Saturday, November 10, 2001

Yay Helen!

"This notion of privileging the ‘phonocentric’ and the Real at the expense of text or ‘lesser’ forms of exchange is not one with which I am comfortable." Yes! Yes! I'm cheering over here to discover someone who's cleary into theory but isn't entirely crazy. How's that for a left-handed compliment? But really. Wonderful.
White Riot" by the Clash?

Andy A
Your sense of alienated voice is anything but alien to me. See this conversation for a possibly relevant exchange. Delay will now occur while I wait for a riposte to yours to come to me. Conversations, after all, take time.
Good Day all of you witty, sarcastic, reflective co-conspirators..

I have a thought...a corny thought...If we had to choose a personal theme song, what would it be? Personally, I have to think about this question for quite some time....lets just see what happens.

Friday, November 09, 2001

Guilty of lurking, oh miss megaphonetic jeneane :). I was simply waiting for a gap in the pleasantly high-octane exchange in which to bloat a sense of posting bravery. As no lacunae seem forthcoming…well, I shall ramble untethered anyway.
Tom I dunno if I can concur that the web is not one-to-one and/or, somehow – as you suggest - a privation of “real” interaction. A coupla q’s (or one, in any case): what constitutes “one-to-one” discursive exchange? I remain doubtful that ‘authentic’ interactivity can ever be truly present. That one presence, or identity or whatever, can ever engage utterly and equally with another without there being some kinda obfuscation by means of power or the sheer inadequacy of a ‘representational’ language. For mine, the web – and particularly loci such as blogging or newsgroups – while it does not ‘correct’ the problem of our endlessly thwarted conversation (in which participants struggle to point to absent truths) certainly provides a graphic map of our frustrated desire to speak ‘meaningfully’. Answers or rejoinders to questions and ideas posed in the digital space are (mechanically) deferred by email, comments <script>, guestbooks, nasty moderators or good old international datelines. When ripostes come, they can contain hyperlinks, digital footnotes, to unambiguously borrow and indicate that all speakers are engaged in a colossal economy of ideas and text. Delayed answers, deferred meaning and appropriated ideas are what I’m all about in everyday conversation, in any case :).
This notion of privileging the ‘phonocentric’ and the Real at the expense of text or ‘lesser’ forms of exchange is not one with which I am comfortable.
Thanks for the welcoming post Jeneane! You characterized this blog as an 'improv on the life and death of marketing', and it occurs to me that one could slightly reword that and say 'life, death and marketing, what else is there?' That paints with a rather broad brush, but since new concepts in marketing are at the heart of our discussion it wouldn't be out of line to suggest that virtually all of human interaction is, in some sense, a form of personal marketing. We learn from childhood how to be accepted and how to interact with our fellow space travellers. Our parents 'market' their view of the world to us from infancy. Now Chris Locke is pointing out the somewhat obvious yet incomprehensible event that is overtaking us... the global Tsunami of the Web... of Blogging... of recognizing and interacting with virtual entities that heretofore we would have had no means of even realizing they existed, much less communicating with them. This seems like a very comfortable yet challenging forum to me. I first read Thompson when he chronicled the Hell's Angels, which I think must have been the very first item of Gonzo Journalism. I was involved in the music business, and therefore a regular reader of Rolling Stone when the Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas series was written. So much of what Chris mentions in his book seem like milestones in my own life it's kind of eiree, but pleasantly so.

He mentions things that 'get out of the box' and then can't be put back in it. I've had a name for that for years. I call it the Pandora Principle, and I most often cite it when defending the basic human right to free speech and publishing. Everyone knows the Pandora parable, wherein evil is released when she opens the box, but in my version I lose the concept of good or evil. Whatever a human being ever thinks, makes, invents, communicates or dreams of is immediately "outed". The lid to Pandora's Box is a one way portal, what goes out stays out! The Nazis tried to destroy knowledge by burning books by the thousands, but all those books had been read already... indeed to go one step further, as stupid as it may sound to say it, all those books had been written, and therefore are known to the human race at large. For someone to write a book presumes a wealth of prior knowledge (just look at the long list of citations in Locke's book), and so burning a book is about as sensible as closing the barn door after the proverbial horse is already halfway to the horizon. Onward!
Eureka Tom. That's what I was looking for!

