Wawa or Sheetz? (A Pennsylvania Thing)

If you watch The Goldbergs, you know about Wawa. It’s that place of wonders where the JTP gathers to ponder life’s biggest question. It’s also one of the greatest dining-gasoline establishments in the fairest Commonwealth in these fruited plains.

But Wawa is not without its rivals and detractors. In the short video below, I explain the drama, extoll the virtues of Wawa and its chief rival, and do a little folk etymology/amateur bird-calling. It all makes sense in context.

Then, in the comments, I get trolled by my Mom…a very un-Goldbergs move, might I add. That leads to a second video, linked in the comments, about Joe Biden hating young people. He’s from Scranton, so it all connects.

Enjoy! (Like I even have to worry).

Divergent Visions of the Past: What Would Google+, YouTube, and Facebook Have Looked Like in 1997? (And Some Guest Apperances)

Once Upon has their answer. I love the spirit of their project, but I believe the truth is much simpler, and it’s called AOL. Circa 1997.

Speaking of which:

Beck in 1997

I literally cannot watch that video for fear of the uncontrollable mourning that might pour forth.  Not a longing for my teenage years as such, but a sadness at how the Beckthos just didn’t stick.

MTV in 1997

That song is as good now as ever.

Is Google Rebranding or De-branding?

Resolved: People, for whatever reason, tend to view Google as less of a brand and more of a utility.

Suggested reasons: Google is, in fact, utilitarian. It’s under-branded to the extreme, and even its logo is generic.  Before anyone had Google accounts or Gmail, we were already using “google” as a verb.  The lack of flash, the absolute dearth of iconography…the lame font and funny multi-colored name, these things are disarming almost to the point of making you forget that Google wants each and every bit of your personal information even more (perhaps) than Facebook.

Facebook is nothing if not a brand.  Rightly or wrongly, we think we get what Mark Zuckerberg is all about, and that necessarily flavors our understanding of his company’s ethics, ambition, and culture.

I said last week that when I’m using Google+, I don’t feel like I’m in some proprietary fishbowl circa 1990s AOL.  Google looks and acts like a utility, and we’ve come to think of access to what Google does best (search) as precisely that.  Facebook is a fishbowl by design, and Zuckerberg’s quest to keep you in/on Facebook for all your webly needs shows that he’s bound and determined to validate and more effectively monetize Steve Case’s old vision. Maybe Google+ does, as Zuckerberg claims, validate Facebook’s (old) vision, but only in terms of ambition.  Plus is built with the relationships grown-ups have in mind, and Facebook was built as a college network.  It has adapted over the years to fit the needs of adults, but it still feels like your last visit to the pediatrician.  Early adopters are hitting 30 and needing a social network that’s intuitive and easily customizable, something more akin to real-world connections than “friending” and more useful and dynamic than boring old LinkedIn.

Last week we learned that Google will retire the Blogger and Picasa brands as they begin to roll those services into Plus.  Is everyone starting to understand that Google+ is Google, and Google is Google+?  Blogger.com is the epitome if Web2.0 branding, and if you’re not already using Picasa, it just feels like another thing.  So Google is rolling these brands into itself, making them more useful and more generic than they’ve ever been.  The lighter the brand recognition, the more likely we are to trust you with our data.  Silly, isn’t it, given Google’s size, influence, and sometimes-faltering commitment to publicly stated values?  Sure is.  But it’s also true.

Don’t think so?  Check out Delloitte’s recent study proving that we already hate branded apps.  While Facebook is busy becoming the largest branded app in history, Google is de-branding everything but YouTube (which also doesn’t feel like a brand).  Interesting, isn’t it?

Goodbye, Blogger. Hello, Bloggers! Google To Rebrand Picasa and Blogger.com

Google's homepage in 1998
But seriously, can we please bring back the ! ?

Eagle-eyed reader Joey the C sent me a link with the news that the Picasa and Blogger brands are going bye-byes.  I said the other day that Google+ is a great way to make Picasa relevant, and the shift to Google Photo and Google Blogs makes total sense as Google positions itself for the widespread rollout of Google+.  They need a unified front, afterall.  And before we compare them too much to the old AOL fishbowl (which Facebook is trying to become), the seams between Google’s products feel…nimbler…to me.  With Google+ and the overall Google account experience, I still feel like I’m out on the web, whereas with Facebook, I feel very much like I’m on one site or in one social network.  Thoughts?

I, for one, will be glad to see the Blogger name retired.  We’re all bloggers, and most of us use WordPress =).

How To Not Be Sad About The 90s

February, 2011: Some updated liner notes.  I mention below that I couldn’t wait for my 30s.  Let me tell you, but the time December of 2009 came  I was really, really ready.  Ready to be done with my 20s, to be done with the 2000s and all the identity drama.  Years and years ago when our grandparents were the Justice League, using your twenties for education and cynicism wasn’t something people did.  They got jobs, had families, beat Nazis.  They made things.

Somehow between their youth and ours, we got the idea that youth is better by default than maturity.  And let’s face it, turning 20 in 2000 wasn’t perfect timing,  with the dotcom bubble bursting, a war on terror looming, a subsequent recession that wiped away most of what the 80s and 90s taught us to believe we’d earned by getting into college.  When the workforce could not absorb us, we went to grad school, law school, div school.  Maybe joined the service.  Certainly, many of us planned to pursue these things anyway, but the fact that being a professional student until one’s mid-20s or later is still so feasible for so many people is something recent nonetheless.

I don’t get sad about the 90s anymore.  I’m in touch with long-lost friends (thank you, 10 year reunion and Facebook) and I’m over that whole quarter-life crisis garbage that I thought my first book had to be about.  Certainly, there are other, better, adult crises now to conquer.  So bring those on. And let them fear my beard.

I do still, however, dig on string theory and multiple universe hypotheses.

The original post:

The other day I tweeted (we’re really going with that?) a question about why so many people were recently finding my blog by searching “sad songs of the 90’s.” Some of the responses made me realize I need to be more explicit.  I get why people come to this  blog via that search, and I get why people search that phrase, (I heart the 90’s), but why the sudden swell in that particular search?  My favorite from the past view days has been a variation of this:  “how to not be sad about the 90’s.”

I’m sad about the 90’s all the time.  And happy.  All that good music.  All those good times.  All that bad music.  All those bad times.  I don’t know if it’s possible to not be sad, in general, about something you miss, especially a formative era that gets boxed up in your minds as having been a certain thing way, a long-gone context from some once-tangible point in the past. If you’re not sad about how awesome the 90’s were, you’re too young or too old to get why “sad songs of the 90’s” is even a search phrase to begin with.

Is plaintive, smart, adult contemporary music our blues?  What’s your favorite sad 90’s song?  I’d say more about why we’re all so wrapped up in these things but I’ve done that post somewhere.

Man, now I’m all sad, too.  I feel better when I realize that time is fluid and so are we and that the best of anything is always a moving goal.  I’m expecting my 30s to kick ass, so maybe the 2010’s will be awesome.  There are some things I’m resigned to miss, ala Bob Seeger, and that’s okay even if it’s frustrating.  We’re not used to elusiveness.  I can watch any sad bastard song I want right now on YouTube.  I can’t crash in the basement of the house I grew up in and find it on MTV.  Maybe we don’t get contexts back.  But they’re as fluid as anything.  They’re as decision-dependent, moment to moment, as everything else. Believe in string theory and infinite universes and know that somewhere you’re living through all of those things again, going one way or the other, and somewhere in the fullness of time you become you.  That all of this is your context, that all of it is formative, that you never stop moving or being or becoming.  Rejoice and be glad.