(Don’t Fear) The Reaper Blue Öyster Cult Agents of Fortune
Fluffy Tufts Cocteau Twins Victorialand
A Night Like This The Cure Staring At The Sea: The Singles 1979-1985
Welcome to My Nightmare Alice Cooper Welcome to My Nightmare
I Walked with a Zombie Roky Erickson & The Aliens The Evil One (Plus One)
Dear Prudence Siouxsie and the Banshees Twice Upon a Time: The Singles
She Is Not Dead Adrian Belew Desire of the Rhino King
Your Skull Is Red Team Sleep Team Sleep
Frankenstein Edgar Winter They Only Come Out At Night
Bela Lugosi’s Dead Bauhaus Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Single
Rain The Beatles Past Masters, Vol. 2
A Corpse Is Corpse Dog Fashion Disco Anarchists of Good Taste
Cities in Dust Siouxsie and the Banshees Twice Upon a Time: The Singles
Boris the Spider The Who The Who: Thirty Years of Maximum R&B (Box Set)
Halloween Siouxsie & the Banshees Juju
Monster Mash Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers The Original Monster Mash
O Death Ralph Stanley O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Living Dead Girl Rob Zombie Past, Present, & Future
This Is Halloween The Citizens of Halloween Nightmare Before Christmas (Special Edition)
Country Death Song Violent Femmes Add It Up (1981-1993)
Sirena Dirty Three Ocean Songs
Wax And Wane Deftones B-Sides & Rarities
In The Street Big Star #1 Record/Radio City
Nemesis Shriekback Oil & Gold
I Want Candy Bow Wow Wow The Best of Bow Wow Wow
Iron Man The Cardigans First Band On The Moon
Twilight Zone Neil Norman Greatest Science Fiction Hits, Vol. 2
A Cautionary Song The Decemberists Castaways And Cutouts
Walking With A Ghost Tegan & Sara So Jealous
Shankill Butchers The Decemberists The Crane Wife
The End The Doors Greatest Hits
More Human Than Human Rob Zombie Past, Present, & Future
Dead Man’s Party Oingo Boingo Dead Man’s Party
Travolta Mr. Bungle Mr. Bungle
9 to 5 at the Morgue Dog Fashion Disco Anarchists of Good Taste
Tubular Bells (Opening Theme) Mike Oldfield Elements
The Fix Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid
Pink Cigarette Mr. Bungle California
oh yea and thanks to Christian for remebering:
Halloween Misfits Collection II
Using nostalgia is a powerful way to connect with an audience.
From Chapter 3
So many factors converge to make youth culture dominant in determining cultural momentum. Nostalgia and irony have their sharpest spikes in adolescents, especially those on the cusp of adulthood. Or said another way, the multi-stage struggle for identity reaches its crescendo in the late teen years. The ruling Boomer generation in its heyday seemed to invent extended adolescence, and to the extent that science and technology can keep up, Boomers will continue on this path. But, though the Boomers have been dominant for decades, their time is rapidly fading. Generation Y—the Echo Boom—is evolving into that role.
Tribal formation and articulation, the yeast of cultural change, are most volatile and fertile in youth and youth-conscious populations, and the struggles for identity and regeneration are the most powerful forces driving this. For in those years lies the time of the greatest, most passionate conflicts, which yield the most entertaining experiences for the rest of the culture to share in vicariously.
Youth culture is an essential driver of all of pop culture. The intensity that youth brings and the time youth has for development make youth’s culture the most dynamic and vital piece of the puzzle for the whole of pop cultural forecasting. Compounding the difficulty of forecasting for this segment of the population are the unique symbols, language, and channels youth employ to communicate with one another as they seek to distinguish themselves from those who came before and those who have held sway over their development. With their new voice and empowered by their beauty and regenerative powers, youth still strain for credibility and authenticity even while borrowing from the scraps of the cultural dustbin that preceded them. These totems hide conspicuously. They are there to be translated. You can dig what they say. Just don’t betray yourself by trying to say it. It’s essential to speak through translators and stay true to the language of your tribes.
Rebellion is not an obvious given, but only one of the many means of distinction that youth have at their disposal. In new, more subtly subversive ways, youth have embraced many of the conventions of their parents and move to separate themselves not through opposition, but through achievement. Youth leverage their entitlement and achieve a greater sense of themselves through even more conscious, conspicuous, and discerning consumption.
