Monday, July 30, 2007

AIIM blogs

Via ECM Industry Watch

Content Overload BLOG
AIIM E-DOC Magazine editors, Bryant Duhon and Janelle Julien, provide thoughts, perspectives, and random observations on the ECM industry.

AIIM Knowledge Center BLOG
Atle Skjekkeland, Vice President, Professional Development, writes about online resources and research on the Enterprise Content Management industry.

Carl Frappaolo, Vice President, Market Intelligence, provides his musing on Innovation, Knowledge, Process and Content Management.

BizTechTalk BLOG
Dan Keldsen, Director, Market Intelligence, talks about technology from the edge to the core.

AIIM Standards Watch BLOG
Betsy Fanning, Director of Standards, briefs you on Enterprise Content Management standards.

Document Management Solution Providers (resellers, integrators, distributors and service providers) focus on issues relevant to day-to-day activities.

Business Value Of Web 2.0 Tools Hard To Measure

Business IT pros said Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, generated the highest value while blogging produced the lowest, the Forrester Research survey shows.

While Web 2.0 technologies are beginning to take root in businesses, measuring the value of the cutting-edge tools remain elusive for most companies, a research firm said Friday.

Nearly two out of three IT decision-makers surveyed by Forrester Research said their companies used traditional value metrics, such as return on investment and total cost of ownership, to evaluate success or failure of Web 2.0 deployments. Yet, rather than point to hard facts, such as support center calls offset by a self-service rich Internet application or Web site traffic from an RSS feed, respondents more often pointed to softer benefits, such as business efficiency and competitive advantage as the true value of Web 2.0 in their companies.

As a result, Forrester believes that many businesses will shy away from adopting Web 2.0 tools, or wait to expand their use, until they are able to better quantify the business value. The researcher's finding was in line with a recent survey by InformationWeek, which found more than half of business technology pros either skeptical about blogs, wikis, online social networks, and other new Web tools, or willing -- but wary -- about adopting them.

Did they consider the value of improved search engine visibility? Did they examine customer relations, especially customer retention? Did they compare blogging to other marketing tools?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Whither open source

Keith Casey has an excellent discussion on the problems posed by GPL3. Clearly Stallman has decided it is all or nothing and may very well get nothing.

I had the privilege of seeing Stallman speak. He is emphatic that living in freedom means using free software. Having looked at the controversy over the voting machines and assorted spyware controversies, I am not sure Stallman is wrong.

On the other hand, companies want to be paid for their work. How can you provide for that in the absence of copyright?

One thing I do know, software is too important to leave to the techies and this is a discussion we all need to follow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Recylcing e-waste

Turtle Wings came by yesterday to pick up three old computers, monitors, printers, and their attendant cables and peripherals. As the old Apple Laserwriter (probably twenty years old) was too heavy to carry, I appreciated the service.

Fairfax County
has a list of services who accept old machines. Turtle wings takes any broken or obsolete appliance, such as coffee pots, recorders, and similar items. Very convenient.

Monday, July 23, 2007

PowerWomen and the Power 150

Kami Huyse has compiled a list of the top women PR bloggers, listing your humble servant at #16. Any list including Presto Vivace Blog has to be great :)


I just joined Congoo, which is like LinkedIn, but specific to industry professionals.

Alice Marshall/Presto Vivace on Congo.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Kim Hart at the New Media Nouveaux Conference

Photo from the Buzz Bin Interview

At the New Media Nouveaux Conference, Kim Hart said that she reads blogs, uses them for sources, and, “would be lost without them.” She said that the Washington Post is trying to find news ways to grab reader’s attention.

Hart said that press releases no longer work, that phone calls don’t work, and advised sending a link. This indicates that professional journalists take the same view as bloggers, they want a sentence as to why their readers would be interested and a link to the material.

Her words confirmed my view that blogosphere is fast becoming Off-Broadway to the newspaper’s Broadway. Certainly for new product launches by small firms it makes sense to place your story in a series of blogs and then contact the reporter with proof of public interest.

Nick Mudge made the same point when I interviewed him for Global PR Blog Week. Blogs are driving the technology debate.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The late, great, Office of Technology Assessment

The Washington Post

The government has had difficulty getting independent, reliable technical assessments about the plausibility, cost and benefits of advanced technology before Congress and agencies commit to spending. It has always struggled when buying new technology, which is why Congress created the Office of Technology Assessment in 1972. For two decades, scientists and engineers in that office helped sort out technical truths from wishful thinking in project proposals. But the office was killed in 1995 in an effort to streamline federal programs.

