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Post 40

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 9:13pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff, I don't think we're that far apart. I think you read into my discussion of marketing more than was intended.

1. I don't think the clunky term "Objectivism" is decisive to the difficulties of spreading it in the world. I believe it is simply an added impediment. There are better terms, more evocative ones that also position Rand's views as part of (I'd call the climax of) the American Enlightenment legacy. Derivations of "individualism," in my opinion, would have helped communicate the core American outlook of her philosophy far better. Surveys that TOC did at one time found that "Objectivism" was a turnoff even for many Objectivists, and especially women. (In that, Laure's reaction to it in post #35 is very typical.)

So why pick a term that has such built-in disadvantages, when other terms more usefully convey your viewpoint, but don't create a negative impression at the outset, closing minds rather than opening them?

I of course agree that Rand's ideas challenge the status quo, and are inherently a tough sell. I simply ask why we need to add to the persuasive challenges we face by adding rhetorical and connotative impediments as well.

2. I entirely agree with your following remarks, which eloquently summarize a point I've made on many public occasions:
The other issue, not sure how significant but certainly not trivial, is this: there are so few examples (in the public eye) of successful, happy, decent individuals who are Objectivists that those unfamiliar with the philosophy have little opportunity to see in reality to what adherence to those ideas leads. The fiction is enormously useful in providing theoretical examples, but in the absence of very well known real ones there are few spokesmodels available. (And it doesn't help when some get on Fox News and behave like complete lunatics and are held up as representatives, eh?)
Amen.

3. Regarding your examples. Apple had lousy marketing except for that fabulous "1984" commercial that everyone remembers. That was exactly what I mean by good marketing: a memorable, symbolic, even mythic series of images that "positioned" the Mac against the PC as the computer for independent nonconformists. It was hugely effective. If only they had continued that individualism theme throughout all their ads, using images of cowboys, lumberjacks, novelists, James Bond, etc., all using Macs. They would have buried IBM. But their advertising was so inconsistent that it never really jelled in the "public mind."

You say that "people often know value when they are shown it clearly." But you see, that's exactly what I'm talking about with effective marketing: showing them clearly. To do that, you must keep in mind the "crow epistemology" issue: you can't shower busy people with a million nuanced details. It's not that people are stupid; it's that they are busy, and in their daily lives they are bombarded with hundreds of messages, each clamoring for their eyes and ears. To arrest their attention and stand out in the din, your message needs to be unique, distinctive, colorful, emotionally evocative and use a few intelligently chosen concretes rather than mountains of forbidding abstractions.

Once you've intrigued them and gotten their attention, that's when you can add in the details and abstractions. But in discussing things like a name for a philosophy or group, we're talking about that first stage of communication -- the attention-generating stage, not the in-depth educational stage.

As for the other examples you cite, I exhort you to go out and pick up some of the marketing books by Trout and Ries, especially Positioning. They are loaded with countless examples of what I'm talking about. I'm convinced they'll convince you of the significance of this much-maligned field.




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Post 41

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 9:22pmSanction this postReply
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This is a complete tangent, so I hope you will forgive the digression, but it such an appropriate place for me to insert what may be one of the most moving pieces of advertising in history.  It was released by Apple some years ago, and I was so bowled over by it that I made a stack of photocopies and gave them out to every entrepreneur I knew.  It is so fitting for this forum:

****
Here's to the crazy ones.
   The misfits.
   The rebels.
   The troublemakers. 
   The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.

They're not fond of rules.
   And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
  disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can't do is ignore them.
    Because they change things.

They invent.    They imagine.     They heal.

They explore.     They create.    They inspire.
      They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?

Or sit in silence and hear a song that's never been written?

Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones,
    we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think
    they can change the world, are the ones who do.

***

Would that Objectivism could reach people with a message like this.




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Post 42

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 9:24pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff, you wrote:
How you get past that wall (of being turned off to the ideas, not the wall of getting them to listen) is a problem which I don't think has been well solved.
Sure it has - at least in one fashion. Write more best-selling novels that deal with the ideas. That's what Rand did and it worked enough to get this whole kit and caboodle up and running.

Michael




Post 43

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 10:05pmSanction this postReply
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I want to add, Existentialism, to  Robert Bidinotto's suggestion of better names. I think a much better description. In OPAR, Peikoff mentions, Existentialism, as one of the names Ayn Rand considered before choosing Objectivism. And we know that was already taken. So, what are we to do? If we call ourselves individualists we'll still have to explain ourselves.  I don't think it's as accurate a description because Individualism isn't as fundamental as the alternative.  I'll stick with calling myself an Objectivist.    




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Post 44

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 1:12amSanction this postReply
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Would that Objectivism could reach people with a message like this.

If we make a success of our lives people will notice. Thanks for posting that Jen, I absolutely love it.




Post 45

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 6:16amSanction this postReply
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If we could take back the title of "humanists" or "humanitarians," that might be nice. It puts the focus on the ends, not the means.

If not these, then maybe "the happy camperists."

:-)

(Edited by David Elmore on 6/08, 6:19am)




Post 46

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 6:46amSanction this postReply
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One point of clarification. The principles of selecting a name apply to a new philosophy, product, group, etc., when you're first trying to establish its identity and generate attention. You'll note that back in post 18, I indicated that I do use "Objectivist" in self-labeling. My criticism of the term is retrospective: I wish Rand would have chosen something better at the beginning, a more familiar concept with better connotations. But we're stuck with the name she chose, and it's been in circulation for nearly fifty years and associated with her ideas. You can't dump it now. So this discussion is largely "academic," as they say.




