The Pop Game

The Hollywood Stock Exchange has an offshoot in IMX, the interactive music exchange. In both games, you buy and sell the popularity of popular culture products, and then redeem your virtual earnings for real-world promotional goods and logo merchandise. The sponsors behind IMX are MuchMusic, a Canada-based music video channel, who get not only brand recognition but also good market data for their troubles.

They really do have some neat ideas to go with the game: a TV show centered on the IMX game plays the big IMX movers and shakers, both established large-cap and up-and-coming small-cap artists. There’s a dedication service where you can not only request songs, but have the person emailed to let them know you’ve send them a special message– which is often an insult. Plus, it’s a pretty sophisticated market. You can even short-sell artists you think are overplayed, although pump and dump schemes and other market manipulations are punishable by confiscation of your assets, a trading suspension, or permanent banishment from the game.

Needless to say, I’ve been playing a little, but I’m sure they’ve got me in the junk-data pile, since I’ve confessed to not getting the TV station and being over 25. People sometimes complain about targeted advertising or other forms of user profiling but I’m not opposed to it. I mean, if I were still 20 and watched these videos, I probably would want the shirt to go with it, and I’d want bands I liked to get on the show. Since I’m not, and I don’t want the shirt, there’s no reason I should influence the show, even if I influence the game.

See, every data collection process should involve weeding. I’ve seen sales-lead forms at trade shows that ask “are you a student?” meaning, essentially, “should we just circular-file your info right now?” It sounds callous or rude, but it’s not. If you’re a college student, do you want to be contacted by the sales team and persuaded to discuss twenty or thirty grand worth of rackmount blade servers? No. They could almost ask “OK if sales calls you?” but then people would say no, even if they were potential customers. It’s still easy enough to lie and get your info ignored– just say you make no money, watch no tv, never buy CDs, cars, clustered data servers, electrophoresis equipment. Alternately, to win promotional keychains and junk mail, just claim to be part of whatever demographic they’re aiming for. It’s just marketing data. It’s not like it’s your insurance records.

Fun Pak Assortment

From funny to useful to horrific, an assortment of links I’ve collected over the past few days:
Minims: like a maxim, but with no actual moral or value.

I can only hope that the next wedding I attend will be exciting enough to involve arrests and pepper spray.

The escalating war on drugs in Thailand means that drug dealers and cops are racing to have more magical firepower.

Certain people are losing patience with crappy software.

Bush losing patience with Iraq? I’m losing patience with my neighbors!

Meanwhile, the foreign service is losing patience with Bush.

Warren Buffet writes annual update letters chock-full of Nebraskan multibillionaire wisdom.

AIDS in Africa: worse than you thought.

Trade Rag for the Rag Trade

Trade magazines are the primary documents of what’s going on right now, the bits of information that will become news tomorrow and history ten years from now.

Half the time they’re full of barely-disguised press releases and ads, but often enough there’s real news in them, waiting to reach the mainstream press. Things like Refrigerated and Frozen Foods, and its coverage of Hungry Man Dinners. Sure, that’s a glowing report focused only on Swanson’s upside, but it says to me: American men are killing themselves in record numbers. Heart attacks in the next ten years will not decrease. Obesity epidemic will not, uh, shrink. Or, for example, the very existence of Government Security Magazine, a new publication covering the new industry of homeland security.

I even like the ads, because they aren’t aimed at consumers. You see business in a way that it’s not usually presented to the public, insight into the way things are when you’re not looking.

And there are so many that you can subscribe to: magazines about catalogs, about soft drinks and water, about repossession, pensions, pizza. There’s even a site and magazine about trade magazines and how they work. And the advertising itself tells you what people are trying to sell, who’s buying it, and why.

Once I met a woman who wrote for Beverage World. She was surprised that I had heard of the magazine, and completely bowled over by the fact that I thought it was interesting. I guess, as a technical writer, I have a weird sense of interesting.