What about variety? Are the details of your work consuming 480 minutes of the day, and your the reverb from your online echo chamber consuming the rest?
Where’s the inspiration coming from? How are ideas breaking through the noise to challenge your routine behaviour and instinctive judgement?
Are you learning new strokes and exploring new beaches, or are you simply treading water in the same stagnant pool?
Susan S. Szenasy, the editor of Metropolis, spoke to the need for intellectual curiosity while delivering a commencement address this spring:
“… As artists and communication designers you can choose to be the outriders of society. Like the scouts in the old western films, you can be in the position of surveying the horizon and alerting the rest of us to the dangers and surprises ahead. But I worry about you. I worry that while you have evolved the use of your thumbs to work at phenomenal speeds, you are not as interested in developing the habits you need to accumulate knowledge, knowledge that can inform your vision as artists. I mean knowledge of the world—science, literature, and history—knowledge of the great contributions others are making or have made to our rich understanding of humanity and the earth which gives us life.
It is not enough to find information instantly and use it opportunistically to support your argument. To be able to analyze and synthesize you need to delve deeply into a subject, build up your understanding incrementally, and own that knowledge. Own it, so you can call it up when you need it, without turning to your PDA, and use your amazing brain-power to interpret what you know when critical analysis is needed. What I’m asking of you is what I have always asked of myself: To be endlessly curious about everything, to search for facts when you need them, but more importantly, to search for ideas and meaning. Read a book, look at a building or a landscape, drink it all in—make it your own …” (Metropolis Magazine)
June 23, 2008 by Colin
Never a lesson in media analysis – that’s me. Never a class in evaluating media sources, identifying themes or performing content analysis. My only teacher? George Carlin.
Seriously. For a period in the mid-Sixties, George Carlin disguised his growing irritation with mainstream culture with highly effective satire. Social commentary that was still palatable to the folks who tuned into Johnny Carson or Ed Sullivan.
This was before he grew a beard, started swearing during his act and began getting kicked out of his Vegas shows.
Instead, Carlin cut right into contemporary attitudes towards sensitive topics like the war in Vietnam, increasing recreational drug use, and the Cold War – with a hilarious fake radio newscasts.
“Now I imagine that some of you were surprised by the weather over the weekend … especially if you watched my show Friday night, man ….”
And that was how I learned to question the authenticity of news reports, evaluate their underlying assumptions, and infer their greater impact on society.
[tags] George Carlin, media analysis, Al Sleet [/tags]
June 22, 2008 by Colin
I’m pretty sure that, in the western hemisphere at least, every focus group participant alive is fully aware of being monitored, either by camera or from a neighbouring room.
Key to the onsite observation is an adjacent room that offers a donut’s eye view of the focus group and its activities. For some reason, the focus group participants must be kept ignorant of the executives and public opinion specialists hidden behind the smoked glass.
I’m not sure why. What focus group will be swayed by a bunch of white folks in suits and pollsters in sweaters?
Leaving aside that skeptical outlook, Steve Portigal made an interesting observation while visiting one focus group facility – they had outfitted the overhead light switches with outdoor outlet covers.
I bet that touch of ingenuity was actually the product of one – or more – slightly embarrassing moments.
Here’s the top 19 signs your focus group is quickly collapsing into abject failure and will be completely unusable for consumer research, message testing, product verification or concept formulation:
- From an arriving participant: “Hey! I used to be a 1-900 operator for this place!”
- The clients hold up the session waiting for the muffin plate to arrive.
- The recruitment coordinator works from the bus depot.
- A fantasy sports fan hijacks every idea with a poorly thought-out sports analogy.
- I’m not saying it’s a bargain basement facility, but the viewing room has an electric blind that has to be fed quarters to stay up.
- Your moderator shows up, and he’s in a Leafs jersey.
- The participants are handed Hello Kitty knockoff pens and notepads.
- There’s more than one socially conscious teacher at the table.
- The moderator starts off by saying “Most of you know the drill …”
- The viewing area for agency types is behind an old patio door. From a mobile home. With a “Texas Kixass” sticker on it.
- Five words: retiree with a hearing aid.
- The testing facility uses old pieces of drywall for whiteboards.
- At the end of the video clip you’re testing – at great expense – more than one participant refers to “the money shot.”
- Participants who answer in complete sentences are handed Wal-Mart gift cards.
- More than three instances of someone saying “I’ll tell you what I think …”
- Your moderator’s Steve McClaren (for the Brits among us).
- “I know this product! I think my stepmama’s suing ya’ll!”
- In the facility’s waiting room, you can make an extra ten bucks with only “a twist of the wrist.”
- One of the participants asks who will sign for her high school volunteer credit.
[tags] focus group, public opinion research, moderator, popular opinion [/tags]
June 21, 2008 by Colin
You may have noticed a slowing in my posting lately. I’m not very upset by this development, because it means that my work and family life is moving along quite nicely – but don’t take this to mean that I’ve lessened my commitment to blogging and social media.
I simply feel like making a blunt point about the rush to consensus and eagerness to endorse that seems to be coursing through the social media world, and particularly the suburb of public relations and marketing bloggers and podcasters.
There’s an awful lot of backslapping and overly enthusiastic encouragement that goes on in some quarters of social media – which is probably why this video never really hit viral status.
June 19, 2008 by Colin
Airlines, in a desperate attempt to remain profitable, are considering incremental charges and fees for services once considered routine. Like checking your bags before boarding your flight.
