Connecting Weblogging

Mix and Match

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I’ve been up working since 5 and it’s a beautiful day and should take a walk. Couple of things first.

In comments, Chris Heuer writes:

Funny how the ‘marketing people’ are still thought of like used car salesmen.

I’ve never considered marketing people equivalent to used car salesmen. I even admire marketing companies that come out with clever ads and interesting campaigns. There’s been many a commercial I’ve found more interesting than the show, and I’ve liked some enough that I’ve actually bought the product because of the intelligence of the advertising spot. So, I don’t not like marketers.

Thing is, before weblogging, I was rarely involved with marketers. In the companies I worked, most of my development was on internal applications; for the external apps, there was usually a level between me and the marketing department.

I’ve been exposed to plenty of market speak. In Boeing, we would go to these company-wide motivational meetings about 2-3 times a year. In the front of the room one or more people would have us do silly games, and the purpose of these exercises is that we would come back more team spirited or more motivated. The truth was that at the time, Boeing had too many middle managers, the threat of re-organization was always over our heads, as was the threat of layoffs. But the meetings were a way of some level of management somewhere reassuring some other level of management that they were working the problem–a problem that didn’t usually arise from the people having to attend the sessions.

Then there’s the use of marketing words, such as 2006’s hot new term: agility. In the tech industry, we want agile applications. Who uses a term like agile for applications? Not techs, that’s for sure. It’s a stupid term to use for applications–agile at what? Meeting all needs? There is no application in the world that meets all needs. Agile at being able to scale? Then say, scale. Agile in that it can bend down and touch its toes? Better than me if it can.

As I said, I’ve been exposed to marketing, but not marketers. Not people who work in PR, or marketing, or who write motivational books, or anything of that nature. Until weblogging, that is. Now, I can’t seem to swing a dead cat without hitting a marketer.

The question, then, is: why is this bad? After all, we all market ourselves to some extent; we all have causes or software or something we believe in that we write about. In fact, if we really like something, such as a technology, shouldn’t we market it? If I write a tech book, shouldn’t I market it? If you’re looking for a job, shouldn’t you market yourself? Yes and yes and yes.

And no and no and no.

A month or so ago I was at the Orchid show here in St. Louis. I was taking pictures of flowers when a gentleman, about my age, came up and gave me a pretty good suggestion of something to try. He told me that he learned the trick from a photo class he takes at a local community college. In fact it was the college he worked at. He also asked if I had a photo lab, and he recommended one I’ve used in the past. I agreed that it was a good lab, and then he mentioned they were having some form of a special and open house, and I should check it out.

I remember that at some point in the conversation I went from enjoying it, to being really wary. It wasn’t anything specific that the man said, but the thought that entered my mind was: was he a buzz marketer? Was he one of those signed up from that company that sends people out to engage people in conversation, and drop in specific products or companies?

Now, St. Louis is not a marketing magnet, and I doubt this person had ever heard of buzz marketing or even weblogs for that matter. However, because of the nature of so many of my weblogging encounters this last year, I found that my growing wariness online was bleeding into my interactions offline.

It was a pity. It was also a shock.

I don’t mind marketing at all, but I want to see it coming. I want to know that when people respond to me, it’s really what they believe. I don’t want to spend time reading and writing and at the end the day, wonder how much of the interaction was real. I don’t want to be a part of the buzz. I’m too old to be part of the buzz. I was too old to be part of the buzz at least half a century ago. That’s a long time to be out of the buzz.

Conversely, I want people to know when I respond to them, positively or negatively, they know I mean it–that I’m not playing a game. I won’t say anything in an email that I’m not willing to say in my weblog; I won’t say anything in a comment I won’t say in my weblog. I’ve seen it happen too often–someone is sweetness and light in their weblogs, and then a complete asshole in email or comments. What they publish publicly rates right up there with creating agile software–its all words that don’t mean a damn thing.

Since, I’m wishing, I wish you all would stop blowing bubbles all the time; and speaking your lime green, yellow, and pink thoughts–but then I might as well wish for more angular corners; what you do on your own dime is your business. But when you step on my time, it’s mine.

So maybe what I want is: don’t sell me stuff all the time. Don’t sell me the next best future; don’t sell me the next greatest start-up that combines letters into a meaningless word. If you want to market, great, go for it. But if you want to have a ‘conversation’, then leave the market speak at home. Markets are conversations–please stop. I’m begging you.

I don’t even care if you’re completely truthful or 100% honest–a really beautiful lie works for me. All I care about is that you’re real. Don’t pull me into your marketing. I don’t want to be there.

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