Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Least cluefull PR of the day, possibly the year

Dennis Zhidkov, PR-manager, StarForce Inc., threatens Boing Boing

Slashdot discusses.

Well done Microsoft

Microsoft clarifies policy on censoring blogs

Microsoft's new MSN Spaces policy states that the company will remove content only when it "receives a legally binding notice from the government indicating that the material violates local laws" or when the content violates MSN contract terms. When it does take down content, it will only be done in the country issuing the order, and the company said it will also "ensure that users know why that content was blocked."

"We really felt a need to step back and make sure that we are being thoughtful," Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said in a telephone interview from Lisbon, Portugal, where the new policy was announced at a forum for government leaders.

The move follows a torrent of criticism that was directed at Microsoft after it removed an MSN Spaces blog posted by Chinese journalist Zhao Jing, also known as Michael Anti.

Even some within Microsoft, including corporate blogger Robert Scoble, had spoken up in Anti's defense.

Many companies would have fired employee bloggers for insubordination. Microsoft listened. Well done Microsoft.

Copyright 101

Betsy Palmieri has an excellent overview of copyright law.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Author Guidelines

APCO Bulletin has some great author guidelines. My personal favorite:

Take It for a Test Drive Let your colleagues read your story. If they fall asleep half way through, that should tell you something. If they laugh, cry or emit an expletive like "wow!" then you've probably succeeded in writing something good and worthwhile. If they start asking you questions, you know you've not included enough information. If they give you a strange look and advise you to keep your day job and not enter the field of writing, don't despair. Send it to us for review; we're the professional editors/writers, not your colleagues. And we'll be glad to work with you to improve your article if needed.

Cyber citizens’ watch

StopBadware.org Website Launched

Last week, Harvard University's Berkman Center and the Oxford Internet Institute launched a "Neighborhood Watch" initiative against spyware and other malicious software programs.

A new website, StopBadware.org, will spotlight the companies that make millions of dollars by tricking Internet users to download malicious spyware, adware and malware programs they don't want. The multiyear initiative will empower consumers to fight back against badware. It is being supported by prominent high-tech companies, including Google, Lenovo and Sun Microsystems. Consumer Reports WebWatch, a grant-funded project of Consumers Union, has agreed to a pro-bono role as special consumer adviser.

Call for papers, Securing the Information Infrastructure

Our good friend Adam Shostack alerts us to Workshop on the Economics of Securing the Information Infrastructure

Submissions Due: August 6, 2006 (11:59PM PST)

Our information infrastructure suffers from decades-old vulnerabilities, from the low-level algorithms that select communications routes to the application-level services on which we are becoming increasingly dependent. Are we investing enough to protect our infrastructure? How can we best overcome the inevitable bootstrapping problems that impede efforts to add security to this infrastructure? Who stands to benefit and who stands to lose as security features are integrated into these basic services? How can technology investment decisions best be presented to policymakers?

We invite infrastructure providers, developers, social scientists, computer scientists, legal scholars, security engineers, and especially policymakers to help address these and other related questions. Authors of accepted papers will have the opportunity to present their work to government and corporate policymakers. We encourage collaborative research from authors in multiple fields and multiple institutions.

I know the feeling

Tom Temin

But sometimes age shows. Yesterday I was at a meeting out of town with an ad agency that represents several of our advertisers. The half dozen account executives I was talking to were, to a person, young. Young as in, I coulda been their dad. They were smart, informed, serious about their work and all that. But young.

We were chatting about tech and the need to keep up with new media formats because of the ceaseless obsolescence in our industry. I cited the example of RCA videodiscs...and stopped short.

I realized the fellow I was talking to, who had the manner and bearing of my wedding best man’s older son, probably never heard of videodiscs, that short-lived innovation of, when was it, the late ‘70s? In fact, I wondered if he’d heard of RCA.

Jim Horton posts about talking to the future.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Year of the Dundee 2006

In honor of the year of the dog I have adopted a collie puppy. He has done nothing but grow and chew. It is a great pleasure to share one’s life with someone with such joie de vie. I don’t have any pictures of my new friend, Dundee, but you can can look at his parents.

Only now the corporate world is discovering the importance of records management?

'Electronic Discovery' Industry Blooming

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Even just a few years ago, lawyers in corporate lawsuits sometimes agreed not to poke around in their opponents' e-mails. Instead they'd confine themselves to paper memos and other documents on file as they pursued evidence.

Now, however, with so much work done via e-mail, instant messaging and other online platforms, "nothing's in the file cabinets anymore," said Michele Lange, staff attorney for legal technologies at Kroll Ontrack Inc.

... But several factors — including the inexpensive abundance of data storage, high-profile lawsuits and strict new laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley that demand thorough corporate archiving — are making electronic discovery a lucrative and competitive slice of information technology.

The overall market is worth close to $2 billion and growing at about 35 percent a year, says Michael Clark, who analyzes the field at EDDix LLC. The number of companies offering computer-related evidence gathering appears to have doubled in the past two or three years, with several hundred now hanging a shingle.

In Washington, DC we have understood the crucial role of records management ever since the Iran/Contra scandal and the now infamous emails between Oliver North and Robert McFarlane. One would have thought the corporate world would have caught on after the Microsoft antitrust case and the role email played in the trial. It seems many are just now catching on.

If you don’t have a records management strategy, you will definitely want to attend the NCC AIIM educational seminar.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Call for speakers, END USERS ONLY

Gilbane Conference, Washington, DC

We are now accepting proposals for presentations.

It is important to note that speaking proposals must come directly from the speaker and final acceptance to the program is contingent upon acceptance of the Power Point or demonstration by the program committee. This is to ensure the overall quality of the event. Please see the proposal guidelines send your proposals to speaking@gilbane.com as soon as possible.

The deadline for submissions is February 28, 2006.

Hint to vendors, encourage your customers to apply to present.

Can you make money from giving away your software?

Health-IT vendors must consider Open Source

Why should a vendor forgo license revenue and give out their source code for free? While I know of dozens of good reasons, here are just a few great reasons:

Gain visibility for your product, eliminate long sales cycles, improve customer relationships, and build your market quicker because people will be able to download your products and begin to use them immediately. If they like it, word will spread. You can put together software and release more quickly and with greater frequency, since you’re not beholden to a sales cycle. By eliminating cost from the sales side, you can focus all your efforts on development and building a maintenance, customization, and services arm that tends to make more money for most vendors, anyway. You can also foster a community of developers around your product to help develop enhancements for free. This will reduce your overall development costs, help increase the value of the product, and make customers happier. And with a happy development community, your product will be able to get into more customers faster than ever before. All without a large sales force.

