Monday, December 31, 2001
Sunday, December 30, 2001
As to being for others, I have come around to thinking that if I take care of myself (the precise details of how to accomplish which, I admit, continue to elude me), the others will get along just fine. Better, probably, than if I were to dedicate my life to what would have to be -- if you think about, wouldn't it? -- my idea of what would be best for them. Having said that, I want each and every one of you to know that I do love humanity. Deeply. So much that it hurts. In fact, it hurts so much that I say every morning when I awake: fuck em. let God sort em out!
The question that can be asked is how do we accomplish being for ourselves and being for others. And how do we reconcile the effects that being for ourselves has upon our being for others.
Gonzo marketing requires expressing your passion about things. We are not only passionate about ourselves, unless you mean that in some lame-ass way that fudges the math. Here's the math: A cares about B and talks about B in an honest voice. To say that this always means that A cares about A is true, but to say that A always only cares about A is false. Fudging it would mean we couldn't tell the difference between: (1) Benetton putting out a book letting condemned prisoners have their say because Benetton (that is, the marketing people at Benetton) thinks capital punishment is an abomination and (2) J. Crew putting out a brochure about how comfy-yet-rugged their doeskin fucking mukluks are.
I really like what RB says about the Net being all about me. There's a ton of truth in that. Every time we speak we do so with the arrogance that what we're saying is worth hearing. Me me me. Absolutely. But, that doesn't mean that we are our only topic; most of us - even RB - spend much more time talking about how the world looks from our point of view. That we're always gazing from our point of view is inevitable; that we're always gazing at ourselves is not.
And then there's also this little thing we call listening that the focus on the me-ness of voice misses.
So, bite me.
Saturday, December 29, 2001
So every day for the last couple weeks now I've waked up thinking TODAY I'm gonna fix it. Mother of God! What is wrong with my brain? Why can't I write a single fucking paragraph? Oh well...
I did get pretty excited a couple days ago, enough to put together these two tables, which show at a glance what I'm arguing for. I've renamed the thing "The Case for Business Criticism."
Table 1. Google Search Results
"literary criticism" 223,000
"art criticism" 29,500
"media criticism" 22,600
"social criticism" 19,600
"cultural criticism" 16,900
"music criticism" 5,040
"science criticism" 551
"business criticism" 170
Table 2. Google.com Search Results
"music critic" 45,900
"art critic" 43,800
"literary critic" 24,600
"social critic" 13,300
"media critic" 9,410
"cultural critic" 7,340
"science critic" 178
"business critic" 85
I included the "science crit" entries as an afterthought -- and it was a lucky one, as through those searches I discovered an article called Why Not Science Critics? by Don Ihde, who is a big gun in the philosophy of science (sorta like being the best basket weaver on Wall Street). Anyway, the parallels in our arguments were pretty arresting, and I got all turned on for a minute. But it wore off and now I'm cranky again because I really do have to finish this today. This self promotion shit is really hard work if you think about it. Maybe I should switch to self-effacing humility. Maybe that'd be easier. You think?
You see, Mike, the Internet is really all about me. And I mean that in a very personal way. It's about me, Chris Locke. Me, RageBoy. The whole world wants to know what I'm thinking. Surely, you do, right? And I figure it's my responsibility to be selfish and irresponsible as much as I can, as often as I can. Also, to be humorless and moralistic and create rules around all that and question the motives of others who aren't Just Like Me so they can become More Like Me.
F-u-u-u-u-u-u-ck! What's it all about, Mr. Natural? Huh?
Sorry. But I'm not sorry. This passive-aggressive nagging gives me a headache. It gives me, as Rabelais once said, the Bloody Flux of Lombardy. So bite me.
For a better time, go read what Jeneane is doing over here.
Just to add a little something to Jeneane's answer - One of the things that hooked me about Gonzo was the vivid contrast with traditional marketing techniques, like broadcast advertisements (which, on the net, we call SPAM).
These are made by people who don't use the product, usually don't know that much about it, certainly won't tell you about any flaws it may have or give an honest appraisal of its relative worth (vis a vis any competition for example), and are simply paid to say nice things about it loudly.
Gonzo is all about the voice of experience. Check out the examples that Chris uses for his suggestions of patronage; you'll see that while he encourages Ford employees to talk about how a Ford truck might relate to their gardening hobby, there is no suggestion that they ought to toe any particular party line.
On the contrary, he clearly and repeatedly stresses that any such editorialising would render the exercise almost completely futile. The voice must be engaged, and therefore it must be genuine, it must be human, and it must be free of imposed agendas.
Only then can listening to it be of maximum value, only then can it be Gonzo.
Objectivity is not the objective (pun intended, sorry!). In fact it may be entirely irrelevant, except in the sense that in Gonzo it is not pretended to, as it may be in other marketing techniques.
I would say that it (objectivity) is surely possible, I suppose that many an art critic would consider themselves objective, even though fully engaged in the Gonzo sense.
"Art critics create nothing, and thereby feel themselves qualified to judge the works of creative people. There is logic in this: they hate all creative people equally." --Robert Heinlein
Friday, December 28, 2001
The small-post suggestion was not directed towards anyone and I apologize if anybody was offended or felt censored. I made the suggestions in an attempt to revitalize this blog.
To David and All
Whenever I read or hear anything, I assume it is colored by the person's point of view. Even when it is supposedly objective journalism. Is it a gonzo objective to make that bias more explicit or to dispense with any attempts at being objective?
Thanks Mike for zinging some life back into RGE. David, please come back often, and bring some folks with you!
Hernani and others, don't censor yourselves. Not here. Write and engage. If we fail to be engaged (and to engage), then the blog will become quiet. But if our posts incite, no matter their length, then we'll continue to thrive here. That's fine with me. The ebb and flow is essential in life, both online and offline.
Thursday, December 27, 2001
Having said that, however, if you're writing in a gonzo way, there is obviously a strong temptation to put yourself into the center of your story. I just don't think that's essential to gonzoism.
To honor Mike's request I'll keep this short and await echoes from the group...
I would like to suggest that we keep the posts short and point to our personal blogs for longer or off-topic posts. We might want to include a link to our personal blog to guide people to other thoughts we have.
I was wondering how does Gonzo relate to self-promotion?