Post 47

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 6:51amSanction this postReply
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Jennifer, I'd forgotten that other Apple ad dedicated to the misfits. Another great ad, because everyone likes to think of himself as independent. Somewhere along the way I think Apple lost this "maverick" focus, much to its detriment.



Post 48

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 6:54amSanction this postReply
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Lance, I'm glad you reacted to it the way I did.  It's been one of those items to keep within view as I build my empire.  :)

Robert, I agree that Mac has lost that edge, and I'm disheartened to see it.  They could have owned the entrepreneurial market (which is what I thought they were going to do when this came out).  It was at the start of the dot com boom.  Ah well.




Post 49

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 7:08amSanction this postReply
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A nit-picking point just to keep the focus correct. Marketing was not the only difference Apple/Mac lost market share. It made a major mistake in not seeing a market reality.

Apple/Mac insisted on providing both the hardware and software. And they refused to license their hardware architecture. IBM did license its architecture and low cost "clones" popped up all over the place. IBM also let others furnish its software (its own never took off), principally Microsoft, which was also used by the low-end "clones."

Michael




Post 50

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 7:24amSanction this postReply
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You are of course right about Apple, Michael. I never meant to imply that bad marketing is the only reason for a company's success or failure. I simply want to call the marketing issue to the attention of Objectivists, who tend to pooh-pooh it as unworthy of consideration. The spread of these ideas is being seriously retarded because so many Objectivists proselytize in ways that doom them to justifiable obscurity or ridicule. The ideas deserve better.




Post 51

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 7:49amSanction this postReply
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Apologies from me to Bill Perry, who posted this poll, for my inadvertently diverting it into too general a discussion of marketing. I had meant to explain why I thought "Objectivism" was a poor term for Rand to choose from a marketing standpoint (even though I voted for it in the poll). But as these threads are wont to do, this one has gone off into a broader debate about marketing, largely my fault.

Maybe we can start a separate thread on marketing, but we should get this one back to the specific poll question.




Post 52

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 7:52amSanction this postReply
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Thank you Robert.

Bill




Post 53

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 12:46pmSanction this postReply
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If I am ever actually asked what my philosophy is, I usually say I am most influenced by Ayn Rand and consider myself an objectivist. I find that this label is helpful because 9 out of 10 times people don't know about Ayn Rand's non-fiction works or that she created Objectivism. And, I will say I am not Christian, but atheist, if the question of religion comes up.

I have been called and "objectionist," too, which I think is amusing. My mom can never remember "objectivist." She will just say "that Rand stuff..."



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Post 54

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 10:51amSanction this postReply
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How does "Objectivist Groupie " touch your Aesthetic?



Post 55

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 12:53pmSanction this postReply
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Sharon,

LOLOLOL...

Welcome. Be careful about being a groupie around here, though. There's quite a variety of Randroids and other curious creatures to choose from...

(but lot's of cool Objectivists, or whatever they want to call themselves, too...)

Michael

(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 6/09, 12:54pm)




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Post 56

Friday, June 10, 2005 - 10:21amSanction this postReply
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I like the old standby of Objectivist because it has such a brittling effect on the philosophy majors at university, especially if they happen to be "pomos" or second-wave feminists. ^^; I must the real life version of a troll then. o_O

-- Bridget



Post 57

Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 8:14pmSanction this postReply
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Let me revitalize this poll discussion by pointing out that here, at the site called "Sense Of Life Objectivists," fewer than half of those responding to the poll as of June 12, 2005 prefer to call themselves by the name "Objectivist."

Does this tell us something? And if so, what?




Post 58

Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 8:45pmSanction this postReply
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Robert B,
Speaking for myself, but I suspect I'm not alone in this, the term simply carries too much baggage. It has nothing to do with marketing or whether the term adequately conveys what it should in naming the philosophy.




Post 59

Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 9:40pmSanction this postReply
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Robert,

I am glad you mentioned that. I have given this some thought and I have come up with a very personal term I use for myself.

Reality Objectivist

The traditional ARI version is that only what Rand wrote or approved of is Objectivism. Part of Solo's creed states the following:
We acknowledge that Ayn Rand made mistakes; that she didnít answer every question that can be asked; that she was wrong about some matters of considerable existential moment, such as homosexuality...
I suppose I could call myself a Soloist, since it includes the term "Objectivist" in the acronym. God know, I identify enough. But I feel that it is still a work in progress and very much limited to one website and one set of people - not necessarily a more generic term that can apply when I talk to people in all the differing Objectivist schools. For those familiar with this, what will come to mind when I say Soloist will be personalities more than issues - at least at the present state in the Objectivist world. I will never deny that I am a Soloist, though. I wear that term like a badge of honor.

Basically I include the term "Objectivist" in order to identify the base as being Ayn Rand's philosophy and "Reality" to identify the standard used when I (and those I agree with) disagree with or expand on that base.

I also use that term (and Soloist) only among Objectivists, not to people outside the movement. To them I am first of all an Objectivist. And to a very select privileged few, I call myself a Babsolonian.

Michael



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