If you’re in a field with an entrenched competitor, open-sourcing your solution may be the best way to break the vendor lock-in that customers feel. Because your product will be freely available without license costs, a different group of people (the ones not beholden to the incumbent vendor) can make decisions about bringing your product in-house. Then, once in-house, you will have the ability to customize, enhance, and service your product by connecting it to the competitor already in the customer’s environment and help them “wean” themselves off the legacy vendor. Another benefit of this approach is that you will be seen as a “risk reducer” for the customer, not a “risk increaser.” By getting in there for free, you come in risk-free. By reducing lock-in to the existing vendors, you lower the customer’s risk of being handcuffed. Both are great ways to win and keep customers.

Just a quick word about the concept of community. A community of developers will become psychologically invested in a technology, which is why so many technology discussions sound like religious disputes. By creating a community, a developer builds a network of technology evangelists. Worth considering.

Well done Nicholas Negroponte

U.N. Lends Backing to the $100 Laptop

DAVOS, Switzerland - The United Nations on Thursday lent its support to a project which aims to ship inexpensive, hand-cranked laptops to school-aged children worldwide.

Kemal Dervis, head of the U.N. Development Program, will sign a memorandum of understanding Saturday with Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of One Laptop per Child, on the $100 laptop project, at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting.

Glorious news. This will open up technology development in ways no one can predict. It will also have an impact on other aspects of development in these countries.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Cybersecurity and the states

NASCIO and MIX Release Cybersecurity Preparedness Results

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), which represents the chief information officers (CIOs) of the states, and the Metropolitan Information Exchange (MIX), an association of county and municipal CIOs, have released findings from a pair of surveys of state and local government cybersecurity preparedness. The NASCIO survey was conducted in late 2005 by NASCIO's Information Security Committee, which is led by Denise Moore, CIO of Kansas. A similar survey was conducted concurrently by the leadership of MIX. The minority staff of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security will also release a report with recommendations based on the findings of the NASCIO and MIX surveys.

Contrary to what you may have thought, the worker bees of your government, state, local, federal, are on the case.

Smart move

Microsoft To License Windows Server Source Code

Today, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith announced Microsoft's decision to license all the Windows Server source code for the technologies covered by the European Commission's Decision of March 2004.

The company is making this voluntary move in order to address categorically all of the issues raised by the Commission's December 22, 2005 Statement of Objections. That document asserted that Microsoft's prior technical documentation provided insufficient information to enable licensees to implement successfully certain Windows Server communications protocols.

You can’t win a war with your customers, especially if they have sovereign authority.

Metadata vanity

NSA Issues 'Metadata' Guidelines for Agencies

Following a series of foibles in which federal agencies and even the White House issued documents that contained hidden data that readers weren't meant to see, the the National Security Agency has issued guidelines for the federal government on removing revision histories and other so-called "metadata" from official documents before public release.

Metadata literally means "data about data", but that's not very descriptive. Essentially, metadata is automatically embedded in documents created with popular software such as Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat, and includes things like the document author's name, the date it was created, and often any changes or revisions that have been made and by whom.

... In a presentation at the recent Shmoocon hacker conference, Joe Stewart, a senior security researcher at LURHQ, talked about how authorities seized Essebar's computer and found a copy of the worm's source code. When they dissected it they uncovered some interesting metadata: Apparently Essebar had compiled the worm's source code with Microsoft Visual Studio, which embedded the text string "C:\Documents and Settings\Farid." Possessing source code for a worm that whacked a bunch of Fortune 500 companies is bad enough, but having your name engraved in the heart of it is downright damning.

It’s vanity that gets crooks every time.

Federal XML group starts strategic markup language

Joab Jackson, Government Computer News

The CIO Council’s XML Community of Practice has started building an extensible markup language-based schema that agencies could use to encode their strategic plans.

The Strategic Markup Language (StratML) pilot is seeking volunteers to help complete the task.


Web helps librarians find digitized documents

Aliya Sternstein, Federal Computer Week

Now librarians will have an easier time locating digitized collections of hardbound government documents.

Late last week, the Government Printing Office –- the federal agency in charge of informing the public about the government’s work –- added an online database to its GPO Access Web site called the Registry of U.S. Government Publication Digitization Projects. It will serve as a locator tool for identifying federal document collections that are being digitized.

This is going to be quite a treasure trove.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

PRSA Call For Entries

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is now accepting nominations for one of its most esteemed honors, The Public Relations Professional of the Year Award.

Who knew wire services could be so exciting?

Jeremy Pepper has a must read post on wire services for press releases. It seems hackers have succeeded in sending out fake press releases. Pepper goes into the history of a few incidents, how wire services market themselves, and why the well written press release continues to have a place in our tool box.

Looking for an alternatives to press releases

Amy Gahran continues her campaign against the humble press release. Karen Sams has a informative post about the use of RSS.

Neither addresses the problem I and my clients face, how do you get the word out about a small company or small organization that few have heard about? How do you publicize their activity without a press release?

Nooked may be part of the answer.

The press release is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.
A more humorous take.

Monday, January 23, 2006

From the Dept. of You can't win a war with your customers

File-sharing 'not cut by courts'

The level of file-sharing has remained the same for two years despite 20,000 legal cases in 17 countries.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industries (IFPI) said it was "containing" the problem and more people were connecting to broadband.

The global music industry trade body said sales of legal downloads were worth more than $1bn (£570m) in 2005.

Time for them to quit spinning their legal wheels in litigation mud and adjust their business model.

In related news, water is wet

Financial gain driving Web breaches, IBM says


.net DELirium tells us there is a new user group, the Capital Area Microsoft Integration and Connected Systems User Group.

The next thing in malware, account hijackings

Account Hijackings Force LiveJournal Changes

LiveJournal, an online community that boasts nearly 2 million active members, on Thursday announced sitewide changes for users logging into their accounts -- changes prompted by a hacker group's successful hijacking of potentially hundreds of thousands of user accounts.

