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Possibly the most glaring, distracting sign of unintelligence is simply copying others in an endeavor where originality or creativity is a prerequisite. Some hyper annoying examples of this are the rash of TV programs blueprinted almost verbatim from the innovator. While American Idol may not have been the first entertainment program of it's nature, it certainly perfected the idea through a combination of high production values, a panel of interesting judges and a mixture of talented and wacky guests to keep both sides of the audience begging for more. In the past few seasons, a number of copycat shows have tried to ride on the coattails of American Idol's fame and fortune. While their stupid names escape me at the moment, I really don't want to know what they are called. It is a pathetic attempt to make money relying on other peoples work.

Another horrific abuse of this crime is the rampant knock-off industry which creates very low-quality carbon copies of "designer" products and sells them (usually) at rock bottom prices. While this largely occurs in China and other south Asian countries because of numerous reasons, it is many times at the behest of "Western" companies who obviously cannot create a unique product or brand on their own. Many assume it's just factories in the Wild East that are trying anything to make a buck. Well, they make pennies on the bucks of the American and British companies that use them as a masquerade to shift the attention of the public.


Potentially the worst perversion of this imbecilic imitation-orgy is the simple yet absolutely brilliant naming convention created by Apple and the late, great Steve Jobs. Yes, the annoyingly popular lowercase i. iThis and iThat have permeated every level of our society because it "directly affects the bottom line." This is often the excuse for businesses making questionable yet unquestionable decisions. No one can possibly argue against the most popular naming convention to ever arise from the Computer Age in America. Yet while it is not possible to intelligently explain to these types of people that what they do is a horrible and heinous crime against humanity, it is possible to call them out on it.

This rant is not against Apple, oh no no no! They have carte blanche in this common act. They created it (I would hope) so they can abuse it. And they have at times come very close to raising the ire of this opinion hawk. While it gets just a little annoying to have an "i" precede every single product you make, that is still OK because that is their calling card. And people do make fun of them for this quite often, but they do it from a position of reverence. Check out this blog entry from 2DayBlog.com.


While those examples are in jest, the companies that name products the same as Apple simply to capitalize on the craze come across as pathetic followers. Take for instance the brilliant iStand - a stand for (and you may have guessed this) the iPad! It's a metal stand. That's it. No plug built in, no speakers, no lights, no automated swivel function. No real innovations except that it is sized to hold an iPad. Thus we must name it with an "i." Granted, it is a nice looking stand, but since there is no price listed we cannot judge them for abuse of the Apple pricing structure [read: high]. Oh, and the iStand comes with software called iCatalogue and iMagazine! Great!

A late addition to this article, the new iTar™ project combines a high-tech fret-board with a dock for your iPad. While it is a seemingly brilliant product, the naming leaves a little brain function to be desired. Although iTar may feel like such an incredible feat of word-smithing to the people in the project, here is some candid advice to them: step outside of your world for a second. Think about that name, it isn't too late to change it. iTar. Sounds like a derogatory term used to describe mongoloids or perhaps a slightly self-depricating yet cute nickname for oneself.

As if all the naming abuse weren't bad enough, there is also that little detail of using Apple's branding as well. This is the point that really sticks in my craw as a designer - and as a designer who really strives to create original art, never intentionally plagiarizing others unless it is an attempt to pay homage. The Apple abuse is rampant - and I am sure they have sent endless cease and desist orders, filed numerous lawsuits and generally tried to protect their image. But you cannot fight the entire world. Like the Louis Vuittons and Rolexes before them, Apple has most likely decided to only fight the largest offenders. Or at least the stateside companies where there is legal recourse.


Potentially the longest lasting annoyance from this trend is the residual effect on the youth. Of course they proliferate the heinous infatuation because they are often the ones talking the most about the products and every accessory and piece of software related to said merchandise. So when the kids' show named iCarly hit the airwaves I knew the apocalypse was nigh. Or perhaps just extremely annoyed at this persistent idiocy. I realize the kids watching did not name it, some over-paid, egocentric executive at Nickelodeon® probably thought it was the best idea ever. "Hey, Johnson! Let's name it with an 'i' in front of her name! Isn't that what all the kids do nowadays with their iPods and iMax?!" Sorry for all the exclamation points but executive business persons only communicate by yelling. I wish it weren't so.

While the "iTrend" may never die out entirely (and why should it, Apple will most likely continue with the name format for decades), hopefully people may grow a conscience and simply think for themselves. That seems very doubtful but sometimes all we can do is hope optimistically. Hope for a future free of willful ignorance and herd mentality. Likely people will get worse in those terms but with some effort perhaps trendsetters can push an atmosphere of original thinking. That would be a better world for everyone, including iCarly. Well, she would probably be hunted down by a murderous mob of village people and burned alive while everyone observes and nibble on scones. Oh well!

RC   (October 13, 2011)