Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When old is new

Have you ever run to your friends and associates to proclaim your discovery of something new, only to discover that your friends and associates have already known about this "new" thing for a long time?

On March 23, Valley Record published an article with the title "So long, ink: North Bend police use fingerprinting of the future." The article discussed live-scan technology - a technology that has been around for two decades now.

So why is live scan a new thing in North Bend? Because of cost. While national governments and state agencies have ready access to funds to pay for live scan devices, it's much more difficult for small local agencies to raise the funds to pay for a machine.

But the fact that North Bend is seemingly joining the live scan world at a relatively late time does not detract from the importance of their joining in the first place.

This is something that we need to remember, especially if we tend toward the early adopter mentality. There is sometimes a tendency to pooh-pooh the late adopters, or even to complain that the late adopters have effectively ruined Twitter/FriendFeed/Facebook/Friendster/CompuServe/whatever. But no matter how soon or how late you join a service, the important thing is that you joined the service, and can now enjoy the benefits of it.

Which is why I regard Shawn Zehnder Lea's tweet about me in a positive light.

@empoprises: "Love the chorus" (Awww. His first blip!) ;) ♫

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

If you don't self-promote, are you truly hurt?

I'm sure that any self-proclaimed "SEO expert" will loudly declare that businesses have to engage in conversation. Why should businesses engage in conversation? Because if you don't talk about yourself, someone else will talk about you.

I've previously mentioned (based on a prior post from Will Campbell) that Broguiere's doesn't seem to be suffering, despite its lack of a web presence. And I don't think that Yogurtime is losing out on the mindshare war, despite my observations.

Now one could argue that the conversation could be dominated by the negative people. Take a look at Twittercism's recommendation:

1. Go to Twitter search.
2. Enter your company name, followed by the word ‘sucks’

So I tried it.

OK, Twittercism DID note that this technique works better for an established brand.

But let's say your company DOES suck, and you listen to the SEO experts and engage and communicate. That's good, right? Of course not.

People on twitter HATE outright sales pitches, and there’s no faster way to drain your follower list and give yourself a bad reputation than by trying to use twitter for a hard sell.

But even if you do everything right, and engage and communicate and act bidirectionally and all that stuff, remember one thing. In most cases, even if every one of your employees is engaging and communicating, you still have more customers than employees, so all or your social media engaging and communicating could potentially be drowned out by all of the stuff that everyone else says.

Let's say that Yogurtime (the United States version, not the Hong Kong version) finally decides to set up its own website, and maybe its own Twitter account, and perhaps a account for all I know. Even after establishing such a web presence, Yogurtime will be competing with a number of outside entities:


Google Maps


Yellow pages services from AOL, YP Mobile, and everyone else on the planet

Now certainly it helps to have your voice in the mix, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you can control the conversation. It's not like a business can affect all of these outside entities and tell them what they can or cannot say.

Not even in Europe.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Does visibility matter? (A visit to the Broguiere's website, and more on Yogurtime)

After running across some Broguiere's milk at the farm store at Cal Poly Pomona, I began wondering about other locations that carried this Los Angeles-area milk. I knew that my local Vons had it, but didn't know of any other places.

Easy enough, I figured, and began searching for Broguiere's web site.

After seeing Yelp reviews and other ratings, I ran across this Metblogs post, raving about the wonders of Broguiere's, that concluded as follows:

And yes: it is the one company left on the planet that does not have a web site. None.

That Metblogs post was written in December 2008, and over a year later the situation hasn't changed.

Amazingly enough, the IRL visits to Broguiere's are a little tough also. From the same Metblogs post:

But talk about an unassuming establishment. Hell, upon arrival we drove right by it because instead of signage trumpeting Broguiere’s, the marquee read Montebello Sanitary Dairy and stood over what was little more than a drive-through store in the midst of vast tracts of an agridustrial landscape.

But it doesn't matter. In the aforementioned Yelp review the AVERAGE score for Broguiere's milk products is 5 stars out of 5 stars, and NONE of the 75 reviewers have given Broguiere's a lower rating than 4.

After my experience with Yogurtime (remember my post Yogurtime in Upland California - this blog post is THE information source?) - more on that in a minute - I figured I'd check and see if Broguiere's has caught on with the Foursquare crowd. Apparently, it hasn't.

Incidentally, the last time that I was at Yogurtime in Upland, I mentioned to the woman behind the counter that they were on Foursquare, and that I was the mayor of Yogurtime. This was not significant to her.

The moral of the story? It is possible to have a well-respected product, even if you don't do all the social media SEO publicity junk. But it had better be an outstanding product.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

If you want to reach the world, you need a ton of tools to do so

Years and years ago, someone started a small organization in New York. After a couple of business re-locations and a change in leadership necessitated by the death of the founder, the organization became well-established in its new headquarters. From there, it launched an expansion, first throughout the United States, then worldwide.

And while I'm talking about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the comments I'm about to share apply equally to any organization, non-profit or profit-seeking, that wants to play on the worldwide stage.

The LDS Church has appointed a new Social Media Architect, and it happens to have appointed Jesse Stay - Jesse's the guy who literally (co-)wrote the book on Facebook, and who also created the SocialToo service. Stay is obviously familiar with a number of social media tools, and in this post he happened to mention some of the tools that he will use in his new job:

I will get to not only use Facebook and Twitter to help others benefit society, but on a global scale I’ll get to use Orkut, Hi5, Bebo, and other global networks, and find ways to deeply integrate these technologies into the work the Church is doing, on a global scale and to a mass audience.

Now let's say that you're getting ready to launch a campaign for your business. Perhaps you'll think about using Facebook, or using Twitter, or using MySpace. But how many of us include Orkut, Hi5, and Bebo in our social media communication plans?

If we want to reach a worldwide audience, we need to look at these other tools. For example, let's say that you want to reach people in Brazil. Are you going to use Facebook? Think again:

Orkut is very much a cultural phenomenon in Brazil. Although Brazilians had experience with other social networking sites (Fotolog, for example, was very popular among young Brazilians in 2003 and 2004, before Orkut appeared), Orkut caused a revolution in Internet access in Brazil. As Orkut grew quickly in Brazil starting in 2004, it became synonymous with the Internet. Being on the Internet meant being on Orkut....

According to data recently released by Ibope/NetRatings...73% of all Brazilian Internet users are also Orkut users. Orkut is also rated as the third most accessed Internet domain in Brazil. Because of numbers like these, some researchers even argue that Orkut played a fundamental role in popularizing the Internet in Brazil.

So if you want to reach Brazilians, the question is not whether you should use Orkut - the question is whether you can afford NOT to use Orkut.

However, when making your social media strategic choices, it helps to have up-to-date information. Let's say you want to send your message to the Philippines. Here's what an August 2009 post would have recommended:

Worldwide ranking clearly shows that Yahoo and Facebook are way above Friendster, which has been struggling at the 80-100 spots, and has been slowly faltering over the past few months. Facebook's been at position 3 and 4 worldwide for the past few months already, while Yahoo's been at a constant No. 2 position all year. So, again in terms of worldwide, Friendster isn't as strong and has been dipping.

But not in the Philippines. Checking the records over the past year, Friendster has remained the No. 2 most visited Web site by Filipinos since the late 2007, and has been unseated only a few times (i.e. YouTube outranking it a couple of times). That's a very strong showing for a social-networking site that's been around for nearly a decade and that hasn't really shown much in terms of change and upgrades.

But the same author, Ignatius Javellana, wrote a follow-up post in December:

With Friendster only recently adapting changes in its new format (a complete site revamp plus the focus on more services targeted towards Filipinos), I'm afraid it was too little too late. Recent Alexa rankings for the Philippines have shown that Facebook has now completely overthrown Friendster as the number one social networking site, even unseating heavyweights such as YouTube and Multiply along the way.

