Friday, September 30, 2011

STR8 SOUNDS on your death bed VIDEO

Str8 Sounds "On Your Death Bed"

From "Mighty Mental Angels" CD.

What will you think about
when you're on your death bed?
Will you regret a while
things you did and said?
What will you think about
on your death bed?
Will images of insanity
flow through your head?
All the stupid things you did
and all that folly
will you regret it and
will you be sorry?
Don't come over here
and try to tell me
that life is just a
fantastic ride for thee.
Don't tell me you've got one hand
grasping to chocolate
the other has a glass of champagne
and you like to talk a lot.
Don't tell that your life
is just a ride dizzy
and by chasing pleasures
is how you keep yourself busy.
You are a prisoner
of your selfish ego
and where your lusts point
that is where you go.
I was like that and in fact
I still am too often, the attack
is ruining us, putting us down.
We are deaf, we cannot hear the sound
of God calling us in His love and mercy.
But still what will you
think about when you're dead?
All those stupid things you did and said?
On your death bed
as you approach the end of your life
will you be proud of all the
suffering and strife
you contributed to in this land
all the things you did
at your command
the back of your hand?
Will you regret the things you did?
All the things you did and said
on your death bed?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Diaspora Deal Breaker or Why Designers Hate Readable Text

I signed up to be a Disaspora early tester and now that this new social media site is in alpha, I was sent an invite to join and give it a test drive.

Use this link to Sign up for a Diaspora invite. Check out the Diaspora blog for more information.

I've been on Diaspora for two days now, and I already hate it. Why? Because I can't read anything. Their designers have made a bad, but common, decision: most of the text is light grey on a white background.

Designers may say light colored text on a white or light colored background is "subtle" or "subdued" or aesthetically pleasing. I know why they say such stupid things. They don't like text. That's right. They prefer their art designs and pictures and drawings and photos and borders and boxes. They don't like to read. They don't like text. Text just gets in the way of their design.

Don't believe me? You should. I've worked with artists and designers, both on the web and in print advertising and direct mail, for decades. They're basically all the same.

I used to tell them, "That's the headline. Make it big" and other such things, because, bless their hearts, they just were not oriented to text. They were trained to focus on colors and shapes and figures and grids, but not on words. Words were alien to their sensibilities. I'm not saying they are all illiterate. I'm not saying they don't read books now and then. What I'm saying is that they have a blind spot when it comes to text. Words are just not their cup of tea.

Remember when music was distributed on CDs? If you have any music CDs sitting around in a box somewhere collecting dust, go grab it and look at the artwork. I'll bet you that 8 out of 10 CD covers and inserts are beautiful or interesting to look at, but difficult to read. CD cover artists are notorious for making text, the song listing and musician information, nearly impossible to read.

Designers think text is just another graphic element. One that they don't like dealing with.

They don't see their job as being to create a lovely or compelling setting for the text. Designers want to emphasize their design. They see text as an intrusion, an invasion, a non-pleasing interruption in their color fields. If they could, they'd eliminate text, and just have pictures and other graphic elements. In fact, there are some music CDs that are mysterious and contain no textual information. You have to just know that it's the new album by such and such band.

The music CD itself is another good example. How many music CDs, the plastic disk itself, has no textual information on it? Think way back when those ancient disks were what you listened to music with. Recall how many had just some artistic image on them. You had to just know and remember who the artist was and which album it was.

Hatred of text. This is a deal breaker for me.

If Diaspora does not make text more readable on their social media site, I'm done with it.

Doesn't anybody do usability testing anymore?

Monday, September 12, 2011

RIP Johnny Cash on 8th year anniversary of his death

Here's what real, socially conscious Christian music sounds like. If a Christian band never sings about the poor and downtrodden, the miserable rich and the negligent materialists, the corrupt power structures and misguided patriotism, it's not a spiritual band. 

Jesus himself didn't just praise and worship God with his hands flapping around in the air. He got up and helped people, fed the poor, healed the sick, and condemned the religious leaders and oppressors.

"On this day in 2003, Johnny Cash, American singer/songwriter, died of respiratory failure at the age of 71. He traditionally started his concerts by saying, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash."

I can’t think of anyone apart from Elvis who has had such an influence and hold on musical culture for over 40 years, the singer became an imposing and influential figure. Johnny Cash didn't sound like county music from Nashville, nor did he sound like a rock and roll singer. He created his own sub-genre, halfway between folk, rock and roll, and the world-weariness of country.....

