Thursday, March 31, 2005

Gelf

Surprised I haven't bumped into this until today. Gelf is a new webzine run by "two and a half guys" -- former WSJ staffer Carl Bialik, former Wired reporter David Goldenberg, and Economist reporter "Dino" Kakaes (the "half guy" -- the Economist still takes a lot of his time). Lots to say about this great new pub, which is pushing the limits of a fun 'zine/group blog, and is already embarking on some unusual journalistic adventures (like their weekly review of media corrections). But don't take it from us -- to learn more, check out the hilarious "mock-FAQ" here. If this takes off, who knows -- maybe Dino will quit his day job.

Gelf on Delio

Three journalists-turned-bloggers are conducting their own investigation into Michelle Delio's work on their webzine, Gelf.

Yahoo 360 Gets Philosophical

I'll be tinkering with Yahoo 360 this weekend -- thanks to an invite from Voce's Mike Manuel, who is involved in the 360 launch -- and will comment on Monday. So far, one thing that has struck me is a note in the set-up process. Next to a check-off box on "gender" -- a required field -- is the following explanation:

Your gender is required to be visible to everyone. Why can't I change this? [URL hidden]

Naturally, we were curious to learn why we couldn't "change this" -- not that the thought has ever crossed our minds, and not that there's anything wrong with that -- but alas there was no answer to this most amazing question.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Michelle Delio

It's taken us a long time to post on this subject. A respected freelance journalist is undergoing a thorough examination of her career. Why? Because two stories that she posted for the MIT Technology Review were corrupted by false testimony provided by an anonymous source. The Review retracted the stories -- the right move -- and an investigation into Delio's oeuvre has ensued.

We've hesitated to write about this because we are a long-time fan of Ms. Delio's work, and because we are most inclined to believe that she is innocent. The media/PR blogger world has been quite silent on this subject, and we think we know why: Ms. Delio's record suggests that this is not Stephen Glass territory, and as media bloggers we must pause before fanning the flames that threaten to consume yet another journalist.

POSTSCRIPT:

Adam Penenberg, a contributor to WiredNews.com and a journalism professor at N.Y.U., will be conducting an investigation into the hundreds of articles that Delio wrote for that publication. Penenberg, you may recall, was the Forbes.com reporter in 1998 who broke the story of Stephen Glass's fabrications in The New Republic.

POST-POSTSCRIPT:

Infoworld has modified its online version of Michelle Delio's cover story this week, noting that "certain quoted material has been removed because its veracity could not be confirmed." The subject of the cover story? Corporate blogging, as noted here. A strange twist of fate: one of the most important stories on corporate blogging -- the new engine of corporate transparency
-- is collateral damage in the war for transparency.

New PR Blogger

Scott Baradell, a principal at The Idea Grove agency in Dallas, has launched a blog called Media Orchard. We dig the design, the content, and the organic metaphor. There's a new gardener in town.

BTW, Scott is a former staff writer for the Dallas Times Herald and the Dallas Observer. Another journalist turned blogger.... We will follow his stuff closely.

Stretching the Boundaries of RSS

eWeek reports that Bloglines -- now an AskJeeves property -- is "offering the ability to track packages shipped through United Parcel Service Inc., FedEx Corp. and the U.S. Postal Service." "RSS is a very powerful technology, and we continue to enjoy the fact that more and more RSS information is available," said Mark Fletcher, general manager of Bloglines.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The "Hard" Launch: eastwikkers

Actually, it wasn't so hard after all.... Today my agency formally launched eastwikkers, our new service for businesses that are looking for ways to integrate new-media tools into their marketing programs. As many of you know, we've been rolling this out slowly -- a "soft launch," if you will -- with several client projects, and with posts on this site. Already three Eastwick clients are collaborating on the eastwiki, our agency-branded wiki powered by Socialtext. We'll soon be sharing success stories, as we continue to build out the service.

Here's what we said in our announcement this morning. The theme is collaboration.

At the core of eastwikkers is the eastwiki, an agency branded collaborative workspace powered by software vendor Socialtext. Several Eastwick clients have already begun using the eastwiki to manage internal and external communications with new media tools such as blogs, wikis, and RSS. The eastwiki was built with the knowledge that the new media sphere is increasingly promoting a more collaborative approach to corporate communications.

