The Anti-Facebook Club

July 23, 2007

Facebook is a dangerous and ugly perversion of everything that’s open and expansive about the internet. It’s closed and introspective nature offers nothing to its users except the self gratification of having amassed more “friends” than their friends have.

This is a trend-reversing, even history-reversing that era we live in. Information is more freely available to more people than ever before, it is a true democratisation. Even if that informatin is flawed or incomplete – it is still available where it previously wasn’t.

So why the need for an invitation only corner of the virtual world? Are the people posting to their Facebook pages just bloggers with greater insecurities than the rest of us? Are they lacking the confidence to openly discuss things with the wider world? In which case, is an email not good enough?

Welcome to the Anti Facebook Club – there will eventually be a poll or sign up thingy in the sidebar, for now – if you want to join, simply post a comment below this post.

Together we can end antisocial networking!

Further Reading can be found in the form of the excellent “The cost of (anti-)social networks: Identity, agency and neo-luddites” by Ryan Bigge

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Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed- interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit- crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life…

Spud can’t help thinking that, along with the unstoppable march of time, comes the seemingly unstoppable expansion of choice… Is there any aspect of everyday life that doesn’t involve a days worth of research to make an informed decision? A friend of mine is switching broadband providers, and asked my advice – so we sat down and tried to compare like for like providers and the services they offered. We were overwhelmed with choice. I personally went with BT myself, as I don’t believe that the swings and roundabouts of special offers and introductory deals brings no real benefit unless you’re willing to switch providers every three months or so. I know that some folk do, but me? Nah – pay for it, use it, that’s about as far as I get.

The problem that this particular spud finds increasingly frustrating is that with this expansion of options at every turn, the only decision that can be made is between the “easiest to understand” options, rather than between the most appropriate.

The good old days weren’t always good – and I’m not hankering after the old monopolies such as the one that BT enjoyed for so long, but it made life a hell of a lot easier when it came to choosing which phone line you were going to use…

Is Katherine Tate’s Lauren Cooper a freelance writer? But is she though?

From today’s slew of response source requests…

Has facebook caused arguments in your relationship or a break up? have it caused rows with friends? Have you experienced cyber bullying? If so, get in touch as I’m writing a report on this subject

and if you need a bit of hi tech kit for your holidays…?

Help! I’m doing a travel piece for the Daily Express and my trusty digital camera just died… is there a sweet, kind, wonderful PR out there who can lend me a camera that will be suitable for publication quality pics for a week?
Oh – and please – unless it’s an offer of a loan camera I REALLY REALLY don’t have time to deal with a bazillion random press releases! Honest – all I need is a camera… thank you!

Quote of the day

July 16, 2007

Just spotted this in a previous post from TWL, clear, concise to the point, at a time when there’s lot’s of faffing about trying to “understand” this whole social media, web 2.0 and all that (anyone know what web 1.0 was, has it been replace? Is it still there?).

Worth bearing in mind next time a client/prospect asks you how you intend to deal with “them pesky blogs”

Consistent messaging across a range of media is a challenge because of the subtle differences in the way audiences engage with each medium. It’s the type of thing that really allows the PR industry to lead the way with insightful consulting, as getting it right relies on a degree of human judgement and experience. It’s certainly a lot more complicated than, say, a straight forward thing such as consistent pricing.

Apologies for the prolonged absence… found myself press ganged by a group of Tibetan freedom fighters in Finsbury Park – not sure which bit was worse, being taken halfway round the world to indulge in hand to hand combat with Nepalese guerillas in an epic struggle to regain the sixteen square feet of the Himalayan foothills that is known as pni folong (roughly translates as “boggy patch”) or finding myself back in the Manor House neck of the woods for the first time in many a long year – some things just never change.

Anyway, among the seemingly endless lists of hapless flacks being soundly and justifiably beaten up by hacks who don’t have the time to respond to these releases (but manage to find the time to blog about how they don’t have the time to respond to releases) there have been a couple of interesting posts concerning the incredible liberties that some hacks take with this new-fangled internet technology and how mindlessly easy it has become to ask everyone for a favour, but few on the quality of the tech press. Now I’ve been vociferous on the whole issue of whether individuals should be exposed, so I’m not about to step over my own lines, but I hope the article on Coputers gets a proper kicking by the subs involved, otherwise I’ll have to buy dozens of copies and distribute them with a little note that says….

