Tuesday, March 31, 2009

OSINT miscellany

MundoGeo reports that the International Symposium on Open Source Intelligence and Web Mining will be held in Spain. Conference site and call for papers.

Per Andersson discusses the value of open source intelligence.

The US shot down a Iranian UAV near Iraq’s tense Camp Ashraf. Hmmmmmmmm, worrisome.

Good OSINT requires access to blogs. Blocking Blogs reduces the threat by 1 or 2 %. And reduces their troops OSINT knowledge by 30 to 50%.

The difference between intelligence and journalism

Jihadist thread in Pakistan. Also, it seems Hammas has forgotten nothing and learned nothing.

Agence France-Presse reports that Military officials from China and Taiwan will meet face-to-face for the first time in 60 years.

Adam Elkus thinks that Obama has the right strategy for Afghanistan; but is unsure about implementation.

Edit - Mcclatchy has a must read report on the situation in Iraq.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Congratulations USA Today

Newspaper Sites See Big Gains in Uniques
USAToday.com said in a release that its 25% increase of readers in February was due to the Tech section of the site and popular stories. Visitors to the Tech section rose 100% to 1.9 million, according to USA Today.

Electronic Health Records medley

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that Electronic health records are a headache for doctors.

The Industry Standard informs us that the Military electronic health records system is "intolerable."

BusinessWeek reports that few hospitals are embracing electronic health record systems.

Avery Comarow of US News & World Report asks if electronic health records are hazardous to your health.

Healthcare IT News that the he Louisville Health Information Exchange (LouHIE), a Kentucky e-Health Network for the Louisville region, will create an electronic health record banking system for its members.

MIT Technology Review: what electronic health records can learn from the iPhone.

From HIT Sphere:

Healthcare IT Guy reports that CCHIT set to meet with healthcare open source advocates. Neil Versel thinks that CCHIT critics need to pay attention to this development.

Crossover Heathcare
calls the EHR adoption rate pitiful.

Medicare Connectivity
offers a preview of HIMSS 09.

announces a special webcast about unified communications technology.

Oh dear, Candid CIO tells us that it is time to tear up your IT strategy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

George Soros on the current financial crisis

In his article in the Financial Times George Soros suggests, amongst other things, that:
Recipient countries would pay the IMF interest at a very low rate, equivalent to the composite average treasury bill rate of all convertible currencies. They would have free use of their own allocations but would be supervised in how the borrowed allocations were used to ensure they were well spent.

I am not sure that the IMF has such a good record on identifying to proper allocation of funds that they are the best judges of such a task. I would rather depend upon the country's leadership, who might or might not know what they are doing, but have a better record than the IMF.

In his article in the Wall Street Journal Soros suggests that credit default swaps are "toxic instruments whose use ought to be strictly regulated." Surely if credit default swaps are actually toxic they should be abolished, rather than merely regulated.

Soros will be speaking at tomorrow's Looking Towards the London G-20 Global Growth Summit event, so I will be interested to hear what he has to say.

Soros' book, The Age of Fallibility: The Consequences of the War on Terror, is filled with insight and highly recommended.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Scoble’s troubling anti-PR rant

Last Thursday’s edition of For Immediate Release contained a very troubling rant by Robert Scoble about the clueless PR pitches he has received. Scoble prefers to be pitched over dinner, from my notes:
The way pr is practiced is just lame. Why anyone pitches you on email is stupid, chances of listening are one percent.
I get far more value having someone come over and have dinner with me tell me something cool. Brian Solis had dinner with ten bloggers and made a fun and subtle pitch at the end.
Jeremy Toeman showed me a block of wood became Bug Labs and asked my opinion.

Wow, OK, Scoble says it is much more valuable to him to be offered a scrumptious dinner and convivial conversation with the pitch at the end. Congratulations to Brian Solis for building such a valuable relationship. Pardon me if I don’t follow his example.

Listening to Scoble’s rant gave me new respect for reporters like Joab Jackson, Chris Dorobek, Roger Hughlett, and so many others who put their readers first and don’t expect to be wined and dined.

