We need to stop using the word disruptive (really)

Photo by Yosh Ginsu on Unsplash. Now that’s disruptive.

Tell me you haven’t read this one before.

Disruptive innovation. Disruptive marketing. Industry disruption. Young disrupters.

And on, and on.

I’m starting to see this world used everywhere, but really, for the past couple of years, the tech industry has been the number one offender.

Honestly, people in the industry need to grow up. Or maybe grow a back bone and stop using stupid, empty buzzwords that sound bigger than they are.

Think about what this word really means. The kind of images it should conjure.

Disruptive is your uncle over the holidays after he had one too many and someone says the word “socialism.”  Disruptive is a pig running loose in a china shop chased by two bumbling bobbies. Or the music your teenager’s band makes in the garage.

When it was first used by tech companies, in the late 90s and early aughts, it was a fairly reserved used, used only for new technology that verifiably, and justifiably, disrupted an industry.

You know, as in turned up the tables and changed the way things were done. They probably caused a mess, but after it happened there was no way of going back.

We can probably use this term, without sad sarcasm, to describe what cell phones did to communication, Uber did to transport and AirBnb did to renting property.

Note that while these innovations have been truly been game changing, they haven’t been without disruptive consequences.

Cell phones are driving us into increasingly isolated little shells, where we spend most of our time glued to small screens waiting for the next adrenaline rush of seeing that little 1 in a bubble pop up.

Uber has made hailing a cab from the middle of nowhere literally the easiest thing ever, while also producing a whole class of poorly paid people (without benefits) to drive the rest of us around.

And AirBnb? Well, say hello to skyrocketing rent and turbo-charge gentrification of literally every city or nice town out there.

Those were truly disruptive changes not just to industries but to the way people go about their days and live.

Since then, disruptive has come to mean anything from “new”, “innovative”, “cool”, “engaging” or whatever adjective that’s currently the flavour of the week.

In their continual reliance on this word, it only shows how tech companies are slow to innovate when it comes to branding, copywriting, and even understanding the sense of worth (or lack thereof) in the products they are delivering.

One also suspects that if a company is slow to innovate there, just another sad startup following the pack, that whatever product they are pushing is likely also… sad.

I suppose the saddest part is that my rant isn’t new. I’ve begun noticing similar aggravation from news outlets for a couple of years.

Forbes made a declaration against the word in 2017.

The Guardian, in 2016.

Hell, as early as 2014, NYMag.com was calling out the bullshit on this term.

That’s five years ago for fuck’s sake.

And there’s been no end. Even this week, I’ve seen fellow marketers use the word “disruptive” to describe their services (and some even have the audacity to name their agencies that way).

If all you’re offering is more of the same, but a simpler, easier, less stressful way of doing something people are already doing, are you sure disruptive is the right word?

Do you perhaps means “cozy” instead?

The bottom line: sing words that sound edgy, doesn’t make a product edgy, nor the person peddling it. It makes them sound like a charlatan, a poser, a wannabe, maybe even a has-been who can’t afford to think creatively anymore.

Using words like “disruptive” in 2019 certainly doesn’t make a company or person seem like a leader, or someone who I’d be willing to trust or listen to beyond their initial pitch.

At this point, I think it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing phone providers calling their services “evil”, brunch spots with “scandalous” menus, and email automation software that’s being billed as the “fucking antichrist” of software.

The only thing truly disruptive about the word would be if we stopped using it altogether.

Google Ads Giving Strange Errors? Check Your Account Permissions

I’m no stranger to seeing Google suite and other products go down or turn up a good old 404 error like a novice website.

Today, I hit something different in AdWords (Errr, I mean Google Ads) while trying to create a campaign.

It’s not down, there are no messages appearing on the site, and the official Twitter account is quiet, but…

I think something went wrong. I think something went wrong. I think something went wrong. I think something went wrong.

You think an error might have occurred? It only says so four times.

However, what went wrong?

I suspect this space is usually reserved for the explanation as to what went wrong, but instead all I’ve got today Google’s panic voice.

To make sure something really go wrong, I went back to check to see if I really made an error, but everything is copacetic.

To further test if something is up, I rebooted my com, signed in and out, changed computers and the same thing every time.

The real breakthrough came when a colleague who is also managing the account attempted to create a campaign…

And he was successful!

