Behind the Internet of Things

Nothing excites the MSM like capitalist techno-fantasies. The so-called “internet of things” is one such orgasmic delusion. But, in our our market totalitarian society, where profit is priority #1 by a wide mile and marketing is the main cultural engine, what, really, is this “internet of things,” to the extent it’s anything at all?

robot factory The latest issue of Advertising Age reveals the extremely sordid and predictable truth: It’s yet another way of making a still-unconquered dimension of personal life into a big business marketing platform:

The Internet of Things has promised to turn our everyday interactions with stuff into data for logistical and marketing applications.

But now that more and more corporations, including Diageo and Mondelez, have tested actual web-connected products in the market, the industry is approaching the next stage of connected appliances and food packaging. That means figuring out where all that information will go and how it will be used. IoT platform company Evrythng sees a home for data generated by connected thermostats, bottles of booze, designer handbags and washing machines in first-party marketing databases. The firm is partnering with Trueffect, a digital ad firm specializing in first-party data targeting, to work towards devising ways marketers can use data gathered when consumers use their products. The firms hope to directly communicate with those consumers and, yes, perhaps target ad messages to them.

Interestingly, one of the first to deploy the new data-scraping method is corporate booze peddler Diageo:

The spirits brand introduced its “Smart Bottles” of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, which feature electronic sensors, at the Mobile World Congress in March in Barcelona. In addition to helping the firm track whether bottles have been opened and where they are in the supply chain, they could be used for targeted marketing. “For instance, Diageo could upload promotional offers while the bottle is in the shop but change that information to cocktail recipes when the sensors show the bottle has been opened at home,” noted the company in a press statement.

All this is the other side of the ongoing, but virtually undiscussed in the mainstream, second robot revolution, by the way. That, in turn, is capitalism 101 at this point, a fact unmentionable in this society, despite its dire consequences.

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The Land of Private-Sector Boondoggles

The New York Time Magazine this week carries a brief essay about how South Korea runs its internet. They don’t do what we do here in the proving ground of capitalist dictatorship. While we permit private profit ranchers to own our internet infrastructure, South Korea has its Ministry of Science lay and control the pipes.

The results are predictable:

Seoul is blanketed with free Wi-Fi that offers the world’s fastest Internet speeds — twice as fast as the average American’s. Back in 1995, the government began a 10-year plan to build out the country’s broadband infrastructure and, through a series of public programs, to teach Koreans what they could do with it. South Korea also eased regulations on service providers to ensure that consumers would have a multitude of choices — in marked contrast to America, where a handful of cable and telecommunications monopolies dominate the market. Such healthy competition in Korea keeps the cost of access low.

To maintain South Korea’s lead, the country’s Science Ministry recently announced a $1.5 billion initiative to upgrade Korea’s mobile infrastructure. By 2020, the government predicts, it will be 1,000 times faster — so fast you could download a feature-length movie in approximately one second. In the same time frame, the Federal Communications Commission hopes to wire most American homes with broadband Internet with speeds of at least 100 megabits per second, or roughly one-sixtieth of South Korea’s goal.

Here’s one telling result:

American mobile design is fetishistically minimalist. Silicon Valley applauds itself for good taste in this regard, but this aesthetic has sprung up partly in response to a deficiency: Americans have learned to strip out bandwidth-guzzling elements because they slow down loading times. Korean designers, lacking such bandwidth restraints, can stuff their apps full of all the information and widgets they like. On-screen real estate isn’t an issue, either, because Koreans prefer massive phones. While the “phablet” — the missing link between a phone and a tablet — is popular as a punch line in the United States, it’s been in high demand in South Korea for years.

This trans-Pacific gap in bandwidth is so pronounced that Korean developers often have to strip down their software if they want to take it stateside.

None of this, of course, enters into our pathetic debates over whether to place a few paltry regulations on our holders of licenses to steal. Despite such stark facts, even our reformers dutifully refrain from mentioning what a terrible idea it is to let capitalists own basic public facilities.

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Busted!

race-bottom The New York Times frequently provides the valuable service of unintentionally tipping the hand of conventional (overclass) ideologies. Applying simple reason to the NYT‘s usual reportorial contortions, it is often possible to find important admissions of core brainwashing stratagems.

And so it is today regarding the core American political insistence that this is a “middle-class” society. Turns out that the experts in charge of managing this untruth are pretty keenly aware of their own bullshit:

“It used to be ‘middle class’ represented everyone, actually or in their aspirations, but now it doesn’t feel as attainable,” said David Madland, managing director of economic policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank with close ties to the Clinton campaign. [emphasis added]

The entirely logical reality is that, in the Times‘ phrasing, “[e]ven if families fall in the middle in income distribution, they cannot afford many of the necessities, much less the luxuries, traditionally associated with being middle class.”

The balance of the story reports on how politicians are now scrambling to coin new ways of refusing to talk realistically about social class while suggesting they actually care about the class fates of ordinary citizens.

But it is official: “Middle class” has always been a diversionary tactic, a way of using aspirations to prevent the truth from surfacing.

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Historical Necessity

fascism-capitalism In the TCT book, we observed that big business marketing follows the most solid of iron laws. Due to the systemic pressures of corporate capitalism, the scale and detail of overclass management of personal, off-the-job life (a.k.a. big business marketing) must always grow.

If ever a thesis has been copiously and easily proved, this is it. To wit, the report of the Marketing2020 panel, overseers of “by far the most global and comprehensive CMO research program ever conducted.” According to this panel of experts, here is where current trends will soon take us:

Total experience.

Companies are increasingly enhancing the value of their products by creating customer experiences. Some deepen the customer relationship by leveraging what they know about a given customer to personalize offerings. Others focus on the breadth of the relationship by adding touchpoints. Our research shows that high-performing brands do both—providing what we call “total experience.” In fact, we believe that the most important marketing metric will soon change from “share of wallet” or “share of voice” to “share of experience.”

State-based totalitarians could never dream of getting this far. People wouldn’t tolerate it. But “the market” provides the ultimate cover for the oldest and deepest ill of “civilization,” doesn’t it?

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Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Killary Klinton

Killary Klinton

Politics in the United States is marketing. Nothing more, nothing less.

So, here comes Killary, as reported by The Washington Post:

Is Hillary Rodham Clinton a McDonald’s Big Mac or a Chipotle burrito bowl? A can of Bud or a bottle of Blue Moon? JCPenney or J. Crew? As she readies her second presidential campaign, Clinton has recruited consumer marketing specialists onto her team of trusted political advisers. Their job is to help imagine Hillary 5.0 — the rebranding of a first lady turned senator turned failed presidential candidate turned secretary of state turned likely 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. Clinton and her image-makers are sketching ways to refresh the well-established brand for tomorrow’s marketplace. In their mission to present voters with a winning picture of the likely candidate, no detail is too big or too small — from her economic opportunity agenda to the design of the “H” in her future campaign logo.

“It’s exactly the same as selling an iPhone or a soft drink or a cereal,” said Peter Sealey, a longtime corporate marketing strategist.

As always, spending will reach new heights, and choices and democratic responsiveness will be even closer to zero.

It’s going to be a long winter, friends.

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