Research on defanging

I’m a little bit fascinated with the idea of going over to hipsters’ houses when they aren’t around, and rifling through their pop culture possessions.

It seems like if you read all a hipster’s books, watched all her movies, listened to all her music, played with all her toys, and looked at all her web bookmarks, she’d have no way to show off her cultivated taste and connections. I think of this as a defanging. “I’m not much for using media consumption for cool points” is how I characterized this fascination over on MOG.

I haven’t quite gotten to the bottom of this defanging fantasy yet, but this CPU post about creating The Nod has at least given me a solid idea about a website I could make to express my troubles.

Sit in a cafe with a Mac PowerBook, and chances are you’ll get The Nod… Display GNOME on your ThinkPad and you’ll get The Nod. But run Windows on your Dell and you won’t.

Why do some things get The Nod but not others? And isn’t it really the user that gets The Nod, and not the product?…

The Nod is a way for one user to tell another:

“We’re smarter.”


“We’re risk-takers.”


“We’re more indie.”


“We’ve been at this from the beginning (unlike these clueless newbies).”


Gross! I do love that this article was written for marketers, and I think that’s what unlocked my articulation on this issue. It sounds catty and obvious to declare that it’s shallow and maybe vain to use commercial products to proove your identity, but somehow hearing marketers make up catchphrases about it (“The Nod”?) gives me the necessary boost up onto my high horse.

So this defanging website, to express my troubles. I tried out several previous possibilities on Galen, but they all seemed doomed to hypocrisy.

My latest version is this: it would be fun to interview people about what they like to do and how they spend their time, and simply refuse to print any anecdote containing a brand name, a catchphrase, a club affiliation, or the like. Basically anything you could get A Nod about would be blanked out. Maybe even retroactively, if something you mentioned was easily imitated and sparked a trend. It could be sort of a Last Person Standing competition in inimitability.

It ties a little into this quote I read in the beginning of an Ansel Adams photography textbook. I think it was originally about Mozart, and it said something to the effect that “It’s no great accomplishment to be the first to do something. What we should aim for is to be the last; to do something so extraordinary that it can never be repeated.”