Friday, September 30, 2005

Tips on the use of presentation software

Death by PowerPoint

A picture is worth a thousand words, possibly more – Just because PowerPoint has bullets is no reason to use them. There is no way you can convey as much information in a slide full of bullets as you can in a slide with a single picture on it. Try this next time, put a picture in instead of the bullets and then talk about the picture. People will find it much more interesting and much more informative. As a bonus, it makes it more worthwhile to come to the presentation as opposed to just downloading the slides – making you a more important person to have at the event.


First question, why use presentation software at all? When was the last time you saw a political candidate, clergyman, or anyone else who speaks for a living, use presentation software? Exactly. Unless pictures, charts, or some other graphic information is part of your presentation, why not just get in front of the group and talk?

37th Annual Thoth Awards

Top Washington Public Relations Professionals Honored at 37th Annual Thoth Awards

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The best and brightest in public relations were recognized by the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) tonight at its annual Thoth Awards at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

From 144 entries in 34 categories this year, 35 Thoth Awards and 14 Certificates of Excellence were presented to representatives of public relations agencies, corporations, government agencies, and trade and professional associations. The Thoth Awards (pronounced "Tot") are named for the Egyptian god of information and communication.


Special congratulations to winners Heathere Evans-Keenan, Sandra Wills Hannon, and Donna Arbogast, all members of IPRA.

Call for papers

New Communications Forum 2006


Don’t forget Les Blogs, Dec. 5 & 6 in Paris, France.

Hurricane season is not over yet

Inter Tropical Convergence Zone regional imagery, 2005.09.30 at 1100Z. Centerpoint Latitude: 15:26:25N Longitude: 31:16:19W.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A sign of the times

CompuDyne Products to Help Protect Phoenix Airport; Blast Protection Glass to Be Installed in Control Tower

No one ever won a war with their customers

Kevin Drum has a post about annoying online advertising, listing the worst offenses. My personal pet peeve:

Ads that prevent a site from loading just because the ad server is malfunctioning.


Ads succeed when they offer attractive invitations. If you are using a club you need to revise your approach.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Economic indicator?

THE TECHWEB SPIN: 200 Press Releases A Day And Counting

The tech economy must be chugging along because my email inbox is positively bursting at the seams. ..

At the risk of being accused by fellow news hounds of being a heretic, I submit that all this fever-pitched pitching is a good thing. Today's high volume, high intensity, high tech PR hasn't always been so hyperactive. Not long ago, the buzz machine was considerably quieter. I suspect I'm far from alone in noting this trend. While my email address is listed as a press release contact for TechWeb, I think many of my colleagues -- working in the trenches of the technology press corps -- are also using a forklift to cut through the blizzard, which is fine, because the alternative would be reliving the disastrous Tech Wreck of 2001.


May it be an omen of better times to come.

Edit-
Phil Gomes takes a different view.

Bad news for reporters is bad news for PR

The Week of the Long Knives

Jon Friedman of Marketwatch.com wrote a column yesterday that cut right to the chase.

Friedman's first sentence: "This is a scary time to be a newspaper journalist."


The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News, The San Jose Mercury News, and the San Francisco Chronicle have all announced layoffs or cutbacks and buyouts. This means fewer reporters to pitch to, and reporters who will be less willing to take a chance on a story that is not obviously box office. Here’s hoping for better times for all.

Katrina Help Wiki

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Why we name hurricanes

National Hurricane Center

Experience shows that the use of short, distinctive given names in written as well as spoken communications is quicker and less subject to error than the older more cumbersome latitude-longitude identification methods. These advantages are especially important in exchanging detailed storm information between hundreds of widely scattered stations, coastal bases, and ships at sea.


Hurricane season is not over.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Well done Richard Parsons

Adam Shostack reports that Time Warner has refused to collaborate with the Chinese secret police:

Time Warner thought about ``what we would look like here in the U.S. if we agreed to a governmentally imposed regime where words like democracy had to be blocked,'' Parsons said. ``We made a judgment that it wasn't a market that we wanted to enter in this way at this time.''