He is the only person to be inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame AND The Songwriter's Hall of Fame. The image of the Man In Black is as deeply American as the stars and stripes themselves."

-- Neil Cossar, The Morton Report "Johnny Cash: He Walked the Line"

Johnny Cash - "Man In Black"

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.


Johnny Cash 
video on YouTube.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Truth about Brands and Branding

"Brands" as a term has slowly evolved into a clever euphemism for corporations, companies, businesses -- although it originally was meant to refer to a product line and the themes associated with it.


The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. The legal term for brand is trademark. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller. If used for the firm as a whole, the preferred term is trade name."

A brand can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, color combination or slogan. The word branding began simply as a way to tell one person's cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp. The word brand has continued to evolve to encompass identity — it affects the personality of a product, company or service.

-- Wikipedia "Brand"


Now "brand" is a word that dubious or malicious companies hide behind as they launch their exploitation machinery on a hapless public.

Marketing people speak of such silly things as "people engaging in conversations with our brand" and "brand interactions". But nobody is seeking to "interact with a brand". People seek solutions to problems -- and sincere companies who genuinely care about their customers and listen to them.

A "brand" is something they want you to trust and swear allegiance to. It started in full force when corporate logos became trendy on clothing back in the 1980s, so that dumb consumers thought it was hip to be unpaid, walking advertisements for Nike, Coca Cola, Apple, Calvin Klein, etc. I think of such people as "brand zombies".

A "brand" is a second level abstraction, an artificially construed personality or aura that is strategically imposed upon a product or product line. Branding is not generally derived from any true benefit or characteristic of a product, but is invented by an advertising agency. It is fundamentally synonymous with "positioning".

You need to define a product and differentiate it from competitors, so you proclaim your product to be "the choice of the younger generation" (Pepsi) or "what the rich elites all use" (Rolex) or "the must-have item for a true geek" (iPhone).

The word "brand" thus acts as a cloaking device, to soothe and pacify critique, and make the public feel good. It often refers primarily to the colors, design artifacts, messaging, and feelings that they hope are invigorated within a customer as they shell out their hard earned money for miscellaneous crap.

A "brand" is thus an image, a concept that ad agencies hope to wrap a product in, so that people get excited about the product, because of the hype and status associated with the product, and not necessarily on any true assessment of the worth or value of the product.

The true definition of "branding" is "that mental impression that is burned into the consciousness of a customer as they use a product to solve a problem or enhance a lifestyle."

No matter what "branding" campaign and slogans the ad agencies sling around, the mark that is "branded" on the hide of the consumer's mind is the only thing that really matters. And this authentic branding or mental positioning is not under the control of any ad agency, as it happens independently, in real life situations of product usage.

This is why it is vital to probe the minds of customers and discover what they think about a product.

You should consider using their ideas about the product, even their exact words, in your marketing, what actual users appreciate about it, rather than trying to impose some random idea upon the product, which may not be intrinsic to the product or the way users feel about it.

A contrived aura for a product can collapse from the sheer weight of its falseness, leaving you with disappointed customers and negative word of mouth advertising.

A good example of this is "brand Obama", which many former supporters are becoming disgruntled with, compelling them to seek a new brand to replace it. Other brands that are in trouble recently, for various reasons, include Yahoo, Readers Digest, NPR, Sara Lee, Frontier Airlines, Michelob, Milwaukee's Best, Facebook, T-Mobile, RadioShack, Office Depot, E*Trade, Gateway, and AOL.


Forbes "The Trouble With My Brand is Me"

Yahoo Finance "10 Brands That May Disappear in 2011"

Daily Finance "10 American Companies That May Disappear in 2011"

Monday, September 5, 2011

Late One Night FILM

Late One Night

A Dave Christiano Films presentation.

I used to show this film to my students when I taught junior high Sunday school. I have a collection of many other Christiano films. All of them are well-written and interesting, being realistic portrayals of faith in a broken world, with flawed believers and difficult situations.

Late One Night, and several other Dave Christiano films, have a Twilight Zone feel to them.

At age 28, in the summer of 1985, Dave wrote, produced and directed his first film called The Daylight Zone. It was a Christian version of the old TV series, The Twilight Zone. Dave's brother Rich Christiano co-financed the project. Filmed in south Texas, the movie was shot on 16mm film and released by Christiano Brothers Films in the spring of 1986.