I must learn to stop thinking in broadcast terminology. Those bastards are hard to shake out of your system.

Voice-to-sensibility will be my new watchphrase.

We must move on from here to develop a 12-step plan BursonMarseller can use to rehabilitate Third World dictators and make millions (just kiddin' there)

And I too must move on. Today I clear my desk in preparation for three months changing nappies (ahem, diapers) as I bask at home on parental leave building up huge debts and thinking huger thoughts.

Vi ses lige om lidt, hjemmefra

Andy A

Thursday, November 08, 2001

It amazes me that this blog doesn't implode under the pure weight of the intellect contained herein. Jack, you are a welcome addition to our little ongoing improv on the life and death of marketing (and other stuff--we sometimes get carried away). I indeed know the feeling you speak of in your Temple of Doom analogy, and I can only say thank you for your kind words on what we're trying to achieve here, which we may from time to time forget, but in the very act of forgetting, somehow move forward anyhow. And even if we don't do anything, we've each met some pretty cool people.

With the addition of Jack, fellow blogians, our little team now numbers 12. Amazing, huh? I encourage the lurkers to speak up... maybe shut me, andrew, and denver up for five seconds. ;-) But either way, we're all glad we're here... I've learned a lot! And to that end, if you guys have blogs of your own, please email me the link (if it's not already listed on the left), so I can add you to the blog bog--and to that big footprint in the sky.

Anyway, I just had to say welcome to Jack and celebrate our twelveness with you.

Do you guys remember the last of the Temple of Doom series of Harrison Ford adventure movies... there is this scene near the end where Indy has to step off a cliff in a leap of faith, and as he steels his nerves to the task and closes his eyes in fear his foot comes down on firmament, not the abyss his fear was anticipating. Upon realizing that he was not falling his eyes popped wide open and one can only imagine the plethora of emotions and realizations he was experiencing at that moment.

All this wordiness is by way of explaining how I felt when I discovered blogging. Not every site withstands the "leap of faith test", but this one certainly does. I have stepped off the cliff many times since I discovered the world of Blog, and sometimes jumped right back onto it again because I found myself within someone else's box, and like the Intro to Gonzo points out, sometimes you don't even know where the exit is. But this site is replete with reflections of spirit and intellect too numerous to be acknowledged in a single pass, so I will simply begin by introducing myself and saying thank you for the opportunity to participate in this forum. I have thoughts on the inherent nature of blogging, on the 1 to however many theme and on several other ideas touched on in the few posts I have read so far. I read most of the Intro and am amazed at how it's author is able to make me feel that I know what he's talking about. At first, when I realized that this site was specific to a book on marketing I thought, "Jeez, who gives shit about marketing... I go out of my way to avoid being 'marketed to'". But by the time I got to the second paragraph or so I realized that this was really interesting, and it's author has turned the concept inside out and made it not be onerous. So here's to having fun and not being onerous!!!

Bye for now...
Leeeve My Blogs Alone Pleeeze.

They're addictive and distracting enough already without making them more engaging.

Over on Technology Review they have this item on improving the web, which is worth a read in it's own right. One of the ideas is a means of storing your level of trust in the opinions of various people so that your browser can automagically determine which opinions you'd rate highly and therefore rate items specifically for you.

One of the problems with such an idea is who is going to store this info. It would seem in keeping for the open source community to provide the mechanism stored locally so we don't all have to become marketing fodder for the beast of Redmond.

Ignoring all that, such a mechanism would be a neat adjunct to the blogging world. I'd certainly like to be informed of other public utterings of good people like yourselves, without necessarily having to depend on your narcissistic self aggrandisement to do the job - since I'd be unlikely to want anything to do with narcissistic and self aggrandising people in the first place.

(Don't ask me why I like RageBoy's stuff - I never said I was consistent!)

And for anyone foolhardy enough to be interested in my feckle opinions and strange rantings, depending on my skills with blogbuddy and html just ain't gonna do it.

Okay, I can agree with my good colleagues that blogging ain't all that..... yet.