What the general public should know about the relationship between PR and journalists

I think Ann McDaniel put it very well:

Both have jobs to do. Public relations professionals are trying to put out their message in the most positive way possible. Journalists are trying to create an accurate report. Often the two roles are complimentary; occasionally there is tension over their varying views. Neither is doing anything wrong.

How Deutsche Welle discovered blogs

From my interview with Holger Hank, DW-World Editorial Director:

ALICE MARSHALL: How did Deutsche Welle become aware of blogs?

HOLGER HANK: We took notice of blogs in 2002 when referrals from blogs suddenly popped up in our logfiles.


I suspect that is how much of the news media discovered blogs.

The nation’s capitol

Rüdiger Lentz, Washington Bureau Chief for Deutshe Welle, has some kind words about the federal city:

ALICE MARSHALL: What are your impressions of Washington, DC as a city? What do you think Americans should know about their capitol city? What should Europeans know about Washington as a city?

RÜDIGER LENTZ: Washington as a city: It has much improved over the last 20 years during which time I have either visited regularly or lived here for longish intermittent periods. It is a very colorful, diverse and interesting city which has – compared to other cities and world centers – a great quality of being able to live comfortably.

Microsoft and the ECM market

Larry Borasato suggests that anyone with a web server and Microsoft SharePoint can do content management, or at least they think they can.

The truth is, most companies have found out that they can do ECM on a shoestring. Of course they won't realize the mistake they've made until they actually need to get the information back. Then it will suddenly become clear that they spent too much time on the capture, manage, store, and preserve part, and not near enough on the find and retrieve part.


Tony Byrne takes a similar view.

Together with forthcoming Office 12 enhancements and continued wide adoption of SharePoint, Microsoft could finally become a fairly robust ECM player. Except that...

1. It can take years for new Microsoft technologies to be adopted and refined by the company's all-important reseller channel;
2. Microsoft sometimes misjudges the marketplace and their customers (c.f. lackluster Web CMS product);
3. The company does not have a great record with 1.0 releases.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Why the humble press release will continue to be our primary tool

Shel Holtz

When done well, press releases do exactly what they’re designed to do. Fraser Seitel, writing in the standard PR text, “The Practice of Public Relations,” writes, “There is no better, clearer, more persuasive way to announce news about an organization, its products, and their applications than by issuing a news release. A news release may be written as the document of record to state an organization’s official position—for example, in a court case or in announcing a price or rate increase. More frequently, however, releases have one overriding purpose: to influence a publication to write favorably about the material discussed.”


Commentary from the New PR Wiki

Pitching technology stories

Schwartz Communications has some good tips.

What is ECM?

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Definitions

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Registry Web Site As Model Of Cooperation

Bob Evans, Information Week

In less than 60 days and for less than $1 million, the U.S. Department of Justice has built a Web site giving access to sex-offender information from 28 states. It's a model of collaboration and cooperation, Bob Evans says, that gives access to information that, while deeply disturbing, is also extremely important.


Just one example of the power of information sharing.

New resource for analyst relations

Analyst Profiles

Tekrati, the source for today's news on high tech market research, is pleased to introduce Analyst Profiles, the world's leading collection of industry analyst biographies, complete with contact information and detailed research focus.

In a matter of minutes, you'll gather the contacts you need. Locate new experts and firms. Download and print biographies in a consistent format. Participate in a professional community forum.


A very handy service.

Online newsrooms

Dee Rambeau and Chris Bechtel have written a terrific summary of what you need for an online newsroom. Read it, print it out and keep it for a handy reference tool. It is that good.

They don’t tell you to put your press releases in HTML instead of PDF. I guess they just assume no one is that clueless. Wrong, there are plenty of firms still doing that.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Rita and Philippe

Tropical Storm Rita, 2005.09.19 at 1145Z. Centerpoint Latitude: 22:29:07N Longitude: 74:34:29W.

Tracking Map

Hurricane Philippe regional imagery, 2005.09.19 at 1145Z. Centerpoint Latitude: 17:00:48N Longitude: 56:15:57W

Tracking Map

Building networks with blogs

Elizabeth Albrycht has opened Global PR Blog Week 2.0 with a terrific piece on blogs as a tool for network building:

By focusing on network building, we move away from the hyperbole of BLOG and begin to think about how to use blogs pragmatically, as powerful communications tools. A prime reason blogs are such good tools for network building is that they are link-heavy, and the link is the core technology for making networks visible. I believe the visibility of a network contributes to its effectiveness because that very visibility reinforces its presence and influence to its members. ...

