Friday, September 25, 2009

The net neutrality debate reconsidered

I spent the morning at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation at their symposium, Designed for Change: End-to-End Arguments, Internet Innovation, and the Net Neutrality Debate.

The presenters discussed net neutrality from different perspectives, but they all, to one degree or another, characterized net neutrality advocates as religious and even according to one of the speakers in the dark ages.

All the speakers characterized insistence on net neutrality as a threat to the sort of innovation necessary to manage the ever increasing traffic loads on the Internet.

The ITIF is engaged in a high risk strategy. If they succeed in characterizing advocates as hysterical and anti-science, they can marginalize them and control the terms of debate. If they can succeed in goading advocates of net neutrality, or even a significant number into extravagant flaming they will score a great victory in their effort to marginalize them.

On the other hand, this strategy could backfire. It wouldn’t be so difficult for advocates of net neutrality to characterized the ITIF as engaging in ad hominem rhetoric and failing to address their concerns about equal access. There was a certain amount of anti-government rhetoric, nothing over-the-top, but plenty of unsubstantiated allegations of how the FCC might stifle innovation if they insist on net neutrality. By engaging in the rhetoric of insult they have precluded any sincere dialog with advocates of net neutrality.

There is a new player in this debate. Let’s see how they handle themselves.

Edit -
Rob Pegoraro: The Internet has grown and prospered because of a principle built into its core design -- it's open to your imagination -- and that principle is worth defending.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Astroturfing may become a federal offense

FTC Ready to Cut 'Astroturfing'

The controversial promotional practice of "astroturfing" -- flooding the Internet with bogus product reviews -- is about to hit the dirt.

The Federal Trade Commission is apparently on the brink of updating its 29-year-old guidelines on product endorsements. While that threat has been looming for more than a year now, advertising lawyers say final rules are expected to be announced before the year is up.

And the FTC, lawyers warn, will be making one thing clear: Phony online reviews will not be tolerated.

Some of us in the industry have been saying for years that astroturfing must go. Now that the Federal Trade Commission is saying it the industry will have to pay attention.

Online press room FAIL

I received an email from World Wide Conventions and Business Forums, so I decided to check out their web site. Check out their press room. You have to fill out a form with your name, business, complete contact information, and so on before you can even glance at their press releases. What reporter is going to bother? There are so many other companies to write about. Why create that barrier?

This company is not ready for basic media relations, never mind social media.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Technology is not a religious subject

Jason Perlow
I suspect that this is the case for the majority of enterprises and end-users, in the world where folks just want stuff to work.

Once a developer becomes psychologically invested in a technology logic goes out the window and it becomes a religious discussion. Which technology is easier from the perspective of end users becomes irrelevant.

Anyone who does not believe this is invited to read Slashdot or any other forum where developers gather to discuss technology and review the ensuing flame wars.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shashi Bellamkonda at CPCUG

I had the pleasure of seeing Shashi speak at the September meeting of the Entrepreneurs and Consultants SIG of the Capital PC Users Group. I would guess there were around 50 people there, a great turnout for what was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon.

Shashi opened by saying that he has be attending CPCUG meetings since he was a student at Montgomery College. He went on to suggest that those twittering the event use the hash tag #cpcug09. I would observe that this is a great example of using social media to extend the reach of an event. Just by presenting to CPCUG Shashi was doing great work for Network Solutions; but by suggesting the use of a hash tag he extended the reach of his presentation while simultaneously promoted the group that had invited him to speak.

He went on the give and excellent overview of social media tools and some of the ways businesses are using them. He emphasized the impact of social media on search results and said that one of the benefits of blogging is gaining visibility in search results. I don’t think that can be said too often.

Shashi Bellamkonda’s account of the event

Slide Presentation

Pictures from the event.

More pictures from the event.

Small French Paintings at the National Gallery of Art

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec The Artist's Dog Fl├Ęche, c. 1881. National Gallery of Art

This painting by a teenage Toulouse Lautrec may be my favorite in the exhibit. It has a tenderness that is absent in all his other work and shows a very different side of Lautrec. The Trap, also by a young Lautrec, shows a hunting scene from what I presume was his home. We see the view of a lady's back with her hair done up in a chignon that was to be a central feature of so many of his later paintings.

Edouard Vuillard's Breakfast bears a remarkable resemblance to your humble servant at her breakfast, while his Conversation reminds one of a Thurber cartoon.

Small French Paintings
is part of the permanent collection and well worth seeing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New to me local business and tech blogs, experiments in refactored perception

Transition to Digital Television DTV Outreach in Motion
, Transition to Digital Television with the inclusion of the Underserved Communities

Chaos to Clarity

Waxing UnLyrical, personal, possibly poetic, musings on public relations, media, communications, and everything in between

Work, Wine and Wheels

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mobile is the future

I finally got a cell phone (202/492-1520). Within 24 hours of getting it I wondered how I survived so long without one. It is indescribably handy.

The experience has brought home to me all the ways people are using their phones, for many it has become their primary source of information. Riding the 30 bus coming down Wisconsin Avenue I noticed every single one of my fellow passengers was studying their phones with close attention. Surfing the internet or checking email? Impossible to say.

Clearly we have to rethink our communications programs for mobile compatibility. At minimum our clients need to have a mobile version of their website which can be easily discovered and accessed by the browsers that have been developed for mobile computing.

Tom Murphy has a good post about this.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The myopia of the Australian Financial Review

Margaret Simons has an item about the proposed ethics policy for reporters for the Australian Financial Review. It is a ghastly throwback to the days of command and control and a total failure to comprehend the power of the new tools of social media.