In an alert posted to its user forum, LiveJournal said it was instituting new login procedures for users because "recent changes to a popular browser have enabled malicious users to potentially gain control of your account." Company officials could not be immediately reached for comment. I also put in a query to Six Apart, which owns LiveJournal (and the service we use to produce this blog), but have yet to hear from them either.

I have heard of account hijackings in Polish blogosphere, but this is the first time I have heard of it happening in this country. I’ve seen malicious posters post under other people’s names on bulletin boards and comment sections; but until now I have not heard about blog hijacking. A new and disheartening development.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Instead of offering new services, let’s just charge more for what we have

The Coming Tug of War Over the Internet

The changes may sound subtle, but make no mistake: The telecommunications companies' proposals have the potential, within just a few years, to alter the flow of commerce and information -- and your personal experience -- on the Internet. For the first time, the companies that own the equipment that delivers the Internet to your office, cubicle, den and dorm room could, for a price, give one company priority on their networks over another.

Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes

Doc Serls, points to Tim Bray’s observation:

While the details of the deals by which the big boys buy bandwidth are closely-guarded secrets, the notion that any of them can dramatically increase their net traffic without paying for it, that notion is just wacko.

Want to search the Web anonymously?

Hiawatha Bray informs us that Sroogle hides the IP address of the searcher.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Comment moderation

Due to comment spam comments will be moderated, at least on weekends.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Well done Google

Google has decided to fight a US Government subpoena for its search records, including one million random web addresses and records of all Google searches for a one week period. The subpoena was issued under the pretext of fighting chid pornography; but it strikes this observer as a fishing expedition. Apparently Google feels the same way.

It can’t be pleasant to cross the Federal Government on an matter of this kind; but Google is doing the right thing for the country. I think this is what Ben Franklin meant when he said "A republic if you can keep it.”

FAQ: What does the Google subpoena mean?

Paul Holmes takes a similar view.
Dan Gillmor comments.

Is it a good idea for a source to scoop a reporter on his own story?

Brendon Hodgson posts about an incident where Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne posted the email transcript of his interview with Tim Mullaney of Businessweek. Since I have not read the transcript or followed the particulars of this case I cannot comment on the facts. But I have to ask myself if this is a good strategy. What it tells reporters is that if they give you an interview you will not hesitate to scoop them on their own story. It is one thing to publish a transcript immediately after the news story is published, it is quite another to scoop the reporter. It seems to me you have given reporters a powerful incentive to give someone else an interview.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Osama bin Laden, Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, and the anonymice

Adam Shostack points to Walid Phares’ analysis of bin Laden’s latest taped message:

The fact that no operations have taken place within the US doesn't mean that they're not going to happen. There will be soon operations within the US and the West. Operations are being prepared, according to the message.
PS: Which means that there are significant questions in the Jihadi constituencies about the lack of operations in America - a subject discussed in the chat rooms.

We used to have a double agent at the highest levels of Al Qaeda. Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan was a computer genius and an Al Qaeda operative until he was flipped by some very skillful CIA field officers. Khan was feeding the US information until some political hack anonymouse, exposed him in order to justify a terror alert during the last Presidential election. Now suppose our Whie House was not staffed by the sort of people who betray the identities of CIA Case officers and Agents. Suppose our news media was not dominated by the sort of opportunists prepared to collaborate in that sort of misconduct. Is it just possible bin Laden would now be in custody? There is really no way to know.

Enabling Information Sharing with Enterprise Content Management

Just got this email from NCC AIIM:

Enabling Information Sharing with Enterprise Content Management (ECM)
Co-Hosted by IAC, ARMA GWDC, and ARMA NoVA
Thursday, February 9, 2006
Key Bridge Marriott (Rosslyn, VA)


Keynote Addresses:

• William Hooten, Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation – Developing a Comprehensive Document and Records Management System at the FBI

• Robert Markham, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research – State of the Art in ECM


• Stephen P. Levenson, Administrative Office of the Courts and Chair of the Chair of the ISO Joint Working Group for PDF/A – Use of PDF/A for Long Term Archival

• Bill Manago, VP, Records Best Practices, MDY - Proposed Version 3 of the DoD 5015.2 Standard for Records Management

• Sherry Smith, Records Manager, U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) – Case Study of Records Management

• Mike Miller, Program Manager, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation - The Records Management Implications of Content Management

• Vendor Panel with our Event Sponsors:
Adobe Systems, QAI, eVisory, Tower Software – Information Sharing Successes in the Real World

About this Event
As an information technology and records management professional, you need to know about how ECM technology improves information sharing in today's fast-paced government and business environments. Learn from key Federal and industry leaders about:

• Successes in deployment of ECM technology for information sharing
• The current state of the art in the ECM market
• Perils and pitfalls to avoid
• Incorporating all types of information into a common architecture
• Integrating Document and Records Management
• Preserving your information assets

This is not on the NCC AIIM website yet; but is sure to be a major event.

Suvajit Gupta’s presentation on Software Architecture

Shahid Shah

Suvajit Gupta gave a great presentation in which he discussed how to architect software effectively. The talk was co-sponsored by the IEEE Computer Society Chapter I co-chair and our new Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the International Association of Software Architects (IASA). The talk was very well attended (over 100 people registered and most attended).

Suvajit was nice enough to give us his presentation to put up on the IEEE website and it’s now available for download. It will be posted on the IEEE website as soon as our webmaster there can get to it but I figure I’d blog about it and post it here because many of you wanted to access to it tonight.

Also, I wanted to give you an opportunity to leave your comments here about the talk (what you liked, what can be improved) as well as the following questions Suvajit posed during his talk:

- What is the difference between Enterprise, Technical, and Business Architecture?
- What else does Architecture mean to you?
- Do the best Software Architects still code?
- How do you ensure architectural compliance?
- What are some metrics for evaluating Architectures?
- Has anyone used an ADL (Architecture Description Language) to document their Architecture?
- What is the quality of your architectures?

Society for New Communications Research to do a study on Wikis

Wiki Study - A Request for Help

We are getting ready to embark on a close study of the use of wikis in teams as a collaborative platform. In preparation, I have been gathering some scholarly work and case studies on wikis, tagging them wikistudies in del.icio.us.

I will be very interested in what they learn.

Call for Demonstrators


For over 15 years, DEMO has been the premier venue to launch new technology. The conference is a unique blend of general session program, one-on-one demonstrations, and networking - all in a relaxed atmosphere that promotes casual business interaction. Attendees are given an understanding of emerging trends so they have the context to best appreciate the significance and value of your innovation.