QUERY: Computers, Broadcast and Television equipment, Coputer hardware, Coputers Software, mobile phones, media players, PDA’s, motorbikes, technology,lifestyle, coputers business, marketing…

And if I’m not mistook, TWL is currently running not one but TWO competitions/awards affairs at the same time! And sponsored by Edelman no less…

Catching up

June 25, 2007

Much like Sally over at Getting ink, The Spud has just completed a relocation to a “more desirable” field, so I’m a little behind the goings-on. I did, however, catch up with Sally’s interesting set of suggestions on how to get a hack to make/take a phone call.

The post seems to have been inspired by a flack having gone over a hack’s head to complain at the singular lack of cooperation shown by the unnamed hack in the phone interview stakes. I agree completely that going over anyone’s head to complain to their boss is unforgivable, although if, as I suspect the flack involved had exhausted all other possibilities, what option would he have been left with? Said flack is, presumably trying to provide a valuable contributor to said hack’s article (otherwise hack would have made it clear that it wasn’t his bag) so why the lack of cooperation from hack?

If Sally’s thoughts on the nature of grudges and, more specifically journalistic ones is anything to go by then the answer is somewhere not far removed from childishness. Are there hacks in the UK who believe that certain flacks have personal vendettas against them? Do hacks really believe that the endless stream of irrelevant releases are sent solely to them? I didn’t think so, so why the over zealous reaction?

“The unfortunate thing about being so darned helpful is that you’ve instantly and permanently killed your working relationship with the hack. He’s going to remember your name long after he’s forgotten the name of your client, your agency, or the chap at the council. Next time he has two equally good pitches? He’s gonna take the one that’s not from you. Every time.
It’s a harsh truth that hacks bear grudges.”

Shame, all that. One day we’ll perhaps wake up and notice that we’re all in this to get stuff published, one way or another. I just hope I don’t ever get the wrong side of one of Sally’s grudges.

Another League

June 21, 2007

Charles Arthur came up with a good idea the other day – although one that I’m sure was suggested in jest – a league table for PR’s and journalists. Works like this:

“If you’re not in the top league, you can’t pitch to national papers. You have to work your way up through the trades and so on. Like football – third division clubs don’t get to take on Chelsea or Man U or whatever. Fascinating idea. How do we implement it? Equally, of course, journos on trade papers and so on couldn’t ring up Max Clifford – but then, do they anyway?”

Now, I don’t know if anyone ever phones Max Clifford, and if they do I have no idea why, but what I do know is a good idea when I see one, and this is it. it would be great!

Imagine the scene – Charles being high profile ‘n’ all, would be talking to the top five all day – and I’d be talking to the International Journal of Cardboard Packaging Manufacturers – on a monthly basis.

What this particular idea highlights once again is the notion of status. That the size and “power” that a high profile agency has is reflective of the quality of the products that they’ll flog. It’s simply not true, at least not any more.

Let’s imagine an overseas client bringing a new product (or more likely a new version of an existing product) to the UK market, he will be face with an army of tech PR agencies vying for the right to promote its wares. The choice for the client is between the influence that agency x carries, and the retainer that agency y is asking for. If we add the league table to this equation then the lightweights are blown out of the water and the middleweights are once again scrapping on activity for the pieces.

I’m a long-standing reader of Technology Guardian, and I hope that one day I’ll work for an agency big enough and prestigious enough that I’ll be allowed to call Charles and pitch a client to him that he’s not already aware of – although I’m worried that because I work for the big agency, he’ll already know about my client, whereas while I was at the little agency I wasn’t allowed to call Charles and pitch a client that he hadn’t heard of.

Am I the only one not looking forward to a time when Charles’ writing becomes samey and dull, because he’s too far up the food chain to get news from the plankton of the PR world…?