Well, damn, but I guess my long summer of fire and smoke is nearing an end.
The other day, lying down for a nap, I suddenly remembered that I have to prepare a “reader” for the writing classes I will be teaching in the fall. This filled me with a vast irritation that did not, nonetheless, keep me from napping. But I woke up thinking about it.
For a few quarters, I tried not to have a reader and put the readings up on the net so students could download them, print them out and read, but they were not doing it partly because the ink for those damn printers costs so much, and when they did sometimes print they all used different formats and so sometimes the page numbers didn’t match and we would all be looking at different page numbers, so I went back to constructing a mini-reader with articles gathered from here and there all about, in this case, “the consumer society.”
Speaking of which—the consumer society, I mean—those guys who make printers were not the first to sell the product, i.e., the printer for next to nothing or very little, knowing full well that they would make fortunes selling the stuff that makes the printer work. In this case the ink.
Kodak did it back in 1906-07. They were practically giving that damn Brownie away. It sold for 1 dollar. True, I don’t know what a dollar was worth back in 1907 but it couldn’t have been an awful lot. Lured on by the very low introductory offer to the machine itself one might have failed to note that the cost for film and developing ran about a dollar a pop. That’s what kept the dollars rolling in.
On their celebratory website marking the 100th anniversary of the Brownie, the Kodak people proudly note that they were one of the first businesses to advertise their product extensively to children. Indeed one finds in their print ads, many references to children, and in their magazine ads children are frequently presented in the pictures. An interesting tactic indeed, employed all too frequently since. An absolutely new product is introduced; and because no one really knows what it is or what it does, it is advertised as a toy or plaything that does not necessarily have a use.
I mean what the hell is a “top.” What does it do—it goes in circles; and what is it—well, a top or thing that goes in circles.
I must say the Brownie web site is pretty cool.