Monday, December 24, 2001
Hey, there's no Eggnog around here, though I wish there were, and laced with Jack Daniel's as well. And there are not too many folks either, never mind that on a normal day there are only about five percent of the cubes and offices on my floor occupied. Today, on Christmas Eve, there are maybe five people and I hear a lot of laughter over in their direction. Perhaps they have some eggnog!
So Merry Christmas to all, And to All a Much Better Year than the last one! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannuka, Ramadan, Kwanza or a Holiday based on no particular faith whatever, have a very Happy One. There are hundreds of belief systems I know nothing about, but I know that most of the cultures of our blue and green little planet celebrate the changing of the seasons, and all of those aforementioned religious events fall on or near the Winter Solstice. Funny thing about that. Our Druid (and other forms of "pagan") forbears celebrated all of the solstices and the in-betweens as well and most of our modern holidays line up somewhat with those old traditions. Have a great year!
Saturday, December 22, 2001
Sweep Away the Cobwebs & See What's Behind Them, December 19, 2001
Reviewer: Jack Reed from Bay Area, CA
I disagree with the recent review that thinks this subject only deserves an "article" instead of a book. The reviewer seems to think that because Locke does not provide a nice neat little well annotated map of the future of the Net as it relates to business and marketing that he hasn't done a service worthy of "book" status.
Just because you recognize that something is wrong doesn't mean you know precisely what right is. We all know that the torrent of spam that we are daily assailed with is the wrong way to market on the Web (how many of you have really bought anything that was so advertised). But while Gonzo Marketing does not spell out the precise ABCs of what is developing in this New World, he does a very exemplary job of talking about it's roots and realities. I think perhaps the most important single word that is used in both Gonzo Marketing (and The Cluetrain Manifesto) is "voice". The Net and it's derivitive, the Web, are forums for the individual voice to speak quietly but to a huge audience. It is this voice, this individual human communication that matters, because while we'll all trash a spam email within milliseconds, most of us will responed to a truly individual message from another human being. This takes the market back to what is originally was before it was usurped by corporations to mean masses of blank faces, and present it as the simple aggregation of people who wish to have discourse about their daily needs and perhaps exchange a few items for a few other items. Never mind that we're not really a bartering economy anymore, the character of that ancient market place is still deeply embedded in our psyches and most of us feel comfortable on that more personal basis. Locke even points out that Amazon is participating in his view of the current Net market by the very fact that it lets it's buyers review the books they purchase and thereby pass on to others a personal account of the value of the product.
So I say that you should buy the book if you are prepared to think for yourselves and project what Locke says onto whatever micro world you live and make money in. There simply are no books that can tell you extactly how to do it, although many claim to, but this book reminds you of lots of truths that you may have let slip into the sub-conscious realm, and once you have brought them back into view it is quite possible that you can apply Gonzo principles to whatever it is that you do with your life.
Wednesday, December 19, 2001
And by the way, Jeneane, I do think the silence was accidental... a mere reflection of the ebb and flow of the life tides of it's members.
And Chris, I did read some of EGR and the Topica Archives (and wrote my own review of Gonzo with a bit of counterpoint to the item you mentioned). There is so much there to read and my time is not always my own, but it's good to know the archives are there whenever I do get a few minutes to do as I please.
So I hope your blues are a shade you can deal with. Put some Blues CDs on the changer and listen. The Blues are a tonic for being in a Blue Mood! Just lay back and listen to a great player bending those notes like the world tries to bend us. The notes always resolve and so mostly do our lives.
Good Cheer to all....
"each created and operated largely by one person, show that you don't need a large staff and venture-capital seed money to do news on the Net.(...) What the creators of KenRadio, Kuro5hin, IWantMedia and Metafilter share is a relentless drive, a passion for their subject matter, and an abiding respect for the power of the Internet to reach thousands of readers cheaply and effectively "
Keep the Visine and egg nog close at hand and all will be well.
Tuesday, December 18, 2001
"People tend to join into self-selecting communities online, but unless we’re talking about buying clubs, they don’t typically aggregate around products. Instead, they come together around common interests. They may 'consume’ products in the process, but this consumption is a side effect."
Just what we've been talking about, so let's talk...
"As networking replaces broadcasting, communication must become richer and more interesting -- not just louder and more insistent. It must have character, invite participation. Must differentiate itself from the plethora of uncommunicative corporate blather, which by its sheer volume -- in both senses -- threatens to drown out all memory of life- before-the-brand."
I am so tired. There are several reasons why we don't do Christmas at our house--reasons of Spirit. Reasons of reason. Many reasons, actually. And each year the world proves to me why I think it's okay that we choose to focus on the words within the Word, the meaning on the inside and the other side of our selves. And still, stress is palpable. Can't blog much, can't write much, can't hear myself think.
It comes down to individuality--as in life as it is in this blog. Fuck uniformity. Oneness combined makes more than itself, but it is still the singular which is significant. Meaning propagating at lighning speed. That is the beauty of it, then. And if you know what I'm saying, you're one up on me.
But at least I said something. Jack is right. We are too quiet. Is it purposeful silence or accidental? Let's see.
Thursday, December 13, 2001
And I do understand about "getting one's A into G"... I have so many things that want doing... two web sites that I already have the domain names for but haven't found the time to actually create and mount on a server. But sometimes by the time I get home the day has been so long that I find myself adrift in a haze of inactivity, all the while reviewing my "todo" list in my tired brain!
I did check out the blackmarket site you mentioned... nice idea... I'm glad to see that it's working out. Seeing the success of others can leave one feeling either jealous or encouraged. Thankfully I'm of the latter inclination. When I see a good idea being well executed it encourages me to think along more positive lines.
So I guess I'd better overcome the ennui and get those web sites up so you can review them!
Oh, yeah, to reflect on another of your comments about the Net being no more the world than TV... I agree in the sense that it matches the concept that "the map is never the territory". In other words an abstract is always just that, some bits and pieces that in one's mind respresents something real. But I think that possibly the Net is a lot closer to the real world because it is interactive. You can talk back to it and it will respond, often with as much variety and un-expectablity that the real world has. Because anybody of any ilk can respond to what you put out there you can find every kind of response, hopefully more from kindred souls than assholes, but like the real world, there's no asshole filter, so you say what you say and you get what you get.
