What’s the Best Automatic Signature?

I was not able to find a ‘best practices’ site or space on the ‘net listing the best “personalised” automatic signatures (which one can add on to the end of emails). Recently, I have noticed a couple of novel signatures tacked on to messages sent from smart phones — if not smart friends! I thought I would share them with you, as well as suggest a few others to start a possible best practices meme on the topic of automatic signatures… (if only Facebook would allow the same, don’t you think?)

1/ “Sent from small keyboard – pls excuse the brevity” (from Brad C)
2/ “Sent via Blackberry Handheld – Please excuse typos” (from Charlie H)

My own suggestions, trying to look at a more positive spin:

3/ “Think before you print (even if it’s a stretch to think to print from your iPhone”
4/ “Sent from my iPhone. In virtual heaven.”
5/ “Sent from my blackberry, while in a boring meeting.”
6/ “Typed in the toilet.”

Lastly, in total disclosure, here is the one I am currently using on my iPhone:

7/ “Sent from my iPhone… so, please excuse the virtual typos, merely a figment of the imagination.”

Automatic Signature Message

Would be very glad to hear of other suggestions out there!

Scroogled by Cory Doctorow

ScroogledWell, I have been touting the fact that our on-line presence will become our CV in the future. Cory Doctorow has another spin that is wholly mind blowing. I’d summarize the story as Orwell meets The Matrix…on speed.

SCROOGLED. A long read on a computer screen, but a worthwhile one for people who enjoy imagining the future.

Scroogled is by Cory Doctorow who wrote this Creative Commons-licensed fiction story for Radar Online magazine.

Americans in Iraq in WWII

Came across this braniac posting that a book written in 1943, “Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq during World War II,” has been re-issued. Among the great pieces of advice: don’t refuse a second cup of coffee, or the third. But it is customary to refuse the fourth. I had no idea that the Americans were present in Iraq in the WWII. Truly, WWII was as www as anything we might find on the net.

Ayn Rand and Malcolm Gladwell link (Blink!)

I have long extolled the philosophical writings of Ayn Rand. In the States, in certain circles, her name and writings are typically well known. In Paris, other than my wife (who is a big fan, too), I have yet to find a French person who knows her. Atlas Shrugged (La Révolte d’Atlas) and The Fountainhead (La Source Vive) have been seminal books in my life. Finding an Any Rand in French bookstores is already a major challenge. [Pour mes amis français: Amazon lien pour La Source Vive, mais La Révolte d’Atlas n’est pas disponible sur Amazon! Un forum intéressant entretemps]. Another book I enjoyed, along with the intimate million people was Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. Well, just recently I ran(d) into an article (critique) demonstrating the link between Blink and Ayn Rand’s objectivism, citing in particular “The Romantic Manifesto.” And for you Rand fans, here’s a glimpse of a fan club site (altho member signup needed) The Atlastphere.

50th Anniversary for Kerouac’s On The Road

This year is the 50th anniversary for Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” As I discovered in crawling some blogs, Kerouac had pretensions on French aristocratic lineage, although apparently his name is Breton. I don’t know about you, but there’s always been of On the Road in me. Happily I can satisfy the urge with the occasional random road trip that we, as a family, undertake (as we did in Turkey this summer). Felicitations a Kerouac… French or American, I must say that I can still relate. Not alone in my adulation for Kerouac, I note that he was hugely influential in Jerry Garcia’s life. And, for those of you who haven’t read the biography by McNally, “A Long Strange Trip,” Kerouac’s life was instrumental in many ways for the Dead, including the wonderful, “On the Road Again.” I will post a live performance of that song.

Merging fields of ad, web and creative agencies

As the marketing world and consumer behaviour evolve, one of the more interesting battle grounds involves the creative process and production. When a marketer plans to make a communication campaign or a shift in brand image, he/she now has a number of alternatives.

As part of any good creative, there is the interrogation on the identity of the brand, questioning on the objectives and strategies…and measurements and channels … and mix of media content, and buzz and memes. All that, plus figuring out the internal decision making processes and/or internal IT challenges (does the boss know about facebook yet…). In short, in a multi-multi-multi world, who should one turn to?

