Friday, November 23, 2001

Team: just finished Gonzo today. About to start again, slowly, and this time with feeling.

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, 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

Denver and the bunch--Hey, I'm game to start a gonzo endeavor! Only thing is, I got no ideas right now, the main reason being that I am all about taking a break this week. SOOO we're packin up the family and heading to florida for a week to get a little R&R. When I get back, I bet I'll have lots of ideas. Stuff to blog. Asses to kick. Names to take. Oh man, I can't WAIT to get out of here. Does any other city's traffic helicopter guy radio guy describe the daily commute as "Draconian"? Sometimes I wonder why we live here. But hey, that's what vacation's all about.

So blog on while I'm gone. Keep up the spirit and the great conversation. And stuff yerselves with turkey too. See ya soon!
Andrew writes: "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."

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

The idea of doing something completely gonzo, both in the sense of taking a big leap into the unknown, and in the sense of that unknown being itself a gonzo initiative, has got my juices flowing (if that's not too damply organic a metaphor for you).

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
Jack, the last NZ wine I saw on a restaurant wine list in the US was about US$80, which is about NZ$200 9hence the Pacific Peso . . . . )

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 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
S'funny that you've raised the idea of a Gonzo company as it coincides quite neatly with the thoughts I've knocking around for the past few days.

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.
The Pacific Peso, that has a great ring to it, despite the less-than-stellar reputation the word 'peso' might have in the Western Hemisphere in general. So what are we talking about here... a Gonzo Group Multi-Product Garage Sale Internet Nexus of Commerce? I live near California's premiere wine country, but I've had some of the New Zealand stuff and will attest to it's fine quality!

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

Well, shit, I'll do the backing vocals.

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
Denver, man, you're gonna make me run for the Xanax with the what are you going to DO question? Hell, I don't know what I'm going to do. What am I supposed to do? No extra cash to "launch" with... lookin' into private school for the little one... you know. Whatever it is, it's gotta pay. So I do this. And this is something. And it will pay one day. And for now it's free. So you see, I'm not-so-subtly using my marketing know how to position myself smack dab in a microcommunity with other really smart people who have all manners of connections and interests and ideas...

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?
Denver (et. al.) - I know what you mean, at least I think I have some idea about what it's like to have something to offer and no place to offer it. That's one reason why I became interested in this topic. My copy of the Gonzo book just arrived over the weekend, so I've only read a small amount by now, but my motivation is both practical as well as philosophical. I have a small side business that has, as you put it, "no marketing media in the traditional sense". It has a website (, but the target clientele is limited mostly to boutique type shops, and there's nothing much more than chance that leads them to my site. I also make guitars, and one of these days will, in some manner or fashion, try to "market" them, but there's no way to do it in the traditional way, so I have to be one of the guinea pigs of Gonzo and step off of terra firma into something quite unknown. I assume that's why so many existing companies are so slow to change and evolve. They are using what has worked so far and aren't willing to trade their predictable (so far) buggy for some sportier new model that might not work at all.

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...
Jack, I do know it, thanks. As you say, I think I've almost always known it, but my employer doesn't.

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!
href="" title="Gonzo In New Zealand"
Denver - You ARE in the Marketing Department... you're in your very own personal marketing department just as you have been when you first realized as in infant that you could make people behave differently depending on how you behaved! Marketing Departments, as we know them today (and the immediate past), may be rapidly changing, or even becoming extinct by present day definitions, but whatever you do in the world, whether it involves making a product or providing a service, you place that thing in the nexus of the economy or else you are just a 'lurker', watching the world go by. Marketing happens on some level no matter what you call it. Your resume is marketing. Your personality is marketing. The fact that the world of marketing in the larger business sense is changing is obvious to all but the most blind.... how to define and describe it's ever changing face and direction is the challenge we are all facing.
Denver: Was that a 'yes' ? Sim, oh yes!!! a bit more... it´s real
Hernani: Was that a 'yes' ?

