Trend-reporting firm publishes SF "Snapshot"
A couple weeks ago on the MediaBistro site Agency Spy, a blog about the advertising industry, there was a post about a mysterious (to me) booklet published by “an international trends-led publishing, events and consultancy business” called Piers Fawkes. The booklet, PSFK Snapshot, purported to be a sort of guidebook to San Francisco’s most cutting-edge culture, the places to find the real trend-setters, or “influencers,” which I think is the more current term.
Curious, I ordered the book (seen at left). It’s a square booklet about 4 inches on a side, and about 56 pages long. It lists a few cafes, restaurants, art galleries, community events and so on. The list is pretty standard hipster fare: Blue Bottle Coffee, Red Poppy Art House, The Crucible, Maker Faire, Burning Man. In other words, nothing you wouldn’t learn living in San Francisco for one week, or by reading this blog, SFist, and BoingBoing for a month or so.
I got through the whole book in about 90 seconds, and when I was done I understood even less what the book was for. Suppose it is absolutely essential to know that the most snobbish coffee fanatics go to Blue Bottle. If I’m in the advertising industry, what is that knowledge going to get me?
In fact, I was much more interested in the booklet as a product of the Blurb publishing website, where you can upload photos and text and have them print a pretty little book. If I were a photographer, or preparing a booklet for my mother’s 70th birthday or something, it looks like a great service.
A little more insight into the business Piers Fawkes is in can be gained by going to their page describing the one-day conference they’re planning in San Francisco in July. The list of speakers includes representatives from Microsoft, Apple and Facebook — and also from Critical Mass, NASA, and several “branding” and advertising firms. In other words, they take the smallest hint of the innovative or truly original, suck it up like a graphic artist deploying the eyedropper tool in Photoshop, and spit it back out in mass-culture consumer products designed and marketed to make the buyer feel like he’s doing something truly original just by participating in the marketplace.
I can just see these twerps standing in front of whiteboards trying to discern the essence of cool in, say, Blue Bottle Coffee. Is it the tiny, difficult-to-find, impossible-to-park-at location that suggests only the truly dedicated and thus somehow superior are worthy of partaking in the bliss the product bestows? Is it the surly staff that encourages patrons to think they might not be cool enough to go there, but perhaps if they come with their cooler, more attractive friends the counter person won’t sneer? Is there something blue about it? Does it really come in a bottle?
Coming soon to a Costco near… not you, but the rest of America.