I've been informed that "LIVE WRONG verbaige in any font on anything" has been trademarked. Mmmm. Or at least a trademark application has been filed. I'm not sure what "verbaige" means but it does sound serious.
This for-profit Live Wrong effort (as oppose to the charity, humor, and subversion that's powered my project) just seems wrong. And stupid. And twice as expensive as I'd intended to sell them. And I suppose what I find most wrong is that the whole pitch lacks any sense of thoughtful humor and support for the coloring-outside-the-lines-folks that have been enthusiastic about my idea (most of whom I've never met) and have liked the notion of a totem for transgression and envelope pushing. This alternate scheme is just about making money and appealing to a "ha ha" culture that buys novelties at Spencers Gifts. And the brains behind this operation has also told me she plans on selling T-shirts. That's real clever. The apperature for humor here is in a subtle subversion of a mainstream meme, not in soon-to-be-failed attempt to create a brand. I'm miffed. I'll be talking to my lawyer and working to see if it makes sense to pursue this prank, but the concept is probably polluted.
Despite this crappy turn of events, pursuing this idea has rebooted the part of my brain dedicated to completely unproductive, wild ass ideas. That, at least, is a good thing.
Don't get me wrong, the mobile revolution is real and unstoppable. Over 170 million Americans have mobile phones and the mobile phone is the most pervasive computer platform on the planet. I have no doubt that people will be spending more and more time (and more and more money) doing things with their mobile like playing games, accessing data services, listening to music, watching videos, etc etc. European and Asian consumers are already doing this, but the US is still mostly uncharted territory and it's into this new frontier that scads of companies are charging, trying to make a killing.
The IPOs have started and you can expect big annoucements, more new startups, very large companies lumbering into the mix . . . and then the bloodletting.
Ten notable signs that the mobile bubble is underway:
1) Company after company doing the same thing. (Here's a hint: if you're not yet making money from ringtones, you probably won't).
2) Startups that have a hardtime explaining what they're doing but assure you they have a "turnkey, end-to-end solution."
3) Oddly shaped business cards.
4) Startups enthusiastically sketching out their "new" idea unaware that there are other companies that have been doing the same thing (and have customers) for awhile now.
5) Panel discussions that are carbon copies of the ones I've heard for the past two years . . few new ideas or observations but more people piling on.
6) IPO as exit strategy.
7) More VC money than available good ideas.
8) Smart people who've been at this for awhile beginning to cash out.
9) Unprofitable companies hosting parties at hip joints with a full bar.
10) So many companies hosting parties at hip joints with a full bar that it makes it hard to choose.
I like watching trade shows set up. Convention centers can be ingeniously flexible buildings . There's something cool about the whole set up and take down of large installations & structures. Watching giant rock stars having roadie minions setup giant stage sets would be comparable I suspect, but there would be fewer bad suits.
Few spots in metro Seattle have free street parking and so I always try to make sure I have quarters handy when I'm out and about. No big deal. But two "improvements" in parking meter technology are sweeping Seattle in a pincer movement of annoyance.
First, the old school put-in-your-coin-and-turn-the-dial meters are being replaced in some sectors with fancy digital meters with LCD displays. These probably jam less frequently, which is unfortunate as I have regularly parked at jammed meters without paying, inserting a little note and taking a picture to back up a possible day in court. I've never been ticketed with this strategy and I realize that I should be all about improving the efficiency of public infrastructure, so it's hard to complain. But I will complain about the fact that meter rates have been jacked up by 50%! It's now $1.50/hour to park on the street.
However the most annoying intrusion of increased efficiency is the three year program (pogrom?) to replace meters with a much smaller number of "Pay Stations." The technology being used is terribly cool--curbside credit card processing and voucher printing all powered by a solar panel--but the user experience leaves much to be desired.