Thursday, May 31, 2007

Why journalism matters, Gamaliel López Candanosa

Mexico's Journalists Feel Heavy Hand of Violence

Credibility meltdown of the voting machines

My article in today's Daily Dog describes how a group of online activists and computer security experts destroyed the credibility of the DRE voting machines. It has important lessons for our industry:

So far as I am aware, this is the first online corporate meltdown. It offers several lessons:

  • First, pay attention to online critics and treat them with respect—even if they are conspiracy theorists.
  • Second, online activists live for threatening letters. Such tactics will almost certainly backfire.
  • Lastly, be aware of what is being said about your company and refrain from obviously inflammatory actions. For example, if you are being accused of election fraud, do not sign political fundraising letters—and certainly do not promise to "do all you can do" to deliver a state's votes for your preferred candidate.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bruce Schneier on the future of privacy

Face-Off: Is Big Brother a Big Deal?

The fear isn't an Orwellian government deliberately creating the ultimate totalitarian state, although with the U.S.'s programs of phone-record surveillance, illegal wiretapping, massive data mining, a national ID card no one wants and Patriot Act abuses, one can make that case. It's that we're doing it ourselves, as a natural byproduct of the information society.We're building the computer infrastructure that makes it easy for governments, corporations, criminal organizations and even teenage hackers to record everything we do, and—yes—even change our votes. And we will continue to do so unless we pass laws regulating the creation, use, protection, resale and disposal of personal data. It's precisely the attitude that trivializes the problem that creates it.

We're not ready for it yet, but in ten years privacy will be the killer ap, and once again DARPA will fund the early research for the solution. Who has to electronically travel around the Internet anonymously? Intelligence agencies and militaries. They are going to come up with the prototype and it will move into the commercial world in much the same way the Internet did. We just aren't ready yet.

Potomac area PR, marketing and tech blogs

There are now sixty-four blogs on the Tech on the Potomac RSS reader. These blogs are chosen because they are from the Greater Washington, DC area, deal primarily with PR, marketing, technology, or government affairs. If you know of a local business or tech blog that belongs on this list, please let me know.

.net DEvHammer

NET Ramblings - Brian Noyes' Blog

360 Digital Influence

Justin Burtch

BetterECM - russ stalters' Blog on Exploring NextGen ECM

BGNonline Business Growth Network

Business Oriented Design

CaseySoftware, LLC - Supporters & Developers of dotProject - Connecting Developers, Building Worlds

Chris Abraham - Because the Medium is the Message

CMS Watch Trends and Features - Connecting Developers, Building Worlds


Conrad Agramont's WebLog


Destination Creation

Dr. Identity (Identity Theft Prevention)
EchoDitto blogs

ECM Industry Watch

Fair And Biased

HighVizPR + Promotion = the new journalism. Politics = Show Biz! News is entertainment?

HITSphere Health IT and Informatics Community - The place to share your ideas, rumors, and complaints about Healthcare IT and Medical Informatics


Jeet's world

Jim Buie's Blog

Jonathan Cogley's Blog

Ken Yarmosh on Digital Technology's Impact on Business, Life, and Culture.

Kensington Business Solutions

Loosely Coupled Thinking

Luis de la Rosa

MGilly's QA Blog


New Persuasion

Occam's Razor

One Nomad's Blog

Pensieri di un lunatico minore

Potomac Flacks

Presto Vivace Blog

Serge van den Oever [Macaw]

Shahid's Perspectives's media

Software Craftsmanship


Ted's Take - The blogging site of Ted Leonsis

The 463: Inside Tech Policy

The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times

The Buzz Bin

The D-Ring: Where the military and new media collide

The Disco Blog

The Healthcare IT Guy

The Idea Ether

The Intelligent Enterprise Blog

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) Blog

The Tom Kyte Blog

The Webpreneur


Viget's Four Labs

vosi's StumbleUpon Blog

vosi's StumbleUpon Favorites

PR nightmare in progress

Martin Bosworth

The IRS’ justly-maligned private debt collection program is back in the hot seat—this time courtesy of Brian Ross and the folks over at The Blotter:

Congressional investigators say there have been hundreds of complaints about repeated and abusive phone calls from debt collectors participating in the IRS program. Among those who have filed complaints are people in nursing homes, wives of servicemen in Iraq and low-income taxpayers facing economic hardship…Under the rules of the program, collectors cannot say they are working for the IRS and are calling about a tax matter without first receiving proof of a taxpayer’s identity. This has led to complaints from consumers saying they have received calls that sound like scams from collectors who have pressed them to provide social security numbers without identifying the purpose of the call.

This is not the political environment for that sort of thing. Expect to be called on it.

What are you reading?

I have decided to try a more formal approach to my reader survey. If you are in the Greater Washington area, please take my survey,
What Washington is Reading

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Search engines and hiring decisions

BL Ochman (who always finds the most interesting stuff) alerts us to a case-study-in-progress, We Googled You

Hathaway Jones’s CEO has found a promising candidate to open the company's flagship store in Shanghai. Should a revelation on the Internet disqualify her now?

First of all, how do you know the information concerns the individual in question, is it Alice Marshall PR in New York City, or Alice Marshall of Presto Vivace, or a different Alice Marshall altogether?

Secondly, how do you know it is true? Is everything that has been said about your company on the Internet true? No? Than why should you believe something merely because it is on the internet?

Lastly, and most crucially, is it work related? Is the guy you are considering for the accounting position have a bad YouTube video with the worst karaoke performance ever? How does that relate to accounting?

