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Talk about unintended consequences.

No one projects a more cool, groovy, or fabulous personal brand than Kenneth Cole. I know almost nothing about fashion, but do casually keep up with the high-profile life of Kenneth Cole since he was a fellow graduate of my Alma mater Emory University in Atlanta in the early ’70s. But his latest blog makes me question my own academic pedigree. What was he thinking?

Well, probably he was thinking that he had made another clever and oh so courant bon mot promoting his brand on one of the cutting-edge new technologies, Twitter.

In case you haven’t heard, Kenneth Cole personally posted the following tweet at 10:30 on Thursday, February 2, 2011: “Millions are in an uproar in Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online…K.C.”  This was posted in the context of violence and death, including western journalists, in Egypt.

Here are just a few response tweets:

1.  arrington – WTF is wrong with you, @KennethCole?
2.  SoullaLindo – Bad taste @Kenneth Cole. Bad. Taste.
3.  palbi-palbi – @kennethcole is the asshole of the day.

Or take PR executive Kathleen Schmidt, who goes by the user name BookGirl96. She jokes,”I wouldn’t want to be in Kenneth Cole’s shoes right now.”  Haha. Ah, Kenneth. Hoist on your own petard.

It is easy to pile on, doing back flips in an orgy of schadenfreude over the perhaps overly smug and glib cleverness of Mr. Cole. (In fairness, he has apologized.)  But, the bigger issue is, one of unintended dangers in usage of any number of exploding new apps and Internet genius. I have personally spoken with thought leaders at cutting-edge technology companies (BzzAgent, Zappos.com, Think Interactive, Oddcast, Didit, Blue Ribbon Consulting, Blue Wolf Group, et al), many of whom have been clients of my firm Corporate Rain International, who, to a man, speak with an almost supercilious dismissal of expressed caveats about the downside of our new technological nirvana.

I’ve  written about my personal misgivings in several  previous blogs (see 1/11, 7/27 and 7/20) and I won’t repeat the litany today, except to say there is an Icarus-like danger in insufficiently examined hubristic flights of faith in our wondrous new media. Hence, Kenneth Cole last Thursday.

To quote Ogden Nash (Verses from 1929 On), “Here’s a good rule of thumb/Too clever is dumb.” Thank you, Ogden.

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