“Hi, I’m an Elitist” - “And I’m a Tool”

Posted in Mac on July 3rd, 2006 by Дмитрий

As much as our society pretends to love the geek and the ‘creative class’, there really is a subtle war against genuine geeks and nerds.

I’ve contemplated making a rather caustic journal entry about Americans for the Arts, a group that thinks getting kids interested in art is more important than letting them be interested in things they otherwise latch onto (their commercials specifically attacked kids interested in urban planning and accounting, which is why I took such personal offense).

Now we have good ol’ Apple Computer. Their new commercials also join in on this anti-nerd campaign.

“Hi I’m a Mac”.

“And I’m a PC”.

The commercial which specifically bugs me is the one where the gross metrosexual Mac guy says he does “fun stuff” whilst the geeky corporate PC guy says he *also* does fun stuff like spreadsheets and pie charts and stuff.

The gist of the commercial is to portray the PC guy, who thinks spreadsheets and financials are “fun” as some bad tool of Microsoft, implicitly branding the PC’s preferred geekery as wrong, or at least “uncool.”

I’ve never really been under the illusion that I was cool. But I will say that I’m perfectly happy playing around with spreadsheets, creating budgets and messing around with my personal finances. Excel is one of my favorite programs ever invented, and I use it for personal entertainment almost as much as I do for work.

I do most of this on a Mac. I understand the reason for the campaign is to portray Macs as more fun - which I personally agree they are. However, the campaign is ineffective if it’s method of building such portrayal is by demeaning a legitimate human interest. Just goes to show that even when pop culture makes pretenses at deifying geekery, it’s always a hip, whitewashed and alienating image when actual nerds and geeks come face to face with it and realize, still, that they just don’t belong.

What if we did something like make the Mac guy a white guy who says something like “I’m good at dominating macroeconomics and running multinational corporations” and the PC guy was a black guy who said “And I’m good at basketball and starring as token stereotypes in brainless action movies”, after which the white guy makes some condescending remark about how his professions are more important or morally superior.

I don’t really see much difference between the two scenarios. One is simply more explicit in its portrayal of paternalistic elitism.


Posted in Uncategorized on July 11th, 2006 by Дмитрий

One great thing about living in a Non-World-Class-City is that there should be no threat that the Olympics will stop by and ruin it.

Fast Food Fubar

Posted in Uncategorized on July 11th, 2006 by Дмитрий

Anyone in the quick-service food industry or anyone know anyone who can answer this for me something?

There are several places I visit for quick meals. One enragingly annoying habit I’ve seen crop up in both national chain locations and small-biz places is the switch from numbered orders to “can I have your name?” orders.

My name is “Mark”. About 5% of the population of any moderate- to large-sized American city will have this same name. Why on Earth would using my name to ID my order be more efficient, from a business-utility perspective, than a numbered order?

It can’t be that they don’t have the ability to number orders - if they’re a large chain there is probably already a number on the ticket that their Diebold receipt printer produces. If they’re a small mom-and-pop that still used old-fashioned equipment or hand-written orders/receipts, then they could easily stop by OfficeMax and buy a pad of pre-numbered carbonless receipts for $1.99.

I’ve seen frustration strike more than one customer due to mistaken orders, from Taco Bell to Miguel’s Tacos, when they call out “Jose” and four guys walk up to get their order. So it can’t be an efficiency issue or a customer service solution.

After surveying some acquaintances, it seems the consensus is that this is all done because consumers are idiots who can’t keep track of a simple number on a receipt. How on Earth do these idiots keep track of their own names, then?!

All I can think of is that they think calling out their customer’s first name gives the transaction some sort of home-town personability or cuteness which is beyond me. Large markets for mass-consumer products (like tacos and bagels) are incredibly hard to differentiate qualitatively, and thus they think that if they demonstrate a greater degree of “human contact” they’ll beat out their competitor for your loyalty.

Here’s a hint - I don’t have much consumer loyalty to many brands or undifferentiated outlets. Where I do it’s usually a brand or store that has a monopoly over the product I want. There are times where I coincidentally express loyalty to a merchant who has consistently demonstrated superior quality, price or selection from his competitors over a long period of time to the point where I feel checking out the competition is a waste of time. There are also cases where I become (or already was) a friend or acquaintance with an individual who runs or works with a company I frequent, in which case I get real personal recognition and genuine human contact with people I know and care about and thus am willing to give preference to over the competition for reasons other than price, quality, or exclusivity.

We ecumenical individualists are a dying breed, apparently, since it seems the logic of our consumer behavior is the exception rather than the norm. Otherwise so many vendors would not be so consistently moving to a business practice which is so incredibly annoying and stupid.