Appropriated from meme-meme.org.
As humanity awoke this morning to find itself still standing despite all the yap for the past year and a half, a bit more sobriety entered the collective water cooler conversation. The Mayan Apocalypse was essentially the perfect internet story; hugely dramatic and just plausible enough given its grounding in a little understood but widely recognized ancient culture. It didn’t require intelligence to discuss; just a facile glibness or quick punchline. And while it centered on Doomsday, it wasn’t nearly as scary as the far more uncertain society that fills our newsfeeds and can break our hearts ten new ways each and every day. And so despite the spate of debunking articles that have circulated for months, we willfully kept it alive, enjoying its a frisky, puppy-like distraction.
Frivolities like this pass for journalism these days. Television was once considered the most voracious maw for content consumption but it is nothing compared to the infinite pages and constant, mind-spinningly fast turning of the web (Google just returned about 309,000,000 results in 0.17 seconds for “Mayan Apocalypse”). Meme sharing, sex scandals, horrific acts of violence; all of this is fodder for the fast turn and quick commentary and so extremely useful for filling web pages. And if the focus on speed and sensation sometimes leads to linking the wrong person’s Facebook page photo to the name of the most vicious killer in recent memory, well, whoops. We’ll be moving on in a fifteen hours or so.
Come to think about it, I’m going to miss this Mayan calendar distraction. So many of our other stories seem so small and dull in comparison.
Happy Friday, glad we’re still talking.
Everyday, I wake up, mildly amazed by my wife. She’s smart, funny and constantly fascinating and through some lovely circumstance, still married to me. But after all our years together, the gifts you truly value start to evolve. What matters changes.
Which is why I love this so much. This is our gift to each other this year; an oil painting of our family swimsuits drying on hooks outside our place in Wisconsin. The memories this image conjures in my head–the barefoot days, the happy hours out on the lake and evenings on the porch–make it redolent with joy. But the fact that one of our best friends for many years painted it specifically for us makes it particularly resonant.
I’ve known Marie Kirk Burke my entire professional career. A well-regarded voice over actress capable of becoming anything from a Keebler Elf to a devastating Barbara Walters, we worked together a lot when I was producing radio in Chicago. Later we became neighbors and Marie and her equally hysterical husband Kevin became fast friends for dinners and movies debated over Baker’s Square pies. Over the past ten years, Marie’s re-immersed herself in painting, and we’ve loved seeing her career bloom in showings and Chicago galleries (see more of her work here).
No, you can’t see all that in this painting. But we feel it, that great and mysterious gift of art. It’s like hanging a smile in your living room. And what a wonderful gift that is.
Oh Mark Zuckerberg, when will you learn?
Instagram started this week by quietly making two major shifts in their terms of service. For one, they claimed ownership over every image their users post, enabling them to sell those images without compensation or notification, even as they simultaneously absolved themselves of any class action liability. Oh, and they offered no opt out.
This is lousy. Kind of heinous even. The fact that they tried to slip it through with a blog post that made no mention of these specific changes demonstrates a corporate oiliness we’ve grown to expect from Facebook-owned entities. Still, blatant chutzpah notwithstanding, you have to admire how quickly and cheaply they crowdsourced the world’s biggest stock photo library…
But as should be expected in a medium that trades on information, the web noticed, word spread and within hours, a massive backlash mushroomed. Predictably, Instagram seemed to reverse course by mid-day Tuesday. This rhebus outlines the action; first the company announces, then the web revolts, then the company recants, claiming to be misunderstood with a PR spin absolutely no one believes.
We should be used to this kind of end around from any Facebook-owned entity. It’s not like this is new behavior from Mr. Z; it’s almost like he can’t stop himself from imperiously disrespecting the people who use his services. How many times has he tried to sneak through surreptitious changes to Facebook’s privacy policies?
But all’s better now, right? Actually, not so fast. First, their CEO simply claimed “it’s not our intention to sell your photos”–which is hardly legally binding. Instagram’s new terms of service remain–this is just damage control.
They also haven’t recanted the second shift in their terms of service; namely that “…we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.” In other words, that cool photo you see on your home page? That might actually be paid content, or what old people call ‘ads.’
The web runs on sponsored content, and we accept that. But on reputable sites, it’s identified, helping those sites maintain both credibility and an ethical balance with visitors. With this policy, Instagram is intentionally creating a gray area and you can almost hear them daring their users; “go on, see if you can tell what’s organic and what we’ve placed there.”
Hmmm… I’m no dotcom billionaire, but it seems to me, the web community just proved they’re pretty good at that.
So long Instagram, it was a fun two years.
PS: Thanks Devin Bousquet, for the awesome profile picture.
I’ve grown so tired of these kinds of stunts. “Hey, it’s a Flash Mob! Hey, we took over this train station, surprising the tired commuters with our lightly branded delights! See all the passers by, staring in slack-jawed amazement at our insouciance!”
It’s become the standard formula for viral: do something big and public and film all of it with unobtrusive GoPros. Then edit your clip together and send it out on social media where you try to encourage posting and sharing. As a tactic, it is horribly tired and creaky, despite being only a few years old.
And yet… Kids? Santa? Joy?
Confound you, Oi Telecommunications. Just like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” this gets me every time. Click on the “cc” button in the bottom bar to turn on the English translation. Merry Merry.
Earlier this month, a posting on Business News Daily listed ten words that are horribly overused by American professionals on their LinkedIn profiles.
“Creative” led the list as the most tired buzzword for the second straight year. Apparently, the talent pool is awash in highly creative individuals.
Oh sure “effective” and “motivated” were also up there, along with “Innovative”, “Responsible” and “Problem solving” but none of those are the title of entire departments within ad agencies and marketing firms.
But “Creative” is. And apparently isn’t.
The web and social media are great sources for cultural sentiment. But you must always get a second opinion.
Or you’ll get Pepsi Clear…
As part of the Minnesota Ad Fed‘s speaker series, Peterson Milla Hooks president Tom Nowak spoke about “Life Beyond the Bullseye.” Up until May of 2011 and their rather public replacement on the Target business, they were essentially a one client shop. And at only fifty people, they punched far above their weight. The way PMH helped that brand evolve is nothing short of remarkable and seeing the work again this morning was a hill of fun.
Two things Tom said really stuck with me. First, he talked about how losing Target forced them to define their agency and really assess where they excel. That led to their unspoken but undeniable philosophy toward the work: ‘EMOTION TRUMPS INTELLECT.’ They never want to leave people with just an intellectual thought but rather leave them with a feeling for a brand. That feels so true. Back in Chicago, a saying on the glass of my office read “Emotion is more powerful than Logic. No one ever went to war over logic.” Given how well our philosophies align, Tom clearly must be some kind of genius…
The second thing he mentioned was that the white English Bull terrier with the strangely circled eye was “not planned, it just kinda happened on a shoot.” At the moment, a lot of people might have just considered it a $1500 overage that annoyed the client. But ultimately, Bullseye became a charming visual brand asset for Target, and all that grumbling over the upcharge faded into the small arcania of history as Target seized this gem which they are still running with years later.
Science can be good. Art can be amazing.
By the way, it’s also Faye Nussdorfer’s 80th Birthday. Which is pretty awesome as well.