Category Archives: riffs

Consumption (sumption) what’s your function?

To the two people who have requested in the past week that I write something, and you know who you are, this one’s for you. I must say, I do always feel better after some good ol‘ fashion word mincing. I feel like I’ve written something like this before, but don’t care to cross reference to see since the catharsis of writing it (again?) feels so good. Out w/ it, then.

It’s the week after upfronts. I’m shocked to hear that television viewing is (gasp!) on the rise. During a down economy when people desire escapism. While DVR penetration rises and C3 ratings are now standardized. With TV programming proliferating across many different screens to the ultimate benefit of the larger screens. Insert other factors for television viewing increasing here _________________.

But the word I heard used many times wasn’t “viewing”, it was “consuming”. And thus a pet peeve of mine burst from the pod: Do people “consume” or “use” media? Let’s review definitions from our friends at

con-sume [kuhn-soom] verb, –sumed, –sum ing
–verb (used with object)
1. to destroy or expend by use; use up.
2. to eat or drink up; devour.
3. to destroy, as by decomposition or burning.
4. to spend (money, time, etc.) wastefully.
5. to absorb; engross.
–verb (used without object)
6. to undergo destruction; waste away.
7. to use or use up consumer goods.

Hmm, I’m liking #5 a bit, at least “engross”, but all the others sound a bit dark and foreboding. A bit too Apocalyptic, a bit to Convenient Truth-ish. It seems the end game is ending the game, what’s done is done, and the benefit derived is the ending or the done-ness. That’s just no good when your talking about media these days.

use [yooz or, for past tense form of 9, yoost] verb, used, using

–verb (used with object)
1. to employ for some purpose; put into service; make use of.
2. to avail oneself of; apply to one’s own purposes.
3. to expend or consume in use.
4. to treat or behave toward.
5. to take unfair advantage of; exploit.
6. to drink, smoke, or ingest habitually.
7. to habituate or accustom.
8. Archaic. to practice habitually or customarily; make a practice of.
–verb (used without object)
9. to be accustomed, wont, or customarily found (used with an infinitive expressed or understood, and, except in archaic use, now only in the past): He used to go every day.
10. Archaic. to resort, stay, or dwell customarily.

OK, so “consume” shows up in #3, but the noun “use” does as well, which is defined as “the act of employing, using or putting into service”. So something is expended towards an end that isn’t just the expension (that’s not a word but stick w/ me here) of the thing.

Exploitation, substance abuse and gluttony are referenced in Nos. 5 and 6. But according to Dr. Phil, people do these things to fill some sort of void in their life, so the doing of such things isn’t just to do the things, and, frankly, they just need to “Git o-vur eeyet.”

The other inherent beauty in the verb “use” related to media are the references to habit and custom. Something is done habitually and customarily to further one’s purpose. If you could articulate a universal marketing/advertising/media objective, would that not be the one?

Frankly, when it comes to TV, my bias is towards the mindlessness implied with the word “consume”. But, alas, I cannot allow it. Though the networks very noticeably backed off their multi-media messages from the past couple of years this year, it is quite obvious that the proliferation of content written by fans about programming (OMG, Adam was soooo screwed by AT&T telling those Arkansas ppl how to send power texts…) means people actually do, indeed, use TV.

It’s just kinda ironic that the usefulness comes to life elsewhere.

Leave a comment

Filed under media usage, riffs, TV

Zero sum thinking

Warning – not sure where I’m going w/ this, but it’s a line of thought I’m playing w/.

So save your prayers
For when we’re really gonna need ’em
Throw out your cares and fly
Wanna go for a ride?

– Smashing Pumpkins, Zero

Can’t recall if I was in a conversation recently or maybe reading or listening to something and someone threw out the following in terms of the “new” media space, “We aren’t in a zero sum game here.” Outside of bringing the intial chords of the above song to mind, it also struck me as one of those phrases that makes people sound purdy darn smart so one will not question what’s being said. So, not being one to take purdy darn smart sounding things at face value, I brushed up a bit on my game theory.

