Saturday, July 28, 2007

Technosurround Hell?

In “Dyepot,” a blog out of Portland, OR, the writer mentions the word technosurround, another neologism from Kim Stanley Robinson (see here). In the blogger’s notes, she explains Robinson’s view that “…This can be overwhelming: too much is like being high or in a shaman-state all the time.”

I ran across the word again myself while I was reading the book and Googled it up. “Dyepot” was the only place it turned up as a single word.

Like Robinson’s previous idea, it struck me there’s a marketing implication in the concept of technosurround – from several directions.

Like one of Robinson’s inspirations, the idea of a world-encompassing, omnipresent advertising presence comes from the novels of Phillip Dick, best expressed on the screen in movies such as “Bladerunner” (1982) and “Minority Report” (2002). Writer Michael Stroud wrote in Wired that in one of the movie’s scenes, fugitive John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is accosted by an interactive video advertisement on a wall: “John Anderton, you could use a Guinness right now.”

The film’s production designer, Alex McDowell, is quoted in Stroud’s article: “There’s a logical progression from the way the Internet works now to more enveloping, environmental advertising that’s networked.” McDowell is describing the growing use of increasingly personalized ads – currently blooming on our Internet.

We’re building the technosurround now. This past Thursday, the Houston chapter of the Business Marketing Association brought the current iteration of the Online Marketing Summit to town. It was well-attended and lively.

One thing was very clear: the Internet is its own industry, like the energy industry and the healthcare industry – and it has its own fairly focused agenda. It’s in the Internet industry’s interest to maximally increase everyone’s involvement with the Worldwide Web.

It means that “web marketers” have become this decade’s version of TV network marketers, and radio network marketers before that: give us all your money and we’ll make sure people pay more attention to your product or your service.

Unlike the technosurrounds previously established by other forms of mass media, the new version is personally interactive, like the cell phone you’re carrying around with you right now – and don’t you wish it was an iPhone?

Danger, Will Robinson: The “Minority Report” theme is that the technosurround eventually captures and tracks each and every one of us – to the detriment of freedom and liberty (two quite different concepts, actually).

The blessing is “social media” and the ability it gives us to rage against the machine, if we’re so inclined. Just like this blog, or even more provocative blogs and other forms of interactive communication. Just remember that if China can control the Web content that its population can access, so can America.

I’m torn. On the one hand, I welcome the integration of social media with Web marketing…it’s a powerful way to enact the Stakeholder Rule© on behalf of companies and institutions. On the other hand, I absolutely, positively do not want Amazon (for example) to be all that familiar with my reading habits or any of my other idiosyncracies. Technosurround be damned.

“Richard Laurence Baron, you could use a Guinness right now.”

Above, a futuristic Reebok ad from “Minority Report.” “Stakeholder Rule” © Richard Laurence Baron. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

compostmoi said...

And I ,becuase of the sheer strength o fyour writing ability, will soon become a fan of your blog and its writings on advertising,et al...I am so glad it's all now at my fingertips thanks to the Vienna feed thng Peter put on my easy to click and read you for this idea that "they" have us sorted out: to late, it's done...I cannot imagine more ways for :them" to know more about us than they already do know...WE ARE KNOWN! And, thereby , sold to...and "they" think "they" know our souls, but "the"y don't...only our neuroses.