profile of JAKECLELAND

AOL's "digital prophet" is why we can't have nice things

When you spend a lot of time around adults, you tend to have circular conversations involving the word 'economy'. "You hear about the economy?" "Yeah, what's the deal with this economy?" "Ha, in this economy?" and so on. Science people have decided that Millennials - the generation in the early years of what old people once called "careers" - will change jobs every 2-3 years, or will hold down multiple jobs simultaneously, diversifying their income. Naturally, make-believe job titles like "digital prophet" are perfect for this bananas new era in which people just invent jobs in the hope of earning a living, y'know, in this economy.

David "Shingy" Shing (pictured above - seriously) is one such digital prophet - essentially a trend forecaster but with a stupid title appropriate for the inane Silicon Valley culture in which programmers are called "code ninjas" and database admins are "web gurus". Only where the latter two positions are grunts on the ladder, Shingy is a highly-paid ad executive. "As you can see, I'm all brand, all the time," he smugly drools in this interview from 2011. He's also a public face for AOL, which means that at some point the people who run AOL decided it would be a good idea for this to represent AOL as a whole.

Shingy popped into the public consciousness earlier this week after appearing on MSNBC's The Cycle, a show about god knows what, where his extra-who-got-lost-on-the-way-home-from-the-Matrix-set hairdo captured Twitter for 20 minutes. On the show, Shing talks about "screen ecosystem" and "the collaboration age" and "mobile intimacy" (duh dude, we've seen Her) and describes a dystopia in which our clothes talk to us about yoga. And the good news is, this'll all help businesses sell you stuff! Great!

Incidentally, the rolling Twitter stream displays a tweet from the New York Times at the beginning of the segment - "Technology companies can now disclose more about the data the government forces them to turn over" - reminding us that as we volunteer all this new information about ourselves so Lululemon can pick the best stretchy pants for us, it's always becoming easier for anyone to spy on us. Cool future!

And yet despite looking like a Tokio Hotel superfan/walking midlife crisis/living parody of advertising and tech culture, the reason we're all talking about Shingy and not his presumably lower-key contemporaries is precisely because of his ridiculous appearance. Congratulations on another successful branding exercise, Shingy. On the other hand, by looking so much like a dad trying to fit in at a concert for tweens - which is really AOL's public image in a nutshell - maybe all the negative attention will find his job opening up soon. In which case, youngsters, you better polish that CV and start working on your personal brand.

You can watch Shing's segment at The Cycle. Or watch the video for Chingy's 'Right Thurr' below which, frankly, is a much better use of your time.


profile of JAKECLELAND

1 comments so far..

  • tojo2000's avatar
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    tojo2000
    Date and time
    Sunday 09 Feb 2014 - 8:53 AM
    Nobody with an ounce of self-respect uses terms like "code ninja" and "web guru". They're mostly the province of recruiter emails. The kind that go straight to the trash.
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