Welcome back.

Have you thought about subscribing? It's free.

What it says on the label

I bought some shirataki for lunch. Funny little white noodles in a bag. Here’s what it says on the label (I’m not making this up):

“Drain water and parboil for 2 to 3 minutes before use to reduce the authentic aroma of Shirataki.”

It also says,

“Shirataki is composed of thin, gelatinous strings made from yam flour… and has very low caloric or digestible food values.”

While it’s actually pretty good, I think this is just a fascinating way to market your product, don’t you agree?

What is the Free Prize?

The Free Prize is the experience of service at the Ritz Carlton, when what you paid for was a good night’s sleep.

The Free Prize is the change counting machine at Commerce Bank, when what you needed was a checking account.

The Free Prize is the line at Al Yaganeh’s soup stand, when what you came for was the soup.

The Free Prize is the milk carton that housed the first 10,000 copies of Purple Cow.

The Free Prize is the way you feel when you open the little blue box from Tiffany’s.

The Free Prize is in the look on the face of the valet when you drive up in a Hummer.

The Free Prize is the lighting and ceiling of the new Boeing 77e

The Free Prize is the lighted keyboard on the new Mac Powerbooks

The Free Prize is the way it smells inside a bakery

The Free Prize is the line to get onto Space Mountain

The Free Prize is the container that Method dish soap comes in

The Free Prize is the exterior design of the Maytage Neptune dishwasher

The Free Prize is the “thunk” that the relays make when you turn on the Mark Levinson amplifier (which costs $4,000)

The Free Prize is the way you can pack cigarettes against the side of the package before you smoke them

After that little squib in today’s Wall Street Journal, I thought it was time to let you know about the new book. You can get a summary right here.

Yes, the book comes in a cereal box. Really. But only the first printing.

Could be a great summer (interns wanted)

I’m looking for three or four amazing (paid) interns for the summer to help launch a new project I’ve been working on. There’s a referral bounty, so even if you’re not looking, you might want to check out the PDF and forward it to those who are.

I need students or graduates from top schools who are able to come to my loft outside NYC for the summer (no telecommuting, sorry).

Here’s the PDF: Download file.

A feud with Tufte?

I hope not. But a nice interview re: Really Bad Powerpoint. (including a secret free offer at the end). sociable media // articles by Cliff Atkinson

A site worth stealing?

Just got a note from Janet Helm. I peeked at her site.

It does an awful lot of things right, things that would apply to almost any business that has a few things to show and wants a tone of voice that increases trust.

The cool thing, of course, is that this site costs just as much to host and build as one of those screaming yellow sites that look like a ransom note.

Worth a thousand words?

Art directing your brand (or you) is not a dumb thing to do. In addition to satisfying one’s vanity, it’s a chance to establish an image that might last a long time. The top half of my head, for example, first showed up in Fast Company and then on Permission Marketing. The time spent working with Brian Smale (a great photographer) clearly paid off in building the image of the brand.

No question, people look at pictures far more often than they read the words.

Which leads me to today’s New York Times.

When the photographer arrived, I had thought long and hard about what the photo should accomplish. I wanted to include my cow, because it’s a great connection to the Purple Cow book. I figured it would be fun to have my Gandhi/Apple poster, because it’s quirky and positions my ideas a bit. I didn’t want my Segway in the photo, because I didn’t buy the Segway to ride around on… I got it to use in my presentations about how technology-first ideas often don’t pan out (it’s featured in my new book).

So, this is the photo we ended up with:


Alas, I didn’t realize that the photographer had quite a wide angle lens. This is the photo he actually shot:


And then, when the folks at the newspaper got their hands on it, it became:


And finally, when they were done getting rid of the artful lighting and the vibrant colors, we ended up with:


So, you may not care one whit about how millions of Americans are having their breakfasts ruined because they have to suffer through my non-optimal photo, but a> it doesn’t help the brand and b> it might happen to you one day.

The New Scarlet Letter?

Not sure what letter it is, maybe it’s an “I” for inappropriate.

Janet Jackson is about to perform on Good Morning America, and of course, the network is insisting on a tape delay so that they can bleep her or blank her if she misbehaves. Reuters | Breaking News from Around the Globe

Perhaps she should perform in a burka.

Whether or not you were shocked (shocked!) at the improprieties she demonstrated at the Super Bowl, there’s really no reason to assume that every single time she goes on television she’s going to expose one part or another, any more than there’s reason to believe that Howard Dean is going to start screaming or that your Audi is going to suddenly accelerate and run over the kid down the street.

Humans are really bad at extrapolating, which is why brands work and you should care a lot about making a significant first impression you can live with.

Janet Jackson was a third-rate brand. Michael’s sister, okay singer, hit record maker, decent dancer. Nothing exceptional, no “Mona Lisa” only-one-in-the-world qualities to her. Until February. Now she’s got that scarlet letter. She’s been branded. Possibly forever.

Of course, now that she’s got the brand, she’s actually LESS likely to start parading around naked on morning television, right? But playing to the brand is easy and fun and safe, so the folks at ABC institute the bleeping delay, just to be safe. Reinforces the brand, protects the network.

My Prius and the Parking Garage

So, yesterday, for the second time in a week, I was harassed, yelled at and threatened.

By a garage parking guy.

My Prius doesn’t start like most cars. You have to press a button and there’s no key required.

When I get to the garage, I calmly invite the attendant to learn how to drive my car. With no exceptions, they refuse. They’re offended. They are, after all, professionals.

So, yesterday, when I went to pick up my car, not one, not two, but three guys had to climb into my car and try to figure out how to start it, jabbing and pressing everything. My offers to teach them were rebuked.

Finally, I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have time to have you play with my car any more…” they got really angry and started saying things you can’t say on the Howard Stern show.

I think I’ll make a sign and hang it from the steering wheel.

If stupidity is against the law

I’ve made the switch to RSS

Which means it’s going to be hard to get me to shut up for a while about it.

Read Doc’s second post on the ubiquity of it. The Doc Searls Weblog : Wednesday, March 10, 2004

What will make this work (or not work) is that we don’t yet have an amazon, ebay, yahoo or google of RSS. It’s still too homemade.