1 Feb 2011 8:00 am   //   Filed under: Over!

Let’s go somewhere else

History Eraser Button, you’ve had a good run. But today I’m officially moving my blog to a new place: www.breakingcopy.com.

Breaking Copy is a better blog than this one. It’s more focused–covering subjects related to writing–and under the hood, it’s much more advanced.

The History Eraser Button archive will remain online indefinitely. Thank you for being a reader!

Go read Breaking Copy, and follow BreakingCopy on Twitter, join Breaking Copy on Facebook and add the RSS feed.

12 Jan 2011 10:24 am   //   Filed under: Stray data

What I’ve been up to lately

Hello! After a period of quiet time on this blog, I wanted to share a few things I’m working on.

First, I’m developing a new blog that will replace History Eraser Button. It’s a blog about copywriting called Breaking Copy. You can read my first real post today. It’s about Sarah Palin and it’s called “Blood Libel.”

Breaking Copy is still being developed and may have some bugs. I’m planning to spend the next few weeks ironing out the wrinkles, with a real launch date of February 1, 2011.

Also during the holidays, I created a page about the history of the building where I’m living now. See my 63 Wall Street Scrapbook.

Thanks for reading and watch this space soon for more information about the Breaking Copy blog.

1 Nov 2010 7:20 am   //   Filed under: Misc

A note to readers

Dear friends,

Thanks for making 2010 a great year for History Eraser Button! It’s been heartening to watch this blog grow from a small creative sandbox into a platform with tens of thousands of monthly readers.

It’s great fun to write on a blog, but it’s time for a break. I’m going to spend November and December enjoying the season and developing new projects. This will be my last post of the year. I’ll be back in 2011 with some fresh ideas.

Happy holidays!
– Daryl

30 Oct 2010 3:34 pm   //   Filed under: In the news, Media, TV

Some thoughts on the Jon Stewart speech

I just finished watching the broadcast of Comedy Central’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” from Washington D.C. I think a lot of people weren’t sure what to make of it (Is it serious of funny? Political or agnostic? Cynical or sincere?) but I thought of it as a smart marketing promotion for two very good TV shows, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. And as expected, the rally came off as a funny and well-produced live variety program.

The YouTube Moment came at the end, when Jon Stewart devoted about 10 or 15 minutes to a serious speech. He spoke about how, unlike what you see on cable TV news and in Washington politics, Americans are mostly people who work together to solve problems.

On a windblown stage on a sunny afternoon, Stewart tried to make himself the voice of reason in American media. I think he succeeded, but in doing so I’m worried he ignored the role that passion—irrational, rude, confrontational passion—plays in making American work.

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28 Oct 2010 10:15 pm   //   Filed under: In the news, TV commericals

These ideas are crazy!

Here’s the best campaign ad I’ve seen this year:

I love it because it goes in for the kill with just five brutal words: “John Raese’s ideas are crazy!”

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27 Oct 2010 10:26 pm   //   Filed under: In the news

“Send the next governor Andrew Cuomo a message”

This is real—an actual mailer for Kristin Davis, the former prostitution madam who is running as a fringe candidate for governor of New York. This is easily the weirdest political ad I’ve ever gotten in the mail. Who is paying for this?

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27 Oct 2010 8:14 am   //   Filed under: Media, New York is different

“Our diversity is our greatest strength.”

I saw this ad on a bus shelter last night:

Our diversity is our greatest strength ad new york

The full text of the ad is:

Our DIVERSITY is our greatest STRENGTH.

When any New Yorker is atacked for who they are, what they believe or whom they LOVE it is a crime against all of us.

Keep our City strong.


This is a totally on-pitch PSA that makes me proud of the city. To the best of my memory, this is the first time I’ve seen the slogan “Love love. Hate hate.” That’s a seriously good tagline. Also impressive is how timely this PSA is—the text seems to allude to recent hate crimes against a Muslim cab driver and several gay men in the Bronx, fresh wounds against the city. The campaign was launched October 14, not even 2 weeks after the Bronx attacks. The ads are produced by NYC & Company, the city’s public affairs division; more information in this press release.

24 Oct 2010 4:14 pm   //   Filed under: In the news, Media, Technology

Phrase of the year: It Gets Better

The It Gets Better Project is so good, so spot-on, that it ought to be celebrated as a triumph of Internet video, social media and even the English language. I can’t find one damn reason to be cynical about it.

You’ve probably seen at least a piece of this campaign. It’s an online media project started last month in response to a series of suicides by gay youth who were bullied in school. Writer Dan Savage started a website and YouTube channel seeking videos of adults counseling kids to hang in there, it’s going to get better. Savage recorded the first video with his husband, and promoted it in Savage Love, his nationally published sex column.

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22 Oct 2010 12:00 am   //   Filed under: In the news, Media, Stray data

Chart: How much tax money do we spend on NPR, anyway?

Every few years, it becomes smart politics to attack public broadcasting and call for Congress to stop funding it. This week, following the Juan Williams debacle and just a few weeks before the midterm elections, National Public Radio is taking an especially hard beating from the right.

  • Mike Huckabee: “NPR has discredited itself as a forum for free speech and a protection of the First Amendment rights of all and has solidified itself as the purveyor of politically correct pabulum and protector of views that lean left…. It is time for the taxpayers to start making cuts to federal spending, and I encourage the new Congress to start with NPR.”
  • Sarah Palin: “If NPR is unable to tolerate an honest debate about an issue as important as Islamic terrorism, then it’s time for ‘National Public Radio’ to become ‘National Private Radio.'”
  • Some dude on Huffington: “It’s clear that NPR would rather play consistently to the left than reach a balanced audience. And for that, they deserve to be pushed away from the public trough.”

I’ve never been a big fan of using tax money to support media programming; its too close to the state-run media in countries with less freedom of speech. But the truth is, in the U.S., public radio hardly gets any tax money. NPR gets no tax money directly. Most of NPR’s revenue comes from private donations. Federal money is funneled through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which doles out grants to local stations, which can use it to pay their NPR dues. How much did the CPB budget for radio this year? $90.5 million. That’s nothing.

I’ve become interested in data visualization, so just for fun, here’s a quick and dirty chart illustrating the amount of tax money spent on public radio compared to a few other choice areas. I threw News Corp’s annual revenues in for good measure. All numbers (except the TARP spending) are from FY 2010.

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20 Oct 2010 7:00 am   //   Filed under: Media, Technology

Facebook and freedom

The other day at work, someone spotted a customer complaint on a social network that I don’t use. I got started setting up a profile so I could respond to the customer and try to put things right. (This is a big part of what marketers do these days, in case you were wondering.) It felt like a million steps. The web site demanded a profile picture, and insisted that it be a photo of an actual person (not a logo), or else your messages would be deleted. I also noticed this site already had two entries for our company, under two slightly different names, both with an incorrect address and phone number. It soon became clear I would need to set up 3 profiles, one for each incorrect version of the company, and one for myself (since you can’t send messages from a company to an individual, which was all I really wanted to do in the first place).

I might have been better off just letting it go, but I wanted to do the right thing. Unfortunately, it became a huge frustration rather than a positive communications experience. Basically, I was letting a company I heretofore never cared about suddenly push me around, demanding my picture and phone number and a big chunk of my time. (You may have already guessed that the site I’m talking about is Yelp.) How annoying!

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