Since then, as government spending on new technology rose to record levels, the primary technical advisers to federal officials often have been the contractors themselves. Billions of dollars have been wasted on failed, flawed or speculative projects.

We need to bring back the Office of Technology Assessment.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Employee relations

On July 3 Barclay Fitzpatrick, Vice President of Corporate Communications, Capital BlueCross, wrote an email about Sicko and how the company should respond. On July 6 that memo appeared on Michael Moore's website.

The Louisville Eccentric Observer asked Humana employees for copies of internal memos concerning Sicko, and was duly rewarded with three memos, all written in corporate PR speak.

What is remarkable is not merely that such memos were leaked, but the speed with which they were leaked. Happy employees do not do such things. Proud employees do not do such things.

Sicko is currently the ninth top grossing film in the country. It is playing at 756 theaters, as compared to the number ten film, Ocean's 13, playing at 1,244 theaters. What is even more remarkable is the number of theaters showing Sicko has been increased since its initial release. Usually it is just the opposite.

This is not just another movie.

Gadget contest

The fine people at Celestron sent me this:

Celestron(R) Gives Stargazers and Outdoor Enthusiasts a Chance to Win SkyScouts(R), Telescopes and Cool Camping Gear with the Launch of the Ultimate Backyard Adventure Sweepstakes

Celestron(R) Gives Stargazers and Outdoor Enthusiasts a Chance to Win SkyScouts(R), Telescopes and Cool Camping Gear with the Launch of the Ultimate Backyard Adventure Sweepstakes
TORRANCE, Calif., July 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Celestron(R), a leading designer, manufacturer and importer of high-quality optical products including computerized and non-computerized telescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes and microscopes, is offering stargazers the opportunity to transform ordinary backyards into "stellar" urban adventures with the launch of Celestron's Ultimate Backyard Adventure Sweepstakes, .

Does Chris Abraham sleep?
Rising Star

Geoff Livingston has a great interview with Chris Abraham who, in addition to launching his new company Abraham & Harrison, blogs at Marketing Conversation, Because the Medium is the Message along with a steady stream of Tweets, Diggs and a collection of tags. When does he sleep?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New to me local tech blog

Web Consulting Washington DC
, It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.

Added to the Tech on the Potomac RSS reader.

POGO Releases Federal Contractor Misconduct Database

I just received the following press release from the Project On Government Oversight:

POGO announced today that it is releasing an improved and more user-friendly “Federal Contractor Misconduct Database” (FCMD) ( ). For years, POGO has been scouring public sources to compile instances of misconduct involving the top 50 federal contractors to highlight how risky contractors continue to receive taxpayer funds.

The new database, which covers instances of misconduct from 1995 to the present, includes the source documents for each instance, drawing primarily from government documents. While the database is not exhaustive, POGO hopes that contracting officials will use it as a resource when awarding contracts to assure that taxpayer dollars are only being directed to responsible contractors.

In addition to the release of the FCMD, POGO’s general counsel, Scott Amey, will be testifying in front of the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement this afternoon. The hearing, titled “Federal Contracting: Do Poor Performers Keep Winning?”, aims to review flaws in the federal contracting system that allow contractors with poor performance records to continue to receive federal contracts.

Amey’s testimony will primarily focus on how contracting officers need to have information on contractors’ culture of responsibility more readily available in order to ensure that contract awards go to federal contractors. Without this information, major contracts continue to be awarded to risky contractors, as can be seen with the Army recently awarding the LOGCAP IV contract to Dyncorp (3), KBR (5 instances, listed under Halliburton), and Fluor (21)—some of which have questionable responsibility histories that include: false claims against the government, violations of the Anti-Kickback Act, fraud, conspiracy to launder money, retaliation against workers’ complaints, and environmental violations.

Legislation proposed by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) (the Contractors and Federal Spending Accountability Act of 2007 – H.R. 3033), which mandates that the government create a contractor performance and responsibility database, could help to ensure that taxpayer dollars are only going to responsible contractors. The testimony, available below, also highlights how incidences of contractor misconduct have changed over time as a result of changes in the acquisition system.

The hearing will be held on July 18, 2007, at 2:00 pm in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.

Damage control specialists, start your engines.

Jim Horton looks into micro-blogging

One of the best

Jim Horton
has written an excellent summery of Twitter and the other micro-blogging services.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Reactions to the New Media Nouveaux conference

evange.LIST has some kind words for my contribution to the panel discussion on the application of new media, she also has a summery of Geoff Livingston’s keynote.

evange.LIST is now added to the Tech on the Potomac RSS reader.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Google news alert

I just started using Google News Alert comprehensive. Not only does it show news and blog mentions, it also shows social tagging. That is very handy to know. From now on I will be using the comprehensive service.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How not to get a job

Flagging jobs?