Decoding these trends is easier for the forecaster who is willing to seek new channels of communication and new methods of using them. Youth employ these new channels not for sheer novelty alone, but out of a real need to explore the meaning of having a unique voice rather than silent complicity.
Pew Internet research has just released a new study about the impact of technology on the family
It’s a mixed bag of news– families are connecting more but enjoying it less. More access to technology often means dual incomes and more time physically away from the family. If you’ll pardon the expression, this is a megatrend that will be with us as long as anyone reading this blog draws breath.
The root of the downside is the wealth paradox that is upper-income earners work more hours than their middle income counterparts. Dual-income earners exacerbate this effect. Anyone who’s had to tell their spouse to “get off the computer and come to dinner” knows exactly what I’m talking about.
This tele-conflict is going to get worse before it gets better. Admittedly I am one of the worst offenders–though I’ve tried to set smart limits on both myself and my daughter.
Soon however there will be a backlash to all this “always -on” sensibility–people will peal off the grid–probably not soon enough for their own good, however. The recession is going to –at least in the near-term–keep people connected to the web.
This is the modern ball and chain for many knowledge workers.
Coming to terms with the value of presence as opposed to the potential emotional vacuum of telepresence is a foreign concept to all but the most extreme tech worker or fruity new-ager. Still the idea has started to resonate with all of us now as demonstrated by the Pew results. As the weight of our economic life begins to take its toll, the dark side of technology will become clearer. More and more people will be forced onto the grid as the promise of technological efficiency becomes part of our “way out” of our current economic challenges.
Feels like a great opportunity to hype the book
from Chapter 1
Like all preceding generations who longed for the “good ol’ days,” we will pine for the days when we could turn it all off, when there wasn’t enormous social pressure to be continually accessible. After all, what could you possibly be doing that’s more important than responding to an ever-larger number of people who need you now? With great self-importance we respond immediately and get stressed when we don’t. At the same time, we both ridicule and reluctantly admire those who choose to go off the grid.
The August 3, 2007 Business Week quotes a Silicon.com study stating, “A shocking 40 per cent of respondents said they check work e-mail at least once per day while on holiday, and a further 14 per cent said they log on once per week.” Some people have even become so addicted to using the BlackBerry mobile e-mail device that it has acquired the nickname the “CrackBerry.” Twenty-one months earlier, in April 2006, the BBC reported that a “study, carried out at the Institute of Psychiatry found excessive use of technology reduced workers’ intelligence. Those distracted by incoming e-mail and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ, more than twice that found in studies of the impact of smoking marijuana.” Further, a 2007 survey by Ad Agency J. Walter Thomson showed being connected to the Web was more important than sex to most of the 1,011 people surveyed.
Some of us yearn earnestly to have more self-discipline as we compulsively check our mobile devices. “Living in the moment” will be under the greatest threat. We’ll need to manage the risk that people may like us more when we are “telepresent” than they would when we are physically present…the grass is always greener where one’s telepresence is. There is more potential and imagination is more real when you can project yourself to a place where you and those you interact with are free to fill in the lines. Telepresence creates the possibility that the person on the other end of the line is more attractive than the one in front of you…that the party you are going to is likely more “off the chain” than the one you are physically attending. We risk being seduced by both perpetual distraction and the “potential” of the future while losing the value of the present.
There’s an old adage about consultants– they can tell you 50 ways to pick up women but don’t know any. That quote will be even funnier later. Trust me.
I’m big fan of WOMMA. The idea of a group dedicated to working to make direct and promotional marketing more transparent is a good one. Still I worry that the results (word of mouth) of effectively integrated marketing efforts are getting confused with the tactics deployed to elicit the “word of mouth” social phenomenon.
In other words “Word of Mouth” is a result– not a program or tactic. Word of mouth happens when marketing is relevant– when it generates value that can be passed socially. Hell, a good ad can drive word of mouth when it’s catchy or funny. Advertising is often seen as the antithesis of “word of mouth” but that’s not really fair.