With the explosion of social software most of us will have something negative about us. If you eliminate all those candidates you will have a very limited talent pool to say nothing of a corporate culture that is not conducive to innovation.

Emerging Trends in Disaster Recovery Services

Association of Information Technology Professionals

THURSDAY, June 14, 2007
6:30-9:00 PM

Manning Dare of SunGard Availability Services will be the speaker.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Market Research Results

Once or twice a year I send out an email to my business associates asking them for their favorite source of tech news. The sample size is far too small to have statistical significance; but I still find it useful.

The biggest surprise is that no one mentioned the New York Times, even though that was one of the prompted choices. Some of the respondents said they no longer read the Washington Post since they gutted their tech coverage.

Most of the other results are much of what you would expect. Although results are not broken down that way, the younger readers consistently preferred online sources, older readers prefer paper, and email newsletters.

Below are this year’s results:

Most popular sources of news among all groups:
Washington Post
Wall Street Journal
Government Computer News
Federal Computer Week
Information Week
Washington Business Journal
Computer World
Washington Technology
CPCUG Monitor
CIO Magazine

Also mentioned:
Favorite of the Content Management Industry:
eDoc and the Doc 1 e-newsletter

Favorites of tech writers and computer repair consulting:
Info World
IBM Systems Magazine/Mainframe edition
Computer Shopper
Smart Computing
Brian Livingston's Windows Secrets e-mail newsletter
Tech Republic discussion lists
CPCUG discussion lists

Favorites of project managers and process improvement specialists:
MIT Tech Review

Web designers and new media specialists:
Full Disclosure Security Discussion
DC Web Women

Programmers favorites:
Oracle Magazine
Teradata Magazine
The Register
Software Development Magazine
CNN Tech
CNET Japan
Der Speigel
Inc. Magazine
Google Tech News
Yahoo Tech News
bonddad blog

Analyst and Education favorites:
The Pew Internet & American Life Project
Tim Bray’s Ongoing
Jon Udell
Phil Windley
Lou Rosenfeld

The greatest disappointment was that no one mentioned any of the blogs on the Tech on the Potomac RSS reader.

If you would like to participate in this survey,
click here

Memorial Day


Friday, May 25, 2007

The coming debate over federal contracting

Connie the Contractor

Unfortunately, another outgrowth of "acquisition reform" was the notion of allowing many agencies (e.g., NASA, NIH, Commerce) to earn commissions based on sales by performing contracting services for other government agencies. This concept is also known as entrepreneurial government. The result has been a tremendous growth in so-called government-wide acquisition contracts (GWACs) and other multi-agency contracting vehicles. Of course, the primary purpose of these contracting programs is not necessarily to get the best deal for taxpayers, but rather to create profit centers for the contracting agencies through commissions earned. Since the "commissions" generated by this approach all come from appropriated funds paid by the using agencies, the incentive structure to get the best deal for taxpayers is completely distorted.

This controversy is only going to grow. My advice to contractors is to make change your friend instead of your enemy.

New to me reference tool

The Business Publications Search Engine

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Why journalism matters, Yuri Chernogayev

Uzbek Journalist Charged With Defamation

MOSCOW (AP) - An Uzbek reporter for German broadcaster said Wednesday he faces up to 10 years in prison after being accused of defaming President Islam Karimov.

Yuri Chernogayev said Uzbek prosecutors also charged him with tax evasion and ``illegal dissemination of information threatening public security and order.''

Deutsche Welle freelancer faces up to 10 years in prison

Online damage control that doesn't work

BL Ochman reports that ChemNutra, the company that imported melamine-tainted ingredients linked to the death of many thousands of dogs and cats nationwide, has launched a blog consisting of press releases. The worst part? The comment function doesn't work.

Clearly their PR advisers decided to do a blog, and instead of contracting with anyone knowledgeable about online communications, they went a newsroom and called it a blog. Online communications requires a specialized approach. It is necessary to hire someone with experience.

More evidence that blog buzz drives media coverage

How Blogs Are Affecting Media Relations

  • Reporters who don’t know you yet are looking for organizations like yours and products like yours. Make sure they will find you on sites such as Google and Technorati.(Search optimized news releases, social bookmarks and tags on syndicated content will do it for you.)
  • If you blog, reporters who cover the space will find you.
  • Pitch bloggers, because being covered in important blogs will get you noticed by mainstream media. (Talk to bloggers - don’t pitch them)
  • Some (but not all) reporters love RSS feeds. (Bloggers love RSS feeds)
  • Personal relationships with reporters are important. (Personal relationships with bloggers aren’t just important - they’re essential. Web 2.0 is about a conversation, not a pitch)
  • Does the reporter have a blog? Read it. Comment on it. Track back to it.
  • Before you pitch, read (or listen to or watch) the publication (or radio program or TV show or blog or podcast) you’ll be pitching to!
  • Once you know what a reporter (or blogger) is interested in, send her an individualized pitch crafted especially for her needs.

It is an error to limit yourself to the high traffic blogs. Blogs with few readers and less inbound links still help with search engine visibility. Multiple links on low traffic can be used to persuade editors in the newsworthiness of your client. It is all a matter of understanding blog buzz.

Protecting citizens' personal data

OMB Moves to Safeguard Social Security Numbers

Federal agencies must review their use of Social Security numbers and come up with a plan in 120 days to eliminate their unnecessary collection and use within 18 months, the Office of Management and Budget said in a memo released yesterday.

Data you don't collect is data you don't have to protect. I hope this will start a trend that will quickly spread to the private sector.

