Sunday, April 03, 2011

"Facebook" revolutionaries

(At right: Not a Facebook revolutionary)

The great Bill James (the great baseball thinker, not the great crime writer) committed a sin years ago that would be positively heretical in today's America: He was sober and clear-eyed about information technology.

That's right. The father of the new generation of baseball statistics, the author of studies and projections involving mounds of data that would have been impossible without computers, knew that computers were nothing more than tools. There's no such thing as "computer information," he wrote, just good information, bad information, true information or false information.

Today, I find it comical and vaguely pathetic that news outlets report on "Facebook revolutionaries" in the Middle East, treating social upheaval as if it were the next-generation smart phone — just one more consumer product. At best, this smacks of middle-agers' desperate eagerness to be down with what the kids are thinking. At worst it implies a will to ignorance of the historical, political, religious, economic, personal and other social forces that really drive revolutions. Either that, or an easy hook on which media outlets can hang their stories.

So, to paraphrase Bill James, I'll say that, as useful as social media may be to activists in the Middle East, there's no such thing as Facebook revolutionaries, just oppressed revolutionaries, religious revolutionaries, violent revolutionaries, peaceful revolutionaries, maybe even good and bad revolutionaries. The medium is not the message.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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109 Comments:

Blogger Dana King said...

I've read James's work since 1982. He has smart things to say about a lot more than baseball, even when they're used to describe a baseball phenomenon.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, I'm never joking when I call Bill James one of the sharpest thinkers on any subject that I know of. I have told people who have no interest in baseball that they might nonetheless find James worthwhile.

It's a shame that some people think he's all about numbers. Not so. For James, the numbers and the weird statistics are only tools to achieve understanding. He's a pretty funny writer, too.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

I'm just getting on to McLuhan through my Finnegans Wake group, so I'll have to get back to you on whether I think McLuhan was right or wrong about that. I mean, once I understand what he is actually saying.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I wanted to avoid mentioning McCluhan since I haven't read him for years. I could tell other than in the most superficial way what he meant by "the medium is the message."

Whatever his theories entail, the medium has overshadowed the message in much media coverage of the current turmoil in the Muslim world.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Agreed.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

As long as you dont drift into the camp of that pseudo intellectual Malcolm Gladwell who has complained about this along similar lines.

But I do agree with Bill James. I respect and admire James's take on baseball and life.

Have you ever read any Neil Postman? Amusing Ourselves To Death, I think, is a neglected clasic.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

My problem with media and myself is how controlling it is. I think I'm thinking for myself, or at least that my interests are my own but I am as susceptible as anyone to being turned on and off by the news. I'm noticing it particularly now, as the Middle East, the midwest, and Japan have all vied for my attention. But if I don't happen to be tuned into it via my usual news sources, I am not thinking about any of this at all. Well, mostly.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, what has your man Gladwell complained about? My quarrel is with media coverage that is content to use catch labels without explaining why they're necessary.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm thinking also that if and when stability returns to these countries (may it happen soon!) Facebook may have a whole lot more data on a whole lot more people.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, try to read some history or literature from the affected areas. Gather perspective from unexpected places.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I haven't read Postman. I do know that you like him, I've also read opinions that call him a bit of a Chicken Little.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The question is, is Facebook a defining characteristic of these revolutionaries or an incidental one?

April 03, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Reading is good, but it's what grabs our attention and then let's it go that I'm talking about. Just saw news from the Financial Times via Slate that BP is set to resume drilling in the Gulf, after all that. Because our attention has now lapsed on this one.

I'm still old school enough to resist Facebook, but it's facebook, twitter, texting, email and mobile phones with cameras that are the real interface. When anyone might have a camera with sound, out in the open or smuggled in, then nothing is the same.

Is it?

April 03, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And I'm old-school enough to believe that if anything can be put out on the Internet, it will be. I fear that with everything so immediate, all the responses we on the outside see will become visceral and emotional. I'm not sure that's good.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

I dont know, the sky looks pretty shaky to me.

I buy the thesis of Amusing Ourselves To Death much more easily than those people at the TED conferences who tell us that video games and Facebook etc. somehow make us smarter.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

That's a very good point. I don't distrust emotional and visceral responses so much, but I also think that the intellect needs to be part of the equation.