Eastwick is assisting clients in using the wiki to build private and public workspaces including private rooms for reporters, client collaboration sites, and topic-focused public wikis for corporate and non-profit projects. In addition to the agency wiki, the new service will provide consultation in new media training, best practices in corporate blogging, and collaboration with globally distributed marketing teams.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Hack/Flaks -- Part II

Thanks to Dan Gilmor for posting this one. Florida's Herald Tribune reports that Mike Vasilinda, a long-time Florida freelance reporter, has been earning PR fees from some of the organizations he routinely covers.

His Tallahassee company, Mike Vasilinda Productions Inc., has earned more than $100,000 over the past four years through contracts with Gov. Jeb Bush's office, the Secretary of State, the Department of Education and other government entities that are routinely part of Vasilinda's stories.

Infoworld: Blogging for Business

"Blogging for Business" is this week's cover story in Infoworld, one of a handful of trade publications that have been tracking the emergence of blogs and wikis in the enterprise. In a related feature, Eastwick partner Socialtext gets praise for a hosted solution that "combines the simplicity of wikis with blogging and collaboration functions that help avoid e-mail overload."

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Many Advertisers Still Leery of Blogs

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal says that blog ads are on the rise, yet many advertisers are still uncomfortable about a medium they can't control.

[M]any companies are wary of putting their brand on such a new and unpredictable medium. Most blogs are written by a lone author. They are typically unedited and include spirited responses from readers who can post comments at will. Some marketers fear blogs will criticize their products or ad campaigns. And, like all new blog readers, companies are just learning how to track what's being said on blogs and which ones might make a good fit for their ads.

RSS Use on the Rise

...says Slashdot, as reported in Search Engine Journal.

Slashdot commissioned a survey of readers of its RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) feed to determine just how its readers are using RSS technology now and detect future plans and platforms for accessing content via RSS. While most of the tech blog’s readers acquire their Slashdot RSS feed from the site directly, some RSS users rely on RSS aggregators, such as Yahoo! or Feedster, to streamline content and deliver only the information they request right to their desktop from a range of sources.

J-School Protests Covert Propaganda

The Journalism Faculty at Boston Unversity has taken a unanimous stand against "the practice of broadcasting government video news releases (VNRs) where the source of the material is not identified," writes Jay Rosen. Bob Zelnick, chairman of the school and former ABC News correspondent, circulated the resolution to other J-Schools. Here's the complete text:

Unanimous Resolution
of the Boston University Journalism Faculty
Condemning Fraudulent Use of
Video News Releases
March 22, 2005

RESOLVED, THAT...
As educators of the next generation of American journalists, we the journalism faculty at the College of Communication, Boston University:

Recognize the need of citizens in a democracy for information that is accurate, unbiased and independently gathered and presented;

Recognize the vital need of government to communicate with its citizens and the useful role print and video news releases (VNRs) can play in this process;

Recognize the obligation of news organizations to identify clearly the origin of any editorial material provided by government, business, interest group or any source other than their own news gathering or that of affiliated news organizations;

Recognize the obligation of government to avoid using VNRs for purposes of political advocacy or propaganda;

Recognize the need to avoid presenting the material in a way that invites public confusion as to its source;

Note the President’s recent statement that acknowledges the need to maintain a clear line of distinction between journalists and members of the government or Administration;

Condemn the use of “phony” reporters hired by the government to perform in VNRs where their affiliation with government is unstated, and urge the Administration to translate the President’s words into action by ceasing this practice at once;

Urge the Administration to identify and cease other practices with respect to VNRs that run a substantial risk of misleading the public;

Condemn the deliberate use by television news outlets of material knowingly obtained from the Administration without clear identification of its origin, and urge all members of the media to cease this deceptive practice at once.

We invite colleagues at other journalism schools and departments to endorse the Boston University Resolution.

Unanimous Resolution
of the Boston University Journalism Faculty
Condemning Fraudulent Use of Video News Releases
March 22, 2005

Department Chairman Bob Zelnick's Letter to Colleagues:

Attached is a resolution adopted yesterday by the faculty of the Boston University Department of Journalism condemning the practice of broadcasting government video news releases (VNRs) where the source of the material is not identified.

We find particularly objectionable the use of "phony reporters" hired by one agency or another who deliver complete reports, including sign offs, without ever mentioning their affiliation and, in some cases misrepresenting it.