The tough selection criteria means your product is introduced to the market with the explicit endorsement of the DEMO imprimatur. Because each company presents in a uniform manner, every product has equal opportunity to shine. Throughout the process, you have the DEMO team's personal attention to your unique requirements. Simply put: there is no better place to launch a new technology product than at the DEMO Conference.

July 7, 2006 Final application deadline

Via our always informative friends at Media Insider

Another reason traditional media may be preferable to Google Adwords

Clicking hell: the Google way to bankrupt your rival

JOHN Carreras was once a contented Google advertiser. He used text advertisements that appeared alongside searches to bring people to his trade exhibition website. He happily paid Google a few cents for every referral, believing that anyone who clicked through to his site from Google was a likely customer. But then he attended a conference in Las Vegas, and he noticed something strange: the number of Google referrals he was getting dropped dramatically, only to rise again once the conference was over.

Carreras became convinced the "missing clicks" weren't from customers but from his competitors, who had been in Vegas with him. He believed his unscrupulous rivals whiled away their office hours clicking on his Google ads, knowing that every tap cost him money.

We are still at the beginning of all this. The tools are crude and our understanding limited. Both paid search and traditional media will be making adjustments.

Edit -
Nick Mudge points out, a business idea does not have to be pefect or fool proof to work on the Internet. A business idea doesn't have to make total sense. It just has to be workable enough. Workable enough for people to take it up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Deep customer understanding indeed

Outcry Over Sale of Cell Phone Calling Records

Although customer service representatives for telco companies are based in the U.S. for the most part, the actual billing transactions and management for major players such as Nextel and T-Mobile are handled by an overseas third-party company.

That company is Amdocs, an Israel-based customer relations management (CRM) company with offices throughout the United States and other countries. Amdocs specializes in customized billing and "risk" applications for its clients, including most of the major telecommunications companies.

Amdocs trumpets its ability to deliver "deep customer understanding" for the needs of the services industry. Amdocs' philosophy revolves around structuring its responses according to its most profitable customers, its promotional material boasts.

We are going to be hearing more about this.

More new-to-me local tech blogs

Vik David points to three local tech bloggers that I have not seen before: Tom Kyte, Luis de la Rosa, David Bock.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Vulnerability Discovery and Remediation Open Source Hardening Project

From Bruce Schneir we learn that The U.S. government's Department of Homeland Security plans to spend $1.24 million over three years to fund an ambitious software auditing project aimed at beefing up the security and reliability of several widely deployed open-source products.

This is terrific news. As Schneier points out, this will provide a terrific incentive to develop open source software.

Great moments in content management, the Irish Stock Exchange

From Tom Murphy we learn that the Irish Stock Exchange sent out a press release, on insider trading of all things, which went out as an attachment rather than ASCII text and that they failed to erase the tracked changes, thus causing great embarrassment.

Obviously this doesn’t happen to flacks sensible enough to use text email. But I think software developers, I’m talking to you Microsoft and Adobe, have a responsibility to make it clear through tip sheets and other means that just because you have deleted something on screen does not mean it is deleted from the electronic copy of the document. For most people this is counter intuitive and needs to be made clear. Blaming the users is never acceptable PR.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

In memory of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King – Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964

We live in a day, says the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, "when civilization is shifting its basic outlook: a major turning point in history where the presuppositions on which society is structured are being analyzed, sharply challenged, and profoundly changed." What we are seeing now is a freedom explosion, the realization of "an idea whose time has come", to use Victor Hugo's phrase. The deep rumbling of discontent that we hear today is the thunder of disinherited masses, rising from dungeons of oppression to the bright hills of freedom, in one majestic chorus the rising masses singing, in the words of our freedom song, "Ain't gonna let nobody turn us around." All over the world, like a fever, the freedom movement is spreading in the widest liberation in history. The great masses of people are determined to end the exploitation of their races and land. They are awake and moving toward their goal like a tidal wave. You can hear them rumbling in every village street, on the docks, in the houses, among the students, in the churches, and at political meetings. Historic movement was for several centuries that of the nations and societies of Western Europe out into the rest of the world in "conquest" of various sorts. That period, the era of colonialism, is at an end. East is meeting West. The earth is being redistributed. Yes, we are "shifting our basic outlooks".

From Argentina, to the Philippines, to South Africa, to Eastern Europe, everywhere where people allowed themselves to be guided by this most remarkable man, oppression has been replaced by freedom. There is a lesson there, let us heed it.

Rewarding inappropriate aggression

China's tyranny has the best hi-tech help

But Beijing has the very best help. Some of the world's most famous Internet companies have lined up to show China how to cripple the Web.

A partial list includes Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Cisco, Sun Microsystems and Skype. Each has its expertise. Google removes from its Chinese site whatever the Chinese deem politically sensitive. According to Reporters without Frontiers, "Cisco Systems has sold several thousand routers to enable the regime to build an online spying system and the firm's engineers have helped set it to spot 'subversive' key-words in messages."

In 2002, Yahoo signed a document called a "Public Pledge on Self-discipline for the Chinese Internet Industry." That agreement led to disaster for Shi Tao. Shi, 37, worked for a business daily. On April 30, last year, he was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for revealing a top state secret, to foreign Web sites. The secret was an official warning to the news media on the threat to China posed by dissidents returning to mark the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen killings. Yahoo and Cisco furnished the technology that permitted the security services to identify Shi.

As dog handlers teach us the behavior you reward is the behavior you will get. Why would the People’s Crumbling Kleptocracy respect laws concerning intellectual property and enforce other contractual agreements if they can persuade these companies to back down on matters of this kind? What is to prevent them from seizing these companies’ property in the same manner that Putin seized Yukos?

Three cheers for Richard Parsons for refusing to be part of this.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Medical weblog awards

The Health Care IT Guy tells us that polls close in two days.

Why advertising in traditional media is better than paid search

Tom Foremski has it exactly wrong:

Companies can sell their products and services with a far lower cost of sales these days, because it is easier than ever to reach their customers directly through search engine marketing and blogs.

The problem with Google Adwords is that advertisers have no way of predicting what sort of copy might be associated with their ad. For example, let’s take one of my favorite blogs, The Housing Bubble. This is a blog devoted to exposing what the author sees as an overvalued real estate market. The advertising, driven by word association, is almost all real estate brokers. I can’t imagine a worse place to sell a house. If I were a display advertising sales representative, I would take a screen shot of The Housing Bubble blog to every realtor in my market. It is one thing to have your advertising run beside the occasional negative story. It is quite another to have it run on a blog devoted to slamming your industry.

