Category Archives: Theory

Who owns the story? Pt1 – learning how to sell.

I’ve been having a conversation with Alex recently about the role of the internet, social media, and blogging in our lives – the good, the bad, and ugly   In her case, its internet behavior – she channels Emily Post like no one’s business.

For me, it goes back to who owns the story.  If many bloggers are writing about their lives and are marketing themselves (which many are) and if consumers own brands (which I believe heartily), then well who owns the story?

No one owns my story – at least now.  My three regular readers (I love you guys!) includes probably my sister and others that I’d tell the same things to, email the same pictures to, who are invested in the story but only because the story is ‘me’.

This hasn’t always been the case.  A long time ago, in a land far away (LiveJournal), I was involved in a clique.  For the people I knew, ‘the’ clique.  It was a ratings community, choosing its members by their writing, power struggles, and whim.  There were expectations of us, to write certain things and ways, to lord, just a bit, over those who didn’t make it but tried and tried again to get our approval.  And to some extent my story stopped just being about me but my performance.  What would ‘sell’ in Peoria, in LA, NY, and hundreds of computers in between.

I’m sure this sounds ridiculous to you, but what I was doing wasn’t so different from what a lot of other bloggers are doing now – tracking which posts get the most hits, comments, track-backs.  They do it for the potential cash (and yes, there are really that many people trying to make ‘it’ whatever that is from their blogs), and I did it for the ego rush during a bad time in my life, but at the base it’s the same.  We work on our marketing, packaging, and PR to sell our product (our stories) to the consumer.  And once it’s sold, well that’s where the problems are….

Quick hit – branding in politics

Obama was, arguably, one of the best branded presidential candidates of all time.  The visuals, the message of hope and change, it was all one organized package.  So it’s surprising that this is almost the anti-branding campaign year, epitomized by this quote from today’s NYT:  “I voted for the more electable not-Romney,” In case you were wondering, that’s Santorum who should have enough brand identity of his own.  But particularly this year, it’s all who people aren’t, not who they are.  Romney is the not-Obama, Santorum and Gingrich are the not-Romneys.  I’m hoping that Obama returns to his brand and doesn’t follow this year’s pattern, otherwise this will be a particularly unfortunate mess of not-not-nots.

Things I’ve been reading – worth using a few of your New York Times free articles on

The Freedom and Perils of Living Alone I think I’ll need to be with someone who has lived alone. We can commiserate and help each other resocialize.  Feral people living alone?  I like it!  How much of our co-habitating behavior is socialization, how much is performative?  One big takeaway – marketing needs to focus on the one-person household, not just the traditional female HH shopping model.

How Companies Learn Your Secrets “But even if you’re following the law, you can do things where people get queasy.”  Take away lesson, quant is creepy!  Actually, I found the pushback to this article really interesting – it’s clear that most people aren’t aware of how much data is collected on them every single bit of every single day and how much effort is spent trying to manipulate their behavior.   Also of interest, how much of the article was on using the same science to hack your own behavior – in that way it’s almost a little bit of an advertisment for the writer’s book (speaking of incentivizing behavior).