So if I can share of wisdom with you, when you craft your worldwide social media strategy, make sure that your information is up-to-date.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Who are the customers of Twitter and Foursquare?

I'd like to throw this idea out to the general population. I've beta tested it with lackluster results, but I'm going ahead anyway.

Obeying the maxim "follow the money," I'm going to state that your customers are the ones who actually pay you. Regardless of who actually uses your product, the true customers are the ones who are actually willing to pony up money to your company. Not that you should ignore the non-paying folks - especially as their behavior influences the paying folks - but you certainly need to be aware of the paying folks, since they're paying your bills.

Over several years and in several blogs, I got verbose about Twitter's monetization plan, or lack thereof. In reality, though, Twitter has had two sets of paying customers over the years - the first being the venture capitalists who invested in the service at the beginning, and the second being Google and Microsoft (Bing) who gave Twitter some actual revenue in the last year.

So now let's look at a newer media darling - Foursquare. On one level, Foursquare activities (and those of Foursquare's competitors) seem rather silly - Steven Hodson wrote a cranky post entitled Say, do they have a badge for “Duh I am such a sucker”? Hodson:

Really, if your only solution to try and convince people (and VCs as well as some sucker company) that your product is worth coming back to because of some stupid badge then I would suggest that you deadpool yourself and get a real job.

Hodson quotes from Alex Wilhelm:

If you turn to a game to make your application sticky, the application itself might not be....If your mayorship was not on the line, would you really check in every time you went to your favorite Starbucks? I bet not.

But do the badges help Foursquare with their REAL customers - namely, the businesses who could potentially pay Foursquare real money? Perhaps, but there's still a challenge to work out the "how." Adam Erlebacher:

Whether it be mayorships, scavenger hunts, coupons, or other marketing or promotional offers, there seem to be a number of ways that Foursquare can begin to experiment with monetization. The problem with most of these monetization schemes is that they’re a little klugey and require too much work for either the user and/or the business.

For example:

Now, consider what happens when a hypothetical FS coupon is redeemed at a small business (not a Best Buy which has sophisticated POS systems). You’re at a packed bar and you show the bartender your coupon for a free beer. The bartender (who is usually not the owner and has less incentive to keep track of these things) will need to somehow process the coupon so that you can’t reuse it. Let’s say there’s a simple code he types into your phone (that’s awkward and slow) or maybe he just swipes a finger across the screen to process it. The problem actually isn’t the processing, it’s that unlike in the supermarket example, there is no third party that will repay the business owner for the coupon. If the bar pays FS directly for each coupon redeemed, the bartender has little incentive to process the coupon. If the bar is paying for each coupon that gets redeemed, a less-than-honest business is not going to process (and pay for) the coupon once it’s already acquired the customer.

Erlebacher's suggestion is for Foursquare to partner with a company such as Blippy who actually tracks purchases. (If you haven't heard of Blippy, Louis Gray provided an introduction in January, and has revisited the service at least twice.)

Regardless of how (or whether) Foursquare figures out a good way to monetize its service, the point is that we as users often have a particular perspective on a service such as Foursquare or Twitter. And while the heads of those companies certainly try to cater to our needs, we need to remember that we are not their first priority - the paying customers are.

And if you don't like that, then find a "pay per tweet" service and sign up for that.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Privacy rights vs. privacy rights - the intersection of photography and facial recognition

[Disclosure: The author is employed in the biometrics industry, and has worked for and worked with several companies that offer facial recognition solutions.]

While the general public is hearing more and more about facial recognition these days, it's actually been around for a while. Briefly, a facial recognition system works by comparing features from a face against features from another face, or from an entire database of faces. And it's those databases that are the subject of discussion.

The first common application of facial recognition was in the criminal arena. In this case, you don't have a choice regarding whether or not you're put in the database - if you're arrested, your facial image (or, in criminal terms, your mugshot) can be captured, stored in the database, and (with certain restrictions) used to solve crimes and identify people. Let's say that I was arrested a few years ago for shoplifting, and then get arrested again one Saturday night. When the officer questions me, I claim that I am Sandra Bullock. For some strange reason the officer does not believe my statement, so the officer takes my picture and searches it against a database of faces, discovering that I am not Sandra Bullock, and that I have been arrested before. Provided that the system is accurate, many (but not all) people agree that this is a legitimate use of facial recognition technology.

Over the last couple of years, new uses for facial recognition have emerged. And these aren't for crooks - these are for friends. In this case, the database is a database of photos that you've collected, in which some of the people in the photos have been identified. Once you've identified a face in one photo, the facial recognition software can then scan the other photos and look for the same face. Here's how Apple pushed its iPhoto product:

Now this isn't just restricted to photos. Either the criminal technology or the "friends" technology can be used to identify real people moving around the planet. If you're terrible with names, then you can just grab an image of the person walking up to you, find out the person's name, his/her Twitter account, and so forth.

This all long as the person is in the database of identified people.

So far, the new applications of facial recognition have all been opt-in, where the person has consented to place his/her information in the database. (Criminals, of course, have no choice in the matter.) But what if...well, I'll let Internet Evolution tell it:

If expanded to include public images from other sources (Websites, blogs, and open social networking information) a very broad system for recognition could be devised.

Civil libertarians see serious privacy implications in such a system. Sociopaths and stalkers might use the technology to pick out victims. Other criminals might scan crowds in expensive neighborhoods, to see who’s not home (and thus whose home may be vulnerable to burglary). Blackmailers might frequent shady areas (bars, brothels, and gambling dens) to capture images and identify potential targets.

This is NOT opt-in. In this case, let's say that someone - I'll choose Sandra Bullock again - is in a public place. If a photographer takes Bullock's picture in a public place, and identifies the image as Bullock, then it is possible to track Sandra Bullock's every move.

One emotional response would be to restrict photography in public places, and state that you cannot take a photo of anyone or anything unless the subject of the photo has consented to this. This, claim some, is the way to guarantee privacy.

And how do you guarantee privacy? You round up the photographers, or at least find out what they're taking pictures of, and why. This way you guarantee privacy.

Or do you?

Despite repeated government and police assurances that it would not be happening any more, ordinary people are still being arrested for taking pictures in the UK, under the pernicious terms of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, and not just in London. This time, a photographer video camera user managed to film the process of his arrest. There particularly ridiculous aspects of this case are firstly that the officer, when challenged on his assertion that this was a terrorism-related offence, changed her charge to that of anti-social behaviour (which isn’t a crime as such, anyway)....

Yes, that's correct - photographers have privacy rights also. For every civil libertarian who is defending the right of someone to not have his/her picture taken, there is another civil libertarian who is defending the right of the photographer to take the picture.

Now different laws exist in different jurisdictions - Internet Evolution focuses on United States laws, while notes from the ubiquitous surveillance society focuses on United Kingdom law - but in essence the issue is similar in both countries - whose right to privacy is more important?

Friday, March 19, 2010

How do you scale a business when you're selling yourself?

All big businesses started out as small businesses. That multi-billion dollar corporation that you see initially began in a small shop, or in a garage, or in a dorm room. When the business was small, the owner(s) could run it in a particular way. As the business grew, the owner(s) had to change the way things were done. In fact, in many cases the owners either get someone else to run the bigger company, or the owners leave the company altogether. In recent history, Bill Gates is the only person that I know of who was able to successfully manage both a small startup and a huge corporation.

While it's tough to figure out how to scale a business, it's obviously possible to do so. If you're making computers in a garage, you change your procedures so that employees are making computers in a factory.

