Friday, May 17, 2002

Gonzo Humanitarianism and Environmentalism

Wow. Thanks for the kudos, folks. I am seriously happy to be blogging with you guys. I hope to learn, grow, teach, and laugh a great deal as I continue to meet more people with the cluetrain spirit. I am in the pumped state, Jeneane. The same one I was in for months over Cluetrain. Hell, I even wrote a long polemic and distributed to managers at my old company at an annual meeting (flop). Anyway, thanks. You may come to regret it.

I wanted to blog this because I think it is 1) very interesting, and 2) seems to have a gonzo spirit at first glance:

ThinkCycle - Open Collaborative Design

ThinkCycle is using both open source and collaborative computing theories to work in the real world of design focusing on humanitarian and environmental problems of the world. This is the kind of thing that needs to be replicated. It is focused - giving it a better chance to succeed in terms of interest and participation. It is open - [sarcasm] which makes it a bottom-up process that has been somewhat successfull for a little known operating system [/sarcasm]. And to top it all off, it is designed well and appears to be programmed well as well. Well, well, well. (Just seeing how many times I could say "well". Well! Eight. Not bad.

ThinkCycle. Gonzo at work in the world (OK, open source should get more credit, but it is all the same, really)

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Eric's Gold

Let me add my welcome to Eric. We need some fresh blood in here to get things going again. Eric's blood obviously runs true and swift. That was as sharp a take on Gonzo as I've seen.

Let me offer a personal experience of what Eric's talking about:
there's a great CD shop in my neck of the woods-Hear Music. They have about a dozen listening stations throughout the shop, each hooked into eight CD's or so. The stations are grouped into idiosyncratic, intriguing categories by the various employees of the store. In addition, you can take any CD you want to a central listening station and they'll play it for you.

On average, it's about five or six bucks per CD over internet prices. I started to get cold feet the last time I made a multiple purchase there. I calculated how much extra it was costing me over a year's time to do my buying there. Then I thought about the "one-hit wonders" to which Eric refers--all the ones I didn't have to buy because I had had the opportunity to listen to them at this wonderful store (and, yes Eric, there sure are a shitload of these rip-offs out there).

I realized that the money I had saved far outweighed the extra per-CD cost. And I'm so appreciative of this merchant's hip and helpful employees, I wouldn't dream of going there just to listen, only to head home and log on to Amazon.

Obviously, a lot of loyal customers feel the same way. Hear Music has had nothing to fear from the rise of e-commerce. Their greatest period of growth has coincided with the rise of the Web. And the icing on the cake: their dedication to the listening experience of their customers caught the attention of Starbuck's, who in '99 awarded them the contract for creating album mixes for their cafes.

So, yes, Uncle Eric, there's gold in them thar' Gonzo, customer-up models.

Taking blogging to the streets

Our own boy wonder, Chris Locke was on Marketplace Morning Report this morning, a radio show that captures the earballs of some 2,000,000 listeners (yup, I said two million).

You can listen to the RealAudio stream here or go to the homepage and click on "The Best of Today's Morning Report."

Tess Vigeland was so fascinated with the topic that she extended the segment from something like two minutes to a full six or seven minutes.

We owe it to the man. Blog the hell out of this.

And while I'm at it, Eric, HELLO! I'm SO glad you're here. You sound like I did just after finishing Gonzo. Drink it, breathe it, live it, don't stop, don't quit, write it, love it, hate it, trash it, burn it, reconstruct it, sleep with it, dream with it, sweat it, taste it, create and recreate it, shape it, and take it out--way out. I'm with ya, Les.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Gonzo Latecomer

OK, so I never did buy the fucking book. Even after I kept getting all these inflammatory emails from some jackass whose Topica list I was dumb enough to subscribe to. So I see Gonzo Marketing in the library and I think, "What the hell!", and pile it on my stack of Linux tutorials and Lester Brown's Eco-Economy (couldn't find Natural Capitalism by Amory Lovins - rats). Man am I glad I decided to start with Gonzo (Does anyone else have this problem with books - I read 5 at the same time until I get hooked to one and toss the rest - or am I just mental). Holy shit. What was I thinking. I've read Cluetrain four times now and I was dumb enough not to buy this one sight-unseen. [shakes head in personal disgust]

So while pretending to work today (kidding boss, I was working. I read on lunch hour, er, um half hour), I was reading Gonzo Marketing and making notes (is THAT normal...please tell me that's normal). Do I use too many damned parentheses? (what do you think?). Here is a bit of my notes:

Gonzo Marketing: The question really does come down to quality. It matters much more now. In mass marketing, you could sell inferior junk because your goal was to blast the message (ad) to millions of eyeballs and hook a certain percentage (I'm reminded of the shoveling chum scene in Jaws...not sure why. HOOPER!). With Gonzo Marketing, you can't do that. In fact, you had better make damned sure your shit is great or you will essentially be marketing for your competitors! Napster proved this to the record industry. The old model allowed them to put out 11 shit tracks and 1 hit and sell tons of records. Ever get pissed off after you buy the album with "that one cool song" on it only to discover that one song was all she wrote? Not anymore, Jack. The conversation is real. And it goes a little somthin' like 'dis:

"Dude. Did you download that Slayer album?"
"Yep. All crap but track nine."
"No shit. I'm gonna have to burn a compilation!"

Now imagine that same conversation concerning the latest Tool release:

"Dude. (the kids always say "dude"...maybe we can use that in our personalization) Did you hear the Aenima album?"
"Fucking A. I got 5 tracks off Napster and they all rock!"
"Straight up. I'm gonna have to get that one!"
"No doubt"

See? Now this is precisely what the RIAA and most of the labels just can't get through their copyrighted skulls:

New Economy Rule #1 For Selling Records:
Make an awesome record. Give away the tracks. Sell a bunch or records.

A smart label would have strongly supported Napster and would have employed music enthusiasts (or better yet, set up a site for them) to get online and talk to the kids. I said to. Not at. Because, as Metallica used to say: "What about the kids?!" Wonder what changed their minds?

There's a billion dollar formula for you folks. Just a little tip from your uncle Eric.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Developer, meet Prospect: why don't you two blog a bit?

I'm getting a big Gonzo kick out of Rick Klau's (V.P. of Vertical Markets, Interface Software, Inc.) exchange with Christopher Smith (knowledge management guru with A Very Large Law Firm). This, as they say, is what it's all about, and reinforces Kevin's point below (though I have no idea if either of the companies knows about the boys' blogs - suspect not, in Christopher's case). Blogged a little more here.

Sunday, May 12, 2002

They may want to read this

About Macromedia turning its support staff and some developers loose on blogs to nurture and facilitate communities that discuss and support their products. Beautimous.

Help this chap out

PhotoDude (link via Doc) needs help explaining the value proposition of a Gonzo approach to the client asked to forgo shouty branding in favour of discreet support of online communities.

I think this partly misses the point - Chris's examples often involve the company in little more than giving permission to its employees to use their authentic voices in public fora and basking in the reflected glory.