Truthers and Galileo

This is funny even though it goes into a topic I find no humor in, 9/11 Truthers.

The History Channel ran a program tonight called 9/11 Conspiracy: Fact or Fiction. The concept is that, as was the case with Pearl Harbor and the assassination of President Kennedy, conspiracy theories become part of the historical record, no matter how absurd they are. So THC, my favorite cable channel, looks into it and features a number of vocal Truthers in the process.

In the program, which just finished a few minutes ago, a character named Alex Jones (who claims to be a filmmaker and radio talk show host (that I have never heard of) tells the interviewer that Galileo was persecuted in his time for proclaiming that the world was round and not flat… and that he himself is a modern day Galileo.

This would be a good analogy were it not for the inconvenient fact that Galileo was accused of heresy for suggesting the Earth moved around the Sun and not the other way around. In Galileo’s time it was widely acknowledged that the world was indeed round.

Ironically, in a tangent but an interesting one at that, it was Islamic astronomers who were among the first to calculate the circumference of the Earth, developing spherical trigonometry in the process, and plot  the movement of the known planets at the time, in the 9th century. I say ironic because the world would indeed be a better place if Islamic fundamentalists again pursued mathematics and the sciences for the betterment of mankind instead of our destruction.

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Integrated Media For Kids

I am continually impressed at how youth oriented entertainment integrates a great diversity of media types and strategies with great success.

By now you have likely read or heard about the blowout success that Disney’s High School Musical 2 has had in recent days. Integrating promotional merchandising and retail tie-ins (300 products and Wal-Mart and Target distribution) is pretty standard stuff these days, but the Disney sponsored website and unoffical Myspace pages are impressive, as is the cast websites (Text ASHLEY to 73804 for Official Ringtones!). Even the wikipedia page is impressive. HSM was also the first full length movie sold on iTunes (recall that Jobs is on Disney’s Board of Directors). Radio Disney, disney.go.com, Disney DVD’s website, and countless international Disney websites feature the money maker made for TV movie.

I guess youth oriented entertianment doesn’t have to be urban and "edgy" after all… just well marketed.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with Dan Gisolfi from IBM about stuff in general and we ended up talking about Webkinz, which I really did not have any awareness of. Basically, kids buy stuffed animals in retail shops to get a token which gets them access to an online virtual world for children where they can earn KinzCash and buy things for their new pets. The more attention you provide to your online pet, the happier it is. Since then I have talked with several other parents and they all relay how their pre-teen children are going crazy for this site.

Soon after my introduction to Webkinz I saw the news that Disney had acquired Club Penguin, the number 2 online virtual world for children. I am not sure what the analog is to the usual array of topics I cover other than to suggest there is something highly really compelling about interactive and engaging online marketing that draws you into an activity instead of simply getting you to click on a link. Entertainment companies have nailed this, the youth oriented brands leading the way.

The Webkinz site in particular taps into a powerful technique that successful social networking sites also exploit, the desire for recognition as a result of interaction. In Webkinz’s case the payback in a happy pet, in Facebook or Myspace the recognition comes from people adding you as their friend or watching your feed.

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