Monday, January 31, 2005

The Latest on BzzAgent

This, from the Boston Herald.

[the] next time somebody you love passes you the Honey Nut Cheerios, beware that you're not getting buzzed.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Ed Cone on Citizen Journalism

See his column today in the Greensboro News Record, looking at ways traditional newsrooms are expanding their reach by tapping the collective strength of citizen journalists. Favorite example: Greensboro.101.com.

This is a nice apololgia for citizen journalism; mainstream audiences will need to get this phenomenon before other newsrooms will be motivated to adapt.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Wikis for Knowledge Management?

This was a thread in several conversations this week at the New Communications Forum. And the notion has come up before. But what's worth discussing is the potential for wikis to alter the landscape in the KM software market. Should that happen, who will reap the benefits? Prediction: we'll see more than just technology companies enter the fray.

Friday, January 28, 2005

"Wikis Pose a Threat to Costly Media Directories"

That's for sure. From Steve Rubel....

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Bastagate!

Can we all just agree to stop "gating" every single scandal? It's beyond silly at this point.

New Communications Forum -- Part II

The first day of the conference was great, with smart sessions on blog writing, pitching blogs, publicizing blogs, crisis communications, online communities, and blogs/wikis for internal communications.

A couple of awards, from thegoodseed:

*Speaker of the day: Neville Hobson (aka NevOn) who led a brilliant workshop on internal communications.

*Quote of the day, from Alice Marshall, on the subject of disclosing client relationships when posting in the blogosphere: "don't just disclose the relationship, brag about it." No better way to represent your client on the ever-watchful, hyper-vigilant online network (psst, BzzAgent -- are you listening?)

Alas, we had to leave one day early, and the conference continues today, closing with a discussion on ethics. But we've sent an emissary to cover the final hours, so stayed tuned (track him down, and see if you can get him to buy you a drink). Congrats to Elizabeth Albrycht, her team, and the speakers for a great first forum. We hope there will be many others.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

New Communications Forum

I'm here this morning at the Silverado (the pity), conversing with expert PR bloggers on corporate blogging and ethics. In fact, ethics will be a key focus at this conference. The Ketchum scandal has roused the network, and the PR folks that seed it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Goin' Up to Napa

Hope I see you there.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Slashdot Does "Transparency"

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Costs of Transparency

This is a question worthy of much discussion: will greater transparency in the media strain the social fabric? The more ugliness our transparent society uncovers, the more we will need to learn to cope. See Andrew Sullivan's review of two new books on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal (see quote below). Brings to mind the most memorable quote from this film. Also brings to mind one of the most popular theories on the causes of depression: the inability of the depressed person to act on his situation.

Prescription: clear thought followed by action.

Andrew Sullivan:

Whatever happened was exposed in a free society; the military itself began the first inquiries. You can now read, in these pages, previously secret memorandums from sources as high as the attorney general all the way down to prisoner testimony to the International Committee of the Red Cross. I confess to finding this transparency both comforting and chilling, like the photographs that kick-started the public's awareness of the affair. Comforting because only a country that is still free would allow such airing of blood-soaked laundry. Chilling because the crimes committed strike so deeply at the core of what a free country is supposed to mean. The scandal of Abu Ghraib is therefore a sign of both freedom's endurance in America and also, in certain dark corners, its demise.

Watching the Washers

Christopher Caldwell of The New York Times Magazine continues to expose cheap PR tricks in the government sector. In "The Triumph of Gesture Politics," he looks at winners and losers in the post-Tsunami PR wars. We recommend a new term for the PR code book: "tsunami-washing": the attempt to gain public approval by making grand-but-empty gestures following a natural disaster.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

More on Ketchum

Jay Rosen chimes in again on the Armstrong Williams/Ketchum scandal, this time with a withering critique of the Ketchum Media Center, where the story apparently is MIA.

Transparency in PR

See Andy Lark's latest post on this subject, a favorite at thegoodseed. Expect more on this subject in 2005, from other voices in PR and the media.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Are Bloggers Journalists?

We addressed this question yesterday, and elsewhere on this blog. See Nick Jesdanun's article today in the Associated Press.

Open Source AR?