Henry Copeland’s Blagads offers buyers better control; but it is time consuming to pick out the right combination of blogs to get the requisite amount of exposure. For the same amount of time you could pick out a combination of newspapers and magazines that would offer far more exposure.

As I have suggested elsewhere, news organizations would be well advised to offer their own version of paid search. This would offer a lower price than banner ads or paid links, but greater value in terms of placement. Traditional media is going to do just fine as soon as they adjust their business model.

Everyone else had a completely different take on this.

Elizabeth Albrycht
Jeremy Pepper
John Wagner
Novell Open PR
Travel PR Blog
Horn Group Weblog
Michael Sommermeyer
Morgan McLintic
Steve Rubel
DJ Otter Creek
Richard Edelman

Friday, January 13, 2006

Why press black outs won't work

Because everyone is a publisher.

You can't make this stuff up

Who is a rat data base

Who's A Rat is a database driven website designed to assist attorneys and criminal defendants with few resources. The purpose of this website is for individuals and attorneys to post,share and request any and all information that has been made public at some point to at least 1 person of the public prior to posting it on this site pertaining to local,state and federal Informants and Law Enforcement Officers. This includes an Informant who makes his or her Informant status known to any person.

... The site contact is (wait for it....) Anthony Capone.

The end of dial-up?

Apple Rolls the Dice With Intel Chips

But with the MacBook Pro (go ahead and keep calling it a PowerBook; we probably will, too), Apple is trying out several new ideas in laptop design and taking one big gamble. It has the same built-in iSight webcam, remote control and Front Row media-viewing software as the iMac and trades in the old PowerBook's PC Card slot for a newfangled "Express Card" slot -- but it doesn't include a modem. You can buy a $49 external modem, or at some point, you may be able to pop a modem into that Express Card slot.

I may have to break down and get DSL or even a cable modem.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

New to me local java blogs

Junior Developer

The Idea Ether

Microsoft security patch blues

Brian Krebs has an excellent overview of Microsoft’s continuing security problem. Krebs confirms that Mircrosoft issues patches more swiftly when vulnerabilities are publicly disclosed.

The oddest thing about virus and other attacks is that they crest after a patch has been issued. Which does not make any sense; but Stuart Moore illustrated this in his presentation to NCC AIIM.

New to me local tech blog

bdg's plumtree blog

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Measuring PR

A young PR pro tells us there is a blog devoted to PR measurement -

KDPaine's PR Measurement Blog. Been around since March; but somehow escaped my notice.

Protecting whistle blowers

Project on Government Oversight

Though the Whistleblower Protection Act is weak, the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA) is even worse. One of the most serious problems with it is that an employee or contractor of the CIA who wants to report wrongdoing cannot go to congressional intelligence committees without the CIA director giving him or her "direction on how to contact the intelligence committees in accordance with appropriate security practices." Problem with this is that the CIA director might not want Congress to look into the allegations of wrongdoing by the CIA whistleblower.

If we want to end the practice of anonymous sources, and I hope we do, then we need to offer meaningful protection for whistle blowers.

Whereas PR firms are sending out stupid press releases, and

Whereas these stupid press releases are being sent out to publications, online and off, that never write about the subject matter of the stupid press release, and

Whereas clients are being billed for work that is counterproductive, and

Whereas stupid practices reflect poorly on our industry as a whole,

Therefore be it resolved that PR bloggers make a collective commitment to name and shame.

Not sure how I feel about this, but would like to move it out of subcommittee as it were.

Shel Holtz offers a cautionary note. I have to say, I am very leery of this sort of thing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

How a search engine could compete with Google

Offer users privacy.

Brand Niemann online tomorrow morning

Data Reference Model 2.0 and the role of metadata

GCN Senior Writer Joab Jackson will moderate an online forum Wednesday, Jan. 11, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. EST with Brand Niemann, chairman of the Federal CIO Council Semantic Interoperability Community of Practice. Niemann helped draft the second version of the Data Reference Model, the Office of Management and Budget’s own framework for interagency sharing of information.

The Bloggies

Idea Grove would like your nomination for best new blog. You can tell Idea Grove is a fine blog by the number he links to Presto Vivace Blog.

These awards are all about building community and having fun, so let's enjoy them.

On dealing with venture capitalists

Betsy Palmieri points to Guy Kawasaki’s very funny and very informative Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs and The Top Ten Lies of Venture Capitalists.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway Search Engine

Attorney General Jim Petro’s OHLEG Search Engine

COLUMBUS – Beginning Dec. 12, Attorney General Jim Petro’s Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway Search Engine (OHLEG-SE) will be available to law-enforcement agencies throughout Ohio.

“I believe this system is a necessity for all law-enforcement officers in the state,” said Petro. “This search engine allows investigators to tap into multiple databases by entering whatever clues they may have, such as a partial license-plate number, to quickly identify suspects.”

Petro created the OHLEG-SE to provide Ohio’s law-enforcement agencies an Internet-based tool capable of securely combing through numerous, disparate data sources from a single query. OHLEG-SE searches Computerized Criminal History (CCH) files, the electronic Sex Offender Rehabilitation and Notification (eSORN) database, Department of Rehabilitation and Correction records, Bureau of Motor Vehicle databases, the Ohio Local Law Enforcement Information Sharing Network (OLLEISN) and various other information sources. Through OLLEISN, registered law-enforcement users can share their incident reports and other investigative records with agencies throughout the state.

“Using OHLEG-SE, our officers are able to narrow investigations in minutes,” Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander said. “We are using the system each day to help us quickly track down suspects.”

FBI will focus on info sharing in 2006

Michael Arnone, Federal Computer Week

Another initiative Azmi is moving forward on involves adding four Regional Data Exchanges (R-DExs) to the three that already exist. An R-DEx provides an interface that allows all levels of law enforcement to analyze complicated case file information and other data to fight terrorism and crime.

The FBI also wants to create a National Data Exchange (N-DEx), Azmi said. Much like it sounds, N-DEx is an index to structured data at the federal, state and local levels.

Vance Hitch, CIO of the Justice Department, said he expects to issue a procurement for N-DEx this year. Getting 50 states to agree on it will be difficult because information-sharing laws vary by state, he added.

