Santa Claus, Technology Propagandist - InformationWeek

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Commentary
12/25/2009
03:14 PM
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Santa Claus, Technology Propagandist

A good number of kids will go to bed tonight thinking at least two things about the traditions of Christmas: first, they'll consciously be thankful and thrilled about their presents and, unconsciously, they'll have been further indoctrinated into the miracles of technology.

A good number of kids will go to bed tonight thinking at least two things about the traditions of Christmas: first, they'll consciously be thankful and thrilled about their presents and, unconsciously, they'll have been further indoctrinated into the miracles of technology.I'm all for the true meaning of the season and all that, and I love those idle "what engine thrust would be required to lift a sled into the sky" questions, but it occurs to me that the very idea of Santa Claus is a tech promotional tool.

Though based on many earlier and sometimes disparate myths and traditions, our modern-day conception of Mr. Claus originated in the Industrial Revolution of 19th Century America. While his predecessors were various, often magical, and sometimes not wholly pleasant (and many didn't bestow gifts), our smokestack Santa ran a factory at the North Pole; the facility was staffed by industrious workers; and customers were able to submit their orders (a la a "letter to Santa"). Our Santa is pretty much all business.

It gets better.

Santa possesses a serious data crunching capability; his Who is Naughty/Who Is Nice CRM knowledge is world-class, and it enables him to determine not just what customers want but rather what they deserve. His annual trip around the planet requires significant, seamless systems information, in that he can access every conceivable security setup without fail. His propulsio,n, however conceived, is cutting-edge environmentally responsible as he leaves absolutely no discernible carbon footprint.

Santa Claus is a poster child for the benefits wrought from technology. I say the gratuitous gift-giving and commercialization claims are simply a distraction; his real meaning is to lull us into acceptance of (and dependence on) our tech-enabled lives.

In this sense, Santa's impact is even more insidious than if he were simply promoting buying gifts. The gift of technology is something we can't really return once we've opened the box.

Jonathan Salem Baskin is a global brand strategist, writes the Dim Bulb blog, and is the author of Bright Lights & Dim Bulbs.

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