Archive for January, 2007

Apples to iphones…

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

The cult that is Apple computers gave their followers new reason to genuflect yesterday as Swami Steve Jobs made a series of earth shattering announcements. The first, and say it isn’t so, is that Apple Computers is no more. From now on the entity will be known by an obscure ancient Egyptian symbol which I cannot reproduce on my keyboard. Well, actually it will be know as Apple Inc., not to be confused with Apple Corps. The Beatles company which keeps unsuccessfully suing them.

The second time altering announcement was that Apple Inc has finally turned its milky eye on the cell phone market and launched an Apple phone. This device, announced with all the pomp of Moses descending from the mountain is destined to have the same climate changing effect as their music player the i pod. Of course, this means we can expect a new Apple phone every fortnight – mini, macro, nano phone anyone. (more…)

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Sequel

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

God help us they are seriously talking about a sequel to 1963’s “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, World” one of the most unfunny comedies of all time. Overlong, overblown and underwhelming somehow this alleged comedy by Stanley Kramer has become a “classic”. Now, his widow and the producer of this year’s “Bobby” have decided that the time is right for a sequel.

I look forward to seeing the result almost as much as I look forward to going for a colonoscopy, of course a colonoscopy is shorter and less uncomfortable.

And while I am on the topic of unfunny comedy “classics” I am saddened to report that Iwao Takamoto the creator of Scooby-Doo has taken his last ride in the Mystery Machine and shuffled off this mortal coil. Takamoto studied under Disney animators before going to work with Hanna-Barbarian animation which inflicted (more…)

Welcome to a new week…

Monday, January 8th, 2007

A new week and a new strategy for winning the war in Iraq. Well, it’s probably best not to comment on something that hasn’t been revealed to a waiting world yet. I’m certain it will contain the magic bullet to cure the Mess O Potamia (to steal from the Daily Show).

I think that we can rest assured that Bush and his masters will come up with the solution before the end of the world. And speaking of the end of the world, reports over the weekend have Israel planning a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. They officially deny it, which is good, because it would add a spot of bother to an already over excited region.

So let’s change the subject from all this gloom and doomsday and turn our attention to life without advertising. Imagine a world without marketing messages. Uninterrupted television and radio, newspapers filled with nothing but news, the beauty of nature un-obscured by billboards, mailboxes unclogged by junk mail, no more spam.

It is all too beautiful to contemplate.

Of course there will be those who argue that the world will not be a better place without the creating artificial desire in consumers. How will we learn about the latest miracle drugs to treat Restless Leg Syndrome, hemorrhoids, bad breath and dandruff?

Still the challenge of selling product without advertising is currently insurmountable. Or is it?

This is an idea that should be played with. How do we bridge the chasm between the seller and the consumer? Or are we addicted to pushing messages to the consumer?

Hmmm, I’m going to have to go off to the mountaintop to consider these questions, to seek the answer if it actually exists.

I’ll see you when I return, or tomorrow, whichever comes first.

Is Blogging serious business?

Friday, January 5th, 2007

Well it’s been quite a week, what with launching Sparkplug and battling armies of germs. I am feeling somewhat better now, I can feel the old piss and vinegar starting to flow again. About Wednesday, I seriously began to wonder about the wisdom of committing to this Blog – I was weak with fever and wracked with strange dreams (one of my strangest dreams was about a family of donuts who visited me over the Christmas holidays and tried to convince me to eat fresh beets). I had lost all my energy and just wanted to lie around in bed and suffer.

But I mustered up some energy and posted as usual and felt better for it. I find that posting to this Blog is wonderful for my karma. People who know me know that I am a virtual caldron of opinions – on politics, movies and life in general – you name it and I likely have an opinion about it.

Now, with Sparkplug I am truly dangerous, I have a forum for my opinions. A forum where I can say what I think and you can challenge me and we can engage in a dialogue.

The trouble with too many Blogs is that they are treated as pulpits with the Blogger posting their own particular brand of dogma – as the ultimate truth. The problem of course with ultimate truth is that it is only a matter of opinion. Reality dictates that there are many possible truths. Truth I think is in the eye of the beholder.

Opinion surveys tell us that lots of people believe in UFOs or ghosts or Bigfoot or creative design or Rush Limbaugh. To the believer these are the ‘truth’ and become part of the context in which they view the world. (more…)

Public Relations Debacle of the Week

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

“Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq’s course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain, and defend itself, and be an ally in the War on Terror.”

Official Statement by the President

The latest casualty in the tragic ongoing PR war for the hearts and minds of the American people is the debacle of the execution of well known villain Saddam Hussein. What should have been a dignified punctuation to Hussein’s rule of terror was turned into a brutal spectacle, caught in camera phone video and broadcast to the world.

Of course, the usual online lunkheads praised the video as “cool” and “awesome”, but it was just one more sad reflection of the Bush coven’s total incompetence. The optics of the situation are that the Americans handed Saddam over to a howling mob of revenge crazed Shites who strung him up after yelling insults and taunting him as he stood on the gallows – the final insult to injury. It’s this sort of incompetence that could give capital punishment a bad name.

