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The Chaos Scenario by [Garfield, Bob]
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The Chaos Scenario Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Length: 306 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


Everywhere Bob Garfield looks, he sees upheaval. No wonder he called his survey of the media, and beyond, The Chaos Scenario. As Garfield explains soon enough, The Chaos Scenario; addresses the historic reordering of media, marketing and commerce triggered by the revolution in digital technology. Or, put another way (yikes), it's about crawling from the wreckage of the old order to establish a new one. Seems the mass audiences that TV used to attract aren't so keen on being massed anymore. They like getting their content (while interacting with it) elsewhere, from ever-more-fragmenting digital media that give them at least a measure of control. Nor do they like being preached to by advertisers, as they seize every opportunity to dodge TV commercials. That means TV is getting less and less cost-effective for advertisers, who are now looking elsewhere to tell their story. Which means TV channels are driven to air cheaper shows to make ends meet which, over time, could drive even more viewers away. Fortunately, this particular collapse, like the many other propositions Garfield puts forth, is far more entertaining as depicted in his book. Anyone who knows Garfield from his writing for Advertising Age or as a co-host of public radio's splendid On the Media knows he's irreverent along with informed. So The Chaos Scenario is more than a wonkfest: It's sassy. And it's startling. Garfield doesn't just sound the death knell for traditional media. He's arguing that every human institution must forge a new responsiveness to its constituency or else. Listen or perish. Why, all of a sudden, Garfield poses to the media establishment, is it so important to listen? Here's why: Because hardly anyone anymore is listening to you. Garfield has coined a term, listenomics, which he defines as the art and science of cultivating relationships with individuals in a connected, increasingly open-source environment. One of his shining examples: the Danish-born maker of Lego products, which tapped a global community of Mindstorm fans to help reinvent (not just buy) its line of robot toys. There at Lego headquarters in Billund, Denmark, writes Garfield, he started his journey as a chronicler of revolution. Not surprisingly, Garfield poses far more questions in his book than he has answers. (He has many suggestions for how YouTube could be profitable and he doubts any of them would work.) But the questions are themselves illuminating for the reader, that is, when they aren't triggering panic attacks. This is a revolution! summed up Garfield on the phone. Nothing is going to be the same! It is fundamentally changing the relationship between every citizen, consumer, congregant and audience member and the institutions that used to constitute The Man. Now, for the citizens, consumers, congregants and audience (plus members of the media's teetering Old Guard), The Chaos Scenario; just might be the killer app to help sort out those changes. --Frazier Moore, Associated Press

Tales of total industrial collapse have never been so fun! Garfield's analysis of the total disruption of the media industry (and how it may be reborn) is right, prescient and wildly entertaining. --Chris Anderson, editor, Wired, and author of The Long Tail and Free

In The Chaos Scenario, Bob Garfield ad critic for Advertising Age and co-host of the NPR show On the Media argues that the long-standing, two-way partnership between advertising and content is due for a violent rejiggering. This notion is a familiar one by now, but Garfield asserts that the big ad agencies and media companies haven't yet managed to fully internalize it. (Particularly television networks, which have so far weathered the storm in a way that newspapers haven't.) Garfield also claims that the painful consequences of this upheaval will extend to you, the content consumer. You've probably already noticed the punishing body blow delivered to your local newspaper after once-lucrative advertising niches such as classifieds and real estate got eaten by the Internet. Garfield's feeling is that your beloved television shows will soon meet a similar fate. It all portends chaos for the television industry. But Garfield foresees equal tumult in store for the big-time ad agencies. He predicts the gradual demise of the classic, 30-second TV spot, which has been the lifeblood of major agencies for half a century. His prescription: Advertising will need to be less about displaying hip imagery and implanting mood associations and more about interacting with consumers online, analyzing their complaints and desires (as revealed in their blog posts and Web site comments), and providing utilitarian information to those who seek it out. This approach, which Garfield dubs "listen-omics," may well turn out to be a more effective method of marketing. But there's also far less money in it. To illustrate this point, Garfield relates an anecdote about the Six Flags theme park deciding to give away 45,000 tickets as a promotion for its 45th anniversary. They told their big ad agency to figure out the logistics. Once upon a time, the agency might have spent lots of time and resources creating radio spots or billboard ads, and then securing placements for them, to make the public aware of the free tickets. Instead, recognizing the new reality, the agency just typed up a little blurb on Craigslist. The tickets were gone in five hours. Worked great, but as one of the agency executives subsequently wondered: How do you bill the client for that? --Seth Stevenson, Slate