So zero sum games result in all players breaking even. Surely that can’t be good in a market economy where someone has to win and someone has to lose. Surely one must use the tools one has at one’s disposal to compete – and win – vigorously against those in their line of business. Surely.

A thought here – perhaps we aren’t playing a pure zero sum game in the “new” media space, but depending on how you define the game and with whom you are playing, it seems we may be getting awfully close. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Work w/ me here…

Usually where games become non-zero sum is when parties have to make back their transaction costs. Thinking about “new” media, the cost, in time and money, of finding stuff one wants at the price – in time and/or money – they’re willing to pay complete w/ input from others who have also acquired the same stuff is falling precipitously fast.

So, I wonder, is “new” media best used as an advantage against one’s business competitor? Or as an investment in time – as much as money – that allows one’s customers to easily reduce their transaction costs in terms of finding what they want? Is it something that provides benefit, perhaps even enjoyment, making one’s customers want to throw out their cares and fly?

What was I saying again?


Filed under future of media, riffs

If you don’t participate, zip it

Rule #1 of a democracy – if you don’t exercise your right to vote, just zip it.

Dinner table conversation in the Courtney household this evening was about today’s episode of The View. The esteemed former SportsCenter anchor Keith Olberman was on. I refuse to call him a political analyst or talk show host or pundit or whatever – and now I never will.

He admitted that he does not vote. Yet he bitches…incessantly…about politics and politicians. (go look it up on YouTube if you really need to see it to believe…I’ve found my wife a pretty accurate source over the years)

To paraphrase him: Mr. Olberman, please shut up.

Leave a comment

Filed under media coverage, media on media, riffs

Free Association w/ Election 08

I’m an amateur student of history, especially enjoying presidential politics, so I’m very excited to see how this momentous decision plays itself out. Right now, I have good feelings about the engagement of the electorate in the democratic process…how we hang w/ it remains to be seen. Anyway, seems only appropriate to do a recap in the form of a Larry King ramble

I honestly believe that Obama is the best possible GCV for this country at the point in history in which we are stationed – and that was and is a huge issue on which to place a vote. This country is not red or blue, and neither is the world at large.

The American people do not disappoint when it comes to correcting things. However, time will have to tell if Prez + Congressional Majority = Good Thing this time as history has shown it usually doesn’t go so well.

I missed the John McCain that didn’t need the Republican Party’s money. My friends, had the guy who gave the concession speech shown up for the entire race, things may not have ended differently, but they would’ve been a hell of a lot more interesting.

Of course, had that John McCain run, who would’ve the conservatives voted for? Oh, wait, the conservatives would’ve mercilessly crushed him in the primaries as they did in 00 and he never would’ve been the candidate. Mitt Romney, anyone?

I’m sure this was pointed out somewhere along the line in the primaries, but there could’ve been a ticket of a former real NYC mayor and a former make believe NYC DA. I don’t know, that just woulda been kinda funny and ironic. Sad, perhaps, but funny and ironic all the same.

However, having John McCain be the maverick who truly does reach across the aisle back in the Senate doing the reaching across the aisle probably does more good for the country than John McCain the Republican Presidential Elect who is Beholden to the Republican Party’s Money.

I still don’t think Tina Fey’s all that funny. I’m still bitter about the “clapter” remark as it pertains to John Stewart. It may take awhile for me to get over it, if I ever do. I’m petty like that – I’m extremely pragmatic and rational when it comes to politics, but if you talk sh*t about a comedian I like, WATCH OUT!

So Governors appoint Senators when there are vacancies in their states as I recall. Can Governors appoint themselves? Or do you think Sarah will send Todd to DC due to Ted’s unfortunate felony conviction?

Anybody else notice that the 08 Republicans bear an uncanny resemblance to the 04 Democrats with a notable exception – they don’t have a Barack Obama (or HRG for that matter) waiting in the wings? How bad will the next 4 years have to be to make Palin in 12 seem palpable? Or how far back to the conservative base will they go to prop Romney up as the heir apparent? Or is there another random, unknown out there?

In case you missed it, Pew says Fox News is more fair and balanced than MSNBC. Probably a vast right wing conspiracy.

