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Seth Godin has written 18 bestsellers that have been translated into 35 languages

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All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

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The practical sequel to Purple Cow

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An instant bestseller, the book that brings all of Seth's ideas together.

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Why the internet works (and doesn't) for your business. And vice versa.

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The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.

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Poke The Box

The latest book, Poke The Box is a call to action about the initiative you're taking - in your job or in your life, and Seth once again breaks the traditional publishing model by releasing it through The Domino Project.

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Seth's worst seller and personal favorite. Change. How it works (and doesn't).

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All for charity. Includes original work from Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters and Promise Phelon.

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The Big Red Fez

Top 5 Amazon ebestseller for a year. All about web sites that work.

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The Dip

A short book about quitting and being the best in the world. It's about life, not just marketing.

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The Icarus Deception

Seth's most personal book, a look at the end of the industrial economy and what happens next.

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Tribes

"Book of the year," a perennial bestseller about leading, connecting and creating movements.

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Unleashing the Ideavirus

More than 3,000,000 copies downloaded, perhaps the most important book to read about creating ideas that spread.

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V Is For Vulnerable

A short, illustrated, kids-like book that takes the last chapter of Icarus and turns it into something worth sharing.

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We Are All Weird

The end of mass and how you can succeed by delighting a niche.

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Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

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THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin




All Marketers Are Liars Blog




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« March 2005 | Main | May 2005 »

So a rabbi, a priest, a talking duck and a blonde walk into a bar...

Do you feel a joke coming on?

We've been taught where to look for jokes. Certain places and times feel joke-friendly, and we're alert and aware of what's coming. The web is changing the vernacular daily, and I discovered this first hand with my vacation email memo from last week.

Here's an excerpt:

If you need to find me, I'll be at the UN for a few days, working on the oil for food scandal. You can reach me at the UN at 212 355 4165. Then I'll be in Beijing, consulting with the government on how they can more effectively do the messaging for the upcoming Olympics. I believe that their mascot is sending exactly the wrong message, and hope to persuade them to start using a cow.

I'll be ending the week at Beverly Hills Hilton in California, (a bungalow, just ask for me at the desk). It turns out that Steven has a bit of writer's block on a project and he asked me to stop by and help out.

I thought it was a pretty funny spoof of the self-important (okay, egomaniacal) vacation posts some people have been using. No, I didn't go to China, I went to Costa Rica (more on this soon). I was surprised, though, to discover that a whole bunch of people thought I was serious.

Now, that could be because some of my correspondents have such high regard for me that they figured I really was working with Kofi Annan at the UN, but more likely it's because we just assume that email vacation notes are true. Same thing happens with phishing when hackers use email to steal passwords. What else are we assuming are true, when it might be a joke, or an opinion, or a fraud?

Nouns and verbs

I had two great seminars in my office this week. Not only do cool people show up, but it pushes me to think hard about new ways to talk about things that work.

Today, we talked about nouns and verbs.

Investments are a noun. Investing is a verb.
Paint is a noun. Painting is a verb.
A gift is a noun. Shopping for or giving one is a verb.

People care much more about verbs than nouns. They care about things that move, that are happening, that change. They care about experiences and events and the way things make us feel.

Nouns just sit there, inanimate lumps. Verbs are about wants and desires and wishes.

Is your website a noun or a verb?
What about your management style or the services you offer?

A few years ago, the rage was to turn products into services. Then it was to turn services into products.

I think the next big thing is to turn nouns into verbs.

Things that change

...are more interesting than those that don't.

I've gotten about a dozen emails about Google's clever way of indicating that they keep adding storage to gmail.

Gmailsize

Every time you visit your gmail account, you notice that the amount of storage you've been given goes up.

The same thing is true for the billboard on the bank near my house in Buffalo where I grew up. It didn't matter how many times we looked at it, we looked at it again when we drove by. Why?

TimetempBecause the time and temperature were always changing! (note that this is not the original Buffalo sign... the palm tree is a giveaway).

In most organizations, the frequency at which consumers are sent messages is far greater than the speed at which the organization actually changes. As a result, most of the messages are boring and repetitive. Which means that you're training your prospects and consumers to ignore the messages--why bother reading something if you already know what it says?

