Matthew T Grant

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Tall Guy. Glasses.

The Concept of Ad Space Hits a Pinnacle of Ridiculosity

Checked out a story on the New York Times site. It looked like this:

banner example

I know you can see Ford’s prominently displayed banner, but you’ll also notice a wee-little banner up in the right-hand corner.

If you can’t really tell what it’s for, here’s a closer look (more or less actual size):

lame banner

I don’t know how much the distributors of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus paid for that (it was undoubtedly part of a package deal), and maybe a banner ad that obscure gets some clicks (can anyone out there provide stats on the effectiveness of something like this?), but I can’t help seeing the decision to sell that tiny bit of white space, let alone the willingness to buy it, as an act of desperation and a harbinger of worse to come.

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Further Clarification

At the beginning of this video, captured by the ever ebullient Mr. Sonny Gill at the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer back in October, I explain what I do as a “thought ronin” (and talk about what I was digging at the Mixer):

Apropos of MarketingProfs, I’m currently editing the official pre-game blog for their SocialTech 2010 conference to be held in San Jose on March 25.

This conference will focus on how B2B marketers in the hi-tech space (think: IBM, Intel, Cisco, SAP, etc.) are actually using social media to achieve a wide range of business goals. If that’s your bag, you should check it out (it’ll cost you around $500 but there is also a less expensive “virtual attendance option“).

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Thought Ronin

3156136099_c30649532e_mI’ve been a “thought ronin” for going on a year now.

In the same way that the lone gunslinger is a staple of the Western, ronin (“masterless samurai”) have been staple figures, and frequently protagonists, in samurai films from the very outset of the genre – an early epic of which was in fact entitled 47 Ronin.

My favorite anime film, Ninja Scroll, is the tale of a ronin, as is the more recent and rather austere The Sword of a Stranger, not to mention Kurosawa classics like Yojimbo and The Seven Samurai, to name but a few examples.

In other words, my sense of what a ronin is comes mainly from the movies (and Hagakure).

[As a total aside, it's interesting to note that many of the most celebrated samurai films of recent years - such as the work of director Yoji Yamada, maker of the masterful Twilight Samurai - are not about ronin at all but instead about the plight of the low-ranking samurai who often had to ply a trade (e.g., building and selling umbrellas, for instance) to supplement their meager stipend. I read this as an allegory for the plight of the "salaryman" in contemporary Japan - but what do I know about it?]

Anyway, I called myself a “thought ronin” because everybody wants to be a thought leader and I guess I wanted to subtly mock that aspiration (having always been partial to the guru or “cult leader” angle).

On a more serious note, I was stating allegorically that, having served as the retainer of a thought leader and possessing many skills necessary to effective and ongoing thought leadership, I was for “out there.”

Finally, I thought the mass unemployment of “white collar workers,” including members of the intelligentsia such as myself, following on the Global Financial Crisis (is that still happening, btw?) analogous, mutatis mutandis, to the mass unemployment of samurai after the Battle of Sekigahara.

I mean, what did you think a thought ronin was?

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Similes That Make Me Smile

Reading two NYT articles today reminded me of how much fun with similes writers over there can have.

First, in “The Great Unalignment,” writer Matt Bai says that, in the aftermath of Scott Brown’s Senate victory here in Masschusetts, Democratic talk of “a great liberal realignment seems as retro as Friendster.”

While I don’t exactly consider Friendster retro – it’s hardly Pong – I’ve always said, “Retro is the new cutting edge.”

Second, in a review of Charles Pellegrino’s The Last Train from Hiroshima, Dwight Garner writes, “Mr. Pellegrino follows his survivors as they trudge through wastelands that make ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy read like ‘Goodnight, Moon.’”

Of course, that just got me thinking about how well “The Road” would go over as a bedtime story: “Goodnight corpse. Goodnight air. Goodnight cannibals everywhere.”

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Underwhelmed

4081616965_7f862f86cc_mI saw Avatar yesterday and, well, you know.

I thought it would have been so much better if they had discovered that the All-mother, Eywa, was actually an evil AI and the Na’vi people were really her slaves or her batteries, like in the Matrix, and that the “attack” by the “sky people” was actually created by her to punish them for something.

This would have also allowed for a Philip K. Dick-esque bending of reality/identity as Sully discovers that the woman he’s fallen in love with is actually an avatar, that all the soldiers and scientists and corporate flacks from Earth are avatars, and that, in fact, he is an avatar as well!

On another note: SEO

I did a Google Image search for “Avatar” and, of course, mainly got pictures of Aang and his cohorts from Avatar: The Last Airbender, which first aired in 2005.

Just goes to show that half a billion dollars in production and advertising can’t turn back the accreted long tale of web content.

Or can it?

Image Courtesy of rxau.

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