unmarketing : release the pressure

Wednesday, June 15, 2005 at 4:57:00 PM

http://www.epic.org/privacy/carnivore/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eschelon

http://www.globalsecurity.org/index.html

http://www.4verichip.com/

http://www.gait.ecs.soton.ac.uk/

http://www.ksw-microtec.de/www/f42ecaa3e45ed749f2894e6427e68694_de.php

http://infowar.net/tia/www.darpa.mil/iao/HID.htm

http://www.epic.org/privacy/airtravel/foia/foia1.html

http://users.rcn.com/mackey/thesis/panpic.html

http://www.refuseandresist.org/police_state/art.php?aid=1531

http://www.matrix-at.org/

http://cos.skoj.nu:7780/pdf2html.php?url=http://www.matrix-at.org/FDLE_Letter.pdf&ID=69700

Sunday, June 05, 2005 at 11:59:00 PM

It isn't about shutting down advertising, shutting down marketing.

It's about looking long and hard at where advertising and marketing is NOW, and where it has been in the past. It is, in short, out of hand.

It's about finding new methods to advertise that complement a life, rather than co-opt a life.

It's about stories, really.

More to come. Hold your breath.

at 3:02:00 PM

idiocy of online advertising

Top 50 Internet Advertisers in April.

Total expenditure between these fifty for a single month? $258,555

Yikes.

at 1:29:00 PM

credit cards should be called "go directly to debt" cards

Credit cards and credit card debt is one of the most insidious financial evils in the world today. Far too many people are living beyond their means, and they are encouraged to do so by credit card companies. Every few minutes, we see a commercial showing average people living the Great Life © thanks to their platinum debt cards. Can't afford that fine-dining experience? Charge it!

Consumer Action is a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that has

continued to serve consumers nationwide by advancing consumer rights, referring consumers to complaint-handling agencies through our free hotline, publishing educational materials in Chinese, English, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese and other languages, advocating for consumers in the media and before lawmakers, and comparing prices on credit cards, bank accounts, and long distance services.


According to their March 2003 report on credit cards:

* More than one-third of surveyed issuers said they will raise existing cardholders’ rates because of their poor credit record with other creditors—even if the cardholder has made no late payments or other missteps with the card in question.
* The vast majority of surveyed cards have significantly higher penalty rates that are triggered by one or two late payments in a period of six months to a year.
* One-fifth of surveyed issuers have shifted to tiered late payments, which Consumer Action interprets as a deceptive way of charging higher-than-average late fees.
* The number of cards with $35 late fees has more than doubled from last year.
* More than half the cards surveyed require cardholders to pay only 2% of the monthly balance each month—a disturbing trend that dramatically increases the overall interest paid by cardholders.
* More than one-third of surveyed institutions will not provide a firm annual percentage rate (APR) until they have screened the applicant’s credit history.

“Every year we uncover more anti-consumer practices in the industry,” said Sherry, Consumer Action’s editorial director. “So many of these policies seem greedy and short-sighted. If you look at them as a whole—tiny minimum monthly payments, outrageous late fees and significantly higher penalty rates—they seem designed to drive cardholders into bankruptcy.”


Do yourself a favor, people. Cut up the credit cards. Don't use them. End it now, before you find yourself a victim of credit card debt.

at 12:19:00 PM

tales of torture are lying lies told by the liars?

According to President Bush, the Amnesty International report on Guantanamo Bay is just a pack of lies, apparently, told by "disassemblers", according to this May 31 press release:

THE PRESIDENT: Terry.

Q Thank you, sir. Mr. President, recently, Amnesty International said you have established "a new gulag" of prisons around the world, beyond the reach of the law and decency. I'd like your reaction to that, and also your assessment of how it came to this, that that is a view not just held by extremists and anti-Americans, but by groups that have allied themselves with the United States government in the past -- and what the strategic impact is that in many places of the world, the United States these days, under your leadership, is no longer seen as the good guy.

THE PRESIDENT: I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd. It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that is -- promotes freedom around the world. When there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way. It's just an absurd allegation.

In terms of the detainees, we've had thousands of people detained. We've investigated every single complaint against the detainees. It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of -- and the allegations -- by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth. And so it was an absurd report. It just is. And, you know -- yes, sir.


I particularly find this figure astounding:

Total number of detainees held outside the USA by the US during “war on terror”: 70,000

Open your eyes. Actually read the report. Don't let the media tell you what to think.

Oh, and Mr. Bush?

dis·as·sem·ble (ds-smbl)
v. dis·as·sem·bled, dis·as·sem·bling, dis·as·sem·bles
v. tr.