When I get my A into G and start my wee Gonzo rating service, I promise your site as good a review as it warrants. ;-)
Seriously, did you look at www.blackmarket.co.nz ? 250K in the first year, looking at 1 Mill in the second. No marketing other than word of mouth and voluntary signup to their list. (No Chris, they don't spam you with the first invitation. They let your friends do that for them . . . . .)
Would that do it for you Jack?
And recall Chris' own RageBoy example, one of the reasons we're all here is that somehow or another GM: WTWP clued us in to EGR or EGR clued us in to GM: WTWP. And GM:WTWP went way up the Amazon sales lists before it was printed purely on the strength of the perverse relationship RageBoy has with his readership.
Yes, your milage may well vary. I too doubt that there is the same market for stringed instruments as there is for cheap wines (more's the pity!) but I assume that there is sufficient market to keep an honest and competent craftsman in reasonable comfort if not splendour.
I imagine that Chris started EGR with so few readers it looked like no-one would ever listen to him. Right now I cannot for the life of me recall how I got onto his list, but I recall vividly the first one I read, and I am inutterably glad that somehow I did.
Are these the only possibilities? West Wing or What? (Why is West Wing assumed to be such a good thing anyway? I hate it. Am I a micromarket?) Anyway, I wouldn't trust the high priests of the proven business model to be thinking about radical new heresies in producer to market communications. Don't expect them to think outside the box when they're still denying there's anything outside the box at all.
JENEANE & ANDREW:
Underwriting is not intended, as I understand it, as some disjoint or isolate altruism. It is a marketing tool, and as such would be financed from a marketing budget. But it is a tool that is markedly different from the traditional broadcast media tools and therefore requires different handling to prevent significant harm to the user. Whether any big corpses* ever use it, or keep using it after experimenting with it, will depend to some degree (as you noted) on the return on their investment.
* What else do you call a body with no mind, no soul, & no heart?
But it seems to me that the issue is not one of efficacy, since Chris has already proven to some degree that "Gonzo Works", but of comprehension and maturity. We all have adolescent fantasies - hell, I'm 35 and I still have them!
But maturing is supposedly about dealing with reality as it is, and part of that for the corporate marketing department in the age of Internet-enabled vocality is the realisation that their target markets never existed anywhere but in their heads. The view they had/have about their markets is an artifact of the tools they use to explore their world, not of the reality of that world as it really is.
The internet, with its emails, blogs, icq's and aim's, flash, shockwave, java and xml, etc etc, is a new toolbox for exploring the world.
It is no more the world than was TV, but while it is not the world, it certainly makes visible new vistas that were previously obscured to those inhabiting the corner offices in BlaBla Land.
They also need to realise that no consumer ever bought anything they didn't want just because of spamming techniques. The spammers convinced themselves of that to justify their existence. So that talking in a human manner to real people you know actually want what you have is not confining your marketing to some "micro" organism that is beneath the consideration of someone with a SuperBowl ad campaign budget.
Did anyone actually at or watching the SuperBowl really go and buy something just because of some slick multimillion dollar ad? Really? I'd concede the choice of make/model could be affected but I'd resist the notion that the ad could create a desire that wasn't already there . . . .
Rave on Tropic of Cancer. Say what you wanna say, do what you wanna do. Don't let the bastards grind you down. Don't let them tell you how to play the game, nor which game to play.
Personally, I refuse to do a job I don't enjoy, but that's because I'm arrogant enough to believe I don't have to. Maybe at some later date I'll get scared of uncertainty and settle for wage-slavery without enjoyment, but not today.
I think that (partly for reasons discussed above) some corpses will never get it. Many of the people I've encountered in high positions in business life have the emotional maturity of a buck rabbit. Hell, I may well be one of them. Fear and Greed are the cages in which they have voluntarily imprisoned themselves so that they can shut out the rest of humanity, or even the recognition of their own.
Your Output Is My Input. I leave you alone for a couple of days and you go ballistic. WeeeeeeLaa! I'll have to shut up more often. Now there's a Gonzo thought . . . .
I have something to say: It is better to burn out, than to fade away.
The Kirgan, from Highlander, plagiarising Neil Young.
Wednesday, December 12, 2001
I guess a measure of patience and continued conversations with all of the folks in this Blog is the way to go. I know that the question in my mind cannot be answered simply, or, as the poet said, "rolled up in a ball"... so I will continue to try to get bits and pieces of the puzzle and gradually something will come together.
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”
-- The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, TS Eliot
Tuesday, December 11, 2001
Please keep in mind that Gonzo Marketing is not some get-rich-quick Seth Godin infomercial scam. The Web is a micro-market with a niche of one. Gonzo Marketing is about how you use those micro-markets. The mass-market jedi mind tricks don't work on the Web. Not to get too philosophical...but all the Web really does is show us how the world really is....a bunch of small webs of interest and influence. Some marketers look at this as: "Damn, now we can't just fire off a bunch of advertising and hope something hits." (Super Bowl ads and Spam aren't that different) Other marketers look at this as: "Great, now I can just focus on the people who actually care about what I'm selling/buying."
So how do you get started? Start with your own micro-market. If you're trying to sell stringed instruments then there are a bunch of potential micro-markets to begin talking ("Markets Are Conversations") to. Get in there...start listening....start talking. The funny thing about micro-markets: You're already a member of several of them whether you realize it or not. And members can sniff out a phony in no time at all.
I would really like to think that you are right about Gonzo "making a killing" for small and medium businesses. I have two businesses, independent of software consulting that would fall under the heading "small & smaller", that I am certainly willing and eager to invest time, love and all the creativity I can muster. But I fear that the other edge of the Web sword is in how huge it is and how insignificant one's presence can end up being. Sometimes I feel like it's putting a bit of paper in a wine bottle and casting it into the Pacific Ocean to "market" myself to the Pacific Rim. I love the concept, and I am greatly enjoying the reading of both Chris's book and the Cluetrain Manifesto, but I have yet to understand the physics of it all. By that I mean how does an individual like myself, trying to make stringed instruments, create enough "mass" in the medium of choice (The WEB), to attract other bits of mass to it. I get literally dozens of spam per week trying to sell me large lists of web contacts for marketing purposes. I hit DELETE as quickly as I can. Mass lists are the antipathy of Gonzo marketing. In fact they are the epitome of the old business as usual. Send out 100 thousand letters and if 2% respond you've had a good day. Bullshit! That might work for someone selling some piece of trivial nonsense, but it won't work for someone trying to sell a quality product that has a price tag a few orders of magnitude higher than the usual mass mailing entreaty.