In the past, it was much more difficult to see your network, as connections had little sharable physical manifestation. A business card sitting in a rolodex on your desk is a far more difficult to assign value to vs. a visible link on a website or blog. One of the implications of this visibility is that it makes the results of our work more easily measurable, making our work more justifiable (always nice at budget time).


So much of marketing has to do with what is known as networking, building a series of interlocking business relationships that produce referrals. Blogs allow us to build those relations far more quickly and effectively.

Remember the basics

Think Like Your Customer

This is the basic tenet of all marketing. If you do this, you will usually make the right decision. About your products, your services, your image, your position, your marketing, your advertising, your website.

Take the time to identify the person that is your primary target market. Describe that person. Write down a full description. Then think about the person you described every time you make a decision about your product or your advertising.


In PR you also have to think about your clients’ customers.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Public Safety Tech Blog

Police Blogger at Presynct

Berkeley Recovers Stolen Laptop

Robert McMillan, IDG News Service

Campus police at the University of California, Berkeley have recovered a stolen laptop that contained personal information on more than 98,000 of the school's graduate students. The laptop's hard drive had been wiped clean of information and then sold on an Internet auction site, making it impossible to determine whether the sensitive information it had contained was ever accessed, the University said in a statement.


Encrypt your data.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Reviewing for Global PR Blog Week 2.0

I am one of the reviewers for Global PR Blog Week 2.0. The level of quality is very high. I think the industry will be pleased.

Marketing letters

Ernest Nicastro has written an excellent piece on how to open a sales letter. He suggest that you open with a question, be direct and concise, and that you build rapport with your reader. Read the whole thing.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Federal XML Work Group August 17 meeting, ET.gov, XML NDRG & GJXDM NDR

Jim Burch, Deputy Director of DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, said the prescription drug monitoring program was part of the effort to develop standards that would enable information sharing. He said the Office of Justice Programs(OJP) had invested heavily in GJXDM and faced increasing questions from the performance measuring community. Burch has asked OJP partners to keep in mind the importance of performance measurement.

He went on to describe the difficulty of establishing a basis for performance measurement. Is it reasonable to measure the number of information sharing projects? Should the OJP ask for outcome measurement? Burch said IJIS and the University of New Orleans were working to establish a basis for performance measurement.

Burch said the National Sex Offender Registry was an important milestone for XML and Service Oriented Architecture(SOA). The OJP had been given a sixty-day deadline and were able to come in two days early and under budget. The site received twenty-seven million hits the first two days with a peak rate of almost 1,000 hits per second. Burch said it showed the power of XML and SOA and demonstrated that it had been a worthwhile investment. He emphasized the Bureau of Justice Assistance is not the lone ranger and is looking for partners.

Here Owen Ambur said, “We will know that XML is a success, when we don't need to talk about it anymore." With reference to the proposed specification of Strategy Markup Language (StratML), he said strategic plans must be flexible and reactive. Otherwise, they will become shelfware.

He then said he wanted to say a few quick words about the CIO Council's emerging technology life cycle management process, hosted at ET.gov. In addition to StratML, among other emerging technology components identified on the ET.gov site is PDF/A, which is nearing approval as an ISO standard for archival records. PDF/A strips out dynamic features that cause records to lack integrity and be unreliable.

Ambur listed some of the other components recently identified at ET.gov. NCCS at the Urban Software Institute has proposed Uniform Data Elements and Definitions (UDED). Ambur emphasized that citizen-centric government cannot design federal stovepipes; local governments and private organizations must be engaged. Ambur himself submitted Collaboration Markup Language (CollabML) and, at the suggestion of his boss, has also proposed specification of a common enterprise architecture (EA) metamodel for governmentwide application.

He noted that IPv6 is not yet included in the FEA TRM, but since direction has been given for agencies to begin implementing it, it should be fast-tracked for inclusion in the TRM through the process the CIO Council plans to announce soon for updating and maintaining the FEA models. The ET.gov site is a potential channel for input into the FEA model maintenance process with respect to the TRM and SRM.