Chris: reading in page 107 "everything was outbound" I got to thinking about the telephone, a not new medium, but one fairly recently rediscovered by marketers and thoroughly abused thereby. I got to thinking about the sort of thinking being applied to the internet and wondered what it would be like if applied to the telephone. I found the exercise instructive.

Imagine ringing, oh Saatchi & Saatchi's and getting: "Hello, please press 1 for the new McDonalds ad, press 2 for the new IBM ad . . . . . . . . . . . . press 9 if you want to talk to a real person - we'll transfer you to a number selected randomly from the phone book - there are no real people here, this is an ad agency!"

What are they - fucking nuts??

But this is exactly what you get from the vast majority of corporate websites. Hey, I think I'm getting it . . . .

I also got to the bottom of page 113 "efficiency is not effectiveness" before I had to get some sleep. Man, that got my attention! I've been trying to tell the people I work with exactly that for - oh, it seems like decades .

They're all running around going on about being more efficient and I'm sitting there going:

"guys, having a more efficient mechanism that still doesn't work is not an improvement!!"


Jeneane: the question is, what are you gonna do? I mean, keep blogging baby, but what are you going to do? No-one pays for blogging (yet) so it's unlikely to pay the rent. In the new open source gonzo marketing paradigm, where everyone is in the marketing department because there is no marketing department, what are the marketers going to do?

Although I love you personally (really!) I don't really give a shit, since I'm not in marketing - well, not according to the corporate org chart anyway.

You gonna lurk in the marketing department of the Titanic Deck Chair Rearrangement Company going "hey guys, I think the waters rising or something" or you gonna join me in establishing the worlds first all gonzo company and float off together into the sunset?

"You know that I would be untrue, you know that I would be a li-ar,
If I were to say to you, girl we couldn't get much high-er,
Come on baby, Light my fire . . . . . "
-The Doors
In an on-line world, we're all serfs, but at the same time we're somewhat autonomous serfs. We don't have the power of big B corporations, but at the same time we have the freedom to ignore them more and more as the 'new paradigm' asserts itself and the Gonzo Sub-culture begins to wake up. Someone suggested starting a small 'b' business with no marketing department. Sounds great as long as there is someone out there looking to buy the small b and is able to make connection with the point of sale (whatever that might be). Various folks in this forum have characterized 'B' business, or Corporations, as having none of the desired human qualities (heart, love, sex, etc.), and further that they are obsessed with control. That's certainly true. The bigger any entity gets, the harder it is for a small group of people (upper management) to control it. I think that's exactly what happened to the USSR. We did not win the cold war. They lost the cold war because they could not micro-manage a macro economy. Upper Management (e.g. The State) cannot decide how many tractors to make and expect that exactly that many tractors will be both needed and wanted. Large corporations cannot predict with certainty the direction that numerous variables of thier business will take, and many of them, in a sort of pointless desperation, try to make RULES, like some pre-teen Prince who doesn't yet understand that while everyone in his immediate presense will jump when he says to, his Kingdom at large will not. For example, just because Buggy Bill up there in Redmond Washington tries to round up the entire human population under the sway of Windows, there are those of us out in the Kingdom who recognize that the Billionaire is Butt Naked, and that this cockly little upstart, Linux, has picked up a nice smooth river rock to begin the "David & Goliath" games. So, of course corporations have "No soul, no heart and no sex" (although they are not above using references to these qualities to sell thier products), because they are too busy trying to keep their basic act together, and because they are led by people whose primary motivation is to look good at the end of the quarter. As for the latter, there's nothing wrong with trying to make money... after all, the global economy would crumble around us if no one stood to gain anything for their efforts. Like the workers credo in the old USSR, "They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work". I think that larger organizations are trying to stop time in it's tracks, and find formulas for making profit that are immutable, and further I think the "Gonzo" movement is just another way of saying that human culture, including it's economy, is a constantly changing thing. The "Stop the World" folks are on a boat in an ocean with neither motor nor sail and are in for one hell of a ride when the wind starts blowing. Those who can't keep up with change want it to stop, but it only stops once when you get off (and I'm not even certain of that). It certainly does not stop when you get on. At birth you are totally wired for change, ready to accept the world as it is fed, as it is "marketed", to you by your parents and all the others you encounter along the way. I've worked at those companies someone mentioned that allow no personal reflections of any sort in your cube, as if it weren't de-humanizing enough to put us in those cages in the first place, but I take the "no humor allowed" rules as definite signs of a corporate culture that is totally out of touch and out of control, and enforcing nonsensical rules on employees is merely a form of denial on the part of management (we can't control the world, but goddamnit we can control our own cubes!).

