Friday, June 26, 2009

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me

Before you shuffle off, that title (and the obscure reference to Rockwell's 1984 hit single, with its creepy video that made 12-year-old me afraid of the shower for longer than I'd like to admit) is not my lead-in to yet another Michael Jackson memorial, even though MJ rocked the chorus on said single. I will take credit, however, if the song gets stuck in your head on a ride, especially if you happen to be Pal Scott of Landscape Cycling, who absolutely loves my obscure, brain-sticking musical references. (Aside to Scott -- you out there, buddy? No action on your much-appreciated blog in a while. We aren't allowed to have real lives, you know.)

Bring it back, now, Digression Boy... what I'm really talking about is an interesting micro-trend (consisting of two measly instances) here at
The Cycle. I've been pinged via comments recently by two businesses I've deigned to mention in these hallowed pages, Kryptonite (hi, Karen!) and G and L Clothing (hi, Sara!) In the age of Google alerts, I guess I'm not too surprised -- all these companies have to do is set up a listener that pings them whenever some knucklehead (like yours truly) utters their name, and they can watch just what said knucklehead is babbling about without the hassle of wading through the rest of my drivel.

The master of this trick among cycle-web-geeks was the late, great Sheldon Brown. He was so well known, so respected, and in so many newsgroups, he actually put a listener on his inbox for messages that mentioned his name so he could get through the chaff to find the people who were looking for his help. Once I knew that, I always managed to slip in a mention of, "I'm sure Sheldon Brown knows the answer to this," when I had a particularly tough question for a newsgroup. It was kind of like invoking Beetlejuice: "Sheldon Brown! Sheldon Brown! Sheldon Brown!" (although he never did take care of that pesky Catherine O'Hara infestation...) Part of me hopes his old listener is still running somewhere on a forgotten e-mail account, racking up piles of messages letting The Man know just how much the cycling community misses him.

I suspect that my new reader from Kryptonite (hi again, Karen! tired of me yet?) is an indication of the lessons that company learned in the whole Bic pen thing. After all, it was the speed of the internet that created the monster, so it's in their best interest (or any company's best interest, really) to be aware of what's going on our here in the series of tubes. I imagine that's only become more true with all this Web 2.0/user-generated content stuff that's all the rage with the youngsters these days. (Why, back in my day, we only had Web 0.3! We banged messages in Morse code on rocks... and we LIKED it!)

Still, it's equal parts spooky and empowering to think that the companies (and people) I talk about here might actually be listening. I'm not naive enough to think that I can just flap my jaws without being noticed, but it's a big Web out there, and when someone actually wanders into my tiny corner of it, I'm kind of surprised -- pleasantly surprised, but surprised just the same.
When one of those companies sends me a product to review, by golly, I'll know I've hit the big time in this wacky bike-blogger business. Until then, I'll just keep reviewing stuff I've paid for myself, which I suppose makes the reviews a little more trustworthy for my rapt audience of six.


Anonymous said...

sure, I'm part of the rapt audience, but I'm only here for the random obscure Monty Python references. :-)

Maybe Karen can answer, but do you suppose the "K" company watches the whole web for mention of them? Especially when their corporate name is shared by a giant world of comic book geeks? (and I use that term with the greatest respect)

Or do they subcontract that work to Homeland Security, who is already scanning all e-mail and phone conversations?

Personally, I've been uploading some airplane photos from the 2008 Airventure, and am amazed at how fast people check out the new photos. Must have some searches set up for certain tag words. Technology is just amazing....

Steve K.

Jason T. Nunemaker said...

Steve, I'm sure your theory about the big K is right. Any PR person worth their sodium chloride has a running Google search looking for their company's name in the news. My better half did it when she was PR for a local historical house. If nothing else, it tells them just how much traction they're getting from the press releases they put out.

Iowagriz said...

I didn't respond in time to the original K post, but I was thinking of said post as I locked my bike to the rack this morning.

I appreciated Krypto's offer to replace my lock. But, I figure that I've had enough use from it (bought around 88' for my 1st MTB in college). I liked their gesture and I figured that I'd used up the $30cost over the past 18-20yrs. I'll buy another just because of how they handled the problem.

BTW-no cracks about an MTB in 88'. Yes, I was an early adopter.

Jason T. Nunemaker said...

Tom -- I got my first MTB in '88 too, so I guess we're both officially "old school." Or maybe just old. :-)