Archive for the 'Trends' Category

Brands and schizophrenia

An example of Mexicans playing with Poly Identity

I feel bad for advertisers (OK, not really) because I often here industry pundits complain that the media audiences are too scattered, and have too much ADD to focus on their messages. Too bad, I’m crying crocodile tears. You see, part of the problem concerning people’s inability to focus on brand messages is a) there are too many of them, b) advertising is partly responsible for the scattered attention span, and c) who cares. Now another interesting problem: poly identities. As multiple worlds proliferate the Web, people are developing multiple personalities. I should know, I have the same problem. I often get confused about which tone and approach to use on this blog, and have found it difficult on some occasions to restrain myself as do not do in the comments sections of other people’s blogs. As a Latino, I have also had to traverse multiple identities. It’s part of life in the border world. My suggestion, if anyone is listening, is that if marketers want to know how to deal with poly identity, then they should take a bus down to Juarez or Tijuana and check out the scene there.

Media archeologist Jonathan Crary interprets the problem perception and identity as a double bind. This, he says, results from conflicting modes of mental engagement originally required of industrial work’s tight focus and the multisensory shock created by exploding urban environments and new media. This is at the root of our contemporary predominance, if not false, diagnosis of ADD:

In a culture that is so relentlessly founded on a short attention span, on the logic of the nonsequitur, on perceptual overload, on the generalized ethic of ‘getting ahead,’ and on the celebration of aggressiveness, it is nonsensical to pathologize these forms of behavior or look for the causes of this imaginary disorder in neurochemistry, brain anatomy, and genetic predisposition… [T]he behavior categorized as ADD is merely one of many manifestations resulting from this cultural double bind, from the contradictory modes of performance and cognition that are continually demanded or incited (Suspensions of Perception> p. 36-7).

He further laments “the sweeping use of potent neurochemicals as a strategy of behavior management” (Ibid p. 37). Amen.

For a clearer picture of what brand developers are thinking in regards to Poly Identity, read on…

trend report – POLY ID:

Gen Y is getting pretty clever at proliferating many different identities for one life. Certainly the Internet invites all of us to generate multiple brands of ourselves, but this generation knows how to work their identities. Each allows for the many facets of one person and lets them escape where they are at or enter new worlds.

Where a brand sits in relation to these broad-ranging identities is critical. If the responsibility of a brand is to reflect and mirror culture, a brand has to ask “What good am I?” a few times over. The more complex and creative one’s web of identities become, the more clever that consumer will be at snuffing out “poser” brands.

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Death of the album?

The Album, a Commodity in Disfavor – New York Times:

Last year, digital singles outsold plastic CD’s for the first time. So far this year, sales of digital songs have risen 54 percent, to roughly 189 million units, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan. Digital album sales are rising at a slightly faster pace, but buyers of digital music are purchasing singles over albums by a margin of 19 to 1.

If you grew up with LPs then you may remember that record covers had many utilitarian values, such as seed sorting and for organizing other loose biological material. With CDs we lost that handy cardboard storage device and alas have not found too much to do with a jewell case, but the concept of a record changed in some ways for the better. It became a 70 minute set-piece rather than two divided sides. Perhaps the best example to take advantage of this was Radiohead’s OK Computer which is the most perfect stream of an hour plus of music as you will ever hear in a lifetime.

Now the NYTimes reports that we may be witnessing the death of the album format altogether due to the popularity of song downloads. Maybe so. As a subscriber to (note ad on the right sidebar, hint hint) I behave both ways. Usually I get turned on by a song I hear through streaming radio, my favorite being KEXP and KCRW. I then go to see if eMusic has it, and if so, I click through the album. If there are three or more songs that sound promising, I download the whole thing because as a musician I prefer the whole album concept and assume the artist does too and there is a logic to the group of songs that are collected in the “album.”

Incidentally, if you are a bit of an album geek, you should read the 33 1/3 book series. It’s a bunch of short books about classic albums. You can get started with “33 1/3 Greatest Hits, Volume One (33 1/3)”, and then move onto one of the many, Erik Davis’ Led Zep IV being one of the best.

(Here’s a nice little article about the series from the Chicago Trib)

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The coming techno-humanosphere

Need to know what’s emanating from the techno-humanosphere?

Technology Review: 10 Emerging Technologies 2007:

As always, Technology Review’s annual list of emerging technologies to watch comprises projects in a broad range of fields, including medicine, energy, and the Internet. Some, such as optical antennas and meta­materials, are fundamental technologies that promise to transform multiple areas, from computing to biology. Our reports on peer-to-peer video, personalized medical monitors, and compressive sensing reveal how well-­designed algorithms could save the Internet, simplify and improve medical diagnoses, and revamp digital imaging systems in cameras and medical scanners. Nanohealing and quantum-dot solar power demonstrate the potential of ­nanotechnology to make a concrete difference in our daily lives by changing the way we treat injuries and helping solar energy deliver on its promises. Precise neuron control could help physicians fine-tune treatments for brain disorders such as depression and Parkinson’s disease. And single-cell analysis could not only revolutionize our understanding of basic biological processes but lead directly to predictive tests that could help doctors treat cancers more effectively. Finally, by combining location sensors and advanced visual algorithms with cell phones, mobile augmented reality technology could make it easier to just figure out where we are.

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Podibooks. The name says it all. Free, serialized books for your digital media player. No poetry yet, but I hope it comes.

Incidentally, I have a good friend who has severe ADD, but loves literature. Audiobooks have saved his life. Personally I love them, but since I spend most of my time reading and writing, they are hard for me to listen to. Maybe it’s time to go back to painting!