Interesting post by Tom Murphy on a model for "open source analyst relations." The quest continues for distributed models for marketing and communications. Our thoughts on that subject here and here.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

2005 -- The Year of the Lawyer

The Year Will Bring a Perfect Storm of Law, Policy and Reform

Years from now, when we look back on 2005, we may remember it more for the disruption it brought – legal, social, and political – than the technological advances that caused that disruption. With the rapid emergence of new media (blogs, wikis, and other tools), marketers are now confronting an unprecedented number of questions about the law, policy and reform. You can almost say it’s a perfect storm. And in the eye of the storm is an unlikely hero – the techno-savvy, policy-making, forward-looking J.D.

More than anyone, the American lawyer will take center stage in 2005, sweating and vetting the biggest questions of the year – and taking and receiving the biggest rewards and punishments. And she will be very adept at dealing with one of the most potent new forces to emerge on the business and political landscapes – the network of bloggers that demonstrated its power in a series of well-documented episodes. Among many other achievements, in 2004 “the network” took down one of the most powerful anchors in television history (Dan Rather); forced a bi-partisan Congressional investigation into the integrity of the 2004 election; and drove a major brand to offer a free exchange for a faulty product in circulation (Kryptonite locks). What cause, business, or product is next? One thing is certain: as the network continues to develop its ability to investigate, assess and adjudicate, the scope of its activities will widen.

What will this mean for marketers? Is there anything we can do to prepare? Will the American penal system contribute fresh ideas to home design in 2005? Read on! These are our top ten predictions for 2005:


10. What is a journalist? This will be one of the biggest questions of 2005, as the lines continue to blur between bloggers and traditional members of the ink-stained class. But don’t expect the answer to come quickly, as businesses have begun suing bloggers for leaking “trade secrets” on their sites, a practice known as scooping in the world of journalism. With big-name analyst firms launching their own publications, expect the debate to get even livelier, for the entertainment and economic benefit of first-amendment lawyers.

9. The new face of “evil.” Microsoft-bashers had less to work with in 2004, and we expect a continuance on the reprieve that Microsoft enjoyed last year. So who, then, do reporters beat up on? Expect them to take a closer look at new market Titans. Questions: Will Google live up to its “don’t be evil” credo, or will Forrester Magazine replace halos with horns on Google co-founders Larry and Sergey? We’re betting – and hoping – that Google keeps the faith.

8. Green marketing won’t wash. 2004 was a banner year for less-than-genuine attempts to market companies around their commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR). But the blogosphere has gotten hip to the game, and has begun sorting the saints from the sinners. Advice to the would-be greenwasher: don’t do it. If your company is truly committed to CSR, the network will know it and reward you. If your company is not, but you say that it is, the network will rally and punish you.

7. Importing goods, but exporting marketing. In The United States of Europe (2004), Washington Post correspondent T.R. Reid described a new economic colossus – the new European Union that already has an economy, and an export trade, superior to the United States. What does this mean for American technology marketers? With a threat equal in size coming from the East, the game of the 90’s may need to operate in reverse. Instead of teaching American companies how to sell abroad, in marketers will teach foreign companies how to sell in America.

6. Entertainment embraces P2P. We’re already seeing signs that the entertainment world – namely music and Hollywood – is growing weary of its litigation-only response to P2P networks. In 2005, expect public-policy lawyers to push aside the litigators as businesses explore ways to leverage the power of distributed networks. Biggest winner in 2005: Stanford Law School’s Lawrence Lessig, one of the architects for new IP economy.

5. The rise of citizen journalism. If 2004 was the year of the blog, 2005 will be the year of citizen journalism, a rather advanced iteration of the blogging phenomenon. Expect at least one major launch of a large-circulation online newspaper led by professional journalists, but staffed largely by grassroots, amateur reporters. The model for this – OhMyNews, the widely popular Korean outlet that was featured in Dan Gillmor’s We The Media, 2004’s best book on new media. But will Dan lead the first U.S. venture? (If he does, that would be a smart guess, not a scoop.)

