Magazine article Marketing

The Pleasure and the Pain of New Communications

Magazine article Marketing

The Pleasure and the Pain of New Communications

Article excerpt

When enthusiasts first explained the Internet and all that jazz to you, what did you expect? I certainly never knew my friends around the world were so eager to shower me with bad jokes. It's a nightmare.

Mind you, I was intrigued by the new Russian pornography service so thoughtfully brought to my attention. How, I wondered, does Russian porn differ from the good old US variety mostly offered? Do they do weird things to each other with borscht? Does each model unscrew to unveil a slightly smaller one? Nothing so ingenious. It is what they call in the motor trade "badge engineering". Apart from the name 'Russian", the delights that unfold seem identical, right down to the tasteful descriptions.

I appreciate there is a rich tradition in business whereby nobody ever studies the past because that way we can all squander money repeating the same mistakes every decade. However, this problem of having too much stuff to plough through every day - direct mail, memos, e-mail - is not new. In the late 1300s an agent of Signor Datini, an Italian merchant, complained that "we spend half our time reading letters or answering them". No great surprise there, because Datini was clearly the partner from hell. Between 1364 and 1410 he exchanged 156,549 letters with his associates. For a number of years he had 10,000 letters zipping back and forth all over Southern Europe annually. I learned that from Worldly Goods by Professor Lisa Jardine, a very entertaining read based on the obvious thesis that in the Renaissance rich people were just as vain, flashy and grasping as they are now. …

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