The best stories change over time. They change in ways that fascinate the consumer, and more important, they change in ways that are fun or important to talk about.

Of course you're not a commercial photographer

Why should you care what Don Giannatti thinks about marketing?

Because all marketing is the same. It doesn't matter if you're selling expensive photos for annual reports, cheeky babywear or a religion. It's still about spreading ideas.

Don's post is terrific: it's what I do...: Ok, let's buy TWO Spreads in the Annuals.

Target gets remarkable

Pills050411_1_250Lisa Kelley sent me this breakthrough pill bottle.

Link: A School of Visual Arts Grad Remakes the Pill Bottle.

Vindicated!

Thanks to Brian Peddle for the link: Atlas: Cookie Deletion Figures Exaggerated Wildly by Self-Reported Data � MarketingVOX.

I took a lot of heat from Jupiter and others when I said that the cookie deletion numbers were way off base.

It turns out that people aren't always entirely truthful with themselves and those that do surveys.

Nice to hear my gut is right every once in a (long) while.

Here's the original post:

Link: Seth's Blog: File under: stats that cannot be true.

"Airport Barber Stylists"

Do I really want an airport barber giving me a massage?

If I do, do I want to pay by the minute (sounds stressful)

and if I do, is this what he should be wearing?

DSC00456.JPG

Creative trademark infringement

YahuuSeen in the north Bronx of New York.

A sign that does not give me confidence in the owners or the patrons.

When advertisers insist on interruption

MoonriseThe sky's the limit.

Thanks to Damian for the link: Worth1000.com | Photoshop Contests | Are you Worthy™ | contest.

Playing by (and losing by) the rules

Market leaders make up the rules. They establish the systems and the covenants and the benchmarks that a market plays by.

(and yes, a market leader can be a church, a political party or a non-profit)

If you play by those rules, you will almost certainly lose.

After all, that's why market leaders make rules. They establish a game that they can win, over and over again, against smaller or newer competitors.

The alternative is both obvious and scary: Change the rules.

Newcomers and underdogs can only benefit when the rules change. The safe thing to do feels risky, because it involves playing by a fundamentally different set of assumptions. But in fact, dramatically changing the game is the safest thing you can do (if you want to grow).

Do as I do?

At the end of this post is a site that analyzes the marketing rollout for All Marketers are Liars.

My goal for my last few books is to take my own medicine, so while I'll argue with the headline, I was delighted to see that others are picking up the steps I'm trying to follow.

Missing from the post, though, is any mention of my "get a nose, get on my blog" offer (Seth's Blog: You too can be famous!) C'mon guys, I've got more than 100 of these noses, just waiting for you to order one.

Anyway, here's the link:

Think Personality: Seth Godin.

Heaven jokes

Not sure why, but I've always liked jokes that involve people going to heaven.

I came across this one by JB. Made me smile.  Link: Indefinite Articles: There's a joke in here somewhere.

There's a joke in here somewhere.

...

Or...

In Heaven, the UI developers are Mac-heads, the security team is BSD freaks, the coders are Linux geeks and the portability developers are Windows nuts.


In Hell, the UI developers are Linux geeks, the security team is Windows nuts, the coders are Mac-heads and the portability developers are BSD freaks.


Or...

In Heaven, the marketing team's idol is Seth Godin, the developers' idol is Linus Torvalds, the QA team's idol is Mussolini and the exec's idol is Eric Schmidt (Google)

In Hell, the marketing team's idol is Linux Torvalds, the developers' idol is Eric Schmidt, the QA team's idol is Seth Godin and the exec's idol is Mussolini.

Race for the top, race to the bottom

I'm in Minnesota today, and I'm so delighted by what I'm experiencing.

In addition to extremely nice people, inspiring architecture, a vibrant arts community and surprisingly good food, there's a vibe in the air about the work people are doing. This placed is filled with organizations that are working hard to create stuff that's worth doing.

What a radical difference from so many other places I've visited recently. There, you'll find strip malls and low-grade office parks, with disheartened people following scripts and trying to cut costs. These are consumer and business-focused marketing organizations that have decided that the best way to make a buck is to race to the bottom. To be the cheapest or the fastest to market. No need to worry about a worn carpet or an industrial waste product with side effects. Cutting corners during the day, so they can make enough money to buy what they like at night.