But what if the product that you're selling is...yourself?

Chris Brogan:

I built my brand on being accessible. You know me because you know that I care about you, that I care about your projects. This is true. But there’s a huge flaw in how this all works out, in the basic math level....

When Chris figured out the hours that he could/should/does spend in a day, he got 10 hours of email, 3 hours on social media networks, and maybe 2 hours on phone calls, that's 15 hours right there. And he still hasn't gotten any real work done.

Now Brogan isn't the only person who has this problem. Dale Carnegie could only win so many friends and influence so many people on his own. And there are other firms, initially started by individuals, that depend a lot on the personal touch.

The answer for these firms has been to hire people who aren't the same as the founder, but who can provide the personal touch required for the business. Chris Brogan's friend Jon Swanson refers to these people as disciples, which suggests what is required. And perhaps the end product will appear somewhat like today's Dale Carnegie Training. Let's learn about them, shall we?

Founded in 1912, Dale Carnegie Training has evolved from one man's belief in the power of self-improvement to a performance-based training company with offices worldwide....

Dale Carnegie's original body of knowledge has been constantly updated, expanded and refined through nearly a century's worth of real-life business experiences. The 160 Carnegie Managing Directors around the world use their training and consulting services with companies of all sizes in all business segments to increase knowledge and performance. The result of this collective, global experience is an expanding reservoir of business acumen that our clients rely on to drive business results.

Headquartered in Hauppauge, New York, Dale Carnegie Training is represented in all 50 of the United States and over 80 countries. More than 2700 instructors present Dale Carnegie Training programs in more than 25 languages.

And how did the company define a way to institutionalize this? Process:

As part of our ISO 9000:2001 certification and Dale Carnegie Training’s commitment to quality, we measure the effectiveness of our training. In an ongoing global survey on customer satisfaction, 99 percent of Dale Carnegie Training graduates express satisfaction with the training they receive.

The vast majority of Dale Carnegie Training local franchising organizations in the U.S have been accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET). Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, ACCET is a voluntary group of educational organizations dedicated to promoting the highest standards of continuing education and training.

However, while this allows the company to expand, this does not allow the person Chris Brogan to expand.

The work we’re doing at [New Marketing Labs] is strong. What I’m doing with me overall is a lot more foggy.

If New Marketing Labs continues to grow, Brogan will have to change his role, perhaps taking a step back from some things that he really loves to do today. Or he may decide that he wants to continue in his present role, and go find someone else to run New Marketing Labs. Many company founders end up taking subsidiary roles at their own firms, so that they can continue to tinker or whatever it is that they do.

But whatever happens, I'm pretty sure that Brogan will figure it out.

Bob Maley - when employers and professional organizations collide

On March 3, Eric Chabrow wrote a blog post that quoted Pennsylvania's chief information security officer, Bob Maley, who was on a panel at an RSA security conference:

"We saw thousands of hits on our Department of Transportation driver license exam scheduling site coming out of Russia, the same thing over and over, scheduling driver license exams. It was encrypted traffic, and we were trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Were they trying to test our systems? What exactly were they up to? The answer was, we really didn't know."

But there's one thing that we do know - Bob Maley is no longer the chief information security officer of Pennsylvania. The reason for his dismissal was not disclosed, but presumably it was related to his public disclosure of the security breach.

Many people are professionals in one field or another, and while the have an obligation to their employer, they also have an obligation to their profession. And as Merritt Maxim notes, Maley's disclosure was consistent with his obligations to the security profession:

While Maley's disclosure of a potential breach and vulnerability caused concerns in some circles, public disclosure of vulnerabilities is a central principle behind the design and development of secure systems. And it is an ongoing challenge in infosec to weigh the risk/reward of disclosing a yet-to-be fixed vulnerability. Yes, it might invite more attacks, but it also opens the vulnerability to a global knowledge base of seasoned IT security professionals who can a) Offer input on how to address the vulnerability and b) Verify that their systems are not susceptible to this same vulnerability. There is a reason why cryptographic standards like AES were subjected to a rigorous public review process; such public vetting only helps improve the underlying security.

I hope that organizations will continue to come forward to share their collective IT security experiences without fear of retribution. There is lot to be gained from such discussions.

Certainly much to be gained by society as a whole, but what of Maley's organization in particular? Does Maley have an obligation to protect Pennsylvania state systems from attacks? Could Maley have donned a mask and presented himself as "The Unknown CISO," thereby saving Pennsylvania from possible copycat hackers?

And this doesn't just apply to CIO types. Accountants, lawyers, doctors, and many other professionals have obligations that may clash with what their employers want them to do. Heck, now that I'm a card-carrying member of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, I may run into such an issue myself some day.

So how do we resolve such conflicts?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

(empo-tuulwey) Even the best software tool cannot overcome user cluelessness

It's unavoidable - if someone uses a particular tool to do something bad or stupid, the tool gets blamed. For example, let's say someone uses MySpace to stalk someone else. In the eyes of some people, it's MySpace's fault, and banning MySpace will solve the problem.

I thought of this tendency when I saw a particular email that had been sent to a bunch of people. Now this email certainly didn't involve a criminal act, nor did it technically involve spamming per se (although it was apparently sent to a lot of people who may not have opted in to this particular mailing list). But it had its problems nevertheless, which I'll address at the end of the post.

When I first saw the email, I immediately noticed the unusual From address (identifying information x'ed out):

Now it's unusual to see someone trying to sell you something who has "bounce" in his email address. The sender's real email address appeared at the end of the message, but any attempt to directly reply to the original message would presumably result in a bounce.

Curious, I investigated and found this:

What is

The domain is used in conjunction with Direct Mail's email tracking features.

If you have received an email containing a link to the domain, it means that the sender would like to know which email addresses have clicked links in the message. No private or personal data is collected.

If you have received spam purporting to be from the domain, please contact

For more information about Direct Mail, please visit the e3 Software website at or contact us at

So this came from a legitimate mailing program from e3 Software. The program, targeted for Mac users, allowing creation of emails for mailing lists, tracking of those emails, and the ability for people to automatically subscribe to lists. If you're a Mac user and are interested in the software itself, check out their website or their Twitter account, @directmailmac.

Now e3 Software bears no responsibility for the way in which people actually use the software. I culd kreate a maling and mispel allmost evry wurd in the maleing, and it wudnt be e3 Software's falt. So they bear no responsibility for the email that I saw, dated March 16.

This March 16 email, which appears to be targeted for people who are members of a particular trade association, talks about the company's services - services which are of interest to trade association members. The email spends a lot of time talking about a particular Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by a government agency, and saying how the company's product can help the recipient reply to the RFP that was issued by that government agency.

Well, as it turns out, I am very familiar with the RFP in question, because I helped my company respond to this RFP. (The fact that our company responded to this RFP is a matter of public record, so data miners aren't getting any new information here.) Our proposal took a lot of work from a lot of people, but we submitted our response before the proposal due date of March 15.

Did you catch the problem yet? Re-read the preceding two paragraphs and you'll get it. (Hint: the product offered by the emailer is NOT a time machine.)

In my view, this clearly damaged the credibility of the company who authored the email, but it does not affect my view of e3 Software.

And this holds true in other cases. Except for those cases in which the tool is clearly designed to perform illegal activity (Napster 1.0 comes to mind, although some would even argue that example), the tool provider shouldn't be responsible for how a tool is misused.

Should Google be held liable if I use this Blogger blog to conduct a pyramid scam? Obviously Google holds some responsibility if they are made aware of the illegal activity and don't do anything about it, but where is the dividing line?