On the other hand, things have been in a kind of stalemate for so many years, and emotions probably are the fuel for action and change. Although change isn't always good, I don't think that you can keep millions of people down forever and call it the status quo.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Adrian, I have been listening this evening to Michio Kaku being interviewed on Rick Kleffels show on his new book and though he is a cheerful sort, I don't think I would like to put my future in the blythe hands of physicists. They are a little too detached about immediate outcome for my liking.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, one man's change is an overthrow of a despotic political system and maybe the chance to make a life for himself. Another's is a new 4G smart phone.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I should refrain from comment until I read Postman, but I'm sympathetic to what I think he's trying to say. This discussion proceeds, after all, from skepticism of Facebook. I also believe that facile optimism is a disease.

April 03, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Well, I don't really see why you couldn't have both.

v word=comisher

April 04, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's a fine v-word. It's how a drunk greets the city's top police official.

This revolution will not be branded.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Revolution!©.

Maybe so, maybe not.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Glorious Revolution. The American Revolution. The Industrial Revolution.

The Facebook revolution? I think not.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

The revolution will not be televised.

But it will be tweeted.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I wonder if it's any easier to infiltrate twitter and facebook than it was older forms of clandestine communication. If I were overthrowing a government, I'd want to be damned sure I wasn't being lured message to a flash mob or a government cell.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Unless the call to arms was in the form of an award winning musical.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Do you suppose the composers of Les Miserables collected royalties in that performance?

April 04, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Good question. I doubt they need the money, but...

April 04, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, show tunes as protest music. I'll have to think about this.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

How are Facebook and Twitter different from Samizdat?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samizdat

Other than the speed and breadth with which a message can be spread I don't see much difference.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

There was probably less static in samizdat publications because they were by definition illegal, dangerous and potentially subversive. Social media, on the other hand, contain everything.

Perhaps I would be more in awe of social media's alleged transformative power if they were the only medium available to me -- and if I didn't have to read dopey cliches posted by celebrities or their paid representatives whenever I opened the Twitter home page.

April 04, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

What? Don't know any of those people. Also not active on Facebook, though I should be. Does anyone really care what everybody else is babbling about?

You know what happens when some anchor on CNN asks for people's opinions on Facebook or Twitter? Nothing people like better that a chance to express their opinion on absolutrely everything and have the whole world listen.


Or not.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger Photographe à Dublin said...

Gigi Ibrahim, who blogged about the Egyptian revolution, got a lot of coverage on radio and in main-stream media.

I have to admit I'm one of the people who follow the news at a safe distance, using it as a guide to where not to go.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I.J., my exposure to the babble is incidental. I joined Twitter and use a program that automatically posts notice of my blog posts to Twitter. To log on to Titter, at least from a computer, one first goes to the Twitter home page, then types in a password. That home page includes a rolling display of Twitter posts, many from celebrities. These are vacuous beyond belief.

"You know what happens when some anchor on CNN asks for people's opinions on Facebook or Twitter? Nothing people like better that a chance to express their opinion on absolutrely everything and have the whole world listen."

That's the real facebook revolution.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

P à D, a number of bloggers got coverage like that in mainstream media. More power to them. I'll be interested to see what they do with thier new fame. The Facebook revolution may turn out to be a recruiting camp for new pundits.

Following the news at a safe distance and using it as a guide in the manner you suggest is eminently sensible.

April 04, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

I'm with Adrian. Neil Postman's books on contemporary culture and in particular the current state of education in the US should be more widely-read than they are. For the latter, see The Disappearance of Childhood, 1982, and The End of Education, 1996. I think you will find him a kindred soul, Peter, Readers who call him a Chicken Little are the same ones who confuse the fast pace of technological developments with human progress.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, you'll know that I'm skeptical not so much of technology but of its hucksters and their disciples. So I'll try Postman.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

I'm not that sceptical of technology either, but I do and have always hated the idea that you "have to" do something involving it. It's hard to believe that you have to do something that no one even could do say ten years ago.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

In fact, I'm very much less skeptical of technology than I am of idiotic boosterism. The latter has become so closely entwined with consumer electronics that it's hard to tell them apart.

April 04, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

The medium is not the message; however, it can be a great communicator of the message.

The Facebook "revolutionaries" in Egypt used it as a way of organizing, as they used cell phones, texting and whatever else high-tech offered them.

However, the government cut off Internet access and even cell phones to try to stifle the movement, but it didn't work.