What is up with the practice of flagging perfectly decent jobs on Craigslist? No, I’m not talking about the non-paying or ridiculous gigs; I’m talking about real jobs that are being flagged in order to “eliminate the competition.”

Narrow the competition by getting the job pulled?

Just like off-line life, online life is complicated.

Government contractors wake up to controversy

Clinton, Obama draw ire of contractors group
Contract Services Association says Democratic front-runners are taking potshots at government contractors

As I have said before, by the time a politician uses your industry as a political whipping boy, you are already in serious trouble. It means that public opinion has already become so negative that there are votes to be had by going after you.

The judicious use of social media can go a long way in turning this around. The Contract Services Association should create an aggregator, similar to the World Bank’s. They should also encourage their members to launch blogs. It is far easier to demonize a company if can be portrayed as a massive borg or evil CEO. Much better to have thousands of individual employee blogs such as Sun or Microsoft.

They also need to learn when to back off:
In 2005, CSA was one of five organizations within the CODSIA to pressure the Defense Acquisitions Regulations Council to back off or re-write certain provisions in regards to trafficking in humans when under Defense contracts over-seas.

Washington Post business & technology blogs

Geoff Livingston has another one of his great interviews, this time with Dan Beyers of the Washington Post. The Washington Post has launched a great collection of business and technology blogs:

The WashBiz Blog
Small Business on
Post I.T.
Government, Inc.
Faster Forward
Brian Krebs Security Fix

They will all be added to the Tech on the Potomac RSS reader as soon as I have a chance.

Paying for content

Pay-for-blogging site raises questions

Denver-based Associated Content was formed in 2004 and received $5.4 million in funding from SoftBank. It bills itself as a "user-driven information portal" and content provider, licensing content to other online publishers. The articles are "optimized for discovery and revenue generation," according to a news release on the company Web site. In other words, they're designed to be easy to find on Google through various search optimization techniques used by many publishers, not just people accused of gaming search results.

The company asks bloggers to write on the subjects of their choosing and accepts text, video and audio. Contributors can be paid based on the quality of the article and keyword optimization.

If I understand this, writers are essentially writing to attract machines, search engines in this case, and are compensated on the basis of their ability to generate ad revenue. This strikes me a sweat labor for content providers.

The advertorial business model of PayPerPost, where a writer advertises their willingness to serve as a copywriter for a price that the writer sets, seems fairer to content providers.

There is a place for these kinds of services, but they do not replace the need for regular news organizations. This gets back to what I was talking about in my article for The Daily Dog:
News costs money. Good reporters require salaries and benefits. Blogs don't produce that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Measuring site traffic

According to Google Analytics, this blog had 95 unique visitors yesterday, according to Extreme Tracker it was 149, and Site Meter tells me it was 129. Clearly measuring site traffic is an inexact science.

I agree with BL Ochman, measuring the time spent on a web page can be very misleading. The best system I have seen so far is Todd And’s idea of adding Google page rank, number of Bloglines subscriptions and Technorati links. The combination of those gives you some feel for a blog’s influence and authority.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Stasi really were panty sniffers


Bruce Schnier alerts us to this amazing post -
Smell Jars of the Stasi
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, many astounding revelations came to light about the Stasi, the East German secret police. One of the more bizarre activities the Stasi was found to have engaged in was the collection of Geruchsproben — smell samples — for the benefit of the East German smell hounds. The odors, collected during interrogations using a perforated metal “smell sample chair” or by breaking into people’s homes and stealing their dirty underwear, were stored in small glass jars.

Coming this Friday! New Media Nouveaux

New Media Nouveaux

Plan now to join us on Friday, July 13th for the New Media Nouveaux Conference, hosted at the Tower Club in Tysons Corner. This site is your home for information about the conference. We’ll be posting updates, making announcements and updating information here. You can also check out the great speaker list we’re bringing together. You can even get a sneak peek at their thoughts and ideas through their blog feeds below. Questions or comments, we would love to hear from!

Speaker blogs:

Rogue employee from hell

Rogue DBA Steals, Sells Personal Info

Fidelity National Information Services Inc. said last week that a senior database administrator responsible for defining and enforcing data access rights at one of its subsidiaries sold the personal information of about 2.3million consumers to a data broker. The broker in turn sold a subset of the data to “a limited number” of direct marketing companies, Fidelity National said.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company, which offers data proc­essing and outsourcing services to financial institutions and other businesses, added that the stolen data included names, addresses, birth dates, and bank account and credit card information.