* The (struggling) traditional ad agency trying to stay in the game. Laced with ‘old fashioned’ good sense & strategy, reliable — if not exciting — creative, heavy structures and a little slow in turnaround. Web 2.0 typically considered an alien being. Some have turned a corner, but there’s plenty of work to do.

* The traditional agency’s new fangled integrated or in-house web agency. The bonus is good old fashioned brand values. Some nerds trying to fit in with an agency culture. Otherwise, the risk is old agency style costs.

* The still young independent web agency, fraught with inexperience (misfits in a stodgy corporate world). Vying for credibility, light in consultancy, weak in structure, yet (hopefully) daring in proposition. At best, run by an agency stalwart looking for a new gig.

* A communications expert or consultancy — after all, it’s all about communication (not selling) these days.

* Marketing/brand consultant — appropriate for strategy. But, most of the creative is still going to have to be outsourced. Pay them for breaking the mold.

* Production company — definitely an option with direct access to the client (ever more versed in the lingo), a habit of last minute hup-to, digital equipment, reduced overhead & wannabe creatives. Reminds me of the struggle between architect and contractor. Creative versus budgets.

* The consumer. Slave labour in disguise? Generally in touch with the brand, if not pure consumer sentiment. Something original if not excellent…but just for now.

* Yourself. Have Apple; Will Travail. Can be a little lonely. Need to be super brilliant or super asocial.

In all, it’s a manic world out there. At some point, the main deal will again return to content. In the interim, we have people’s eyeballs are zeroing in on the social networks and other spaces of likemindedness — and, importantly, spaces where sponsors have yet to infiltrate. In all of the above choices, there will be a need for discriminating minds, able writing and flexible wiring to stay up with the Jones’ (literally). Lots of choices to rock your boat. Who will best keep you afloat? And, probably still lots of room for consolidation.

My (truly) favorite books

Have you ever been recommended a book where the person starts with, “Boy do I have a book for you, you’ll love it…”? Without even buying or reading the book, I often stop to think what impression the person has of me that would make them recommend it. After reading the recommended book, the statement [about yourself] becomes obviously clearer, if not always accurate. In an effort for better accuracy in your recommendations, I thought it would be appropriate to start with books I have devoured and loved.

And, on this note, I have long maintained my TOP TEN favorite book list. The usual suspects litter the list and, I now confide, my original list was far too “classic” (Anna Karenina, Tale of Two Cities, The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe…). I am now feeling some kind of literary maturity and have been garnering a new definition of what are my favorite books–and why. Moreover, any such list should be organic and dynamic, allowing for introspection, if not extrospection.

For a start, there doesn’t have to be ten. There are as many as I can justify. So here goes:

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell 2004. A thriller, if largely through a mountain of syntax, Cloud Atlas is innovative writing combined with a gripping storyline and a vital social message.
Time’s Arrow, by Martin Amis 1991. An exercise in patience well rewarded for this uncanny short novel on a very sensitive subject; with clever underlying messages devolved via the reversal of time, discourse and plot.
First Love, by Ivan Turgenev 1860. Maybe I like this novella more because of a nostalgia (of the time I read the book) than excellence of the book itself, but First Love is captivating prose, even in translation, and has a twist at the end that challenges our initial perceptions.
Dr Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak 1958. A better book than film, even if I love the film, too. This book is one reason why I like to write myself, and certainly contributed to the reason why I wanted to learn Russian.
The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand 1943. Aged poorly in terms of writing, but seminal in terms of my own life philosophy. Howard Roark is a model.

The World According to Garp, by John Irving 1978. Best of Irving. Sense of humor, sense of humanity, sense of hope.
Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce 1916. Magical lyrical prose. His best work.
Damage, by Josephine Hart 1991. Not well known, but wicked and painfully insightful, written in 1st person for greater guilt. One quote to stir your interest from the protagonist (if not pure agonist):

“Former GP now MP, I thought I was enjoying middle age. But nothing in a life anaesthetized by success, wealth and contentment has prepared me for my encounter with Ann Barton. Femme fatale, innocent catalyst for disaster or instrument of pure evil, she wrenches me into hyper-consciousness with a lethal dose of my own, hitherto hidden, frenziedly addictive medicine.”