But I'll keep reading everything I can find time for, and keep up the dialogue with the Gonzoids of the world, and maybe one day one of us will find some way to make wine bottles find their way to some place meaningful.
Where Gonzo will make a killing is for the small- and medium-sized businesses who have two important qualities: love (and control) of the product; and the willingness to invest time in that love. The average company slave doesn't have that - at the top or bottom of the hierachy. I don't think big media is dead - yet. It'll merely change direction. They will get more up close and personal, but on their own terms. See the Nike web sites. They are doing it by being "interactive" ie more bells and whistles.
Me? I prefer the cheap and cheerful version we have.
I can show you an excellent example of Gonzo in action. It has micromarket interaction, the tone of voice, engagement - everything. Slowtwitch.com is run by Dan Empfield for the triathlon community. He has commercial interests in triathlon products but still reviews other companies' wares. He also offers advice for free, looks at the endurance industry from the man on the ground's point of view, but still has an excellent political overview.
That could not be done by a corporate. Can't and never will - at least until I contradict myself. Like this: Gatorade Sports Science Institute. But that's academic - they are always nice to each other in daylight and then the knives go in when the lights go out.
Monday, December 10, 2001
Somewhere a long time ago in this blog, I commented on what the whole underwriting notion can mean to corporate positioning. Rather than searching through the blog, let me see if I remember what I thought. The way I see it, as one or two companies decide to get gonzo and underwrite a site--say an auto-repair discussion--what would the draw be to subsequent underwriters? Well, besides giving something "more" to their customers than bland corporate speak and their own obligatory corporate web site, it would seem that underwriting a discussion like this could give companies an opportunity to gather into micromarkets of their own... to position themselves with organizational like believers. Don't minimize this potential phenomenon.
How great would it be for a smaller company to underwrite a site and be seen along side its well-established household-name counterparts, sharing an inherent interest in supporting the underwritten group? What an opportunity to stake a claim on what your company stands for (and doesn't stand for). Likewise, how quickly a big stodgy company seeking to change what it's about could become "cool" by underwriting the same auto-repair site with nimble net companies.
So to me, the follow-on benefit of driving profit, though I think that benefit will come, won't be the initial benefit of site underwriting. The initial benefit will be a chance to turn the notion of positioning on its head. Instead of saying, "We are unlike our competitors because..." companies will be able to align with like-minded organizations of all types, implying instead (without beating us over the head with boring boilerplates), "We are like our fellow underwriters because..."
This is what I see as the inital benefit, followed by a more grateful customer base who reward companies they believe give a shit.
That's all for now. Punch holes as you will.
Sunday, December 09, 2001
I think what I was trying to say is the general direction of those who know about the web (god bless 'em) is that we can only be warm, cuddly and human to communicate. Pardon me, but fuck that.
If I want to comment on the previous position of a common household pet, I will say "The cat sat on the mat". Neither more nor less. There is a continuum of communication, from bald facts to emotional gushing and one size does not fit all. Now, I am all for dragging corporations further along the gushing axis, but I think there is a limit as to how far they will and ought to come.
I am really unsure about this underwriting idea in Chris' book. Isn't it unreasonable to expect companies that were formed to create profit to indulge in this casting of bread upon waters? It's not that I don't like the idea, but if my aunt had a beard, she'd be my uncle. You can't expect profit maximisers to take on the idea. I am sure everybody would be happier in the gonzo model, but nobody wants to pay for other people's happiness- (Except possibly here in Denmark where the average tax rate is around 46%).
Aren't we confusing work with life? That strikes me as a cultural "work to live or live to work" divide that is present between the US and parts of Europe (and other places). It seems to spring from the insistence of finding joy in work. Hell, if I find joy in my work that's great, but fer chrissakes don't tell me I have to find joy in my work. Pride in a job well done is sufficient, then I'll go home and find joy with my wife and kids.
On re-reading the above I can see the flaws, but what the hell, give me some stick, you know I love it!
Friday, December 07, 2001
The web may indeed change the way we communicate... or the way we write, but for my part I think I'm trying to hang onto my own personal style (which began, like most of us, from handwritten on plain old paper, to typewriting when mistakes could cause you to re-type the whole damn page, to computers, which really did affect my writing style in the sense that it became so easy to edit and change things that before would have not been done because the effort was greater than the motivation to see it written differently) and at the same time keep up with the changing world. I really hope you dissuade yourself of the idea that you are over the hill at 35, because I have quite a few years on you and I'm not nearly ready to come to that conclusion about myself. At least not when the subject is writing and communicating. I used to work in the music business, and at the time (when I was about your age) I thought that I would never hear a genre of music that would completely turn me off. I worked in a recording studio and I heard everything there was to hear. I liked classical, rock, jazz, blues, be-bop, plain pop and could even tolerate a certain amount of disco. But there did come a day when I had to admit that I could no longer relate to everything. It started with certain kinds of particularly melodyless screaming 'hard rock', and went into full denial when with rap and grunge. So musically, those are areas in which I cannot communicate because I "just don't get it". In the world at large, however, when we're talking about commerce, and philosophy and personal interactions and entertainment I think that the "gonzo" movement is simply evidence that the world around us is always in a state of flux and at a certain level you have to either keep up or drop out.
Obviously the folks in this little crowd are trying to keep up, and in fact we are trying to forge ahead and understand not only what IS happening, but what is about to happen right around the corner from now. It is indeed a challenge, but one that we more or less have to take on.
"I'm no fan of humanity. There, I said it. Singular individuals have the potential to be warm, sensual, caring and exciting people. Humanity in general? It's like a fungus. It lives in its little corner of the universe. It eats, and eats, and eats until there's nothing left to eat. Then it dies."
Not so ungonzo, is it? Then, consider this little sticker Srini's concocted:
So I emailed him and said, guy, where's the book? We'll see what he says... -j.
One way of looking at "The Value Proposition" – (though Mr. Locke might not put it this way) is: If a corporation understands no value other than its core capital, then it is at war with everything on earth that does not form part of or enhance the core.