” … J. Scott Kirby, president of US Airways, said that passengers would prefer to pay for the features they actually used. Historically, he said, all passengers paid for checking bags even when they did not bring luggage, because a charge for transporting them was built into the ticket price.
Now, he said, “those who want the infrastructure to check bags, will check bags; those that don’t, won’t pay for them.” (NYT)
I hope airlines are building in the infrastructure for passengers who will choose to carry-on their luggage. Faced with an economic disincentive, passengers are bound to opt for the haul and stow – which may be a problem considering most airlines are also moving to smaller regional and commuter jets on most domestic flights.
June 19, 2008 by Colin
Paul Otlet. He dreamed of an international network of electronic tools, documents and indexing more than seventy years ago. He dared dream of a network of information linked through symbolic code – at a time when most people could barely figure out a municipal transit schedule. He thought of the hyperlink fifty years before anyone could really make it work.
And then he convinced a government to fund his work. THAT is impressive. Do you know how hard it is to convince bureaucrats to give money to your visionary yet obsessive project? Especially if your project skews towards the crazy side of the innovative/crazy scale?
A brief history of Otlet and his Mundaneum can be found in the New York Times:
“… Although Otlet’s proto-Web relied on a patchwork of analog technologies like index cards and telegraph machines, it nonetheless anticipated the hyperlinked structure of today’s Web. “This was a Steampunk version of hypertext,” said Kevin Kelly, former editor of Wired, who is writing a book about the future of technology.
Otlet’s vision hinged on the idea of a networked machine that joined documents using symbolic links. While that notion may seem obvious today, in 1934 it marked a conceptual breakthrough. “The hyperlink is one of the most underappreciated inventions of the last century,” Mr. Kelly said. “It will go down with radio in the pantheon of great inventions.”
Mathew Ingram has some pointers as well.
June 17, 2008 by Colin
Hoooo eeeeee! There’s some bootleggin’ going on! The fine folks of Dublin, Texas stil make Dr. Pepper with cane sugar – the only bottler in the United States to continue producing the quirky drink this way.
Problem is, their distributions rights are limited to the 40 miles around the plant.
We all know what that means – the locals are moving crate after crate out of the bottling plant, selling it bottle by bottle in corner stores and gas stations.
It’s like Smokey and the Bandit, but at a much smaller scale.
20 cases per individual, only available at the plant. And $7.89 for a six-pack of 8 ounce bottles.
“Hey! You lookin? You lookin for a snoot-full of the earthy aroma, the tangy yet fizzy bite of an old-fashioned soft drink? Just come back here, and bring your money with you.”
More details at the Dallas Observer.
June 14, 2008 by Colin
Brighton Port Authority – a new side project by Fatboy Slim/Norman Cook. I’ve loved this guy since the Housemartins and Beats International. Take a look at the video for Toe Jam, one of the first releases and backed by David Byrne and Dizee Rascal. There are a couple of other tracks on the MySpace.
[tags] Norman Cook, Fatboy Slim, Brighton Port Authority [/tags]
June 13, 2008 by Colin
That’s right – the ice cream truck is a summertime menace. I may have written about ice cream truck music – twice – but the early summer ice cream truck season is causing more grief than delight in the media:
- do you want a shot of cheap bourbon with that heavenly hash?
- a lot of people have problems with the ice cream jingle – at 10 pm
- the Good Humor man has returned to New York – and is fighting a turf war.
Most importantly – I did not realize that ice cream trucks needed to bring in foreign workers to make the business cost-effective. Which is why the Russian white slavery charges in Kansas City were so startling.
Finally, Eddie Murphy reminds us how we would mindlessly chase ice cream trucks down the street.
[tags] ice cream truck, music, noise, Good Humor,
June 12, 2008 by Colin
Sure. Garage bands are mocked. Almost everyone has been in a band, humped equipment for a friend’s band, or paid a cover to hear a sh*tty band from your high school.
But you really don’t have the right to criticize. Because if you don’t throw your hat in the ring and take some risks, you will never fail .. but you will never hit the ball out of the park, neither.
Which is why I like For Those Who Tried To Rock – a blog chronicling:
“… band to have been formed by teens with that perfect mixture of big dreams and questionable talent in suburban garages, high school music rooms, and college dorms across America….”
It’s entry after entry of young hopes and ambition, slogging it out in basements, garages and clubs.
[tags] garage band, failed youth, hopes and dreams, Marshall amps, van down by the river [/tags]
June 12, 2008 by Colin
Humour, good design and the obligatory Facebook page. What else could you want?
As a sarcastic and overly critical internet addict, I appreciate the over the top approach of Colbert Is Dead To Me – a web site that criticizes Stephen Colbert’s recognition as Webby Person of the Year, and challenges you to sign a petition mocking him.
You also get the opportunity to give Colbert a “virtual slap to the face.”
The colbertisdeadtome.com site was designed by the folks at Toronto agency henderson bas – whose own site is pretty amusing.
[tags] Stephen Colbert, Colbert is dead to me, petition, henderson bas, humour [/tags]
June 10, 2008 by Colin
With apologies to Maslow, the hierarchy of needs for social media aficionados, evangelists, addicts and hangers-on.
[tags] SBUX, SXSW, wifi, Apple, Maslow, hierarchy of needs, social media, “a” list [/tags]