Entries for February 2011

February 22, 2011

Soylent Green is People Magazine!

Soylent Green Magazine

February 15, 2011

Product Placement in Amazon Reviews for Related Products

This is either a real thing, or it’s all in my head. If it’s a real thing, consider this post an exposé that’s blowing the lid off of this new form of subversive advertising. If it’s all in my head, consider this post an innovative idea that creates a new form of effective advertising that has the unfortunate side effect of ruining the product review system.

Companies have already been caught placing fake reviews on Amazon. Sometimes the fake review is just one degree from the product — that is to say, the reviewer works for the company being reviewed. Sometimes a fake review is two degrees away, which makes it harder to spot; for example, Belkin was caught hiring people on Mechanical Turk to write the fake reviews, so the reviews don’t come from people who work for the company. Other companies have offered gifts in exchange for positive reviews.

But what if they could remove themselves by one more degree? What if there were a way to make it almost impossible to even notice that it’s a fake review? What if even a negative review would work as well as a positive one? Nobody would suspect a fake negative review! It would be almost untraceable! It’s the perfect crime.

I have a home theater system that needs speaker mounts. So, naturally, I turned to Amazon and looked at several options. As far as I could tell, no particular speaker mount is that much better than any other. But I did notice something strange, as I read the reviews: an astonishing number of people who review speaker mounts happened to mention that they bought the mounts for their Onkyo HT-6100 speakers.

This is a versatile sturdy product. It works well and I recommend it for a lower cost mount. I mounted the Onkyo HT-6100 speakers on this and it worked great. The extentions that come with the mount really came in handy for my speakers. -David B
I used these with an Onkyo HT6100 HTIB system, and everything worked out fine. I was a little worried at first because the mounts are plastic, but they were plenty strong enough to handle the Onkyo speakers which are about 12 inches tall. Good mounts at a good price! -Nick
Excellent product. I brought this product from Amazon after reading several positive review comments. Product arrived on time. I have brought Onkyo HT-S7300 home theater from Amazon and excellent product to mount the satellite speakers on the celling. My wife loved it. I hired a contractor to install the satellite speakers even he was surprised the excellent flexible positioning of the speakers with this product. This product comes with all types of screws you need to mount the satellite speakers. -Uday

It doesn’t even matter if the speaker-mount review is positive or negative, because that’s not a reflection on the Onkyo speakers. The important thing is just to mention Onkyo speakers. Here’s an example of a negative review that still shows Onkyo in a positive light:

Not good for medium-large size speakers, not fully compatible with Onkyo speakers. I would suggest investing more and get better mounts. -M. Al Rawi

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that so many people mention their Onkyo speakers make and model in their review. Maybe it’s helpful information to give. And maybe Onkyo is more popular than I realized. It certainly isn’t the only brand I saw mentioned in the reviews. It’s just the one I noticed the most. So maybe there’s nothing subversive going on at all. That’s probably the case.

But I can tell you this: Onkyo was never on my radar before. Now I have the impression that a lot of people seem happy with their Onkyo HT-6100. So either this new form of subversive advertising is incredibly effective, or this non-form of non-subversive non-advertising (I think they call it “word of mouth”) happens to actually work.

Now that this idea is out there, how long before we see fake book reviews that happen to mention the eReader the reviewer read it on? Or fake large-screen TV reviews that happen to mention how good that new movie that just came out on DVD was? Or fake bicycle reviews that mention how easily it fits in the roomy trunk of a particular new car?

Previously: Advertising on the Overhead Bin

February 11, 2011

I wrote it, you made it: The Make-out Hoodie

Back in August, I envisioned the Make-out Hoodie, a pair of his-and-hers (or whatever combination you’re into) hoodies that form a complete picture when the couple kisses with the hoods up.

This was my concept sketch:

I recently heard from a reader named Nate who said, “Thanks for the idea! My gf and I sewed some simple patches onto some hoodies and they turned out great.”

Here’s their photo:

Thanks, Nate!

February 8, 2011

A 30-Year Contact Print on Construction Paper

[cross-posted from my too-infrequently-updated photography blog]

I was in Arizona a couple weeks ago to shoot two more people for my Inventor Portraits Project. My parents live in Arizona, so I took the opportunity to visit them and go through some old boxes that have been taking up space in my old bedroom.

In my closet, I found a photo of me that was taken almost 30 years ago. It had been taped to a piece of green construction paper and placed in a cheap plastic frame around 1982. It hung that way on a wall in my bedroom for about 15 years. When it was hung up, it looked like this:

By the time I took the photo down in 1997, indirect sunlight had faded the construction paper from green to a sort of salmon-like orange. I digitally restored it to the original green for the image above, but actually the background had faded like this:

When I found it in my closet during my recent visit, I decided there was no reason to keep the photo in the bulky plastic frame any longer. It should go in an album, or a better frame. When I separated the photo from the paper, this was revealed hidden underneath:

How wonderful is that? Over all that time hung on the wall, sunlight had bleached the construction paper everywhere it could. But since it couldn’t penetrate the darker areas of the photo, the corresponding parts of the construction paper underneath remained their original color.

Any light-sensitive surface can be used to make a photo, and I’ve seen everything used from leaves to grass. But I don’t remember seeing photos printed on construction paper, even though I know they’re sometimes used to make photograms as an activity for kids. But I did a little googling and found a couple other people who made a print on construction paper using similar methods, although deliberately and not over quite so long a time.