Brand Underground feedback

The “brand underground” story got a number of interesting reactions, ranging (predictably) from those who thought the piece was too adulatory, and those who found it too critical. The criticisms I got by email and in the comments to last week’s posting of the story on this site leaned slightly toward the “too adulatory.” Criticisms on blogs leaned a bit the other way. Obviously those who liked the story said similar things whatever by whatever means. For what it’s worth, the three main subjects of the story all seemed to think they were treated fairly, which undercuts the theory the theory that I was dismissive of them, but could be taken as evidence in support of the theory that I gave them too much hype.

Anyway, here’s a representation of what my (vanity-driven?) search for online feedback yielded.

Con: Coutorture says I’m old and un-nuanced and meandering and I just don’t get it; full-on attack by TrendyNation for allegedly being too critical and dismissive; Acronym says outsiders, contrary to what I suggest, do in fact define subcultures (or brands, which Acronym I gather sees as being the same thing as subcultures).

Pro: Thoughtful response from Heyblog; kind words from Business Week’s Jon Fine, and from Freshness; high five from Vulture Droppings for admitting that I’m not in the target demo.

I’m not sure, but interesting: PSFK says (in contrast to the above complaints that the story didn’t take the brand undergrounders seriously enough), that my take was “too romantic” (but adds that the story overall is consistent with things that other people have already said); Owlspotting examines the issues by way of a recently-received T-shirt; Pretty Goes with Pretty says “It’s a metacritical Hyperconsumerist World; We Live in It.” The always-interesting Marginal Utility wonders if “the next culture ‘war’ may be between the cool types Walker profiles who are obsessed with their own identity and measuring their own impact on the world … and the people who reject that kind of significance and atttempt a kind of anonymity that will feel more and more like freedom.”

Each category above represents a sampling, not every single relevant post. I appreciate all opinions and feedback. I don’t particularly appreciate the various blogs that simply re-published the piece in its entirety without asking. Whatever. Anyway, since the Times version many people linked to is now behind a firewall, I’ve just put the full story on this site.

August 13 Update: The NYT Mag has a sampling of letters about the article in today’s issue.

More on the handmade…

A few further thoughts on the handmade world, following last week’s Consumed on the DIY thing. The most interesting response came from my friend Wendy, who said that in the course of some research she’d done on luxury consumers, handmade-ness was often something people cited as a marker of luxury.

That makes sense, although of course I hadn’t really thought of it in connection with DIYism. It reminded me of one of my pet theories, though, which has nothing to do with any of this.

I’m not a drinker of elaborate coffees, but I’m often stuck in line behind such people while waiting to order a cup of regular, black coffee. In those moments of boredom, I’ve concluded that forcing some kid to run around fidding with the espresso machines and whipping this or sprinkling on that is actually part of the appeal of the fancy coffee drink: It’s being handmade, right in front of you. I wonder if, say, Starbucks had located its mocha-whatever manufacturing zone out of sight, and you couldn’t watch the stuff being prepared, if it would have the same appeal. Or if you just ordered it and they handed it to you immediately. It wouldn’t be as good, right? It seems better simply because you’ve watched somebody hustle around constructing it.

Just a thought.

In the blog world, other reactions to that column included a post on Vertical Weblog offering some Devil’s advocate thoughts on the hipness factor of crafting; general crafter support; the small business angle; and a DaddyTypes post suggesting that perhaps the DIY “revolution” is led not by women, but by parents. On the other hand, maybe this column was another example of my “Productivist Bias.”