Sunday, April 29, 2007

“Intent, Context and Perception.”

It's up there at the top of WTF. Why is it there? What does it mean? What does it have to do with some dude's ramblings about marketing, media, pop culture, agency life?

The Short Answer: Everything.

The Slightly Longer Answer:
Every post I make is, and will be, made with intent, with purpose; i.e., I'm not going to post just to post. With the best of intentions I will always try to post something that I believe will be of interest to someone. However, at this point in the (de)evolution of the Internet (i.e.: Web 2.0; or per Dumenco, et al: 1. ±7) – once you flush something through the Intertubes for all to see, hear, email, comment on, repost, repurpose, et cetera, ad nauseum – Context can be a bitch. And that gets us to Perception.

[Clunky, ham-handed metaphor alert. – Ed.] So, you toss whatever piece of infomeat you've got – a blog posting, a video, a photo, a forum comment – into the gaping maw of mob opinion that is the Web and the Web masticates the f*ck out of this new piece of meat and decides if it likes the taste. It decides what flavor it is – it decides what this fresh piece of information means. The Web decides what you meant. Did you toss it a tasty morsel of sustenance or poisoned, rotten garbage? (There's a bit of an ironic paradox here in that sometimes (often?) a piece perceived as poisoned, rotten garbage actually provides more sustenance for the Web than the tasty morsel.)

The Web hates to be deceived; it hates to be insulted. It hates the perception that there is intent to deceive or insult. Frequently, the context that processes benign intent into perceived malevolent intent is that the Web expects to be deceived and insulted. I suppose it's a defense mechanism but as mentioned earlier the context it provides can be a real bitch.

The Too Late to Say, “Long story short.” Answer:
I directed a piece of work released to the Web for which deception and insult could not have been further from the intent. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to exert the degree of control that I would have liked – and that, I regret – but, quite frankly, the work was and was always intended to be a benign piece of harebrained buffoonery. [See Clients! Pt. 2 for more on HBB – Ed.] It was hoped that it might be received as such. However, regardless of their genesis and cultivation in an ill-informed and semi-hysterical mob fueled mentality, I understand and accept the accusations by some (most) that the buffoonery was stupid, lame, sad. Pathetic even. However, the buffoonery was never intended to insult and the identity of the perpetrators of said buffoonery was intended to be transparent. Client and agency alike were originally meant to be front and center as the purveyors of the content – no deceit, real or perceived. Well, as things often do, things got lost in translation somewhere between us (the agency) a good idea, a radically compressed timeline, the client, a slow-moving chain of communication and, most significantly, woefully miscalculated expectations by all involved of how the work would be perceived by a Web that was predisposed (for any number of reasons that I won't go into here) to dislike the taste of the ‘meat’ we had tossed it.

The If You've Read This Far Answer:
Opinions, a**holes, blogs – everybody has one. Except for me at the time. I didn't have one – a blog that is. I wished I had. I was prohibited from responding professionally (and truth be told, personally) but that didn't stop me from wanting a forum from which to try to explain, to try to defend myself and my team against the Opinion Mob of A**holes with Blogs that were redefining our intent to fuel their vitriol. If their intent was to 'teach somebody a lesson', in the context of 'angry web mob insulted by perceived deception', the intent was not misconstrued. Point taken. Lesson learned. And client lost, by the way.

Anyway… I have an opinion, I have (and can be) an a**hole – now I have a blog. Intent, Context, Perception. WTF?, indeed.

And that's all I'll say about that.

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