We also condemn those stations that knowingly run news segments, written, shot and recorded by the government with no identification as to the source of the material. We regard these practices as unethical journalism that run a high risk of confusing or even deceiving the public.

During the civil rights era, and again during the Vietnam war, we found that simple appeals to decency and respect for the rule of law presented by academicians often carried great moral and political impact. We believe the same may be true with respect to this situation which strikes at the core of journalistic integrity.

Accordingly we invite your distinguished faculty to join us in protesting the subversion of journalistic values both by the Government and those media collaborators who seek competitive advantage at the expense of fundamental public integrity.

Please let me know how your faculty responds to this invitation. It is my judgment that by acting in concert, we can achieve significant results.

Yours truly,

Bob Zelnick
Chairman Journalism Department
College of Communication
Boston University

Blogger Burnout and the "Pancake People"

An occupational hazard, notes Steve Rubel. And in a recent wiki discussion, I worried about the pressure many bloggers feel to "report on every relevant thing" that comes across our screens. In that same discussion, ProfNet's Dan Forbush recalled theater artist Richard Foreman's observation that "we're all becoming 'pancake people' -- 'spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button'." A gruesome warning that perhaps we should slow down, focus, relax.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Yahoo in the Commons

This is one of the latest innovations from Yahoo -- a search service for content protected by a Creative Commons license. Creative Commons provides an alternative, Internet-friendly model for copyright based on the concept of "some rights reserved" rather than "all rights reserved. " The model has been gaining acceptance in some circles, partly as a result of the influence of founder Lawrence Lessig, a prominent Stanford law professor.

In the coming months, we expect to see more examples of specialized filters. It's one way -- among many -- that Internet vendors are learning to make the Web a smaller, more manageable place.

Jupiter Research Up For Sale ...

... writes Tom Foremski.

Brian Kardon, chief strategist and marketing officer at Forrester would not say if Forrester is taking part in the bidding and he said he did not know who was interested in Jupiter. He said Forrester had more than $130m in cash and if it were to make an acquisition it would use cash.

The sale of Jupiter would further consolidate the market research analyst community, which is down to a handful of companies dominated by Gartner, the largest.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Kindness of Strangers

A story in the New York Times tomorrow looks at one of the most interesting phenomena in the free VOIP movement: the preponderance of calls from strangers. And the funny thing is -- unlike unsolicited calls on land lines -- calls from strangers on services like Skype are often welcome.

"There's something confessional about this space," Mr. Barlow said about Skype. He was in Madrid for a conference, and I was in New York. "It's like a long over-the-ocean flight where the other guy starts telling you stuff that you're astonished to hear and you start talking about stuff you're astonished to say. The combination of anonymity and intimacy creates a special kind of environment."

Googles Bows to AFP

Slashdot reports that Google has begun removing AFP copyrighted content, as a result of AFP's recent action against Google. Interesting -- and swift -- outcome to a dispute we thought would escalate. One poster on Slashdot observed: "Good move Google but what happens if every news organization sues or threatens to sue? Where shall we get our news from?"

Zooming In on Your Blego

Another blego-casting tool ... this one called ZoomInfo. On the face of it, it's a bit more sophisticated than Preople, and it performs a different function: it crawls the Web and writes profiles on the fly. Alas, it's only as good as the information that's out there. An old bio might get favored if it has a high enough page rank. But here's the really cool thing: you can make corrections.

Pol Blogs

The Christian Science Monitor reports how a growing number of politicians are using blogs as "cyberspace soap boxes." What began in the world of corporate marketing is now happening in politics --blogs dedicated to "unfiltered" talks with their constituents. [BTW, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown groks TypePad.]

[Politicians] are beginning to see blogs are more than forums for snoops. To some, they are the ultimate cyberspace soapbox. United States Rep. Ray Cox of Minnesota was the first major politician to start a blog, according to the Pew Project, and the prime minister of Japan has one. "It enriches the conversation and provides a forum for an exchange of ideas that - for a public official - is very useful," says Oakland's Mayor Brown.

Bottoms Up

Nice post from Steve Rubel on two approaches to building a corporate blog: top down, or bottom up. He praises work from the best of both worlds.