As Hernani noted, the book calls for corporations to invest in, to underwrite, enterprises that in no direct or measurable way contribute to the enhancement of its capital. In a sense, instead of the usual ho-hum mode of “invest x to get return y,” the corporation is invited to take a flying leap of faith that its capital, plowed back into the loam of people, ideas, enthusiasms, issues, communities - in short, values other than those of the balance sheet – will turn, twist, explore, resurface, appear rather odd, wither in part, explode, propagate and, much like the nonlinear mode of "the story" that is explicitly a structuring theme of Gonzo Marketing, yield unexpected fruit. This would appear to represent a substantive change in current business practice for most corporate capitalists.
The thought struck me today that the alternative to corporations speaking with a human voice (which most of them would claim is impossible, and we'd agree with them) is for corporates to speak with a reasonable corporate voice.
What if I don't want my bank advisor to treat me like an old friend? I actually prefer to be treated with distance and respect when it comes to my financial future (or lack of it).
I'm Jeneane would agree with me that there is a constant battle within communications departments (or ought to be) with management to say things in a better way. Perhaps Gonzo isn' t the solution for all problems for reasons I mentioned before - that it can only truly be used by those who own the means of production. Until my bank advisor can control what happens to my money ( or even understands fully), he can't speak to me in a completely personal way.
I don't think I'm ready to go the whole way yet. As proof, Ladies and Gentlemen, Exhibit A. This rant/nostalgic whinge has been lurking on my hard disk for a while so I thought I had better put it out there so people can give an opinion.
Thursday, December 06, 2001
"The paradox is not mine, the paradox is me."
While some people view the Net as the latest and greatest way to carry on business, it is also a way to catalyze voice. More than a business tool, the Internet is a medium—an environment that efficiently amplifies messages.
For a moment, let’s not think “macro.” Let’s think micro. Micromarkets consist of very small audiences that elevate the common voice beyond digital borders. I used to say that the Internet is a place for publishers, and through this editorial strength, we show the teeths to the traditional markets.
The concept behind the Net does not corroborate with everything we have learned about marketing up to now. Surfing on the digital ocean demands that we destroy some thoughts and agglutinate others with new ideas. “When paradox becomes paradigm, worst practices work best.”
Christopher Locke introduces the Gonzo Model in his new book, Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices. Gonzo Marketing offers some of the best thinking in Marketing since Theodore Levitt’s 1960 "The Marketing Myopia." Locke is aware of the tortuous paths of the Net. He understands that the micromarkets live within communications micro channels, where personal publishing versus the press and mass propaganda.
These micro channels (the Marketing Hacker itself and more than hundred projects included in this denomination) are creating a very specific and powerful micro audience. People who forge opinions, the press itself, and many individuals who otherwise would not have a voice, are using this channel as a source of inspiration and communication, each and every day.
Locke proposes that companies must not only pay closer attention to these projects, but that their very survival depends upon their willingness to embrace micromarkets. More valuable than market research, more powerful than mass marketing, and more effective than any propaganda campaign, micromarkets consist of people talking to people using human language that transcends the boundaries of the corporation.
So why don’t most companies “get it”? First and foremost, corporations are not human. They don’t breathe, don’t make love and don’t know how to talk as people. But companies do have the potential to talk through people.
In Gonzo Marketing, Locke unveils the concept of underwriting, in which people do talk as people. Underwriting more closely resembles the concept of mecenato of the gold time of Florence than to today’s practice of commercial sponsorship. Locke’s underwriting model does not presuppose any commercial link; rather’ it’s free and independent.
Underwriting brings continuity to the pure expression of voice, and at the same time brings organizations the real possibility of participating effectively in the virtual bazaar. It means confidence and reputation exchange. Corporations can reach their markets through their underwritten sites. More like anti-marketing than marketing, these underwritten sites represent the market’s point of view.
The Marketing Hacker is this type of site. It is my proposal. Of course I haven´t realised the marketing viablelity through the mecenato. But it´s incredible thinking, isn´t it?. My proposal is spreading the voice diversity through out the Net. Like everybody talking to everybody. Using this bloody mess as reference of information. I called it Creative Information. In the same way, the relatively new phenomenon of blogs are increasing conversation in many ways. Blogs are the catalyzing agent that, until now, has been missing from this.
The Creative Information is more peripheral. Corporations must understand the web from the perspective of the digital people. They must accept the diversity within micromarkets and underwrite their activities. Companies must call these voices to their sites, turning viable the personal projects that span across the Net. This model is a rough approximation to the open source movement, with people working and creating in teams and in tandem. Within micromarkets, our products are already packaged in blogs, sites and debate lists. The next step is for corporations to understand that our products are good, stable, and reliable, and to invest in this media to assure their own survival within the digital jungle.
Farewell, Jeffrey... your music and your kindness will be with us forever! Jai Sat Chit Anand!
I dunno if you've noticed, but I've been quiet, and I've been noticing. Man, I am constantly surprised and thrilled by the sheer brilliance of people you "meet" on the net.
Talk about echoes and rhymes, lights and shadows, contrasts and comparisons; the biggest deja vu I get is just noticing again and again how amazing people can be.
And then I start to get a bit of that zing that I got from reading Gonzo for the first time, that sense of expanding mind reaching out, rushing out to meet a huge and ever expanding universe.
I gotta tell ya, I'm excited. I dunno where this is going, I dunno what happens next, but let's show these people a world with no rules, no controls, borders, or boundaries.
I'd buy that for a dollar!
Wednesday, December 05, 2001
Still figuring that out, but I'm certainly captured and driven by the explosion of prose going on in these things, and I wouldn't be privy to it otherwise. Stories told in words require no cameras or canvas. Just a "publish" button.
Tuesday, December 04, 2001
To which Chris might respond, our conversations are very real, Jeneane. Where the fuck have you been?
To which I might respond, No, I'm talking about the ones going on inside my brain.
To which Chris might respond, good conversation doesn't originate from the brain; it originates from the heart, the gut, the soul.
To which I might respond...
One thing that is missing is Chris "Joy of Blogging" response yesterday on his blog.
How does joy fit into this equation and how do we feel or think about joy?
To which Chris might respond, we don't think about joy we just feel joy.