Why can’t we share?

NATO and information sharing

US allies foresee FCS interoperability issues

The focus of concern is the army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) programme, which comprises 18 vehicles, robots, sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles. The strength of the system, army officials say, will be not in its firepower or armour but in having more information than the enemy.

Some US allies, however, now wonder if the ability of FCS to gather and use information will be so advanced that the US will not only be able to outmanoeuvre an enemy but also, unintentionally, render its allies' contributions obsolete.

If we don’t work with our allies we won’t have any.

David E. Rosenbaum, he will be missed

Veteran 'NY Times' Reporter Dies After Robbery

Veteran New York Times reporter David E. Rosenbaum, 63, died Sunday evening from injuries suffered in a street robbery in Washington, D.C., while walking near his home two nights earlier, police said.

David Rosenbaum, Reporter for Times Who Covered Politics, Dies at 63

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 - David E. Rosenbaum, a retired reporter and editor for The New York Times who for more than 35 years wrote about the intersection of politics, economics and government policy with uncommon depth, clarity and a keen eye for the story behind the story, died Sunday. He was 63.

Imagery intelligence agency chief being forced from post

Angered by testimony, Rumsfeld declined to extend contract, ex-official says

WASHINGTON // After clashing with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the director of the government's third largest intelligence agency will be leaving his position in June, according to current and former government officials.

For the past four years, James R. Clapper Jr. has headed the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which collects intelligence mainly from high-powered satellite photos and produces detailed maps for other government agencies.

Clapper, 64, joined the NGA in September 2001. While Clapper wanted to stay on, Rumsfeld made the decision not to extend Clapper's contract, according to a former senior government official familiar with the matter.

A bad sign. A very bad sign.

Another Reason for PR Practitioners to welcome the blogging phenomenon

Trevor Cook

In addition, blogs (and podcasts) are also subject to all the normal rules (eg libel laws), so that ought to be enough.

From a PR point of view, the audience-regulation described by Cameron is preferable to the current MSM position where you have to beg for a correction or write a letter to the editor which they may or may not publish.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Privacy = Security

Or why it is time, past time, for cell phone companies to protect customer records.

The Chicago Police Department is warning officers their cell phone records are available to anyone -- for a price. Dozens of online services are selling lists of cell phone calls, raising security concerns among law enforcement and privacy experts. Criminals can use such records to expose a government informant who regularly calls a law enforcement official.

The deadly Kool Aide of Payola PR

In a recent podcast Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson criticize the Lincoln Group’s practice of paying for favorable stories in Iraqi news media. Edelman has also denounced this pernicious practice. Holtz, Hobson, and Edelman all expose payola PR as shortsighted and self-defeating. They recognize its threat to the long term interests of our industry.

Were it only a matter of the image of our industry. It is far more serious than that. Stories planted in Iraqi news media will find their way back into our news media. (Indeed, given the present degraded state of the American news media, such an indirect route may not be necessary.)

To understand how serious the consequences of payola journalism can be, consider this passage from Berntsen and Pezzullo’s Jawbreaker, describing Berntsen’s arrival at the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center on the morning of the bombings of our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam:

I felt a jolt of energy as I entered the Crisis Center. Chief CTC Jeff O’Connell stood in the dimly lit conference room speaking on a secure phone directly to the White House. Especially at that early hour of the morning, it was an intensely focused group. Ted (my FBI deputy) as well as the top officers in CTC were already there. News reports from CNN were being projected on the wall behind the head of the table.

While the CIA has access to a vast store of communications and satellite monitoring equipment, commercial newscasts sometimes provides the first view of an incident. Therefore we all have an interest in a news media that is independent, fair, and accurate. It is a matter of national security and we must defend independent journalism as if our lives depended on it.

New to me local PR blog

K Street Blues

Friday, January 06, 2006

Jack Abramoff, Wearing a Guilty Look

Robin Givhan, Washington Post

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff has had a full-blown aesthetic meltdown. He has leapt into an abyss of ill-fitting coats, mobster flourishes and Peter Pan headgear. The once high-flying dealmaker is going down, and there is nothing dignified about the descent.

After pleading guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials with luxury golf outings, free food and tickets to sporting events, Abramoff emerged from U.S. District Court in Washington on Tuesday dressed like a crime boss. He could not have appeared more guilty, more menacing and more unsympathetic than if he had walked out wielding a baseball bat and muttering something about so-and-so sleeping with the fishes.

I had precisely the same reaction. Abramoff looked like the mobster from central casting.

7 Key Emerging Trends in the ECM Industry

NCC-AIIM Monthly Meeting
Thursday, January 12, 2006

The National Capitol Chapter of AIIM (NCC-AIIM) is proud to announce that John Mancini, the President of our parent organization - AIIM International, will be sharing his thoughts on the current state of the ECM industry at our January meeting. With numerous acquisitions and much consolidation over the past several years, it’s easy to begin to focus on the ECM vendors instead of on the technology. Mr. Mancini will share his thoughts on 7 key trends in the ECM Industry that he sees emerging over the next 12 months. If you are involved in ECM in any way, you don’t want to miss this opportunity to hear from one of the foremost experts in the industry!!

Specifying a Software Architecture: The Challenges for Future Software Development for Enterprise Applications

Northern Virginia Chapter of IEEE

Wednsday, January 18, 2006. The meeting will be held at the 1910, Oracle Way, Reston, VA

Future enterprise applications demand complex software development with reduced time and cost. Specification of a Software Architecture is the key element in Software Development. The focal point of the architecting process is the architecture document and describing the structure of the software through various views. While there are established tools and standards for design and code, there is little agreement in the software industry on how to define and document architecture. In this talk, the presenter will give an overview of some practical techniques and templates for defining architecture and show samples of medium to large scale enterprise application architectures. As the talk is aimed as a very interactive session, audiences are encouraged to bring their ideas and suggestions for discussion. The focus of this session is to learn how to define this most critical artifact in the software development process and how to document it using simple diagramming tools and word processors.

NIST provides health IT standards source

Mary Mosquera

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has created a Web site to search for and publish information in its repository for health care standards, organizations and related references. The online Healthcare Standards Landscape is designed to assist in standards development and their coordination, implementation and use.

HITSphere is a great place to track this sort of thing.

Why should online be different from off-line?

Jim Horton alerts us to a story about a PR executive suing a political blogger.