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ODTUG Kaleidoscope is coming up

With the change in my job duties, I have less involvement in Oracle stuff than I did previously, but I'm still on a number of mailing lists. So I received the most recent mailing from the Oracle Development Tools User Group. Who is ODTUG, you may ask. Go ahead, ask. I'll answer:

ODTUG is an independent, not-for-profit global organization providing education, support, advocacy, and networking opportunities for all developers, using a variety of technologies, who work on Oracle Databases.

ODTUG's 20,000+ members design applications, model data, write code, manage application systems, maintain legacy code, and are key to the middle-tier technology in Oracle Fusion.

ODTUG's annual conference, ODTUG Kaleidoscope, is considered the premier conference for developers in the Oracle community.

The mailing itself concerned ODTUG Kaleidoscope, which will be held in Washington, DC between June 27 and July 1.

The part that caught my eye was the list of Oracle ACE Directors and Oracle ACEs that will be attending the conference, and also presenting at the conference. As I type this, the list of presenters includes a number of ACE-types:

Christopher Barbieri, Ranzal & Associates
Gary Crisci, Morgan Stanley
Lewis Cunningham, TUSC
Lonneke Dikmans, Approach Alliance
Paul Dorsey, Dulcian, Inc.
Steven Feuerstein, Quest Software
Dimitri Gielis, Sumneva
Marco Gralike, AMIS Services BV
Roel Hartman, Logica
Lucas Jellema, AMIS
Matjaz B. Juric, SOA Competency Centre, BPELmentor
Peter Koletzke, Quovera
Anjo Kolk, Miracle Benelux
Jonathan Lewis, JL Computer Consultancy
Raj Mattamal, Niantic Systems, LLC
Tracy McMullen, interRel Consulting
Cary Millsap, Method R Corporation
Karen Morton, Agilex Technologies
Chris Muir, SAGE Computing Services
Mauricio Naranjo, One It World Corp.
Anton Nielsen, C2 Consulting
Hajo Normann, HP Enterprise Services
Mark Rittman, Rittman Mead
Edward Roske, interRel Consulting
Guido Schmutz, Trivadis
Glenn Schwartzberg, interRel Consulting
John Scott, Sumneva
Mark Simpson, Griffiths Waite
Scott Spendolini, Sumneva
Ronald van Luttikhuizen, Approach
Sten Vesterli, Scott/Tiger A/S
Torsten Winterberg, OPITZ CONSULTING GmbH

And there will be other ACEs and ACE Directors at the conference - and those that don't make it may be talking about it in the ODTUG forum on, created by Oracle ACE Director Eddie Awad.

Now I don't know all of the ACEs and ACE Directors that are listed, but the ones that I do know testify to the brainpower that will be at this conference. When you can get acknowledged experts to come to your conference, that will just make the experience more worthwhile for everyone.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

(empo-tuulwey) (empo-tymshft) The intersection of physical and virtual locations

If you are one of the small minority of people who read this blog, you probably exist in two locational spaces - the physical locational space (Ontario California, the Moscone Center, whatever) and the virtual locational space. In my brain, virtual locations are just as real as physical locations. I traveled to Blogger to write this post. It's partially sourced from something that appeared in my Facebook feed (from Louis Gray's FriendFeed account).

But the real money - literally - appears to be coming from, place where the physical and virtual locational spaces intersect. In the course of a post at Stardust Global Ventures, Ken Camp talked about the intersection of the two. He started with a swipe at Robert Scoble:

We might observe that the greatest use of these tools today so that the Digerati/Twitterati web celebs (@Scobleizer and others in that visibility sphere) share their location so fawning hordes of fans can come touch the robes of the elite. That’s not the only use, but perhaps the biggest and most visible use today. There’s nothing monetizable in those egos, and there is no sustainability.

I'm trying to imagine Robert Scoble in a robe. If he had one, I bet it would be shiny and new.

Of course, what's bad for Robert Scoble is good for Ken Camp. But let's look at what Camp does with the tools:

Sheryl and I use these services extensively to check-in because we’re business and technology leaders in our community, and heavily engaged in the global tech sector. That means friends around the world know when we’ve checked in at Walla Walla Java Hut. For people in our community, they’ll also know that we’re friends of the owners, Brad and Cameo. They know we’re likely to be there chatting for a while and they can stop by to say hi, have coffee, ask a question. In short, we’ve made it easy for colleagues, clients and others to be in touch with us. We use LBS to lower the barrier to access.

No word on what robe Camp wears when the adoring masses approach him to stroke his ego.

But enough of my griping. For Camp, the strength of the tools comes from their ability for people in the virtual world to meetup in the physical world. This, of course, is nothing new - long before Foursquare and Gowalla existed, you had And many years before, around 1990 or so, members of the Grotto BBS and other BBS systems would leave their virtual worlds and rendezvous in the physical world to drink cold brown thingies.

Now the technology has allowed advances in the way this is done. Back in 1990, I would have to get on my computer, find out about the event, leave my computer, go to the event, and then go back home to write about it. Such restrictions no longer exist - with laptops and cellphones, we can continue to communicate while at the event itself. In 2007, I could write a picture blog post from the Thirsty Bear during the Oracle OpenWorld blogger meetup. By 2009, Foursquare (via Twitter and FriendFeed) was the communication method of choice.

Of course, the intersection of the physical and virtual worlds is but the first step - the next step is monetization. For more on that, read the rest of Ken Camp's post.

What does McDonald’s get in return? They sell another cup of coffee and a hot apple pie? Wahoo. Why not do something more? Why not partner with one or more location based services and tie free WiFi to a check-in? Why not work a deal that delivers some demographic metadata that tells me this set of 30 customers comes in every week on Thursday? And given LBS profiles, let me know more about them so I can upsell them on a quarter pounder while I’m at it? Or something more?

Do products have to be right the first time?

In the course of a post that described Google's latest iterations to its Buzz product, L.A. Times blogger Don Reisinger stated the following:

It's commendable that Google is updating its service when it receives user complaints. But all these updates make me wonder if the Web giant is really prepared to run a social network. It seems that the bad press just keeps coming for Buzz.

My first thought was that Reisinger was being a little harsh. After all, it isn't that Buzz has had to make a 180 degree turnaround in the way it works - the changes are, in the overall scheme of things, tweaks rather than major rewrites. And those with long memories will remember that today's social networks - Facebook, MySpace, Twitter - are substantially different than they were when they first started.

But Reisinger's statement does raise the question - how much deviation is best between version 1.0 of a product and version 1.1? And what are the reasons for deviation? I can think of two: (1) the developer wanted to add features to version 1.0, but ran out of time; and (2) the users pointed out things that the developer didn't realize.

Unless I'm missing something, Google Buzz's changes fell into the latter category. And apparently Reisinger believes that Google SHOULD have anticipated the firehose and privacy issues that occurred once Google Buzz went out into the wild.

Or perhaps there's a third explanation: (3) the developer wanted to see if the users would tolerate a particular feature set, or if they would reject it.

Hmm...product vs. users. Louis Gray recently gave a presentation on this very topic. I haven't seen the presentation, but I have seen the pre-presentation synopsis:

As users, we for too long have not had much of a voice in the products we are expected to use. We have been dragged through iteration after iteration of beta software, expected to accept poor user interfaces, lost data, incompatibilities and decisions that have been made that benefit the company rather than ourselves. We have seen violations of privacy, we have seen sites that we like abandoned when founders get bored, or when the acquiring company has no interest in supporting the existing community.

More later as I ruminate on this.

Friday, March 12, 2010

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

One difference between the enterprise and consumer markets

My act of commenting on an Oracle AppsLab post reminded me of an unrelated topic that I wanted to address.

