June 30, 2006

We're Not In Kansas Anymore...

I'll confess to mixed feelings about some of my recent adventures in the land of the podcast and blog (at times, it's difficult to take seriously this new wave of activities that sound like something dreamed up by Lewis Carroll: `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did blog and podcast in the wabe...'). On the whole, it's exhilarating but I sometimes can't help feeling that these games played behind the looking-glass are just a little self-indulgent, cut off as they are for the time being from what the rest of the world is getting up to.

I listened in to a recent podcast Across The Sound as its author Joseph Joffe exchanged observations through Skype with another podcaster whilst the pair of them played as 'avatars' in a virtual, online world, Second Life, with other players from different parts of the real world. Layers upon layers and a tantalising glimpse of a future state of play most probably, but listening to the two players was like watching jazz and I couldn't help but hear shades of Harrison Ford struggling with some of the lines in Star Wars, "you can write this stuff but you can't make me say it!".

At the same time, I know some of this stuff is going to be very important and I've recently committed to trying out as much of what my customers are likely to be offered as possible (so long as it's legal!). And I do believe that podcasting and blogging are the ways to go but still... I'll feel a little less self-conscious when more of my colleagues step through and I'm not one of the few in shirt and tie whilst the rest stroll about in fancy dress.

Click your heels three times, dear, there's no place like home.

June 24, 2006

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo...

As we watched one of the soccer games from the World Cup on television last evening, my older son, Aidan, remarked on how difficult it must be for the commentary team to remember the names of so many different players from one game to the next. Yet as we watched the ball being transferred from one to the other, sometimes at breathtaking speed, the names seemed to just roll off the tongue of the commentator. How do they do that?

I remember hearing how the human mind is confused by too much choice, yet here you have the option of ten outfield players on each team, often with little to distinguish them and seen from a distance, and somehow the commentator picks out the right one every time. (Or perhaps they simply call it with such confidence that we believe they must be right?). I know they rehearse the team-list before the game, but still...

I wonder whether it'’s something to do with the personal element? Perhaps the human mind struggles to make a distinction between more than three objects or ideas but revels in the variety thrown up in a typical group of people? Fans of TV series such as The Soprano'’s or Lost seem to have no difficulty following the wide array of characters and their back-stories and jumping from one plotline to the next.

Maybe that'’s it? Maybe that'’s why brands that rely on listing functional strengths and benefits are largely forgettable whilst brands that add some touch of personality and tell a story seem to be more easily remembered?

Mind you, I'm not so sure that explains why TV commentators can distinguish between one horse and the next, simply by their racing-colours. Perhaps the pundits simply have unusually sharp eyes and power of recall..?

Technorati Tag: World Cup, brand

June 17, 2006

Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf?

I'm looking out on blue skies (very unusual for Dublin), the morning after they finally put Charles Haughey in the ground. It reminds me of a scene from a story, the day after the storm when the world seems new again. I'm a child of the seventies, a time when Charles J. was in his pomp. Instinctively, I didn't like him, was afraid of him even.

There was something rather terrifying about Haughey. Despite the efforts of various political rivals and enemies, nobody seemed able to drive a stake through the heart of this awful figure, who ruled our world as surely as the witch or the big, bad wolf rules in children's stories.

Recent pictures in the papers show him much smaller than I remember him. This is a man who brought his own brand to Irish politics, and even his own tagline, what came to be known in our country as GUBU - Grotesque, Unbelievable, Bizarre & Unprecedented. From a distance, he seems a two-bit dictator of a tin-pot republic - it's easy in these celtic tiger days to forget the bleak wasteland which he ruled - but he was very real indeed and threw a dark shadow over the island.

People argue over his legacy - some say he led us to a promised land or at least took us on the first few faltering steps - but I believe he stands for something very wrong at the heart of Irish society, something that continues to stalk our relative successes. Our current first politician stood at the tyrant's grave yesterday and delivered an oration. It was like a scene from The Soprano's. This is still a place where grasping, greedy men determine too much of what happens next.

It's difficult not to greet news of the departure of one such man with a sigh of relief. Ding, dong, the wicked witch is dead...

Technorati Tag: Haughey

Here goes...

Even as a child, I was always reluctant to make the first marks on a new copybook. Now I find myself wanting to make these first blogging notes striking or memorable in some way. Which kind of defeats the purpose, if what I read about Blogs and how they work is anything to go by. I'm told that what matters more is to be real and immediate, to publish and be damned. Hopefully those of you who follow my progress will find more gut-reaction and less head-conscious as we go...more probably, we'll end up veering between one and the other. But I do promise to spend less time looking for the right word and a little more following the ideas as they strike.

Go on! You can relax now, the first marks have been made. Things always got easier after that.