Tuesday, July 05, 2005

At The End of the Day, It's Just a Book

It's easy to forget, sometimes, that hype surrounds our daily existence. Many things purport to be life-changing, but really, how many valid 'paradigm shifts' can there be? If we're honest with ourselves, only a handful of events qualify from the last century: relativity, quantum mechanics, the Manhattan Project, the Holocaust, Sputnik, and 9/11 are the only ones I can think of. Yet the world of advertising demands that each purchase made be more sensational than the last. I don't necessarily have a problem with that; I'm a good capitalist, but we must remember, in the words of Public Enemy, 'Don't believe the hype'.

Two stories today put me in this frame of mind, one relating to another of Edward Jay Epstein's excellent articles in the Hollywood Economist series, the other a pan of Freakonomics from Tech Central Station (hat tip to the Instapundit). Both deal, in one way or another, with manufactured hype. In Hollywood's case, it's the new business model where huge advertising budgets build up blockbuster opening weekends (hopefully), followed by a complete tailspin brought on largely by our love of staying home. In the case of Freakonomics (a book I am currently reading), it's the hype of a publisher and author who want to convince the world there's a new way of looking at economics. Do I have a point?

Not much of one...just an acknowledgement that things can seldom live up to all the pomp and circumstance. I picked up God's Debris recently, by Dilbert's Scott Adams, and to read the cover blurbs you would have thought it was the most miraculous gift to man since central air conditioning. Instead, it was a fairly ordinary, kinda sophomoric trip through what essentially has to be seen as a vanity publishing effort. Disappointed? You bet...but the beauty of capitalism is that the NEXT big thing is always just around the corner...

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