Edit -
White House Data Breach Prevention Guidelines

Litigation PR

Sara Smith has an interesting post describing how TerraCycle is using a blog as part it response to a lawsuit brought by Scotts Miracle-Gro. There is a lively discussion about this at Scotts' online forum.

This is going to be a great case study in the use of online communications as part of your litigation strategy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Measuring the cyber zeitgeist

Google launches top daily searches as 'Hot Trends'

Google Tuesday launched HotTrends, a new feature on the Google Trends report that lets users see a list of the current top 100 fastest-rising Google search queries in the U.S, the search company said. Users can also select to see what the top searches were on a specific day.

This seems to be a very useful tool for celebrities, national brands, and the very famous. If your client doesn’t have critical SEO mass this tool won’t pick up their web presence. For small and medium sized companies Blogpulse Trend Results remains the better choice.

Sun Microsystems and the GSA

Changes Spurred Buying, Abuses

In February 2005, an auditor at the General Services Administration presented evidence to agency leaders that one of the government's top technology contractors was overcharging taxpayers.

GSA auditor James M. Corcoran reported that Sun Microsystems had billed the government millions more for computer software and technical support than it charged its commercial customers.

If true, the allegation was grounds to terminate the contract and launch a fraud investigation. Instead, senior GSA officials pressed last summer to renew the contract.

This is every federal contractor’s nightmare, a high profile congressional investigation complete with a front-page story in the Washington Post. This is also one of the differences between the private sector and government contracting. If a business thinks you are ripping them off they will simply change suppliers. The last thing they want is a series of articles about how they permitted themselves to be ripped off. Governments are led by politicians who make their careers by exposing fraud, real and imagined. Every detail of your contract could be subject to public scrutiny.

For the civil servants caught up in this, it is a fearsome thing. It is very difficult to defend yourself against an angry committee chairman. The best thing I can suggest is to contact your public affairs officer and get the facts before the public. That is what the news room section of your website is for. Work with the government contracting press, who don’t have to be brought up to speed on the finer points of GSA rules and procedures.

Sun needs to get its story out. There is nothing on their website. I would recommend a straight forward explanation of their side of the negotiations along with a timeline. It would also be useful to document any differences between what they offer their commercial customers, and what they do for their federal customers, in a way that would allow the general public to understand why the federal government is paying a higher price.

There is one point on which I would like clarification:

As it negotiated with the GSA, Sun hired the Washington Management Group, a consulting firm that employs former senior GSA officials, the Waxman memo said. The firm operates the Coalition for Government Procurement, an association of GSA contractors that includes Sun.

I have never heard of trade association that was operated as a division of a private company. I would like to know more about this.

It would be useful if we had a time line beginning with the laws that changed the rules of government contracting. What are those laws and when did they go into effect? Are they just laws or are executive orders also involved? When did the cut backs in personnel overseeing the contracts occur? What areas were affected? We need some charts to show the rise of both the number of contracts and the dollars expended.

Rise in expenditure is not, in and of itself, an indicator of wrong doing. During the period in question every single government agency launched its website. They also completely changed the way they manage documents. These were success stories and should not be treated as suspect.

New to me local tech blog

The Webpreneur

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

GSA chief violated Hatch Act, OSC report finds

Federal Times

An Office of Special Counsel report has found that General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan violated the Hatch Act, which bars federal officials from partisan political activity while on the job, sources say.

Like we didn't see that one coming down I-95.

There is going to be a lot more like this. The next eighteen months are going to be one investigation after the other, punctuated by the occasional indictment or plea bargain.

It's a great time to be in e-discovery, records management, and litigation support.

The problem with braggadocio

Executive Speech Coaches Beat Al Gore, Lee Iacocca and the Pope

Business psychologist Dr. Larina Kase and coauthor executive speech coach Harrison Monarth were able to add bestselling authors to their resumes over the weekend as their book The Confident Speaker beat out fellow bestselling authors Al Gore, Lee Iacocca, Jim Collins and Pope Benedict XVI for a top spot on

From 5:45 PM Easter Time

Product Details
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (April 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
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The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore

Product Details
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (May 22, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594201226
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594201226
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Sales Rank: #3 in Books

Another reason Potomac tech culture is different from Silicon Valley


The press side of things is equally nuts. I wasn’t writing a blog in the first bubble so I can’t compare now to then. But entrepreneurs are no longer talking to us just to get our opinion and hope for a blog post and a little discussion. These guys need press to stand out from the scores of startups just like them. Saying no to them isn’t really an option. They show up at our front door with a bottle of wine or flowers. They instruct their PR firms to do anything necessary to get a story.

No Presto Vivace client ever presented wine or flowers to any member of the press. In fact, the local press is pretty strict about not taking swag. In this part of the world hype is reserved for Presidential candidates and the venture firms confine themselves to business plans and presentations.

More content management blogs

CMS Wire


New to me, EMC blogs

Jesse Wilkins informs me that EMC has three blogs:

  • Mark's Blog. Mark Lewis is the EVP and Chief Development Officer.
  • Andrew's Blog. Andrew Cohen is Associate General Counsel and VP Compliance Solutions.
  • Chuck's Blog. Chuck Hollis is VP of Technology Alliances.
Wilkins has a collection of ECM vendor blogs on his blog roll:

When email gets misdirected

Greg Palast

I have Karl Rove’s emails. No kidding. He and his team aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer. They sent copies of their plans to GeorgeWBush.ORG instead of GeorgeWBush.COM addresses — and, heh heh, they ended up in my in-box.