The old-fashioned ways of communicating, like phone calls via regular phones were superceded; other methods before phones or in countries without phones.

The same issues are still unresolved in Egypt; the organizers of the Jan. 25 movement are being detained by the military, many tortured, including women, many sentenced to five years in jail at military trials lasting a few minutes, without their own attorneys, etc.

This according to the NY Times and other mainstream media.

It helps to read all media, if one is following events, read various countries' press, alternative media, whether it's in print or on-line. It all brings different information and perspectives so one can think about issues with full information, or as much as one can get.

April 04, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, there's nothing to disagree with in what you say. But I find it odd that these revolutionaries are being named for the means by which they communicated. In general, I'm wary of our culture's emphasis on means of communication without considering the substance of what's being communicated.

April 04, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

That has to do with young people, too, though. They use Facebook, texting, twitter, etc., much more than us middle-aged folks, who would still in a situation like the one in Egypt, would probably still use phones, putting signs up in neighborhoods. Email, too, if one has a computer.

I think the term "Facebook Revolutionaries" is a recognition of the youthful character of those in Tahrir Square, the organizers, how they did it.

It doesn't tell of the issues, no, but it's a term, a nickname.


It gives recognition to the medium, and indicates how widespread is the use of Facebook, that it's a major organizing tool. But that's it.

My generation of activists is nicknamed "the Sixties" generation. That just gives years, not substance. Do people know what term infers?

By the way, I'm going to have to get out the electron microscope to read some of these i.d. characters, or get new glasses. It's like decoding an encrypted message.

April 05, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

People do know what "the Sixties" implies: liberation from social and sexual retraints, a breakdown of empires, devotion to sex, drugs and loud music, and so on -- a number of things that could reasonably be described as causes. I'm not sure "Facebook revolutionaries" implies anything more than use of social media as an organizing tool.

I wonder how long it took people in the Sixties to become aware they were living in something called "the Sixties." Probably a lot longer than it takes for people to become aware of supposedly momentous social trends today.

Yeah, those I.D. characters are hard to read sometimes, particularly when they're italic.

April 05, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"...what 'the Sixties' implies: liberation from social and sexual restraints, a breakdown of empires, devotion to sex, drugs and loud music, and so on..."

This is why a dear friend of mine refers to "the Sixties" as The Dark Decade.

I contend "the Seventies" was The Really Dark Decade.

April 05, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

I hadn't really thought about China circa 1989 in relation to this until now. They hardly had facebook, maybe not even telephones for many of the people. But the word got out in pretty much the same way. The youth were mobilized. It didn't end so well for them, but that isn't the fault of the technology--or the students.

April 05, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, things appear not to have turned out well for the Chinese uprisers of 1989 although, as with the French Revolution, it may be too early to tell.

Clandestine communications have probably played roles in many revolutions, but I don't know of any form of communication that has served as a nickname for a revolution. Of course, the term "Facebook revolutionaries" may be embarrassingly quaint already.

My v-word combines swap meets and ancient Greek poetry: swapho

April 05, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth: As I am wont to do, I will adopt a moderate course and call the Sixties "The Unrelaxing Decade."

What was the first decade to attach an identity to itself?

April 05, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"What was the first decade to attach an identity to itself?"

To itself? Hmmm... Perhaps the Roaring Twenties (aka the Jazz Age)?

The earliest US decade with a name that I know of is the Gay Nineties; but I think the term was coined in the 1920s. I love the 1890s' second most common nickname: the Mauve Decade.

April 05, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Mauve Decade? Why?

April 05, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I mean, I love the name. What's its origin?

April 05, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Wow! To me the Sixties was the "Question Authority" generation; to some drugs, and the rest. To some rock-and-roll; the Rolling Stones' blasted through my college dorms, along with R&B Motown sounds.

But it also signified the anti-Vietnam war movement, the "Ban the Bomb" and Civil Rights movements. That's what I think of, what I would consider the positive social aspects, i.e., the activism.

A friend's young child has a T-shirt with a peace sign on it, and the words: "Peace, love and rock-and-roll." I think of the "Sixties" whenever I see that T-shirt.

April 05, 2011  
Blogger Photographe à Dublin said...

Although it has no formal name, the 1860s became an important decade for phography.

On the subject of contemporary social media, I use Twitter because it is efficient.
And bad news always travels fast, regardless of the medium.