Like Tom (though not so eloquently--man, this guy's amazing), I've been blogging outside of Gonzo Engaged, off in left field somewhere inside my own little blog double-wide. A couple of days ago, I was thinking about tools and apps that could move blogging up a notch. I'm not sure what's already out there (me, the resident blog expert of a whole month), but maybe something like this:


"Maybe blogs that let you host interactive chats in a separate window--so you can talk real-time about the post of the day. Sure, you can do this now--I'm no wizard, but I use instant messaging--no reason you couldn't get the team together to chat about today's post. But who's willing to go that extra step? What, I'm gonna say, "Hey, RageBoy, can I have your Yahoo screen name so I can bother you all day long?"

"No, go away," he's likely to reply in his quick-witted RB style.

But if our little team could chat amongst our blog, that would be fun.


And there's more--if you care to explore my maunderings* in detail.

I'll get into the one-to-one thing with you later... i think. Tom, keep talkin--we are so glad you're here!

later, j.
*big-word courtesy of RageBoy.

Quantitative snapshots, e.g., 1-to-1, 1-all, all-1, seem to miss something vital to the relationship voice-to-sensibility. One can be doing 1-to-1 and have all the broadcast arrogance in the world. One can do 1-to-many and not have it. At least, it seems. In response to Chris Locke's thoughts on blog (en blague?), I wrote a bit on my blog. One possibly relevant snip:

''Unlike Jeneane, I don't see blogging as a perfected form. (To be fair, neither does she - having invited others to a colloquy on her blog.) I see it as a highly imperfect mode for a very large array of individuals to begin to get a sense of their otherness. It's a first step - an exploratory one - toward something else. Something that will exhibit neither the deafness of Big Mediated Money nor the bafflement of innumerable unquiet maunderings. I look forward to watching it take form.'' (The full comment is here.)

OK as this Blog's Mr Contrary I would like to throw this into the fray...

I don't believe the Web is one-to-one.

Ad agencies and marketing gurus and even the esteemed Mr Locke state that the Web is "one-to-one".

My contention is that there is SO MUCH one-to-many communication out there it merely appears to approach one-to-one communication. Therefore, the term is a misnomer and slows down development because content providers delude themselves.

I will concede that there are many places where interests coincide; where like minds meet. However, one-to-one communication is face to face and no more. There needs to be true interactivity - listening, even - from a Web site before I will admit to one-to-one communication being present.

Unless you know different...

Andy A

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

aaaarrrghhh! bloody HTML!!
See this

for a beautiful example of stealing a voice to say something otherwise incredibly difficult to put into words. Note that the author is pillorying his victim by stealing someone elses voice and ascribing it to the victim - "putting words in his mouth" - you might say . . . . .

Neither his own voice nor that of his target, and certainly not the One True Voice of either, yet it expresses his views more strongly than he probably could do unaided.

Beautiful To Watch.
Blogs are like arseholes, everyone's got one . . .

Who wants to look at mine, then?

Woops, haven't got one.

That's gotta hurt.

Sorry Jeneane - I didn't meant that passion is restricted to intelligent people. Hell, even the boffins can't agree on how you figure out who is which.

And as Scott Adams says, everyone is stupid, anyway.

My point was that passion is an intelligent emotion, you can't claim passion simply as an outcome of intensity of feeling, it demands some involvement with the object of your passion.

All, of course, imo.
Well, they've almost got it. Not quite--but you can feel a hint of optimism in this, if you're a "the glass is half full" kinda guy. Today's Business 2.0 features an article called Looking for Better Results, Some Advertisers Head to Niche Sites. The article touches (barely) on why companies' are missing the boat by targeting their ad dollars macromedia style.

The article plugs Performics, a chicago-based pay-for-performance online ad agency, and its marketing VP Kate Bergin, who has this to say about why companies should reconsider buying ads on big portals.

"Our clients don't like to leave money on the table," Bergin says. "We're convinced that there's much more opportunity beyond the major portals. We look deep into the top 200 for it."

