Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
- Use mean stereotypes. A recent Storwize video portrays a a storage administrator - an IT professional and presumably a customer - as an overweight, sweaty guy dressed in a white short sleeve shirt and tiny black tie. In other words, he’s Dilbert. He even gets abused by his data storage. A true loser. This has just got to insult IT people. And overweight people too. Lovely, a twofer. I did check with some sysadmins/IT pros I know about this. They were not amused.
- Being ironic. As in hipster ironic not real irony. Advertising that is full of snarky, insider jokes never works. Inevitably, someone doesn’t get the joke. Tech advertising can be like this. You try to be funny but it comes across as geeky. It’s all the internal references and acronyms folks. It doesn’t play well with the people who have to write the checks or the end users. Now, reduce it to a twitter Tweet and you get a lot of “Huh?” reactions. If your ad is making a play on the word iSCSI, it will have a small audience.
- Complex messages. Geico’s ads work (just like the Budweiser frogs) because the message is straightforward. Technology advertising tends to be a tad more complex. As in incomprehensible. How can you be funny when you jam several technical and business messages into 3 minutes? You can’t. Even if you start out funny, you are soon mired in Dullsville. Keep It Simple! When Dell ran a serious of ads full of colorful laptops being created to the song lollipop, it was cute, delightful, and humorous. It also got the message across that a laptop was a treat, something you enjoy and not just a tool. You ruin funny when you add complexity.
- No message at all or no connection to the product. Lots of these abound, especially in print. No pictures or mention of a product. Something cute and funny that grabs our attention and then… nothing. You have to connect the good feelings that the humor gives you to something. Otherwise the arousal is lost in space.
- Overdo it. One of the few places Geico blew it was when they overexposed the Cave Men. A whole TV show devoted to them was quite over the top. When you see or hear something repeatedly, you start to like it more. After a certain point, however, it gets overexposed and you begin to like it less. Psychologists have known about this behavior (called the Familiarity Principle) since the early 1960’s.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
I have noticed a lot of bloggers coming clean about how their blogs are influenced by who they work for. One of my favorite bloggers, Marc Farley (aka 3PARFarley) recently published his statement. To say I was not in the least surprised to find that 3PARFarley worked for 3PAR is a bit of an understatement. His tongue and cheek blog can be found at http://doiop.com/mfmotives
Never to let an opportunity go by to get some traction from the work of others, I wish to add my own transparency statement. Here it goes:
Unlike so many other bloggers, I can honestly say that my blog is not influenced by any company. That’s because I am not part of any company. It’s not what I would choose but it gives me the opportunity to say “No one tells me what to do (other than my wife)!” For the right money I’m willing to change all that. Not the part about the wife. I would never change that. Love ya honey.
I write what I write because I think it’s right. Or maybe because I’m a blowhard who likes to hear himself talk. Perhaps it’s so that I don’t have to find meaningful employment and can call myself a blogger instead. It could be a mental illness such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Who knows. Or it could be that the aliens tell me to write. Good thing they don’t tell me what to write because then this would be one big horrible lie. I couldn’t live with that.
I don’t like to admit this but this has not always been the case. Not the part about aliens silly. They’ve always been there. No, the company part. I have blogged for companies that I worked for and it surely influenced my personal blog. Not in the form of shilling for the company (that’s what corporate blogs are for) but in staying away from certain topics or companies so as not to offend someone who contributed to my livelihood. The unfortunate accident of my current situation frees me from that worry. I am now truly free to annoy anyone I choose… unless I’m interviewing with them. Then I have to wait until they stop calling back to use them as a piñata. Just kidding about the piñata part. No really. No worries. But next time get a non-disclosure…
My problem with transparency statements (mine and Marc’s excluded of course) is that they assume that we are all too stupid to figure out that most blogs are sponsored, paid for, or otherwise influenced by a corporation. Come on folks! What ISN’T manipulated by a company these days? Please don’t act like anyone is hiding something. Gosh, what was the giveaway? The corporate logo on the top of the page? How about the bio that starts with “I work for (insert company name here)”? I’m not cynical, just realistic. Even most of the so-called private blogs say things like “These views do not reflect the views of my company.” The heck they don’t. Let’s have someone lambast the CEO and see if the disclaimer saves his job. Of course it won’t so you stay away from certain topics. That’s influence. See the advertising on the blog? Do you think that comes without strings? Sorry but no. The first time you lose an advertiser because of what you write you learn quickly not to write that again. It might not even be conscience but it’s there all the same.
