Branding MySelf

Publicons.de has a long click list so that you, yes you, can create a little gizmo to put on your profiles and websites so that everyone can see how you brand yourself. Or rather, how you define yourself through brands. Here’s what I’d look like if I went wild:

brands

I know it’s all in fun (kinda) but these things really bug me. For one, they’re not clickable, so that if I see that last.fm icon I can’t click it and get to your last.fm page, I can’t click the flickr to get to flickr. More than that, though, it’s a weird hodgepodge way to define yourself as the combination of products you don’t get a say in creating.

To say nothing of all the things that aren’t there at all. In music, for instance, I can brand myself as a fan of the Libertines or U2, but that’s about it on my genre, and neither of them are in my top 50. I can mark myself as having a Fujifilm camera, but not an Olympus even though that’s a nicer camera. I can choose Johnny Depp as a favorite actor, but I don’t get any actresses to choose from at all. I get Pepsi, but no Diet Pepsi. Baileys but no Glenfiddich.

But the fact that the site’s there at all, with its long strange lists of almost-random (and obvious Deutsch-o-centric) choices for which icons you want to associate yourself with, and the fact that these things are popping up all over the net, shows once again how people are more and more eager and willing to identify themselves in terms of taste and brands.

What bothers me most of all is that it shows that it’s not enough to merely USE the products now, we need to advertise for them as well. Ok, need is overstated, but I just don’t get the hunger to mark myself as a Mac using, Toyota driving, apple and orange juice drinking, chocolate and licorice eating, Solitaire playing Pisces where e’re my internet travels take me. But then, I identified with William Gibson’s Cayce in Pattern Recognition who never wore anything with logos and obsessively sanded the buttons of her jeans until the brand name was gone. I loved the scene where she hyperventilated in the Tommy Hilfiger section of the department store.  I’m not so clinical, but I figure if I’ve paid for a product already, they ought to pay ME to advertise it for them.

MyColts.net Coming Soon

Not content with a mere Super Bowl victory, those Indianapolis Colts are now out to conquer the world of social networking! They are planning to launch “MyColts.net” (hmmm, wonder what inspired that name?) which they describe as:

a free, on-line community built by Colts fans, for Colts fans. The system will be free for registered users. Members will be able to create personal profiles, arrange their own pages, and connect with other fans anywhere, anytime, inside the Colts Fan Network.

Although they say this, they also say that the site is owned by the Colts and there’s a humongo AT&T logo on the page with this announcement so one does wonder what will happen should those fans start getting more critical than the club is comfortable with. What happens if, oh, say Baltimore decides to woo them to their city and the fans all turn?

Along with the presumably massive amounts of sports talk, and the social network site-standards of blogging, email, and groups, they also say the site will have reviews:

MyColts.net allows you to read reviews on many products created by fellow Colts Fans like you! Browse through automobile reviews, fashion reviews, food reviews, entertainment reviews, and more. Want to review a product? The tools are all there for you to express your opinions on goods and services.

Now that promise strikes me as odd. With so many review sites out there already, what is the special expertise or shared world view that a Colts fan has that your average epinions or cnet reader doesn’t?

They also discuss that they already have a fan forum and the hoped-for implications of this network on that forum:

Our fan forum (at Colts.com) is already a vibrant, ongoing conversation among avid Colts fans. When the fan network launches, the forum will expand to include more topics, more people, and more interaction than ever before.

Usually you get social networks where there weren’t forums, or the forums arise out of and within the social networks, so I’m curious to see what really happens to the forums once a network launches and how the two spaces will be integrated. How do you get a bunch of people to invest in building a social network AND bring more people topics and interaction to the old space? (win the Super Bowl?)

