The Conspiracy of Cool
Knowledge is Power

Truth be told, my company is about as cool as the <blink> tag. The first clue was the complete lack of self-knowledge: if we were cool, why didn't we already know how and why we had become this way? (As it turns out, the magazine didn't know much more than we did.)

Creating a cool product and working in a cool company are two different things, and achieving one does not necessarily result in the other. Obviously, just being on the Net doesn't make you cool (unless your friends are still impressed with your personal home page). Everyone in just about every category is on the Net, and only the very best rise to the top of the traffic charts.

From an outsiders point of view, cool products equal cool companies. These products don't even need marketing hype to make them cool, though they may need the hype to gain mind- and marketshare.

As an employee, the product becomes irrelevent. We could be manufacturing toilet bowl cleaners and still be happy, shiny employees. There's a lot of factors that make employees satisfied, but all of them require bold, black P&L statements. Whether it's freedom to not work too hard, a hip office space, or fringe benefits, the company that rakes in the bucks can exercise more options to ensure employees stay high on the business. Unfortunately, new media companies don't exactly challenge the finance industry when it comes to profits.

Another problem is the hijacking of the word "cool" by the marketing types. Some in the company approached our new found cool status with cynicism. In a reaction not unlike Buzzword Bingo, the word cool became the subject of mockery. But whereas Buzzword Bingo mocks management consulting lingo, we mocked this word that was once the purveyance of geeks like ourselves. New media "cool" became a casualty in the culture wars, better off destroyed than surrendered.

In the beginning it was the programmers and designers that created the actual new media stuff that inspired and excited us, now it's the spin doctors and industry rags. Wouldn't the products be just as cool, or cooler still, without the marketing hype?

In an uncontrollable fit of neologism, these secretely rebelious staff created the "The Conspiracy of Cool." Using an alternative vocabulary, they hoped to return the idea of coolness to the rightful owners. While the result of this experiment might be dopeass vocabulary financial magazines won't touch, these new symbols may end up following "cool" into uncoolness, filtering upward into the commercial mainstream. At least the geeks can take comfort in the position of ultimate creators of bionic new ideas, even if their creations ultimately die from popularization...

Mime-Version: 1.0
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 1998 15:10:43 -0400
Subject: Re: conspiracy against "cool"

1) Twice

2) Money

3) Hamster-Jamming

4) Butt-Licking

5) Ham-Fisted

6) Shagadelic

7) skull-fuckin phat

8) Groovy

9) Dreamy

10) Now

11) Spot On

12) dopeass

13) neato

14) wicked cool

15) turned on

16) bitchin'

17) super

18) fierce

19) fresh

20) white hot wow

21) fly

22) rockin

23) bionic

24) Toilet Duck
Knowledge is Power
Marketing Cool
Why We Are(n't) Cool
What is Cool