He’s no Don Draper

Anyone who has seen Don Draper’s iconic Carousel speech knows that nostalgia is a terribly effective agent for emptying consumers’ pockets. Apparently, a reader at Daring Fireball saw a correlation between Don’s work and a recent advertisement for Internet Explorer.

Take a moment to watch both the Carousel speech and the Internet Explorer ad before you move ahead. I’ll wait.

I don’t doubt that the agency responsible for the advertisement had this in mind when they scripted this piece. Unfortunately, the ad falls flat for me.

I grew up in the 90s. I saw a lot of things I remember fondly when I watched the ad; if not with a chuckle at the absurdity of the 90s aesthetic. I did feel connected with the images, but why didn’t I feel connected to the product?

Don Draper tells us we should be nostalgic, but not because we have a strong sentimental attachment to film slides. We feel what we do because of what the Carousel delivers. We insert our slides, dim the lights, and we are taken back to “a place where we know we are loved”.

Sob.

Unfortunately, yeterday’s Internet is gone. Internet Explorer cannot bring it back. Therefore, the product fails to deliver on the promise of the ad. That, I think, is the disconnect, and it’s the reason the ad falls flat for me.

The new patent troll economy

Microsoft pays patent fees; film at eleven

Normally, this story wouldn’t even be news — patent deals are cut all the time — but there’s an obvious strategy being developed here. Microsoft has identified patents as the most effective attack against anyone seeking to profit from FOSS. Rather than attack FOSS directly, you dump as much money as you can in to littering the intellectual property space for a given product with patent mines. Step on a patent mine and all of the sudden you’re paying Microsoft (or someone else) for sitting on their ass and building a patent portfolio rather than innovating with any real products.

Under the old rules of engagement, patents were the equivalent of nuclear warheads. No one really wanted to use them, but they were good for making sure that your buddies across the street didn’t fire off a salvo of patent suits in your direction. The problem for FOSS is that software patents are ideologically reprehensible to most of the people involved, therefore patents are not sought, and the intellectual property battlefield falls in to the hands of the patent trolls and big corporations.

As things stand today, we’re looking at a future where patents become a large market in and of themselves. Big corporations will push for international cooperation for patent enforcement, and up-and-coming companies who benefit from FOSS are going to face significant new risks. The biggest losers will be consumers. Virtually all of the new internet giants stand on the shoulders of FOSS. It’s only matter of time before the patent trolls find ways to attack everyone using their “IP”.

Remember that anti-XSS feature we put in IE8?

Yeah, well, it looks like it’s actually the source of XSS attacks now.

Sorry. We suck at this.

Sincerely,
Microsoft