I have the pleasure of following many journalists on Twitter, and it is obvious that they use it to test reader interest, fish for information and hype stories. It is a good medium for a naturally gabby community like journalists.

Weirdest of all is the proposed restrictions on books:
Full time AFR journalists are prohibited from working outside Fairfax, including on books or by accepting speaking engagements. The Editorial Director can waive this prohibition – which presumably will come as a considerable relief to noted AFR authors such as Neil Chenoweth.

Considering that they only reason I have ever heard of the Australian Financial Review is the work of Chenoweth, I would think that they would want to encourage their reporters to publish books. It is the cost effective way of increasing brand awareness while increasing the prestige of the brand. What is Fairfax management thinking?

No sector of English speaking news media is better poised to profit in the online world than the Australian news media (with the obvious except of New Zealand). The Australian Financial Review truly does have tomorrow’s news today and could use Twitter to hype breaking news in the Pacific market, where they will invariably beat their British and North American competition. It is incredible that they would toss away such valuable tools.

Thank you Maria Baibakova

Baibakov Art Projects to be Lead Sponsor of Landmark Kandinsky Retrospective at the Guggenheim

MOSCOW.- Baibakov art projects is to be a lead sponsor of the forthcoming Kandinsky exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (September 18, 2009 – January 13, 2010). Maria Baibakova, Director and Founder of Baibakov art projects, Moscow, will also be co-chairing the 50th Anniversary Gala event for the museum on 16th September, which promises to be a most glittering occasion on the New York cultural calendar during the opening of the fall season.

I going to try to get to New York City for this.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jody Powell, 1943-2009
Powell Tate

Jody Powell is one of the reasons I went into PR. I was part of the Carter campaign in 1976, going back to when it was Jimmy Who. I never met Powell personally, but everyone in the campaign got to know him through the stream of memos that went out to campaign staff and volunteers. He was quick to alert volunteers to negative press articles that were about to come out. It is easier to maintain morale if you know what is coming.

Powell's book, The Other Side of the Story, is one of the most illuminating on media relations. This book was the first warning I had about the how the abuse of anonymous sources was corrupting our media and political culture.

One of the giants of our industry has fallen. He will be missed.

The New York Times obituary can be found here.

Edit -
Powell Tate has created a page for tributes.
Capitol Communicator's obituary.

Edit ii
Associated Press
Dale Leibach, a longtime friend and business associate since their days in the Carter White House, said the ex-president went to a nursing home where Powell's mother lives to tell her of her son's death before she heard it on the news.

It is so indicative of Carter that he went personally to tell Powell's mom of the death of her son.

Edit iii
MikeMartinez's tribute.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I don't do link exchanges

Legitimizing social media

WFED's Jason Miller has a story about the GSA's guidelines for social media. I predict it will have an effect far beyond the civil service. Federal guidelines on almost anything have a way of becoming de facto guidelines for the whole society.

For all our anti-government rhetoric, the federal government is still regarded as the objective and authoritative source for standards.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

NAWBO DC: Getting the most from your website

I will be covering this event for this blog:

Ask the Expert: Getting More From Your Website
September 10, 2009 | 3:00 - 7:30 pm
Westwood Country Club, Vienna, VA

They will have a team from Network Solutions there to answer questions, so it should be a great event.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Organization of Legal Professionals

Via Gabe and David, we learn about the Organization for Legal Professionals.

We had naively assumed that there was already an organization that certified legal support standards. Not so it seems. This then is a welcome development.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Judith Leyster, a convivial look at the Dutch 17th Century

File:Judith Leyster Self Portrait.jpg

Judith Leyster exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, June 21–November 29, 2009

I went to see the Judith Leyster exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. She is unlike any of the other Dutch Masters. Unlike the marble stillness of Vermeer, or the severity of Rembrandt, Judith Leyster's subjects are enjoying life.

Almost all of her pictures portray musicians preforming. Most of them are clearly enjoying Holland's fine beer. The exhibit is well worth seeing, it is Dutch Masters as you have never imagined them.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Call for Nominations: Science Public Service Award

From my in box:

2010 National Science Board Public Service Award

~ Honoring Service in Public Understanding of Science and Engineering ~

Call for Nominations

The National Science Board (NSB) Public Service Award honors individuals who and groups that have made substantial contributions to increasing public understanding of science and engineering in the United States. These contributions may be in a wide variety of areas that have the potential of contributing to public understanding of and appreciation for science and engineering – including mass media, education and/or training programs, entertainment, etc.

The NSB Public Service Award is given to one individual and one group recipient in May of each year. Past recipients include: NUMB3RS, the CBS television drama series; Ira Flatow, Host and Executive Producer of NPR’s "Science Friday"; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; Bill Nye The Science Guy; and NOVA, the PBS television series.

For nomination instructions, please visit All inquiries about the award or nomination procedures should be directed to Jennifer Richards, National Science Foundation (

Deadline for Nominations: November 4, 2009


The NSB is the 25-member policymaking body for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and advisory body to the President and Congress on science and engineering issues. Drawn from universities and industry, and representing a variety of science and engineering disciplines and geographic areas, NSB members are selected for their eminence in research, education, or public service, and records of distinguished service. For more background on the NSB and its current composition, visit:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Stalker marketing is an unsustainable business model

Information Week has an article about a coalition seeking greater protection of consumers' online privacy. Push back is coming from those with a vested interest in stalker marketing.

Apart from the fact that we want the freedom of surfing the internet without corporations tracking us, lack of privacy is a security vulnerability. Now is the time to put in place regulations that protect our privacy, before we have a trillion dollar industry with a vested interest in spying on us.