Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Spirit of C..ompromise

As we bear down on the festive break (we're still debating whether or not to go X(mas)-rated), we are rushing to put together a little year-end promo piece to a select group of 'major media influencers' to introduce our site's imminent 'New Year's Evolutions'.

I doubt any of them will be reading this, at least now, so I don't think I'm giving too much away by saying it's going to be a teaser series of re:use ideas (with even the thing they are sent out on being, in Junkk-fashion, itself re:useable - I hope with such a self-imposed requirement we are not setting ourselves a rod for our own backs that will become a bar too high to achieve one future day) sent out in series, based on the theme of the TwelvE:ways of Christmas. Cheap, quick, hopefully impactful, useful, welcome... and doable in the time (fingers crossed).

Thing is, one part of the concept is to get noticed by hitting 'em 12 times with 12 sequential packs that assemble into a whole at the end, thus demo-ing the Junkk advocacy of loyalty-based ideas to reward folk as well the brands they stick with.

Our one concern is whether we're going to cop it from some of the more 'T-huggable' (potential in those first four letters in future I feel) because we're 'wasting' resources with a multiple mailing. And it's true. We are being more wasteful than we could be. But that's the problem when it all gets finger-pointy; there'll always be a reason not to do something. So to do what you need to do, you just have to do what you hope is best, and accept some compromise is inevitable.

This came to mind as I was reading the online version of one of our proposed targets; one that can get a bit finger-pointy on occasion.

They are promoting a very worthy charity-based effort involving an auction. Good on 'em, and best off luck.

It has all sorts of neat stuff those with a few spare bob can bid for to help those less well off.

The usual. Meals, sports events, etc, with the rich and famous. Tasty and tempting one and all.

But I was lured to the actual article by the following on the homepage, replete with swanky picture:

"Drive your peers wild with envy when you cruise past in a new Bentley, driven by a chauffeur with a uniform and an air of superiority. You'll have to hand the car (and driver) back at the end, but you'll be a king for a day."

I know why they did it. It was one of the more visually interesting offers and would probably elicit the best response. But you can see how those of a more literal e-disposition may see fit to wonder if driving around in a multi-litre limo for no good reason is really in keeping with saving the planet.

Hence my seeking to instill a certain acceptance that we need a spirit of compromise in the way we all view the efforts of others.

One final smile: the last (saving the best?) bid on offer is a green makeover from their very own e-lady: She'll visit your home and suggest how to make it more environmentally friendly: how to eat better, lessen electricity bills, buy pollution-gobbling plants... (Not previously offered)

I especially liked the fact that it closes with the disclaimer that it requires her 'agreement in relation to location'. 

You could always do a combo with the Bentley!

Online, Offside and Out of Order

More than a few years ago we were the beneficiaries of a generous piece of support from some fund or other that got us onto the broadbandwagon sooner rather than later via wireless. It was a really, really big help to the genesis of where we are now, for which we are eternally grateful. By what I recall it was a few forms, then a chap from our local ISP came round and stuck an ariel in the loft (which may even still be there) and we were full-on.

At some later stage Ross went broadband, and I guess we must have upgraded, as that is what's poking out the back of the PC now.

So far, so smooth.

Until yesterday. I got an email from the fine folk who bestowed the grant on us which started by telling me how, as part of the terms... yadayada... I was obliged to respond to a survey they had attached, and was required to do it pretty quick smart. 

Now as we benefitted from this grant, I have no problem giving something back, but felt the tone of this could have been better to put me in the mood to cooperate. So I guess I clicked the link to the survey URL in a less than tip-top frame of mind.

But I could not have imagined the true horror that confronted me. 

Yes, I know a bit about the internet, but frankly it is a tool that let's me do what I do, and I leave the tech side to others.

Bearing in mind we are also talking a lapse of two years, and are no longer running the wireless facility, I was confronted by page after page of highly complex questions on matters of IT which we had no clue about, on on matters of timing for which we had no records any more.

So I emailed the 'initiative body' to request some human assistance. And in short order got a call. However, having explained my predicament I was simply told it was this online form or nothing, and nothing wasn't an option.

So I tried my best to fill the thing out, despite no opportunity to select 'I don't know', automated insistences that I had to put in figures to proceed even though I didn't know them, and some of the dumbest questions I've ever read, that bore no relevance to our circumstances then or now. And to cap it all, when I hit yet one more of scores of 'next' pages, the thing was dispatched as complete, with no opportunity to review. Whatever the computer the other end gets it will be u.s.e.l.e.s.s.

I have no idea why such things are drawn up as they are a waste of time, money and effort all round, and embody a culture that values being seen to do stuff at the expense of actually getting any stuff done. Think how many more could benefit from this grant with the money wasted in this futile exercise.

Just once I had a good one. A chap called about a grant we'd had and we chatted, in-depth, for 30 minutes. I shared, he... and his service... gained useful feedback.

So I emplore the box-tickers everywhere... if you really need to justify your existence: no more automated surveys!!!!