Okay, so they don't have it quite right yet. A) quit with the fucking ads. B) redefine what you mean by niche. (or better yet, don't use that word... okay?) and C) "deep into the top 200?" Comeon Kate--take a risk. Think about what you're doing for a living. Read Gonzo. You're heart's in the right place, but you're hanging around with the wrong crowd. Quit that job over at Performics and join our side. We'll show you how deep deep can be.

How did I get here?
Blogs are like arseholes - everyone's got one. That do you, Chris?

By the way the link for Lucy Kellaway (spelled correctly this time) is here. Read every Monday for a large dose of common sense - in an annoying English, down the nose sort of way.

Let's not overstate passion, by the way. By restricting passion to "intelligent" people is a little bit too Ubermensch for me. Passion is exactly what it claims itself to be, neither more nor less. I object to people insisting that I am passionate about my work or the product I sell. What defines passion for me is that I decide what I am passionate about. It is my democratic right to be passionate about clarity in communication or Bolex Standard 8mm cameras. Or a perfectly executed triple jump (there's a little tuning fork that goes "bong" when you see and hear it; feel the rhythmn). Neither of the last two require any degree of intelligence.

Oh, and Chris, a quick cutty-pastey into MSWord shows a word count of 521 on my blissful blogful observations. Not so pithy, but from the heart, man... from the heart. -j.

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

My entry into blogging is obviously new. But my time in publishing isn't, dating back to the days of typesetting--I mean real typesetting. So the most stunning news to me as I came upon was how unbelievably easy blogging is. Pick a name, pick a template, pretend you read the user agreement, and click your way into edit mode. Speak, post, and publish. That's all. It's that simple.

Blogging doesn't require an IT degree or extensive HTML experience (though you can do cool tricks with just a little know-how). And you don't need your own domain name or Web site to find your blog a home, since sites like Blogger take care of that for you. It's 1-2-3 publishing for the regular guy. Instant voice. And, if the blog is good, instant notariety.

Consider this. The three years of toiling over the two Web sites we maintain at our house resulted in nary a mark on this over-informed world. Until recently searching up my own name on google (yeh, I do it a lot--got a problem with that?) brought up one meaningless result: my "unsubscribe" to the Acid Jazz list. What kind of legacy is that, I wondered?

Then came my first blog. After three weeks of blogging, I did the search again. Search results on me, myself, and I suddenly filled a whole google page and spilled onto a second. That's the beauty of bloggin. Brother and sister blogs always makes room for new ideas, fresh voices, as they seek to stay current by adding links to the coolest newcomers. A perfect, self-sustaining model, really.

On an interest scale of 1-10, blogs score a perfect ten for web audiences "shopping" for information and entertainment in their spare moments--within the daily work grind--mostly because by their very nature and journal-style setup, blogs are always new. Constantly changing. Up-to-date hilarity and absurd news there for the asking each day. Where you might wait weeks (months? years?) to see changes to your favorite web site, blogs are served fresh each day. Great moments, so to speak, for the short-attention-span surfers who make the net their home.

As the newest form of micromedia, blogs give voice to microjournalists who are yet unknown. But I'm banking that we won't remain unknown for long. Otherwise, I wouldn't be staying up night after night, forgetting to pay my bills, and thinking of little else besides what else I might have to say next. Oh, yes I would. Hell, it's just too much fun!

And then there's Voice. For those of us wrapped tightly within the corporate coil of traditional communication--AKA a day job--blogs set us free. If for no other reason than to find your 'real' voice again, start blogging. This instant. NOW. You won't be disappointed as you see your 'self' re-emerge--the self you haven't seen in a long time. Blogs are contrary to the comand-and-control nature of most organizations. And yet, they can become--I believe--an incredible tool for companies who open themselves up to the possibilities of these now-underground communication vehicles. Word to your mother.

-more later--gotta run.
Chris, since your doing a piece for The Grauniad, you might want to mention that their habitual typos would not only be welcome and fitting in a weblog, they'd probably be vastly more appreciated than they are by people who buy the paper version.

Best I can do at short notice . . . .
Passion. Is it just raw emotional intensity? Is the scale of emotional energy emitted the defining characteristic of passion?

Some think so.