To take apart: disassemble a toaster.

v. intr.

1. To come apart: The unit disassembles easily.
2. To break up in random fashion: The spectators began to disassemble.

And we take his word on these things?

Saturday, June 04, 2005 at 12:30:00 PM

Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man

Six issues of the magazine McLuhan Studies are available online. Tons of great articles and a wealth of knowledge surrounding Marshall McLuhan and his theories.

McLuhan was derided and pretty much ignored by academics when his theories were first presented and explored. However, with the advent of the internet and an increasingly interlinked world, the impact of his thoughts is gaining new respect.

The medium is, indeed, the message.

Very interesting stuff.

I recommend in particular Effects of Electronic Media on Advertising by Kong Ying.

Friday, June 03, 2005 at 2:17:00 PM

where's the money, Oh Glorious Government?

Reuters: Iraq rebuilding lags, security eats precious funds

U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen sees himself as a "taxpayer watchdog" entrusted to verify whether money appropriated by Congress to rebuild Iraq is spent wisely.

Asked whether he thought rebuilding was properly under way and funds were being spent as Congress intended, the former White House lawyer said: "No," largely because so much money had been diverted to security, forcing projects to be scaled back.

There has also been evidence of corruption in some U.S.-funded deals. As of April 11, his office had received 131 potential criminal cases, and of these 62 have been closed, 35 referred to other agencies and 34 remain open.

"The big ones are yet to unfold ... We are talking tens of millions of dollars and not just thousands," he said in an interview with Reuters, declining to provide further details of ongoing investigations.


I've done some searching on Stuart Bowen Jr., and I'm starting to like this guy.

IRAQ: Iraq Sues A.P. Moeller-Maersk on Reconstruction Performance and Alleged Mismanagement of Port

The office of Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said in a report to U.S. Congress last month that it's investigating 34 separate cases of irregularities in the U.S.-managed reconstruction contracts, including instances of fraud, bribery and bid rigging. His initial review of contracting data in Iraq indicates the federal government doesn't have one organization with the ``big picture'' about how reconstruction money is being spent, Bowen said in a May 9 e-mailed statement.

Bowen's office said it had no record of the original Maersk contract being awarded by the U.S. Army, when contacted by Bloomberg on May 23.

A.P. Moeller, controlled by Maersk Mc-Kinney Moeller, 91, posted a record profit in 2004 when net income jumped 41 percent to 24.5 billion Danish kroner ($4.3 billion), and sales rose 5.7 percent to 166 billion kroner. Its shares have gained 44 percent over the last year to close at 54,400 kroner on Friday, May 27.

at 11:55:00 AM

roots of unmarketing

Following is a brainstorming piece that I wrote some time ago, while trying to come to terms with the current state of marketing. In some ways, it is one of the components that led me to unmarketing. I've spent a long time looking for alternative ways of marketing that are not intrusive, and have had a hard time finding those ways. So I continue to wrestle, and continue to look for new ways and new techniques that are conscionable.

I love marketing. You may have the impression that I hate it, or that I think it is wrong. This is not true. I have always been fascinated with marketing, have chosen to find a life in marketing.

Yet I also have limits. I cannot accept anything-goes, zero-accountability, invasive marketing tactics. I cannot accept marketing targeted at children. I believe that marketing is a useful tool - but I also believe that consumers have a right to avoid marketing if they wish. And when we cannot disengage from marketing, our culture has gone too far.

And so unmarketing is about finding alternatives.




spark:

do it all. do it differently.
neologik is about defining the edge. whether it's the edge of reason or the edge your company needs to gain. it's about personalities - the friction that generates vital new ideas by disparate viewpoints rubbing togeether.
neologik is about rejecting the mundane in favor of the exciting. it's about thinking beyond the box, not outside the box. zen design - there is no box.

philosophy:

can a functioning philosophy, infusing every particle of being, be distilled into a single bland mission statement?
i hope not.
a living philosophy must be flexible, adaptive to any given situation... and adaptive to any possible situation. in order to breathe, a philosophy must encounter the really real world. or it dissolves into so much smoke.
yet a philosophy must be articulated as well. an un-articulated philosophy will never develop, never grow.
here, then, is the

core:

redefine reality on your own terms.
neologik is more than a selling house (it's that, too). neologik is more than production. neologik is more than one man.
if neologik were boiled down, two elements would remain:

what if?
what'll it take?

at heart, neologik exists to speculate, to wonder and to attempt. neologik is absolutely unique, a specialized niche in itself. neologik is not for everyone.