To which I might respond, everybody experiences thought and emotion differently and it might be misleading to project our own interplay between heart and mind onto others.
To which Chris might respond....
How is that for a dialogic monologue on the half shell?
Monday, December 03, 2001
Denise, thanks too; you definitely passed go. Collect your $200 at a lucrative blog near you. (And if you find one, let me know.)
For the rest playing the home game, cogent thoughts needed. Send care package soon.
And now to segue to Mike Sanders list of questions about the nature of Blogging. At first I was tempted to say "all of the above", but on closer examination I find that I need to put a scalar value to each of his parts. I also recognize that my rendering of these values is completely personal and everyone will have different notions about what Blogging is. So here goes:
A Better World: cool idea and probably true, but for me it just comes with the territory. More people talking with one another is bound to benefit all.
Build Relationships: definitely! The very idea that you can build relationships with people you would have no other reason to communicate with, and will likely never meet in the regular course of your life is a fantastic bonus. One could say much more about this topic, but I want to finish in a timely manner.
A Form of Expression: definitely again! People used to literally stand on soap-boxes in the public square and wag their tongues to all who would listen, and annoy those who don't give a damn but are forced to listen, at least at the 'noise' level. I would feel completely foolish doing that in the physical world, but in this world I can express myself and know that my haranaging will not fall on ears that would rather not listen to my babble. People will stop reading a Blog the microsecond that it becomes disinteresting to them. Those who keep reading do so because they want to.
Honor & Recognition: Possibly. If one takes a moral stand that is read by others and this affects their behavior in a positive way, then perhaps honor is served. Recognition is easier... every pass through the Blog implies some level of recognition, and some satisfaction in participating in the discourse.
Riches: Forget it... not here.... not likely...
Entertainment: In a sense because I am often amused, moved, angered, etc. by things I read in Blogs. The unique thing is that it is not a passive form of entertainment, and because each of us participates in it the level, or quality, of entertainment is altered as compared with TV or radio or any other passive form.
Okay, Jeneane, I've stuck my finger in the pie again (mmmm, tastes good), so 'Bye for now...
Sunday, December 02, 2001
I started out thinking I'd post something here about those who might not get it but nevertheless are eager to co-opt the lingo. See "Choice. Voice. Attitude." The official tagline for AARP makes the outfit sound more like a place you can read about The Bombast Transcripts than the benefits of aqua-cize... Not one to make unsubstantiated leaps about whether money is being put where mouth is, however, I nosed around a bit on the AARP site, and truth be told they are awfully engaged over there. My search on "viagra" turned up this article about "better sex through chemistry," and my search on Geritol returned just one hit - no pitch or product description, just a metaphor for the performance advantages associated with cleaning up your computer's startup folder. In fact, by the end of my visit I was forced to conclude that the self-proclaimed voice of America's seniors is perhaps the epitome of gonzo. Their writers take a stand, express opinions, and spark familiar-ringing discussions concerning, for example, the risks v. benefits of social marketing:
"The best tool for closing [the information gap in healthcare] is advertising. Economic research has consistently shown that advertising improves markets, bringing better informed buyers and better products. Now advertising is doing the same thing for prescription drugs. A 1999 survey by the Food and Drug Administration found that consumers use ads to get essential information about both the risks and benefits of drugs. Twenty-seven percent said ads caused them to talk to their doctors about conditions they never discussed before. On the other hand, the survey found that only about 4 percent of consumers have had bad experiences with their doctors when they talked about the drugs they see in ads. Direct-to-consumer advertising is here to stay, and that is a good thing for AARP members." (By John E. Calfee; Mr. Calfee got quite an earful in response to that one.)
I guess all this is just a sign that gonzo is here to stay, and with any luck will keep turning up in places we may not necessarily expect it. (Thanks to Norlin for describing his discovery of voice, promising metaphysical substance to come, and causing me to giggle when AARP's tv campaign proclaimed its weirdly parallel course.)
Anyway, send your favorite "hey, they get it" sites to me and I'll add when I get bunch. Or blog some other ideas, folks. Comeon, it's getting way too quiet over here.
On a related note, Don't Make Me. I'm gonna have to start dismissing people who won't pipe up. This is supposed to be a gathering, ya'll. It ain't much of a party if only two or three people are talking. So Lurkers, get busy. Fair warning--pipe up this week, or else...
Friday, November 30, 2001
So for me, especially, the connected world of the Internet is erasing the lines between work and home, between creative expression and ABCs, between online earth mother and offline wife-lover. And when the stars are aligned, it all works like magic--like a good search on google when you find JUST what you were looking for. And when the karma's bad, it all goes awry at once, like when the laptop dies, my daughter decides to etch her name into the baby grand, I piss my husband off, and I'm late finishing a really sucky article on something I still don't understand for a client that wouldn't know gonzo if it bit them in the tush.
So I'm not sure if the end result of all of this will be a collision of online and offline worlds, or a merging of our connected and unconnected states of being. I think for the near term, for us all, it will be an odd mix of collision and integration. And I wonder what it will be like for my daughter and hers. And sometimes, I wonder what she'll think when she's sitting there while her children etch their names into some family heirloom as she searches me up on google, finds this blog, joins in the discussion, and the whole thing comes full circle.
We indeed live in an amazing time.
So what were my thoughts once I hit the 75/85 connector? "Wow, I wonder what's up on RGE? Wonder what everyone's been talking about. It'll be nice to talk to everyone again. I wonder if I have any EGR sends. I wonder if that stinking editor has gotten back to me about my article abstract (not)." Short and simple, I had something to look forward to. A reason to come home. Blogging gives me a reason to get up (a reason to stay up), a reason to connect, and someone(s) to connect with.
For Mike's "what's the purpose" questions, I weigh in this way:
To make the world a better place: not really, because I don't want that responsibility. too tired.
Deeper relations with others: kind of--others like me anyway. not the other kind of others though.
New avenue for expression: yes, my voice has been sequestered too long.
Honor, recongition: guilty with explanation--I think "acceptance" is a bigger need for me than honor or recognition. At least that's what my shrink says.
Rich and famous: well, shit, it sure would be nice if this blogging paid off eventually. I think, regardless of whether or not you blog for the hope of money, blogging or some Progeny of blogging will one day pay off for us, especially as more and more smart people are "involuntarily separated" from their jobs and take up arms against the corporate model.