Ambur concluded his remarks by saying that ET.gov would only work if it is a place where government employees can go for useful information, and if they choose to use it to identify and discover emerging technologies around which they'd like to build communities of practice. He then introduced Mark Crawford, saying Crawford would discuss the Naming Design Rules & Guidelines (NDRG). Ambur explained they wanted to develop guidelines that would link to existing standards such as GJXDM. They are scheduled for an October delivery. He noted that the role of the xmlCoP is to identify good practices and make recommendations. It is not the role of the xmlCoP to try to issue mandates. Only OMB can issue rules that are binding on agencies.

Crawford began his presentation by saying they wanted to create a NDRG that was rigid enough to be normative but flexible enough for both data and document centric worlds. The purpose of the NDRG is to enable the development of a clearly defined namespace schema that will ensure consistency across federal agencies, a versioning schema that will support consistency in government schema, a federal canonical schema for base data types, Naming and Design Rules(NDRs) by government agencies or communities of practice that will build on the Federal NDRG, and a reference to use for mapping different agency NDRs to each other. The proposed NDRG must also enable the development of consistent, reusable XML components including: schema, schema modules such as reusable code lists and identifier lists, simple and complex types, elements, and attributes. It must provide tools to facilitate ease of development, validation and interoperability. The NDRG document is intended for use by all federal agencies and their contractors. It will be linked at core.gov. Audiences who have yet to review the NDRG include developers of federal enterprise schema, government organizations looking for guidance, agency level developers, and private sector organizations.

The NDRG sources are voluntary consensus standards bodies (Oasis Universal Business Language Technical Committee, UN/CEFACT) and government NDRs (Dept. of the Navy, Environmental Protection Agency, and Global Justice XML Data Model).

Here, Crawford showed a slide that could only have been prepared for a Washington, DC audience:

The key words MUST, MUST NOT, SHALL, SHALL NOT, SHOULD, SHOULD NOT, RECOMMENDED, MAY, and OPTIONAL are to be interpreted as described in Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Request for Comments (RFC) 2119. Non-capitalized forms of these words are used in the regular English sense.


Then Crawford made a few remarks on the use of must versus should. He indicated the NDRG group thought it was important to lean towards should.

He went on to say that modularity is the key to reuse. The modularity model must be structured, flexible and consistent. There are three approaches to modularity under consideration: monolithic (single namespace, one schema per process, idea or information requirement, no imports), reuse (root schema with all content imported, unique namespace for each schema, common modules for reusables), unique (root schema with all content imported, unique namespace for each schema, unique schema modules for each data element).

Crawford said the consensus was going towards reuse. The Navy, IRS and others are all using this approach. GJXDM is generally considered to be an example of reuse, although some have argued it is monolithic in character. It seems that the unique approach was considered by GJXDM but ultimately rejected.

The modularity model imports data types from existing standards. UBL and other standards are converging with UN/CEFACT data type schema modules. Standards bodies are converging on a single approach to code lists. The NDRG group hopes to persuade code list owners to publish and make lists publicly available for further adoption.

Here, Crawford offered a series of data types: amount (xsd:decimal), binary object (xsd:base64binary), code (xsd:normalizedString), date time (xsd:date Time), identifier (xsd:normalizedString), indicator (xsd:boolean), measure (xsd:decimal), numeric (xsd:decimal), quantity (xsd:decimal), text (xsd:string).

He emphasized the importance of flexibility and using existing standards. Initially, they wanted to mandate hierarchical URN schemas, but the consensus was that the NRDG would propose that, while developers should use URN hierarchy schemas, they may use URL hierarchy schemas. (Note to developers; I would interpret this to mean that, if you use URL hierarchy schemas, you need a good reason. Otherwise, go with URN.)

Here, Owen Ambur interjected that this had been somewhat of a religious discussion, eventually leading to an agreement that, “We can get to heaven either way.”

Crawford resumed his remarks, reviewing the seven levels of namespace domains: NID of US, organization hierarchy (gov), specific government hierarchy (EPA, OMB, DOD, Treasury, etc.), agency level hierarchy (USN, USAF, IRS, FMS, etc.), resource type (schema or other, as identified), resource status, and resource name. Here, a participant asked if IPv6 might come into eight levels of namespaces. Crawford replied, “no”.

