"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 29 April 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

A Very Palpable Hit



How weary, stale, flat, and

unprofitable seem all the uses

of gut instinct! Yes, we've

suffered the slings and arrows

of outrageous fortunetelling

long enough: Hunches are for

chumps. Word on and off the

street has it that trendspotting

will evolve into an exact

science - the abstract and brief

chroniclers of our time have no

taste for vague inklings or

fuzzy-dice logic.



Chaos theory ... and Hollywood.

Urban anthropology ... and

shopping. The rote application

of science to culture still

impresses confirmed

behind-the-curvers such at

outlets like The New Yorker, or

Dateline. It's radical theology,

but with muses instead of gods;

it's The Pitch without the

screwballs. And now that the

brains behind alt.culture have

received fees in "the low six

figures" to provide fresh

content at Pathfinder, Tina

Brown can dispatch her pithy,

pith-helmeted scouts to verify

the latest findings of the

latter-day Mason and Dixon, Wice and

Daly. One minor detail

overlooked on West 43rd Street:

The frontier-town haunts of

bounty (cool) hunters boarded up

their storefronts some time ago,

and set up shop online.


[Matt Drudge]

In the new infomockracy, the cafe

tables have been overturned. The

stiffs chained to hollowed-out

terminals are now on the

bleeding edge, while the most

observed of old-line cultural

observers are merely blunted. No

more reheeling your Manolo mules

every three weeks - a lack of

mobility confers an advantage.

Though boxed into cubicles, the

new counterparts of Whether

Overground footsoldiers have

freer, faster access to the

entrails and tea leaves of

hipster life. Drink cheap beer

in poor neighborhoods? Analyze

the semiotics of MTV

interstitials? What, and let the

reports gushing in from my 15

Farcast 'droids get stale? What,

and stop training Wisewire to

understand my interests?



Driving that stay-at-work

mentality: A huge surge in lay

interest in industry figures,

from Amelio to Ovitz, marks

quite a change since the days

when the old Spy befuddled

out-of-town subscribers with

arcane references to Pinch

Sulzberger and Howard Stringer.

Now, professional and homegrown

online critics cover Melrose

Place and David Letterman, ICM

and Viacom with the

obsessive-compulsive attention

of an Oliver Sachs patient. Now

the lowliest coders are lost if

they can't reel off the names of

five telecom execs, five studio

helmers, and recite minor FCC

rulings verbatim.



The old scene-ic overlooks feel

like sterile promontories. Just

think back to the peach-fuzz

years before new media came

along to grant ersatz jobs to

legions of Bush-era temps

("Remember temps?") -

little-employed humanities

majors who banked up

frequent-flâneur miles in

refining their daintier

sensibilities and slyly

assessing the styles of

tomorrow. Some tools of the hip

trade: DJ record outlets, fringe

boutiques, and 'zines ("Remember

zines?"). Devouring movie

release skeds, book-publishing

catalogs, and J. Crew

sourcebooks between typing

tests, they could fine-tune

their mental sonar to the

faintest blips. Enlarge that

sector to maximum resolution,

elongate the absurdity telescope

to full extension: Pierced

pirates off the starboard bow,

Cap'n - and they're flying a

Jolly Rancher T-shirt from the

mast! Ambitious captains of the

Ship of Statements could wow

their desk-bound, dronelike

peers with dead-on critiques of

what's Surfacing and what's




Of course, not all the rules have

changed for sorting out the

intuition chaff from the insight

wheat. Collecting mildly obscure

references to lord over squares

still pays - just look at Doug

Rushkoff's speaking fees. And

old culture-mining strategies

remain popular even in this new

economy. Invest in a scarce and

seemingly undervalued commodity

(e.g., shower sandals as club

gear), then pump in massive

marketing dollars to expand



The steep and thorny business of

America's future will become too

important to leave to the social

scientists. Information may want

to be free, but forecasting

wants to evolve into a brutal

calculus. Through the magic of

Delphic databases, your work is

cut and pasted out for you.

C'mon give it a test drive:

Style yourself a

readiness-is-all Hamlet of media

trends, perpetually preparing

for next season's hits.



Or just hurry up and wait for the

270-minute version to go on sale

at Blockbuster. Don't sweat it.

Though the too, too solid flesh

of on-site trendspotting may

have melted into a cite/site

virtuality, there's still a

little time before it resolves

itself, dewily. After all, there

is nothing really either good or

bad - but predicting makes it


courtesy of Ersatz

Fish Image
The Fish

[Netscape Inbox Direct]

Barrel Image

The Barrel
[Predictions by Suck]

Gun Image
The Gun

Fish Teaser

net.moguls Link
Other Work By
Fresh Fish