development:

everything is marketing.
escape is impossible, but at the same time attention is drifting. and the innundation of marketing escalates in an attempt to compensate for that same drifting attention that it causes. and on and on.
something has to give. either marketers or customers will shut down completely.
the same old, same old cannot survive.
which means there has to be a better way. neologik exists to discover that better way.
it all falls to two questions:
what if?
what'll it take?
you've never heard of speculative marketing. and neither have i. it's something i've had to invent, to cope with what i see in the world every waking moment. born of frustration, forged in outright anger at the status quo mentality of staid companies unwilling or unable to explore the possibility of innovative marketing techniques that will not add to the noise.
birthed by two questions i asked myself:
what if traditional marketing didn't work?
what'll it take to build a market?
what if?
what'll it take?
neologik exists to explore those questions. neologik exists to create the answers.
redefine reality.

how:
a philosophy must function in the really real world, or it's just smoke (usually blown from someone's ass). and to function, there has to be a "how".
(i'll be the first to admit that proving a speculation is a sucky, crappy deal. really. being innovative means challenging, being aggressive, being polemical. people - especially people in corporations - don't necessarily like that, no matter how much lip service is paid to the idea of 'creativity' and 'originality'.)
so how does marketing work in a post-marketing environment? how does marketing succeed when marketing no longer has the ability to attract?
1) accept the foundations of marketing, whether they're called the Principles, the Immutable Laws, the Basic Tennants or whichever phrase is au courant.
2) absorb existing techniques, whether they're viral, guerrilla, b2b, b2c, p2p, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.
3) start twisting.

interlude:

writers know that stories come from the collision of ideas. the ideas themselves are easy to find; they exist everywhere, ready for plucking by the attentive author. stories arise when ideas are mashed together, juxtaposed, combined and recombined until a spark unites them, creating energy and vitality - newness.
here's a secret: marketing is about stories
and when it comes to stories, you can choose the tried-and-true plots we've read a million times before, or you can choose the road less written. you can choose shakespeare, or you can choose pynchon.
most companies choose shakespeare, which is not surprising. shakespeare has history, scholarship, staying power. shakespeare has been analyzed, Cliff-noted, institutionalized. shakespeare isn't dangerous. shakespeare is sanitized.
i've always preferred pynchon.
end interlude.

Thursday, June 02, 2005 at 8:06:00 PM

and this is acceptable new marketing

Hey kids! Wanna sell some of Proctor & Gamble's products?!?!

At Tremor, we’ve discovered true word-of-mouth is not simply buzz. It’s built using advocacy and amplification. We’ve cracked the code and leverage the power of word-of-mouth advocacy, to move sales, attitude and brand equity for our clients.



How Does It Work?

Tremor targets viral teens or Connectors with unique word-of-mouth Messaging to create Advocacy and Amplification.


The “crew” is a proprietary panel of 200,000+ teen connectors who have a relationship with Tremor. They have been screened, and they have “opted in” to Tremor.

They have been recruited with the promise of early access to new products and ideas, and they possess the ability to influence the market place.

at 7:27:00 PM

Wal-Mart - Good for America?

Here is an excellent piece from PBS's Frontline program, a balanced look at Wal-Mart.

Frontline: Is Wal-Mart Good for America?

"Wal-Mart," Gereffi continues, "has life-or-death decision over [almost] all the consumer goods industries that exist in the United States, because it is the number one supplier-retailer of most of our consumer goods -- not just clothes, shoes, toys, but home appliances, electronic products, sporting goods, bicycles, groceries, food."

at 6:34:00 PM

States Pass Privacy Laws

via Network Magazine's blog:

As of today, eight state legislatures have passed privacy legislation, largely in reaction to the recent, well-publicized privacy breach incidents at ChoicePoint, Axciom, Bank of America, LexisNexis, and others (and more states are debating such laws). This morning I read the eight states' laws to compare and contrast and see what, if any, unusual requirements they might contain (yes, maybe I do need to get a life). Although these state efforts may one day be superseded by a national law proposed by California Senator Dianne Feinstein based on her state's privacy law, the laws are all similar enough that if you understand the state laws, you'll be ready for the new national rules.

at 4:58:00 PM

subverting children's minds and wills

Children, Health and Advertising

Advertising Children's Products - Research at SMU-Cox

Marketing To Children by Sharon Beder

Commercial Alert's "Parents' Bill of Rights"

A Content Analysis of Gender Differences in Children's Advertising review

PBS "Don't Buy It" Parents' Guide

American College of Physicians "Relation between Parental Restrictions on Movies and Adolescent Use of Tobacco and Alcohol" article

Theory-based Social Interventions by Marvin E. Goldberg at Penn State University

"Understanding the Impact of Media on Children and Teens" from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Villian: AdRelevance's "The ABCs of Advertising to Kids Online" - PDF file. An article on how to advertise to children online. Bastardfuckers.