It’s time to stop confusing results and tactics. You want people to talk about your brand or product? Give them a platform (it can be one you build or one that already exists). Then facilitate discussion (I’m tired of talking about me –what do you think about me). It’s no different than when you were in college– you wanted to meet people to have them talk to –or about you? Throw a party! Of course the success of that tactic (throwing a party) works in direct correlation with the hotness of the guests and the quality of its inebriants.
This is why traditional ad agencies are in such a tizzy. Building platforms and facilitating customer collaboration is just not their thing. That’s kinda weird when you think about it ’cause ad folks are really good at finding hot chicks and highly effective inebriants.
Good word of mouth comes from using marketing resources to catalyze and scale an already naturally occurring social phenomenon. Marketing programs designed to yield word of mouth as a result still need to be rooted in measurable business outcomes. They never work when they are built to force some sort of new behavior.
Finding the “hot guests” for your WOM party means mining for highly-involved customers–those customers who really care –not so much about your brand, but (way) more importantly, your competitive business space. The “inebriants” at your party are the novel things of value that you bring to it–free samples, cool technology, or totems of social status.
No one like a party-pooper so keep the parents (brand police) upstairs (or out of the house all together) . Sure you need bouncers to keep the riff-raff out– but no one likes a buzz-kill and nothing will subvert your marketing efforts to generate word of mouth like poorly applied censorship. Censorship that will ultimately result in causing the exact thing it was intended to stop–negative word of mouth .
So let’s get this party started.
Now about those sexy attendees–
Well, actually, a bit more about tribes (from Chapter 2)
Our tribal codes and methods are deeply embedded within us and affect everything we do, even how we process language. The Western reader reads from left to right; the Eastern reader, right to left. No individual, however isolated, exists in a vacuum, because he has been formed by or in reaction to a variety of tribal influences. People don’t rebel against ideas, actions, or communities that have no connection to them. People grow up with certain ways of thinking, doing, and being. They then experiment with embracing and renouncing these approaches. When tribal identity shifts or is uncertain, the members hold those influences in a sort of ambivalent suspension, waiting for cues from influencers with the greatest cultural currency to drive them to new refined convictions.
Though the group needs the individual and the individual needs the group, our culture is nevertheless splitting into more and smaller tribes, as our larger time-honored institutions and their representative iconography erode. We are forced to identify with more and more tribes, to speak more and more codes, and to recognize more and more symbols. We are changing from the iconic nations that fought World War II, and from the idealists that made up the Boomer generation, into segmented units similar in more ways to an earlier time.
It used to be that geography set tribal boundaries. Today, people’s tribal boundaries are largely determined according to the technology or media they use and the interests they pursue. At the same time, tribes’ interests and purposes have become less basic and more complex. How do you develop a coherent selling strategy to touch all the rapidly segmenting interest groups? How do you know which direction these tribes will take as they disintegrate according to even narrower interests? When one-way broadcast media held sway, it was a lot easier to track the pulse of a captive audience, pull a tribe together for profit, and market to it.
Don’t be fooled, however, into thinking every attempt to create a tribe around a new segment of interest succeeds. For example, some disconnected conservatives say there ought to be a White History Month to counter the emphasis on Black History Month that they believe is overdone. These conservatives miss the fact that Black History Month arose primarily because all the Western history curricula were about white people.
Building your own tribe is rather close to impossible. The better alternative is to find tribes that are already aligned with your goals or sensibilities. The watchful forecaster will look for strategies that aggregate smaller tribes into bigger ones. This is the essential nature of pop culture crossover. When totems resonate across tribes, aggregation happens. When those totems maintain their strength, authenticity is ascribed and the growing masses of multiple tribes begin to work to test that authenticity. But of course, tension grows as totems begin to lose their purity when more and more individuals adopt them.
Follow up (10/21)– The New York Times research arm just published some interesting findings about affluent “marketing multipliers“. Again– the key learning from this study is to mine your highly envloved customers and avoid over-rotating around demographic segmentation.
I’m fond of quoting one of my favorite psychoanalysts, Rollo May who said “the opposite of love isn’t hate it’s indifference.” I love that quote– It’s both simple and profound. Click the link below and see proof of its truth.
Facebook is huge– this protest will make them stronger. Never underestimate the power or difficulty of scale. Remember what former GE CEO Jack Welch said about his reality principle: “The reality principle requires that you be absolutely honest with yourself and deal with the situation based on the way it really is today, right now, not the way you wish it were or the way it might have been in the past.”