"The central question here is whether a court is going to treat a blog as being the equivalent of a news organization," Kirtley said. She said a few appellate cases across the United States suggest that courts so far have accepted looser standards for blogs because of a conclusion that readers of blogs are skeptical and do not expect such sources to be completely factual.

What kind of bizarre reasoning is that? It’s OK to lie because your readers know you’re lying or at least suspect it????????????????

Does anyone get why this is not in the interest of a free press? Does anyone get how a free press can be destroyed by means of tolerating smears?

I can’t speak to the facts in this case because I do not know them. However, the day we tolerate deception and fraud under the pretext of a free press is the day we are finished as a society.

Why blog relations are more important than ever

Drew points to Charles Arthur’s post on why he does not read press releases anymore:

Marc, as to the question of how to get an interesting company onto the radar - well, what’s it done? What does it have to offer? And more importantly, who’s talking about it and why? Generally Man + Dog + Idea is of only limited interest. Man + Dog + Idea + interested customers making noise on blogs is much more write-worthy. And then there’s the indefinable element of zeitgeist - which doesn’t quite mean fashion (I don’t think).

We are going to have to launch a story in blogosphere and then move it up to traditional news media. More work; but more opportunities.

Note to reporters - Why you should read that boring press release.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

From the Darwin exhibit

Tortoise Cam

TechLaw - Computer Law 101 and Four Rules For Effective Email

Mark Grossman’s TechLaw

Computer and Internet law are still so rapidly evolving that the few of us who practice in these areas are often forced to give indefinite answers to our clients’ seemingly simple questions. This week is going to be different, though. I’m only going to discuss clearly established Internet and computer law principles.


Cyberspace is a place where you can destroy personal and business reputations. A statement on a website or posted anywhere online can cause immeasurable damage because of the Internet’s ability to disseminate information widely and quickly.

It’s absolutely clear that the law will hold you legally responsible for defamatory online statements. Statements made online can and will get you sued. For some reason, people think that online doesn’t count. Wrong!

Employer Liability for Employee Email

There’s no doubt that an employee’s improper use of email can lead to employer liability. Email is no different from a letter. Again, just because it’s electronic rather than traditional written communication makes no difference. If an employer would be responsible for a letter, the employer would be responsible for an email.

The list of things employees can do wrong in email is the same as the list for paper correspondence. Employees can violate copyrights, divulge trade secrets, commit libel, send obscene material, bind a company to a contract, harass others, and more.

In some ways, email can be worse than a letter. Email is easier to disseminate and harder to destroy.

I’m not suggesting that a business not use email; that would be insane. Email is the best thing to happen to corporate communication since the telephone. What I am suggesting is that management educate itself about the risks, implement a fair and detailed Corporate Email Policy, and then enforce it.

Bar’s Advertising Rules Apply to Attorney Websites & Email

In Florida and some other states, lawyer’s use of web pages and email are highly regulated. The Florida Bar considers a web page to be an advertisement, and cracks down on the use of email as a form of advertising.

The details of the Florida rules can be found online. Any Florida lawyer considering a website should check with the Bar for details.

Litigation and Computers

Civil litigants, police, and others can subpoena information stored on computers. If I can force you to produce a written document, I can force you to produce computer data. There’s no legal distinction between the two.

In some ways, computers can be a nightmare when it comes to controlling the dissemination of information. It’s easier to control copies of documents, old drafts and other records when they’re on paper than when they are computerized. Between backup tapes, copies on CD-ROMs, and recycle bins, copies of “destroyed” documents have a way of turning up at the most inopportune time for those trying to hide information. For a lawyer with expertise in electronic discovery, it’s goldmine time.

Copyrights and Digital Data

This one never ceases to amaze me. Even reasonably astute people think that copyright law doesn’t apply to digital data and particularly, the Internet. This has got to be the most common misconception about technology law.

Copyright law does apply in cyberspace. There is no “but copying was so easy” defense to copyright infringement. Just because you can readily copy digital data doesn’t mean that it’s legal to do so. The same copyright considerations exist whether you steal my work by retyping it, or by copying and pasting it in a computer file. Sorry, even on the Internet, you still need to get the author’s permission.

Four Rules For Effective Email

Personally, I love email. I think that there’s no quicker, more efficient and effective way to convey routine thoughts in business and handle daily matters: “Dear Assistant, when the messenger arrives with the package from the new client, please review it and have a summary on my desk by the end of the day.” It’s concise, straightforward and verifiable. You never have to hear things like, “but I thought you said the end of the day tomorrow.”

Nonetheless, email is not without its problems. An example is the misuse of cc’s. In the old days, send a cc meant “send a carbon copy.” Carbon paper is now in the museum next to the Jurassic Age exhibit, but the term lives on to just mean “copy.” It’s almost too easy to send an email with "carbons” to any number of people, or forward an email to someone else.

And that means email can make it convenient for managers to sidestep responsibility. Management experts generally want to move decision-making down the chain of command. But it’s simple for a middle manager to send an electronic cc up the chain or forward a message to request guidance from above — and thus avoid responsibility. I think the best way to stop cc’s up the chain is for upper management to wait a day and then send an email back down the chain that simply reads, “So, how did you decide the

Email can also be used as a way to hide from personal contact, a way of distancing yourself from telling someone in the office something unpleasant (or something pleasant, for that matter). This is an unfortunate tendency that you must avoid.

“Your memo was poor” is an example of the kind of email that you should NEVER send. It’s a copout for the sender. It takes a moment to write and send, feels good and avoids confrontation. The sender gets to move on with his or her day quickly. For the recipient, opening an email and getting a criticism or other negative message is like getting clubbed on the head. It’s guaranteed to ruin their day.

You must remember and abide by the following four basic rules of email. Post this on every bulletin board in your office. You have my okay to copy these words verbatim and distribute them as a memo or email throughout your company. It would not hurt my feelings if you prefaced it with “Mark Grossman, technology attorney, says....”)

1. Never, ever give bad news by email. Bad news always deserves a real human voice, whether in person or over the telephone.

2. Never use email to criticize people. It stings more in writing and doesn’t heal with time. All day long, the recipient gets to reopen that email and feel bad all over again. Critical email inevitably eats at the craw of the recipient.