I found the same contrast up in the air. American Airlines is racing to the bottom as fast as they can. The staff has given up. No smiles, no service, no effort. Saving money is the order of the day. Jet Blue, on the other hand, continues to strive to get to the top. From the free wi-fi at JFK to the terminal they want to build there, to the snacks (they even suggest mixes--created by taking say, animal crackers and pretzels and mixing them up--even though it means people are taking twice as much!)

So, I think I understand what happens when you win the race to the top. You end up with a healthy, motivated workforce that's focused on adding art and joy to your products. You end up with profits and market share and a community that's glad you're there.

What happens, though, when you win the race to the bottom?

Amazon changes

AmazonAmazon changed their UI.

How does that make you feel? It's sort of like trying to write left handed, at least for me.

A quick lesson in how hard it is to get people to do something new.  Amazon.com: Books:.

"We've done the right thing all along"

That's what Pfizer spokesman Jay Kosminsky had to say about their lobbying efforts on Sudafed and methamphetamines in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

This quote goes a long way to explain the huge gulf between business (and politics) and the people.

When I tell people about the title of my new book (link) All Marketers are Liars they usually shake their head and say, "of course." This is one more reason why.

Sudafed and other similar cold medicines, it turns out, are a prime raw material for making meth, an insanely dangerous drug that's ruining the lives of tens of thousands of kids. States have worked hard to require these over the counter drugs to be sold behind the counter instead. They've often been stymied by lobbyists for the drug industry--led for years by Pfizer, which had a lot to lose if people had to ask for the drug instead of just grabbing it.

Well, Pfizer is launching a new formulation of Sudafed that won't contain the necessary ingredient for meth, so now it won't be affected by a new law. In fact, a new law will be a home run for them, since the drug will be all alone on the shelf.

Guess who's now leading the fight to move the offending drugs to the back of the store?

Good for Pfizer for fixing Sudafed. But shame on them for believing that doing the right thing all along is the same as doing the right short-term thing for the shareholders. It's not the same. It's not the same ethically, and it's not the same in terms of long term profit or branding either.

Link: The New York Times > National > States May Restrict Cold Pills With Ingredient in Meth.

What's the always?

Here's a neat way to invent a new  Purple Cow.

Figure what the always is. Then do something else.

Toothpaste always comes in a squeezable tube.
Business travelers always use a travel agent.
Politicians always have their staff screen their calls.

Figure out what the always is, then do exactly the opposite. Do the never.

Are your people like your customers?

Pope13gA few fascinating facts about the Catholic church and the College of Cardinals (who pick the next pope).

1. one third of all the world's Cardinals are over 80 years old.*
2. 17% of the Cardinals are from Italy, but only 5% of the world's Catholics are.
3. 18% of the Cardinals are from Latin America, while 43% of the Catholics are.

Most organizations want to grow. Virtually all religions do. What happens, though, when your worldview and biases are so different from the places you're hoping to grow?

(*Two updates here since I posted this yesterday. First, since about 1970, the oldest Cardinals--over 80--don't vote on the Pope. Second, just to be clear, I'm trying to use the Church as an example for every organization in the world... I actually have no desire to give the Vatican marketing advice! It's worth noting, though, that in the last hundred years or so, they've made enormous changes. For example, in the 1800s, the percentage of Italian Cardinals was three times higher than it is today.)

Making your sneezers into heroes

HarborhillsMichael Rich, ace Florida real estate developer, writes to me about HALO's. These are the Harbor Hills Active Lifestyle Operatives. Here's a photo.

Michael keeps their photo on display in the sales office. When a prospect asks about them, he uses it as an opportunity to introduce the women to a prospective neighbor. Not only does it sell condos, but it makes it fun to be proud of the neighborhood. It also helps keep the grouchy tenants away--because they realize he's selling a community, not just a place to sit and whine.

Don't tell me you make a commodity

DogcollarUntil after you look at this site and see what Lori has done to the dog collar.

(warning: double entrendre alert).

High Maintenance Bitch - Creator of the Dog Boa.

PS as far as I can tell, this is a HUGE financial success. Not a hobby, but a multi-million dollar a year business that creates canine joy wherever it goes.

