Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Grafedia: Conditioning users to insecurity

The press release view of Grafedia is that it's a new social phenomenon.

Fine. I've never held the sort of rosy view of the world which expects a perfectly comprehensive and accurate description of something in a press release. But one of the jobs that media can claim as its own should surely be sufficient knowledge and scepticism to identify the whole of an elephant even if the press release only describes its leg?

Apparently not.

Grafedia, if I were to believe the cargo-cultists and gullibles on the promotional side, is one of those new things that demonstrate the "interface between the e-world and the real-world".

Here's how it works: you see an address written in chalk on the footpath or stuck with tape to the power pole; you use your mobile to send a message to the address; and you get something (like "pop art on the mobile phone", now there's something worth having...) by a return message.

Inspired by nothing more than a press release, outlets like CNN (, Wired (,1284,66992,00.html), CNet ( and others have tossed out their critical brains and gone with the "wow" angle.

Umm - getting a message in return for a message hardly seems wow to me, but that's another matter.

Have these guys forgotten that viruses are spread by users who open messages from unknown sources?

Have they forgotten that sending messages to unknown places is a good way to end up on spam lists?

Ignoring for a moment that Grafedia is just another one of those lame attempts at breaking through the marketing noise by painting footpaths, it's really dumb to create a "social phenomenon" whose side-effect is to condition users to behave in an insecure manner.

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