Monday, November 28, 2011

New to me local tech blogs

Appian Insight, all about BPM blog, with a good post about SOPA.

Identika, video production, social media, and web development

The AKG Blog, all about SharePoint

Essential Share Point from Susan Hanley

From the Library of Congress: Inside Adams, science, technology, and business.

Jim Bland, about all things tech, business, and economic.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Micro trends, the small forces behind tomorrow's big changes

I have just finished Mark Penn's book about how small groups can have a big impact on our culture, both from a political and commerical point of view. Penn is best known for his work for first Bill and then Hillary Clinton. I was delighted to discover that Penn shares my admiration of V.O.Key Jr.

I love how this book eviserates sterotypes, such as the anti-social engineer. Penn documents how technology culture is super social. (As an aside I would suggest that this socialbility predates the internet, the technically inclined have always had their clubs and hobbyist groups, it is just that no one paid attention until the Internet became popular.)

Penn also demolishes the stereotype that most annoys me, that women are not an important factor in technology. Penn points out that women outspend men on technology 3 to 2. That is quite a gap, and I am grateful to Penn for pointing out that technology marketing has yet to adapt to this. Even in such basic matters and product design and testing, women are invisible. For example it seems that the first video conferencing systems were not calibrated to pick up the voices of women, we were literally invisible.

Penn's book deals with mass market products; but I would point out that women are also ignored by companies in the enterprise technology sector. Even though women have played key roles in the procurement of technology in the federal government for decades, and even though there have been women editors directing reporting on enterprise computing for decades, marketers for these companies persist in acting as if we do not exist. Why?

I find Penn's writing about politics less persuasive. I certainly concur with his suggestion that our elites are hoplessly out of touch with popular opinion. Indeed, I would love to know what Penn makes of the Occupy movement. Where I part company with him is in his discussion of swing voters. Penn continually conflates independent voters (actually non-affiated is a better and more accuarate term) with Independent voters. Penn capitalizes Independent and this creates confusion. Independents are actually a political party in several states, including Connecticut. It is true that the Independent party of Connecticut did not nominate anyone for US Senate in 2006, the year that Penn was adivisng Lieberman, but it is a significant force in Connecticut with many elected leaders at the town level.

Penn's book was written in 2008, which may account for why he has failed to pick up on the growth of emergent parties as a crucial micro trend. In 2010 Elliot Cutler, an independent candidate for Governor of Maine, came in second with 30.9% of the vote. In every state emergent party candidates have been gaining support. While they have yet to win at the state wide level, political observers ignore the emergent party vote at their peril.

Women will love this book. Penn understands that women exist, that we have opinions, that we have both purchasing and political power and that the powers that be ignore us at their peril.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Financial Services PR FAIL

So who is advising the financial services industry on their public relations, Lord North? Marie Antoinette? Wile E Coyote? The collective reaction to the Occupy movement has been a study in thud and blunder.

First we have the spectacle of the swells sneering from the balcony at the protesters on the sidewalk. Then members of the CBOT thought this gesture would be cute.

Here in Washington, DC we have been treated to the antics of a agent provocateur so stupid that he did not know better than to write a magazine article bragging about his crime.

A CEO asks his reporter friend to check out Occupy Wall Street to see if they are dangerous. Obviously they are not dangerous. Demonstrators have been pepper sprayed, beaten with batons, assaulted by a plain clothes officer, and run over by a police motorcycle. In spite of all this their non-violent discipline has held. If they were going to be violent, that would have happened by now.

And why has Mayor Bloomberg decided to play the part of a twenty first century Bull Connor?

There have been the comparisons to the hippies of the late 1960's. Take it from someone old enough to remember, there is no resemblance. The coalition of people supporting these protests is wide and deep, witness all the pizzas that have been ordered for the demonstrators and the donations, both in kind and monetary that have been made. That never happened in the 60's. Witness of the small acts of support, such as cab drivers who turn off their meter when taking riders to the demonstration or the sanitation workers in San Francisco who returned personal items to demonstrators after the police had tossed them. Such things never happened in the 60's.

The incident at Citi Bank was the first incident I have head of where a customer was arrested for trying to close her account; but it seems there have been previous incidents of this. Why police departments go along with it I will never know.

