In the years since Naomi Klein’s release of No Logo, the cultural shift she described, the rise of superbrands, has long since past. If by 1999 there were still any raised eyebrows toward branded involvement and its cultural takeover, today it nearly goes unnoticed in its abundance. Superbrands are deeply rooted in most if not every day I live in New York City. From CitiBike, to the L train (often clothed in ads), it seems that there is no NYC experience that isn’t a branded experience. The conversion is complete and there are no longer free, unmarketed spaces. The problem runs much deeper than analoge ads. My whole interaction with the web, and thus my interactions with most everything outside of my immediate area, is mediated by superbrands. The company mediating most of my digital life and nearly synonymous with the internet, is Google. The worst part is, I like it. Including phones, tablets, search engines, browsers, email, document editing, storage and operating systems, Google has come to envelope almost every step of my connection to the internet and I give them that business because they make it easy.
First, what is Google? It is a verb, in the dictionary. It is a mega corporation. Naomi Klein would call it a superbrand. Originally it was a search engine. A tool so simple and essential that it eventually branched out to becoming the way in which people navigate the internet. Google took over because of how effortless it was to use. That would set the precedent for everything Google expanded to cover: be so simple that people have to use our product. This has been met with more success in certain fields than others. Gmail, has caught on and rapidly spread since it left beta in 2009. A free email service that connects you to others and more importantly has become the online identity linking our personas across the web through logins. The price is a few tiny banner ads running along your email experience. Google+, their social operating system, on the other hand has not caught on because of both its complexity and the foothold of other social media sites. Each year the company is prepared to keep iterating, opening new services and closing failed ones, and willing to experiment to expand. Google’s products aren’t its services or devices, most of these they give away for free; Google’s product is the information that it sells to advertisers.
With Google’s growth and its offer of more and more “free” tools, I’ve been pulled deeper into Google’s ecosystem. I use Chrome, Google’s browser with Google search built in which occupies 90% of the activity of my Apple Macbook. I use Gmail, Google’s “free” email, and Drive, it’s online storage and document editing system. To have effortless pairing of my online pairing with my mobile devices, I use Google’s Android operating system for phones and tablets. The price of free, the price of simplicity, is my privacy. Google’s computers can search through all of my emails and documents to find repeated terms that it thinks I’m interested in. This leads to Google’s keystone: AdSense. Taking all the information it can gather about the user from its services, it thens sells them to advertisers offering them targeted ads that the user is more likely to click on and purchase.
“An understanding is beginning to emerge that fashion designers, running-shoe companies, media outlets, cartoon character and celebrities of all kinds are all more or less in the same business: the business of marketing their brands” (Klein, 85).
Google has transcended the brand marketing business model that Klein describes in No Logo. It has moved on to the next level of commercialism, leveraging its brand as a public face to feed its true intention of dealing in the trade of information. The price of free is having a completely branded and ad-filled interaction that is fully integrated into the experience and the medium through which I can interact with culture.
Knowing all this, why do I and millions of others concede our information to Google and this system? Why do this while the all encompassing nature of Google is half-jokingly referred to as Skynet? Because, while Google is a leader in this information market, it is by no means the only company. Every major online company is dealing in information from Facebook to Pinterest; these free services are finding new ways to market the information its users willingly deliver. Looking at how expansive these companies are and knowing that I can not afford the premium of paying for an ad free experience, what other choice do I and the millions of others have. If it has to be one company at least choose the company that in return offering the least complicated and beneficial experience. While Google is mining through my information I am keeping in contact with those close to me, video calling my brother who lives states away, properly dressing for the harsh November winds, and writing this very paper. As Klein states, “if balance (as opposed to purity) is the goal” it could lead to ways to “cope with the expansionist agenda of branding”(Klein, 65). These services in exchange of ad information could lead to compromise if the information being acquired is not abused.
Eden’s (Plantable) Wrapping Paper
At first, I thought this was a cool idea. Plant the wrapping paper mess after christmas, water it, and grow the plants that were shown on the paper.
Cool, quirky, sustainable.
Then I got to the point that I usually do with designs like this where I think “this has to be stupidly expensive” and then “who is this actually helping?”
But this was different. Who are the people sending the most amount of presents? Rich people! So it actually works. Kind of genius.
Here are some facts and a link to the Core77 Article:
The facts: In 2011, Great Britain alone racked up 227,000 miles of wasted paper after the holiday season. (That’s enough paper to wrap the world nine times over around the equator.) And according to a study done by Stanford, if every American wrapped three presents in reused materials, the saved paper would cover 45,000 football fields.
The upshot of the guilt trip is that it leads to solutions like wrapping your gifts in the comics section and recycle it when the present party is done, or, say, reusable packaging. UK-based agency BEAF does the DIYers one better with Eden Paper, wrapping paper for the rest of us that you can plant once you’re finished tearing into those gifts.
Is it $3 because that;s the cost of “natural” or because they know they can charge that much at whole foods? I’m against all the fake stuff put in current gum but a luxury gum?
Conceived by a team of entrepreneurs including Caron Proschan (a natural product devotee) Simply Gumwas created after the founders discovered that regular chewing gum contained up to 80 hidden chemicals. These chemicals include some of the same components used to manufacture rubber tires, plastic bottles and glue. In fact, it appears that consumers are often kept in dark about what they chew because the gum companies are not required to list each and every ingredient on their labels. In the US, the FDA allows up to 80 synthetic ingredients to be included in gum.
On the table saw, how I do, like a boss.
Thats actually the recommended way of trimming this. Ridiculous.
SAM! Put Junho down, right now!