4. Marketing gets transparent. Don Tapscott, the management consultant, recently sounded the alarm in The Naked Corporation. Message: businesses are hurting themselves by hiding the truth. Just as important, businesses that come clear and clean have a competitive advantage. This year, expect the debate to extend to the world of marketing, now that the network has gotten riled by recent transgressions in stealth promotions (e.g., the controversy surrounding BzzAgent), greenwashing (see prediction 8), and covert pay-for-play PR programs (e.g., the Armstrong Williams scandal). Again, the network will organize, reward and punish.

3. Open-source marketing. As quickly as stealth marketing falls into disrepute, an alternative model will emerge: open-source marketing. A few leaders in word-of-mouth marketing will take their greatest assets – networks of people who are willing to work on behalf of clients for little or no economic gain – but change the game by making the entire process more transparent. The first to experiment with the new model: non-profit causes with national agendas. They will teach businesses how this can be done, successfully and ethically.

2. Redemption for a celebrity prisoner. What would a year dominated by policy and reform be without a few well-known prisoners? In 2004, Eliott Spitzer and his brethren put away quite a lot of talent, and we’re betting that at least one their victims takes a star turn. The good money is on Martha Stewart, whose shrewd decision to serve her time early guarantees she’ll be out for NBC’s Fall lineup, with the help of producer Mark Burnett, creator of “The Apprentice.”

1. A star is scorned. And what would a year dominated by policy and reform be without a fall from grace? For the only thing we like more than creating a hero is taking him or her down a peg, when the opportunity arises. And make no mistake – the network will be watching.

So who will slip – Elliott Spitzer, a star reformer that the U.S. has not seen the likes of since Rudolph Giuliani (then U.S. Attorney) of the 80s? We doubt it. But if he does, we’ll advise him that he has the right to remain silent because the network guarantees that anything he says can and will be used against him.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Second Term

You don't have to be a blue-stater to enjoy JibJab's latest animation. Be sure to pump up the volume.

Are PR Bloggers Soft on Ketchum?

Interesting post from Jay Rosen, who claims PR bloggers have been too quiet on the Armstrong Williams/Ketchum scandal. Man has a point. The facts seem clear -- the Ketchum agency participated in a pay-for-play scheme on behalf of the Department of Education. But how many agencies -- the organizations that hire most PR bloggers -- can feel comfortable lobbing stones at their wayward brethren? John 8:7.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The iPod Shuffle "Blinks"

Bit of a stretch, but check out John Schwartz in The New York Times, comparing the central thoughts in Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink" (see our previous posts on this book, here and here) with the marketing plan for the iPod Shuffle. Have we all grown tired to long so dearly for the automated life?

Social Insecurity

This story is worth tracking, and we'll start our own track here with today's post in the Daily Kos. If there are two issues that will dominate social-and-economic thinking in the next four years, this is one of them (the other = the tax code).

Jail Time for "Peers"?

Will P2P rebels do time in California? Doubt this bill will pass, but it comes from perhaps the toughest state on P2P policy. Plus the entertainment + film world has a friend in Sacramento. Talk about peer pressure.

The Joy of Innovation

Check out Silicon Beat. Bill Joy is joining Kleiner Perkins. Will he keep betting on nano, or is there something new under the Sun?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Blinking Versus the Wisdom of Crowds

Interesting that this debate should emerge in conversation between two of the most original writers at The New Yorker. You can check it out here, courtesy of Slate.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Outing the Stealth Marketers

Thanks to Doc Searls for this post. Don Marti, of Linux Journal, is launching Buzzmole, a service (we presume) dedicated to outing stealth marketers. The network, as predicted, will be kicking into high gear. A summary of our thoughts on this subject ... here.

Did your friend get a little too enthusiastic in recommending that new product? Did you get her to admit that she's working for a "stealth marketing" company?

Are you signed up for a viral marketing campaign?

Reports to
buzzmole@zgp.org (form coming soon)

The Think on Blink

See David Brooks' review of Malcolm Gladwell's new book, "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" (New York Times posts the review -- registration required). Premise of the book is that first impressions are often better than long bouts of thinking. Brooks likes the idea, but longs for more substance than Gladwell's slim tome provides -- a desire that, he admits, runs counter to the spirit of the book. Let's see what the masses blink. Gladwell's last book, "The Tipping Point," is one of today's most influential books on business and marketing.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Blogs for Journalists

See Mike Manuel's thoughtful piece on the need for "a blog written by a communicator for journalists." Seems like a tough climb for the average PR blogger, given the level of trust that typically exists between PR rep and journalist. Some people liken the environment to the American courtroom, with the PR rep playing the role of attorney, the "public" playing the role of opposing counsel, and the journalist playing the role of both judge and jury.