(Finally got to write a piece about "Lord Jim", the outsider and the enemy within.)

April 05, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, that's right. That generation is filled with associations. This generation seeks fulfillment in new apps and next-generation smart phones.

April 05, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

P à D, it was the time of Matthew Brady and Timothy O'Sullivan in this country.

Speaking of early photography, I have seen, albeit from a distance and from the outside, the window at Laycock Abbey where Fox Talbot took his famous first photograph. And a historic marker commemorates the site of the first such photograph taken in America just a few blocks from where I sit at this moment.

And now for a look at Conrad and outsiders.

April 05, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Mauve was one of the earliest synthetic dyes. It went in and out of favor in 19th c. England.

That the 1890s came to be referred to as the Mauve Decade is due to Thomas Beer's widely-read, influential book, The Mauve Decade: American Life at the End of the Nineteenth Century, 1926. I would be willing to bet that Dashiell Hammett read this book.

Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World, by Simon Garfield, 2001, is an interesting book about the chemical manufacturing and huckstering of the dye.

April 05, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Mauve sticks in my mind because I always heard it pronounced with a long o sound as a child, but I have since heard it pronounced mawv, a pronunciation to which I will never grow accustomed.

Sounds like the color, however its name is pronounced, has an interesting history.

April 05, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Puce is good too.

April 05, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

So is azure. Both were the subject of pieces of Ken Nordine's "word jazz," which I liked in my youth.

Magenta and chartreuse are good, too, but none of these has lent its name to a decade, as far as I know.

April 05, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Yet.

We've got to leave something to future generations. Colors are nice.

April 05, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

We can thank the folks who supply lipstick makers and Crayola crayons for some creative color names, I'd bet.

April 05, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Two non-sequitars:

Did you ever finish "The Fire Engine that Disappeared," and write an analysis of the ending?

My new favorite author right now for the moment is Jo Nesbo. Just read "Nemesis" (!) What a roller coaster ride, good story telling.

I will not say "If you liked Stieg Larsson, you'll love Jo Nesbo," because they are different writers.

But that is stay up all night, ignore the chores and bills, don't phone anyone back type of reading.

Just loaned the book to a friend who is doing the same, emailed that she loves the book.

April 06, 2011  
Blogger Photographe à Dublin said...

Thank you for the photography references. The quality of early photography is much superior, in ways, to the digital snaps that flood the Internet. Photographers studied composition very thoroughly and I have a book of Fox Talbot's work that makes my photos look pathetic in comparison.

The piece on Conrad is at odd's with the Preface to "Lord Jim" in many ways, as I played down the question of honour killing and focused on Jim's identity within the group.

In ways, it could be read as a Mafia or gangster type story. Jim's fall (in every sense) from his position leads to very severe punishment and exclusion from the group, not unlike all the films with Edward G Robinson and the hoods, that I watched as a child.

Coming back to reality, the illusion of group solidarity that contemporary social media generates is being watched with interest (and, I would imagine, increasing alarm) by governments everywhere. Your frustration with the "Facebook" or "Twitter" Revolution label is understandable... but I wonder what else to call it.

The last thing I would do is answer a tweet inviting me to join a street protest... the look of the riot police is quite enough to make many think twice.

April 06, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, I have not finished The Fire Engine That Disappeared, which was no knock on the book. I had read two or three novels by Sjowall and Wahloo in a row, and I was just ready for something else.

Nemesis was probably my favorite of Nesbo's books. It's trimmer, without lengthy subplots and excursions into the past, for one thing.

April 06, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

P a D, this qualifies as a non-sequitur, but I found it very interesting the first time I read that the apparent stiffness and formality of early photographic portraits resulted simply from long exposure times. The subject had to keep stiff and still. It's surprising how much a technological consideration like that can influence our perception of the past.

I don't know what else to call these revolutionaries, either. I'm uneasy with revolutions being named for corporations and with yet one more instance of emphasis on communication at the expense of that which is being communicated.

April 06, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Well, it's only a nickname.

However, many of the Egyptians themselves refer to their winter of discontent and protest as the "January 25 Movement," titled for the date it began.

Whatever it is called, I hope some progress is made in their aims. A lot of nefarious stuff is going on behind the media's eyes, but a bit creeps out.