Anyone who thinks that the Occupy movement bears any resemblance to the Tea Party is encouraged to read this post by Peter Daou.

Certainly the financial services industry has been ill served by their trade press, take this unfortunate editorial in Investment News. While it concedes the demonstrators have a point it characterizes them as misguided and attention seeking.

With over 1,549 demonstrations in this country, and hundreds more around the world, the Occupy movement is already a very serious movement. Its impact will go way beyond electoral politics.

So here is my advice for anyone in the financial industry who would be interested:

Reexamine your business model.

Do nothing inflammatory in the present environment. For example, on November 5th protesters will be closing their bank accounts. DO NOT call the police and have them arrested. DO NOT think that you can control this story. Almost every protester there will be carrying a video phone, do not give them anything to film. Have extra staff there to handle the additional traffic and close the accounts as fast an efficiently as possible. Anything else will generate a storm of bad publicity that will haunt your company for decades to come.

Listen to the protesters in their own voices. This Twitter list follows protesters from all over the world.

Read the following reality based economics blogs:
Mosler Economics
Naked Capitalism
New Economic Perspectives

Above all recognize that you are in a new environment and that the old rules do not apply.

Edit -
Slightly off topic, but I thought that Jonathan Bernstein had an interesting take on Margin Call.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fall of the House of Hubris

Few things are as satisfying as watching a bully go down. I have been following Murdoch since I read Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Media Wizard. It was pretty clear years ago that News Corp was breaking the law. There is no legal way News Corp properties could have gotten access to phone conversations of members of the royal family. Once the royal family brought a suit it was just a question of time before the discovery process would begin the great unravelling.

Of course what changed the tide was the revelation that News of the World reporters had hacked the cell phone of a murdered girl. All of a sudden ordinary British people began to realize that secret police journalism did not just apply to politicians, members of the royal family, and celebrities. Suddenly they realized that they could be spied on by News Corp operatives.

I really don't see how the Murdoch family survives this. Now American celebrities are bringing action against News Corp and the FBI has begun a preliminary investigation. The investigation has taken on a life of its own.

Those of us who were in Washington, DC the summer of 1973 recognize all the signs of a great implosion. At first it seems incredible that such a bully can be brought down until it seems inevitable.

Major kudos to The Guardian, who has been with this story from the beginning and persevered when everyone else was too intimidated to touch it.

Mark Steel has a hugely entertaining take on this, but I have to disagree with this part:
So the newspaper will investigate itself, the police will investigate themselves and the politicians will be investigated by an inquiry set up by themselves. They are all keen on stringent law and order so maybe this is their plan to speed up the justice system. Instead of costly trials the accused will be told to hold an inquiry into themselves, and come back in three years and let us know if they did anything wrong or not.

No, not this time. As I said before, the investigation has taken on a life of its own. As I write this advertisers are fleeing, investors are dumping stock, institutional investors are questioning the role of members of the Murdoch family. And that does not even allow for News Corps' continuing legal troubles. This is somewhere between Watergate and Enron. I can't see the corporate survival of the Murdoch family and I would not be surprised if the corporation itself is broken apart, unless if falls apart.

Edit - Murdoch's Pirates: Before the phone hacking, there was Rupert's pay-TV skullduggery

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Tein Wong alerts us to a new organization for entrepreneurs:

Managed by experienced technology entrepreneurs for the benefit of entrepreneurs, FounderCorps has already assisted a number of community groups and Universities in business formation and mentorship activities, including George Mason University, George Washington University, University of Maryland, Startup XLR8R and others.

This sounds very exciting and I am going to try to find out more.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How not to recruit your sock puppets

First of all, don't use sock puppets. Cultivate your human online supporters.

Second of all, don't use Craigslist. You will get caught.

Use LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, Twitter, etc. That is what they are there for.

Also, don't use sock puppets, human or bots. It is just pathetic.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The problem with conference sponsors

Dustin Marx
One of the most significant stories leading up to last year's JavaOne was Google's withdrawing from participation. Although the conference turned out to be a huge success in terms of quantity and quality of technical content, this content would undoubtedly have been enhanced by the availability of Google-led presentations.