Crawford spoke about versioning, saying there was a consensus on:
name - major . non-zero [. revision ].

Minor versioning of namespaces, use of namespaces for schema location, and URN or URL for schema location remain to be determined. (Note - if you have any opinion about this, now is the time to speak up.)

Crawford began to talk about schema content, noting that schema was all about data. He showed a slide showing the transformation of data into XML and illustrating the role of ISO 11179 in this process. He explained that associated classes would be treated as a simple data element with a global element declaration and complex type definition.

Crawford concluded by saying that the NDRG group would continue to work through comments on the first draft and finalize modularity, versioning and namespaces. He then offered to take questions.

Brand Neiman suggested that ISO 11179 lacked sufficient semantics machine processability and that related efforts are evolving toward RDF and OWL. Neiman observed that XML is easier to read and harder to process, whereas RDF is harder to read and easier to process. Neiman suggested scheduling a joint xmlCoP/SICoP meeting to consider the respective use cases for XML and RDF/XML.

Crawford responded that he considered the two standards to be complementary, rather than competitive. Owen Ambur interjected that he agreed that it was not a question of either/or, but rather a need to look at the business case.

Bob Green asked if those “in the URL camp” were aware of the problems that can result, if the URL does not properly resolve. Green said, “whole system can choke”. He encouraged the use of URN.

Following the midmorning break, Paul Embley explained the work of the Global XML Task Force and the Global Justice XML Data Model and Design Rules. He began by saying that GJXDM is for use by anyone who needs it.

The current draft is still being vetted by Global XSTF. Their primary focus is rule accuracy against version 3.1; the final draft is due to release on October 31. Embley said they were two days behind schedule.

The GJXDM Design Rules incorporates GJXDM, Oasis LegalXML IJ TC GJXDM draft MNDR, Federal XML NDR Working Group Draft NDRG, and OASIS UBL NDR. The committee’s work was influenced by the NIEM Steering Committee, Federal Enterprise Architecture, the IJIS Institute, OASIS Integrated Justice TC, National Center for State Courts, and the Federal XML NDR Working Group. Here, Embley said his committee believes in plagiarism.

The specification will be a product of Global XSTF and will specify how GJXDM is actually defined. Its format will be as close as possible to the UBL NDR and use/copy appropriate wording from other NDR documents. It will include definitions, principles, rules, rationales and explanations, and examples for rules.

Embley emphasized the specification will not be a projection of UBL on GJXDM, nor a comparison of UBL and GJXDM, nor a methodology for building Information Exchange Package Documentation.

The scope of the specification of GJXDM 3.1 will focus on the definition of conformant schemas, conformant reference schemas, subsets, documentation, and GJXDM-conformant instances.

Principles are the basis for the rules; all rules spring from principles:
Format: [Principle number ]
Currently there are 22 principles.

General Rule Format.

Embley said versioning was not complete and threw the floor open for questions. He was asked how his work differed from the previous presentation. Embley allowed there were not great differences and that his committee would highlight those differences.

Minutes of the Federal NDR COI, August 11, 2005
XML Working Group, Meeting Notes, August 17, 2005
Presentations

Sunday, September 11, 2005

September 11

On the sad anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and in solidarity with all those on the Gulf Coast who are in grief:

Swing low, sweet chariot

Thursday, September 08, 2005

What is meant by root schema?

A root schema is a single concept like an order, invoice, OMB 300, SF 12, document, book, or some other logical grouping of information.

What?

FEMA locks Mac users from hurricane relief

Mac and Linux-using hurricane survivors are unable to use Federal disaster relief claim form services online.

This is because the much-criticized US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has created a service that only works with Windows and Internet Explorer 6.

This acts to the frustration of survivors lucky enough to be able to access a Mac or Linux computer, and to the reported consternation of disaster relief teams on the ground.

However, some Mac users exploiting the Opera browser (which by default identifies itself as Internet Explorer 6) report being able to access the claims service.


Edit-
FEMA to adjust IE-only Web site

What is Unicode?

Unicode provides a unique number for every character, no matter what the platform, no matter what the program, no matter what the language.

