Doc nails 'em yet again

In response to some advertiser's twaddle:

 Deal with it: We are not...

To explain.

First, we're readers, viewers, listeners and (most of all) customers, not just "consumers." As Jerry Michalski put it long ago, a consumer is nothing more than a gullet whose only purpose in life is to gulp products and crap cash. Economically speaking, "consumer," as the word is commonly used in the advertising business, is a linguistic fossil from the old industrial world where the only way big companies could reach potential customers was through media conduits that sluiced in one direction only, from the privileged few to the captive many. Except as the literal reciprocal of "producer," "consumer" no longer holds much useful meaning, except where the supply side of advertising talks amongst itself. Worse, using it is risky and misleading. It disses a whole side of the marketplace that grows in power every time one customer links to another one.

Second, what we read is writing. What we see and hear are programs. While "content" is a nice catch-all term for everything that can flow down a pipe, it also reduces everything to container cargo. And, as John Perry Barlow said years ago, "I didn't start hearing about 'content' until the container business felt threatened." Ask yourself, Why do I listen to the radio, watch TV and newspapers, magazines and Web journals? Is it just to "consume content?"

Third, the world created by the Net (which DoubleClick actually understands quite well... but not quite well enough) supports real markets — places where people gather to do business and make culture — as well those other things (categories, demographics, regions) that the advertising business also likes to call "markets." In real markets (where everybody is a peer), companies can converse and relate directly to customers. Here you still have the scarce resource we call attention; but you also have a much better chance of earning it, by relating directly to the customer in ways that actually make your product, and your company, interesting and attractive. Advertising, or whatever it evolves to become (say, something people actually want to see and hear, rather than to avoid) therefore will play a much different role in this world.

Doc Searls