Listenomics: Falling on Deaf Ears

I like Bob Garfield. I really do. I like his schtick on NPR’s On the Media. I even sometimes enjoy his Ad Age columns, except for that time I accused him of smoking bad reefer after he actually commended an automated telemarketing campaign. Overall, I thought that he doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is good, because most advertising honchos believe much too much of their own bullshit.

But, apparently, he does. Case in point: his new project/book called Listenomics. As he explains it:

A year ago, I wrote a long piece called “Listenomics” (registration required), about how open-source principles are already changing the economy and the society, and how the world of marketing is therefore being turned upside down. It was a sort of manifesto on consumer control, and it generated an enormous response.

Well, now comes “Listenomics: the Book,” which I’ll be writing right here, in this space, over the next 18 months. With your help, I hope.

The idea is to put it together, chapter by chapter, with ideas, criticism and corrections coming from all of you out in the Bobosphere. (You may think of it this way.) It’s no wiki; I’m the sole author. And it will be owned lock, stock and hypertext by my employer, Crain Communications. But who cares? It’s being produced in full public view for public view.

Well, I kind of care. He’s selling a used car here, and a lemon at that. Although he does say Listenomics isn’t a wiki, what is it then? He’s going to write words online, then have experts and pundits comment, add to and abridge the writing in a public forum. Sounds like a blog to me. But what happens when lots of people contribute, but only Garfield gets the dough? (Or rather, he gets part of the dough that goes to Crain Communications).

In other words, the thing that makes blogs and wikis great — that anyone can contribute and comment — is hinged on the fact that no one is making a lot of money from the party. Well, some do make some coin from banner ads and sponsored advertorial (for shame). But for the vast majority of bloggers, the passion isn’t driven by profit.

This idea seems half-baked to me. It sounds more like a blog than a book, although at the end of the day, you can bet your ass all the words will be compiled between two hard covers, with a snazzy photo on the cover, platitudes from Gladwell and Peters, and a hefty Crain-like pricetag of over $34.99.

Click on the link Garfield gives us in his project description. The photo is an apt analogy to Listenomics. And Bob Garlfield, for all his salt, is one smart monkey.


  1. I’m not a business guy or an advertizing exec. I’m a leader of a small but life changing non-profit. Being of the post modern generation i am intrigued by XM and i would agree totally with your take on this. It sounds like a scam to me. I wish i could convince Douce to write my Blog for me. Having said that, I almost bought your book today at indigo for precisely $34.99. I guess everyone has to make a living somehow.

  2. Have you seen the sign in form that you need to fill in to comment?
    Seriously, I bailed as soon as I saw it, I don’t need to comment that much.

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