I know it’s completely and utterly ridiculous but I’m a complete addict for Vitamin Water. It’s basically sugar water with a millionth of an ounce of vitamins and some natural coloring but it’s really good. I have no idea why I’m hooked on the $2 per bottle water except that the mothership company (Glaceau) has great marketing, the product looks and feels right, and it’s expensive so that you think it’s valuable.
I’ve been following this very odd marketing tale of GM’s lately – they have successfully, apparently, apologized for making crappy cars about ten years ago and their campaign, “The Road to Recovery” (actually, it’s the “Road to Redemption”), features a Flash website that says very little and looks okay. I’m not sure if the movie’s quality reflects the company’s new focus on “quality” but it’s a bit high-tech looking for a company that seems bent on addressing its human-like nature, its inability to get out of ruts (NPI), and its newfound sense of business adventure. I would buy a GM car, as they are looking stylish, and apparently, they run better, but I’d have to see a more “human” quality to their “road” for me to feel confident in their products.
Mark Hurst, Mr. Experience of usability consulting firm GoodExperience.com, has put together a comical website called This is Broken, where he lists individuals’ terrible or otherwise bad experiences with corporations that could care less about consumers, customers, users, end users, schmoes, shmucks, or folks like me generally. I like the idea a lot, though it reeks a bit of Consumer Reports’ “Selling It” and other Nader-esque commentaries. It’s a good read.
I’m not sure what this site has to do with either Zen or Gardening or Zen Gardens but it’s truly incredible for what it is. (Did I write about this already? I’m so tired from working all weekend.) Play with the site — notice how you can change the entire layout — not just the size of the text but the ENTIRE interface, design, and feel of the site — with a click of a link. This is all due to the incredible developments of Web standards, which are starting to rule the Web Welt.
I’ve noticed recently that professional email spammers must be hiring professional writers, at least for their Subject lines. Gone are the days when the majority of spam I received was “You’re cute xl889x” or “Urgent Needed” or my favorite, “jaynes kluz qcx l ldru.”
Nowadays, I’m receiving spam that looks like it should have come from long-lost friends (I’m sorry we lost touch to those of you who are reading this and are long-lost). For instance, today’s spam Subjects include “Please visit” and “Hey..” and my favorite, “What happened to you?”
I’m only now, after years of publishing Deckchair on the Titanic, filing for an ISSN for the website. It’s a fairly straightforward, non-electronic process. It’s worth doing because a. I like the idea of having a unique serial number attached to the content of my websites, b. it distinguishes the website from any other potentially wonderful Deckchairs on the Titanic immitators, and c. it is pan-national, applying to every country in the world at once.
Whether or not Radiohead actually stole the title of their very good, yet imperfect new album, it’s worth a few listens. There’s no doubt that Thom Yorke believes what he says about not being a thief himself. The album is a pessimistic and forlorn sound landscape painted by layers of crying vocals and guitars. There’s a bit too much anguish in it all, but I’m not one to call the kettle “black.”
But what I’m really curious about is the cover art, which looks like a modernized Philip Guston dipped in Los Angeles highway culture. (I’m writing a story in my mind about MP3s, cover art, and the loss of the visual in music so this might be a good place to start that piece.)
I recently took a business development course offered by The Hendrickson Group, for whom I’ve also done some work, and one of the most salient pieces of knowledge I gained was this: “If it’s not on your schedule, it does not happen.” This is so ridiculously basic, so simple, and so obvious that I have a hard time admitting its truth. But I received the group’s newsletter, called True North, today and here’s what Lisa Hendrickson had to say:
You are your schedule.You may be shocked when I say this but I believe
it is true. So many of us have heard that we are human beings not
human doings but I would like to propose an interesting thought: That
we are, in fact, our schedules and that is essentially, our doings.
Don’t freak out. I know you all have been working at expressing your
highest self, your being-ness so to speak. Here’s the logic behind the
thought? You are your schedule: I believe that doing and being are
inextricably linked together. One cannot exist without the other. We
gain our doings from our being, our being is characterized as what we
imagine for ourselves, our intentions, who and what we say we are out in
the world and for ourselves. Our being gives rise to our actions
(doing). Our actions then inform our being of the next opportunities,
the next way of being.
It’s kind of pathetic that the only thing I’ve written about recently is corporate Web culture. What with working like mad lately, I haven’t had enough time to go on walks and think deep thoughts so that’s what one gets. While I’m out here admitting things, I should note that I occasionally look to see what Amazon offers in its “Gold Box” area — those customized product recommendations that are just for me. (You can find yours at the top corner of Amazon’s site.) I’m always loathe to buy anything from the Gold Box, but prurient curiosity about what Amazon knows about me does take over on occasion. Today, I passed up the Norelco T-860 Acu-Control Cord/Cordless Beard and Mustache Trimmer, Silver-Blue.
My friend, J.D., remarked to me today that Amazon is really starting to take over the entire world of ecommerce with its new offerings to website owners and operators. I agree and it’s becoming increasingly clear that their Web services, allowing website developers to integrate their content with Amazon’s content, tools, and resources, are excellent.
But when you look at a site like Amazon Lite, which is a super-pared-down version of Amazon.com, it makes you wonder what the real logic of the redesign is. The interface is dull, the content is minimal, and the idea that websites need to be inherently simplified is pretty ridiculous. Some sites, like Amazon’s, need to be complex — and if they are not, it’s likely that consumer will not trust them. I’m all for innovation and revitalizing what is tired and trite, but I’m pretty sure that the current trend in Web design and development, which I call “simplifying for simplication’s sake,” is, well, simply simple.