Media Influencer

helping people break out of pigeonholes since 2003

Blogging is a symptom

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Hugh is taking the heat off his posting Why We’re all Blogging Less?:

Blogging isn’t dead. Far from it. It’s just a subset of something much larger and more important.

Indeed. So 2004 and we are still repeating it. :)

Force blogging

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The definitive approach to corporate blogging from Dr Vaine. This is essential viewing for anyone who has anything to do with blogging in corporate environment. Compulsory to watch to the end.

via Make marketing history

New blog!

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Well, still the same blogger and the name but on WordPress. Free from TypePad at last! If you detect any strangeness in your RSS feeds, that’s because the last week’s worth of posts have been manually added and may appear in your reader again.

The new look is a WordPress theme that will do for now. I know a very cool artist and web designer who I would like to do the blog design. So the look might change at some point.

Finally, many thanks and much gratitude to Alec who has toiled many hours to make the move seamless at my end. This is not a common experience for anyone moving their blog unless they have an ubergeek at hand. There was a bit of hacking and thinking done in order to preserve the existing links to my posts. This way I don’t have to have a blog ‘archive’ for the ‘old’ blog but continue blogging on Media Influencer, just powered by a different blog engine. I do hope that Alec blogs his experience as he came across a few ‘challenges’ and I am sure others would benefit from his solutions to them.

‘Tis but a press release by another name…

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Sony Electronics Blog:

The first is the annual Harris Interactive poll released this week ranking American’s choice for the “best brands.”  For the first time in eight years, Sony came in second place behind Coca-Cola. For the previous seven consecutive years, the company was ranked as the best.  And while I’d have liked to have held onto that No. 1 position for yet another year, I am still constantly impressed and very proud to work for a company that has a brand so well regarded by the American public.  Behind us in this poll of 2,372 people chosen to represent the demographics of the nation were such companies as Microsoft, Apple and Dell, along with Toyota, Ford, Kraft, Pepsi and Honda.

Loveless blog

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William at Ideal Government nails it perfectly when he describes the new Microsoft UK public sector blog. He knows a thing or two about public sector technology, platforms and Microsoft’s fingers on the many pulses as he puts it. He couldn’t find the people behind the blog or a name attached to its voice such as it was. His conclusion…

Hope springs eternal that we may get a human voice with a name attached
to it, and some hot gossip from some of the best-informed people in the
business. When people in corporations find their voices it’s great -
what was it like to work for Lou Gerstner, Jerry Fishenden on almost
anything, raw, passionate stuff. But man, when their PR companies get
going I find myself woken up by the sound of my head hitting the desk.

There was a comment in the best British comedy tradition. ;-)

Well, I think it’s great that the UKGOVERNMENT has started blogging.
I had no idea that the UKGOVERNMENT worked for Microsoft. Glad to see
the UKGOVERNMENT has so much time to maintain a blog outside of running
the country and doing world stage stuff.

I wonder if UKGOVERNMENT also gets a £10k pa communications allowance to spend on his/her/their blog?

I have always been of the opinion that a company cannot have a blog, only people working for it can. So a blog without a person is like marriage without love, possible, done more often than we would like but doesn’t inspire, engage or attract anyone, including the people involved in it…

Elephants on corporate blogs

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This is an excellent post dissecting the exact reason why I militate against the use anywhere online of the ‘corporate we’ that is found in press releases and in other corporate communications. And also about how not to get your audiences confused… after all there is but one audience and that’s all individuals online.

In all but the last sentence we is the personal pronoun of choice, and that we clearly refers to the company. Obviously, Google as a corporate entity cannot have an opinion,
but what is posted in an official corporate blog will understandably be
interpreted as noted and accepted by someone further up the ladder (and
it seems unlikely that there was no monitoring in Turner’s case).

Not understanding
blog stylistics is at least a part of Turner’s failure. She has applied
a language common in one context to a completely different and
inappropriate one and the result is a bit like someone telling a bad
joke aloud at a funeral.

