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Re: Sue Lives, and the Last Dinosaur Book Returns!

This idea of 'mimetic desire' as outlines by Tom Mitchell is fascinating
to say the very least.  I must say that the clever use of easy to
recognize icons sort of inoculated into marketing strategies really
instructs one as to how easy it is to capture and then sway public
interest.  I cannot tell you how many happy meal dinosaurs I have seen
clutched in hands as kids pass through the NC museum.

I wonder if in fact Dr. Mitchell would think that perhaps we could follow
this tactic to our own selfish ends?  As Jeff Hecht said, annoyance is
insuffiecient where action is definitely possible.  It seems viable to
capture people's attention with such iconic devices and then repeat these
throughout a program of !actual content.  As an example, the thescelosaur
Willo has become the chief standard for everything dinosaur, to my naive
surprise.  I have used the near universal name recognition (a dim shadow
of Sue, to be sure, but Carolinians all know the name if not what it
represents) to talk about the rest of our hall - bigger than Willo,
contemporary to Willo, etc.  The risk of over-dumbing or objectifying the
content is mitigated by the bald reality that public impressions are
already attached to the icon itself as to a single point; this
one-dimensional locus can only be broadened by comparison and relation.  

All this simply to say, is it advantageous to beat marketers at their own
game?  Do we risk succumbing to over-dumbing?  Or would this approach
acknowledge the realities of information in the (at least American) social


Jeffrey Alan Bartlett
Paleoecology Group
North Carolina State University
North Carolina State Museum