About the Author

Bob Garfield is a columnist, critic, essayist, pundit, international lecturer and obscure broadcast personality. He isn t exactly a media whore, but he's extremely promiscuous. Garfield's Ad Review is a prominent feature of Advertising Age, where each week he singles out an ad for praise or ridicule and thus has become among the more pitifully groveled-before figures in trade-magazine history. In another life, Garfield is co-host of National Public Radio's weekly Peabody Award-winning magazine program On the Media. This followed a dozen years as a commentator/correspondent for NPR's All Things Considered. Dubbed by The New York Times the Charles Kuralt of Bizarro World, he specialized in quirky Americana -- an act he took to television, as well, producing pieces for public TV, syndication and CBS News. He also served as a political-advertising analyst for CBS, before being bounced in 1992 following an unfortunate Green Room incident. It was his most traumatic TV experience since Oprah in 1991, when he was humiliated by Mr. Whipple before a live studio audience. For many years, Garfield was the advertising analyst for ABC News. He's been a regular on Financial News Network, CNBC's Power Lunch and Adam Smith's Money Game on PBS. He also has been quoted by every major American newspaper, news magazine and broadcast news program, owing to his fearless willingness to speak authoritatively on subjects he doesn't necessarily understand. That technique is the secret behind his third book, The Chaos Scenario, to be released in August 2009. As a lecturer, panelist and emcee, he has appeared in 30 countries on five continents, including such venues as the Kennedy Center, the U.S. Capitol, the Rainbow Room, Broadway's Hudson Theater, the Smithsonian, Circus Circus casino, Nashville's Ryman Auditorium (Grand Ole Opry), the United Nations and, memorably, the ballroom of the Westward Ho! motel in Grand Forks, N.D. He is a founding contributor to the Watchdog Blog of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He's been a contributing editor for the Washington Post Magazine, Civilization and the op-ed page of USA Today. He has also written for The New York Times, Playboy, Sports Illustrated, Wired and many other publications. A collection of his work, titled Waking Up Screaming from the American Dream, was published by Scribner in 1997, favorably reviewed and quickly forgotten. His 2003 manifesto on advertising, And Now a Few Words From Me, is published in seven languages (although, admittedly, one is Bulgarian). Garfield co-wrote Tag, You re It, a snappy country song performed by Willie Nelson, and wrote an episode of the short-lived NBC sitcom Sweet Surrender. It sucked. Garfield has won many journalism prizes including some big ones and two National Press Club poker championships. He lives in suburban Washington, DC, where, in separate incidents 11 months apart, he has twice been rear-ended by federal employees.

Product Details

  • File Size: 751 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Stielstra Publishing (July 1, 2009)
  • Publication Date: July 1, 2009
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,186,595 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this as a Kindle book while stuck at a truckstop for two days, and finished it before I got a new load assignment. I got a number of good belly laughs and quite a bit of good background about the newspaper industry and business advertising from reading this title. Anyone who has ever experienced the frustration of sitting home all day waiting for 'the cable guy' will enjoy the chapter entitled 'Comcast must Die'.

Mr. Garfield's basic premise is that today's digital age is causing a complete collapse of the venerable print-based link between advertising and news content. Advertising/marketing paid for most, if not all of the cost of news gathering and distribution. When newspapers began publishing their news for free on the internet, they broke the link and are paying the price for it now by going bankrupt enmass.

'The Chaos Scenario' continues by discussing various examples of Internet-based advertising and marketing. Garfield covers YouTube, Comcast, LEGO, Twitter, Facebook, and how these and other Internet presences interact between themselves and the public.