I’m not sure how I feel about seeing Hannity this bitter. I think I want to chuckle, then it kinda scares the sh*t out of me. Colmes better watch his back.

I still wish Keith Olberman would shut up. Biscuit in the basket…Biscuit in the basket…Biscuit in the basket…

I still think Barbara Walters and Rupert Murdoch should arrange a trade – Hasselback for Colmes. Then they can stop acting like the shows they appear on are fair and balanced.

With all the partisan coverage going on in the media these days, my Independent heart laments this country’s ability to generate a viable and sustainable 3rd party.

At times it’s surreal to me that I am again living in the state that elected Jesse Ventura governor and is in a recount situation for sending Al Franken to the Senate. Irony of ironies: Norm Coleman, career politician, could have a resume showing he lost to a former pro wrestler and a comedian. The man brought professional hockey back to “The State of Hockey” and that’s how they repay him? Youbetcha!

Speaking of Hollywood, some there say they’re not a bunch of pinko commies, or in homage to Colbert’s consistent assertions, Socialists. There are a few who even say they’re not like Al Franken. I still recall, and agree w/, Howard Stern saying in the 00 or 04 election that if you’re swayed by famous people’s political views, you’re a moron.

Leave a comment

Filed under election 08, media coverage, riffs

Quote of the Day – POTUSA as Global Communication Vehicle, Riff, GCV as buzzword

Lump sat alone in a boggy marsh, totally motionless except for her heart

No, no, I’m kidding. I’m a kidder. At least I am now…later in this post, I’m going to be pretty serious…

“The modern Presidency is as much a vehicle for communication as for decision-making, and the relevant audiences are global.”

10.13.08 New Yorker, Talk of the Town, spelling out why BO makes more sense than JM (and SP for that matter)

When I see the blistering, sarcastic, sardonic tone of the commentary by “my friends” in the electorate – many of which also happen to be card-carrying members of that raggedy segment of the electorate known as the media/marketing/advertising industry – on the candidates via, primarily, what could be considered “global communication vehicles” (or, in current industry parlance, “social media” – Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.), I think you can all ZIP IT and just point to this quote.

Seriously, this freakin’ election has been going on for 2 years – more actually if you really think about it (BO’s speech at the DNC before becoming a senator, Bush crushing McCain in SC primary via dirty media tactics – I’ll come back to that later). Screaming at each other when you mostly all agree about something really isn’t helping. Effective frequency has been broached. Tell it to people who might need to be influenced – i.e. those who are undecided since media outlets on the left and the right are saying those few million of us who exist will be the ones deciding this thing.

Frankly, the tone of what’s being spewed forth from those outlets makes me think if I didn’t have a career in this media/marketing/advertising industry I’d probably just stay home because I can’t figure out which is the lesser of two evils. That, my friends, sounds like a potentially relevant strategy – be so derisive in your communication that you harden the base and generate so much disdain in the democratic process that the undecided just don’t bother. Short sighted, perhaps, but effective nonetheless.

For the love, people, most of you are in jobs where you need to figure out every day who the best prospects are for your or your clients’ messages, how you should best craft those messages to change perceptions and actions, and where/how often you need to say the things you need to say. Practice what you preach. Get out of the echo chamber.

And if you all really believe in the power of “social media”, seems this would be just the sort of thing “social media” can be used for to do more good in spreading the word in a beneficial way…right? Or is “social media” just about showing your network that you’re blistering, sarcastic and/or sardonic? Take a cue from BO – his use of social media as a positive force in spreading and effectively (and efficiently, I might add) explaining his message and refuting the other side’s POV has been masterful. It has had a great influence on this Indy.

Of course, I’m giving the vast rabble of the electorate a lot of credit for being rational people who will respond rationally when spoken to rationally. Worked pretty well in times of crisis for other Presidents – Abe in his speeches and proclimations leading up to and during the Civil War, FDR and his “fireside chats” during the Depression and WWII, JFK debating Nixon and during the Cuban missile crisis, etc. I think 2000 and 2004 proved pretty well when they’re spoken to irrationally w/o an effective or coherent rational response they will behave irrationally. It’s a shame JM decided it best to mimic those derisive tactics that brought him down in the ’00 primary. Against a rational and relatively impervious candidate (vs. a reactive and overly emotional one) they just don’t work. Oh, and remember it almost made you switch parties in ’04. Now that’s a true maverick.