ParentLink's article on Television

ParentLink's article on Internet

Villian: Children's Food: Marketing and Innovation edited by G. Smith

Villian: Young Consumers (formerly the International Journal of Advertising & Marketing to Children)

at 3:46:00 PM

Opening Up

I am not a radical, not by any stretch of the word. I buy my clothes at Target or Goodwill or Kohl's. I admit to owning a leather jacket, even leather shoes. I am not a vegan, I am not ambisexual, I'm not a biker or a performance artist or a sociologist or a drug dealer. I don't have a hybrid car.

In truth, I'm a marketing guy that likes to moonlight as a writer, a photographer, a graphic designer, and even occasional DJ.

I'm one of THEM.

On the other hand, I'm also the father of three little girls, trying to make it through a divorce, and disgusted by the society - if you wnat to stretch and call it that - around me.

Hence, unmarketing.

For thirty years, I have watched American culture spiral further and further downward into the muck. I've seen firsthand the explosion of marketing as it swarms through our nation like a festering cancer. Every day, the barrier between private life, corporate life, and governmental intrusion crumbles a little bit more, eroded by a complex web of ideological diseases.

It has to end before we are consumed.

Two things hit me at once, a double blow to the psyche kung fu chops to the ears. I'm still reeling, still confused, still shaken by it. And unmarketing is my way of coming to terms with it.

My three-year-old likes cartoons, and I'm OK with that. Hell, I like cartoons as well. And I'm a good parent - I've learned how to turn the TV off in favor of a book or building a fort, or drawing or playing soccer in the back yard.

It didn't matter that I did things right.

Two commercial blocks, and for every commercial my three-year-old informed me that she wanted each and every senseless, worthless piece of garbage advertized. Every single stupid toy, every single kid-targeted bit of makeup, every box of sugar-packed, preservative-laden junkfood was greeted by those horrible, horrible words:

"Ohhh, I want that!"

No Ava, you do NOT want that. I've taught you better than that.

Still, every time: "Ohhh, I want that!".

No matter that I've raised my children with even-handed moderation. Ava, at three, knows to ask for a "healthy snack". Ania, the eldest, drinks "white milk" at school instead of the ever-present chocolate milk. I can take all three of them shopping without worrying about having to deal with them screeching for toys or candy. Their favorite place to shop is the bookstore.

They're good kids.

Despite all that, marketing has them in its hold. And we cannot escape it.

Our society must unmarket. Through marketing, companies are undermining our private lives. I cannot condone this. I cannot accept this. It is an intrusion that we cannot disengage from, an invasion of the most insidious kind. Innocent people are suffering from a hostile takeover, and cannot even see it.

That is why I've started unmarketing.

But something else hit me, another blow.

It came from the DiscoveryTimes network, on a program entitled Someone's Watching. And while I viewed the majority of the program with a healthy dose of skepticism (which, I'm afraid, colors most of my habits), one point made me sit up and take notice.

It was ChoicePoint.

It had nothing to do with the scandal currently surrounding ChoicePoint, in which information on 140,000 people were sold to bogus companies, which you can read about here and here.

In fact, it was a passing remark made by a ChoicePoint representative, who said, in effect (because I didn't write it down):

Americans have the right to privacy, but no longer have the right to anonymity.


As a private citizen, this made me blanch. This made me sick. This, in short, pissed me off.

ChoicePoint, like LexisNexis and others, is an information gathering company. They:

For almost a century ChoicePoint has been a trusted source and leading provider of decision-making information that helps reduce fraud and mitigate risk.

ChoicePoint has grown from the nation's premier source of data to the insurance industry into the premier provider of decision-making intelligence to businesses and government. Through the identification, retrieval, storage, analysis and delivery of data, ChoicePoint serves the informational needs of businesses of all sizes, as well as federal, state and local government agencies.

ChoicePoint keeps abreast of the issues and trends in anticipation of what we believe to be a future opportunity of risk assessment information delivery. The Company strives to build and sustain long-term relationships through always understanding its customers' needs, while responding effectively with products and services that reflect changing industry concerns and dynamics. In addition, ChoicePoint strongly promotes the responsible use of information as a fundamental plank of its business model, including strict standards regarding the use and dissemination of personal information.