The Unicode Standard has been adopted by such industry leaders as Apple, HP, IBM, JustSystem, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Sun, Sybase, Unisys and many others. Unicode is required by modern standards such as XML, Java, ECMAScript (JavaScript), LDAP, CORBA 3.0, WML, etc., and is the official way to implement ISO/IEC 10646. It is supported in many operating systems, all modern browsers, and many other products. The emergence of the Unicode Standard, and the availability of tools supporting it, are among the most significant recent global software technology trends.

Incorporating Unicode into client-server or multi-tiered applications and websites offers significant cost savings over the use of legacy character sets. Unicode enables a single software product or a single website to be targeted across multiple platforms, languages and countries without re-engineering. It allows data to be transported through many different systems without corruption.


Now you know.

Maria, Nate and Ophelia

2005.09.07 at 1415Z. Centerpoint Latitude:33:50:08N Longitude: 61:19:03W

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ophelia

Tropical Storm Ophelia regional imagery, 2005.09.07 at 1415Z. Centerpoint Latitude: 29:24:18N Longitude: 79:18:51W.

TROPICAL STORM OPHELIA, Public Advisory

Tropical Storm Ophelia : Tracking Map

Center for Society, Law & Justice

University of New Orleans (UNO), Center for Society, Law & Justice (CSLJ)

Activities

* Manage justice technologies training that educates senior justice managers to deal with integration and training that allows office personnel to create power user groups for justice organizations
* Research into project management training resources
* Developing a framework for the debate of ethical issues in privacy regarding the ''philosophy'' of information access
* Develop briefing booklets regarding justice integration issues for general circulation

Products

* Partnership to deliver an intense project management training with university credit through the Integrated Justice Information Systems (IJIS) Industry Working Group (IWG) and Auburn University
* Development of technical assistance support for medium and rural justice agencies to increase their capacities to integrate systems

Constituencies

* Criminal justice executives
* Criminal justice trainers
* Criminal justice consortiums
* Medium to small justice agencies with minimal ICJS capacities
* Criminal justice chief information officers


Katrina has left many losses and disruptions in its wake. This is only one.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

This is the time to be meticulously correct

Post-disaster contracting rush leads to confusion

Emergency situations can make a complicated procurement process even more confusing. The Federal Acquisition Regulation, the guiding document for federal purchases, disperses its rules on emergency procurement throughout the verbose document, making it difficult for officials and contractors unfamiliar with emergency procurement law to figure out exactly what they can and cannot do.


Given the atmosphere is spectacular ill will between Federal and Gulf Coast authorities it is crucial that contractors refrain for exploiting this situation or fail to give value.

In praise of DC SPIN and SQA

DC SPIN and SQA require their speakers to bring copies of their presentations for attendees. In addition to making it easier to follow along with the speaker, it facilitates note taking. With the basic presentation in front of you, you can concentrate on the details and nuances of the speaker’s presentation. It makes original reporting and blogging much easier. If you are planning on making a presentation, make copies available beforehand. It’s easy publicity.

What is the difference between unqualified and qualified datatypes?

Unqualified Datatypes are those for which no restrictions have been applied. Qualified Datatypes are those for which some restrictions have been applied.


Courtesy of Mark Crawford of LMI Government Consulting

Monday, September 05, 2005

Homeland security blog

W. David Stephenson blogs on homeland security et al.

With a goal of "making homeland security everyone's business," Stephenson Strategies' W. David Stephenson blogs on homeland security strategies, emphasizing empowering the public, creative use of technology, win-win public/private collaborations yielding security and economic benefits, and protecting civil liberties. CIO.com says: "Google 'homeland security blog' and security consultant W. David Stephenson's site tops the list. If you like blogs.. updated nearly every day, Stephenson's your man, providing links and analysis of current homeland security topics."

Civil service blogosphere

Nick Mudge has created this very useful list of government blogs. Now if only someone would create an RSS reader like the one for PR blogs.

Winslow Homer

I went to see the Winslow Homer exhibit at the National Gallery. Homer is a truly American artist, not just in his subject matter, but in his whole attitude.

Homer painted ordinary people going about their daily tasks in a way that endowed them with dignity. His respect for workers comes through in every painting. Particularly striking was the juxtaposition of Autumn with The Blackboard. It is quite obvious which lady he preferred.

