What separates a cutting-edge business innovation from the commonplace
or from a blinding statement of pure idiocy? In the interactive
business, about three weeks. My job involves identifying which is which,
and then either selling it, pouring scorn on it, or writing it up in
Campaign as a hot tip. Here’s my list for this month.
In the now-viewed-as-idiocy stakes: ‘Websites are becoming a vital part
of any multimedia campaign.’ Equals: ‘putting
http://www.icantbelieveitsnotbutter.co.uk at the bottom of your posters
will get you more hits than just the repeated ones to your unprotected
face from the poster design team.’ I’m not saying that this is an
overused approach, but I now get press releases from companies including
the claim they don’t have a Website connected to a launch.
This month’s commonplace: ‘Network computers are the future for
mainstream interactive entertainment.’ Like many others, I’m quoting
Larry Ellison of Oracle. Quick - list the other mainstream entertainment
hits that Larry Ellison has predicted. Now tell me: what does Oracle
make, exactly? Actually, it’s profoundly unmainstream, uninteractive,
unentertaining database management software. Like, curiously, network
computer servers, and...mailing-list handlers. Do you begin to see how
this one spread so far without a reality check?
And finally, a newly minted metaphor you can impress your friends with:
‘The Web is like a neutron bomb right now: lots of buildings, no
people.’ I like this one, because it’s hot, sounds thrilling, and is
trs cutting edge. But mostly because it makes no sense. Did the Web
kill all the people? Who made the Web-buildings, if there’s nobody
there? I have a feeling that this one disguises a sensible point about
the decline of real community on the new-look Net, but, ah, who cares?
Anything that gets cited as the main point of an article in this month’s
US Wired, and is then ridiculed as a tired cliche at the other end of
the same magazine, has value beyond meaning.
Dan O’Brien is a new-media consultant E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org