Matthew T Grant


Tall Guy. Glasses.

The Great Divider

2507578321_730f501ed0_mRemember when I said that science was Satanic not because it advocates evil but because it sees moral distinctions as epiphenomenal and, in the end, insists that all reality consists of a meandering, entropic unfurling of energy through myriad states of transient, quantum differentiation until an ultimate universal state of uniform heat death is achieved?

Well, it turns out that I was right. You see, the Hebrew word “bara,” which has traditionally been translated as “created” in the the first sentence of the book of Genesis – “in the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth” – also means “to separate” and, according to Professor Ellen van Wolde, a “respected Old Testament scholar and author,” that first sentence should reflect that God “separated” rather than “created” the Heaven and the Earth.

Anthropologically speaking (at least from the structuralist perspective), the function of religious belief and practice is to make distinctions between the sacred and the profane, human and animal, good and evil, etc. Thus, it is only fitting that the deity’s original creative act consists in drawing a line.

God may have created the Heaven and the Earth but only in the sense that you create two things by dividing one thing. Of course, such a division implies that you have “one thing” to begin with and, indeed, van Wolde’s re-translation of Genesis suggests that there was something there, both temporally and spatially, before God. This single, undifferentiated thing, the opposite of God, is essentially nothing, since anything that is not separated into things is quite literally “no thing.”

God is the Great Divider and the real Devil, the “other” of God, is not another being but this pre-separated stuff: the “no thing.” The irony is that God, too, is not a thing, and it is this “no thing-ness” of God which makes monotheism practically indistinguishable from atheism.

But if all this is too high-falutin’ for y’all, here’s the marketing lesson that I draw from these meta-theological divigations: Differences (between products or services or whatever) don’t exist, they are made.

Dwell upon it.

Image Courtesy of KM&G-Morris.

With Google Sidewiki, Who needs AdWords?

At the Community Roundtable lunch with the King and Queen Arthurs thereof, Jim Storer and Rachel Happe, and we were talking about Google Sidewiki and Jim asks, “I wonder if you can add Sidewiki comments to a search results page?”

Well, Jim, it looks like you can!

So, here’s the rub. Why would anyone buy AdWords henceforth (or, rather, once Sidewiki is more widely adopted)?

Or is this all part of Google’s fiendish plan?

Going to Chicago: Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer, October 21-22

MP_DMM_BloggerBadgeAre you planning on going to MarektingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer to be held in Chicago on October 21 and 22?

I know that’s just around the corner, but it’s not too late to register (and, just between you and me, get a $200 discount off full conference registration if you use the following secret code: DMBLG). It’s also not too late to get a cheap-ish flight (under $200 round-trip through Orbitz if you aren’t too picky about departure times and lay-overs).

Of course, saving money is never a good reason to do anything, so here’s my [full disclosure] sponsored* plug for the mixer.

I’ve attended two of these events here in Boston, once as a panel moderator and once through my affiliation with a corporate sponsor. In both cases, I found the experience personally and professionally rewarding.

First of all, I got to meet a lot of cool people with cool ideas doing cool stuff by leveraging emergent technology and finding new and novel uses for marketing technology that’s been around for a while.

Second of all, I got to know more folks from the MarketingProfs community, all of whom have very high standards for the quality and applicability of the information generated by said community and many of whom were quite candid about the presentations and conversations that met those standards and those that fell short.

Finally of all, I was able to make a number of business contacts which opened up a number of interesting opportunities and have led to actual business! Ironically, I didn’t attend these events with business development as an express goal, but that was one of the tangible results.

In summation, cool people, cool ideas, and cool opportunities await you at the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer in Chi-town. And, as if that weren’t enough, I will be awaiting you there as well. Join us!

*Full Disclosure: Since I don’t want myself or my friends at MarketingProfs to run afoul of the FTC’s new guidelines on blogger endorsement, let me clearly state that, in exchange for this plug as well as additional posts on or about the event itself, I will receive a pass to the conference and, if any of y’all actually register as a result of my efforts, I will also receive some ducats.

Do You Have a Sidewiki Strategy?

You might want one ‘cuz I just posted the first comment on your homepage!


If you don’t know what the Google Sidewiki feature is all about, you can get the low-down straight from the horse’s mouth, or read what Beth Harte and Mack Collier have to say about it in this review on MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

To my febrile mind, Sidewiki highlights what has always been true about the web: control of your site and its content is as illusory as the Buddhist’s conception of being. In other words, this control is contingent, transient, and, given this intensely provisional quality, the root cause of suffering.

Of course, Google is upping the ante by creating a parallel quasi-parasitic universe in which all commentary, critique, and praise of a web page is aggregated as a communally-generated contextual supplement to it.

Aside from reminding everyone that the browser is only by choice but not by nature a neutral, indifferent frame coolly serving up whatever the web has to offer sans editorial intervention or additives, the introduction of the Sidewiki creates one of those increasingly rare web moments when you can be in on the ground floor.

You’d be surprised, or perhaps not, to discover how many sites are virginal, from a Sidewiki perspective, patiently awaiting the first comments on specific elements thereof  – highlight a portion of a page and comment specifically on that –  or their pristine entirety.

So where are you going to start?

You Can’t Miss What You Can’t Measure

1577697374_e9a0f7f9dc_mAs usual, I’ve been thinking about ontology a lot lately (I mean, who hasn’t?) and specifically what distinguishes some-thing from no-thing.

While I strongly lean to the nihilist perspective, which leads me to believe that nothing, after all, exists, I’m really a physicist in the sense that I define “thing-ness” in terms of the physical. For something to be, it must physically be in the universe and we know something to be physically there when we can measure it.

Nevertheless, I’m at times ill at ease with this notion – Can it really be true that the immeasurable does not exist? Can love be measured? The soul? God? – and was reminded of my malaise by this micro-post from Todd Defren which pointed the latter’s followers to some words from Seth Godin on the “coming era of hyper-measurement.”

Among the Godin One’s words, which took as their leaping-off point news that the Washington Post may have laid off a columnist for lagging blog traffic, I found these, “…in a digital world where everything can be measured…,” and then I wept.

Well, “wept” is a strong word, but I did “think” (which often leads to weeping with me as it did my patron pre-Socratic saint) and my thoughts issued into this question: Can “everything” truly be measured in this or any digital world?

Certainly, one can measure many things, including blog traffic, and such traffic may be important if your business model ties ad revenue to number of views or even click-throughs, but can you measure something like the meaning of a writer’s words or the traces they leave in the thoughts and feelings of a given reader? Can you measure the quality of writing? It’s originality? It’s humor?

And if you can’t measure those things in any meaningful way, does it mean that they do not exist and don’t, in a very literal sense, matter?

Image Courtesy of hoyasmeg.

Let It Rot

457867889_6e0e2a9631_mSome mad scientists treated wood with obscure fungi to decrease its density and thereby change its acoustical properties. They then had some violins built with this en-funginated wood and the sound produced therewith rivaled that of a Stradivarius.

While I had always thought, wrongly, that the sound of instruments created by the Stradivarius family depended on the mysterious, alchemical processes they used to create their varnishes, it turns out that the real secret ingredient was the wood of trees which grew during the “Little Ice Age, a period of abnormally cool weather between 1645 to 1715.”

The intricate grains of some woods used in furniture and musical instruments are produced by various sorts of disease and infestation and, of course, some believe the flavor of meats to be improved by aging, which is really like a controlled rotting.

What in your life or work could be changed for the better by introducing the organic chaos of infection, decay, or even disaster?

Image Courtesy of dingbat2005.