To the folks who cry about transparency and journalistic integrity I have this to say: This is not journalism. It’s commerce. Most blogs that don’t come out of a new agency are a form of advertising. I would make a Fox News joke now but I hear they have mean lawyers. Just kidding. I love you legal guys.
Most people get that. It doesn’t mean there isn’t value in what the blogger writes but it is, at least partly, marketing. If you can’t tell if someone is selling you something then assume they are. Even me. I’m not but it’s better that you assume I am if you aren’t sure. Trust me on that.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this pledge:
I’m not selling you anything but truth. I’ll NEVER sell you anything but truth. Remember that when I go to work for a big company. I’ll never change. Not even then. I’m just like that. You can take that to the bank.
At least for now.
Author’s Note: Ask about our convenient sponsorships. You too can reach a targeted audience of high worth individuals through blog ads. Inquire with the author. Reasonable rates.
Thursday, July 01, 2010
For quite some time, a great number of people have told me that I should turn commenting back on for this blog. Some made it sound like I needed to turn commenting on. That the world would be destroyed in 2012 and it would be my fault for not turning on commenting. And the Mayans. Don't forget the Mayans and their stupid calendar.
But seriously, I listened and I responded. I turned the comments back on and guess what happened?
That’s right. Almost no comments. Talk about feeling unloved. Worse yet, many people didn’t even realize they were back on. What’s horrible about that is that I wrote a blog entry on it. That probably means that no one is reading my blog. Sigh…
It’s like having to come to terms with your mortality. It leaves you with a sense of your insignificance in the universe. This is the problem I see with commenting. You either are inundated with flaming chaff or deadening silence. The great democratic community of rational thought that Internet commenting was supposed to create has never really materialized. It didn’t happen when the action was on forums and news lists. It didn’t happen in AOL chat rooms. Other action happened in AOL chat rooms but we don’t need to go there.
I have a theory as to why this is. It has three parts.
- People only want to have in depth conversations with people in person. Over the phone or even through IM, but not in an anonymous forum or comment page. It’s too impersonal.
- Humans are social creatures who need real interactions with people they know. You want to know the people you interact with. We want to talk with Joe Smith not weirdtechguy25. A Twitter feed or a blog is a form of publishing. The one talking to the many. When it’s one to one or a small group like commenting is supposed to emulate, you want to know the people you are dealing with. Otherwise how can you judge what they are saying. The context is wrong.
- The jerks, flamers, spammers, and other social misfits do not follow the rules of polite society. They are the Internet equivalent of the guy standing in the middle of Times Square shouting gibberish at his hand. We instinctively move away. When this happens in comment pages and forums, the rest of the population moves away from them and they are all that’s left. Yelling gibberish at their virtual hand. Not pretty. The meek may inherit the Earth but the weird will inherit the comment page.
This, by the way, shows the genius of Facebook. Whether Zuckerman and crew realized it at the time they had hit upon the real way we want to interact with people in cyberspace – just like we do in real life. We only want to converse and share pictures with people that we know and like. Not anonymous strangers but folks we know on some level. In that environment, not unlike in person, social pressures keep people from acting like asses. We don’t mind inviting a friend of a friend either. But someone has to vouch for them and their behavior.
So there you have the problem with comments and forums. Once you remove the need to adhere to social norms, once you eliminate the need to act like a civilized person, some number of people will revert back to animals. It’s like pulling the control rods out of the reactor. Soon or later, things get out of control and BOOM!
Here’s my solution (listening Blogger?) – let bloggers have to “friend” people before they can comment. Let us toss them if they act out of line. Don’t moderate the comments, moderate the people. Only let people into the party if they have an invitation.
With that in place, comments will be something worth having. Of course, that assumes that anyone is reading the blog in the first place. I can dream.
One quick note to my international readers. If you want to post comments, please do it in English. I know that is terribly provincial of me but if I can’t read something it is summarily dismissed. Sorry, but that’s the way it has to be. Thanks for understanding.