Sunday, August 15, 2010

Magic Of The New Millenium

bridging the oughtsIn 2002, I was in a DAS meeting I shouldn’t have been with my colleague Ms. Kimberly Rushton. DAS is the strategic arm for cross-selling Omnicom clients.

In 2003, friends of mine published a legal version of my report embedded in the novel Few people could see what I described. Those who did fueled a growing fire by giving me intriguing quotes, the sound bites that help with hendselling Poker Without Cards, my novel.As a result of this book, Ben will never work in advertising again.
-Douglas Rushkoff, 2003

Poker Without Cards was called a cult-classic by our advocates, and much worse by our detractors. There were a few of us who bonded together and inspired some readership. Why?

It wasn’t for my prose. What I learned in that DAS meeting. In Poker Without Cards, I couldn’t speak to exactly what I saw, nor did I ever mention the name DAS. Here’s as close as I wrote in 2002…

HOWARD CAMPBELL: I work for Omniscient, the world’s largest media conglomerate. Our goal is to create a full interactive experience with our client’s products in the most rich and realistic environments possible. Omniscient sees its clients as a revenue delivery system. They aren’t a communication company; they’re a human interaction delivery mechanism, servicing everything from recruitment to health care to private investigation and security. They do population control, overseeing everything that relates to employees as depicted in George Orwell’s 1984. Omniscient companies interface with humans. They are beginning to comprehensively manage human resources. Humans are not souls, but energy to be extracted and managed.

DR. WILLIAM FINK: You are being a little extreme.

HOWARD CAMPBELL: Am I? Omniscient companies handle everything that relates to humans. From company culture to ascertaining if employees are doing what they are supposed to, all the way down to screening emails. When voice recognition software is privately available, they will screen phone calls also.

In the above excerpt from Poker Without Cards is a non-classified, poetic way of describing Omnicom’s business plan. In a satire, an artist is allowed to use the likeness of public figures in works of art.

The DAS Meeting
Ms. Kimberly Rushton and I were witness to a presentation that scared both of us, how a communication company transforms into a human interaction delivery mechanism with increased levels of surveillance. We saw a 45 minute PowerPoint in a hall of cheering salespeople and strategists.

I had a hard time processing that event. I told HR I was going to see my psychiatrist because I was seeing flashes of color. Later, she would claim I said no such thing to her.
How naïve was I? Very.

Let me explain what this technology means to your average corporate executive, around the globe…

Imagine you are an executive newly hired for a Fortune 1,000 company. Your compensation package includes all you communication devices, right? Guess who retains the right to mine that data? Voice recognition automatically captures phrases with keywords. Big Brother is not sponsored by your government, it’s brought to you by your employer.

In Poker Without Cards, I treat BBDO and Omnicom as public figures and I refer to them as CCEO and Omniscient. In other words, real life companies BBDO & Omnicom are in my novel as CCEO & Omniscient.

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