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October 2012

2013: unlucky for all

DD2

Our last post announced the launch of Disappointments Diary 2013, a new publication from us in collaboration with Hat-trick Design. Here is a more exhaustively detailed description.

Disappointments Diary 2013 is a pocket-size (125mm x 85mm), week-to-view diary with a series of disappointing twists.

DD3

As well as functional information about notable dates, the diary includes a series of ‘Notable Deaths’, acting as a depressing reminder of the great people who have already left us. Sunset times are given in the ‘Onset Of Night’ section, while conversion charts include information on the relative weights of lead balloons and damp squibs.

DD4

Each week comes with a demotivational proverb, including ‘Genius is 99% perspiration and you’ve mastered that bit’, ‘There are plenty more fish in the vast, implacable ocean’, and ‘Another day, another net loss’.

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A contacts section includes 'People Who Never Call', 'People You Owe Money', 'Imaginary Friends' and 'Imaginary Enemies'. Blank sections include 'Notes toward a dull novel' and 'Pointless doodles'. There are also maps of the London Underground (unhelpfully in black and white) and the M25.

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Disappointments Diary 2013 is available in a limited edition of 1,000 numbered copies from disappointmentsdiary.com Advance orders are being taken, with first copies shipping on 14 November.

Sales are moving surprisingly non-sluggishly, so it's worth ordering soon if you want one. The more likely scenario is that you'll ignore this, have a change of heart in a couple of weeks, go to order one and find it's sold out because you were too slow as usual.

Disappointments Diary 2013

Vis_Cover

Today we launch a new publication: Disappointments Diary 2013.

An appointments diary with a series of disappointing twists.

Plenty more will be written about it on this blog, but for now, you can read some background on Creative Review.

First copies ship on 14 November, but we’re taking advance orders at disappointmentsdiary.com

It was a privilege to collaborate with Jim Sutherland of Hat-trick Design on this. He came up with an appropriately downbeat feel for the whole thing, including grey pages that get subtly darker as you make your way grimly toward the end.

More details next week. But why not just cut to the chase and buy one.

The end of the beginning

Picture 3

Someone has bought wrimb.com. A respectful nod to Eric in Massachusetts.

In a sense, this marks the end of the Hall of Unwanted Dotcoms. All 20 names on the original list have now found an owner. It turns out somebody wanted them after all.

Yet this is hopefully just the end of the beginning. I have developed an attachment to these unwanted monosyllables and will be tracking their progress. It would be nice to think one of the 20 might achieve some form of wider recognition.

I may also repopulate the Hall at some point. There must be more forgotten monosyllables that need good homes.

In the meantime, thanks to anyone who has followed or contributed to this, particularly those who got in touch having bought one of the names. Updates would be welcome, whether now or in years to come.

For the full Chronicles of the Hall of Unwanted Dotcoms, see this series of posts, and this post on Creative Review.

Remembering John Hanna

Hannaset

If you were reading this blog in 2009, you may remember a post appealing for information about illustrator John Hanna, who created a series of beautiful covers for Country Fair magazine in the early 1950s. Remarkably little information existed about him online, but thanks to a few plucky commenters we managed to track down more information about his life and work.

Now designer-maker Jenny Duff has been in touch to say she’s been given permission to create a series of table mats reviving those original illustrations. The illustrations were offered to her by the family of journalist and publisher Macdonald Hastings, who edited Country Fair. According to Jenny’s website, the family remember using copies of the magazines as table mats when they were children, so it’s fitting that they should be reincarnated in this way.

They make for a lovely collection. Maybe it’s proof that good work will always be rediscovered eventually, however long it takes.

The Last of the Unwanted

Wrimb

Since our last update four days ago, there has been a flurry of activity in the Hall of Unwanted Dotcoms.

At that point, there were just five unclaimed names left from the original list of 20. (For the uninitiated, this was a list of 20 dotcom names, all fewer than seven letters, one syllable and easy to pronounce, yet mysteriously still available after all these years.)

After the post went up, René from Germany was the first to get in touch, explaining the reasoning behind his purchase of klorp.com, grulch.com and blorph.com. Having initially rejected throdge.com, he had a change of heart and decided to buy it anyway. More on his blog.

A gentleman called Jacob Bars Bailey then stepped in to buy plooped.com, in the face of no competition whatsoever.