3. Never discuss personal issues over the office email system. It’s truly bad office etiquette. It’s also asking for trouble, because there’s no guarantee that private email will remain private. Carbon copies (and “forwards”) being what they are, you may just find your personal email posted on the lunch room bulletin board. Ouch. Any email that starts with “Oh, honey…….” is probably a personal email that shouldn’t be in the office computer system.

And this last thought comes from a guy who’s enamored with email. I love email so much that one of these days, I’m going to change my outgoing voicemail message to say, “If you want me to respond today, please send me an email. If you want a response this week, leave a message after the beep.”


4. If there is even the slightest possibility that what you are going to say could be taken wrong, don’t use email to say it. Sorry, but sometimes there’s no substitute for that human touch. Occasionally, you must leave your seat, walk down the hall, and personally deliver a message.

Reprinted in its entirety with permission from Mark Grossman

Ben Haslem

While something they write may not be actionable in the country in which they reside (and in which they wrote the post) it can be an entirely different matter in the country where the post is read.

It was a long established legal precedent in common law countries (Australia, the UK, USA, Canada, South Africa, India, Malaysia etc) that an act of defamation (or libel) occurs where the article or broadcast is perceived, NOT necessarily where it is written or published.

In other words, if you write (or post) something about an individual, which under the laws of your country is not defamatory but it is read in a country where it is defamatory, you could be sued.

Bad public relations, bad policy, bad politics, just plain bad

The Media Orchards alerts us to Andrea Weckerle’s post about localities using collection agencies to collect library fines.

In these times of strained finances and growing needs, it is just too easy for localities to turn to things like aggressive parking enforcement and collection of library fines to gin up revenue. It is a temptation that should be resisted. It changes a local government’s relationship with their citizens in a way that is injurious to the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Why civil servants get so frustrated with their politicians

The FCW Insider

I'm not big into got-ya' journalism. I don't think it is good for us... and I don't think it is good for you. That being said, it is somehow ironic that I go to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs... guess who asks for permanent cookies! Yes, the same committee that is austensibly responsible for the oversight of e-government and federal privacy rules. We understand that Congress doesn't play by the same rules that agencies do, but when we last checked, which was some time ago, I admit, permanent cookies were banned from agency Web sites. The committee Web site doesn't even have a privacy policy on it.

Lesson for Murdoch: Keep the Bloggers Happy

Julie Bosman, The New York Times

When Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation bought MySpace, the social-networking Web site, in July, some of its users gloomily predicted that the site would be altered to suit the company's corporate interests.

Proof for many of those people came earlier this month, when MySpace users began to notice that any references to YouTube, a video-sharing site and a competitor, were erased or blocked from appearing on My-Space. Some MySpace users also reported that when they tried to download videos from YouTube, a patch of white space appeared instead.

Murdoch’s business model has always been to control distribution and constrain customers to buy what he wants to sell, rather that supply what customers want to buy. I see no evidence that he understands that the Internet is not susceptible to this approach as long as it remains open.


YouTube blog (which hasn't worked out permalinks) reports that it was all a misunderstanding.

Power play, in every sense of the word

Jim Horton thinks Putin is taking a huge PR gamble in his confrontation with Ukraine over the price of Russian natural gas. I suspect Putin knows his business well enough.

Gazprom extends strategic pipeline network

Moscow’s Pressure Pushes Kiev into Arms of West: Analysts

Fairfax's Point Man in India

S. Mitra Kalita, The Washington Post

BANGALORE, India -- Most Indians have never heard of Fairfax County. Prasad Tagat aims to change that.

Calling himself a "brand ambassador" for Fairfax County, Tagat is in charge of luring technology companies from here -- India -- to there -- Northern Virginia. Hired in 2004, Tagat attends breakfast meetings and networking luncheons throughout India armed with glossy brochures and folders provided by the county. He recites statistics about the Fairfax school system and the number of Hindu temples in the county.

At a time when many U.S. workers worry about American jobs and companies relocating to India, Tagat's goal is simple and paradoxical: to woo Indian entrepreneurs ready to open U.S. offices to Fairfax.

It's a different world.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Promoting tourism

Treating visitors like criminal suspects could hurt business.

Adam Shostack has additional thoughts.

Customer relations

Threatening customers with legal action could reduce repeat business.

Media relations

Threatening advertisers can be counter productive.

It’s one of those irregular verbs, I give unofficial policy briefings, you leak, he’s in violation of the official secrets act

Larry Johnson on Leak Hypocrisy

For those outside the Beltway it is essential to recognize there are two kinds of leaks--officially sanctioned and whistle blowers. The ones described in the previous paragraphs are the "officially sanctioned" variety. These are not unique to the Bush Administration or Republicans. Politicians through the years have shared classified information with journalists as part of a public relations effort to build support for a policy or attack critics.

Otherwise known as the ship of state leaks from the top.

Then there is the whistle blower variant. This is more important and, in my opinion, the most valuable. It exists to keep politicians honest and alert the public to serious policy disputes. The two most recent examples are the revelations that the United States was holding possible terrorists in secret prisons around the world and that George Bush was circumventing the law and approving illegal electronic surveillance inside the United States. While the Bush White House is certain that those responsible for these leaks are political partisans hell bent on damaging the President, it is really a sign that folks on the inside with a conscience finally decided to speak out.

... What is truly shocking is that many in the media, both print and electronic, seem ignorant of the difference between official and whistle blower leaks. In fact, some seem eager to carry water for the White House and feed the myth that the whistle blower leaks are putting us in jeopardy. Not surprisingly these are the same "journalists" who sought to excuse the leak of Valerie Plame's name as no big deal.

High level government leaks occur when there are policy/power struggles and anonymice wish to manipulate opinion without being held directly responsible. In general, worker bees do not leak to the news media. In general, they do not have the contacts and would not even know where to begin. When you see leaks pouring from the lower ranks of government, that is a signal that something is very much amiss.

Leaking puts you on a very slipperly slope. When is it whisle blowing and when is it ax grinding? It is not always so clear. And how can you trust your fellow workers if you know someone is leaking to the press?

How can the voters determine policy if the worker bees of the civil service undermine the polticians the voters elected? On the other hand, how can the civil service be expected to carry out directives they know are not merely illegal, but downright unconstitutional? I will repeat what I said before; it would have been better had these civil servants all have gone on the record and invoked the whistle blower protection act.

My resolution for 2006 is to do what I can to persuade people to speak on the record and protect whistle blowers.

Happy New Year

The Radetsky March