Yet it seems to me that passion is confined to those things about which we genuinely care, which explains why all the examples that Jeneane uses are about "giving a crap".

There are lots of things that stimulate raw emotional intensity in me, but only a subset of them that I am passionate about. Even the painful ones I can't say I am passionate about avoiding, I just don't like them.

There's a bit of a trend today to ascribe noble (or noble-sounding) concepts to our basest urges, as if that excuses them. The constant substitution of "passion" for what is in reality often no more than raw emotional intensity emitted without thought or concern for - or even recognition of - consequences, has seriously devalued the word in common parlance.

Imagine yourself, Jeneane, ascribing passion to an ad simply because ads are broadcast at higher volume than the programming that people actually want to watch. You would never mistake the saccharine enthusiasm of an ad voice-over for the One True Passionate Voice - would you?

This trend is also, in my estimation (for whatever that is worth) a characteristic of the unintelligent.

Passion demands a certain amount of intelligence, and the application of that intelligence to the objects of our passion. It demands a particular understanding and involvement that the momentary impulse cannot displace nor act as substitute for. Our babies can express raw emotional intensity - it's difficult to sensibly claim that they're expressing their passion.

You may have noticed that terminological inexactitudes bother me . . . . . . .

With this in mind, when I read Jeneanes thoughts on the passionate voice, the One True Voice, and Andrews objections to that, I'm thinking that I have a small number of One True Voices that I may use to express my take on the small number of things I am passionate about.

I also have a large collection of prostitute voices that at best express a measure of disregard for their respective audiences and often enough outright contempt.

Is there a One True One True Voice? If so, I haven't found it yet . . . . . .
I just now (sorta) redesigned The EGR Weblog. I've been putting other reviews of the book here, in case anyone's interested. The fishrush thing is hysterical, and the one by Tom Matrullo is terrific, imho.
I'm working on (read: trying to get myself to work on) a column about weblogs for The Guardian. Yesterday, I did phone interviews with (read: schmoozed with) Doc Searls, Dave Winer and Ev Williams. Great talking to those guys, but I've only got 800 words, so how am I supposed to fit all that stuff into this piece I can't seem to start actually writing? Also, I spent the entire morning searching and digging around in blogspace. Found all sorts of great stuff, including this excellent overview: weblogs: a history and perspective. It's from September 2000, but timeless in its own way. Also, Eric Norlin turned me on to, which is pretty net. I mean, pretty neat. You can help me to procrastinate by posting your blog-releated observations here. I have 800 words, remember, so short and pithy (read: brilliant) statements would be most helpful. thanx. RB.
Passion - yes, but with a proviso. We can't be passionate about everything. I have limited reserves of passion that I don't care to waste on a job or a plastic widget. There has been a lot of overdoing the passionate thang in recent years and certainly too much "delighting the customer". Read Lucy Kelleway's passion in the Financial Times every Monday and you'll get a good idea of what I'm talking about.
I get it--I understand what you are saying, Arnold. But I think the idea of passion is important in how it applies to this genuine voice thing we're tossing about. All of the contexts for voice I mentioned have the common thread of passion. raw emotion. caring. giving a crap (which you and I both know we don't do while we're pretending to be polite.)
Hmmm, I know what you are getting at Jeneane, but I am not sure how much I subscribe to the One True Voice theory.

I too play the silly game of pretending to be somebody else for money - and it is in that situation that part of the problem of voice lies. By assuming different voices during the course of a day I am tacitly admitting that I am not being true to myself (although I may be true to someone else's self!). The idea that there is, deep down there, one Voice that expresses the self perfectly is therefore tempting. It is a protection from the guilt of not telling the truth instilled from childhood.

If I consider the situations you mentioned, then there is a core within all these activities. However, I believe that my reactions and my voice are different. If all social mores and restrictions are ripped away, I believe I would emit a sound much like an over-lunched belch. Truthful, but not pretty in mixed company.

But before going any further it may be worth considering whether there is a cultural context here. There is a tendency among North Americans to have a greater dependency on 18th century Universal Truths than there is among Western Europeans (And for obvious reasons). We are a cynical, pragmatic lot over here. That is not a value judgement (it may not even be a valid judgement - or judgment). That could mean that when we start talking about the Voice, we are not using the same script.

