Friday, December 07, 2001

For Andrew: I think the essentials are still the same, as expressed in your piece when you spoke of "telling a story", but it goes a bit beyond that. Communication is the key word as I see it, whether you're telling a story or just passing on a tidbit of data. When you fail to communicate, when a story teller loses the audience, it doesn't matter what the medium is, gonzo blog, print ad, dime novel or even a personal email. The 'wired' world of communication as we know it, web, internet, e-mail, etc. has certainly provided new forms into which we squeeze old paradigms, but in the squeezing new paradigmns are formed and I think we are all trying to figure out how to describe and interact with the newness. Some of it fits the old, like the formality of certain forms of written communication, and some of it is quite new, like the ;>} funny faces we create, and the sometimes quite strange shorthand that has become part of the email and ICQ worlds (LOL, AFAIK...). Sometimes the shorthand is almost necessary, or is certainly encouraged by the medium itself. No one wants to read Moby Dick on their cell phone or wireless PDA. One of the earliest forms of electronic shorthand that I can recall is from the Pager Days where people would tag 911 onto the end of their phone numbers to indicate that they want the call returned "right now"!

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 over on Locke's blog and I check out the long-delayed epic corporate up-yours called "Fuck Work" that Locke points to. Then I read the blogback comment, which says the procrastinating author's site is Fascinating really--the guy's philosophy is some absurd combination of Doc Searls meets RageBoy (don't stomp on my civil rights, please--motherfucker). One pearl of wisdom from SRINI's "Self-Interview," which he conducted in 1997, is this:

"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.

Though Helen will doubtless disagree, I would like to suggest that what is at issue is about more than manner of speech, phony familiarity and the like.

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.
Please excuse me, but I have got a real strop on at the moment. Don't ask me why, I just have. Something smells a funny colour.

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

I have originally written the article "Being Gonzo (Marketing Hacker é Gonzo)" in portuguese. Brazil is a different market. People here loves to talk anytime. The conversation is plentyful of joy. The blog phenomena has spread very easy and fast. Of course the article´s foccus mirror this diversity. But I found it interesting to the RGE debate. I thank to Jeneane who help me to translate it to english. Hope you enjoy.

Being Gonzo

"The paradox is not mine, the paradox is me."
Fernando Pessoa

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.
I'm going to drop out of gonzo themes here for just a minute and take time to pay homage to George Harrison. He was a brilliant musician, and a thoughtful and caring person. I knew his wife, Olivia Arias, before she met George (or Jeffrey as he was called by family and close friends), and then George signed a band I was managing to his Dark Horse Records label. I got to meet half the Beatles because most of the parties were held at Ringo's house. George was more private and didn't have big bashes at his house much. I haven't had any contact with that circle of people for almost twenty years, but his passing has flooded my mind with memories, mostly of good times and laughter. Once, when he was being sued over the "My Sweet Lord" melody line he flew in from London and was bubbling over with excitement about a new song he had written on the airplane, so he sat us all down, grabbed a guitar and sang us the early version of "Sue Me, Sue You" blues. And he went through all that with a smile on his face despite being very annoyed at having to pay royalties for that brief snippet of notes that comprised the suit.

Farewell, Jeffrey... your music and your kindness will be with us forever! Jai Sat Chit Anand!
I just love reading you guys!

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

Wow, you know people dig what you're doing when your book is translated to Hebrew. Such is the case, now, with Cluetrain, thanks to Hanan Cohen over on the Cluetrain list. Shalom for sure!
Long absence acknowledged. I have been elsewhere. Gracias to Hernani for reminding us of David Weinberger's insight into the promise of voice. And to Mike for reintroducing "joy" a la Rageboy. I like to imagine that joy can arrive in the use of voice or in the sharing of it. This is not so different, to me, from what happens in reading a good book: The flash of recognition that someone, elsewhere, has had a moment in the world that echoes, shares, illuminates or transforms some moment of my own. As joys go, this is not trivial, whether in a book or on a blog, or email, or what have you. The point, in the quaint parlance of today, is that the productivity of the Net in delivering the voice-and-joy piece of the human being market outperforms the efficiency quotient of the for-profit, mass manufacturing-jollification niche generally distributed via broadcast news, entertainment & information commodities.
McGuffin anyone? (I need the darned net just to decipher what Locke is on about half the time.) Maybe blogging is a device that captures the viewer's attention, drives the logic of the plot, and can be ignored as soon as it's served its purpose. Which would be...

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.
The conversation originates from the heart... from elsewhere. Because the spiritual lure of the Web is the promise of the return of voice. The blogging is not an entertainment. The Internet at all is plentiful of joy. The joy of the amateur.

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

Mike, I'm just pretty much glad that I'm not the only one who has make believe conversations with our rageboy.
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...
Jack. Your answers to the why blog question closely parallel my thoughts.
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?

Honor & Recognition... I do prefer the word reputation
I come slinking in with my tail between my legs. I have been working for the corporate Man, but what a rich learning experience it has been. Much more will be revealed, hopefully, when I get a minute.

Meanwhile, small blog considerations at Ordinary Daze
Jeneane: How about both a "They Get It" and a "They Don't Get It" section?

Sort of the carrot and the stick approach.

I mean, both of them are no more than our personal opinion, but opinions put out in public are what voice is all about, no?

Monday, December 03, 2001

Jack shoots! Jack scores! Jack stays! Nice comments, Jack. Mike, check out Jack's take on your why blog questions.

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.
"Stayin' Alive" i.e. to keep from being dropped as a lurker, I have a couple of responses to recent posts. Firstly, Jeneane, I totally understand the massive pull between the major 'gravity wells' of your life (mother, wife, worker, blogger). I have similar aspects to my life, and when I cross one of the Event Horizons I get pulled completely into that activity. Where this metaphor diverges from real world physics is that our individual Gravity Wells are overcome by the neighboring Gravity Wells and you get sucked from one to the other as demands mount and are met. In plain english this means that sometimes a few days go by before I can get away from other activities and do something fun, like maintaining a presence on this Blog.

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

Hey, they get it.
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.)
Since I seem to be the only one blabbing this weekend, let me weigh in on Denver's idea below--the gonzo rating service. I'm not too sure there's enough to rate yet, but there is a way we could start 'endorsing' (propogating) sites that are doing it right. As you may have noticed, I can add infinitely to the left-hand menu bar. If you guys see companies or sites that "get it," I can add them to the RGE blog. When the prospects for this spread beyond our own little circle (the lockes, weinbergers, searls, norlins, etc of the cyberworld), who knows, some underwriting possibilities may even emerge. And wouldn't that be nice? I have extra space over on earthlink where my other site's hosted, so if we need to add pages/expand eventually, we can do that.

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...