Stigmergy vs. Synergy

I learned a new word today, thanks to Jason Kottke and Wikipedia: stigmergy.

After reading the definition, it occurred to me that stigmergy is potentially the Web 2.0 equivalent of "synergy" - a term notoriously mis-used and abused by account directors and strategists everywhere. Synergy is not always good - it is a compounding of effects from two or more discrete influences. Think of the side-effects of cold medicine... take two or more kinds and the resultant synergy could prove fatal.

Since "synergy" has practically lost its meaning through mis-use (much in the same way "impact" is mis-used as a positive term - usually as the non-word "impactful"), I think "stigmergy" has promise. It affords a more realistic, organic approach to defining the nature a given relationship. That is, until chumps with poor language and communication skills butcher the term into meaninglessness.


CoolHunting loses its cool.

Leading participant in and non-objective observer of fashionable fads, CoolHunting has announced that it is expanding to form a mobile marketing company called Bond Art and Science (which offers a stunning lack of design and dismal brand experience on its own web site). Judging from what Josh Rubin says, this latest effort is all a bit convoluted if not misguided:

“Experiences now span beyond the first and second screen,” says Rubin. “Our solutions are based on a belief that mobility is a critical element that anchors effective communications.” He continues, “Bond designs all digital touchpoints to work cohesively, offering a consistent brand experience. The result is an exponentially positive impact.”

I see a big problem in that statement. Mobility is not what anchors a communication, consistency is. Communication has to be consistent through all touchpoints, not just digital ones. And just because you have digital touchpoints linked together does not in any way indicate that you have created a positive brand experience. Rubin apparently wants us to believe that technology alone makes for a positive brand experience. If you're getting a strong sense of deja vu, you're not alone. This kind of thinking helped burst the dot-com bubble just a few years ago. It would seem that Rubin is now poised to replicate such disaster on a mobile platform.

The technology is not the message; the technology is the vehicle for the message. A good "experience designer" would know this. But Rubin's quote dodges common sense and sinks straight to BS-buzz-word hype. What's cool about that?


GSTV: you can't spend five minutes without TV

Wouldn't the money spent installing televisions in gas pumps be better spent defraying the high price of gas? If my gas station is installing flat screens on the pumps, I get a strong sense that they're making more money than they need. Why compromise my concentration while I'm pouring highly flammable fluids into an automobile, anyway? Why not let me sit in my car with the inane DVD player I installed in the dashboard and use the GSTV money to provide full-service instead?

If it really is so "maddeningly tedious" for you as AdRants claims, you need to start walking, biking, or taking public transportation more often.

Seriously. If you can't go five minutes without television, you probably aren't fit to be driving at all.