That narrowed it down to my account being the culprit.

From there, it was a quick check up user an administrator under Tools and Settings > Setup > Account Access.

It turns out someone had accidentally set my account permissions to “read-only” – meaning, I could review the data in Google Ads, but couldn’t make any changes.

Those types of permissions were only every used for clients, so it seems something went wrong when setting up a client account.

Of course, it would have been nice if Google Ads had been able to tell me this was the case. It could have saved 10 minutes of head-scratching and running around.

So the next time you get a bunch of weird, unexplained errors, review your account permissions.

Fighting a One Man War Against Magento

Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

It struck me today that I might be fighting a one-man war against Magento.

That’s a weird place to be in. A copywriter who used to be into web development versus one of the biggest ecommerce CMS’s on the planet.

Talk about some David and Goliath shit right there.

It’s not really a place where I expected to be in, nor wanted to find myself.

And certainly not a couple years back when I actually considered the platform kind of alright and thought my year and a half of experience with it would be worth a damn.

But then came a project where it all came tumbling down and I had the worst month of my life career-wise.

For a platform that prided itself on versatility, flexibility and being robust, it sure ended up being a royal pain the ass.

I survived, but the web development side of my business didn’t.

In response, I wrote a ranty, garbled blog about Magento to vent, and then the remarkable thing happened.

People read it. A lot of people. People just like me. Web developers getting fucked by Magento.

Reading over the comments from developers and investors who’ve worked with the platform, it’s clear that my story isn’t by any means unique.

The scary part is that story is by no means the worst. In fact, I count myself among the fortunate ones.

I’ve heard from people who’ve wasted years of their live stuck with Magento. Others, who sunk tens of thousands of dollars into that garbage heap, only to eventually have to pull the plug and start anew.

The even sadder thing is that nothing has changed. Magento is still a big pile of dogshit.

I didn’t think of it much at first, but by the second and then third year of the same comments rolling onto my blog and the emails hitting my inbox, I knew this was bigger than just me. Maybe bigger than a couple dozen other angry devs.

It had to be bigger, because Magento was and still is one of the largest ecommerce platforms out there. It’s bigger because Magento wants this fight to be bigger.

When it hit me, that’s when I became an anti-Magento evangelist. It wasn’t entirely conscious, but any time I saw a question about it on a forum, a suggestion on a site, anything, I would try to answer it honestly.

And the honest truth is stay the fuck away from that CMS.

Some weeks, it feels more and more like a war that I didn’t start nor want to be part of, but because Magento is still out there, ruining lives, I’m stuck in this never-ending clusterfuck of a battle.

I find people talking about it on Reddit. Others asking about it on Quora.

Dear God, the people on Quora.

It’s remarkable how many asshat developers mostly out of South Asia or Eastern Europe try to lure people into that platform. They talk about it being the best, how it’s free, and then sneakily add a couple of spam or affiliate links into their post, suggesting they could make the damn site for them.

Fuck those gargoyles. All they’re doing is luring more people into the trap. I know how it goes.

It’s something like: “hey, let me build you a Magento site. Unlike Shopify, it’s free, so you’ll save money.” And then that entrepreneur ends up having to shit money fixing their site with that dumbass developer for the next five years.

Fuck those guys.

I’d say that 9 out of evert 10 questions I answer on Quora fall under the ecommerce section. And of those answers, at least half deal with Magento – or more specifically, warning developers and entrepreneurs as best I can about it.

In all, over the years, I’d estimate I’ve messages or replied to over a hundred people about the woes of Magento. Add the fifty or so people who commented on my blog and the thousand or so others who read it without commenting and I’ve warned probably close to 1200 people.

I’m just one person, and all things considered, my opinion and reviews of the platform might have affected close to a thousand people who were thinking of using it and then (hopefully) learned otherwise.

In terms of marketing cloud, that’s a lot of power. I wouldn’t say that I’m an influencer when it comes to steering people away from shitty ecommerce choices, but I’m down near as prolific.

Still, it seems like I’m out on the front line all alone. I’m the only one. Why aren’t there other people like me trying to fix ecommerce, warn the world and keep people safe?

Okay, scratch that. No more maybes. I’m fighting this war. People have to know about the evils of Magento before it breaks them.