So wake up! Smell the coffee (roses, fresh air)! Look the day in the eye and ask it to show you something new. Actually it will show you more new things than you can take in all at once, but if you'll just remember to get out of the way and let it all happen you'll experience a lot of cool new stuff.

It's intuition that something *is* happening to business--and it's almost like it's our little secret.... Jeneane... it´s not an intuition. It´s reality. Something is actually happening. Look to the markets. You are going to realise that things are getting true. In the open sources community it´s the basics. The Linux has subverted the order. It´s the first product built in a productive mean different that capitalism. I blogged today a reference from Domenico De Masi (an Italian thinker) that the same way that employers have organised themselves in the beggining of the industrial era, the intelectual employers must do that in the pos- industrial´s one. We are doing so. The conversation is catalising a new paradigm. It´s a commom sense that the revolution is on.

Sunday, November 18, 2001

Oh yeah, by the way: Dave? - Books are just collections of words.
* I was gonna add a note that this may seem extreme, and particularly likely (in the implausible event that it was actually a success) to result in a new dogma simply replacing the old. I was gonna, but then I changed my mind and deleted the note. Then I noticed the * got left in the body of my post and couldn't stop myself trying to explain it.

I was also gonna add a quote, which I think is from Neighbors (John Belushi's last movie, with Dan Aykroyd, not the sickly Aussie soapie), in keeping with my philiosophy on the repository of all wisdom:

"Fuck them if they can't take a joke!"
Team, having read some more, I'm now in a more knowledgable position from which to foist my ill-conceived opinions on you all. Sadly, knowledge is not wisdom, so be gentle with me, my darlings.

Just read the whole One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest scene in full. Weee-Laaaa! That's really nasty stuff Chris.

So, - understanding that the wheel of progress grinds slowly, and that the route is continually up-hill so we all have to put our shouolders to the wheel and PUSH! - understanding this, what role is there for the outliers of Gonzo Marketing? The pioneers of the peoples popular putsch?

How would those who would push the boundaries of the possible, and so make room for some more pragmatic backfilling, best expend their energies?

Any advice for a wannabe freedom fighter in the War on All That Is Not Gonzo(TM)?*

Like, does anyone here feel like starting a small-b business that just doesn't have a marketing department?

In fact, seeing as the Internet is the major factor in both Chris' recognition of Gonzos application to Marketing, and our discussion of it, does anyone have the insane chutzpa to invest in a virtual business with us as the founders?

"....searching for that ruby in a mountain of rocks . . . ." - Meat Loaf
Is it time to don our gas masks? Is another blog brawl brewing in the usually peaceful land of blogsville? Seems that Chris is taking some exception to Dave Winer's software-centric view of the secret life of blogs. In response to Dave's kinda overstated take on his role in the ditch-digging that brings blogging to the common man, Chris speaks for me when he asks Dave this: "When you say '...of course no one but me is going to be willing to put so much time into it,' you don't really mean for it to sound that way, do you?" Naw, I'm sure he doesn't. But for the record, I think blogging's about as far from academia as I am these days--and that's *really* far away.