Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kickstarting my book

My Twitter friend, Lewis Shepard, alerted me to Kickstarter a crowd sourcing approach to funding projects.

I am seriously considering using it to fund my book on the how the voting machines lost their credibility with the public. It would be based on my article for The Daily Dog.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New to me local tech blogs

The Federal Architect, news and advisory site for architects that work for the Federal Government in roles such Enterprise Architecture, Systems Architecture, and Solutions Architect. If you're a Federal Architect, join us and blog here.

Capitol Scoundrel, Government, Technology, Healthcare, Karaoke

Sales and IT, the final confrontation

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rule of the digital mob

In the immediate after math of the verdict against Pirate Bay their supporters conducted a denial of service attack against The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Now they are attacking the law firm who represented the industry.

Who will be next? And where are the champions of net neutrality? Can they not understand that censorship by the mob is as much censorship as that by cable providers?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Vivian Pickels

It is easy to forget that acting is an art, that players truly transform themselves to create an illusion. Here is Vivian Pickels as the tragic Mary, Queen of Scotts:

And here she is as the cheery Aunt Dahlia in The Silver Jug (or Jeeves Saves the Cow Creamer.)

Quite a difference.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The anonymice go after Rep. Jane Harman

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We love smearing people. Not only is it fun, it is a great way to distract the public and avoid accountability.

CQ had an article alleging a prid pro quo between Rep. Harman and AIPAC.
Two former senior national security officials, one who has read a transcript of the wiretap and a second who was briefed on its contents, said Harman agreed during the conversation to “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference.” Their accounts were confirmed by a third source with knowledge of the wiretapped conversation and subsequent events.

First of all, why are the contents of this transcript being leaked? What public interest is being served? If this is part of a legitimate investigation (that is, authorized by a warrant), then it has been compromised. If there is no warrant, than this is the politicization of the NSA. Harman seems to think it might be the latter.

Ron Kampeas at Capitol J
has a good run down of all the problems with this article.

Notice how these disasters invariably involve anonymous sources? How long before one of your clients gets smeared in such a manner?

Never be an anonymous source.

Edit - Why the anonymice might have gone after Harman.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Yo ho ho and a bottle of Kool Aide

UPDATE - As of this morning 95% of poll participants think the verdict was unfair, it seems it took a while for the Boing Boing vote to come in.

Have supporters of Pirate Bay been living in a dream world? Boing Boing alerts us to an online poll in the Guardian where, as of this posting, 86% of the participants support the verdict. You could argue that the industry is gaming the poll, but is it less likely that file sharers are doing the same?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Why journalism matters: Roxana Saberi

The New York Times
April 18, 2009
Iran Sentences U.S. Journalist to 8 Years

Iran Sentences American Journalist to 8 Years
TEHRAN — Iran has sentenced an Iranian-American journalist, Roxana Saberi, to eight years in prison after convicting her of spying for the United States, her lawyer said Saturday.

The State Department has called the charges against Ms. Saberi, 31, baseless and has demanded her release.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Conflating free speech with free beer

The defendants in the Pirate Bay case have been found guilty and sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay 3,6 million in damages to copyright holders.

The Entertainment industry has been doing reasonably well in courts of law; but in the court of public opinion it has been a disaster. Ever since Nabster the industry has been playing whack a mole with successive file sharing services. For their part the file sharing services, for reasons best known to themselves, have been content to play mole.

Supporters of Pirate Bay seem to have confused free speech with free beer. I particularly recommend their agit-prop movie, Steal this Film. In the film they confuse themselves with fifteenth century printers defying local censors. In reality they are enabling the theft popular movies that corporations spent millions of dollars creating. In their movie they compare themselves to the French revolutionaries who stormed the Bastille; storming the local beer brewery would be closer to the mark.

From the very first entertainment industry trade groups have mishandled the file sharing phenomenon. File sharing is a useful technology that has a legitimate business model. Rather than embracing it and offering customers a legitimate option, the entertainment industry has sought to stamp it out.

Much of the file sharing community are digital looters, people who think that simply because they can take film or music, that makes it right, even noble. The industry needs to communicate to the public that just as physical looters make it impossible to live everyday life, digital looters present a problem to the cyber public and there is a common interest in suppressing illegal file sharing. But the litigious thud and blunder tactics of the industry have been a PR nightmare and served to transform morally pretentious thieves into folk heros.

The industry has also destroyed whatever moral authority it had with its law for me but not for thee approach to the world. I refer of course to Sony’s rootkit disaster, the MPAA email case, and most notoriously, the NDS Piracy case. Corporations who engage in piracy cannot reasonably expect the general public to takes their claims of intellectual property rights seriously.

The industry must:
  • adapt its business model to offer customers product in the medium the public prefers
  • treat its customers like customers rather than criminal suspects
  • engage the public on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect
  • start to employ ridicule as effectively as John Stewart
  • always set a proper example by showing unfailing respect for the private property of others

IJIS Institute Inks Partnership with e.Republic

Government Technology

The IJIS Institute, a non-profit organization focused on information sharing in the justice, public safety and homeland security sectors, announced a partnership with e.Republic Inc., to promote the cause of information sharing throughout the nation. ...

... As part of improving the visibility of justice and public safety information sharing initiatives, e.Republic will be sponsoring the IJIS Institute Innovation Award at the National Forum on Criminal Justice and Public Safety in Bellevue, Wash., August 9-11.