When a word is worth $1,000 (each)

ArethaIt's been quite a week for disrespect. And it's only Thursday.

Half of my incidents have been business-to-business situations. The other half occurred in places where I was just a consumer.

Looking back, I'm really sort of amazed by two things: First, how visceral the feeling is when I feel as though I've been disrespected, and second, how easy it would be to avoid.

Let me be clear about a definition here: disrespect is in the eye of the beholder. It occurs when someone feels slighted, or demeaned, or undervalued or lied to. There is no absolute measurement, and, because it's relative, people will surely disagree about whether or not it has occurred at all.

Doesn't matter. If you feel disrespected, then you were.

#1. Just spent two hours at the doctor's office. An entire hour was spent in a little room, waiting. No updates, no apologies, nothing. Even after the doctor finally arrived, for him it was as though the long long wait didn't even happen. Then, when I nicely asked to talk to the office manager on my way out, she took a phone call instead.

#2. I spent nine months negotiating a deal with a company where I've had a long and fruitful relationship. This project was going very, very slowly, and not because I was slowing it down. I'd been patient and flexible and was working it through the system. Two days ago, I got an email. It said, in its entirety, "Unfortunately, this is getting way too complex and not worth the effort for either of us. I know that we keep trying to make this work (for months now!) but it's not working for either side.  So, I think we should let this go and part friends."

There have been four others, just like this. I realized what they all had in common:

All the other person had to do was use a one or two sentences and the whole thing would have been fine. Almost all the instances of disrespect didn't have to do with the substance of the transaction, it was the style of it. If the person had accepted some responsibility and acknowledged how I might feel, the outcome wasn't really a big deal.

"I'm really sorry you had to wait. Mr. Wilson's eardrum exploded and we're doing everything we can to help him."

"I know you worked long and hard to make this deal work, but we just can't figure it out. I'm so sorry we wasted your time."

It's really simple: most of the time, most of your customers will cut you slack if you just acknowledge that the outcome isn't the one they (think they) deserve.

People have a hard time with this. If someone feels as though they're treating you technically correctly, they don't want to apologize. They don't want to acknowledge the feelings of the other side. This is awfully short-sighted. These are words that are worth thousands and thousands of dollars in lost sales and word of mouth.

"You must feel terrible about what happened. I know I do. If there were any way I could figure out how to make this better for you, I'd do it." When isn't that a true statement when you're dealing with an unhappy customer?

Coming to an NBA game near you

Actually, coming to Minneapolis this Wednesday (the 13th.)

All the details are here. Please contact them for info, since I'm not able to actually dunk or dribble and have no tattoos.  TIMBERWOLVES: U.S. Bank Speaker Series.

So, go ahead and make the hole square!

File this under, "They just don't get it".

My contact info is pretty easy to find on my site, and as a result I'm getting more and more stuff from PR people. Notice that I'm being really generous and calling it "stuff" instead of "worthless, annoying, time-consuming spam."

The PR folks are used to having to shovel loads and loads of outbound stuff in order to get one or two things picked up. That's the way it works in traditional media.

But tell me, please, which blogger out of the 10,000,000 is going to run a story with this headline (I'm not making this up):

REFLECTING REACH AND BREADTH OF ITS MEDIA NETWORKS,

                     THE VENDARE GROUP CHANGES NAME TO VENDARE MEDIA                  

WOW! Now there's something that's interesting and relevant to the people who have a choice about what to read. If your press release is a square peg and all the blogs out there are round holes, that doesn't mean you should flog it anyway.

Many in the flak community are trying to turn blogs into just another media outlet. They're not. Instead, they are a terrific home for the remarkable. Make stuff worth talking about first. Then talk about it.

A surprise from Denmark

One of the very best marketing books of the year comes from the land of LEGO. It's about storytelling. Find out more here: SIGMA.

It's very different from but complementary to the new Liars book, out in May.  Seth Godin - Liar's Blog

Sorry, we're full

Both of my seminars in April are officially full, no room, etc.

Thanks for everyone who's coming... I hope to do another one in a month or two.

REAL--Compared to what? The Pale Imitation

I wasn't there at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1969. I wish I had been.

Eddie Harris and Les McCann walked onto the stage and though they had hardly rehearsed at all, launched into an adlibbed song that made history. Ironically enough, the song contained the line, "Real... compared to what?"

