I am frequently struck by the similarities between the techy element of advertising and the progessive (prog) rock music of the mid 1970s. Though not old enough to remember that period, i was always fascinated by historical accounts of the musical excesses of the time . This was truly the era of Spinal Tap. Rick Wakeman, keyboardist for Yes, once staged a lumbering King Arthur keyboard-based rock opera epic live, on ice! complete with ice skating characters in appropriate period attire. no one could see the show because of all the dry ice they pumped out. and then the real ice melted. it was a complete fiasco.
The famous spinal tap “stonehenge” stage prop misunderstanding actually happened to black sabbath. but in reverse! their stonehenge was way too big for the stage. not that sabbath were prog rock. they probably were low-maintenance compared the prog rockers with their 12 minute epics about elves and goblins.
now obviously i am generalizing here but this is my impression of how the new media “thought leaders” talk and how much it reminds me of the halcyon days of tight-fitting flared trousers.
Prog Rock was a case of losing the plot. The result of too much freedom. Too much indulgence. Not enough conflict to keep it sharp. Web 2.9 ad folks exhibit similar symptoms.
Another problem with prog rock, and with online, is that “anything goes”. if peter gabriel wanted one side of a genesis album to consist of just the tolling of a church bell, he probably would have gotten his way. and prog fans would have eaten it up. no limits man! don’t you try to impose your structures on me man! Skittles new website IS exciting and innovative! regardless of reality or your opinion of it old man.
there is a similar discouragement of analysis with respect to the internet and advertising. and i fear a lot of it is based on the fact that a lot of the “experts” haven’t actually done a whole heck of a lot of actually selling things on the internet. and so don’t really know what they’re talking about. and are understandably paranoid that they will be revealed as the charlatans that they are.
Prog rock was utopian. it lived in fantasy. both thematically and in terms of the bands’ lives. bombast and excess sold records. so that was encouraged.
A lot of online ad talk is similarly utopian…one day all products and companies will be amazing! why don’t the stupid marketers just hurry up and only invent stuff that’s amazing cool and awesome where the marketing is “baked in”? what’s the hold-up?
prog rock lacked humanity. it was inward-looking noodling. these guys weren’t trying to move you. you didn’t really matter. they committed the cardinal sin of rock and roll. they forgot to rock.
online new media ad chatter is similarly unconcerned with selling stuff. and so commits the cardinal sin of advertising. instead you’re supposed to be building community and surrendering control of your brand. or something like that.
Therefore, the logical next step then is a punk revolution where woolly thinking is replaced by short, sharp jolts.