Bite Marks

Bite PR has joined the PR blogging community, and they are marking their entrance with a group blog. Nice approach. Collaborative media rules.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

New Citizen Journalism Venture

It's called NowPublic, a site that enables anyone "to assign" a story to participating photographers and videographers. Sounds like a boon to art-constrained news organizations. Here's how it works:

First, a member logs in and opens an assignment. Once the assignment is opened, it appears on the homepage of all members (provided they are logged in) in the area. Once they have filed a photograph, video or MP3, then the assignment becomes a news story and appears in the developing news section and within the appropriate channels.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Blog Heaven?

MIT's Technology Review ran a great article about the blogging culture inside Sun Microsystems. A lot can be learned from this most visible of corporate experiments. But are most companies ready to follow Sun's lead?

Companies with top-down management cultures and controls on the flow of information probably aren’t ready for the era of employee blogging. Nor is their reluctance likely to hurt them, if they have a locked-in base of customers; don’t expect to see employees at Lockheed-Martin blogging about their progress on the latest stealth technology, for example. But consumer-oriented companies that abjure the blogosphere are missing out on opportunities to generate buzz, monitor customer concerns, and—perhaps most importantly—show their human side. As [COO Jonathan] Schwartz puts it, "Any company that feels threatened by blogs probably feels threatened by the Internet."

Wikis Mean Business

Eastwick partner Socialtext is at PCForum today, where for the third consecutive year it is providing a wiki-based event space for attendees. Earlier in the day, the company relaunched its product line to better serve its enterprise customer base. But for the unitiated, we recommend a visit to this site, which provides a Wiki "101" crash course.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

IAC to Acquire Ask Jeeves

It's already a busy week for acquisitions in the search market -- and it's only Sunday. IAC/InterActiveCorp, the Barry Diller conglomerate, is close to purchasing the search company for $1.9 billion. It's an interesting exit for a company that has been outmatched by the online advertising clout of Google and Yahoo. Will IAC give the search giants a run for their money? With Diller at the helm of IAC, and Terry Semel at Yahoo, this is shaping up to be a Hollywood showdown.

Yahoo Gets Flickr

It's the latest acquisition for a company that's been steadily growing a long tail of Internet content. And it was the talk of the town in Scottsdale today, day one of PC Forum 2005.

The On-Demand Generation

See Christine Rosen's essay in the New York Times Magazine about the perils of "ego casting" technologies like the cellphone and the DVR. (While we're on the subject, let's add a few new-media tools to the mix.)

Is the on-demand economy wreaking havoc on existing and important social norms? Is there anything we can do to reverse the trend?

The near future promises even more of these ego-casting technologies, which offer us greater control and encourage the individualized pursuit of personal taste. Soon we'll carry cellphones that double as credit cards, toll passes, televisions and personal video cameras. At home, we'll merge the functions of these many technologies into a single streamlined machine that will respond to the sound of our voice, like the multimodal browser being developed by I.B.M. and Opera. This expansion of choice and control will foster the already prevalent expectation that we can and should be able to have anything we want on demand.

This is not a world without costs. Having our every whim satisfied at the touch of a button might encourage a childish expectation of instant gratification and could breed intolerance for the kinds of music, film and literature that require patience to enjoy fully. As we use these technologies to increase the pace and quantity of our experiences, we might find that the quality of our pursuits declines. Nevertheless, whatever ambivalence we might feel toward these technologies, we end up buying and using them anyway, not only because they make life more convenient but also because everyone else uses them and so we must as well. The traveling businessman without a cellphone will not have a business for long.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Folksonomy

See Matt Hick's recent article on tagging in eWeek. He provides a clear summary on a new approach for helping people find and organize related content across different services on the Web. And he reports on one of the newest terms to emerge in the hyper-linguistic blogosphere:

Even the new term "Folksonomy" has emerged to describe the potential for user-defined tags to organically develop structure out of what might appear to be chaotic collections of information.

Attack on SEO -- Clarified

Tom Foremski recently posted tough words about SEO, and yesterday he posted a clarification. Worth reading in its entirety, but here's the punchline:

A message for web site owners: Web sites should be optimized for the user not for a searchbot. Invest in making your web site more relevant to its intended users/customers. After all, your goal is to boost revenues and that is done by creating relevant and compelling web sites for customers.

