Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Archive for September 2008

Is snark killing the web?

“There’s this ‘new generation’ that has grown up online only knowing blogs as having snarky comment areas and never realizing it used to be a personal, intimate space where you’d never say anything in a comment that you wouldn’t say to a friend’s face.”

That’s a quote from Matt Haughey, a quote that’s haunted me for a month, ever since I saw it on Rex Sorgatz’s Fimoculous blog.

Rex and Matt are self-identified members of the “old guard” — guys that started blogging before blogging was cool — before journal scripts and social networking sites put every angsty teenager and every narcissistic college student on the web.

I started my first blog in 1992, when web publishing required a degree of technical skill. The requirement for HTML coding created a barrier to entry, so the only people who had blogs were geeks who already made web pages for a living, or dedicated diarists who really had something to say.

Or, in my case, people who were so simultaneously lonely and full of themselves that every random thought in their head was deemed worthy of publication.
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Written by Michael B. Duff

September 29, 2008 at 04:07

Posted in Culture

Can Sarah Palin be a Feminist?

If you’d asked me last month, I would have said Obama had this election locked up.

His campaign had all the energy, all the enthusiasm, all the media buzz and most of the press behind it.

The coolest stars in Hollywood were supporting him and a fresh new wave of Millennial voters were poised to sweep him in.

I’m not personally on the Obama bandwagon, but most of my friends are.

I felt the culture was firmly with Obama but I couldn’t tell if this was a clear observation or simply my own distorted perception, ruined by a circle of cheeky local Democrats and my (somewhat embarrassing) obsession with New York blogs.

The New York blog culture is in love with Obama, to a degree that approaches religious fanaticism. Tired of watching GenY turn their noses up and sneer at everything important in life? Be careful what you wish for.
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Written by Michael B. Duff

September 26, 2008 at 19:49

Posted in Politics

Why the Seinfeld Microsoft ads aren't funny

Bill Gates circa 1983When the big guys get it right, I have nothing to write about.

Good ideas, smart marketing, successful product launches — none of this is funny.

But when the big guys get it wrong, totally spectacularly wrong, it makes my little black heart go thump.

Microsoft has just launched a new ad campaign — a $300 million ad campaign to promote Windows, or something. I assume the ad is selling Windows, but I’m actually just guessing. This commercial is so bad, it ends up looking like a public service spot for leather shoes.

In the ad, Jerry spies Bill getting poor service at “Shoe Circus” and rides to the rescue. Bill gets some shoes and Jerry launches into a vague joke-like ramble that advocates wearing shoes in the shower.

“You’re dressed, and you’re clean!” Jerry says, with a stale whiff of self-parody. Feel free to pause for a moment and grab your sides. I’ll wait.

It’s one thing for an ad to fail, all right? Anybody can take a chance and get it wrong. What makes this failure so epic is that it takes no chances, plays it utterly safe and still manages to get it wrong.
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Written by Michael B. Duff

September 18, 2008 at 17:29

Posted in Microsoft, TV

New iTunes is smarter than it looks

My favorite picture of Steve Jobs.I’m not an Apple fanboy, OK?

Sure, I have posters and brochures and newsletters and stuff, but that’s all part of my job. Kind of.

It’s not like I sit around watching Apple keynote speeches, penning love letters to Steve Jobs. OK, once. But I was young and cover flow was new.

And maybe sometimes I look at his picture to help me sleep. It’s not creepy until you buy a frame for it.

Steve (I call him Steve) released a new version of iTunes on Wednesday unleashing a host of new features. And by “host,” I mean two.
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Written by Michael B. Duff

September 11, 2008 at 22:15

Posted in Apple