But who doubts that a few PR people have already broken out of the pack, and whose blogs are already seen as a good first stop for color and commentary on a story before it even breaks (but keep in mind that PR bloggers face the same risks as quasi-journalists who have early access on sensitive news). Internal marketing and PR bloggers have an edge, but expect the best of agency reps to further develop their media relationships with highly focused, informative blogs.

Friday, January 14, 2005

BzzAgent Goes Pro Bono

We could have predicted this one. See our rants and raves on the open-source marketing model, here and here. The nation's best known word-of-mouth marketing biz will harness the power of its national network to promote a non-profit organization. Prediction: people in the pro bono network will not be embarrassed to admit they rep for BzzAgent. Good habit to learn for the remainder of the BzzAgent workload.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Is the Party Over?

Newsweek's Howard Fineman writes an obituary for the most storied U.S. political party -- the AMPP: the "American Mainstream Press Party." Is it really that bad, and will something else -- say citizen journalism -- fill the void? Stay tuned -- what's interesting about this latest anti-Big Media rant is that it comes from the hallowed halls of one of Big Media's biggest institutions.

Jay Rosen to Dan Rather: "Get a Blog"

See today's conversation on the CBS debacle on Jay Rosen's Press Think. The big sin is, say critics, is Rather's failure to listen to his audience. Says Gillmor: "I don't think CBS is, today, institutionally capable of truly understanding the value of listening to its audience -- of grasping how much help the audience can be in the journalistic process. The network's offhanded dismissal of the grassroots continues even now. (I know there are individual people at CBS who do get it. But they are not running things.)" Jay Rosen advises Rather: "take the money you spend on the person who is sometimes called your spokeswoman, and hire yourself a skilled blogger, to do a Dan Rather Reports blog. Here you post additional source material, put tapes of your interviews, and also explain yourself, react to crtics and follow up on stories aired by 60 Minutes."

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Do Bloggers Want to Be "Journalists"?

Yes, if that means getting the same protections afforded to traditional members of the ink-stained class.

Apple's lawsuits against site operators who leaked product information into the blogosphere -- and refused to divulge the identity of their sources -- is only the latest development in an ongoing story: how the Internet is upsetting many of the laws, policies and conventions that have served us so well. But it seems to us that bloggers can't it both ways -- to be held to a lesser standard of accountability (as Wonkette protested after bloggers got blamed for getting the 2004 election wrong) yet hide behind protections written for reporters who maintain their reputations by meeting the tougher standard.

Is the current rulebook smart enough to decide these disputes, or do we need to write a new one?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

IBM Patents

IBM announced today that it is donating 500 patents to the open-source community. But some Europeans see this latest move in the battle for open-source mindshare as less than altruistic. The big debate on the continent is whether discard software patents, a decision that could have dire consequences for technology giants such as IBM and Microsoft. "I think IBM is trying to kill two birds with one stone," said Florian Mueller at Munich-based NoSoftwarePatents.com, in an interview with Information Week. "IBM wants to appease the open-source people in the U.S. and simultaneously influence the political debate over patents in Europe."

Haste Makes Waste of CBS Staffers

The CBS Report on the recent "60 Minutes" fiasco has just been released, and you can get it here. Four staffers have been fired, but Rather gets to keep his (new) job. In a "Nightline" interview, Dick Thornburgh, co-author of the report, identified the true villain of the report as "haste."

Monday, January 10, 2005

Open Source PR?

See this excellent post on Media Insider on how virtual teams of PR pros can organize and execute pro bono campaigns. Mary-Jane Atwater provides a case study on the Independent Public Relations Alliance (IPRA), a network of senior PR pros in the DC area that recently banded together to promote awareness of child abuse. Now ... marry this idea with new-media and community technologies (wikis, blogs, and social networking tools) and we may someday have a replicable model for promoting many worthy -- though underfunded -- causes.

