Parkinson before Parkinson

I enjoy reading books written by advertising men from pre-Deepstate times. Admen were the real social scientists. They had to do real experiments on real people with real money at stake. Their experiments were automatically limited in scope by profit. They needed living breathing working customers. Admen weren’t funded by Deepstate, so they had no motivation to play Nazi games like Milgram, and no motivation to train CIA torturers.

American Radio Library has added a pile of Advertising and Selling from the 10s and 20s. The late 20s was similar in some ways to the QE boom of 2008. Interest wasn’t zero, but there was a seemingly unlimited inflow of money to Wall Street. Business lost contact with the needs of customers.

An editorial in August 1926 attempted to reconnect admen to the GROUND of social reality.

Desk Disease, a form of office-boundness, is a malady not uncommon to advertising agencies. It is an insidious disease that creeps over an organization and, little by little, paralyzes its thinking. There is, fortunately, a specific for Desk Disease. It might be called “Ruskin’s Specific.” This famous English writer discovered that if what he wrote was to be convincing, he would have to put in the conviction by means of personal contact with the thing he was writing about. “Half my power of ascertaining facts of any kind connected with the arts,” said Ruskin, “lies in my stern habit of doing the thing with my own hands until I know its difficulties.” In a word, Ruskin knew the value of getting the feel of a thing from direct contact. It is said that he labored at a carpenter’s bench until he could make an even shaving six feet long, and at house-painting until he had “the feel of the master’s superiority in the use of a blunt brush,” before writing of these things.

Had Ruskin been an advertising man, we think he would have added to his specific the even more important habit of getting out and meeting the people who form the market.

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I’ve noticed something similar in my writing here, and in my graphics output at ShareCG. The audience response to the blog is uncorrelated, but the response to the “art” is easy and consistent. When I model a place or device that I’ve physically experienced, I like the result and the audience likes the result. When I do abstract research and make something I’ve never seen, I don’t like it and the audience doesn’t like it.

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