When Barbie was â€œborn" into the Mattel family of toys in 1959, she wasnâ€™t just a doll. She was the epicenter of a retail revolution.
When parents bought their baby-boomer girls a Barbie, they were agreeing to an unspoken but implicit contract with the toy store to return time and again and buy stuff â€“ lots more stuff â€“ for Barbie.
Thatâ€™s how Mattel envisioned her. A kid wouldnâ€™t be happy with just the Barbie and some clothes like any earlier doll would offer. Nope, Mattel created an entire fantasy world, with price tags attached to every damned thing in that world, from friends like Midge and sister Skipper, and of course, the sexless boyfriend Ken (whose irony-drenched advertising slogan was â€œKenâ€¦. Heâ€™s a Doll!") to Barbie houses, Barbie Sports cars, carrying cases, closets, apartments with Barbie-sized furniture, picnic sets and even a tiny Barbie Doll for Barbie to own!
(Note: I worked for DenverPost.com from 2003-2006.)
No, don't barf. I know a lot of people -- especially the kind of people who read blogs, who I think are by nature technologically savvy and opinionated -- hate even the concept of AOL and everything the company stands for.
But hear me out, because I truly believe that without AOL and its millions of users, the Internet wouldn't have evolved as quickly as it has into an everyday part of our lives.
Washington Post technology writer Robert MacMillan wrote today in his "Random Access" column about RSS feeds, and how RSS is too complicated and technical to become mainstream, even though there's a huge buzz about it in the online media.
I agree completely with him. RSS is bogged down deeply in geek quotient.
What do critics know?
I was a rock critic for years, and I always knew my opinion was just one crabby personâ€™s opinion â€“ nothing more, nothing less. Yeah, sure, I felt like I knew more than a lot of other people about rock and roll, and that gave me the right to spout off about my good taste.
But really, I knew I wasnâ€™t gonna change anyoneâ€™s mind about a group they hated or liked. I figured the best I could do was to introduce new and little-known groups or artists or genres to people who hadnâ€™t heard them before, and hopefully theyâ€™d like them as much as I did.
I went shopping with my 17-year-old niece Joann, whoâ€™s a music fan with typical contemporary tastes. Exceptâ€¦. When we were shopping, she bought â€œLynyrd Skynyrdâ€™s Greatest Hits, â€œ a compilation of guitar-driven â€˜70s rock that had been part of my generationâ€™s high school and college years.