[EAS]Retro Attitudes

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Wed Dec 18 18:16:22 EST 2002

Subject:   Retro Attitudes

(from NewsScan Daily, 18 December 2002)

A study by a group of finance professors at Purdue University shows
that  companies that shed their dot-com names, or some other hip, New
Economy  variation like E*twoMEDIA, saw their share prices rise 15.8%
the day the  news hit the market and a total of 21.6% in the 30 days
following the  switch. "I think we are very firmly stating investors
are irrational, and  here is one of their biases," says P. Raghavendra
Rau, one of the study's  authors. The group uncovered a number of
companies that had played the  dot-com game both ways -- adding it on
a couple of years ago to get a  boost, and then dropping it recently
to get yet another boost. For example,  the company formerly known as
Publishing Co. of North America changed its  name to Attorneys.com in
2000, a move that nearly doubled its share price.  A year later, it
dropped the dot-com moniker for the more conventional  1-800-Attorney,
netting another 40% surge in stock prices. The full study,  titled
"The Game of the Name: Valuation Effects of Name Changes in a Market 
Downturn," can be found at www.mgmt.purdue.edu/faculty/rau. (Wall
Street  Journal 18 Dec 2002)
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB1040163285667930633.djm,00.html (sub req'd)

Retro is "in" in digital music, with musicians ranging from rapper
Eminem  to country singer Toby Keith engineering their latest CDs to
include the  kinds of hissing and popping sounds that marred their
vinyl predecessors.  Following the lead of furniture makers who hammer
away at their products to  make them look "distressed" and jeans
makers who pre-fade their clothing to  save customers the bother,
musicians are using computer technology make  songs recorded in
crystalline pure digital audio sound as if they've been  abused by the
wear and tear of an overworked turntable at a fraternity 
free-for-all. "A lot of contemporary recordings can sound very
similar,"  says singer-songwriter Pete Yorn, whose "Life on a Chain"
hit starts out  sounding like a battered 78-rpm. "So, an old record
that's very dirty  sounding and all staticky can sound pretty good
when you put it on." The  trend has its proponents, who say it evokes
a bygone era: "It does give you  a historical reference and point of
view, and it brings back a certain  listening experience that you
don't get from a CD. I don't think it's  necessarily a more desirable
sound. It's like the Technicolor film process.  It doesn't look more
realistic than the color we have today, but it can be  more
beautiful," says Rick Rubin, head of American Recordings and producer 
of the Beastie Boys, Run-DMC, Johnny Cash, Tom Petty and others. On
the  other hand, some say getting nostalgic for the crackle of vinyl
is akin to  pining away for the smoky exhaust of a 1964 Studebaker. "I
think it's kind  of silly," says Glen Ballard, a Grammy-winning
producer, songwriter and  arranger who's worked with Michael Jackson,
No Doubt, Christina Aguilera  and others. "If it's used as a special
effect for some real purpose, I  think it's fine. But on evoking
nostalgia, especially for a lot of  listeners who haven't played a
vinyl record in their lives, it's sort of  two steps removed from any
real-world connection." (Los Angeles Times 18  Dec 200)
http://shorl.com/hekirujyrori (sub req'd)

Not good news for the proponents of the new proposals for digital AM
and FM radio, and for the continuing struggle of HDTV for market
share. --PJK

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