As I previously shared, my corporate phone was recently turned off, which meant that I had to go out and buy my own phone. In the process, I realized some huge differences between enterprise purchases and consumer purchases, even for the same item.

Over the last couple of days, I've received several FREE messages from my phone service provider, telling me of AMAZING FEATURES that I can get if I just sign up RIGHT NOW. For only a few dollars a month, I can play all sorts of games, install all sorts of wonderful apps, and surf the Web to my heart's content.

Funny - I didn't get those messages while I was on my corporate phone.

There's a reason. For the last several years, my phones were bought by Motorola (and no, they didn't buy me Nokia phones), and they also paid the service charges. And when a large company like Motorola deals with the wireless service providers, they get to demand certain restrictions. Like "we don't want you bombarding our employees with special offers from our stores, because we're paying the bill and we're not going to pay for that." So I've been in a protective cocoon for the last few years, spared all of the advertising junk that consumer wireless phone users get every day.

And it's not just phones that have different configurations for enterprise vs. consumer customers. If you go to your local computer store and buy a computer, you'll probably get an operating system that is loaded with trial offers and links and other stuff for Microsoft Office, high-tier Norton/Symantec products, and even the AOL subscription offer. When big companies buy computers for their employees, all of that stuff magically disappears from the distributed computer.

The key word, of course, is "big." Small companies have to buy the same computers that consumers get, and very very rich consumers can probably tell HP or Verizon or whoever exactly how they want their computer or phone to be configured (of course, they'll have to pay the price). If you pay Verizon a million dollars, perhaps they'll consent to remove their app store from your phone.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Yes, we're open, but we don't want you to be

I've never authored a political blog, and I'm not currently authoring a religious blog, but this story was so outstanding that I had to find a way to work a business angle into it.

Through a circuitous route that began with a share by Steven Perez (which also led me to a Philip Coupland comment on a Jonah Goldberg book which cited an H.G. Wells statement, I ended up at this account of a 1923 interview of Adolf Hitler by George Sylvester Viereck. And this statement caught my eye:

"Why," [Viereck] asked Hitler, "do you call yourself a National Socialist, since your party programme is the very antithesis of that commonly accredited to socialism?"

"Socialism," he retorted, putting down his cup of tea, pugnaciously, "is the science of dealing with the common weal. Communism is not Socialism. Marxism is not Socialism. The Marxians have stolen the term and confused its meaning. I shall take Socialism away from the Socialists.

"Socialism is an ancient Aryan, Germanic institution. Our German ancestors held certain lands in common. They cultivated the idea of the common weal. Marxism has no right to disguise itself as socialism. Socialism, unlike Marxism, does not repudiate private property. Unlike Marxism, it involves no negation of personality, and unlike Marxism, it is patriotic.

"We might have called ourselves the Liberal Party. We chose to call ourselves the National Socialists. We are not internationalists. Our socialism is national. We demand the fulfilment of the just claims of the productive classes by the state on the basis of race solidarity. To us state and race are one."

Basically, Hitler was saying that socialists were not socialists - in effect, redefining the common meaning of the term to a meaning that he preferred.

Now I don't want to go down the Godwin's Law route, but basically ANYONE can take a term and cause it to mean something else. And this isn't a Nazi thing, but just a way in which people (including myself) use words ways to put our best foot forward.

And even if you do use particular words with their proper meaning, just the fact that you use the words in question doesn't necessarily mean that the word is in line with your own goals.

Take the phrase "open standards." Obviously people who happen to be on standards committees happen to be huge champions of the term. But at the same time, there are large companies that also champion the term. Take Oracle, for example. Even before Oracle acquired Sun (thus acquiring Java and MySQL), Oracle strongly emphasized that their products conformed to open standards, thus allowing someone to use an Oracle product in concert with a product from another company that conformed to the same standard.

But just because Oracle talks about open standards doesn't necessarily mean that they necessarily want you to use them. Because for every time that Oracle talks about how it can interact with products from other companies, Oracle also makes the point that it has its own products that can do the same thing (or better things) than the competing products. During my years in product management, Oracle representatives, while talking about how Oracle Database could operate with third party application servers, were always trying to get me to adopt the Oracle Application Server...well, at least until they bought WebLogic; then the reps worked on getting me to use WebLogic.

Now another company that has been associated with open standards is Google. Google is not Microsoft, people would commonly say. Yet Google, either via their own development or via Oracle-like acquisitions, is also madly trying to get you to stay within the Google silo and to stay out of the Facebook silo or another silo. Google Buzz is just the latest example of Google's strategy - every hour you spend in Google Buzz is an hour that you're NOT in Facebook or Twitter or whatever.

When I started the Empoprises series of blogs, I purposely chose to use Google technologies for almost everything associated with the blogs. The blogs themselves were hosted on Blogger. Much of the information in the blogs came from items I found in Google Reader. I used Google Analytics to analyze traffic, Google Adsense to provide the ads, FeedBurner for the feeds, and I wrote some super-secret business plan documents in Google Docs. Until my account was permanently disabled, YouTube was part of my strategy. In fact, when I originally started, the major non-Google items in use were Flickr (a Yahoo property) and the independent services Twitter and FriendFeed.

Today, while Google products are still a prominent part of the Empoprises offering, I'm also doing a lot of stuff in the Facebook silo. The originally independent FriendFeed is now part of Facebook, and Facebook itself has become part of my strategy.

There is some interaction between the Google silo, the Facebook silo, and the properties outside of those silos (most notably Twitter). I can tweet something in Twitter, which then sends it to FriendFeed, which then sends it to both Facebook and Google Buzz, plus (if I choose) to Google Reader. Yet there are some critical barriers between the silos:

  • As of today, things that go into Google Buzz usually can't get out. Sure, you can manually link to a Google Buzz item, but (unless I'm missing something) you can't have things flow out of Google Buzz in the same way that they can flow into Google Buzz. Thus, if you want to join in my Google Buzz conversation, you have to go to Google Buzz itself. Oh, wait, there's one other way - via Gmail (another Google service).

  • In addition to Google Buzz, a lot of conversations get trapped in the individual silos. Facebook conversations stay in Facebook. FriendFeed conversations stay in FriendFeed. This sometimes happens even between services in the same silo. When I post a video link to Facebook and then talk about it, the only thing that reaches FriendFeed is the video link itself.

  • In addition, there's the whole matter of WHEN things will transfer from one silo to another. For example, when I post this item, there may be a lag of a few minutes before it goes to FriendFeed. From there, it will go fairly quickly to Twitter and to my main feed in Facebook. However, I also have an Empoprise-BI room in Facebook - and sometimes it will take hours for the post to show up there. In addition, it often takes hours to get over to Google Buzz. The solution, according to the silo vendors, is to do your stuff right in the silo so that there is no lag.
Now I don't blame Google or Facebook for trying to keep us in their individual silos. After all, you make more money if you keep people in your silo than if you send them off to someone else's silo.

But this just illustrates that just because people use a particular word a lot, that doesn't mean that they particularly MEAN it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Vertical sitefinding - can Captain Kirk help John Gaiser? Can John Gaiser help Captain Kirk?

Inasmuch as I have structured the Empoprises series of blogs by various vertical categories (e.g. the Empoprise-BI blog for business), it stands to reason that I have a vested interest in proclaiming that vertical markets are wonderful and the wave of the future. Therefore, because of my biases, I am going to heartily endorse something that I learned about in Urlesque - namely, the sci-fi social network.

This network is not for everyone. Case in point - my character name of "Tony Spock Yoda" on Starfleet Commander is a bit of an inside joke. You see, I work with a guy named Tony who absolutely detests both Star Trek and Star Wars. However, he's softened his stance a bit, probably because Tony's job requires him to work closely with Michael Senna (who, in his spare time, entertains sick kids and others with a working R2D2 - see the blog).