I am happy to render small services to journalists. I am happy to submit their work to Slashdot when I think it merits it. I am happy to send news tips, whether or not Presto Vivace clients are involved. I am happy to publicly recognize their awards, and many other things. But I will not buy them lunch and I will not be their buddy. I work for my clients and they work for their readers and if we do business on any other basis we will get into trouble quickly. What Scoble is asking for is nothing less than crony journalism and I refuse to be part of that. Perhaps you have to live in Washington, DC to understand the deadly consequences of that. But I would ask Scoble to listen to his rant and try to imagine what readers, those who are neither PR nor reporters, would think of his words.

Readers don’t care whether you got a lame press release or whether you got a swank dinner. Readers want to follow the news, and it is the business of reporters to make their editorial judgment on the basis of the story.

Edit -
Robert French says the same thing, only with far more eloquence, please read the whole thing.

Jackie has a very witty take on Scoble's remarks.

More thoughts from High Talk.

Mark Story
says that Scoble whines like a spoiled celebrity.
Mark Story has some additional thoughts on how PR goes wrong.

Lisa Barone turns Scoble into a verb.

PR Squared suggest that PR pros shouldn't be so sensitive.

Susan Getgood reminds us that the reasons people blog do not include hyping our clients.

David reminds us that bloggers are just not that into PR flacks.

Tom Murphy
has the funniest take on the whole thing.

Ben Dillion: Can You Pitch PR By Email?

See also: The difference between relationships and cronyism

Edit ii -
A very interesting post ruined by a gratuitous reference to a glass of whiskey.

New to me local tech blogs

The Agile Mind, Explorations in Virtual Government and Virtual Journalism

Also on Twitter.

Sustainable Public Financial Management, This blog explores sustainable Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Public Financial Management (PFM).



Fantom Planet

Clay Johnson

The Guerilla CISO

The difference between free speech and free beer

Eric Clemons writing for Tech Crunch

The idea that content has a price and net applications should find ways to earn a profit without providing free access to other people’s content gets explosive reactions; when virtual reality pioneer and tech guru Jaron Lanier suggested in a New York Times Op Ed that authors deserved to be paid for their content he actually received death threats.

I am going to be writing about the free beer attitude of the Internet, sufficeth to say I think it will come to an end simply because most will work out that it is not practical.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Congratulations Wired, BusinessWeek and Fast Company

Business publications among National Magazine Award finalists

New York—Wired, BusinessWeek and Fast Company were among the business publications magazines named finalists Wednesday for the National Magazine Awards, which are overseen by the American Society of Magazine Editors.

New to me local tech group: Usability Professionals Assn

The Washington DC Chapter of the Usability Professionals' Association

Our Mission is to:

  • Provide a network and opportunities through which usability professionals can communicate and share information about skills and skill development, methodology used and/or proposed in the profession, tools, technology, and organizational issues.
  • Present the viewpoints of the profession to the public and other interested parties.
  • Educate the general public and others on the usefulness of the profession.
  • Represent the profession before governmental bodies and agencies.
  • Provide the methods and means to increase the members' knowledge of the profession through seminars, newsletters, magazines, and other communication tools, and through meetings and conventions.
  • Serve the best interests of the usability profession.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Learn to speak the language of the C-Suite

Yesterday evening I attended the March meeting of Web Content Mavens to hear Lisa Welchman’s presentation on how to explain web site management to senior management. She spoke with candor about the problems of persuading the technical, marketing, and management representatives to work together.

Welchman said that it was important to establish governance authority at the very beginning. For example, IT must have final say on load balancing while marketing must have final say on presentation. I asked her if making those decisions up front might be arbitrary, as discussion might prove the original theory to be unworkable. Welchman was insistent that it was essential to have a broad framework for governance. (I was thinking back to the Federal XML Work Group meeting of May 18 2004. At the IRS, content is driven by Business Operating Divisions and process owners, leading to duplication of effort and an updating nightmare. In the future, content will be driven by the content data model, MITS via BSMO/EDMO, an easily updatable trusted source. Claude Matthews predicted a collision and I suspect it has been very difficult.)

Welchman said that web experts should not talk about meta data or taxonomy; but rather document specific benefits to be had by implementing change.