It's moments like this that make me wish I was a reporter on the records management or litigation support beat. Hee hee hee.

Quotes and misquotes

The Flack quotes a pair of FBI agents on tips for good interviewing. BL Ochman has some excellent advice for how to protect yourself from being misquoted. I especially agree with her about taping oral interviews.

Email interviews produce colder, less interesting copy. Live interviews, in person or over the phone, produce better copy, so I encourage clients to agree to them.

Preparing for an interview is also very important. Preparing for an interview isn’t about spin and canned messaging. Preparing is about thinking about the audience of that particular publication and what it is you wish to communicate to them.

Congratulations John McKay

Getty Images hires John McKay.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Top Potomac tech and marketing blogs

Buzz Bin puts Presto Vivace blog and number seven of top new media and tech blogs:

  1. Technosailer - 874
  2. Chris Abraham - 191
  3. Technosight - 86
  4. Destination Creation - 67
  5. Buzz Bin - 59
  6. Alex Rudloff - 58
  7. Presto Vivace - 56
  8. Potomac Flacks - 53
  9. Four Labs - 49
  10. Maryland Media - 48
  11. Mike-O-Matic -48
  12. 21st Century Public Relations - 41

Did Apple censor its online forum?

Lawsuit claims LCD screens on Apple's current notebooks are not capable of millions of colors

The complaint also points out that many of the disgruntled customers posted messages on Apple's own forums only later to have their posts moderated or completely removed by Apple forum administrators.

"It appears that Apple has engaged in substantial editing of the posts on the discussion forum," the lawsuit indicates.

If you have an online forum, and I think they are a good idea, be prepared for negative posts. If the criticism is merited, tell the customer what the company is doing to fix the situation. If the criticism is unwarranted, calmly respond with the facts and let the facts speak for themselves. Don't remove negatives posts, unfair ones can be self discrediting when the facts are immediately placed beside them.

Charlie Sorrel doesn't think much of this lawsuit.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Great moments in content management

The secret Iraq documents my 8-year-old found

With a couple of keystrokes, you too can read the hidden history of the Coalition Provisional Authority, America's late, unlamented occupation government in Iraq.

Editor's note: The document discussed in this story can be viewed here, both with and without its hidden text.

When I started studying the massive archive of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the American occupation government that ruled Iraq from April 21, 2003, to June 28, 2004, I expected my experience to be different. I didn't think any letters would fall in my lap, because the archive is paperless. The first archive of occupation created during the IT era, the CPA's virtual history can be found online at, on thousands of pages that each begin "Long live the new Iraq!"

But I forgot to factor in the ubiquity of human error, and of Microsoft Word. It turns out the IT era really is different, after all. It took my 8-year-old son just a few seconds to shake loose some hidden history from within the official transcript of the CPA.

My son made his discovery while impatiently waiting to play a computer game on my laptop. As part of a research project, I had downloaded 45 documents from a section of the CPA Web site known as Consolidated Weekly Reports. All but three of the documents were Microsoft Word. I had one of the Word documents up on my screen when my son starting toying with the computer mouse. Somehow, inadvertently, he managed to pull down the "View" menu at the top of the screen and select the "Mark up" option. If you are in a Word document where "Track changes" has been turned on, hitting "Mark up" will reveal all the deletions and insertions ever made in the document, complete with times, dates and (sometimes) the initials of the editors. When my son did it, all the deleted passages in a document with the innocuous name "Administrator's Weekly Economic Report" suddenly appeared in blue and purple. It was the electronic equivalent of seeing every draft of an author's paper manuscript and all the penciled changes made by the editors. I soon figured out that with a few keystrokes I could see the deleted passages in 20 of the 42 Word documents I'd downloaded. For an academic like myself it was a small treasure trove, and after I'd stopped hooting and hollering it took some time before I could convince my startled son that he hadn't done anything wrong.

There are rules about document and content management, both for the government and its contractors. Clearly the archiving process needs to be made more intuitive. It is just too easy for vendors to point the finger at user error.

Engadget, Apple, and the anonymice

Blog Blunder: Nothing New

One of my favorite tech blogs fell flat on its face Wednesday. Engadget posted a story yesterday claiming the expected June launch of the iPhone would be delayed until October and the Leopard October debut would be postponed until January. Engadget's credited its source as coming from an internal Apple e-mail.

The e-mail tip turned out to be false. But before anyone figured this out Apple's stock tumbled 3 percent losing $4 billion in value by the end of the trading day.

If your source doesn’t want their name on a story, why would you want yours? How many times are reporters, working in whatever medium, going to let themselves get burned by anonymous sources before they learn to reject them?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

When you wear more than one hat

Chris Dorobek is troubled by an announcement that Dawn Onley, of Spire Communications, will serve as an editor of Military Logistics Forum.

My first thought was hmmmmmmm, will Presto Vivace clients have any chance of place in Military Logistics Forum? Presently we don’t have any clients with that sort of story, but that is the sort of company we handle. I am reassured by Onley’s explanation:

My job with Ivy is to offer public relations support to several companies [she named a number of the companies] and help them with media pitches, press releases, arranging and overseeing press interviews, etc. None of my clients are players in the DoD logistics space. In fact, I don’t even know of any logistics work that any of my clients are involved with.

The thrust of my editorial vision at MLF is to spotlight logistics and transportation programs/systems/initiatives across the DoD, DLA, TRANSCOM, the military services, agencies and their ports, fuel terminals, ammo plants, supply centers, arsenals and depots. While MLF will certainly cover technology, there are a lot of other non-technical aspects in this area.