It can't be pleasant to have to go public with something like. Fidelity seems to be handling it reasonably well.

Competition in paid search?

FTC Clears Microsoft's $6 Billion Deal For aQuantive

The deal is widely seen as an attempt to improve Microsoft's ability to compete against Google as a provider of search advertising.

If approved by the FTC, this deal could be good news to content providers who now must accept whatever Google AdSense will pay.

E-Discovery: New Federal Rules Require A Proactive Strategy

Defining your requirements is key as the market for e-discovery technology gets crowded and confusing.

It's a perfect storm: the rapid-fire growth of digitized enterprise data, new regulatory requirements, and tough e-discovery readiness levels demanded by the revised Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. No wonder Gartner estimates that by 2010, three of four large enterprise IT departments will employ dedicated legal or e-discovery specialists--few IT groups have experienced the level of interdisciplinary cooperation they'll need to stay afloat.

A proactive strategy involving your legal counsel and one or more e-discovery vendors is necessary to stay agile in the face of litigation. The good news is that there are a variety of products to help with this task. Many major data management players, including CA and EMC, have built or acquired e-discovery functionality. Specialized vendors' products range from document management tools to full-service systems.

Although not a surprise to industry watchers--the e-discovery amendments to the FRCP, the legal code governing the critical discovery phase of civil litigation in federal court, slogged through a five-year administrative process--IT pros and even some corporate counsel are scrambling to adjust. Vendors have been grooming their offerings, and we expect a flurry of merger and acquisition activity that began a few years ago to intensify as the market continues to double in size annually for at least the next two years.

The controversy surrounding the White House email system is sure to have a huge impact on federal records management practices as well as e-discovery.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Is your website accessible?

Bevi Chagnon has compiled an excellent collection of resources on Section 508 requirements for web design. Accessible design requires so little and means so much to those directly affected by accessibility issues, I have never understood why it has adoption has taken so long.

Thursday, July 05, 2007



I saw Sicko last night. This film is somewhere between Upton Siclair's The Jungle and Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. It will have a radicalizing effect upon all those who see it.

The film's most devastating moments come not with the American health care horror stories we have all heard about, but from the vision of quality health care for all offered by the Canadian, French, English, and even Cuban systems.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

In observance of the Glorious Fourth

Click here to see picture

The Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Monday, July 02, 2007

Search engine saboteurs

Search engine saboteur at work.

Jim Horton alerts us to this article in Forbes:

The Saboteurs Of Search

Those rules, at least for major search engines like Google and Yahoo!, are based largely on the number of links from other pages to a given site: The more links, the higher that site ranks in Google and Yahoo! results. But this system of link-based ranking invites cheating. Search engine optimizers can use software that generates thousands of links to their site, pushing its ranking artificially high. In response, Google and Yahoo!'s search algorithms now automatically punish sites that game their algorithms by pushing the offending pages deep into the unseen layers of search results. (See "Condemned to Google Hell.")

That filtering strategy keeps search results relevant to users despite the meddling of Web spammers. But Scott and other search marketers say it also makes possible a powerful form of negative SEO. Search marketers claim they can frame certain competitors as cheaters by posting thousands of links around the Web, making a competing site look like it's engaging in "link spamming," a tactic that draws the disfavor of major search engines. In SEO circles, this technique of setting up a competitor to be punished for link spamming is sometimes called "Google bowling."

"If a new site gains half a million links over the course of a weekend, it looks suspect from Google's point of view," Scott says. "So you make someone look naughty, and then get them caught."

And what if Scott gets caught? Think that sort of tactic cannot be traced back to you? Think again.

I am not very keen on search engine sabotage, but if you feel called upon to play that sort of game, it is easy enough to use social tagging sites to raise the rankings of negative material.

Rather than pay for Scott’s sabotage service, it would be far more cost effective to buy a group of sponsored links on the relevant user groups, increase your search engine ranking along with building actual good will.

ReputationDefender defends its reputation

Having been on the receiving end of negative story in the St Petersburg Times, ReputationDefender has very sensibly placed a positive story in The Washington Post. My compliments to their PR department.

Sadly their methods include setting up astroturf blogs for no reason save to catch Google's attention. Building online Potemkin villages is not the way to serve clients. The way to turn such things around is to use social tagging sites to increase the rank of positive material and to place positive stories on legitimate blogs.