April 06, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I like the Egyptian name better. And I, too, hope the movement turns out to be more that a giant product placement for Facebook.

April 07, 2011  
Blogger Photographe à Dublin said...

Journalists in the Arabic section of France 24 have gone on strike. 5 revolutions is so many months seem to be part of the reason.

This will probably ensure that citizen journalism will gain power.


@ is for Activism

(now on the
Orwell Prize
long list
might be worth reading.

April 07, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

P à D, I proofread and copy-edited one of the books on that list!

I wonder if the French journalists are taken aback by the temerity the Arab world showed in revolting beyond the extent permitted in their contracts.

I am skeptical of the notion of citizen journalism, not least because my corner of the journalistic world is copy-editing -- just the sort of gate-keeping that starry-eyed apostles of online media think is unnecessary.

April 07, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"I'm uneasy with revolutions being named for corporations..."

What about an entire generation (see discussion of the Sixties in this thread) being named for a soft drink? Remember the Pepsi Generation?

If the Sixties was to you "the Unrelaxing Decade," I presume you were drinking the "un-cola" during this period...?

That I even remember this ghastly drivel is mortifying but testament to the power of a successful advertising campaign, I suppose.

April 07, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

And then there was the Real Thing.

Don't be mortified, Elizabeth. That's advertising.

April 07, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I remember the taste of Kent, I can't believe I ate the whole thing, try it; you'll like it, What do you want, good grammar or good taste?

What can I tell you? People with brains worked hard on these slogans. But keep them in their proper place, by god.

The slogan "Facebook revolutionaries" won't last as long as those advertising tag lines.

April 07, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, remember when the New Seekers had a hit with a Coke slogan?

April 07, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Kind of, although one of the things I don't remember well are the names of musical groups.

April 08, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Seana--

I never could decide which I'd rather do, teach the world to sing or buy the world a Coke. I guess the former would be cheaper.

April 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I sometimes get Moby Grape and Strawberry Alarm Clock mixed up.

Do you mean you don't remember "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing"?

April 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, singing lessons are expensive.

I think I prefer good grammar to good taste, though I've just eaten a nice plate of fish and chips and I am washing it down with one of Dogfish Head's many fine beers.

April 08, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Peter, I linked to it a couple of comments up. Just not the New Singers version.

Elizabeth Coke is cheaper, but not for your immortal soul.

April 08, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"I sometimes get Moby Grape and Strawberry Alarm Clock mixed up."

Well, that's because you were so much younger than I was in 1967. A girlfriend of mine briefly dated a guy in SAC (don't ask me which one... Actually I'll bet she doesn't remember, either). My Moby Grape album is in near-a-Junior-Mint condition and is among the highly valuable objects I must part with to help finance my retirement.

And what makes you think I need singing lessons? Or is it you think I'd charge the world to sing? Based on current events, I think I'll forget about attempting to achieve perfect harmony.

Yum, fish and chips sounds good! And with a lip-smacking brewski.

April 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I have not yet clicked on the link. But, great Caesar's ghost, there were cover versions of "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing"? I vaguely recall one version in English and another, probably with the same instrumental track, with words in other languages.

April 08, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

This is actually the most famous version of all.

I think.

April 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Strawberry Alarm Clock were the ones who did "Incense, Peppermints," weren't they? I wonder if any song from the Sixties is regarded with such a mix of affection and mild embarrassment.

Oh, you'd be teaching the world to sing? I see now. That's a good way to earn the money to buy it all those Cokes.

April 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, yep, that probably an expanded version of the music from the commercial. But I suppose it has been a good many years since any television commercial lasted as long as even that abbreviated version.

April 08, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I much prefer "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," by the late, great Marvin Gaye.

That's the only "Real Thing" I'm buying.

April 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, that's one of Motown's very best. Was it a duet with the great though relatively unknown Tammy Tyrell?

April 08, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

The commercial is definitely an icon of its era, commercial appropriation or not.

April 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sure it is. That's why we products of that era are discussing it so many years later. I don't know; maybe commercials were that era's counterpart to religion, ritual and folk music in earlier ages -- and, God help us, to Facebook in this one.

