Tuesday, June 29, 2010

1970s vs. 2010

I came across an interesting web page today that highlights the top gadgets of the 1970s (http://www.techvert.com/hottest-gadgets-of-the-1970s/). While it brought back tender, nostalgic memories of when as a young boy/teenager I longed for these items, I couldn't help but think that despite the nearly 30-40 years that have passed since these items were the hottest must haves; how we are all still longing for virtually the same items today. Yes there are no original ideas, just the evolution of the object. Here's my take on their list:

  1. 1970 the color television – I remember getting our first color TV around 1975. Yes most of my friends had them a few years earlier. So is that any different then people longing for 50+ inch flat panel HD TV or perhaps the last evolution to 3D TV?
  2. 1972 Home LP Recorder – I remember getting a tape cassette player for my birthday in 1971 and using the microphone to record songs from the radio so I could listen to them when I wanted to or even placing it next to the Hi-Fi to record my records. I only wish I had this devise (OK I got something similar to it around 1974 but it recorded to 8 track). Yes the introduction of MP3 players have made the downloading and portability of music easier, but who is out there that doesn't long for the latest iPod or better yet a iPod that can record mp3 as well ... hmmmm
  3. 1973 A Telephone – yes hard to believe that back in early 70s less than ½ of Americans had a telephone in their homes. At the cottage we had a party line, where several families in different houses had the same phone number. Even in the early 80s while at university a number of my friends couldn’t afford a phone in their apartments. So while we jump to 2010 and the number of phones in the USA out numbers the number of people, the long lines last week as millions scrambled to obtain a fourth generation iPhone clearly demonstrate that nothing has changed here. Yes relatively speaking the cost of ownership of a phone has come down, but the desire to possess one hasn’t.
  4. 1974 Electronic Calculator - Oh how I remember these and how you weren't allowed to use them for exams, yet a mere 6 years later just as I was wrapping up high-school you were required to bring a scientific electronic calculator to your physics and chemistry exams. Yes the electronic device put an end to all the geeky students carrying around their slide-rules and instead they strapped on a calculator.
  5. 1975 Household Freezer – OK here they got me (sort of), as home appliances go and as eating habits have changed, this might not be the latest must have for the home. Yet, the number of homes tossing out perfectly good home appliances to only replace them with stainless steel versions or the latest "hot" must have item for upscale home of cappuccino/espresso machine perhaps nothing has really changed here
  6. 1977 Atari 2600 – this one is easy. Anyone with kids knows that this has simply been upgraded to a PS3, Xbox, Wii, Nintendo DS, DSi etc....
  7. Apple II Computer – Oh give me something difficult, can you say Ipad? It’s nice to see that Apple is still making many people’s mouths water for their latest creation

So as we can all clearly see, the Last Original Idea (LOI) happened long ago and that this is especially true when it comes to household items. We only need to think back how we moved from rocks and sticks at a stream, to washboards & tubs, to washing machines to high-efficient front-end loading machines etc.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Should BP Be Looking to the Past Before Jumping on the New Media Bandwagon?

BP has created an environmental disaster the likes the world has never seen and now they are scrambling to stave off the world's collective hatred for their brand. Unfortunately there is not much thought that has gone into the process. Instead they seem to be throwing as much money as possible at their public relations problem without a plan and as a result, it all seems for naught.

It has been reported that BP has been buying up every conceivable variation of the keyword phrase "oil spill" in an effort to drive the traffic to the BP website to the tune of $50,000/day! This has only gone to further enrage the public who believes that $50,000/day should be spent on disaster relief and cleanup instead of Google adwords.

The BP media campaign is all over the map with photos on Flickr, videos on YouTube and search listings, and there are reports of massive spends destined for television. Where did they go wrong? They should have looked to the past for answers. The public responds to sincerity and heart felt apologies. They want to hear how BP is going to stop the spill and how much money BP will devote to the clean up effort, not to Google adwords.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How Did Your Profession Evolve?

Since "The Last Original Idea" chronicles the evolution of Internet marketing, it occurred to me that everyone could track the evolution of their professions. I'm a writer so I decided to take a look at how my profession evolved.

Writers tell stories with words. Prehistoric man told stories through pictures in their caves. In essence these pictographs were the earliest form of the written word. Pictographs evolved into a rudimentary alphabet used by the ancient Egyptians in approximately 3100 BCE which eventually gave rise to the Semite languages - Aramaic, Ugaritic, Phoenician, Hebrew, Babylonian, Assyrian, Ethiopic. The ancient Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet which eventually evolved into Latin and Cyrillic, while Aramaic evolved into Arabic. Handwriting as we know it can be traced back to the end of the Roman Empire. The script in fragments of Latin messages written by members of the Roman garrison at Hadrian's Wall in approximately 100 AD bears a great deal of resemblance to modern European language.

The 16th century brought about a revolution in writing - the engraving of letters on copperplate. The profession of "Writing Master" was created in order to train others in the technique of engraving. Engraving eventually evolved into printing and "the rest is history".

How did your profession evolve?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same

While Alan and I were writing The Last Original Idea, it struck me that it wasn't just Internet marketing that followed this interesting evolutionary cycle. There are in fact very few original ideas. Would Orville and Wilbur Wright have been the fathers of modern aviation if they hadn't watched birds soaring in the sky? What would our current mode of transportation be if Henry Ford had not looked at the horse drawn carriage and "had a better idea"? Ideas seem to cycle and recycle. Why do movie makers have to remake classics? Couldn't they leave Cape Fear or Sabrina alone and have an original thought? Of course they do. It's called 3D - also a recycled idea. Why do fashion designers have to recycle old ideas? The platform shoes of today burst onto the scene in the 1950s.

I challenge each of you to think of something that we use, buy, sell, eat, drink, or play that is entirely original. After reading The Last Original Idea think of how the evolution of Internet marketing mirrors other facets of business and industry and how everyone can benefit and profit from understanding history.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book Update

Many of you have known for a while that I've had a book idea and some may even know that I teamed up a year ago with Geri Rockstein to get the ideas from my brain to paper.

I'm happy to inform you that the book is now completed. We are currently trying to make the final decision between self-publishing and using an established publisher. The book is currently being reviewed by a publisher (who's name we can't disclose) and we should know in a week or so how we're going to proceed.

I've started developing a supporting website for the book where you'll be able to download some sample pages and the introduction plus learn a lot more about Geri and myself.

Please subscribe to this blog so you can be ensured of timely updates regarding the book.