Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

31 July 2007

Bay Area Women

Transit is a state of limbo; everyone's preparing for the next act. There's a lot you can learn about a person in transit based on books read in idle time, clothes, expression and features.

Here are a few photos of women from a late afternoon on BART. I was traveling from Oakland to Walnut Creek, on the Pittsburg/Baypoint line from San Francisco.

23 July 2007

We're Consumers Before Marketers; We're Self-Seekers Before Sympathizers

From Adrants:

After attending the Ypulse conference in San Francisco earlier this week, I've come to realize a few things about teens, tweens and the marketers who want them in their back pocket.

It seems like today's marketers are falling into the same potholes our predecessors did: trying to deconstruct cool, relying too heavily on surveys, and forgetting that before we're marketers, we're consumers.

We've been consumers all our lives. That experience is our biggest trump card.

Another thing we don't realize is that generations of kids, teens and adults also fall for the same potholes their predecessors did. What we need to remember is, no matter what age we are, we all suffer from a bit of age elitism.

Generally speaking, today:

  • Tweens, that precious window between 9 and 12, are probably the only individuals that will ever fully buy into our manufactured teen shit. And that's because they're young and want to be teens so badly, they'll swallow anything that looks remotely teen-like.

The problem is, this age window is small. And with the internet changing the way people consume knowledge, it's only going to get smaller as new generations of tweens get savvier.

  • Teens have always tried to skew slightly older than their actual age. Fifteen-year-old girls don't read Teen; they read Seventeen, Cosmo and even Maxim - mags that skew more closely to college-level demographic, or so they think.The good thing about teens is, generally speaking, they still follow mainstream music and trends.

Just don't overthink your pitch!

  • In a quest to solidify their identities once and for all, college co-eds shed their mainstream media love affairs and start dipping into indie films and music.

But mere love of foreign fare does not a worldly student make. College kids also love - love - their parents' and grandparents' pop music hits. I don't know if this is just an Echo Boomer thing or if it has always been the case.

I think if we can bear in mind that we all share a similar superiority complex (and perhaps that's too strong of a term), maybe it'll help us better address one another. This is something that transcends technology and trends.

17 July 2007

The Medium is (Integral to) the Message

I hit NYC for the first time last weekend. Once I got over the elaborate spiderweb that passes for a subway (definitely a far cry from beloved BART), I fell all over myself.

New York is the living, breathing witness to America's industrialized history, stuffed to overflowing with contradictory messages and too many dreams. And like a splatter in the concrete, every once in awhile you find beauty again.

I'm accosted by ads I've reviewed, come to vivid life. It's like they were lying in wait and have leaped out to confront me, pulsing with energy and so much force. The press releases that tried to contain them simply never had a chance.

Since the awakening, so to speak, I've developed an almost superstitious aversion to PDFs. Generally speaking I don't mind them, but in the strange universe of ad critique I find them deceptive for two reasons:
  1. Marshall McLuhan said the medium is the message. Can you divorce the medium from the message? No. In PDF form, the ad lacks the impact and gravity its creators had in mind.
  2. Press releases, which also come in PDFs, are like cheat-sheets. PR execs and agencies love to wax creative about ad particulars on a release. The problem is, your consumer doesn't get one. He or she has no chance of knowing why you picked that color, or why the giant talking tooth made a great inside joke. Fuck poetic license in a PR; it's supposed to be in your AD! (Have I mentioned I also hate reading them?)
I'd like to gauge the quality of an advertisement in almost the same way an art critic appraises some ancient or contemporary oeuvre.

It needs to be in front of me, larger than life, involved in my world. If it's a billboard, I want to be standing under it with my neck craned as far as it will go, trying to decide if it "pops."

If it's a print ad, I want to encounter it in a magazine or discover it hanging above me one drowsy day on the train. If it's a :30 spot, I want to find it appropriately adorning some TV show while I sit fooling with a Rubik's cube on the couch.

A version of an ad in a
PDF, versus the one you come across on the street, is like the difference between a 20-foot Picasso and a JPEG, or the Louvre's Mona Lisa and a postcard.