So far as I know, Homer was the only white artist of the nineteenth century capable of painting Afican Americans without indulging in hideous sterotypes. The faces on these children are natural. You can almost imagine the plight of enslaved children running towards the Union Army and offering to do any little task that might earn a few coins.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Massachusetts chooses open source

Massachusetts mandates open-format docs, edges toward Linux

The state of Massachusetts will revamp its digital output during the next 16 months to create only open-format documents and is increasing its use of Linux and free and open source software (FOSS) among its workers, the state's chief information officer told DesktopLinux.com Thursday in a conference call.

CIO Peter Quinn challenged Microsoft and other companies who sell software that uses proprietary document formats to consider enabling open-format options as soon as possible. Quinn said that "government is creating history at a rapidly increasing rate, and all documents we save must be accessible to everybody, without having to use 'closed' software to open them now and in the future."


This will be a very closely watched implementation.

Edit-
Microsoft Blasts Massachusetts' New XML Policy
Massachusetts to Adopt New Data Standards
Massachusetts Information Technology Division

Friday, September 02, 2005

Last Katrina post

This will be my last Katrina post as this is a blog devoted to PR and technology. But I would like to offer some observations on the PR side of this tragedy. Now is the time to be cooperative and generous. Anyone who exploits this tragedy or is even perceived to be less than cooperative will be judged very harshly, if not in a court of law, then in the court of public opinion. The Gulf Coast is home to some of the greatest musicians who have ever lived. Those who fail to respond appropriately to this tragedy can look forward to inspiring searing blues ballads. Do you want your future grandchild to watch some future teenage idol belt out some ballad that holds you in scorn?

When The Levee Breaks

If it keeps on rainin', levee's
goin' to break
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
And the water gonna come in, have no place to stay
Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan
Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan
Thinkin' 'bout my baby and my happy home
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
And all these people have no place to stay
Now look here mama what am I to do
Now look here mama what am I to do
I ain't got nobody to tell my troubles to
I works on the levee mama both night and day
I works on the levee mama both night and day
I ain't got nobody, keep the water away
Oh cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good
Oh cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to lose
I works on the levee, mama both night and day
I works on the levee, mama both night and day
I works so hard, to keep the water away
I had a woman, she wouldn't do for me
I had a woman, she wouldn't do for me
I'm goin' back to my used to be
I's a mean old levee, cause me to weep and moan
I's a mean old levee, cause me to weep and moan
Gonna leave my baby, and my happy home

Hurricane season

As the tragedy continues to unfold on the Gulf Coast, we should keep in mind that hurricane season is not over and additional major storms are expected. Some of my out of town readers must be wondering what if this happened to Washington, DC.

Hurricanes are rare in Washington, and when they do come they have usually weakened to tropical storms. But we are occasionally hit. Unlike New Orleans, the poor people live on the higher elevations and the rich live near the river. The State Department, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are all located in what is known as Foggy Bottom. Speaks for itself. The famous Watergate complex is located, as its name suggest, right next to the Potomac River.

Hurricane Agnes was a tropical storm by the time it rolled across Washington, but the flooding was extensive. The Pentagon, which sits on a rise, was spared, but all the surrounding roads were flooded. The whole area along both sides of the river was flooded. In Georgetown everything below M Street was covered with water. In the unlikely event that Washington is hit, things will play out very differently than the Gulf Coast.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Aftermath ii, the refugee crisis

It is now obvious that thousands of gulf coast residents will have to resettle elsewhere. Their homes are gone and those areas will be uninhabitable for months to come.

From what I can tell the port of New Orleans will be closed for months and all of its shipping business rerouted. That means ports such as Norfolk and Baltimore will see a marked increase in business. They will need dockworkers and related trades. There ought to be a way to put unemployed gulf coast shipping workers in touch with employers at the other ports.

This is just one example of what needs to be done. Shel Holtz has two posts about cummunicators looking to relocate.

We need the online job networks such as Monster.com and others to come forward and develop a special section for gulf coast residents seeking to relocate. We need the Red Cross to assist with relocation grants (not loans). Of course they can’t do that without our generous support.