Do you need to understand the sheer joy of a pink, wet bubble splatting across your face to sell bubble gum? Should you have a feel for ladies' underwear to get a feel for the retail experience in a ladies' underwear store?
These critically difficult thoughts cross my mind on hearing that MySpace is has been sold for some unused Greek drachmas and a few hundred buttons from an alteration store in Pennsylvania.
It seems, you see, that Rupert Murdoch, the man who once paid real dollars for MySpace, might not have entirely, as we say in the creative world, felt what he was buying.
During a Bloomberg documentary last night, his biographer, Michael Wolff explained that personal technology, the gadgets through which so many live and breathe these days, just isn't Murdoch's thing.
"Rupert doesn't use a computer, doesn't get e-mail, and can't really ever get a cell phone to work," he said.
Is it that Murdoch didn't get the machines themselves? Or might it be more that he simply didn't see how these machines could fit into his own life? And if they didn't fit into his own life, why or how would they fit into anyone else's?
The odd thing is that one of Murdoch's greatest strengths always lay in his understanding of humanity's most fundamental desires.
Many laughed when he put pictures of topless women on page 3 of the UK's Sun newspaper. But what was so intuitive about it was that the chosen ladies didn't exemplify sleaze. Instead, they were simply girls next door who gave the paper's male readers a sense of a believable fantasy in the midst of what would probably be an ugly working day. (Disclosure/confession: I was, as a youth, responsible for creating ads for both Murdoch's Sun and Sunday Times.)
When Murdoch made large purchases, he usually understood not merely why he wanted those media, but why people used them and how to make those people enjoy those media more, thereby making more money.
When it came to MySpace, though, it was like a Lloyd Blankfein buying a hoodie.… Read more