There is no other public than.. the public

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BBC reports:

Mr Ayers a senior executive at the AACS] said that while he could not reveal the specific steps the group would be taking, it would be using both "legal
and technical" steps to prevent the circumvention of copy protection.

We will take whatever action is appropriate," he said.
"We hope the public respects our position and complies with applicable

The 700,000 802,000+ pages you see in Google results – that’s your public. An industry turning on its own markets is doomed.

This is a clash of cultures:

The hacker, known as muslix64, has been able to access the encryption keys which pass between certain discs and the player.

The hacker said he had grown angry when a HD-DVD movie
he had bought would not play on his monitor because it did not have the
compliant connector demanded by the movie industry.

Note that the hacker bought the HD-DVD, he paid for the movie. The industry got its pound of flesh but it just wasn’t going to get any blood. Only when he discovered that it will not play on his monitor (I mostly watch DVDs on my computer), he tried to access the key. Online you make things work, if you can. He could, so he did. Companies can protect their content if they wish. But if they impose arbitrary limitations on our hardware, we are not going to play along. This is a culture of control vs. the culture of your-broken-business-model-is-not-our-problem…

Update: Cory Doctorow has more on the same article. Love this bit:

The companies that made AACS spent millions and years at it. The
hackers who broke it did so in days, for laughs, for free. More people
now know how to crack HD-DVD than own an HD-DVD player.

A sad tale of technology dictators

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Scott McLeod tells a sad tale about technology getting in the way of communication. Actually, a tale of a person in charge of technology getting in the way others trying to communicate. It takes people, not technology, to really muck things up.

In other words, the principal cannot set up a blog to communicate with his school community because the district technology coordinator, who is in a
support position, won’t let him.

He offers his support and arguments

How are you going to expose students, teachers, parents, and
administrators to the technological transformations that are revolutionizing
American and global societies if you shut it all down? If things change (or if
there’s any way I can help you maybe persuade someone to think differently about
this), let me know.

but to no avail as the principal responds:

I agree. I tried to work it through and was not successful. I loved the
blogging idea, it was nice and easy for me, and I knew that I would be able to
get staff on board. Unfortunately, not everyone is as forward

Finding someone in a position of authority who grasps the nature of blogging and open communication is still relatively rare. To have their efforts halted because of Luddite attitudes is depressing.

Technology coordinators who are more concerned
with disabling than enabling. Technology personnel that we would hope would be
progressive, forward thinkers regarding digital technologies but instead are
regressive gatekeepers. Teachers and administrators that try to move into the 21st century but run into the brick wall of supervisors or support personnel.

I find similar situation elsewhere, not just in education. In companies, the IT department is more often than not the last bastion of the industrial age attitude to innovation. Top down and locked down – unless it comes via approved channels and processes the system blocks any attempts to change. IT people often act like prison guards, keeping the parameters fixed and treating everyone as a potential transgressor. Fortunately, tools like blogs, RSS and wikis are simple and people can learn to use them without IT’s involvement. And as they start crossing the line to business, clashes are inevitable.

I remember a few years back, before blogging was widespread, a senior person in a large consultancy firm got excited about it. He played around with Movable Type and other blogging platforms to get familiar with the technology. When ready, he approached his IT department to implement them. The response was very definite and resounding – it’s simply not possible to build such things. He showed them what he’s done on  his own and the reaction was a sheepish – ahh.

I wonder what it would take for the district technology coordinator to get out of the way?

via Ewan

A corporate blogging method

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Corporate blogging is an oxymoron in my vocabulary. A company blog is no different from a website unless you have a person with sufficient
autonomy to give it his/her own voice. (There is always a possibility
for a group blog but they are better suited for a particular focus,
subject or a project.) Following that logic, give employees a chance to have voices of their own. In return, they will ‘lend’ them to the company. This is not a bad thing as most companies have lost theirs somewhere around marketing and communications departments.