The idea of a PR pro also serving as an editor is startling; but is it really so different from the consultants who frequently write columns for the trade press? Several years ago a client of mine was burned by a consultant/columnist whose living depended upon a rival company. I am still angry about that hit piece.

As long as Onley is not editing news stories that touch on her client’s business it strikes me as a workable, if flawed, arrangement. In a country where a defense contractor can own a news network, this strikes me as small beer.

Government Technology Online

Nick Mudge tells us that Government Technology has revamped its website. It is very attractive, but still is a slow download compared to GCN or FCW.

Very wisely they have a sponsor a link feature at the bottom of the page. News organizations have to do a better job of marketing online advertising.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

GCN IT Leadership Awards

Congratulations to all the winners.

Google innovates while Microsoft litigates

Paul Graham

Google is the most dangerous company now by far, in both the good and bad senses of the word. Microsoft can at best limp along afterward.

When did Google take the lead? There will be a tendency to push it back to their IPO in August 2004, but they weren't setting the terms of the debate then. I'd say they took the lead in 2005. Gmail was one of the things that put them over the edge. Gmail showed they could do more than search.

Gmail also showed how much you could do with web-based software, if you took advantage of what later came to be called "Ajax." And that was the second cause of Microsoft's death: everyone can see the desktop is over. It now seems inevitable that applications will live on the web—not just email, but everything, right up to Photoshop. Even Microsoft sees that now.

Could you convert to the Google “OS?”

In general I think using Google’s “office suite” is a realistic solution if you’re in a situation where you can count on having Internet connectivity most of the time. It’s especially useful if you need to access your information and content from lots of different computers or locations; and it offers some really nice tools for collaboration and sharing. I’m certainly not 100% converted yet, but if I had to, I could be.

Microsoft says open-source violates 235 patents

FAQ: What's behind Microsoft's saber-rattling against open source?

Clearly Microsoft is going with a fud strategy, try to scare customers away from open source. That seems like an admission that Microsoft product’s can’t compete.

In the mean time, Google, which certainly uses proprietary code, continues to gain market share by offering new products.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ernst Volgenau

WETA FM just announced a matching grant from Dr. Ernst Volgenau for its spring fundraiser.

I had the honor of serving with Volgenau on Arlington County’s Economic Development Commission. He is a delightful gentleman with a deep commitment to public service. It is no surprise that he supports classical music.

What is SOA?


There is no widely-agreed upon definition of service-oriented architecture other than its literal translation that it is an architecture that relies on service-orientation as its fundamental design principle. Service-orientation describes an architecture that uses loosely coupled services to support the requirements of business processes and users. Resources on a network[1] in an SOA environment are made available as independent services that can be accessed without knowledge of their underlying platform implementation.[2] These concepts can be applied to business, software and other types of producer/consumer systems.

Search oriented architecture

The use of search engine technology as the main integration component in an information system. In a traditional business environment the architectural layer usually occupied by a relational database management system(RDBMS) is supplemented or replaced with a search engine or the indexing technology used to build such engines. Queries for information which would usually be performed using Structured Query Language(SQL) are replaced by keyword or fielded(or field-enabled) searches for structured, semi-structured, or unstructured data.

In a typical multi-tier or N tier architecture information is maintained in a Data-Tier where it can be stored and retrieved from a database or file system. The data tier is queried by the logic or business tier when information is needed using a data retrieval language like SQL.

This is why I try to stay away from acronyms and am very careful in my use of terminoloy.

Have an idea for how to use technology to improve healthcare?

Via The Healthcare IT Guy, we learn that $5 Million being made available to “Support Ideas That Transform Markets and Empower Consumers.

Monday, May 14, 2007

New to me marketing blog

À propos de Blog Experts

Project Management: Battle of the Framework All Stars

This month’s DC SPIN meeting featured a comparison of the Software Program Manager’s 16 Critical Software Practices™ vs. the Software Engineering Institute’s Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI).

Jonathan Addelston opened by saying that he was a skeptic, because he has been working with process improvement since he met Watts Humphrey in 1987 and has seen so much “blood-sucking level one software development." Since he has worked with so many organizations, he has a feel for how they would respond to a proposed method.

He described some of the problems with the SEI approach. It has a specialized vocabulary. For example, CMMI, v2.1 has a ten line definition of a project. Any comparison of the two should keep in mind that SEI applies to a whole constellation of projects and organizations, whereas SPMN speaks only to projects. Because of this, Addelston's presentation dealt only with the competing methodologies as they would apply to software projects as opposed to systems engineering or related work.

Addelston reviewed some of the attributes of a framework for process improvement. He indicated the limits of frameworks by quoting George Box, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” He reminded the audience that process is constrained by the kind of project you are working on; software for weapons development is different from software for patient healthcare data.

He discussed the difficulty of communicating the specialized vocabulary of CMMI to corporate management, describing their attitude as “cargo cult” and mimicking their conversations, “Are you at Level 3? The new RFP requires you to be a level 3 to bid.” While humorous, this points to the influence of the federal government on software development. The requirement that bidders demonstrate a certain level of capability has a ripple effect upon the entire industry, although not nearly as much as we would like. It also illustrates the influence of the Potomac area on the tech industry. While we do have venture capitalists and some major companies, that is not what makes the Potomac area special. What makes us special is our influence on industry standards and practices. The DC chapter of SPIN is by far the largest and most active. You don’t hear about the names of the players (they would scoff to hear themselves described in such terms), but their influence upon the tech industry is profound.