Nomination forms are available here. Multiple nominations are accepted.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Health Care IT, golden child of the stimulus

Washington Post: Stimulus Opening Doors in Health Care IT
Doctors and hospitals typically have been reluctant consumers. New technology often can be expensive and time-consuming to use. And the lack of specifics about government standards and patient privacy rules has discouraged some from moving forward, said David Wain, partner at the McLean law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

Most health IT systems were not developed for the small practice groups where most doctors work. A poorly implemented system can be both very costly and make medical practice more difficult. A gold rush mentality will inevitably bring in developers who are not as smart as they think they are. Groups such as the Healthcare Technology Network of Greater Washington have an important role in education and professional development. The industry will also need to set standards.

Edit -
One example of what can go wrong.

Budget Formulation wiki at the OMB

It seems that the OMB has a Budget Formulation wiki. You have to be a civil servant or one of their contractors to participate, but the rest of us can follow up with what is happening. The wiki and content management system was architected by Netspective.

From FCW:
"Shahid’s combination of technical leadership, ability to understand the business need and provide solutions with low marginal costs is incredible — a rare find," said Sandi McCabe, director of the Program Management Office for the Line of Business, which is based in the Education Department.

Edit -
Agencies save with OMB’s online tool

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The difference between relationships and cronyism

The general public is interested in news. Reporters are interested in reporting interesting and compelling stories that will keep the public coming back for more. PR pros want to bring their client’s message before the public. Good media relations happen at the intersection of these three groups. The most important group here is the one which is silent, the general public. The key to building strong relationships with reporters and editors is to always keep in mind the interests of their readers.

When you send a useful news tip to a reporter, even if it does not advance the interest of a client, then you are also advancing the interests of the general public. When you help a reporter get credentials to a hot conference, then you are also advancing the interests of their readers. When you submit an item to Digg or Slashdot, then you are bringing that reporter’s work to the notice of a wider audience and therefor advancing the interests of the general public. It is not necessary to have 100% altruistic motives, building relationships is about open, honest mutual interest.

Cronyism happens when the public interest is forgotten. Cronyism happens when you become buddies with a reporter and they write about your clients because you are all members of the “cool kids club.” If you socialize with reporters, outside of industry events, if you all go to the same parties, are members of the same health club, and generally hang out together like you never got past high school, then you are promoting crony journalism. At some point the general public will catch on to what is going on and will be profoundly offended. The general public regards such arrangements as corrupt. Then what? You still have your relationship, but now story placement does not have anything like its previous value. Our whole professions is predicated upon the existence of an independent and credible press, and we must build relationships in a way the preserves and strengthens the institution of a free and independent press.

Happy Easter

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Crisis in the content economy

Empathy for Newspapers
However, the declining cost of information also means that the tens of thousands of middle-class jobs the newspaper industry has shed are being replaced by tens of thousands of low-wage jobs in a new digital sweatshop. Information production is becoming a less viable way of making a living, and the lowered cost of information on the Internet is directly responsible for this severe wage reduction.

Or as Clay Shirky put it, "Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism." (Actually I think we need newspapers, although not necessarily in broad sheet form.) See my earlier piece, Content is not King.

Edit - Rob Pegoraro has some additional thoughts.

Publishing 2.0: How Google Stole Control Over Content Distribution By Stealing Links

Friday, April 10, 2009

Nominate your customer

Federal Computer Week has put out a call for nominations for their Rising Star awards. This is a great chance for federal contractors to make their customer look good. Nominate your customer!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Social Match Box DC

I went to the spring Social Media Matchbox DC. As we came in we registered by giving our name and email and were given small gadget which would enable us to exchange information electronically. This process created a bottleneck and I think it would be quite unmanageable with a large crowd. The makers of this system, mingle 360, were the first to speak. They intend to market their system to the hospitality and event industries. At the end of the event you turn in your minglestick (Can’t you just hear the jokes on late night comedy if this device catches on?) and they send you the data from your minglestick. The event was held on Thursday April 2, on April 7 I received an email with a link and an explanation as to how to access the data from my mingle stick. This does not strike me as an improvement upon the traditional paper business card.

Some additional highlights:
Innovative Query appears to have an intriguing way to link documents. I hope to have the opportunity to hear from them again, either at Web Content Mavens or NCC AIIM.

Sharememe offers a way for a single group to use their mobile phones to share social media links across different social media platforms.

PageLime playfully announced that their content management system was buzzword compliant.

Whenever I go to events nowadays I constantly meet people who say “Oh you're PrestoVivace on Twitter or “I’ve read your blog.” To me this is one of the chief benefits of social media. It serves as a letter of introduction and makes events so much more productive from a business networking point of view.

Kim Hart of the Washington Post reports on the evening’s events.

Network Solutions' report.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The case for alternative intelligence sources and outside contractors

My client Michael Bagley of the OSINT Group is profiled in this month's Homeland Security Today, check out page 52:
One of Bagley’s constant themes is the utility of having an outsider challenging existing assumptions, particularly when it comes to hacking and network intrusions.
“Black operations require people to think this way” he argued. “Otherwise, there are no black teams. If we were all thinking the white way, the right way, we’d have no ability to counter these kinds of events or operations. It takes both kinds of people to work this way.”

Note -
Wanted: Computer hackers ... to help government
General Dynamics Information Technology put out an ad last month on behalf of the Homeland Security Department seeking someone who could "think like the bad guy." Applicants, it said, must understand hackers' tools and tactics and be able to analyze Internet traffic and identify vulnerabilities in the federal systems.