When Google Apps Go Down…

I’ve expressed interest in using a service besides Gmail for my email for awhile now. Today Google apps Gmail went down. That’s the equivalent of a blackout for me. When things like that happen I’m reminded of what I dislike about Google products. I pay for several digital services, hosting comes to mind. The customer service I get for these services is nothing short of spectacular. Even during crippling hosting outages I usually get prompt replies sent by real customer support staff. That kind of service is worth paying for. I would be willing to pay a little something for real customer service for Google products.

Instead what I get with Google products is ads in my email, difficult interfaces to navigate and no clear way to get help when I need it. Every time I want to get a different email client I’m reminded that inspite of the awful interface decisions made on Gmail the actual search technology behind it is second to none. So they’ve got us, ads and all.

Sadly I have no brand loyalty to Google like I probably do to Apple. But the truth is I need it as much as I need Apple. I guess I don’t like being in a position with no alternatives. I hope some clever startup comes up with a better way to do email and blows Gmail out of the water (and soon!)


Branding thought of the day — It’s just Ikea

We had a client meeting the other day and he remarked that he liked some shelving we had and asked about it. My response was “Oh, it’s just Ikea.” Later I remarked to Ewa how that is probably not the desired response people at the corporate offices of Ikea would like to hear. But the phrase says quite a lot. “Just Ikea.” You know exactly what I mean. Ikea is not synonymous with luxury or quality, rather its brand embodies cheap practicality. Ikea is nothing special but will certainly do when you’re looking to getaway with having a semblance of taste in your furnishings with negligible investment. I don’t think this reality makes for great brand positioning for Ikea. It would be quite a challenge to change the perception of Ikea from disposable furniture to something of enduring quality. Ironically they do have a decent design aesthetic, which to me means there is some hope for better quality. The only real answer for Ikea is to make its products with better materials. I particularly hate self- assembly (because I’m so terrible at it). It’s difficult to imagine the day when I’d pridefully name-check my Ikea furniture. For now, as always, it’s just Ikea.

Jason Paul, number one on Google

Go to Google and search for Jason Paul. This blog is first right? Unless its some Google algorithm tuned to show me just what I want to see (this is highly probable). Strangely the profile pic is from Google+, a network I’ve abandoned for the time being. I have this blog listed in my G+ profile. Connect the dots and surely this indicates an unfair advantage in the rigging of search. Even as much as I’d like to think I am, as of yet, I’m not quite as famous as Jason Paul, the super human parkour artist from Germany.

Considering being branded

After a year and half of this unbranded blog (not quite that long I guess) I think I may reverse course. The idea to be unbranded was a statement against confining myself to one thing or gimmick. I’m Jason. Not just Jason the artist, the songwriter, the designer, the developer, the blogger etc. But then, those 5 things I just listed…that is what I am…or rather, that’s exactly all I want you to know about me. I didn’t want to compartmentalize my various aspects in different places.  I wanted them to live under one roof, this website. That is very convenient for me. However, a few of these things can’t really thrive in an unbranded space like this. Namely design and music. My design partnership with my wife has been branded for a few years now and the benefits of doing so become more apparent every day. I am slowly ramping up on music making and hope to be able to release something packaged to the world soon. That will require its own brand. So I’m willingly fragmenting. I think it’s the only way to find audiences. Just because you’re a fan of my increasingly infrequent blogging is no guarantee that you will like my music (and so forth). More importantly, music can take on a life of its own in the public sphere. It needs to be visceral and focused. Because I’m willfully fragmenting it makes me think I should reign things in here too. But then, maybe not. I like this blog having no rules except my whims.

The flattening of fame

Am I right about this? The age of social media has humanized many celebrities. Those who voluntarily engage with their followers via Twitter or Facebook have traded in the aura of aristocracy to remain among us. I think it’s nice when a famous person genuinely asks for direct feedback through these channels. I like that Lady Gaga is following thousands on Twitter. I dislike that Kanye West is following 5. I’d say he really doesn’t get it and she does. And poof. There’s not much more I’ve got to say about that.

Gary Carter

Another ping another gasp. I was sad to hear Gary Carter died. Honestly I haven’t yet read a single obit yet so I don’t know the circumstances. I’m not even a baseball fan (or sports fan for that matter). But the ’86 Mets…they were something special. I was 7 almost 8. I followed every game. My dad and family grew up in Queens so I guess I was predisposed to like the Mets. If you remember that series please concur that was one to remember. I still remember most of the players on the 86 Mets. Lenny Dykestra, Keith Fernandez, Doc Gooden, Mookie Wilson, Daryl Strawberry, Ron Darling and of course…Gary Carter.