Addelston made some general observations about the Software Project Manager’s Network (SPMN). He said they had a very entertaining book about bad management excuses. SPMN’s mission is “to identify proven industry and government software best practices and convey them to managers of large-scale software-intensive acquisition programs. Applying extensive ‘in the trenches’ experience, the SPMN enables program managers to achieve project success and deliver quality systems on schedule and on budget.”

SPMN has been used on Defense programs. Its website is owned and operated by the Integrated Computer Engineering Division of the American Systems Corporation.

Addelston emphasized that CMMI is about showing that an organization has met certain goals, not merely about documenting practices.

Going over the 16 Critical Software Practices™, he suggested that some of the titles were cutesey platitudes with no real meaning for software development (design twice, code once), while others were not relevant for all organizations. They seem to have been developed with database development in mind. Altogether, Addelston thought they were “all over the map.” He did not think they would work well with enterprise architecture projects.

While comparing the requirements of CMMI and SPMN, Addelston quoted Barry Boehm, who said “it’s not a requirement if you can’t afford it,” stressing the need to concentrate on what is really a requirement.

In conclusion, Addelston suggested that the 16 Critical Software Practices did not apply globally and that they might better have been called best practices.

Edit - this post has been edited to reflect corrections made by Addelston.

The anonymice on the campaign trail

How professional political operatives secretly control the news you read about the 2008 campaign. Hint: It involves the Drudge Report.

As news events go, the "Bomb Iran" episode was surprisingly typical for the 2008 campaign. It resulted from an anonymous leak, most likely from a rival campaign, rather than the shoe-leather reporting of independent journalists. It was, in the lingo of the campaign trail, an "oppo dump," apparently compiled with the help of one of the vast, secretive propaganda machines housed in each of the major campaigns. In recent months, such invisible releases of information have often dominated the news cycle and have become ubiquitous for reporters covering the candidates. Official e-mails from campaigns regularly arrive in reporter in boxes with subject lines like "n/a," or "not for attribution." Unsigned white papers are delivered with damning facts about opponents' fundraising reports. Information is passed along by senior campaign officials in hushed tones on the telephone, only after the reporter has sworn never to reveal the source.

When are we going to put a halt to this pernicious practice? These aren't whistle blowers coming forward with information concerning serious misconduct. These are trash-talking professional hacks.

First of all, just because you put n/a in the subject in no way obligates a journalist to honor your nasty little game. Don't be part of this. Speak openly or don't speak at all.

Friday, May 11, 2007

New to me local entrepreneurs' blog

Business Growth Network

added to the Tech on the Potomac RSS Reader

Wham! What Vonage’s $58 million surprise means to you

NVTC’s panel discussion on Verizon v Vonage was opened by Barry Goldsmith of Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice. He gave a brief overview of the patents in question and what the jury found. As I understand it, the case revolved around patents that allow a VOIP system to translate domain names into telephone numbers. Vonage has the right to appeal the case to the US Supreme Court, but the legal cost will be very steep.

In order to receive a patent, an invention must be judged to be “unique and non-obvious.” Goldsmith said that in the recent KSR case, the court expanded the definition of non-obvious. Goldsmith thought that the KSR decision might strengthen Vonage’s case.

Jim Kohlenberger, of the Voice On the Internet Coalition, spoke on behalf of a group of VOIP and Web 2.0 companies. He began by explaining that from the very beginning of electronic voice communications, there has been patent litigation. He said that what matters to society is the pace of innovation. Currently, there are 2,273 patents related to VOIP. During the last decade patent litigation has doubled. Kohlenberger suggested that rather than patenting inventions, people are inventing patents.

Congress is concerned about the problems with the system, and legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate in an attempt the remedy to situation. Kohlenberger said that according to a study by MiCRA, if the telephone companies are able to use patents to suppress the new companies, the cost to consumers would be a hundred billion dollars. Some countries are already pulling their analogue systems in favor of a fully digital network.

Marco Rubin, managing partner at Exoventure Associates, gave the venture capitalists’ view of intellectual property. Rubin explained that venture capital investments are easy to get into and hard to exit. Venture capitalists manage a funnel; they might look at a hundred deals, winnow it down to five, and settle on one.

He described the “venture molecule” as a triangle with a management team in a proven domain at the top, protected technology on one side, and a strategic place within a sizable market at the other side.

According to a survey by the Mid-Atlantic Venture Capital Association, lack of clearly protected technology is the number five reason venture capitalists reject deals. Rubin said that there were two kinds of business models for emerging technology: disruptive service, such as eBay, Skype, and Salesforce, or an intellectual property/technology model, such as Motorola, Cisco, and QUALCOMM. Clearly, the importance of intellectual property is dependent upon the business model.

Rubin then reviewed the common ways intellectual property is used: the ever popular litigation model (sue first, ask questions later), the “value creation” model (where an intellectual property portfolio is used as a strategic tool for licensing and cross licensing arrangements), and the tech transfer model (marry an IP/tech cluster with a proven team and seed capital).

Here, the floor was opened for questions. The first questioner asked if intellectual property really mattered for venture backed companies. Rubin responded that venture firms are not interested in investing in litigation.

The next questioner pointed out that Vonage does not actually make products, so was Verizon going after the manufacturers? Goldsmith replied that the components by themselves do not constitute infringement, but rather the way Vonage put them together.

There were questions about how the suit had affected Vonage’s ability to attract business and the size of their litigation war chest. Since only Vonage would know the answer to such questions, there were no clear answers.