She will be joining Tony Byrne for Web Tools and Rules next month. I am sorry I won’t be able to attend, because it sounds like the premier web content event in our area.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Electronic health records miscellany

The Health Care IT Guy alert us to the call for nominations for Health IT Federal Advisory Boards.

Wal-Mart plans to sell small-practice physician systems through its Sam’s Club division. HealthNex tells us that Washington State will be launching three consumer-controlled health record bank pilots in the communities of Bellingham, Spokane and Cashmere. Neil Versel excerpts David St. Clair’s thought on EHR and privacy. Crossover Health pays tribute to Kaiser Permanente’s leadership. (Dow Jones reports that Kaiser has just signed a $500 million IT deal with IBM.)

iHealth Beat tells us that Tampa has launched a new health records initiative; aims to have doctors use electronic prescribing for at least 60% of prescriptions within two years.

PC World reports that while Obama’s health IT initiative addresses the financial barrier to EHR adoption, it does not address the technology issues.

Integrating online and offline communications

Marc Hausman has an interesting article about a recent survey of journalists. It seems that journalists themselves regard blogs as more important than trade publications, which is alarming if accurate.

• Journalists use blogs almost as often as trades as part of the reporting and editing process.

• For monitoring responses to stories, only Web sites and blogs are considered important. Reporters lump conferences, trade journals, social networking sites and podcasts in the “unimportant” category.

I would have thought that any response was an important response. Conferences are especially indicative of industry trends.

A good PR plan must integrate the offline with the online. It is necessary to identify the bloggers who cover your industry and invite them to your events whenever necessary. Get to know the bloggers within the local user groups.

Blog posts and Twitter chatter will amplify the impact of your event. Even a brief mention of your booth at a trade show has value.

Finally, advertising has value. Advertising guarantees visibility. Advertising on trade journals insures gives your company an image of being a serious player within your industry. It also contributes to the survival of an important industry resource.

Friday, March 13, 2009

How Jim Cramer should have handled it

After the first night John Stewart made fun of him, Cramer should have drafted a statement to the effect of John Stewart is a professional comedian whose job it is to poke fun at public figures. Last night was my turn, tomorrow night will be someone else’s turn. Then when a journalist contacted his office for a response his assistant could have issued the statement, thus relieving Cramer of making a direct response. Cramer himself should have made no reference to it.

By going on the Today Show, and MSNBC, Cramer set himself up for additional satire.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Who should blog the G20 Summit?

Nominate a Blogger
50 influential and knowledgeable bloggers will be invited to attend the G20 Summit on April 2nd in London, UK, where they will get unprecedented access to world leaders and thinkers and the chance to ask questions about the issues important to them. Twenty of those bloggers will be nominated by you. Please use the form to nominate a blogger that you think should be one of those twenty.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How I use Twitter

This post isn’t about how to use Twitter; this post is about how I use Twitter. From my point of view Twitter is to blogs what the before meeting social is to the meeting. Blogs are for formal presentations, a place to contribute to the conversation in what one trusts, is a thoughtful way. Twitter is the socializing before the meeting begins. The chatter might be related to the meeting; but it could just as easily be about the traffic jam getting to the meeting.

Twitter is a low key way to get to know people. It should be fun and not taken too seriously.

As this blog is dedicated to the local technology scene, so are my Twitter feeds. I have subscribed to the Twitter feed of those who are active in the local technology groups. I don’t care what you have to say, I don’t care whether or not you follow me back, if you are active in the local technology scene, I am interested in following your Twitter feed. Reading these feeds is a quick way to get a feel for the local zeitgeist. I also follow the feed of every technology reporter I can find. It is easier to pitch to reporters when you have a feel for them as people.

If you are not familiar with Twitter, The Common Craft Show has a good explanation.

Edit -
Andrew Conry-Murray
Twitter is a sports coat and jeans. It's the hotel bar at a security conference or trade show. Technically I'm still at work, but there's alcohol. The industry chatter, shop talk and self promotion gets salted with gossip, mild flirting and swear words. You might even see a fight.

The fine art of writing email

John Monroe alerts us to this piece by David Silverman.

