13 July 2011

Sauron's Sausage Factory

  • The forces of Sauron Murdoch's falangista media empire subsidiaries have withdrawn their bid for the UK's largest satellite-TV vendor under continued pressure from the wiretapping scandal at the for-now-defunct News of the World. There's no word yet, though, whether the nepotism/dynasticism of Murdoch's son running the UK things, or for that matter Rebekah Brooks running things for Murdoch's son (and it's still unclear as to why... particularly based upon performance of her responsibilities earlier), will be rejected unless criminal charges get filed at least naming James Murdoch as an unindicted coconspirator. Of course, this also short-circuits the referral to the antitrust authorities, which was probably the main intent.
  • Here's further proof that marketing dorks just don't get it... or perhaps they do, and this is just a marketing effort to keep people from realizing it. A blog linked from the almost-always-ignorant PW homepage claims that there are five essential steps to marketing revealed by the success of the Harry Potter books:

    1. Develop a Strategic Approach
    2. Viral Marketing
    3. Multi-Channel Approach
    4. Play Off Your Audience's Personality
    5. Create a Distinct Brand

    Rachel Sprung, "5 Marketing Lessons from Harry Potter," Hubspot (12 Jul 2011). This is utter bullshit. For one thing, the Harry Potter work that began it all (HP and the Philosopher's Stone) predates all of these "efforts"... and was an astounding success, by the standards of mid- to late-1990s YA/children's fiction, well before any of these purported principles was "applied" to it. More importantly, though, there's a critical element entirely missing from the list that is far more important than any marketingspeak bullshit:

    1. Create a Distinctive (and Preferably High Quality) Product for an Underserved Market... and Know What You're Selling

    It's not too difficult to see that the HP imitators — almost all of which have followed some variation on Ms Sprung's advice — have failed to dislodge HP from its primacy (and, indeed, made rather few inroads against its dominance) primarily because, well, they're largely garbage. Harry Potter is not Shakespearean in some timeless highbrow manner... but it's not competing in the market for Shakespeare, either, and it might as well be when compared to some of its successors (and you know who you are; and, conversely, you know who you aren't, too). Further, it didn't need to be Shakespeare in the vast wasteland of YA/children's fiction in the 1990s; it only needed to not be Edward Bulwer-Lytton or James Fenimore Cooper.

    The problem with the meme that "selling iceboxes to Eskimos" is the mark of a great salescreature is that it neglects the necessary judgment on what to sell in the first place. I'd choose to sell high-quality portable heaters to that market; Ms Sprung, however — and those of her ilk — would rather pretend that what one orders for one's inventory should, or does, have little to no effect on the means one uses to sell it. This is even more important when one is dealing with creative works rather than commodities; but then, unlike marketing dorks, I understand basic thermodynamics, so I do not see marketing efforts as frictionless/costless to the system.

  • The UK Supreme Court has ruled that there is no common-law extension available to intelligence agencies to keep their devious doings out of court proceedings — they are instead limited to what Parliament provides. Al Rawi v. Security Service, No. 2010–107 (13 Jul 2011) (PDF). On the one hand, this is a good thing, particularly for those claiming compensation for mistreatment (particularly, but not only, at Gitmo under George III). On the other hand, it does not have a constitutional backup in the same way that an equivalent ruling would have been written in the US... meaning, in turn, that the dark and devious methods of Parliament can silently, thoroughly, and permanently undercut this reaffirmation of some pretty basic rights.
  • There's a call for papers for a special issue of the Journal of Hate Studies. I'm sure it's a serious academic enterprise; to begin with, consider all of the "hate crime statutes" and the problems of "hate speech" and so on. But, returning to the first sausage on the platter, wouldn't it just be easier to have a special issue on Fox News ("We bleach, starch, and press your brain — you decide") and/or the Tea Party and/or the currently declared GOP candidates for President? So far as I've been able to determine, "hate" is all any of them have to offer... and a special academic issue dissecting that hatred would be more than a little bit entertaining.