One person asked if we would see more such litigation if Verizon prevails. Kohlenberger said that this question goes to the core of the issue; innovation could be stifled.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

First rule of PR: don't lie

Wolfowitz Aide Draws Criticism In World Bank Panel's Report

WASHINGTON -- World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz's top communications aide, Kevin Kellems, is singled out for criticism in a draft report prepared by a World Bank board committee investigating whether Mr. Wolfowitz used his position to secure generous compensation for his girlfriend.

Mr. Kellems, a communications strategist who was a part of Mr. Wolfowitz's inner circle from his arrival at the World Bank in 2005, was quoted in a newspaper article stating that "all arrangements" concerning Mr. Wolfowitz's companion "were made at the direction of the bank's board of directors."

Especially don't lie to your organization's board of directors.

Reminder, please take the Blogads survey

Please take my blog reader survey!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The federal shield law, a bad idea whose time has gone

The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Freedom of the press is not a privilege meted out to a specially ordained priesthood; it is the inalienable right of every American. It belongs to the reporter, PR professional, and reader alike without distinction. The entire debate over the definition of a journalist ignores this not unimportant fact.

Micro Persuasion informs us that there is attempt to revive the proposed federal shield law:

A section of the proposed Free Flow of Information Act advocates that certain bloggers receive a key legal protection that is currently reserved for journalists.

How much damage are we going to permit the anonymice to inflict upon us before we call a halt to this pernicious practice? Almost all anonymous sources are either hype merchants or character assassins. The exceptions to that are either frauds or fabricators.

Upon rare occasions, anonymous sources have altruistic and patriotic motives. But as Daniel Ellsberg and Russell Tice could tell you, reporters can promise to protect your identity, they cannot prevent you being exposed through other means.

If we were really interested in promoting the free flow of information and protecting the public interest, we would pass laws protecting whistle blowers, not journalists.

The coming debate over federal contracting

The Spy Who Billed Me

The timing of the news cycle was brilliant. The media was in the final stages of gearing up for the year's biggest spy non-event: the publication of Tenet's CYA memoir, a tome destined to soon become doorstops throughout the nation. At that juncture the office of the Director of National Intelligence chose to announce that the year-long study on the use of industrial contractors by the intelligence community was not going to be released. The number and use of industrial contractors was suddenly a matter of national security.

The debate over the use of contractors can be delayed, but not blocked. My advice to contractors is to make change your friend rather than your enemy.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Tornado alley

Midwestern United States regional imagery, 2007.05.07 at 1145Z. Centerpoint Latitude: 37:30:18N Longitude: 97:01:48W.

Midwestern United States regional imagery, 2007.05.07 at 1145Z. Centerpoint Latitude: 37:30:18N Longitude: 97:01:48W.

Email discussion lists, the neglected part of online relations

The Washington Post has an illuminating article about email discussion lists. This is something we don’t talk about very much in PR blogosphere, even though many more people use discussion lists than blogs.

There are two ways companies should use email discussion lists. First, companies should monitor discussion lists for both praise and criticism. Discussion lists can be a early warning sign for product defects and/or consumer dissatisfaction. They can also teach companies how consumers use their products and why and when they get recommendations.

The second way companies can use discussion lists is to encourage their customers and partners to participate in such lists by posting links from their corporate sites. This will increase the possibility of positive mentions.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Talking about XML standards

This post by Loosely Couple Thinking, informing us that the work of the OASIS WS-BPEL Technical Committee is done, reminded me of this old post by Tim Bray:

To wit: Don’t use WS-* unless you need to interoperate with existing WS-* deployments, in particular Microsoft WCF, which is the twenty-first century version of DCOM: the Windows network API they’d like you to program to.

So, no, I don’t want to tear anything down, but I also don’t want to just get along: I want to start building developer tooling around REST, or what Greg Papadopoulos calls RSWS: “Real Simple Web Services”. I think work to date on WS-* represents a sunk investment; use it when you have to (we at Sun are shipping the tooling to let Javaland talk to WCF) but not as the basis for anything new. Because the design of WS-* just has too many problems to be suitable for enterprise use, in the general case.

You would have to know more about programming than I do to judge the merits of the discussion; but I would be interested in hearing from my programmer readers.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The effective use of flash technology

This flash presentation, Does what happens in the Facebook stay in the Facebook?, demonstrates just how powerful it can be when used properly.

mordaxus has some very insightful and entertaining commentary on this video.

The public relations of patent litigation

This morning I attended NVTC’s fascinating panel discussion on Verizon vs Vonage. John Kohlenberger of the Voice On the Net coalition had the two full page advertisements Vonage had placed, one in the New York Times, and one in the Wall Street Journal.

Why those papers? All the decision makers they need to influence: Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court, the FCC, FTC, USPTO, etc., are all located in greater Washington. Surely a full page advertisement in the Washington Post would have been more to the purpose.

Why confine your advertising to traditional media? VON’s most likely allies are on the Web. Why not use Blogads?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Who reads Presto Vivace Blog?

Please take my blog reader survey!

The influence of Potomac Tech Culture

In the course of his presentation at last night’s DC SPIN, Jonathan Addelston joked about how CMM was a sort of Cargo Cult for corporate management. He mimicked how CEO’s talk to each other, “Are you at level three? The new RFP requires level three to bid.”

It’s an entertaining image, but it is also suggestive of the way Greater Washington, DC influences tech. The federal government’s demand for quality, and some demonstration of ability has a ripple effect across the industry.

Special Presto Vivace Blog online poll

Digg, AACS, and the question of online communities

Digg in tough spot with DMCA debacle

But the story was different at Digg. Its user base, notoriously opinionated and used to a community-run atmosphere with very little editorial control, revolted. "The Digg community is one that loves to have their voice heard, and this has been something that struck a chord with them," Rose said.

