This is installment #1 of a regular update – short snippets of commentary – I’ll be doing on happenings related to cleantech marketing. It’s intended to be a smell test. So let’s clear those nostrils:
- There’s talk of a new dot “eco” domain, with Al Gore attached as the celebrity. First, the last thing we need in the world is another web domain to manage (I’m still trying to get over the buzzkill from .biz). Second, the whole .eco thing will turn into a greenwashing tsunami before you can say Chevron. I can see it already – friendsofcoal.eco, monsantolovesmothernature.eco… the first one I would probably register would be a squatter site at puertor.eco. According to reports, the founders behind the domain plan to foil possible greenwashing by policing whether people deserve to have the dot or not (they use the term “filter”, but let’s just call it what it would be – a subjective value judgment, aka censorship, aka a non-starter). How about we spend our time doing something substantive instead? Gore is too polarizing for the dot eco thing to gain significant mainstream traction (one eco-leaning journalist recently told me that he’s sick and tired of hearing Gore give the same speech over and over, and even after all that Gore-speak people still don’t believe him). The idea behind the new dot – give 50% of profit to environmental causes – is a fine one, but the people who already own URLs at .com, .net, .org and whatever other dot could just as easily save their dot eco registration money and give 10 bucks a year to a good cause through Kiva, INVEST, Green Microfinance, Practical Action, Global Green and Global Giving. Conclusion: Marketing ploy that’s too clever by half, and ultimately a distraction. Besides, isn’t environmentalism dead?
- I confess I’m intrigued by the Virtual March that T. Boone Pickens’ organization has announced for early April. If 2 million people really do make their voices heard by policymakers in DC (by phone, email and yes, even something called “fax”) then how bad can that be, right? But I question the whole motivation of Pickens himself. Is it merely coincidence that two central components of the Pickens plan for planetary salvation – wind power and natural gas – just happen to be two of his major areas of investment? Further more, natural gas is just as much in the control of the Middle East and Central Asia as oil (more than two-thirds of world proved reserves). Why replace one foreign addiction with another? Conclusion: I enlisted in the “army”, but I’m pretty sure Congress is only paying attention to the bazillion lobbyists now lurking around every corner of DC (including Pickens) looking for stimulus money.
- GE’s ecomagination has pulled together an interactive campaign to help people visualize the Smart Grid through an “augmented reality” digital hologram. (Reality is enough for me as is thanks, I don’t need it augmented). But give GE credit for experimenting with something new and different. Unfortunately, I only got as far as the five-part instructions that began with a requirement to print a “Solar Panel Marker” (a what?). Instead, I watched an accompanying video that “shows how it works”. Looks cool. Conclusion: Good if you have 45 minutes in a 6th grade science class. Bad if you are a working stiff like me with two kids that want to go outside and play. Also, need to tone the geek speak way down.
If you have ideas for other issues to explore, send me a note on Twitter @mrcleantech