This is the first I have heard of this and obviously do not have any opinion about it; save that it illustrates one of the difficulties of working with sponsors.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Congratulations Scott Pelly

CBS: Scott Pelley named anchor of "CBS Evening News"

From Scott Pelly's interview with Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke:
Asked if it's tax money the Fed is spending, Bernanke said, "It's not tax money. The banks have accounts with the Fed, much the same way that you have an account in a commercial bank. So, to lend to a bank, we simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account that they have with the Fed. It's much more akin to printing money than it is to borrowing."

"You've been printing money?" Pelley asked.

"Well, effectively," Bernanke said.

That, right there, captures the essence of Warren Mosler's book and Modern Monetary Theory. With any luck, Pelley will have a chance to develop that on CBS Evening News.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

New to me local tech blogs

Learning .NET, from Christopher Steen

Privasoft FOIA Blog, Through software and services, Privasoft transformed the way information disclosure teams, like FOIA & ATIP offices, comply with legislative, regulatory and internal requirements.

The MurkyGrey blog, Survive and thrive in software startups

Project Performance Corporation, part of the AEA Group

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sharing documents with Google Docs

Until this past month I was a great believer in Google Docs. I use them extensively, they are ideal for collaborating on press releases and similar documents.

And then this past month I started having troubles with the share function. When I send email permissions to share documents, the recipient cannot gain access. This is true even for recipients with whom I have previously shared documents.

Anyone else having similar difficulties?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Call for speakers and the day's Health IT news

The Healthcare IT Guy: Speakers needed for Business Intelligence & Analytics for Healthcare Conference & Exhibition (July 11-12 in San Diego)

Medgadget: Pathogen Covered Scrubs Bring Style to Your Clinic

EMR and HIPAA: Operating System of Healthcare IT

Healthcare Technology News: Direct Project Specifications Achieving Widespread Adoption: Could Positively Impact Care Coordination Soon for Millions of Americans

Via HITsphere

Friday, March 11, 2011

Aeolus String Quartet

The Aeolus String Quartet will be preforming works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Bartok on March 20th at 2 PM at The United Church.

Be there or be square.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Today in Federal IT

Mark Amtower has some thoughts on defending your marketing budget in hard times.

Tom Temin finds out how his broadband service measures up courtesy of the FCC.

John Zyskowski gives us a wrap up of the recent RSA conference.

William Matthews: CIA blames 'technical difficulties' for website crash

NASA Now: Solar Storms.

Via Fedsphere created by Netspective.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Effective book promotion?

Clients From Hell is running a contest; retweet their book promotion and you have a chance to win a MacBook Air. They are getting plenty of retweets, and I suspect traffic to their site; but is it translating into interest in the book?

If it does we may be seeing more opportunities to win a MacBook Air.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Assessing credibility

I must dissent from Jim Horton on this one. Mere anonymity, or the more common pseudonymity, does not necessarily detract from an author's credibility.

As a reader I ask myself does the writer offer a basis for their consclusions? Are their sources on the record? Do they refer to documents that are publicly available? These are the kinds of things that weigh with me.

Health IT blogging, HIMSS edition

David Blumenthal addresses HIMSS Interoperability Showcase

ePrescribing, incentives and penalties

Lab Soft News: When to send out health alerts; it's complicated.

Fierce Health IT: HIMSS Analytics survey shows uptick in hospital readiness for meaningful use

Neil Versel: Video: athenahealth’s Jonathan Bush at HIMSS11

eHealth: Social Media at HIMSS

HISTalk: HIMSS wrap up.

From HITShpere, via Shahid Shah.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cheap shot dot com

The Guardian
A new website promises to shine a spotlight on "churnalism" by exposing the extent to which news articles have been directly copied from press releases.

The website,, created by charity the Media Standards Trust, allows readers to paste press releases into a "churn engine". It then compares the text with a constantly updated database of more than 3m articles. The results, which give articles a "churn rating", show the percentage of any given article that has been reproduced from publicity material.

First of all, congrats to the PR team at Churnalism for such a great story placement.

There is nothing wrong with using a press release in a news article. The test should be the information in the press release news; that is, is the material accurate, new, interesting, relevant, and compelling. If so an editor should use it; it not an editor should discard it.

