Rob Frankel - Branding Expert

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The Cutting Edge is for Schmucks.

Well, here it is, another year gone by and even more of your online and computer technology is outdated. Not obsolete. Just a little old. A little dusty.

This is the time of year when you take a look around your somewhat disheveled office, pick through the paper clips and take stock of exactly how far you've fallen behind the rest of the techno-world. Glancing around the office, you see not-so-recent versions of Microsoft This or Claris That. Shrink-wrapped boxes and manuals of version 8 point something that you swore you'd read some time last summer.

Face it. You're old. You're out of it. You are no longer cutting edge.
But that's okay. You know why? You REALLY want to know why?
Okay, huddle closer to the radio and I'll tell you: CUTTING EDGE IS FOR SCHMUCKS!

That's right. You heard correctly. Cutting edge is for schmucks. Dopes. People who don't know any better. Now if you think I'm just rattling this stuff off the top of my head, well, you're partially right. But I'm also right for a number of reasons, which I shall now enumerate:

First, people who insist on being cutting edge basically have nothing to offer other than being the first at something. Big deal. Unless you actually own something outright, there's absolutely no point in being first at it. Think about it. You can invent the first online technology that streams a hot cheese pizza to end users complete with anchovies and lossless compression and if there isn't anyone on the receiving end with that technology, who cares? It's useless!

The problem is bad enough with all the useless software upgrades being foisted on you and me, but it really gets ugly when you start cruising the internet to visit these "cutting edge" sites.
I don't know about you, but I consider myself a pretty sophisticated net guy. Hey, I even have Pamela Anderson's personal web page bookmarked. But just try logging on to the net's latest sweetheart site with "cutting edge" technology and my little browser goes into all kinds of fits and conniptions and finally freezes because it's been blindsided -- yet again -- by some sort of weird "cutting edge" technology that hasn't even been given a name yet.

One guy uses Java applets, another uses Shockwave. And neither one of them offers a NON-Java or NON-Shockwave version of their site for me to browse! I can't get into their sites even if I wanted to.

Cutting Edge? That's fine for guys like Gates and Jobs and folks whose business is dazzling Wall Street with visions of cyber gold. But for everyday guys like you and me, I can tell you that cutting edge technology sucks. The minute you adopt it, somebody either has a newer version or a different platform, neither of which really matters to you, because both are totally incompatible with whatever you have running on your machine.

Okay, so if Cutting Edge isn't happening, what is?

The answer, my friends, is where you'd least expect it. The place where all your friends back in high school laughed at you. Where all your co-workers snicker at you and wherever People magazine isn't spotlighting some larger than life personality that's bound to be parking cars this time next year:

Yes, the really cool place to be is: BEHIND THE TIMES.

That's right. Being where it's at isn't what you want; being where it's been is where it's at.

Hmmm. Let me explain that.

By staying at least two cycles behind the cutting edge of technology, you're assured that people with slower machines and practically antique browsing capability can actually access your website. And believe me. There's more of them than there are of us.
Why? Well consider this: even the lowliest of Windows lovers will concede that less than half of all PC users have loaded Windows 95 on to their machines. And despite what you read in this week's computer superstores' newspaper ad, most users out there are still running on something akin to a 486.

Not exactly cutting edge in the hardware department, if you get my drift.
And modem speed? Sure, YOU might have a 56K flex. You might even be humming along on an ISDN line, thumbing your nose at the rest of 14.4's who wait half an hour to download a twenty second video clip of women doing things that would even make President Clinton blush.
No, my friends, when it comes to the web, accessibility is what makes it happen. And the further away you are from the cutting edge, the more accessible your website becomes to all us cyber have-nots.

Java? Toss it out!
Plug ins? Dump `em!
Frames? Trash `em!

If you want glamour, okay, throw in an animated GIF here and there. There's your glamour. Otherwise, leave the cutting edge stuff to the big boys. They're the ones who can afford to throw a party and have nobody show up.

Call me old fashioned. Call me a wet blanket. Lose the cutting edge stuff, and you can definitely call me profitable.

Rob Frankel

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