Now I don't know if Michael Senna would enjoy either, because the website prominently features a movie star on its web page - not Harrison Ford, however, but William Shatner. So we're not talking about the Force here, but about planets and captains and things like that.

Oh, and there's a mission of sorts:

Whether you are an actor, writer, animator or gamer has a home for you. Creative Talent, be sure to register on the planet that hosts your specialty, and you may be selected by a Captain to join his/her Starship Crew.

So I started to check some of the captains that had been selected. I first checked the Captain of Aurora:

Captain of Aurora

Member since
Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:45
Last online
123 days ago
Profile views

Hmm...he's dead, Jim.

But then I checked the Captain of Endeavor and got the same message. It appears that the captains are in some kind of suspended animation.

But the site's not completely empty. I found the profile for TrekkieTweet, the self-proclaimed 29th citizen of Zara. TrekkieTweet likes (don't be surprised) William Shatner, but also has an appreciation for Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Caine, and Elvis Presley.

I also found an unhappy customer, johncgaiser .

I can't keep loged in // Can't change my avatar with a standard jpg // What kind of outfit is this place?

But Gaiser apparently was able to link to his YouTube channel, so that once the captains come out of suspended animation, they can see his work. Here's a sample:

If you poke around, you can also find Gaiser's professional website.

It's an interesting story - Gaiser is obviously looking for ways to promote his work, and he thought that Captain Kirk could help him do it. And perhaps there is a project for Gaiser - TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld links to this video, which Schonfeld says needs help desperately.

Unfortunately, the video stars William Shatner, and is a promotional video for itself.

Monday, March 8, 2010

(empo-tuulwey) The last part of the corporate transition - I leave the rotary club

If you saw my post from last Wednesday (the first post about my cubicle move), you may have seen this statement at the end:

There's one more part of the transition that needs to take place, however. I'll probably share that with you when it happens. And when I do, Louis Gray will make a brief appearance. Stay tuned.

And I didn't even tell anyone, even Louis Gray, what I was talking about. But now it can be told.

Motorola, my former employer, just turned off service on my first-generation Motorola Q cell phone.

Inasmuch as I haven't worked for Motorola in almost a year, they certainly had the right to do so. As part of the transition when my division was sold, Motorola continued to pay certain cell phone bills until they could be transitioned to the new company. However, for a variety of reasons, I am not eligible for a corporate cell phone at this time, so this phone was scheduled for shutoff. It took a while to actually get it shut off, but that has now happened.

I originally obtained this cell phone in October 2006 - yes, this was truly a first generation Motorola Q cell phone. At the time, it was a very good solution for corporate productivity, allowing one to synchronize with the corporate e-mail system, view documents, and the like.

Just a month after receiving the phone, I made a valuable contribution to the wider cellphone community. At the time I was writing a technical blog (the Ontario Technoblog), and I wrote a post that solved a problem that I was having with the sound on my Motorola Q phone. The problem:

[T]oday I wanted to listen to the sound from my MIDIs and my mp3, but no sound came out.

I tried playing the video that I made at work, but no sound came out from there, either.

Figuring that this might just be a Windows Media Player problem, I tried turning on the sound in Bubble Breaker. No sound there.

As a fourth test, I retested the alarm feature. Got sounds on the alarm, so it sounded more and more like some type of OS issue.

After finding this tip at, I discovered that this was a hardware setting - namely, the earpiece volume setting on the jog dial button, which I had inadvertently turned down to 0. I turned it back up, and everything was fine. So I wrote the blog post about it, and last I checked, I had received about three dozen "thank you" messages for posting this tip. (There may be more, but posts to that blog are now moderated via an old Ontario Emperor e-mail account, and I may have some moderation requests sitting in that account which I haven't read yet.)

So I continued to use my Motorola Q phone, not only for email, but for a limited amount of web access via services such as Slandr, fftogo, and the mobile version of Foursquare. This admittedly worked, but it wasn't all that sexy. Fast-forward to December 2008, when Daniel Pritchett wrote a guest post on Louis Gray's blog to which I responded:

Daniel, you have some good points, but they don't go far enough.

Don't assume that everyone has an iPhone or equivalent. My mobile surfing is done on a first generation Motorola Q running the equivalent of Internet Explorer 4.

If I were on my phone right now, I wouldn't be able to add a Disqus comment to this post. In fact, I couldn't even surf to FriendFeed and leave a comment there - Benjamin Golub had to create a special site called fftogo to allow me to comment in FriendFeed.

Now some of this will be taken care of in the next couple of years as the older phones break down and are replaced, but it's still something to keep in mind.

Gray, who is well-known as an early adopter, eventually joined in on the conversation:

Ontario, given this is an early adopter blog speaking to a tech-savvy audience, we have high expectations for our readers. That you surf with the equivalent of IE 4 is something I don't want you telling anybody else, as it reflects badly on the site and my fellow writers. Promise you won't reveal this again.

Subsequent to this (although I can't find the link), Gray made a reference to my "8 bit rotary phone."

And he was right. Even in late 2008, Motorola had already come out with a new generation of the Q, and Windows Mobile phones in general were becoming more and more passe. Today, even Motorola puts its emphasis on Android rather than Windows Mobile.

Now, under ordinary circumstances, I would have upgraded my corporate phone in October 2008, and Motorola would have provided me with a new phone. However, as it turns out, October 2008 was the very month that Motorola announced its intent to sell our division. Therefore, all things such as phone upgrades were put on hold, awaiting either government approval of the sale, in which case the new owner would deal with my phone request, or government rejection of the sale, in which case it would be Motorola's concern.

So now it's March 2010, and my corporate Motorola Q phone service was just turned off, effectively serving as the end of my Motorola decade. (I guess that means that I have to put my batwings into a cave or something.) But as I advance to a 2010 phone (note: I won't be getting an iPhone, and probably won't even be getting a top-level smartphone at all), I can certainly look upon the 3 1/2 years of service that I got out of this phone. Most of the photographs that have appeared in my blogs over the last 3 1/2 years were taken on this phone, and all of the Foursquare checkins and fftogo posts were posted from this phone. (Not all of the Slandr posts came from this phone; sometimes I'd use Slandr from my laptop simply for its retweet capability.) Add Google Maps and a few other applications, in addition to the Motorola applications that were on the phone, and it was a pretty useful device.

As of now, it's just an alarm clock. But it's good at that.

Skinput - why does a touchscreen need a screen?

Initially this was classified as "weird news," but by the time I followed the link, it had been reclassified as "innovation." Smart move. The link goes to an MSNBC article about a joint effort by Microsoft (Desny Tan, Dan Morris) and Carnegie Mellon University (Chris Harrison) on a new input device.

[A]n innovation called Skinput suggests the true interface of the future might be us.

Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University unveiled Skinput recently, showing how it can turn your own body into a touchscreen interface.

The idea of sensing your body's movements is nothing new in and of itself, but Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon are now using vibrations to do this. Chris Harrison has posted a video to explain.

The chief examples that are shown in the video involve playing Tetris and controlling an iPod. As far as some in the geek universe are concerned, that is the sum total of the functionality that is needed.

However, Kenn (a commenter at has already recognized a potential problem:

I image people with lot’s of little bruises all up and down their arms from incessant tapping.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Should you use a traditional press release to announce a social media presence?

Adena Schutzberg shared a Friday, March 5 post that talked about the benefits of using a traditional press release to announce a social media presence. Here's part of Schutzberg's post:

If learning via a press release that the organization behind the GIS software you use at work or school is now on Facebook, it might just encourage you to check out Facebook. While press releases may seem "old fashioned" to some, that area of our website continues to be one of the most read parts of Directions Magazine in 2010.