Another gentleman called Will then decided to buy skrolch.com

There was an intriguing admission from Big Iain that he was once the owner of throdge.com, but had allowed it to lapse – a claim he is able to back up through the Wayback Archive. This opens up an important new front in the Hall of Unwanted Dotcoms. It hadn't occurred to me that some of these names might have a pre-history. It feels similar to discovering there may once have been water on Mars.

You can catch up with all the goings-on in the comments on the original post and on the Creative Review post.

The most important news is that there is now just one name left in the Hall of Unwanted Dotcoms. As of 14:00 hrs on 8 October 2012, wrimb.com remains unclaimed.

This is satisfying, as it is undoubtedly the worst name on the original list. Although easy to pronounce, it would need to be spelt out every time it was used in conversation. That said, it is five letters, which is commercially desirable. As has been pointed out in previous comments, it might suit the Welsh Rugby International Marketing Board or the West Riding International Marching Band, except that neither organisation exists.

Deep down, I hope nobody buys wrimb.com. It would be nice for it to wander the Hall in perpetuity.

But who knows what will happen next?

The Shrinking Hall of Unwanted Dotcoms

Splegg
NB: this post will make more sense if you’ve read the previous Hall of Unwanted Dotcoms post, which was subsequently adapted and republished on Creative Review.

The Hall of Unwanted Dotcoms was a list of 20 unwanted dotcom names, all one syllable, easy to pronounce and seven letters or fewer. In the intensely competitive market of dotcom names, it struck me as strange that there were any such words left at all.

It also raises some interesting questions. What makes one made-up word more commercially desirable than another? Can a word be so intrinsically ugly that it has no market value? Why do we perceive some words as ugly? Could ‘gludge’ not mean something beautiful?

With such questions in mind, it’s been fascinating to release these 20 unwanted words out into the wild and track their progress. Many of the names were snapped up quickly when the post went up on Creative Review.

As far as I can tell, Thlunk was the first to go on 19 September. Not the one I would have picked as the main contender.

Nine names were claimed on the 20 September: Gludge, Blorph, Frunge, Brolge, Crench, Klorp, Strebb, Phlut and Grulch.

Gruld and Blarse took a while longer to shift, eventually finding owners on 21 September, while Splegg and Thrord followed on 24 September.

After an uncomfortable hiatus, Prork was claimed on 4 October. As one of the five-letter words, I had expected this to go sooner.

To date, only one of these sites has any proper content, if you can call it that:

Gludge

Thanks to Marcus for creating gludge.com

Most of the rest are generic holding pages. Nevertheless, there is something touching about seeing these words take on a life of their own.

Brolge

Good luck to you, Brolge.

Klorp

And rest assured I will try again later, Klorp.

So who’s buying these names? Most of the owners are anonymous, although a search on whois reveals some information about their whereabouts. As far as I can tell, klorp.com and grulch.com belong to the same guy in Germany. Brolge.com has an owner in New Jersey. And prork.com went to someone in Sydney.

Over in the Creative Review comments, a nice fellow called Jimmy admitted to buying splegg.com and thrord.com. He notes that splegg already has a useful meaning in Northern Irish slang, referring to “a situation which is too cool for any other words.” He opted for thrord on a more random basis, with a view to creating “a website involving a word with no existing definition”. I’ll certainly share it here if it happens.

Another guy called Adrian admitted to buying gruld.com and blarse.com, as yet with no clear plans, but it’s early days.

If you’ve bought one of the other domains and are reading this, it would be great to hear from you. I would really like to track these stories.

But finally we must look solemnly at the remaining names in the Hall of Unwanted Dotcoms. The unwanted of the unwanted.

As of 15.00 on 4 October 2012, these five names remain unclaimed:

throdge.com
skrolch.com
wrimb.com
sprolge.com
plooped.com

I have to say I’m surprised by throdge and sprolge and have high hopes for them in the future.

But I’m also impressed by the astuteness of the readership. Wrimb is something of a turkey in the list. Five letters, which is good. But it doesn’t really pass the pronunciation test. Say it out loud over the phone and you’d immediately have to explain how it was spelt.

The same could be argued of skrolch, which could be spelt with a ‘c’. (That said, I’ve just noticed scrolch.com is also available, so a smart buyer might go for them as a pair to cover all bases.)

Plooped is no surprise. It’s past tense and already has a suggestion of a meaning, and not a very nice one. No one is going to buy plooped.

So the Hall of Unwanted Dotcoms is down to five. But for how long? And what fate lies ahead for those who have flown the nest? Could phlut.com or crench.com one day be globally recognised brands?

More updates soon.