I would offer two modest dissents. Not every email needs a call to action, some email may be For Your Information, on those occasions when no specific action is required, but he recipient has an interest in being informed. Like CC, this sort of email should be used sparingly, only when the sender has good reason to believe the recipient actually wants to be kept current. There are also many times when, for reasons of office politics, you might want to forward something with the non-committal what are your thoughts.

The case for social media consultants

Mike Nelson has a great run down of social media research tools. There are so many developments within the world of social media that keeping track of it all has become a full time job. Not every company has to follow every development; but a large enterprise needs someone assigned to this task.

Social media is where people are choosing to have the conversation and if you are to have public relations you must relate to the public in the medium where they choose to have their conversation.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New to me local tech group: HIMSS-NCA

HIMSS-NCA is a chapter of the Health Information Management & Systems Society based in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. We are formally known as the National Capital Area chapter. Our society consists of 300+ members who are passionate about health information management and the technologies that drive health information technology innovation.

They list their future events, but they don't say where they meet.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Nominate your customer

NVTC Hot Ticket Awards

Hot Ticket Awards
The Hottest Ticket In Town!

Please join us in nominating the hottest tickets in the DC area! The NVTC Hot Ticket Awards celebrates the efforts of entrepreneurial companies and individuals in our tech community who have exhibited that special something that makes them 'Hot Tickets' - great vision, the ability to implement and deliver, innovative management approach or star-quality charisma!

The Hot Ticket Awards promises to be an energy-packed party, not a sit-down awards banquet with long drawn-out speeches. So, brace yourself for lots of fun and great networking around the pool at the home of NVTC President Bobbie Kilberg! Held on June 24, this event will definitely be the hottest ticket in town!

Resist the temptation to nominate yourself, nominate your customer instead. If they look good, you look good.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Cloud computing along the Potomac

David Linthicum at Intelligent Enterprise points out that cloud computing shifts risk from your enterprise to the cloud computing provider. He also points out that, Cloud computing at its essence is really about leveraging all sorts of computing resources, on-demand, stuff that you don't have to build or buy.”

Kristen Nicole at Social Times reports on playlist.io, a web based application that makes it easy to create playlists. It works with iTunes too.

March Hausman suggests that there are holes in the cloud. (Of course there is a way of dealing with that.)

Winter Casey at Tech Daily Dose reports that cloud computing is gaining ground within the government.

The Disco Blog
has a podcast interview with Tim Bray about cloud computing and related topics.

Shawn Shell has the news about SharePoint and Microsoft's new cloud announcement

Jimmy at East Coast Blogging
has been having second thoughts on cloud computing.

And from Government Computer News: Google App Engine offers super-charged Python, no SLA.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Print advertising and the gov't market

Mark Amtower asks if print advertising has a future in the government market. My answer is probably, and for the reasons he states:
Can the big companies afford to the let print venues die? I don't think so, as none seem to have a strategy to live without them and their (the pubs) ability to reach a very broad audience.

I notice that most of the security publications, Defense News, Homeland Security Today, etc., still maintain subscription walls. Clearly the security market still prefers print. (Actually, according to my totally non-scientific opinion sampling, the security community prefers electronic newsletters.)

The government market is still getting its feet wet with social media, it is growing in influence, but is not yet a lead generator.

We need a better way to sell online advertising. We need to do a better job of explaining the brand awareness and image value of banner ads as opposed to paid search.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Use and abuse of email marketing

Law Technology News: Is Your E-Communication Being Read?
But one of the greatest benefits of using these services over your own in-house e-mail program is that you are able to follow your readers. The tracking reports show you specifically who (the actual e-mail address) opened the e-mail, which e-mail bounced (bad address), who forwarded the e-mail (although you won't get to see to whom the e-mail was forwarded -- that technology does not exist yet), and if you provided links to information on your Web site or other Web links, you will see who clicked on those links. In addition to tracking the recipients of your e-newsletter, using an e-mail marketing service will give you piece of mind that your e-communication complies with antispam laws.

I realize that these technologies are well established; but I think this is an intrusive approach to marketing. It is perilously close to spying on newsletter subscribers. Of course this sort of feedback is extremely useful, but it is not worth the risk to the breakdown in trust, especially with a law firm. Just because a thing can be done, does not mean it should be done.