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Sunday, 16 August 2009


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T.O.P. ten lists anyone...
Like it or not Mike has his tribe.

Again, at least with photographic equipment, it has become more difficult to even handle much less try out a model before we (the great unwashed masses) plunk down our hard earned money. So we have to rely on other folks evaluations. I'll bet even where Mike J. lives there isn't a camera store within 100 miles that stocks a full range of current gear.

Actually, I have a pretty good camera store near me. They don't stock everything, but they have a lot, including a full Leica display. It has more cameras than Helix's main store in Chicago had the last time I was there.

But I can't buy speakers--there are just not enough places to listen to them locally. At best it's a catch-as-catch-can with a few random brands here and there.


I'm one who does not have a camera store within 100 miles, not even one with anything more than your local Walmart. So as John noted, I have to rely on the opinions of others which I try to gather from multiple sources. I'm cautious of Amazon reviews however as I've learned that some authors get friends to 'pump up' their book's ratings with positive reviews in order to promote sales.

I prefer to look at a photography book before purchase. Indiebound.org (ABA) has affiliate programs for local independent booksellers. T.O.P. might benefit from linking not to Amazon for revenue but link to our neighborhood bookstores. Many independent retailers now have affiliate programs for online purchase from locals. This way we can support great sites like Mike's here and Local "sites" like neighborhood bookstores.

Thank you Mike and Mr. Bennett. Bernays' theory as presented above is brilliantly clear and simple. It seems to explain, at least in part, the fanatical brand loyalty we see on internet photo forums, or the rabidly irrational political discourse that now dominates America's public media.

The trick though is to figure out which group. If you have relatively idiosyncratic tastes, such groups are hard to find, and the recommendations of the general public must be scrutinized with an eye practiced in discerning one's own interests from those of the general mainstream. Once you've found "your" group, though, such recommendations can be a useful source of information to counter the marketing hype.

I sometimes think that people whose tastes and needs accord with that of the majority are lucky; they never have to work too hard to find like-minded souls. On the other hand, being somewhat of an oddball does help one develop critical thinking skills and an awareness of the flaws in most mass marketing. (If one of your feet is an odd size, you get much better at figuring out which shoes will fit than someone who can wear any old thing right off the rack. This is true of ideas and attitudes as well as clothes and cameras.)

The current public rant over health care in the US seems to be a perfect example of group identity driving individual behavior. Regardless of which side you happen to be on the mob mentality is certainly evident. Who would have believed that anyone would call a man of color who happen to be the president of the United States a Nazi?

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