Entertainment: it's fun, yes, but it's a lot of work too, isn't it? so more than entertainment, I'd say for the artistic, creative joy of it all.
So that's where I'm at, as I struggle to lift the fog of vacation and come to terms with the idea of once again being land locked.
More later. sorry i'm so down. keep up the good fight. -j.
The trend is to dismantle the border between the working time and leisure. We work as we play the video game. It´s all together now!!!
One of the questions I have is "What are our individual and collective purposes as bloggers, internauts and gonzomaniacs?"
Do we want to make the world a better place?
Do we want to form new and possibly deeper relations with our fellow Earthlinks?
Do we need a new avenue to express ourselves to satisfy an innate human need?
Is it honor and recognition that we crave?
How about great riches, financial independence, to make a living, or some extra pocket change?
Or maybe we are just wasting our time with another consuming form of entertainment?
Some of the above questions are purely personal decisions while others would probably benefit from some discussion.
Wednesday, November 28, 2001
Tuesday, November 27, 2001
Friday, November 23, 2001
BTW, when you buy ZoneAlarm's personal firewall online you also get a free copy of AdSubtract, which kills cookies, banner ads, etc, and also has a nice little tool for managing the cookies you want to let in.
Great Gonzo product, we should applaud loudly and support them with our custom.
Speaking of which, I was especially tweaked by Page 202 today. It occurs to me that what I would really like to do is run a Gonzo Ratings Service on the net. I'd call it a "GRating Service", because it will alternately shred and/or annoy the hell out of the admeisters, assuming any of them ever notice it.
I suggest we use the "X out of 7 Gonzo Bullets" as a graphic indicator, and then link to a more full Gonzo analysis of the site.
We could do it on a blog to start off, but I'm sure that with the talent we have assembled we could do a pretty bang up website of our own, and webhosting is pretty cheap. I'm not sure how we'd generate any revenue yet, but hey, I can't think of everything.
For our first beneficiary/victim, I'd like to proffer www.pcdj.com, who I'd give 2 and a 1/2 bullets.
Firstly, they have only two frame tabs, "product" and "community". The community side is a bit thin relative to the product side so no more than 2.5, but at least it is there, and the beginnings of a Gonzo marketing effort is evident. The product side is far richer and deeper, but the whole site is nice and slick, and there doesn't seem to be that air of intrusive shouting about the community side that would really bug me.
Thems my thoughts, but I'd be interested in responses from all of you.
I figure we could cut our teeth on some others (ZoneAlarm would be another natural) and then move on to outfits like Saatchi & Saatchi, Disney, etc, especially all those given honourable(?) mentions in GM-WWWP.
The way I see it, the day that S&S try to bribe us will be the day we know we've made it.
So, Who's in?
"Are you ready, are you ready for this? Are you hangin on the edge of your seat? From out the doorway the bullets rip, to the sound of the beat! Yeah . . . . . "
Another One Bites The Dust, by Queen
Wednesday, November 21, 2001
So blog on while I'm gone. Keep up the spirit and the great conversation. And stuff yerselves with turkey too. See ya soon!
Boy, are them ever true words. Bingo!
But the gonzo plan, Andrew, is not for workers to talk about products, as you seem to assume. If that assumption were what I was proposing, I'd have to agree with you that it was unworkable for precisely the reasons you give. Instead, the gonzo model calls for employees to talk about things THEY are passionately intereseted in. In such cases, amatuers are the best "experts." As I wrote in the book, "When paradox becomes paradigm, worst practices work best."
Tuesday, November 20, 2001
Can a completely-gonzo-from-the-ground-up company exist? How many voices can one company have?
clocky has it easy, there's only two people in his head and they each have a business of their own.
"... oh yeah, at least one of his heads is now saner than an emu on acid"
Ford Prefect, speaking of Zaphod Beeblebrox,
in The HitchHikers Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
Which means I could buy the whole dozen for the same price here.
You guys are being ripped off, that's why I suggested you might like to see if blackmarket would package for international delivery - you'd still be saving heaps. Hell, you could probably supply to your local restaurant trade at those prices!
But I don't really want to sell wine, I just used www.blackmarket.co.nz as an example.
It also answers (at least partly) your question about how - they didn't do anything other than set up the website to keep their friends off their backs, but they did say that they really didn't want to piss potential customers off so they deliberately didn't spam anyone. They just told their friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on.
They're turning over a quarter of a mill this (their first) year and at current growth rates expect to do a mill next year. That's in a population of about 3.5 million and using only word of mouth! OK, word of email.
That's the viral power of gonzo marketing: no sooner had I bought a crate of a good red than I sent off 5 emails to friends of mine that I know are also into a wee drop now and again.
(I wanted to make sure they didn't deplete the stock, so I made sure my order had been confirmed before I emailed them! I may well be ignorant, but I'm not stupid!)
But I'd rather not go too far into the how until we sort out the what: I have no real idea what we collectively have to offer that some benighted fools might be willing to part with their hard-earned for, but I know we've got a group of pretty clever people assembled (and me, as well) and I know that we're the ones presently with the insight and the motivation to explore how we might build a completely gonzo business from the ground up, so my basic question is;
if not us, then who?
if not now, then when?
"What's that? Who's driving? Where we going? Who knows? . . . ."
Talking Heads gettin gonzo on the album Speaking In Tongues
Gonzo won't work in traditionally organised companies. Why? Because there is more than one voice involved in the production of the message. Gonzo works becuase it is one distinctive voice. Big Companies operate by splitting up tasks into tiny pieces and then reassembling them after going through various "filters" ( most of whom know what they want, but don't know what they are talking about). The voice is lost, confused - unreal. You can't pretend Gozo. You either are or you aren't.
This leads to the conclusion that Gonzo must own the means of production. Chris Locke is a great product because nobody but Chris Locke is allowed to be Chris Locke. Any attempts to be Gonzo by Big Companies is doomed to failure.
Multi-skilled, eclectic individualists should therefore be the ones best placed to harness Gonzo Marketing.
The reason why this all came about is that I am writing a website for a large Nordic company. They want me to reflect their values; the values they use to market themselves. The problem is I can't "be" them, they are hardly theirselves. So the best I can do is strike a neutral, best fit tone. But it don't inspire me.