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Media snack


This is where William Burroughs comes in with his Naked Lunch. When we
invent new technology, we become cannibals. We eat ourselves alive since
these technologies are merely extensions of ourselves. The new environment
shaped by electric technology is a cannibalistic one that eats people. To
survive one must study the habits of cannibals – McLuhan, “The Hot and Cool
Interview,” 67.


Wired’s latest issue focuses on the current cultural trend to snack on bite-sized media. McLuhan noted long ago that the new media environment would make us return to a hunter gatherer’s mentality. Are we now grazing media as if we were gathering digital blackberries in an electronic forest?

Wired 15.03: Minifesto for a New Age:

Replace Nabisco with Apple, the Mini Oreo with the iPod nano, and youve got a blueprint for the current boom in what might be called snack-o-tainment. Apples single-minded marketing campaign for the iPod (its tunes – not albums – in your pocket, after all) taught us the joy of picking the choicest cuts and shuffling them into individual hit pdes. The same with television: When the video iPod launched in October 2005, we were suddenly eager to pay $1.99 to watch a music video or a recent episode of Lost in a smaller, portable version of what was already available for free on that big square thing in our living room.

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Brain scans that read intentions


Some of you may have seen the film Minority Report (or read the PK Dick book it was based on) about the precog units that can predict future crime. It’s kinda like our foreign policy of preemptive war, except in the later case, it’s more about “bellyfeel” than science. In the article below there is an interesting debate on the ethics of current brain research that claims to predict intentions. There is some fear that this scientific capability is moving us closer to targeted ads that can “brandwash” us. It’s worth a gander, and a ponder.

The brain scan that can read people’s intentions | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited:

The latest work reveals the dramatic pace at which neuroscience is progressing, prompting the researchers to call for an urgent debate into the ethical issues surrounding future uses for the technology. If brain-reading can be refined, it could quickly be adopted to assist interrogations of criminals and terrorists, and even usher in a “Minority Report” era (as portrayed in the Steven Spielberg science fiction film of that name), where judgments are handed down before the law is broken on the strength of an incriminating brain scan.

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From office space to theme park


I’d work here! The Encounter Restaurant at LAX

AdAge reports that some corporate offices are becoming hybrid spaces that are also lounges, bars and coffee shops. This buttresses the trend that we are increasingly moving into more “non-spaces” (see Remediation) that are required of knowledge work. In our post-work economy, we are producers and consumers of information simultaneously. There is a desire of information-based businesses to cultivate this creative kind of environment. The criticism is that there is less distinction between work and leisure. The threat is that even your spare time time is consumed by your workspace. As someone who works from my home, I have already made the transition, but at least in my case my creativity is my own (or so I believe).

Advertising Age – Office Space: Think Outside the Cubicle:

OK, you say, that’s Southern California, where Jay Chiat in the 1980s commissioned Frank Gehry to design Chiat/Day’s Venice, Calif., binocular headquarters. But that’s no excuse — just go to Missouri.

There, agency Barkley has made a pricey move from downtown Kansas City to the historic Trans World Airlines headquarters building in an up-and-coming art district. The space includes lots of spots for spontaneous get-togethers, client rooms, furniture styles unique to each floor, a grass-lined roof and, of course, the ultimate conversation-starter — a 32-foot reproduction of a TWA rocket on the landmark’s roof. The original TWA Moonliner rocket was built for a futuristic exhibit at Disneyland by entrepreneur Howard Hughes when he owned the airline. The rocket has been incorporated into the agency’s logo.

“An inspired space can produce inspired work,” said Brian Brooker, CEO-chief creative officer at Barkley, which handles Build-A-Bear Workshop and Sonic Drive-In. “It pays off in so many different ways. Great space makes our employees happy. It helps with recruiting, and clients like the vibe.”

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The blog of war


Reconstruction is an on-line journal that has a whole issue dedicated blogging and culture. Lots of great theory on social media. Truth is, this stuff is so new, we are inventing it as we go. But if you can pause for a moment to reflect on new digital media and social networks, it’s like digital permaculture.

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Product placement planet


As the New York Times recently reported, companies are creating their own films, TV networks and “webasodes” under the rubric of “branded content.” The fact that I am writing about it is a tribute to the “marketability” of the concept. People ignore ads, so this is part of the commercial backlash to wire your eyes and ears. Until the novelty wears off, keep a look out for the ridiculous and sublime. With news of Anheuser-Busch’s soon-to-come BudTV (or should we call it “MisogynyTVforTeens”?), I’m loath to predict “reality” TV shows that in a real alternate reality would be called things like “Hangover Island,” “STD Survivor,” or “DWI Date Rape.” OK, so I’m a little off color here. But extreme times call for excessive parody.

Call it product placement planet in which all things brand are reality. This is the future of marketing, and the future is now. Don’t be surprised, though, because “brand channels” are the ultimate logical progression of a commercialized media system. After all, isn’t every advertisement also a compact, self-evident, self-contained ideological lesson plan on the merits and wonders of the commodities system?

One example that is worthy of a closer look (thank you media gods!) is, Snickers’ version of one of these self-contained brand universes proliferating the Web. I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while, so I’m sure it’s value as a viral meme has already been sapped as it has ebbed and flowed through the sea of marketing cool. But here goes. If you are an educator, I recommend this site as one of those great “teachable moments” that appears more often than not these days. Continue reading ‘Product placement planet’

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Interesting NYT article on how TV distribution might be migrating to the Internet. Def. a trend to watch for, especially if you are an independent artist:

As Internet TV Aims at Niche Audiences, the Slivercast Is Born – New York Times:

“In the last six months, major media companies have received much attention for starting to move their own programming online, whether downloads for video iPods or streaming programs that can be watched over high-speed Internet connections.”

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