What books would you recommend now?

Blogger as journalist

I have recently found out about the presence of “pro bono” blogger, Matthew Lee, who has been accepted at the United Nations as part of the press corps — see www.InnerCityPress.com. Lee is part of 200 full-time permanent correspondents at the UN. This brings up the question of what or who exactly is a journalist? In a land of free speech, it becomes very tricky to “rubber stamp” who is allowed to cover the news and, with the ever increasing presence of blogs, to control or censure it. As it is, figuring out the bias of certain newspapers (or TV stations, etc.) is already a fun exercise. On top of worrying about the thoroughness and/or veracity, here we need to consider whether the blogger can become an advocate of one or another camp. And, I can only imagine how President Putin is trying to figure out how to manage (read: subdue) that “individual” press — given how he has been clamping down on the traditional press channels and given the Russian heritage for clandestine writing (see samizdat), one can only imagine the scope of the upcoming struggle.

Text versus Image

Went to a seminar held by ANVIE in Paris. We discussed in general the changing landscape of the new media. Joseph Jaffe’s book “Life after the 30 second spot” was cited at the beginning, along with the Ries’ and Zyman’s book on the end of advertising (as we know it), to set the stage. You have to enjoy how the internet and the new media options are pushing the traditional media to be more inventive. This McDonald’s ad in Chicago tells you what time of day it is (sundial) as well as what you should be eating at that time. Among the many debates along the day, the one I enjoyed the most was the preeminence of image over text. What stirred people’s attention most was that it was positioned as a break with Judeo-Christian background which was more text-based than image–the Bible being central to that concept. One person in the room, departing from the core presentation, needed to express dissent as she felt Catholicism is replete with image. In any event, the interesting component to the discussion was that, while image is clearly a dominant element on the web and that we are working in an abstract, imaginary community-seeking world, there is some return to the value of text — text as content. Naturally, without playing to the mediatic strength of the format in which the text is presented (i.e. adding pictures or video, etc.), the audience’s reach and captivity will be diminished.

Getting Strung Along… String Theory II

I heard a segment out of a Robin Sharma podcast that struck a chord, as they say. It was about a poem, written in sanskrit, that goes like this:

“Spring has past, summer has gone and winter is here. And The song that I meant to sing has remained unsung. I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument.” And it makes me consider, once again, that we are all, in substance, strings.

Some of you know that I have been pondering what it would be like to create a new religion … from scratch. So, I must admit that I haven’t yet pushed it to the end result, but I do like the concept of creating and building a “religion;” that is, in an environment that allows the freedom to do so. In the end of the day, in line with my personality, I don’t really want to create a religion per se as that’s not part of my gestalt. It is more like I want to create a new philosophy. A philosophy that sets out to answer some unexplainable questions and, possibly, helps guide us in our daily challenge to understand life. And, in this mind of a marketer, it is not unlike the concept of creating a brand . However, I am fundamentally interested in the process as much as the end product.

The Action Plan is as follows:

  • Some groundwork: know your competition. analyze all existing and past religions (to be sure to create a new territory).
  • Formulate thesis
  • Develop comprehensive writings
  • Qualify to anyone reading this that you are not entirely nuts.
  • Consider roll out plan
  • Find accolytes
  • Develop franchise concept
  • Sit back and retire

From the instant I came across the String Theory, I became a profound, if laic, believer. The String Theory — and the light it sheds on who we are [or could be] — goes along with Ayn Rand’s determinism as two pieces of the puzzle that have brought much enlightenment in my life. I’ll need to develop this philosohpy which, perhaps sadly, may only represent an updating of the masterful “The Tao of Physics” by Fritjof Capra. Nonetheless, when I get some spare time, I would like to develop further this philosophy, that I shall baptise for the moment as stringism theory. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the issue remains as to what religious instruction we might want to give to our children. As atheists, we (my wife and I) don’t subscribe even to the need of a religion. Nonetheless, religion represents an integral part of history and is an essential part of our culture. As an atheist, how does one pass along a substitute to religion? What strings do you think need to be pulled to provide a spiritual education? I look forward to your comments.