UPDATE: Shel Holtz said this so much better.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Prank phone calls

It seems a pro-union activist, pretending to be David Koch, called Gov. Scott Walker and recorded the result. How much of an embarrassment this will be I cannot say; but it demonstrates the range of activities open to online activists and the sort of thing we need to prepare our clients for.

I believe that it is illegal in Maryland and a few other states to record a phone conversation without the consent of both parties.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The power of social media and the Internet

Clearly social media is extremely powerful, otherwise the Egyptian government would not have cut access to the internet, neither would the US government put out solicitations to subvert it.

Honestly, astroturf is for amateurs.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Marylene Dosse to play the high romantics

French pianist Marylene Dosse will preform works by Franz Liszt, Schumann, Rachmaninov, and Chopin on March 4 at 8 PM at The United Church.

I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New to me local tech blog

Arxan CTO Musings, Discussion on the latest application security developments and issues, including piracy, code protection, application hardening and cybersecurity.

Well done Google

Quick Google Analytics Tip: Chrome debugging tool
Google recently launched the Google Analytics Tracking Code Debugger, and a new debug version of its JavaScript code, ga_debug.js. The good news is, that Google has also put together a nifty little Chrome extension for the tracking code debugger, which uses the new script so that you don’t have to re-tag any content.

Well done. Google's strength is its responsiveness to users and developers.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Layer 7 blogs

Layer 7, a software development company (XML, cloud computing, SOA, and so on) has a whole flotilla of blogs:

Layer 7 company blog

Scott Morrison

Adam Vincent

Francois Lascelles

Well done Layer 7.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Dan Snyder's image problem

Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Football team, has a very serious image problem. By a series of ill advised actions, Snyder has cast himself in the role of the rich bully.

Most recently, in response to this farcical article in the Washington City Paper, he threatened to sue the paper, calculating that the cost of litigation would force the paper to fire the reporter. It has backfired on him in a big way.

To their everlasting credit, the owners of the Washington City Paper, Atalaya Capital Management, has refused to back down. Public opinion is overwhelmingly on the side of the paper and a legal defense fund has been established.

As Bob Somerby teaches us, reporters develop narratives and follow scripts. Even before this latest blunder, Dan Snyder had cast himself in the role of the sports owner bully that everyone loves to hate. His suit does not appear to have merit and pressing it will have a devastating impact on his reputation and the franchise. If there is one thing the news media hates, it is the misuse of libel law to force a publication to fire a reporter. Dan Snyder is now in a no win situation.

It does not have to be this way. Dan Snyder does not have to be the bad guy. But in order to turn this around he needs to take dramatic action to change the narrative that has been developed around him.

In my opinion he needs to drop the lawsuit. That will not change his image, but it will end the current controversy. Beyond that, he needs to make a series of dramatic gestures to indicate that he has heard the publics's concerns and is taking them to heart.

First of all he needs to change the team's name. That would be the sort of big gesture that changes the narrative overnight and would force both the news media and general public to take another look at him. Next he needs to look at his present charitable contributions and look at ways he can communicate his commitment to his favorite causes. In addition to his present contributions, he could participate in any of the many walks for cure for breast cancer, or any other cause dear to his heart. This would show a personal commitment over an above the ability to write a big check.

Most of all someone close to him needs to explain you don't need to win every battle, just the big ones. Or, as the Rolling Stones once put it, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."

Friday, February 04, 2011

KM World: Call for Speakers

KM World 2011

November 1 - 3, 2011
Washington Marriott Wardman Park
Washington DC

By co-locating with Enterprise Search Summit Fall, Taxonomy Boot Camp and Sharepoint Symposium , KMWorld 2011 provides attendees with all the essential pieces of the information engine that powers today’s effective enterprise— including knowledge creation, publishing, sharing, finding, mining, reuse, and more. Well implemented and managed, these work together to enable business problem-solving, innovation, and achievement.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

New to me local tech blogs

Spider Strategies

Simply RFID


Intellitrack; Inventory & AIDC Software Blog

Lawrence Wilkes on SOA, EA and AM, Commentary on Service Oriented Architecture, Enterprise Architecture, and Application Modernization

David Sprott's Blog, David Sprott is founder of CBDI Forum, a think tank specializing in practices for SOA and architecture led software delivery and management.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sara Daneshpour

I saw Sara Daneshpour in concert at the United Church. She opened with Haydn's Piano Sonata in F major. She played with the sparkle, delicacy, and elegance that Haydn requires. Dressed in a long black jacket with a white blouse with a great ruffle, she was perfectly dressed for 18th century music. With any luck a record label will give her a contract for all of Haydn's sonatas.