Internet Voting? Relax, Says Pew

The big story today in technology was the release of a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Among many interesting tidbits in the report: two-thirds of 1,286 experts believe there will be at least one devastating attack on the "networked information infrastructure or the country's power grid." The study also predicted good and bad news about the Internet's future impact on distance learning (good), government and corporate surveillance (bad), telecommuting (good), and online voting (no worries, for now, because "only 32% agreed with a prediction that online voting would be secure and widespread by 2014").

Friday, January 07, 2005

Boxer Rebellion

After a short Winter hiatus -- and a last-minute pro bono project -- thegoodseed returns to work. Starting this weekend, we're back online with commentary about this week's showdown in Congress regarding the integrity of 2004 Ohio vote. We assisted a group of California civic leaders in urging Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) to support the Congressional Black Caucus's challenge to the Ohio vote. According to the U.S. Code, only one vote from each House is required for a formal Congressional challenge, and Senator Boxer's lone vote from the Senate completed the test. We thank Senator Boxer for her courage, and for shining a bright light on an electoral process that can be much improved for the benefit of all voters, Democrats and Republicans alike.

Here's a transcript of her statement to the Senate:

For most of us in the Senate and the House, we have spent our lives fighting for things we believe in - always fighting to make our nation better.

We have fought for social justice. We have fought for economic justice. We have fought for environmental justice. We have fought for criminal justice.

Now we must add a new fight - the fight for electoral justice.

Every citizen of this country who is registered to vote should be guaranteed that their vote matters, that their vote is counted, and that in the voting booth of their community, their vote has as much weight as the vote of any Senator, any Congressperson, any President, any cabinet member, or any CEO of any Fortune 500 Corporation.I am sure that every one of my colleagues - Democrat, Republican, and Independent - agrees with that statement. That in the voting booth, every one is equal.

So now it seems to me that under the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees the right to vote, we must ask:

Why did voters in Ohio wait hours in the rain to vote?

Why were voters at Kenyan College, for example, made to wait in line until nearly 4 a.m. to vote because there were only two machines for 1300 voters?

Why did poor and predominantly African-American communities have disproportionately long waits?

Why in Franklin County did election officials only use 2,798 machines when they said they needed 5,000?

Why did they hold back 68 machines in warehouses?

Why were 42 of those machines in predominantly African-American districts?

Why did, in Columbus area alone, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 voters leave polling places, out of frustration, without having voted? How many more never bothered to vote after they heard about this?

Why is it when 638 people voted at a precinct in Franklin County, a voting machine awarded 4,258 extra votes to George Bush. Thankfully, they fixed it - but how many other votes did the computers get wrong?

Why did Franklin County officials reduce the number of electronic voting machines in downtown precincts, while adding them in the suburbs? This also led to long lines.In Cleveland, why were there thousands of provisional ballots disqualified after poll workers gave faulty instructions to voters?

Because of this, and voting irregularities in so many other places, I am joining with Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones to cast the light of truth on a flawed system which must be fixed now.

Our democracy is the centerpiece of who we are as a nation. And it is the fondest hope of all Americans that we can help bring democracy to every corner of the world.

As we try to do that, and as we are shedding the blood of our military to this end, we must realize that we lose so much credibility when our own electoral system needs so much improvement.

Yet, in the past four years, this Congress has not done everything it should to give confidence to all of our people their votes matter.

After passing the Help America Vote Act, nothing more was done.A year ago, Senators Graham, Clinton and I introduced legislation that would have required that electronic voting systems provide a paper record to verify a vote. That paper trail would be stored in a secure ballot box and invaluable in case of a recount.

There is no reason why the Senate should not have taken up and passed that bill. At the very least, a hearing should have been held. But it never happened.

Before I close, I want to thank my colleague from the House, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones.Her letter to me asking for my intervention was substantive and compelling. As I wrote to her, I was particularly moved by her point that it is virtually impossible to get official House consideration of the whole issue of election reform, including these irregularities. The Congresswoman has tremendous respect in her state of Ohio, which is at the center of this fight. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones was a judge for 10 years. She was a prosecutor for 8 years. She was inducted into the Women's Hall of Fame in 2002.

I am proud to stand with her in filing this objection.