What better way to assess reality than by allowing the customer to articulate it themselves–unfiltered. Way to keep it real, Facebook.
From Chapter 5
Achieving scale is difficult, deceptively so, because as any innovation diffuses, it changes, often forfeiting its artisanal nature in the pursuit of growth. If that change causes costs to go up or values to be diminished or meanings to be diluted, the idea, product, or cultural movement won’t scale and will lose its momentum. The cultural currency evaporates and the idea, product, or movement fades into memory. Products, services, and ideas can become too popular too quickly as well. AOL had this problem at the end of the last century when it gained too many new customers too quickly. It happens more than you think, and if you think it’s a problem you’d like to have, ask someone who’s been through it. It’s a situation only slightly better than seeing no demand at all.
On these two phenomena, diffusion and scale (and the rates associated with them), rests the fate of trends and the prestige and believability of pop culture forecasts. As a matter of dollars and cents, diffusion models and scalability can tell you how and when a brand matters and how it matures. It can also tell if and when an idea will reach its saturation point and begin to lose its value. As you can imagine, that kind of data is essential to developing accurate pricing and communication strategies.
Tribes dictate change in popular culture. When the number of people adopting an idea or innovation reaches critical mass, the new sensation becomes a cultural inevitability. But while the early majority, late majority, and laggards ride in the car, somebody has to start it. Innovations need those who value them to risk their tribal status and cultural currency to drive the innovation’s adoption. They are innovators too—even if they haven’t invented anything.
As scale is achieved, concentric circles of interest or devotion create the “network effect” such that a trend (anything from art and music to politics and culture) gathers the necessary momentum to race around the world. Both Wikipedia and Answers.com credit DJ Grand Wizard Theodore for creating the rhythmic patterns of rap music, but Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Kool Herc, and Grandmaster Flash were all innovators who adopted it, contributed their cultural currency to accelerate its scale, and made rap a musical and cultural benchmark.
Obviously Facebook has scaled. Now those its early adopters responcible for its growth are facing alienating popularity– the social media platform is simply not all that special anymore. Facebook’s commitment to supporting dissent in its community assures its durability as a brand. Practicing what one preaches is essential to maintaning the credibility so critical to scaling without compromising the foundation on which the business is based.
Casey Mulligan– a Economics professor at University of Chicago– wrote a nice Op Ed piece today in the Times. It was the just the thing (I mentioned here earlier this week) that I was looking for when I discussed the idea of financial metrics as cultural totems.
Mulligan (anyone in the golfer and investor tribes has got to love that name) has a beauty of a totem. The article makes two key points: First, even if the banks we know fall completely apart–the market will still need banking services. Just as the housing market crumbles–we all still need places to lay our heads–even if they are over-leveraged. That’s important.
The second key point is the (new to me) totem of the marginal product of capital– a measure of profit each dollar in the economy is producing– in aggregate. It’s essentially a P/E ratio for the economy. Way cool (to a geek like me).
So today I’m just connecting Wednesday’s entry to Mulligan’s application of an old totem (the Price to Earning ratio) in a new way (marginal product of capital) in order to move the investment tribe on and swing it in the opposing direction.
I swear –from a “market as culture” perspective– I see really clear signs that we’ve about bottomed here. I just can’t believe the markets really needed to give 50% back. Wow.
BTW– I liquidated my short position today. So I guess I put my money where my blog is.
It’s no secret Americans take pride in our leading export–entertainment. It stands for American innovation. We have the greatest creative class in the world. Right?
Two of this seasons hottest new shows are remakes. ABC’s Life On Mars (Love it BTW) is re-make of a British show– and NBC’s Kath and Kim is a remake of an Australian sitcom.
This is nothing new in American television. American Idol famously started in Britain. but for those of us who think cultural exports are critical to the national interest, these retuned imports are a disturbing trend for those who look for American innovation in entertainment. As the risks get higher, broadcasters and production companies are in a race to be second.
It is remarkably difficult to get funded for a major entertainment project without a “proof of concept”. Successful innovations like Gossip Girl risk still birth even as early indicators show their popularity. It’s just that entertainment properties need to be huge immediately. The competition is fierce and everyone in Hollywood has an opinion–even before the audience gets a chance to weigh in. Recycling seems like a great idea–until it isn’t anymore. What’s knowable is that recycling is inevitable–what’s not knowable is when it will stop working.