BTW, I’m really liking “Global Communication Vehicle” as opposed to “social media”. “Social Media” feels less and less relevant every day – or maybe it’s brilliant in it’s simplicity…who knows w/ these things; as an industry we lose interest relatively quickly in buzzwords and trends, or maybe we think we’re just so damn good at developing new buzzwords and trends we feel the need to do so consistently to substantiate our existence and make our jobs seem a lot more complex and hard to keep up w/ – maybe we all just just double our aderol and suck it up. What was I saying again? Oh, yeah.

So, Global Communication Vehicle sounds really big and important. It has a nice sounding acronym – GCV. It refers to what is accomplished by using it – communication – vs. the container in which what happens occurs – media (though that whole “vehicle” at the end is a bit disconcerting, but, again, “V” right after the combo of “GC” just sounds so euphonious – someone get me a nickel for using that word now). It takes it beyond a seemingly trivial use – to socialize – and makes it seem like Colin Powell as Barack Obama’s top advisor on international matters could use it to fix Darfur or see K-G and B in Putin’s eyes. Ooo, new shiny object is prrriiiitttyyy…..


Filed under bad media, communication platforms, election 08, media coverage, quote of the day, riffs, twitter

Meta Ruminations

Was reading a review in Paste of 30 Rock Season 2 DVD release. It was crowned a “meta-comedy” or a comedy about comedy. I love the fact that meta-data, or data about data – the stuff that makes things relevant online and more easy to search and find – is cool enough to be used as an adjective to describe something cool in a magazine written by and for cool hipsters (myself excluded). Meta meta meta meta…

So, here begins a list of meta things that came to mind when I started thinking about stuff about stuff, er, data about data…

The first thing that popped into my head was an old column TheOnion ran making fun of Larry King’s randomness. Lots of meta, just not really sure what data is being meta-tized.

If 30 Rock is a meta-comedy, what was Seinfeld – the show about nothing…the end of information? Or the show about everything?

Is anything about anything anymore or is everything really about something else all together?

I either don’t have the time, don’t care, or am not interesting enough to constantly update Facebook and MySpace. Yeah, I’m sure I’m missing out.

I’ve always thought Radiohead was the new Pink Floyd and nothing anyone can say will change my mind. Regardless, that makes that dude who’s married to Gwyneth Paltow’s band a meta-meta band. Sad.

It’s kinda odd that the 72 year old prez candidate keeps referencing Ronald Reagan.

Speaking of 30 Rock, why would Tina Fey talk sh*t about John Stewart? He was meta before she was being not really all that funny on SNL.

Wondering if Sarah Palin is an invention of the Coen Brothers – I see Todd Palin getting up early every morning as she gets out of bed to go to work saying, “Let me make ya some eggs, Mar-gee – er, uh, Sarah.”

Kevin Bacon – pretty sure his middle name is Meta.

Wondering if Tina Fey’s imitation of Sarah Palin is an invetion of the Republican party to truly piss off and solidify the vast majority of middle American mothers who actually connect w/ Palin and think Fey is an elitist bee-yotch. Stay w/ me on this one…Uncanny they look so much alike, doncha think? Perhaps a vast Right Wing Conspiracy to prop SP up as the veep running mate since the Republicans know that TF is such a reactionary comedic genius she just couldn’t resist the opportunity. This is the woman who talked sh*t about John Stewart, after all – and their on the same side. Brilliant!

I’m beginning to think David Sedaris is the new James Thurber.

Toe-may-toh, toe-mah-toe. Pa-kih-stan, pah-ki-stan. Let’s call the whole thing off.

Why is Cliff Claven in every single Pixar movie?

Re: being on the same side yet talking sh*t – HRC laid out pretty much all the arguments against BO’s candidacy yet JM can’t seem to articulate them effectively. I don’t get it.