Matt Moore offers an excellent set of recommendations how to grow a ‘blogosphere’ within a company. The two that I want to highlight are:

- Give them a list of things they absolutely cannot talk about. Try to
make it relatively short. You can’t make this list short? Then may be
you aren’t ready for this yet. If they want to check anything with you
then give them that option & respond quickly & decisively.

- Don’t treat them as another "channel" for messages – they are not a
ventriloquist’s dummy. But do treat them as conversational partners.

Ready the whole thing and save yourself money on a blogging consultant.

Bubble, bubble, bubble

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This is another example of off-line type of thinking.

The reality is though that outside of our little insular world of blogs
and co-presence what we do has no importance. To your average neighbor
Justin is just some weird guy walking around with a camera attached to
his body, blogs are just another confusing computer term and the
cluetrain might just as well be the mid-afternoon commuter train in any
major metropolitan city.

The impact of the blogosphere and other online -spheres begins with the people who create them. The internet has changed the way those people can do things. Some have tapped right into it, some are yet to do so and some may never care. It is not about creating big organisations and processes to change the existing order. The internet is about ‘ends’ i.e. the users, distributed networks and distributed sovereignty.

The truth of the matter is that for the person worrying about making
next month’s rent or being able to pay their child’s doctor bill
without bankrupting themselves none of this has or ever will matter. If
anything the poli-sphere for all it’s partisanship and bloodied
knuckles is far more relevant to our daily lives than any post of
thoughtful consideration from the tech-sphere.

People have always worried about the mundane stuff and always will. But once their ability to take control over more of those activities increases, you won’t be able to put the genie back in the bottle. Innovation is real, change happens and individuals involved in it have nothing to lose by pushing at the boundaries.

It just seems to take bloody ages.

Urban Counterfeiters

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Love this:

Bringing American consumers reports from small companies and artists
who have been taken advantage of by large corporations. We wish for
these corporations to be held accountable for their actions and to
change their business practices.

Another way the internet shifts the balance of power. Bit by bit.

via Boing Boing

Code of conduct strikes again

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Tim O’Reilly comes out with a draft of blogger’s code of conduct, named Civility Enforced. I am with Scoble on this one.

So, for now, I guess I’d have to wear the “anything goes” badge.

I do find disquieting the social pressure to get on board with this
program. Tim O’Reilly is a guy who really can affect one’s career
online (and off, too). I do have to admit that I feel some pressure
just to get on board here and that makes me feel very uneasy.

Although I don’t think it is a choice between Anything Goes and Civility Enforced. Why should I put either on my blog? My readers know me and those who don’t can find out about me quickly.

Telling people how to handle blog communications is one thing, asking them sign up to a set of rules e.g. a code of conduct is another. I am happy to see the former but will resist the latter. Apart from the obvious objection that a code of conduct, even one called Civility Enforced, will not make people civil, there is another case against it. Variety is the primordial soup of innovation – instead of a uniform code of conduct it would make sense to encourage a variety of different ways of dealing with blog trolls, false accusations, misunderstandings, even threats and libel. (Although for the last two transgressions we have laws already.) We have been ‘managing’ comments section for some time and with reasonable success.

An interesting little give-away is the explanation of why the text of the code wasn’t put in a wiki.

(While wikis are great for developing the code, we don’t want it to be a moving target once people have signed up for it.)

My question is, well, why not make it a moving target? I do understand the logic behind it – consistency and clarity of what people subscribe to. But is locking something into a static format the best way? How about making it a transparently evolving thing? Perhaps this is the crux of the problem, central and imposed rules don’t work well on the internet. In order to make them stick at all, one has to resort to locking things in.

So however good and sensible Tim O’Reilly’s proposed code of conduct might be, I don’t want to see it ‘crowd out’ other approaches. So recommendations yes, signing-up no. Social pressure can on occasion be as harmful as those who deserve to be condemned by it.

Update: Many comments ‘raging’ across the blogosphere, Jeff Jarvis’s post No twinkie badges here addresses most issues in detail and links to other bloggers with things to say.

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