So, let's agree that there is a Voice to some extent or other. But just because it is true, does that mean it is worth listening to? I can point to some very truthful individuals in that sense. They also happen to be complete tossers that I am not inclined to listen to.

Which leaves us with a slight problem. How do we get to the nitty gritty that is Andrew Arnold? And How do we know when we've found it?

But more to the point - is it worth looking for?

Andy A

First matter of business--Angela resist being sassy to that lameo boss. I say that because that is what he wants, more excuses to harrass and control. Not to say you should smile and make nice-nice--just don't stoop. This from an expert at working for dysfunctional people.

Now, for a 180-degree turn, something about Andrew's post--and the notion of "variety of voice"--has me squirming. And so I blog. Here's my perspective on Andrew's notion that "stories are told within contexts, with a certain voice, all with a particular audience in mind." Who's voice? Andrew poses this question, wondering if "human voice" isn't too generic.

In part--yes, I think you're right, and I have to admit, I for one hadn't been giving much thought to the notion of variety of voice. But I think that's because I'm already a resident expert on variety of voice. Every day that is what I do. Although some call it "spin," it's essentially doning a specific persona and communicating thusly. Tone, tennor, light or heavy, polite or common---these impressions form what I produce in the name of client deliverables.

The voice I'm more interested in--I guess it's because I tell yarns all day in other people's voices--is GENUINE voice. AKA the voice we each have, deep in our gut, that if we strip away everything else, still resonates.

This is the voice that speaks when you are defending what you love. When you are threatened. When you love. When you feel pain. In other words, voice of passion.

Genuine voice is what businesses think they can do without. But it no longer matters what business thinks. The Net is powering genuine voice--embracing genuine voice as it repels contrived voice. The net is a home for genuine voice, specifically because (in my humble opinion), the net removes the control factor (and fear, which follows closely) associated with genuine voices, which often express uncomfortable (for business) thoughts and ideas.

You are right though--the cultural context of voice can't be overlooked. Still, when you get to the nitty gritty, you too, Andrew Arnold, have genuine voice, deep in your gut, and it's not polite, and it's not contrived. Consider the energy behind that voice, and it's source. Picture yourself defending your family, being jilted at the alter, watching your child come into the world. At that moment, all propriety and social mores ripped away, genuine voice--your voice--resonates. That is when the world will hear you. That is what's worth listening to.

I dont have time to write a lengthy entry...I have to be to work ON TIME. you think it would be "over zealous" (his words, at my suggestion) that I voicemail my boss when I get to work and again when I leave for lunch and then again on my return and of course again when I leave? Is this being a snippy bitch or is this prevention from the wagging tounges of clock watchers? THere is something inheriently sick about this entire situation.

Do I fight with fire? If they only thing they have to undermine me with is my tardiness....and his heinie-ness, trusting the words of those who are so incompetent the only method of attack is this base-level bullshit..what the couldnt hurt, right?

However, does it lower me to thier standards...nah...this is want HE control.

Meanwhile...our heroine is brushing up her resume and sending out feeelers...hehehehee....

I should write a book...using Jeneane's title: "How to control a control freak"
Ah, but Denver are you orthodixically unorthodox or unorthodixically unorthodox? (There are too many doxies in that last sentence - and the advertising/marketing profession generally.)

Stories are told within contexts, with a certain voice, all with a particular audience in mind. Human voice is all very well and good, but whose voice is a good question to bring up. It is easy to be unorthodox in a relatively unorthodox situation (such as ad agencies, internet start-ups etc), but try it in a merchant bank at your peril.

Not everyone wants to be addressed in an "over familiar" manner. Because I'm English, this question is normally met with jeers of derision of being a "tight-arsed Englishman". But I still think its relevant. There has been too little discussion of variety in voice.

Voice only becomes voice when it is contextually relevant and speaks to the person, rather than at them. Other than that it is wank.

Monday, November 05, 2001

Although I love the spider story, and I have no idea how my sister became so wise (and remains so), I told it for a reason.