A million copies later, the vinyl souvenir of that live performance was a classic.  Les McCann & Eddie Harris - Swiss Movement: Montreux. The vinyl LP isn't the same as the original concert, but it's convenient and sounds great.

Twenty years later, "perfect sound forever" brought us the CD version. There's no pops and crackles, but to my ears, it's just a reminder of the depth of the LP.

Then they had us move everything to MP3. Now I've got the CD version on my iPod. There are far fewer bits and it doesn't sound as good, but it reminds me of the original. (if "original" means the analog recording, not the live event, where I wasn't.)

Now, I've got a Monster cable for my car that lets me broadcast the MP3 version of the CD version of the vinyl version of the live event over the FM airwaves to my car radio. It sounds like Eddie's in the Holland Tunnel. And it's not even close to music, but it reminds me of the way I felt when I heard the album.

This is not just happening to music. The cellphone conversation I have with my friend Jonathan has content, but the tone and tenor of his voice merely remind  me of the way I feel when I hear him live.

And the millions of digital photos I see online don't look anything like the original high resolution versions, which, of course, look nothing like the thing in real life.

My dad used to tell me a joke. This guy is on a tour of the state prison with the warden. They walk into the lunchroom and see the following:

A prisoner stands up. He says, "142!"

Everyone laughs hysterically.

Another prisoner stands up. He is giggling, but manages to blurt out, "884."

The place rocks with laughter.

The tourist can't figure out what's going on. He asks the warden.

"Well, you see, these guys are all here for life sentences. They've heard every joke a million times. So, instead of retelling the jokes, they just call out the number."

"Wow," the tourist says, "Can I try that?"

The warden is dubious, but says, "sure."

"191," cries the tourist. The place is dead quiet. Like a tomb.

Humiliated, the tourist turns to the warden and asks what he did wrong.

"It's the way you tell it," said the warden with a wry smile.

I wonder what happens when our digital culture has nothing to do but spread pale imitations of the original experiences? I wonder what happens when the media companies that depend on our attention start losing it when all we've got is a ringtone.

I think my books change a lot more minds than my blog does. But books don't spread the way digital ideas do.

At the same time, the good news from sites like JamBase is that they're using inherently low-rez digital media to sell people on showing up to hear the highest-rez live stuff.

Are you in the souvenir business?

No relation between price and quality

In industries under siege from external change (and I count music, books, airlines, pharmaceuticals, IT, telecommunications, etc) you'll find that the extra fees extracted by the legacy companies DO NOT go for quality. They go to prop up the status quo.

That's why CDs cost $18 and why Jet Blue is the best airline in America.

MSNBC - JetBlue ranked as offering best airline service.

more on Daylight Saving Time (dumb cows!)

Ian Daley chimes in with this:

I really enjoyed reading your post on daylight saving. I live in Queensland Australia, and about 15 years ago, we decided by referendum here not to have Daylight Savings. The big problem is that the other two states of Australia on the east coast, NSW and Victoria, both have daylight savings. [Ed. note: There's no "s" in saving. Really. I'll leave it in because, hey, it sounds better.]

At the time the arguments against trolled out were amazing. Bear in mind that QLD is a mostly rural state, but 75% of the population live in the Metropolitan areas of Brisbane and Surfers Paradise. Anyway, here are some of the brilliant ideas that were put forward to stop Daylight Saving.

"It would confuse the cows, they wouldn't know what time to get milked as cows aren't very smart" (please don't laugh at the irony of this.)
"It will fade the curtains. The Queensland sun is very harsh, and an extra hour could really do some damage"
"It would be uncomfortable having dinner at 8 pm and it still being daylight"

The arguments for were:

"Sydney is the business capital of Australia and it has Daylight Savings"
"Co-coordinating differences in flights, phone call rates, meetings and general business between the states will be more difficult without daylight savings than with."
"The Australian population is more transient and having a shifting time difference throughout the year is going to make doing business in Queensland awkward."

As history recalls, the country folk's faded curtains won over the city people's pressing need to do business. 15 years on, whilst we persevere with the time difference, it still causes many problem and I would consider it a major pain in the proverbial. However, since we decided by referendum to not have daylight saving, it would take another very costly referendum to change this.