From Chapter 3:
It’s not just cable TV. Nowhere is this recycling of cultural touchstones more evident than at the Cineplex, where what’s old is new again. First-run movies that make it at the box office reflect yesterday more than today or tomorrow. For the media conglomerates shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars to produce them, remakes of Superman, Batman, Mission: Impossible, Starsky & Hutch, Ocean’s Eleven (and Twelve and Thirteen!), and the umpteenth Rocky seem like safer bets than risking the fickle tastes of the moviegoing public with creative new fare. The staggered three-year adaptation of Lord of the Rings, and the many ways in which it was repurposed and remarketed, demonstrates both the huge risk associated with marketing anything authentically innovative and the need for youth to mash up—that is, take previously existing media and re-edit them to create something new—the cultural artifacts available to them to fill the astounding amount of newly available bandwidth.
“Sampling”—that is, borrowing or reusing—is old technology. Who would have known that when the pioneer rap group De La Soul sampled only to be sued in 1989, they would establish a creative method that would make them part of not only music history but the history of cultural innovation? Now as the futility of the software copy protection movement known as digital rights management (DRM) slowly diffuses across corporate America, mash-up slowly and irreversibly ascends and drives a new cultural lexicon.
Hope all that twittering last night didn’t annoy you. Honestly, it is amazing how both entertaining and self-indulgent it is to twitter about a political debate. I publish therefore I am. Particularly when drinking.
The New York Times has a great article today about the reign of terror on Wall Street. It is further evidence that the markets are not ruled by reason–at least not in the near term. Leverage accelerates these swings in mob mood.
So what is one to make of all this mob rule? More importantly what is likely to happen and what can be learned–beyond the obvious “buy low– sell high” wisdom of the ages?
Sounds like a good opportunity for an excerpt:
Understanding the impact of a given tribal shift requires a historical perspective on where patterns repeat and clarity about what’s new in this latest variation. Patterns never repeat exactly, but they do recycle. Accurate and timely forecasts depend upon finding what in the past has presaged the present, and what in the present is unique to its time and place.
In the pre-digital era, the cultural currency of tribes—what is valued by the tribe and why—was brought from hierarchical, centralized structures that dispensed it through prescribed modes of transaction, like money or communications media. In the digital era and beyond, the cultural myths and truths that tribes live by come to them along more decentralized and personal lines of communication. As much as the purveyor of the information shapes its content and meaning, so does the recipient, who also distorts or refines it in alignment with his tribal values and role in the tribe. The results are not unlike the end message in the telephone game played by kids at a birthday party; an initial message becomes modified each time it’s passed to or through the next individual, with the final outcome usually humorously dissimilar from the original.
Such results derive from influential input from many more members of a tribe than before, with the necessary conclusion being that the body of laws and customs and assumptions that the tribe endorses will be smaller, and possibly even less dogmatic in nature. They may also have much broader and more intelligent endorsement by the tribe’s members given the new ability to share and revise.
The insightful forecaster will recognize similar codes across tribes. She will translate them by finding analogues—codes in more familiar tribes that correspond to the ones she is viewing for the first time. She will convert the value of the tribe’s totems to determine whether those symbols are growing or diminishing in cultural currency. She will see the way to the tribe’s future by looking at it’s past.
The key here is finding the codes or totems that various investor tribes are seeing and reacting to. Can you see them? How about LIBOR (more on LIBOR and what it means to bankers here) and signals on inflation? Two year treasuries? These key signals are everywhere. When looking for change look for the signals that have been stuck to move. then your change will come. Where is the gloom and doom coming from? How long can gloom and doom be perpetuated particularly when there is no catastrophe to point to? Listen, unless there is another major terrorist attack, some bio-disaster, or some biblical calamity all this silliness has to swing back. Capitalism isn’t broken–greed is. Short of the aforementioned unknowable, we can be sure this too shall pass. The markets will rise to traditional value levels as they have for 150 years. Business is business– meanwhile the 24 hour news cycle is saved again! Stay tuned for more fear, or, search the web to confirm your own bias. After those fail you, look at the communication of those involved. You can see people beginning to question the legitimacy of the panic and pointing to formally ignored totems. They will use them as signs of stability but you, dear reader, will already be ahead of it.