Imagine: If no-one did any marketing, would we stop buying Soap? Shampoo? Petrol? Shoes? Light Bulbs? Chips n Dips?

If there were no advertising, would we never have learned about Winning With Worst Practices? (Amazon Sales Rank 2,491. I note that ClueTrain is at 44,035. I have no idea what that means.)

OK, Chris readily admits that advertising is in some sense half the reason he inveigled us into subscribing to RageBoy's list in the first place, but that is the point: the other half is that WE get something of value out of it - it ain't just one-way traffic. It's a conversation that we've entered into voluntarily, not a speech, a lecture, a sermon, or a broadcast.

If we pull the legs off the marcomm people where we work, will the organisation go deaf?

Will we, as individuals, stop having conversations with our customers, with their customers, with our colleagues, with our suppliers, and with our friends?

I don't think so. But someone apparently fears that it might be so . . . . . .

(marcomm = marketing/communications)
Back to the permission thing (from somewhere way back in this blog), it is intricately linked to storytelling and voice isn't it? Giving yourself permission to tell stories (out of school), to be seen *and* heard, to break all of the polite niceties that silence us more and more as we "mature." Incoming messages overwhelmingly outnumber outward expression. What does that do to the wiring of our brains I wonder?

Four year olds have no shortage of stories to tell while forty-four year olds go mum.

Not hard to figure out. Control damages voice. sometimes beyond repair.

Control, and its sidekick fear. Fear of reprisal. Fear of being wrong. Fear of rejection. We're bound so tightly by these constraints, its no wonder that our voices are choked to a hoarse whisper.

Getting to Chris' post re: Telegraph Road. I've been looking at it. And thinking and thinking. Then looking some more. Initially, a little scary, huh? Images evoke feelings--rape of voice comes to mind. But lets look at the institutions in the diagram: Art, government, business, education, media, and religion. Which of these give wings to voice? Art, of course, is the absolute platform for voice. But looking deeper, all of these institutions are "places" for voice--it's just that the voices of the sub-culture within these institutions hold the *stories* (ah ha--a theme emerges). Maybe it's that within each of these institutions, there are layers. We have to, perhaps, strip away the layers to get to voices... to stories.

And within those layers, there are the believable, the credible versus bold-face lies, deceit.

I don't know, I've only begun to noodle on his construct. But it looks fascinating to me. And pretty risky, which, I guess, is the point. ;-)
Stories and intuitions give us hope: the most scarce and valuable resource known to man.

If you believed only in the market research and the statistical analysis of, well, of anything really, then you'd soon give up. You'd lose hope.

Statistically the universe is empty, and even apparently solid matter is so much empty space that any actual "real" substance you might perceive is so statistically insignificant as to be meaningless.

Statistically (as measured by their behaviour) most people are effectively morons and all the advances of human civilisation have only lead to more horrific ways of torturing ourselves and our planet.

It is the stories and intuitions that are our lives; the events we perceive, and the insights we receive, that make living worthwhile, not the statistical analysis. Meaning can only be found in people because people are what gives meaning to matter, meaning itself has meaning only in the context of intelligence, emotion, and spirit. Without these things matter is just matter.

When my elder sister was 13 she wrote a story for an English class about some scientists who performed subtle and disturbing experiments with spiders. They finally succeeded in teaching the spiders to respond to basic commands: forwards, backwards, left, right.

Then they successively removed individual legs from the trained spiders, until finally the legless bodies of the spiders were left motionless on the lab bench.

Which experiments proved the theory; that when you remove the legs from a spider it goes deaf.
I'm out of American Spirits; I've been smoking these 'Basic' crap-for-tobacco cigarettes all day, and I'm either coming down with bronchitis or anthrax as a result. I'm just now hacking up a lung. To keep it short, this from Gonzo Marketing:

"...all we have is intuition and stories to try to make sense of the world, to provide some sort of vision of where we're at and where we may be headed. But that's not so bad. As a species, it's all we've ever had."

The beauty of these three sentences is mighty. A story inside a story, first. And then, beyond even the content, writers, the cadence, cadence, cadence.

Now, someone tell me a story... and good night. (hack, cough, het-hem... send drugs).