Members rebelled against what they saw as unnecessary censorship, flooding the site with submissions and comments containing the cracked key to the point where not a single one of Digg's top-ranked technology stories didn't pertain to the issue. And it reached beyond Digg, too. The HD DVD key made appearances in numerous blog and forum posts, Twitter messages and Photoshopped images all over the Internet.

In a blog post Tuesday night, Rose bowed to his site's readers. "After seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you've made it clear," he wrote. "You'd rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company...effective immediately we won't delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be." Rose even stressed his solidarity with the membership by posting the key in the title of his post.

I think John Cass put it very well in yesterday's comments:

Suspend the account of the people who post the stories. Digg could be sued, and the people who Digg bomb are not thinking about what could happen to Digg. It shows a lack of consideration on the people who bombed Digg. If people don't like what AACS is doing they can build their own site and get sued by AACS. People should respect the rules of website they are posting on. I delete posts all the time because people spam me with sales messages, and will even ban people if they persist.

If we don't want to live in a society goverened by online bullies we need to shut down this sort of thing.

Edit -
Fred von Lohmann of EEF has a good essay on the law at issue here.

Edit ii-
John Cass has second thoughts.

Bad news for journalists is bad news for PR

Online Public Relations Thoughts

With a continued decline in newspaper and magazine circulation, it is clear that the industry has a whole hasn't found a formula that works.

As PR practitioners, we should be concerned. We still rely on the media to get messages out and to vet impartially statements made on behalf of clients. Although the reliance isn't as strong as it once was, PR would suffer if publishers begin to disappear.

New to me local tech blog

MGilly's QA Blog

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New to me legal tech blog

Dr. Identity (Identity Theft Prevention)
, Identity theft news, tips, tricks, and resources from a leading expert in ID theft.

NovaJUG in Government Computer News

Via the NovaJUG discussion list I see that Joab Jackson covered the last meeting -

Are you an experienced Java programmer who appreciates the hearty support of Java platforms and yet is envious of how quickly new languages such as Ruby can be used to build Web applications?

Now you can have the best of both worlds with an emerging language called Groovy, according to a presentation given last week at the Northern Virginia Java Users Group.
Jackson writes far more succinctly than your humble servant and gets the news in fast. But I seriously doubt this article would have been written had I not been blogging these meetings for the past three years. Blogging is redefining what constitutes news.

Workshop on Offensive Technologies

WOOT '07 Call for Papers

First USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies (WOOT '07)
August 6, 2007
Boston, MA, USA

Sponsored by USENIX, the Advanced Computing Systems Association

WOOT '07 will be co-located with the 16th USENIX Security Symposium (Security '07), which will take place August 6–10, 2007.

Important Dates
Submissions due: June 7, 2007, 11:59 p.m. PDT

Via Emergent Chaos.

Technically it is known as wiring the bid

Corps asked to explain pump contract

NEW ORLEANS - When the Army Corps of Engineers solicited bids for drainage pumps for New Orleans, it copied the specifications — typos and all — from the catalog of the manufacturer that ultimately won the $32 million contract, a review of documents by The Associated Press found.

Responding to the electronic mob

HD-DVD Processing Key Ignites Digg Firestorm

As I write this, Digg has gone more than a little crazy. It started when users dugg a story on the AACS processing key that allows decryption of all HD-DVD movies published before April 23rd. Digg, apparently along with a number of other Web sites, received a request from the AACS copyright holders to take down their references to that story. They complied.

But on today's socially filtered Web, that didn't go over so well. Digg users responded by creating and digging an avalanche of stories including the processing key, including everything from silly images to Onion-style news reports that just happen to mention this valuable little bit of hex. (Right now, I think you have to go six pages deep to find a story that's NOT about the processing key.)

Well, after hours of digg-bombing, Digg has capitulated: As Kevin Rose mentions on the company blog, Digg will allow stories on the processing key to run.

I must be missing something here, because it seems to me that AACS was well within their rights, even if the information had already been made public. It is disheartening to witness how quickly an online community can degenerate into an electronic mob. What do you do if your client is on the receiving end of this sort of swarm?

E-Discovery Roundtable

John Mancini has a link to a podcast of the roundtable discussion at the last AIIM show.

Introducing Tech Dispenser

Computerworld’s technology blog network and news aggregator powered by the “Human Algorithm”. is different from the bot-powered landscape of news aggregators, because a real-life editor filters through our growing network of technology blogs and personally categorizes, tags and prioritizes every piece of content on the site.

This means you spend less of your time filtering through mountains of news, blogs and information and get straight to what’s important in technology now.

I'll be interested to see how this goes.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Understanding NewsCorp

Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story Of The World's Greatest Media Wizard
by Neil Chenoweth

New to me technology blog

Thus Prate the IT Pundit, Insight or Fatuity, Josh Chalifour Minding Information Technology & F/LOSS

The problem with AT&T email

Paul Graham

Please don't email me if you use, roadrunner, or comcast. Their incompetent anti-spam blacklists block the whole subnet including our mail server's IP address. So if I reply to you, the reply will bounce. Tip: switch to Gmail; your life will get better in a lot more ways than smarter spam filtering.

I've had three complaints this week from people who were unable to email to my AT&T address. If you send it to marshall at prestoviace dot biz, it will get to me.

I have reported this problem to AT&T and have received their mail bot in response. Obviously I will have to look into another ISP provider. Sigh.