April 08, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Now we're sitting around and reminiscing about famous ad campaigns of the past. Such as "It's finger-lickin' good" and its many titillating applications and "Got milk?" and its many spin-offs. I seem to recall that Philip Marlowe would walk a mile for a Camel. And every woman's fantasy could come true in a Maidenform bra: "I dreamed I [you name it] in my Maidenform bra!" And don't get me started on the history of ads for "feminine hygiene products." Kotex = "Very personally yours." Ladies, didn't you just cringe when you saw those TV ads with the blue dye being poured onto the material that the aforesaid hygiene products are purported to be made of?

I actually love vintage ads--man, so many gorgeous graphics--and the history of advertising is a big interest of mine. It's been a long love-hate affair.

According to Advertising Age these are the top 10 ad campaigns of the 20th century:

1. Diamonds are forever (DeBeers)

2. Just do it (Nike)

3. The pause that refreshes (Coca-Cola)

4. Tastes great, less filling (Miller Lite)

5. We try harder (Avis)

6. Good to the last drop (Maxwell House)

7. Breakfast of champions (Wheaties)

8. Does she ... or doesn't she? (Clairol)

9. When it rains it pours (Morton Salt)

10. Where's the beef? (Wendy's)

v-word = allons. But where?

April 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Does she, or doesn't she?" How many snickers did that introduce?

Since you brought up foundation garments, I also remember "We care about the shape you're in, wonderful, wonderful (distorted guitar riff) Wonder BRAAAAAW-awwww!" and a slogan that, in retrospect, would have been more at home at a dealer in heavy construction equipment than in a lady's unmentionables drawer: "Lifts and separates."

I learned from a visit to Geppy's Popular Culture Museum in Baltimore a few years ago, by the way, that advertising and celebrity endorsements go back farther in this country than I'd have suspected. I don't remember the details, but you might think of putting that museum on your itinerary if you shoudl ever find yourself in Baltimore.

April 08, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Yes! The late, great Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, singing "Ain't Nothing but the Real Thing," posted here at You Tube -- unfortunately, only the audio, not the visual:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jz_D-greh8Q

Now, this is music! They were a fantastic singing duo, until terrible tragedy befell her -- and obviously, later him.

This is reminding me to listen to all of their hits.

April 08, 2011  
Blogger Photographe à Dublin said...

Curious to know which book you proof read, Peter.

Is it worth putting on my "to-read" list?

April 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Kathy. I'll listen to it at work later today.

April 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

P à D: this one, and it's a hoot, as is everything I've read by Downey.

April 08, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Egyptian military attacked and Tasered protesters on Friday in Tahrir Square, who wanted old officials gone and put on trial.

April 09, 2011  
Blogger Photographe à Dublin said...

I once almost married a Northerner.

A laugh a minute, every one...

April 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

P., I'm telling you, Downey is a laugh a minute. And so was the train-staff guy in Carrickfergus. And so was Downey's daughter. And his uncle. And so on. I have a warmth in my heart for the six counties.

April 09, 2011  
Blogger Photographe à Dublin said...

For a moment your reply reminded me of Genesis, Book 5.

And I agree with you.

A lovely people, surely.

April 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Only moments ago I was mourning Rory McIlroy's collapse in the Masters golf tournament. I have been shown great hospitality by Derrymen, Belfasters, and whatever one calls people from Carrickfergus.

April 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Only moments ago I was mourning Rory McIlroy's collapse in the Masters golf tournament. I have been shown great hospitality by Derrymen, Belfasters, and whatever one calls people from Carrickfergus.

April 10, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Fergies?

No, that couldn't possibly be right...


v word=obilibi--and alibi that's gone fatally wrong, the results ending up in the paper.

April 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Carrickters.

Obilibi proves I was somewhere else when the guy you wrote about in the newspaper died.

April 10, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Ah. Right on both counts.

April 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Or maybe olilibi is a song one sings to easy someone to sleep -- for the last time.

Or maybe olilibi is a low-calorie olive-oil-based alibi substitute.

Or maybe ...

April 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh, right. obilibi, not olilibi. Never mind.

April 10, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

It's definitely a neologism that's hard to keep straight in one's mind.

April 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It's richly productive is what it is.

April 10, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Or richly unproductive, depending on what else you're supposed to be doing...

April 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Being the forward-looking optimist that I am, I shall call it productive -- and highly stimulating mentally, I might add.

April 10, 2011  
Blogger Tales from the Birch Wood. said...

Sorry... please delete last post... "Carrickters" already there.

April 11, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Done!

April 11, 2011  

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