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Life is Random and Blink, Don’t Think

January 17th, 2005 · No Comments

The New York Times writes about the two slogans from Steve Jobs and Malcom Gladwell:

Steven P. Jobs introduced: “Life is random.” It’s attached to the iPod Shuffle, Apple’s teeny new music player. The second comes from Malcolm Gladwell, a writer known for seeing revolutions in small things. The slogan is “Blink, don’t think,” and goes with his new book, “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” which argues that our instant decisions can be better than those born of long contemplation.

These two marketing aphorisms – ad-phorisms, if you will – pull so insistently at the brain that they feel more like an affirmation than a pitch, and bear a slight tang of wisdom.

Both slogans speak to the feeling that there’s too much data and not enough knowledge, too many choices and not enough good ones, says Seth Godin, an author who focuses on marketing issues. “This desire to completely control the environment has started to unravel in the past five years,” he said.

The alternative offered by Mr. Jobs and Mr. Gladwell, is not quite, “Don’t worry, be happy,” but a slightly more nuanced: Relax. Yes, life is random. But you can enjoy the ride.

These two products come from different eras – the book from the prehistoric world before silicon, and the music player from five minutes ago – but both suggest to consumers that there is a way to remain thinking, feeling people in a world overgrown with data, options and demands, said David Bennahum, who writes about technology issues for the online magazine Slate and for Wired magazine.

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