What a good fangirl am I

Didn’t want to let this one fall between the tracks — the wonderful Joel Orff, whose praises I have sung here before — has done another comic strip illustrating one of my tales of fandom. Actually, it’s not just any of my tales of fandom, it’s the big one. The one that consumed and defined me for years. It’s odd now to have moved past that phase enough that I can share the story in a format like this. At the time I hardly ever told anyone, lest it seem too much like boasting, or like exploiting celebrity for my own gain (someone who was my friend at the time told me it took him a long time to realize I didn’t talk about so as not to seem egotistical about it, he thought I didn’t talk about it because I was too conceited to share it with others). But now that it’s ancient history, I’ll claim that piece of me out loud.

Trashing Celebs Online? Not in Korea!

AsiaMedia reports that the Korean government is going to crack down on cybercrimes including saying “defamatory” things about celebrities online:

The move comes after many celebrities claimed to have suffered psychological damage after defamatory comments were posted online. Political user-created content (UCC) is also in the police’s crosshairs.

[...]“Unlike previous crackdowns, which focused on specific types of crimes, this crackdown will be a dragnet that targets every kind of cyber offense,” an official at the National Police Agency said.

[...]In January, pop singer Yuni killed herself after suffering from depression, and her agency claims she was hurt by malicious comments posted on her blog and other Web sites. Such comments continued after her death. Some Internet users have comments making fun of the late female comedian Kim Hyung-eun. Actress Kim Tae-hee, pop singer Rain and transgender entertainer Harisu filed suits against Internet users who defamed them on the Internet.

I know nothing about Korean law and very little about the Korean social context in which this occurs, so other than noting that Korean youth are among the world’s most wired and tech savvy, I pass this along without comment. If there are any Koreans reading, I’d love to hear your take on this. Doomed to fail? Typical? Reasonable?

Hunters and Peckers

The music social network/mp3 download site Amie Street is getting a lot of positive buzz for its innovative business model. Bands upload mp3s that are initially free to download. The more they’re downloaded, the more expensive they become, eventually hitting 99 cents if they’re smash hits. Users can recommend the tracks they like and if they lead to lots of downloads, those early adapters get credit to buy other downloads. It’s got the social networking element so that if people like another person’s recommendations, they can create friendships and then see the songs that their friends have recommended.

I like the idea as I think it benefits both bands and fans. I’ve said before that one of the great pleasures of music fandom is making recommendations that other people like, and the way this is done to feed back to both artists and fans is really nice. It’s an intruiging way to monetize taste making talent as well as musical talent.

One thing a quick glance at the site will reveal is how important this makes the ability to write about music. Several of the recommendations say things like “this rocks” or “I love this song” or “this is better every time I hear it.” Not very helpful. Others are cryptic: “Like a slightly annoyed robot who slowly discovers hope,” “Nice song, alternating between two Ideas. Very original.” A few actually give a hint of what it might sound like: “Swing-y with a touch of soul…yum,” “Think Beatles/McCartney/John Denver, what a mix but it works.”

I think that like many music sites, this appeals to a particular kind of music fan, a “hunter” — someone who’s willing to go out and listen to a lot of things they don’t like in order to find something they do. This has been my experience of Reverbnation as well. Being told something is “indie” or “alternative” or that it “totally rocks” is a long way from there being a good likelihood I’m going to like it.

I figure I’m more of a pecker — I want that yummy seed mixed by someone (or an algorithm) that knows a lot about the dietary habits of a bird like me already or prepared by someone with highly similar taste. I don’t like listening to lots of stuff I don’t like en route to finding the stuff I do. Either that, or I want thick description, like mp3 blog writers who spend a paragraph or two telling me about the band and the song they want me to hear. It doesn’t mean I end up liking all I hear, but the hit rate’s high enough to keep me paying attention instead of throwing up my arms in despair and hitting shuffle on the collection I’ve already amassed.

Right now, all these social network music sites are being promoted as appealing to “music fans in search of new music” without differentiating amongst the kinds of searching for that music we’re willing to do. I predict that this ever-expanding marketplace is going to break down into niches based on the different search strategies people enjoy.