People definitely get the governments they deserve.

"This time, it's different"

History goes in cycles, over and over, to the point where it's sort of boring.

One of the cycles is the way governments and long-lived organizations unite to fight change. It involves pronouncements in the halls of Congress, lobbying by entrenched industries, outspoken demonstrations by fringe religious groups ostensibly representing the masses, controversial court decisions and most important, pronouncements that "this changes everything", "it's the end of the world as we know it," "this goes against God's will," and my favorite, "sure there are cycles, but this one is different."

I'm in the middle of Seize the Daylight : The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time. An odd topic for a book, something to read after you've read Salt and Cod, but still fascinating.

Here are some things worth noting about the evolution of DST:

"Invented" by Ben Franklin

but not really, because in 1444, the walled city of Basel was about to be attacked. There were infidels outside, and some had infiltrated the town. The guards caught some of the bad guys and heard that the attack was to begin precisely at noon. An alert sentry changed the clock in the square an hour. Brilliant! The insiders, unaided by their allies, started their diversion an hour early. They were all arrested.

But i digress. This book makes you do that.

Lobbying for DST started in earnest about 100 years ago. (Only 80 years after time was standardized--before trains, it didn't really matter that the time was different in different towns.) It if hadn't been for the need to save energy during WWI, it never would have been instituted--the forces against change refused to accept how much money would be saved (turns out it is millions and millions of dollars a year, probably billions by now) and were against it in general principle.

Sir William Christie, Astronomer Royal, called DST nothing but special legislation for late risers (ah, the moral failing card).

Sir William Napier Shaw, director of the Meteorological office said, "To alter the prsent mode of measuring time would be to kill a goose that lays a very valuable egg."

Nature magazine said, "The advance from local to the standard time of today was a step well thought out, and one that cannot be reversed by the introduction of a new and really nondescript time under the old name."

The Secretary of the London Stock Exchange, Mr. Satterthwaite said the bill would, "Create a dislocation of Stock Exchange business in the chief business centre of the world."

Of course, many reactionaries with nothing concrete to say merely mocked William Willet, the chief proponent of the change. Nature wondered if his next trick was going to be to redefine the thermometer so that in the winter it would be 42 degrees instead of 32.

The theatre owners united (RIAA flashback!) and worked hard to defeat the bill, saying that if it weren't dark at night, their business would be completely decimated.

Year after year, the bill failed to pass in the UK. In the US the story was much the same.

The New York Times wrote, this is, "little less than an act of madness."

[more soon] later  [okay, now it's soon...]

My very favorite quote of all comes from Mississippi.

"Repeal the law and have the clocks proclaim God's time and tell the truth!" That comes from Congressman Ezekiel Candler, Jr.

And Harry Hull of Iowa said, "When we passed the law, we tried to 'put one over' on Mother Nature, and when you try to improve the natural laws it usually ends in disaster."

After the law passed, there were court battles everywhere. Battles over state vs. federal jurisdiction, for example.

Just something to think about the next time an emergency over takes our culture... something that threatens the status quo that must be vanquished before it ends in disaster.

public service announcement

for my American friends and readers: Change the clocks!

Link: Daylight Saving Time - When do we change our clocks?.

PS I'm almost done with the most astonishing book (ready for this...) it's the history of Daylight Saving Time (yes, there's no "s" in saving. That's for mattresses, apparently). It has a lot of profound lessons, which I hope to cover tomorrow. Right now, though, it's time for bed.

Sometimes, The Long Tail isn't there

LongtailAt the airport the other day, I noticed that they had perhaps 20 paperback titles to choose from.

Here's what half the rack looked like.

Now, assuming that they are rational businessfolk, why would they use this very limited space to show us lots and lots and lots of copies of just three books? After all, they get restocked at least twice a day, so it's not to avoid an out of stock situation. The Long Tail would tell us that if they converted these three titles into, say, 50, they'd sell more.

I think I know the answer. People are more likely to buy a book (as opposed to buying nothing) if they think everyone else is reading it. And a great way to communicate that fact is with a display like this one.

Link: The Long Tail.

Hugh says it better

and all he needs is a pencil.

The image “http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/zzzlokjib02.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Link: gapingvoid.

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