The final chapter is a good discussion warning us all how carefully we must guard our own online presence, because once Google spots it, nothing you write online ever disappears.
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Format: Paperback
With or without a Kindle if you spend any time thinking about marketing, advertising or society Garfield's latest literary leap - "The Chaos Scenario" - is a must. It is a read far more ingenuous than its author. While Bob Garfield often seems overly caustic to agency creatives and their clients he has nailed it here. All the usual praise statements apply; - pick one [an easy read - can't put it down - share it with your friends - and - looks good on your cocktail table]. The book is not really another stern lecture that threatens us all with job loss if we don't listen. Rather, it is the work of a keen observer of contemporary culture and its relationship with media technology and what needs to happen to find meaning among the fractals of Chaos and to build the future. Garfield's simple admonition about the importance of the audience and how not only are they important and in control now but have always been so. Listenomics - his term, not mine - serves as a direction for market plans, creative briefs, use of the web - and for the teaching of this advertising craft as well. The cases used in The Chaos Scenario are beautifully articulated and in several, Garfield - in the journalist tradition - has been there and brings the reader an intimate familiarity with the circumstances. Glad he wrote it - glad I've got it.

Neal M. Burns, Ph.D.,
Director, Center For Brand Research
Department of Advertising
University of Texas at Austin
The Chaos Scenario
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Format: Paperback
I first heard about the book on NPR while driving, and I had to slow down to hear the whole program, then I ordered the book immediately. I'm a middle school teacher with a fairly strong technology background; part of what I do with my students throughout the year is try to teach them to prepare for the future and filter the overload of information cascading at them every day. Garfield's book is one of those that points out the obvious that we see every day and somehow we don't see. For the first time in history, we aren't evolving into the next communication stage--an era is ending and a new one beginning.

You will find some overlooked typos (ouch for an English teacher) which I was able to forgive because I knew that such a timely book had to be rushed to the presses with revisions occurring the whole time (which was confirmed when I got to the end of the book). I trust they'll be corrected in future editions and immediately in Kindle.

This is one of those rare books (like Kelly Gallagher's Readicide) that I didn't just read, but experienced, constantly going to the Internet to check out his references and grabbing other people to share it. One site that I immediately shared at a conference that sent the teachers into a feeding frenzy was [...]

I'm also a researcher, and I've been amazed and grateful for all the resources that are now available online or at a reasonable rate; I constantly use my subscription to [...] and [...] not just for genealogy, but for access to all the primary documents housed there. I've wondered about the future of such resources and the implications of copyright.

As I read the book, I also pondered the shifting future of the publishing business, upon which Garfield only touched.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first came across media critic Bob Garfield in 2005 when I read his Ad Age essay, also titled "The Chaos Scenario. His argument was that mass media is dying and that the Internet will never become a mass medium -- resulting in a period of chaos for the media, brands, marketers, and advertisers. That's my abridged version. Garfield's essay can be Googled. It is prescient and compelling.

Version One of The Chaos Scenario changed my mind. I bought the premise, and moved deeper into cyberspace. As of this writing, in 2011, I believe we have entering the marketing chaos Mr. Garfield predicted. I've seen it first hand with my clients. Almost all of my marketing consulting work is now focused on the Internet.

The book "The Chaos Scenario" expands on Garfield's Ad Age essays and combines ideas from his blog, The Bobosphere. My criticism of the book is that it feels more like a collection of essays and blogposts than a coherent whole, but since his title hinges on the word "chaos," perhaps this ad hoc approach simply delivers on the brand promise. In the prologue Garfield does admit "writing a book about the digital world is like trying to sketch the Kentucky Derby."

Criticisms aside, this book is packed with useful perspectives and real world examples. Garfield persuasively expands his case that mass media is dying due to high overhead, new technologies that bypass commercials, audience fragmentation brought on my more choice, and steadily declining reach. And he points to the need for the transition from telling and selling to building relationships through the social capabilities of the Internet.

Garfield's recommended start is for brand managers to listen to what people are saying online.
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