I desire marginality, therefore I accept whacky theories like this

Dr. Bull

I desire marginality, therefore I accept wacky theories like this: I marvel at how some writers have the ability to string together complete crap and actually get it past an editor. Like, for example, this collection of gobbledygook at wired.com about “closet iPod users.” The writer apparently has discovered a faux-phenomenon in which early-adopters of iPods now are embarrassed that the device is so popular. These astoundingly insecure neurotics don’t want to be seen using something that would conflict with their efforts to exude “marginality.” Like characters from the William Gibson novel, Pattern Recognition, these “closet iPod” users are affronted by the now-mainstream product’s “lack of exclusivity.”

Wait a minute. I get it. This is satire. How dumb of me. I should have noticed that the writer quotes “media and culture” expert Dr. Bull who, in a obviously inside joke, quips, “As iPods become more popular, so their cultural cachet is reduced,” Bull said. “Quite a few U.S. users note with alarm the increase in numbers of iPods they see in the streets. Before there was a kind of specialness in recognizing another early adopter, a recognition of cultural superiority. (Dr. Bull, you may recall, was described by the same wired.com writer in an earlier satirical piece , as “the world’s leading — perhaps only — expert on the social impact of personal stereo devices.” I guess he’s now become a recurring character in her quest for a career as a humor writer.)

Okay. Let me make this clear to those who will pick-up this obvious satire and create an urban myth: People don’t use those white headphones that come with an iPod because they suck. As good a product as the iPod is, those standard-issue white ear-buds are awful. So, people go buy some decent headphones to use with their iPod. Even Apple knows this and sells a half-way decent headphone replacement product.

So, despite what Seth Godin (a talking expert) or someone named Bull who is a “listening device expert” says, not using those white earphones is not about a desire to exude marginality, but a desire to improve fidelity.

How magazines get started (continued)

How magazines get started (continued): The Manchester NH Union Leader has a classic “how magazines get started” profile of a new magazine called New England Ringside.


“This just sort of happened all at once,” (editor and publisher Joe) Bills said. “I had been doing publicity for the MacDowell Colony and my career was on an arts track. But a boxing commentator made a comment that really interested me. He was talking about a rising fighter who had a 10-0 record and said, ‘It doesn’t mean that much, they pretty much give you the first 10 fights.’ So I thought, ‘Wait a minute. Who are those first 10 guys?’ I started a book called ‘The Opportunists’ about these guys who are professional prizefighters despite the fact that they almost never win.” But the same question kept coming up during Bills’ research: why isn’t there any coverage of boxing in New England? “After hearing that about 500 times, I decided to start the magazine,”

Personally, I think starting a weblog would have been a better scratch for that itch.

(Explanation: How magazines get started.)

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Son (and grandson) of CueCat

Bad ideas must
have nine lives.

Son (and grandson) of CueCat: Why won’t really dumb ideas die? Engadget is pointing to a company “trying out a model for magazine advertising that’s transplanted straight from the web.”


“(Danippon Printing is) placing product ads in magazines that include QR codes containing a URL (like the one above)..scanning one with your cameraphone will send you to the product site. The advantages? Not much for the poor user, apart from not having to thumb in a URL, but for advertisers it means being able to keep track of clickthrough and completion rates for a specific ad, plus the fact that they only pay out if an ad click results in a sale. Old Media, this is New Media. Shake hands.

For those who have memorized every word of this weblog, this “new idea” will sound familiar as about every six months or so, I’ve pointed to folks (here and here and this dumb variation on a dumb idea) who keep coming up with it.

As I’ve said repeatedly in the posts linked to above, this was a ridiculous idea when the folks behind CueCat burned through $100 million pursuing it. And it will always be a dumb idea. How hard is it to type in a URL people? Have any of you ever actually used the camera on your phone before convincing yourself that someone would actually spend time doing this goofy Rube Goldberg process to get to a webpage? Just stop it, okay.

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Oh, that explains it

Oh, that explains it: Apparently there are a lot of people in Middle Tennessee whose names sound like the Democratic presidential ticket. Apparently I know one of them. Apparently some of the employees of her company made up a sign for her. Apparently, I was wrong about my assumption that the office was being used as a staging area for an upcoming rally for the group “Misspellers fore Kerri.”

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