As it turns out, Glenn Letham (coincidentally, also involved in the GIS community) recently stated the exact opposite view:

Recently I’ve received “news releases” from companies because they have started on Twitter and on facebook… I’m sorry, but come on! The fact that your company is using a social tool like facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or ??? is NOT news. The best way to promote the fact that you’re trying to go social is to actually use social outlets to share this information. Penning a proper press release to announce yet another social bookmark is only adding to the noise and in my mind could back-fire.

So is a traditional press release to announce a social media service news, or is it noise? Let's take a look at the first press release that Schutzberg cited in her post:

ASPRS Is Now on Twitter
February 24, 2010

Company: American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
Industry: Non-profit Organizations
Location: Bethesda, MD, United States of America

ASPRS is now on Twitter at Members and those interested in the activities of the Society are invited to follow the account to access the latest information with regard to Society news, conferences, publications and much more. Tweets will include reminders of conference deadlines, notices of upcoming ASPRS webinars and new book releases, and headlines of Society press releases.

ASPRS will use #ASPRS10 as the official hashtag for tweets about the ASPRS Annual Meeting in San Diego in late April, and invites everyone to use it as they tweet about their plans.

“Our use of social media is a natural part of our effort to be more connected with our members and others who follow the geospatial information sciences and technologies,” said ASPRS Executive Director James Plasker.

“Our use of social media is a natural part of our effort to be more connected with our members and others who follow the geospatial information sciences and technologies,” said ASPRS Executive Director James Plasker.

For more information on Twitter, visit

Now in my view, this particular press release is solely of interest to the ASPRS membership. I highly doubt that even the members of the competing NAARSP (North American Association for Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry) would be interested in this. This could have been handled via electronic mail directly to the membership, rather than creating a press release. (By the way, don't look for NAARSP; I just made it up; in reality, the acronym belongs to the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials.)

But if the information had been emailed to the members, it certainly provided beneficial information to them - or at least to the Twitter-using segment of the membership.

But what about the Twitter account itself (@asprsorg), and the advertised hashtag (#ASPRS10)? The Twitter account seems to pump out information a few times a month, but it's interesting to note that @ASPRSorg doesn't follow anybody. Among some Twitter users, a failure to follow anyone is seen as a cardinal sin, indicating that you do not wish to communicate with anyone on Twitter, but just to push information out. Now to be fair, ASPRS never promised that they'd interact with anyone, so I can't really fault them for not doing so.

As for the #ASPRS10 hashtag, I did find one tweet (from @ASPRSorg itself) that used the hashtag. However, the conference won't take place for a while, so presumably use of the hashtag will pick up over the next few weeks.

OK, let's look at the second press release that Schutzberg cited:

Clark Labs Joins Facebook
March 04, 2010

Company: Clark Labs
Location: Worcester, MA, United States of America

Clark Labs is pleased to announce that their official Fan Page is now available on Facebook, the popular social networking site. Facebook helps you stay in touch with friends/colleagues, make new contacts and explore/join communities of shared interests.

The Clark Labs’ page will act as a platform for communication with its fans and provide an online community for networking and discussion. The Facebook page will host news updates, project stories, links to articles, pictures and exclusive content. Fans are encouraged to post comments, upload photos, contribute to discussions, and invite others to join.

The Clark Labs’ Facebook page is accessible for viewing to anyone, but if you wish to receive updates, post or interact with other users, you must have a Facebook account. Facebook is free to join. The Clark Labs’ Facebook page address is:

Recent Facebook content includes discussion boards for REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) and Earth Trends Modeler, conference activities and information on current research.

Clark Labs is based within the world-renowned Graduate School of Geography at Clark University and is the developer of the IDRISI Taiga GIS and Image Processing software and the Land Change Modeler software extension to ArcGIS.

Laurie Canavan (
Phone: 508-793-7526

Now in this particular case, the people who would be interested in thie particular fan page may NOT be reachable via a known email account. Almost by definition, you don't necessarily know who your fans are. So it's essential that you have an avenue to reach your potential fans so that they know of the service you are providing.

Think about it. Somewhere in Gresham, Oregon, there's a couple of dudes who are sitting around saying, "Man, Clark Labs is kewl! How can we communicate with them?"

Now if these dudes happen to subscribe to Directions Magazine or visit the magazine's online site, they will see the press release cited above. This press release is also accessible to the readers of V1 Magazine (see here) and GeoConnexion (see here).

Now I'll admit that I don't know the geo world all that well, but it appears that the press release got to the right people who could take advantage of it. But there's another question - take advantage of what? Can the material in the press release be of benefit to the readers?

If you're a fan of Clark Labs, yes it can. Let's re-examine the second paragraph of the press release:

The Clark Labs’ page will act as a platform for communication with its fans and provide an online community for networking and discussion. The Facebook page will host news updates, project stories, links to articles, pictures and exclusive content. Fans are encouraged to post comments, upload photos, contribute to discussions, and invite others to join.

Hey, that sounds good. Not only can you read information, but you can also discuss the information that's available (via Facebook features such as comments and likes; sound familiar?).

But there's one more test that we need to apply to the press release. Does the social media presence live up to the hype in the press release? The only way to tell is to visit the Facebook page itself. So I went to At the time of my visit, there were 327 fans of the page - and yes, there was interaction:

So let's review the two press releases. The first one (about the ASPRS Twitter account and a conference hashtag) was NOT the best way to reach interested people (an email to the membership would have been better). For those members, however, it did provide beneficial information. While I personally question whether the social media outlet is being used effectively (e.g., @ASPRSorg isn't following anyone), at least the account is pumping out the information that they said they would pump out.

However, the second press release (about the Clark Labs fan page on Facebook) was (in my view) the best way to reach interested people. The press release itself did provide beneficial information. And once you got to the Facebook page, it delivered what it promised, including the ability to interact with all those really cool dudes and dudettes at Clark Labs. Perhaps if I were more involved in geo stuff, I'd be a fan of Clark Labs also - put pictures of the Labs up on my bedroom wall, wait in the rain for hours and hours just to catch a brief glimpse of a Clark Labber - you know, the usual stuff that fans do.

Yes, this post conveniently agrees (and disagrees) with both Adena Schutzberg and Glenn Letham. Sometimes a press release about your social media presence is beneficial, and sometimes it's non-beneficial noise. This just goes to show that there are no hard and fast rules.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to write the press release for the Empoprise-BI Facebook fan page. Maybe the New York Times will carry it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

There's more irony than you can find in a steel mill in the reaction to Al Weisel's death

I have just learned of the death of Al Weisel via a post by Tom Watson. (H/T Sadly, No!.)

Now I never knew Al Weisel, but it turns out that I did. You see, Weisel blogged under the alter ego Jon Swift.

I first heard of Swift several years ago, and this November 2007 post, written back when I was myself blogging under a pseudonym, is somewhat ironic. After noting that Facebook had temporarily removed Jon Swift's Facebook account because Jon Swift wasn't his real name, I proceeded to express my opinion.

Can I let you in on a little secret? "Emperor" is not my real last name, and my parents didn't name me "Ontario" when I was born.

(OK, you can catch your breath now.)

Yet "Ontario Emperor" has been my primary online persona since 1998.

I'm not going to sacrifice nine years of my online identity to meet Facebook's rules - especially if they don't believe in social networking.

Well, less than two years later I did join Facebook, under my real name. So much for my consistency.

But to compound the irony, Tom Watson's post included a link to a Facebook group. But let me back up a bit before talking about the Facebook group.