Also on the program was Chopin's famous Sonata no.2 in B-flat minor. She played the third movement's funeral march with the haunting emotion that it requires. The final Presto followed perfectly from the third movement, and the selection of Chopin's Etude op. 10 no. 12 was in C minor was the perfect choice to follow the famous Sonata no. 2.

After intermission we were treated to Schumann's ABEGG Variations, which was played with the caressing warmth you want to hear in Schumann. She played Frank with wonderful emotion, if you like Frank, which I don't.

She finished with a riveting, disturbing, and compelling performance of Prokofiev's Toccata.

Clearly we will be hearing more from Sara Daneshpour.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In defense of boring corporate blogs

I am coming across more and more boring corporate blogs. The blog posts consist of new hire and promotion announcements, new products and product upgrades, contract awards and similar fare. The prose is written in the style of classic impersonal corporate press release.

These blogs would be interesting to prospective customers checking up on the company, reporters who were looking for background and similar readers.

In other words, these blogs provide useful information to individuals trying to find out more about the company.

These blogs also help with search engine visibility by continuously providing fresh content.

There is a great deal to be said for "good enough" business writing.

To have a truly excellent blog, the kind that drives traffic to your web site and establishes thought leadership, you really need to work at it or hire an expert. But to simply communicate your news and enhance search engine visibility, good enough is good enough.

The man who lied to his laptop

I recently read the most delightful book, The Man Who Lied to His Latop. I hope that it becomes a of business and technology classic, because it certainly deserves to be.

The central thesis of the book is that human beings are social creatures and that we react socially even when dealing with machines. It also seems that our social relationships with our computers teach us a great deal about our social relationships with out fellow human beings.

I especially recommend the chapter on teams and team building. It seems all those expensive trust building exercises would be better replaced with a weekly pizza party for teams who met their goals.

Professional communicators will be interested in the final chapter on persuasion. Nass talks a great deal about expertise and trust and how, of these two, trust is by far the more important factor.

Slashdot discussions here.


January is Mozart month on WETA. I love classical music, Mozart, Haydn, and the composers of the 18th century. It has a delicate clean sound that is so relaxing.

Thank you WETA. Can we get a Haydn month?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What tech Washington reads

I have a new reader survey. Please take it, it is very helpful in my work.

Click here to take survey

When and why to create a Facebook page

It was recently suggested to me that I create a Facebook page for my company as Facebook has more users than Google.

That, by itself, is not a reason to create Facebook presence. For example, if someone wants to research me or my company, they would do a search on a search engine, not Facebook. Typically Facebook is not used for research.

If you are a consumer goods company, you could use your Facebook page to offer discounts, send out announcements, and otherwise connect with your customers.

If you are a political candidate or political cause, you definitely need a Facebook page. In general, I think that Facebook is an excellent tool for non-profits.

A software company might want to use Facebook to run their user group community, although I don't think it would be the best choice.

But for a small PR agency, a Facebook page just does not make sense.

Just because a tool exists, does not mean you should use it.

Edit -
Jim Horton has written great surveys of corporate use of Facebook and Linked In. He notes that most corporations are failing to integrate their use of social media, that is, link to their Twitter feeds and blogs from their Facebook and/or Linked In page. He also shares my view that it is not necessary for a corporation to have a site on either network.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Business model's and today's Healthcare IT news

Shahid asks what kind of buisness model do you have for your bright health IT idea.

Medgadget has the report from CES 2011.

Fred Pennic has the latest Android App.

HTN blog has Atul Gawande on The Colbert Report.

All courtesy of HITSphere.

Mobile advertising

The Adzookie tell me that they have a new pay-per-click mobile advertising service. I have taken a look at it and it seems like a good service. Readers, if any of you try this, let me know how it works for you.

My congratulations to the Adzookie people for being an early mover on this and good luck with their business model.

There is no doubt in my mind that the future of communications will be centered on the small screen.