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Marketing is not always a dirty word

Marketing is one of those things gets a terrible rap. The only marketing that most of us like is the kind that is more entertainment than anything else. The kind where when asked to state what they were selling we can only answer, "I think it was a beer commercial...". The second it starts to influence us in anyway the same people who made us laugh are now the devil incarnate. We love it when marketing people pay for things we want. Most of the web is free because of marketing. Over the air television is paid for with marketing. Huge numbers of other things from sports to community events are also paid for in large part by marketing people. Again, we want it on our terms, if any of the marketing people's needs and desires start to become noticeable we flip out and complain. Marketing is there to buy us things with never any hope of reward or thanks.

I find this all terribly funny because to be honest when I look at marketing all I really see is fashion. Why do people shop at Target over K-Mart? Target is more fashionable. All the best people shop at Target. K-mart is for poor people. Nevermind, whether quality or pricing. We know that Target is better. If for some reason Target is to expensive we can always run to Walmart. After all, everybody knows that Walmart is the cheapest store. It makes it okay to shop there because now you are getting a bargain. Walmart is a fashionable place to buy stuff because you tell people you got a deal. Fashion once again rears its ugly head.

In the end though, this post has to have to a point. Marketing is about fashion which is about making people comfortable doing what you want them to do. After all, as elections have taught us for years. People usually just want to fit in with the crowd and not be on the losing side. This brings us to one of the great moments in marketing history. Nobody likes prunes, they're just fiber for old people. Nobody wants to be associated with that. Folks would much rather have a dried plum.

I think you're doing it wrong.

Tourism is tacky by its very nature. I am not sure it can really exist in any other form. If you are building something deliberately for tourists than tacky is going to happen. However, I think there are lines that folks need to be aware of when you are planning and building such a destination. The first thing you need to understand is that it really isn't that important that your tourist trap represent reality. It is a fine line between ye olde tourist trappe and weirding people out. In the end, just embrace the tacky and let people revel in it.

Random acts of stupidity

I don't have much to say on the following. It is just a case of what the heck are some people thinking?

If you are going to try and hoover all information everywhere... you shouldn't say this. Although this probably isn't any better.

If you want people to give you their money to keep safe... robbing you shouldn't be this easy.

If you want people to take border control seriously... this, this, this are not going to help. Also, work on avoiding anything that smacks of trust us.

If you are working with radiation... certain things should be donefirst so you can avoid thesethis and this.

Just ask Ford what a little stupidity can do.

Cut and Paste are simple, right?

In another entry in our occasional series, "Cleaning out the bookmarks file", we have an entry on Cut and Paste. Cut and Paste are things that should be ridiculously simple. However, the existence of various clipboard enhancers shows that it is not. Another example of how complicated it can be is this classic. I never thought learning the fine details of clipboard theory would be interesting but the bookmark has been with me for longer than I care to think about.

Another part of it that I enjoy is that it reminds me of my youth when things like Wikipedia and even About.com did not exist. If you had something to say you put it on your own webpage. The times I found fascinating information maintained by someone who cared made the internet a far more interesting place. It seems nowadays it is easier to find what you are looking for if it is popular with the right people but far more difficult in other respects.

Art Theory

If you want to get a definition of art that is more useful than the dictionary definition you are going to have a challenge on your hands. In the end you are probably stuck accepting "I'll know it when I see it." and lots of disagreement. I'd like to throw out something as a bit of art, even if it might not be what you normally see.

Another classic from the archives

I have to admit cleaning up the detritus from a computer can be mind-numbingly boring. However, it is a necessary evil and does come with a few perks. The random link is one of my favorites. Here's another that still amuses me after so many years.

I want a PDP-11

I am not sure what I would do with it but it would at least give me an excuse to download the latest updates to BSD 2.11, first released in 1992, from its website, http://www.2bsd.com/.

Missing the point

I love the internet. It gives me far more opportunities to see people being stupid than I would have ordinarily had. In this case we've got a guy attempting to debunk a common one liner. The line is "If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product." He takes a small kernel and stretches it beyond all recognition.

He first makes the claim that the phrase is bogus because it relies on ad-supported media being new. This is of course bogus. The phrase is both as true and as false for a free newspaper as it is for a website or any other form of media. In fact, it is probably more important to keep in mind when it comes to news sources. The reporters are not volunteers they have to make money to live like everyone else.

He then makes the claim that the line is bogus because it implies that you should not complain and you should just accept it. He turns around and states that if you don't like what a free service is doing you shouldn't use it. The problem with this argument is that the original line doesn't imply anything about what you should do. It simply states a given situation and it is up to each of us to decide how we are to respond. Accepting the situation is certainly one option but it is not the only valid option. Leaving the service or not using the product and using something else are just as valid for the line in question.

His third point is that it doesn't cover the fact that most companies have several revenue streams beyond advertising. This is certainly a true statement but is also the clearest example of stretching the line far beyond where it is useful. The line does not make any statements about what happens we you do pay for the product. If we see anything we are filling it in ourselves. Once we start start adding our own assumptions we are no longer commenting on the line we are commenting on our own assumptions as people.

The rest of the post continues to beat home the idea that the line is all about bad mouthing anyone who is ad supported and praising anyone who charges. There is simply not enough in the line to justify the bulk of his post. The line is a simple one sentence statement that covers a specific situation. It may not be as useful as most would imply but it is not as useless as the poster claims.

The summary tries to play up the obligation of business to treat customers reasonably. However, there's not much in his post to support his conclusions. In the end it comes across as another bit of negativity on the internet. There is a followup post that attempts to offer a different one-liner and provide justification for it. This followup should have been framed as an improvement of the original line instead of merely a followup that has to calm the waters after a negative rant. This is especially true because all to often I have asked the question, "How are they going to make enough money to pay for all of this?". It is a question worth asking in a lot of different situations.

Life imitating Art

The average consumer wants the Tricorder from Star Trek so they buy iPhones and the like. Unfortunately, the average government wants the surveillance system from the thriller of the week.

Restroom Gender Parity in Federal Buildings Act

You cannot make this stuff up. The bill itself is pretty short. However, I have to say that this seems like a classic example of unnecessary legislation. Do we really need to make this a law? I would think having enough restrooms would be something you can rely on people fixing as buildings come up for renovations. Heck, a rule or two by the people who handle faciltieis for the government should be sufficient. Either way, the Washington Post has some commentary.