Post 14, 2009: Reviewing the Cuddlee

Sometime last year, Jo White (aka @mediamum) wrote a series of tweets describing an object called a Snuggie.

If you are disinclined to follow the link it’s a fleecy blanket … with arms. And it has a “so bad, it’s good” advertorial I’ve embedded below.

There’s also a parody video.

Now you would think that after watching the parody, I’d think the Snuggie is a stupid, ugly thing. But no … ever since @Mediamum’s tweets I had been oddly intrigued by the Snuggie.

So when catchoftheday offered a local alternative/clone, the “Cuddlee”, at a price of less than $20 , including postage, I bought one.

It arrived with this …
… which gives you a fair idea of what is on offer.

But I felt like I should go further and describe it in more detail. So here goes.

The Cuddlee is made of thin polar fleece. Thin as in you can see through it. Perhaps thin as in “spare blanket from a $40/night
truckstop” is a more accurate description.

The garment, if that is the word, has at least been finished with a blanket stitch. But it is quite rough cut and there are some small tears around the outside.

The sleeves are enormous. You’ll start to remember really off jokes from Borat when you wear it.

It certainly warms up the front of you, but as soon as you put it on, your back feels cold. This could be solved with some kind of fastening mechanism, but I doubt the thin fabric could cope with that. The lack of fastener means the Cuddlee drapes awkwardly and is not easy to wear while walking. Nor is does it make any accommodation for the human neck and chin, and its rectangular shape means you have to somehow shunt bits of it out of the way so it does not cover your face. The resulting folds have nowhere to go and drape in a silly way.

As I have been warned, it makes a lot of static electricity. My daughter has walked away from it with her hair in considerable dissaray!

Having said that, I have found it quite useful when sitting down in front of my computer. The back of my chair keeps my back warm and the Cuddlee takes care of everything else, other than the rear of my calves.

The Cuddlee is, if anything, too large. I’m 190cm tall and heavily built and the garment covers me very comfortably when reclining on a pile of pillows. 20090515_0311

Overall, the Cuddlee has some utility. It does keep you warm. But it is hideous, with its only aesthetic redeemer being the fact it makes you look a bit like the Avout from Neal Stephenson’s Anathem.

If  someone gave you a Cuddlee in, say, 1985, as a freebie when you flew business class on an airline owned by a developing nation’s government, you’d think it was pretty cool.

In 2009, it’s just tat. But it’s my tat and it’s quite warm and I think I will be able to hang onto it for one season before I feel like I’ve gotten $20 worth of fun out of it.

Post 13, 2009: Events need to get over the artefact, too

I’ve written several times before that I try not to attend real-world press events. They are nearly always overly-long and contain too much marketing-speak, so are not often particularly good uses of my time.

I’ve been thinking about why, and I think there are some hints in the decline of newspapers.

The thing about newspapers is that while they are nice artefacts, the journalism they contain is what is really important. The artefact of the newspaper has massive cultural inertia for many people, but the sheaf of cellulose that arrives on my doorstep each morning is now just one of several ways to distribute and monetise journalism.

I’m beginning to think that press events (and many conferences) are in a similar position to many media outlets, i.e; wedded to the artefact of the get-together in a big room with adjacent catering facilities, when the real issue is not how to run good events but how to preserve the information transfer they allow while thinking about how to use technology other than that embedded in today’s most popular artefact.

There’s one barrier I perceive: no-one’s very good at using the technology yet. I’ve attended webinars that were just the usual drone-and-slides affairs. If I had any real wisdom in this area, I’d be starting a consultancy around it right now, to help businesses take advantage of web conferencing and similar technologies to improve the effectiveness of their communications. Because I don’t have that wisdom, I’m hoping someone else does so they can lead a charge towards new ways of sharing information that take the good bits from the meeting/event artefact of today and take steer it in useful new directions.