Mind you I could of course be writing bollocks. We'll find out tomorrow what the ad agency has to say.
I have started a blog by the way, but I have been too busy to do anything with it. It's here, though.
In a think out of the box sort of comment, someone I know recently suggested I try to market my children's sized mannequins as dress-up dolls for little girls who could put their own clothes on them and 'play house'. Hmmm... would certainly extend the potential market. Is that a Gonzo concept?
As for basses... no way I'm going to tackle a standup double bass. There's way too much specialized knowledge in making those very large acoustic instruments (but boy do I love to hear someone who can play the hell out of one). But there are two other types I am interested in building one of these days. One is the typical electric bass, and the simple truth there is that there is as much going on in the electronic side in making an outstanding instrument as there is in the woodworking side. After all, most electric guitars are a slab of wood and a fingerboard until you get to the electronics. The other is a guitar-bass... an acoustic (perhaps with a pickup installed as well) instrument that looks like a big-bellied guitar with four strings. They're great for a small room and just jamming with friends, but don't do too well in a larger venue because as soon as you amp them up very much they tend to feedback a lot.
So back to actually trying to market something... what else besides NZ wine might be on the list? And how would this experiment work? I know that the existing paradigm is to send of email to a zillion people, but that's really Old School and exactly the kind of spamified crapola that we are trying (I think) to get rid of. So how do we make ourselves visible to other's who might be interested in whatever we have to offer?
Back to you guys...
Monday, November 19, 2001
Jeneane: No money down, easy payments - honest! ;-)
Seriously, I wasn't contemplating some monstrous investment thing, just a modest real life experiment in the viability of Gonzo as a foundational theme for a business.
See the website I discussed below, other than some semi-formalised ordering and payment relationships, that website is the sum total of the business.
Hell, if you look at the wines on sale, and you know something about New Zealand wines (mostly they're damned good, I shit you not) and you like wine, and you like the fact that our currency is known as the Pacific Peso (sigh), then you might even be able to convince them to look into packaging for international delivery.
Shoot, if they won't package it for you, let me know and I'll do it.
That, my friend, is viral marketing - the transmission of an idea as opportunity, with the only dis-ease caused to your credit card account.
The trick (forgive me Chris!) is to make it work for us.
"look at that yoyo, that's the way to do it, he's bangin on the bongo like a chim-pan-zee!
aw, that ain't workin . . . ."
- Dire Straits
So I guess what I'm going to do is "play it by ear." It took more than a decade of marriage to a musician before the depth of that old saying hit me. Play it by ear=improvise. Listen, hear, respond, relax, flow, let it happen, leave gaps, add fills, give and take, let go, dig the process... So that's all I'm going to do right this second I think. Jamming along and waiting to see how far out we can take it... Every now and then I get a solo or two... and I'm happy. For now. Then I'll get bored. Just like you guys. And then we'll make it even better.
(Note to Big Corporation I work for, and Big Fish my clients: All this shit has made me an even better worker, because my brain is now on overdrive. I think more clearly. I can invent again. I write better. I feel better. I'm all about energy. Lucky you.)
And now, a case study on gonzo. Jack, I didn't know you built guitars too--I checked out your wooden folks a while back. I hope I wrote you like I meant to about how freaky and cool they are! Now, tell me more about the guitars... and whether or not you do basses... hubby's a multi-instrumentalist. we're always looking. And gee, that Locke has been known to beat on a roland guitar synth or two... shit, chris, did you know this guy makes guitars?
So who knows Denver, we may all go off on one big gonzo adventure together, or we may, as I suspect, connect, intertwine, and engage in intracommerce within our own little microcommunity (and others like us), exchanging wampum when we can, and adding our strings to the complex web of online interconnections. And eventually, maybe that's all we'll *need* to do. And how cool would that be?
I'd be interested in this topic even if I didn't have anything I wanted to 'market', but it's doubly interesting to look at it both from the perspective of an extra-terrestrial anthropologist and a very earth bound (would be) merchant!
On top of that, there are other things I'd like to use this marvelous media we're all involved with, and that is to publish some semi-personal history wherein I am not interested in making any money in the process, but would like to publish things of interest that I have collected over the years, for instance the history of certain military aircraft. This small Gonzo group has managed to coalesce around a theme in a vast ocean of ideas that are in existence on the web, and I find it amazing in a sense. Anything that I would 'publish' by way of creating a web site would be just one more piece of flotsam in that ocean, and unless I took some action, some form of Gonzo Marketing, there would be nothing more than pure happenstance that would get that site up on someone's screen. While waiting for the ferry the other day I saw something that is ordinary in our cultures legends, but extraordinary in that I had never actually seen one... it was a clear whiskey bottle with a note in it floating on the bay. I just stood there amazed at the thought of it... at the UN-likelyhood that it would ever actually make a journey of any distance... that another person would actually fish it out of the water and read the message... it took me on quite a metaphysical journey imagining that someone in some remote place had surrendered to the idea that despite incredible odds this was the only way that there was any possibility whatever of getting a message out to the world. Phew! In reality it was probably some kid doing it for a joke, or some thoughtless yacht driver throwing his garbage overboard, but to me seeing that bottle bobbing listlessly in the bay it became a parable for a much broader set of ideas...
In fact, my employer would explicitly and emphatically deny it, and probably castigate me for suggesting it, and probably ultimately fire me if I persisted an asserting such an idea. And the Marketing department would probably approve wholeheartedly.
[sigh . . . . . . ]
What I was trying to say to Jeneane, since she's the only one here I know is "in marketing" in the traditional sense, is what if her dreams come true and the War On All That Is Not Gonzo finally tracks down and kills Osama Bin Hustlin, well, WHAT THEN?
What is she going to do?
See my last mangled post for a company that not only has no marketing department, but has no marketing media in the traditional sense, just a website that invites you to sign up, and invites you to invite your friends to do the same. You can't get there unless you (or someone who knows you) know where you're going already. Gonzo, and they don't even know it! They started the site this way because they had no money and to placate their friends who were always asking them for cheap wine deals.
Chris: I've just sent them a copy of your book. You see what you've done to me!!
Still haven't got that blogBuddy hyperlink sussed. Bugger!