Sunday, November 04, 2001

Good quote.

I frankly don't think that timid orthodoxy has much to do with professionalism per se, rather that professionalism simply accentuates the perceived risks of non-northodoxy for those timid souls that rely on the madness of crowds for their personal security. Any such person, when faced with even higher risks for much the same or less rewards, will naturally tend to increase their orthodoxy at the expense of any unorthodox impulses they may occasionally suffer.

Why corporate bodies further compound this madness may be similarly linked to the "nice, safe, bank job" image that they like to project.

A part of doing so will surely be the hiring and promotion of people of like mind.

It is one of capitalisms enduring paradoxes that the entrepreneur (i.e. the acquirer of capital) must be a risk-taker, to some degree a bucker of the trend, yet as soon as a capitalist becomes an investor then safety becomes pre-eminent in their thinking. As my hero Bill Bonner likes to say, "they stop worrying about the return ON their investment and start worrying about the return OF their investment."

But the paradox may only be apparent. When they entrust their money to someone else, the capitalist could be justified in thinking that no-one will treat it with the same respect they would, since they were the ones who had to risk the perils of unorthodoxy to secure it in the first place, and it is these very people to whom they are entrusting it that they necessarily fought viciously against to do so.

So maybe there is wisdom in concluding that taking the safe, well-trodden path is about as far as you'd want to trust the MBA'd, Armani'd, and latte'd crowd. What you might call their comparative advantage.

So you stack boards of directors with old people you trust, not young people you think might have some "good fucking ideas".
Many studies of fund managers have shown that they habitually leave funds with people they know, almost irrespective of the actual returns, but certainly even as other investments do markedly better.

There is vastly more going on in todays corporation than the corporation cares to think about, let alone admit. A certain orthodoxy, not to say an agreeable disposition and a flexible morality, will find favour more surely than insight, vigour, raw talent, and passion.

Have we not all seen it again, and again, and yet more, again?


And again?


This is probably why the vast majority of companies do OK in good times and suffer in bad times; there is little evidence that most companies are in possession of any unique qualities that might enable them to go against the flow.

Sorry, there is vast evidence of such possession - there is little to be found of any will to put it to good use.

This will (or lack thereof) is not necessarily related to incompetence, (althouogh it doesn't rule it out) but rather to a lack of MASTERY in the specific field in which the professional is employed. For marketers then, it is no surprise that the bulk of the profession are impossible to engage in normal, substantive, human conversation. This being precisely what, in our opinion, the profession needs, but exactly what they have been trained, trained, trained, and rewarded (i.e conditioned) NOT to do.

In my own field, at which I am (if I may be so bold) damnably good, I am seldom content to be other than unorthodox. Nay, I have a well earned reputation for maverick notions and impolitic speeches, radical mayhem launched against the staid and unimaginative mass of time-servers and free-loaders.

But speaking of tides, and how we may fare in them, Shakespeare (another of my heroes) put it thusly:

"Our legions are brim-full, our cause is ripe:
The enemy increaseth every day;
We, at the height, are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures."

Brutus, from Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3

He did it better.

Which is maybe why I am not a poet.

Or maybe I'm just too timid to be an unorthodox poet . . . . .
We're slowing down. Maybe we're refueling, re-engaging. Or maybe we're just tired. At any rate, I'm starting a new feature, which may last who knows how long, called the Gonzo Marketing quote of the day, or every couple days or so depending, and so here's today's:

In marketing, just as in government, professionalism tends to hew unimaginatively to its own timid orthodoxy. It does not provide leadership, enthusiasm or the kind of impassioned personal engagement that has come to be called gonzo. In stark contrast, business professionalism tends to be arid and passionless, narrowly focused, self-involved. However, this doesn't mean that everyone in business fits this damning characterization. Far from it. In my own experience, there are many more lively intellects at work in the workplace than the misbegotten 'corporate communications' coming out of those places would lead one to believe. There's often more going on in today's corporation than today's corporation would care to admit. New life is growing between the cracks in the corporate edifice, and it's spreading like a weed.

What's the frequency, Kenneth? Discuss.... or not. -j.