I am one of those who thought a McCain -Obama race would be good for the country. And, in fact, I think it has been. I hear policy discussions again. Yes, it will start to get ugly tomorrow as the 527’s launch their vitriol and that’s too bad– because I like Johnny Mac–but I think now he might lose. And God forgive me, I think Glenn Beck might be right. He blew his chances with the bailout bill.
There was his chance– right there– to stop the madness of the gaudy, bejeweled pork-fest. Now don’t get me wrong– the Government needed to step in to restore confidence in the credit markets. But John could have (actually he did) demanded a Kosher version of the bill. He could have further demanded Obama join him (Obama wouldn’t of course)–positioning Obama as a sell-out and not a leader. He could have looked liked the maverick he needs to be. Of course McCain’s failure to call for another bill will be spun as McCain doing the right thing for the country in a time of panic- but it really looks like a kind of capitulation to the Shock Doctrine of the last 8 years. Many Independent and undecided voters will feel it– even if they don’t necessarily understand it.
Now that the pork has been passed, the hue and cry will begin. Pragmatic financial conservatives are furious over the details (not the principal) of the plan. But now McCain has no other cards to play on the number one issue in the election: the economy. This had all the markings of a Bush bill and John fell in line. Obama’s hands are clean–something needed to be done and this was the only option to get those opportunistic Republicans over to the “big government” side of the fence. Now McCain looks no different than the rest of the big government Republicans–just an older part of a broken establishment. Is there any politician more easily demonized than a big government Republican?
I like political tension-I think checks and balances keep things from spiraling out of control. Both Obama and McCain are worthy candidates and honestly I’m proud of them both. Nevertheless for McCain the time came to take a stand and show leadership–not be be obstructionist– but to say “I’m going to be the next President and I demand better”. He must of thought that he couldn’t rally his own troops–they looked so utterly ridiculous when they claimed Pelosi’s speech was the reason they couldn’t vote for the bill as it was originally. Why didn’t he call them on it?
The election really may be over now. McCain is going to look all grumpy and frustrated in the debates– Obama will look calm. The strategy of tying McCain to Bush will have been successful as the economy drags the last few drops of approval Bush out of the Bush administration. If McCain tries pulling the “guilt by association” card on Obama, it will just be embarrassing. Of course less so when the 527’s do it– but it will all be marking time.
I was certain McCain would be the next President. Now, not so much. It just goes to show you. Nothing is certain. Hell, Obama could be caught with hookers and blow tomorrow–you never know. I wouldn’t bank on it though. Come to think of it, banking anything isn’t really a good idea these days.
Of course McCain’s flip-flopping and the trouble it caused him got me think about how to exploit these Treasury shenanigans for my book. The lesson: Don’t abandon the date that brought you to the dance without exhausting all options. From Chapter 2:
Of course, to understand how a tribe will change, you need to know a little bit about its culture. And to know its culture, you have to speak its language. This can be difficult because tribes are built around insular values, language, and symbols that are designed to distinguish them as unique and to manage potential members. From acronym-heavy business lingo to the secret rituals of fraternities, tribes create their own definitions and want to be spoken to on their own terms, in their own language. These rituals and lingos determine the deference and proximity of those who would be—or pretend to be—a part of the tribes. It is essentially human to define those not “with us” as “against us,” and language is a fundamental means to that end.
Let’s say you get lost on the way to the boardroom and accidentally find yourself in the warren of cubicles housing your company’s IT drones. As you listen to them discussing the finer points of the new complete cluster node with DDR-2 memory, multiple memory controllers, and a high-performance cluster interconnect, you might realize that you have no idea what this means. Well, you’re not supposed to—you’re not in the tribe.
Tribal language is a way to distinguish those in the know from the poseurs. But a sharp forecaster will find a way to decipher the code and determine what’s important to these culture-defining tribes.
Words aren’t the only things that differ from tribe to tribe. Tribes adopt their own value structure—that is, their own sense of right and wrong.
McCain got tangled in economic theory, lost his bearings, and the language of his base. I think he may have lost the election.