Saddam certainly doesn’t raise much sympathy and I don’t think there is any doubt that he did the crimes he was accused of. However, if he is to be executed, to pay the ultimate price, it should be done with solemnity not turned into a ghoulish variety show for the masses.

Bush may be right about this being an ‘important milestone’ however, it may not be exactly what he intended it to be, it may mark the beginning of an even bigger explosion of sectarian violence that could see Iraq finally melt down into genocidal vortex. Okay, I may be getting carried away here, I certainly hope so.

Bush continues to be divorced from reality, as his poll numbers fall into here to unknown territory. It has been suggested that in reality the Emperor has no clothes and that someday America will finally admit the truth, that Bush is merely a patsy and that Dick ‘Lon’ Cheney is actually running things.

Don’t blame television for such a bad picture…

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been stuck at home for the past few days suffering a case of the flu. This has given me some free time to catch up on my television viewing. I have a digital cable box that allows me to get 900 or so channels (which is the answer to many hours of praying during my childhood). But, cruising around the onscreen programming guide I found very little to occupy my time. Luckily PBS had an excellent Nova Special and Frontline last night so I was able to scratch my television itch.

Now, my friend, let’s call him Bob, laughs at my frustration. Bob, you see, has found a better way to watch exactly what he wants using bit torrent technology and rewriteable DVDs. Bob is part of the digital underground of free spirit programmers who use bit torrent technology and the kindness of others – who diligently record and then edit out commercials – to explore a world wide range of programming.

Want a program from the BBC the day after it airs in Britain? Chances are Bob’ll find it on a bit torrent site somewhere.

Of course, bit torrent technology makes everyone from the major studios, the record companies and the networks spitting mad, but it is a great example of an open source community dedicated to serving a common goal – that of making programming available when and where they want it. (more…)

A Cabinet of Curiosities

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

I am suffering a mean bout of the flu, so I appologize if things are a bit disjointed in this posting and chalk it up to fever dreams…

The New Year has hardly broken wind and the strangeness has started. In Detroit a man with a long history of breaking windows to indulge his mannequin fetish could be sentenced to life as a habitual offender. Apparently he is a career mannequin fondler and in the interest of public safety – and good taste – the wheels of justice are moving swiftly to remove him from decent society. Perhaps they should just label him an enemy combatant and pack him off to Guantanamo Bay.

Now for all those who have nothing better to do the year end always mean compiling lists – Best of, Worst of.

Lake Superior State University apparently contributes to this list madness with an annual, “List of Words and Phrases Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Overuse and General Uselessness”. This year’s list complains about the overuse of the word “boast”, combined celebrity names such as TomKat and Brangelina, the phrase “gone/went missing” (which particularly annoys my father) and truthiness, a word courtesy of Steven Colbert which I actually like.

However, in their zeal these Great Lakes academics overlooked some other irritating words and phrases. I would add “Islamafacists”, “Britney Spears”, and “Lake Superior State University” to my year-end list of words and phrases that should be banished to the Phantom Zone.

And why do we insist on making lists anyway. (more…)

Talk is Cheap

Monday, January 1st, 2007

First of all let me wish you a Happy New Year.

And if the polls are to be believed (and I rarely believe them, unless of course they support a position that I have taken) we are feeling glum about 2007. I’m not sure why, perhaps it is the residual effect of the conflict in Iraq, or global warming, or two more years of George W. Bush, or the fact that Paris Hilton continues to be in the news.

Somehow I don’t think it’s healthy that we are starting a brand new year feeling down, so that’s why I started Sparkplug, to help cheer us all up.

A confession! There is no altruistic motive for Sparkplug. This Blog is about communication, plain and simple. Specifically open source communication, real interaction, where anyone can contribute, share experience, revise and challenge. After twenty something years in the communications biz – radio, film, television, corporate communications and marketing – I am startled at how little I actually know. A sad confession, but true.

Oh, I did win meaningful industry awards, have a corner office and the admiration and respect of at least five or six people in the industry, but then one day I looked down from the high perch and realized that most of the work I had done really didn’t mean much. All those hours and hours of meetings, brainstorming sessions, focus study groups and crafting and kissing the corporate bottom line likely had little or not real effect.I was treating customers as “targets” instead of people. In lieu of conversation I positioned the “brand”. I helped to create and control the corporate speak and distill messages to the point where they were more lifeless than Saddam Hussein.

And then I discovered Blogging thanks to my former editor Steve Carlson who invited me to contribute to his blog MOexchange. I confess I knew little of Blogging at that point, I thought it was just a way for fan boys and girls to post their feelings about the latest Star Wars film (no more cheap stereotypes please). After doing some reading and looking at a lot of different Blogs, I had an epiphany – companies did not have to talk in monologue, they could engage in conversations with their customers, potential customers and customers who hated their guts. And if they were responsive, honest and spoke in a voice that sounded somewhat human, they could even have a real relationship.

So that’s what I’d like to do here. (more…)