I’m reading Stephen Baker’s The Numerati (2008). Slightly out of date by now, but interesting nonetheless. The one thing I’ve gleaned from it so far is that blogging is a very powerful tool, and I have not been making use of it.
According to Mr. Baker, computers worldwide are very hard at work reading all the blogs (yes, all of them) to dig out information about which products we use, how we feel about them, and what all of this says about us. It’s about how marketers figure out which "bucket" to put us in. It is part of the system that includes monitoring our supermarket loyalty cards to parse out our buying patterns and use psychological tricks to nudge us toward higher-priced items.
I read several paragraphs about different kinds of shoppers and noticed that Baker was describing me. It gave me a brief thrill of gratification, but that was very brief indeed. The paragraph finished up by defining me and my ilk as “barnacles.”
Barnacles, from a retailer’s perspective, are detestable creatures. They’re the folks…buying discounted goods, and practically nothing else. Like the mollusks clinging to a ship, they hitch free rides and contribute nothing of value.
Sometimes I detach my clammy little suction-cup hands from the hull of the Ship of Commerce, spread my wings, and briefly become a "Butterfly":
…customers who drop in at the store on occasion, spend good money and then flit away, sometimes for months or years on end. They’re unreliable, and retailers are warned to avoid lavishing attention on them.
It would be nice to “spend good money” more than once every 5-10 years, really it would. I’m much more inclined to gripe about a lack of legal tender than to rhapsodize about my latest purchases.
To my knowledge, I mention such things very rarely. This is for two reasons:
- I’m afraid someone will tell me “You use Smith brand? Anybody who’s anybody uses Jones. You are soooooooooo uncool.” Yes, it’s true: I never recovered from high school.
- Just as bad, I don’t buy new, cutting-edge stuff. Nearly everything I ever bought new is now very old, and everything else since that time is second-hand or bargain-basement. It’s just the way I roll, peeps.
But who knows? Maybe I’d be doing the world an untold service by detailing my life as a consumer.
With that noble goal in mind, I’ll try my hand at writing the sort of blog that computers like to read. (To be continued)