ChoicePoint assembles dossiers on private citizens, and then sells the information to whomever wants to buy. Other companies purchase the information for "background checks" or "marketing purposes" - to create highly-targeted lists of potential customers.

Been taking antidepressants? How would you feel if drug companies knew which drug you were taking, how often, and where you were getting it? And what if these same drug companies also knew what movies you watched, what books you bought, what organizations you pay dues to, what car you drove - and when you got your last oil change on that car?

But particularly egregrious, most disturbing, most invasive - what if ChoicePoint sold this information to the FBI?

They did.

And this is what that file is like.

And why not sell it to the CIA as well?

Welcome to the real world.




unmarketing is a different kind of weblog. I don't have a particular agenda. This is more an exploration for me, for my readers. It's a forum for discussion, a way to offer alternatives to the world in front of us, the world represented by ChoicePoint. Our society doesn't have to work this way. We can do it differently. We, private citizens, have the option to find a better way. We, private citizens, can engage with our world, make waves, offer choices. We can be active, we can DO SOMETHING.

If we disagree with our government, we can revolt. Indeed, if our government does not represent our aims, it is our DUTY to revolt.

It is time for corporate America to learn the same. We do not need them - they need us. WE are their employees, WE are their customers, WE are their bottom line.

And so I encourage people to wield that strength, the only strength we have. I, an average man in every way, nonetheless exhort you to action. To voice.

Our society, our supposed "culture", is a sham. A joke and a pale imitation of what it could be. In my eyes, America and the American Dream have failed, replaced by rotting McCulture.

And I, an average man, declare open war against that McCulture.

Join me.

I'll need your help. No man is an island - I cannot watch the whole world. So become active, if only in a small way. Send me links to the important stuff. Find a network, build together. Knowledge is the key to informed rebellion. Disobey the people in power. Obey your conscience.



My name is gabe chouinard.
My email is neologikal@gmail.com.

Speak out. I'm listening.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005 at 6:48:00 PM

Making Notes Toward A Brighter Future

"Know all men, by these presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of any incorporated society that I have not joined."
-Thoreau, On Civil Disobedience





I am an average man, of average height and build, of average intellect and average means, powered by average will and average philosophy; I boast an average-sized member, and am an average lover. My hates, by contrast, are just as average, spread across many and varied targets. For I am an average man in all respects, the sum division of society.

Yet even I, with such average outlook, dwelling in the average middle of the United States, cannot help but observe the Earth around me and despair, for I see with my average eyesight that we - all of us, all peoples of all means - are in trouble.

What is the average man to do?




This is what I see, in brief:




1) We are a glutted, obese nation over-fed with product.
2) We are made torpid and weak by spoon-fed opinion, our individual wills crumpled and made barren by pundits and other supposed "thought-makers" who engorge us with their views.
3) There exists far too much intrusive marketing.
4) Indeed, marketing is so pervasive that one could not disengage from its grip if one wished.
5) Irresponsible marketing tactics adversely affect developing minds.
6) The unholy trinity - government, media, corporations - must be disolved at once. Ties between the three must be severed.
7) "Unbiased" or "non-partisan" views do not exist. They are myth.
8) The people have lost all power in government, if the people ever had power. America is not a democracy, no matter how much lip service is paid to the ideal.
9) It is our responsibility - the responsibility of all people - to be informed. Knowledge is the key to action.
10) unmarketing is a soft, tentative step in the direction of active, individualized reform.




Throughout the course of this weblog, I shall explore many things, crossing over subjects along the spectrum of society. This is not a political weblog. This is not a marketing or business weblog. I do not represent an agenda, nor do I represent any organization. My sympathies are average, as I am - I am beholden to no particular stance, no particular outlook. In some ways I am conservative, in others I am progressive. I am not Republican or Democrat, Libertarian nor Green.

I am an average man, presenting what I see around me. I AM an advocate, but I am an advocate for common sense and responsibility - whether individual, government or corporate.

Why do I feel qualified to make these distinctions?

I do not.

But neither can I remain silent. I cannot allow myself to be complacent, accepting the ills of the world without speaking out. The world is already full of silent voices, neither praising nor dissenting. We, a society, have become a society of docile drones directed by the few. This is not the greatest nation on Earth, this thing we call the "United States of America". There is nothing "united" about us.

And I, an average man in every way, cannot condone such a society. I must, I must dissent. This is the responsibiltiy of every citizen, to make one's voice heard. To stand by and do nothing is a crime, and this has become a nation of criminals.

Stand up. Speak out. Engage with mankind and help make those tentative steps toward a brighter future.

That is my goal.