If The View really wants to be about “the” or “a” or “one” view, why don’t they just get rid of Elizabeth Hasselbeck and stop faking it? Then they can officially change their name to “The View from the Left.”

To that point, why don’t Barbara Walters and Rupert Murdoch just work out a trade – Hasselback for Colmes?

Speaking of The View, why would Whoopi ask the prez candidate from the party who has Abe Lincoln as it’s father if slavery’s going to make a come back? Actually, WTF w/ that question all together? Maybe Sam was possessing her at the time.

Speaking of Abe, I’m thinking he’d be a great 21st century Democrat.

Hmm, little experience in Washington. Very eloquent, yet awkward at times. Outspoken, independent-minded wife. Moved to Illinois and became somewhat of an activist, yet has some questionable rich and powerful friends.

I think I’m onto the Cubs. I’m relatively certain Wrigleyville is the second happiest place on earth after Disney World. It’s surreal. Why else would I willingly drink 10 Old Styles in 3 hours and accept that a long dead billy goat has the power of Tecumseh’s curse?

Oh, and did I mention my daughter’s name is Addison and neither my wife nor I are Grey’s Anatomy fans? Cubs Nation is evil. Somebody sell the team and the whole of Wrigleyville to Mark Cuban.

You know, Ronald Reagan broke Tecumseh’s curse. Maybe that’s why John McCain mentioned him 5 or so time in the first debate.

Do we ever get the actual story anymore or do we just get several tellings of meta stories?

1 Comment

Filed under paste magazine, riffs

Random Media Riffs on the Political Season

As I mentioned before, I am a hopeless independent when it comes to politics. So the following is coming from a place of love for my country and an agnostic POV when it comes to fat ass elephants and asses in general.

Anyone who has watched the RNC feel like it is at best muted? Not sure if due to Gustav that the number of attendees is really low or if the Republicans have asked all media outlets to cover a 20,000 seat arena that I have personal experience w/ really rocking like it’s a high school gym. Didn’t notice any broad, panning shots to set up the largeness of the proceedings as was done in the Pepsi Center. It just seems overly dim and really quiet. Won’t get into the staged drama that was Invesco Field for comparison, outside of saying it was a masterful use and delivery of media manipulation.

As was the use of this same Excel Energy Center in St. Paul for Obama to announce he was the de facto nominee. So having watched that speech and how the arena was set up for that and the effect delivered from it only makes me further wonder what gives w/ how the media is covering the RNC in the same arena. Have to assume it’s by request from the Republicans. Maybe it makes it feel more like a VFW or American Legion hall and that’s what they’re going for and to whom they are appealing? Or a “vast left wing conspiracy”?

I have only found foreign media, especially The Guardian, covering what I find much more interesting w/ regards to the Alaskan Governor than vindictive firings of public officials and pregnant teenage daughters. It appears she was part of an Alaskan political party that seeks to secede from the union. I think NPR gave this coverage in passing, but nothing very deep at all. Being an independent, I’m much more interested in understanding how much someone who is the proverbial one heartbeat away from being prez loves the country their state is a part of more than their state itself. I think we saw from ’92-’00 that personal and familial discretions don’t mean you can’t effectively lead the country.

In Denver, did I miss stories about overly rowdy and often times violent Repbulican protesters beign dispersed w/ tear gas, throwing foreign substances on convention delegates, and 300 some odd arrests? I used to have chats w/ a few of my “Texas Democrat” (talk about a rare breed…Keep Austin Weird, I guess 🙂 friends about how the Dems can often times, actually most times, be their own worst enemies. I’d love to see BO come out w/ a statement condemning the actions of these violent protesters and reinforce change on a different level. Has he? If so, I haven’t seen it on his dozen or more Twitter posts per day.

Also as an indy I have to say the past couple days of RNC makes me feel like they are doing as they usually do, trying to exacerbate the differences in American society to win votes vs. trying to reach out to unify. That bums me out.

1 Comment

Filed under election 08, media coverage, media on media, riffs