Al was on the way to his father's funeral in Virginia when he suffered a sudden aortic aneurysm and underwent several surgeries in an attempt to save his life. Sadly, they did not succeed.

The Facebook group appears to have been created before Weisel passed away.

I need to dig back into my old posts and comments - I'm pretty sure that "Swift" and I interacted on at least one occasion.

But let me go to a March 2009 post in Jon Swift's blog, in which he talked about suffering a terrible loss (the death of Chuck Butcher's son). As you scroll down through the March 2009 comments, you find a number of expressions of sadness. The expressions continued for several months, but then all of a sudden this comment appeared:

I don't know how else to tell you all who love this blog. I am Jon Swift's Mom and I guess I'm going to OUT him. He was Al Weisel, my beloved son. Al was on his way to his father's funeral in VA when he suffered 2 aortic aneurysms, a leaky aortic valve and an aortic artery dissection from his heart to his pelvis. He had 3 major surgeries within 24 hours and sometime during those surgeries also suffered a severe stroke. We, his 2 sisters, his brother, his partner and his best friend since he was 9 years old were with him as he took his last breath. We have all lost a shining start who warmed our hearts, tormented us and made us laugh as he giggled at our pulling something over on us. He passed away on February 27, 2010. My beloved child will live on in so many hearts. I miss him more than I can say. If you are on Facebook, go to organizations and join "Friends of Al Weisel, Unite!" It will give you just a taste of how special he was. Farewell, Jon (Al)

Just one more thing (3)...

As you can imagine, moving from one cubicle to another when you've been in the same cubicle for nearly a decade can be an involved undertaking. Granted that it wasn't a long-distance move (I just moved across the hall), but it still provided me with an opportunity to get rid of some stuff.

My cousin and I were discussing this on Facebook, and she briefly noted that "cubicle purging is therapeutic." I'm a bit of a packrat, but I think that I've gotten less packratty over the years as I've moved to a more electronic lifestyle. Now some of the clutter can be found online rather than in the physical world. (No comments on my writing style.)

But I still managed to acquire a lot of stuff over the years, so I've been working on reducing it over the last couple of weeks. Some stuff I threw away, some I gave to our in-house IT organization (for example, they're now the proud owners of an external floppy disk drive with a parallel cable), and some were taken care of via other means. But there were still six items that were left over. As I left the marketing room, I sent an e-mail to the remaining cubicle-dwellers of that room. Here's part of that message:


After several years in a cubicle in the marketing room, I have relocated to the Proposals area. However, my departure can benefit YOU....

[Someone] is unable to offer the items that I am available to offer to you right now, as the result of the cubicle move.

So, WHILE SUPPLIES LAST, feel free to go to my old cubicle and obtain these VALUABLE ITEMS:

(1) One (1) Columbo jacket, as worn at the 2008 Motorola Biometrics Users' Conference. (Sorry, the cigar is no longer available.)

At this part of the message, I inserted the picture that I previously shared in this blog post. (Look at that picture carefully, by the way. I'll explain why in a future post.)

Back to excerpts from my email:

(2) One (1) Escape poster. This poster was originally owned by [a retired employee], who escaped. It was then passed to [another retired employee], who escaped. If you'd like to save this for your retirement, feel free.

I gave away a couple of other Motorola-related items, then got to the final item:

(6) One (1) Compaq NonStop mug. Compaq used to be a computer company who offered "NonStop" equipment, originally based on the Tandem high-availability computer product line....

And if you think those items are old, I had previously gotten rid of items from the last millennium - namely, 15-year old computer software manuals.

When I was talking with my cousin, she noted that she moves cubicles much more frequently than once per decade. Perhaps she's on the right track.

(empo-tymshft) Old-school social networking via cubigeographical proximity

I've previously written about my move from the product management organization of my employer to the proposals organization. At the time, I noted that the transition from product management to proposals took a few weeks, because of some unfinished business (for example, Oracle OpenWorld 2009) that I had to complete.

In reality, the transition didn't complete at 10:00 pm on Thursday, October 22, 2009. In fact, the transition is still in progress. I've had to learn new things and renew old acquaintances.

But this morning, I completed an important part of the transition.

I moved from a cubicle in one room to a cubicle in another room.

Now in my October 22 post, I confined myself to speaking about the effects of the reorganization on me. I still don't want to speak about the reorganization in detail, but suffice it to say that the proposals group ended up getting new members from three other groups in the organization (product management being one of them). So we were scattered in four different locations in the building. I was just across the hall from proposals, but one person was on the other side of the building, and another person was on the other side of the building AND on another floor.

Now I know that this is the age of social media, in which we are "friends" with people from all over the world. But there's something to be said for locational proximity.

At the moment there's a lot of buzz (sorry, couldn't think of a better term) about software that allows you to share your location with others, and detect nearby businesses and people that might be of interest to you. But while that can be valuable, there's nothing like enjoying geographical proximity with a group of people on a long-term basis, day-in and day-out. Of course, this could also turn out to be a very bad thing, but fortunately for me, I like my co-workers.

So now I am in the same room with the other people on the proposals team, which should help us when we happen to be working together on proposals, and will also help us to function better as a group.

So that part of the transition is over.

There's one more part of the transition that needs to take place, however. I'll probably share that with you when it happens. And when I do, Louis Gray will make a brief appearance. Stay tuned.


A little on Locamoda

When I first heard the story about the Foursquare display at Las Vegas' Miracle Mile shops, my first inclination was to scale the display down to the level of a smaller venue.

Presumably, with a little bit of programming, this concept could be scaled down to smaller levels. Imagine if there were a pre-compiled application that could integrated with a small display at, for example, a donut shop that showed the same information (tips and mayors).

If Foursquare doesn't want to provide the app, I'm sure that Gowalla or Yelp would be more than happy to provide apps for their services. Since even small locations are setting up electronic displays these days, it seems like a natural.

Well, it turns out that Locamoda (who provided the Las Vegas display) does not solely work on the huge and gaudy level, as gstellato noted.

LocaModa already provides this. Check out our App Store.

So I went to Locamoda's app store and found a number of applications.

Let's start with their FourSquare app.

Add Check-ins to your Wiffiti screen and encourage patrons to come to your venue and be crowned the Mayor. The FourSquare integration will add your venue to the map and allow other Foursquare users to discover your venue.

And they have a number of other applications that can put content on a screen. The Locamode project is the result of several years of work:

In London, England, 2001, Stephen Randall, was working at Symbian, the global mobile operating system company he helped found. Stephen struggled with one question in those days: Why was the mobile phone having such a major impact on life in Europe and Asia but not in the US, where mobile technology was 4-5 years behind the rest of the world? In Boston, MA, at exactly the same time, Steve An was pondering the same question.

“The Two Steves,” as they became known, met in 2002 through a Symbian-led joint venture. They were excited to discover that they had developed a similar and, at the time, pioneering vision – that the mobile phone will connect to the web and become a universal remote control to help broadcast life. And all screens (TV, Web, Phone, and what would later be dubbed Digital Out of Home) would be connected. They named this vision “The Web Outside”.

They built a prototype that connected websites, mobile phones and venue screens. They placed their first screen in the renowned Someday Café in Somerville. As soon as that screen went up, customers were eager to interact using it to promote local politics, chat and send messages.

The venues liked the fact that their customers were engaged, customers started to write about that experience, and advertisers asked if they could sponsor the experience. Today, LocaModa enables real-time user generated content from all over the world, and brands can sponsor and be part of those experiences as well.

For more information, check the Twitter account @TheWebOutside or LocaModa's Facebook page. Or check out this sample page about Afghanistan:

Last night I was about to create a vanity screen of my own, but I literally ran into a fail whale. As Devo said, some things never change.