You can never learn how your advertising moves a person - provided it does at all - until you can experience it in the intended format, whether it's hundreds of feet above you on a billboard, or posing as a coquettish interactive Flash corner on the digital edition of BusinessWeek.

There's simply no comparison.

16 July 2007

Why Children Are Dangerous

I was thinking recently about how most of my relatives don't really understand what I do. A conversation with a dowager auntie typically falls something like this:

"You mean you make webpages?"

"No," I say. "I write ad and technology news for webpages that already exist."

"So if I am having trouble with my page, or if I want to put pictures on it, I call you?"

"No. I write and edit content. You know, like a magazine editor? Like that, except on the Internet."

"Oh." I can practically see the wheels turning: Magazine editor. Sounds successful. Dot com crash - not so much.

The cool thing about nobody understanding what you do is no one is ever really sure whether or not you can be counted among the successful. It's not like it's super obvious, like my cousin the doctor versus my cousin the car salesman.

So, reserving their surrogate proud-parent faces, my relatives just approach me with a look of polite perplexity. I can roll with perplexity.

But kids are trickier. They're not looking for bragging rights; they're looking for the meat of things. And it's their right: after all, this is the world they're about to acquire.

Last month before the move to Ithaca, I was sitting in my pyjamas at my parents' kitchen table, my ass welded there since five-to-the-AM and typing furiously. Around 8ish, which is when people chez Natividad start wandering out into the open, my 10-year-old sister Charysma appeared on the scene. She watched me tap, then dragged her little feet to the living room, where she typically waits for my father to wake up and make her garlic bread.

A break in the silence: "Angel?"

I stopped typing and turned to her. "Yes?"

"Why is blogging your job?"

Pause. Something in my brain was not clicking.

"What?" I said.

Charysma, patiently: "Why. Is it. Your job. To blog?"

This is one of those questions you should always be ready to answer. For some reason, I wasn't.

I faltered. She saw.

"I write about new things that happen in the world," I said stupidly.

Head-tilt. "Why?" she asked.

"Because people want to read them."

"Why?" she asked.

I didn't have a response prepared for that, either. Of course I know why, obliquely anyway. But point-blank like this, I need note cards or something. I just kept thinking, I don't want to be one of those adults who pushes a kid down a well for asking a valid question...

Any number of answers would have worked. Because it's useful to others' jobs. Because the material is interesting. Because even grown-ups need to hear stories.

"Because I want to," I said.


"Oh," she said. Then, thankfully, Pops appeared. "I want garlic bread," she commanded, changing tacks immediately.

Sweet relief.

07 July 2007

On Gates, and the Market at Large

"Can a dude break free and still get honored at home?"
- Common

It's easy to forget on days like this that, once upon a time, Microsoft was a breath of fresh air.

I once had a teacher who said, "Tell me Bill Gates doesn't deserve to be the richest man in the world. Can you develop something to top DOS? I guarantee you - the day we're using hovercrafts to get around, we're still going to be using DOS to power them."

A popular rebuttal to this argument is, "Well, Bill Gates didn't develop DOS - he stole and monetized it."

Regardless of whether or not Gates himself developed DOS, it was, without argument, Gates who monetized it. That means he took a technology available to a few and turned it into a tool whose benefits we all have the luxury of taking for granted today.

What is more revolutionary than that?

So with that in mind, why is Bill Gates perceived as any different from the Robin Hoods and Horatio Algers of the world?

Maybe the reason why the devvies who make major contributions, then sell out, is because they're not selling out. Maybe the market is rewarding their efforts - and justly so.

That's not to say the market doesn't make mistakes, and that people with bad agendas or counterproductive ideas don't get wealthy. But the market also has an uncanny ability to correct its mistakes over time - and without remorse.

Consider Enron.

And consider the way Microsoft, long past its prime, is flailing today.

The mighty fall hard...

03 July 2007

Graphic Tee in the Make


dsully: please describe web 2.0 to me in 2 sentences or less.
jwb: you make all the content. they keep all the revenue.