It’s been 20 years since I built my first website and 12 years since starting Nebo. And while I’ve learned a lot over the course of my career crafting digital experiences and teaching interactive design, writing a book wasn’t something that I had planned to do.
The story of how I came to write a book began in May of 2014. I had just finished giving a talk at Web Visions in Portland, Oregon on the topic of Changing Behavior by Design.
On June 26, 2015, 46 years after the Stonewall Riot, the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage to be legal in all 50 states. For some, this day meant love between two people — no matter their gender — was now a fundamental right recognized by the federal government. Or something like that. For me, I called in gay at work (it’s a thing) and spent my day on the gayest street in Atlanta, drinking away as Facebook post after Facebook post had people on their knees (get your mind out of the gutter).
Imagine this: You get on your laptop or mobile device and Google “bike brand reviews.” Normally, you don’t go past the first few results, and you almost never click to the next page. But this time you do. Eventually you reach the tenth results page, and once there, a fresh set of ten more pages populates, then ten more after that, and so on (mind you, this is just for bike reviews!).
What does this mean? Your search journey is essentially a microcosm of the age we find ourselves in as consumers, with access to incredible amounts of information for just about everything — the Information Age.
As far as the marketing world is concerned, this has incredible implications. The Information Age is altering the way marketers devise their strategies, most notably when it comes to positioning.
Five years ago I lived in an anarchist commune, and to say I hated marketing would be an understatement. I thought capitalism was rigged, McDonald's used subliminal messaging to prey upon babies, and CEOs were puppeteers of the American sheeple. To avoid giving our money to The System, we dumpster-dived for food, collected our own rainwater, grew our own gardens, and — I’m ashamed to admit — many of us shoplifted.
Let me pause to say that stealing things is not cool, ever. No matter how many employees between a company’s CEO and the product on the shelf, shoplifting robs people of their hard-earned money. My point is that refusal to support big companies is an integral part of anarchism, and yet, there is something deeply ironic about the whole subculture:
Anarchists are brand-loyal snobs.
The email went out Monday a week ago:
“As some of you may have heard, we will be switching it up this year and celebrating the start of summer not with a pagan sacrifice to an ancient, profane god, but with Yacht Rock Friday aka ‘Smooth Grooves and Booze’ aka ‘Adult Contemporary Christmas’ aka ‘Johnny’s Ramadan’.”