In this emerging Internet 2.0 world transparency is what is valued. Talk the talk and walk the walk and you will be rewarded.

If you do that, the googlebot will award you with a better ranking, but more importantly, your customers will become your evangelists. Value is always recognized and shared on the Internet.

Goals for the Blogosphere

See The Nation's recent excerpt from the January conference on blogging at Harvard University. Dave Winer's eloquent talk about the journalists-versus-bloggers debate appeals to a common cause:

I think I can speak for most, if not all, of the bloggers in the room when I say that we have never woken up thinking about how we can get rid of professional journalists. If anything, we have worked hard to bring them in.

If you want to understand the blogger mentality, think of us as evangelists. We're zealots. We want to bring you in. We want you to use our tools. We want you to learn what we have learned and then make the world a better place. We are the idealists. We are into, you know, truth and justice and so forth. We have a passion for news, and maybe that can act as a reminder to the professionals that somewhere deep inside of your core is that same passion. That's the thing that unites us. That's the bond that we share.

Rather than looking at it as an adversarial relationship, let's look at the ways we can help each other, because God knows we have much bigger problems to solve. Look really, really seriously at how you can adopt practices of blogging in what you do. For example, providing full transcripts of every interview that you do would be something that a lot of your readers would appreciate.

Who Reads Blogs? "Influentials"

Thanks to Robb Hecht for this post, tagging a recent survey by BlogAds.

Agence France-Presse Sues Google

The international news wire is suing Google for crawling and republishing copyrighted material. This may become one of the more interesting Internet legal battles in 2005, the year of the lawyer.

Has the AFP been wronged, or is it out of step with the rest of the publishing world? Google spokesman Steve Langdon: "We allow publishers to opt out of Google News but most publishers want to be included because they believe it is a benefit to them and to their readers."

Friday, March 18, 2005

Boring Boss Blogs

The Washington Post's Amy Joyce takes boring executive blogs to task. Tip: beware the temptation to edit yourself into mainstream marketing speak -- it totally defeats the purpose.

Although corporate blogging gives many readers what they want from a company -- an avenue to listen to and talk to decision makers -- it also loses that edgy, voyeuristic feel of personal blogs about bad bosses, annoying roommates and flings. As much as personal bloggers blithely ignore the conventional boundaries of etiquette, corporate bloggers edit themselves to avoid disclosing a company secret or representing an organization in a way not intended by the marketing department.

Sun Pod

CNET reports that Sun's Jonathan Schwartz will soon be podcasting. But will his voice equal the bite of his written word?

A Tool to Soothe -- or Irritate -- the Blego

Hilarious post today by Steve Rubel, about a new Web tool called Preople. It ranks the popularity of your name -- not neccessarily your identity -- on the Web according to some mysterious set of calculations. Rubel slyly taunts Neville Hobson, who "lost" in a Preople comparison of these two uber PR bloggers (Rubel = 89,200; Hobson = 19,600). Alas, "Giovanni Rodriguez" ranked only 8,340, then shot down to 3,660, presumably after Preople sorted me from the other "Giovanni Rodriguez's" on the Web ( there are many, including a popular radio talk show host, a wayward youth in Miami, and a defendant in a well-documented civil lawsuit).

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Meeting the Promise of the Collaborative Web

At a Thursday conference in Finland, Web progenitor Tim Berners-Lee bemoaned the fact that his original vision for the Web -- a "resource for collaboration" -- has not yet been realized. But he had enthusiastic words for wikis. "Wikis in general are great examples of how people want to be creative and not just suck in information."

"Inside the Blogs"

CBS Marketwatch writer Jon Friedman thinks Inside the Blogs (a daily CNN segment) is this season's best "reality show." He also weighs in on one of the year's biggest debates: are bloggers journalists?

The show -- to my eyes - merely contains equal parts bloggers' opinions and unwitting entertainment. But it's significant that CNN is dedicating time everyday to the blogs.

Remember, the hottest debate in the media today centers on whether the bloggers "real" journalists or simply pajama-clad shut-ins who weigh in on the issues of the day?

Evidently, CNN is happy to make a bet that, indeed, they are journalists.

Will Someone Donate a Wiki to These Folks?

The Thomas Nelson publishing house is looking for help in drafting its corporate blogging policy, writes Steve Rubel. Steve suggests that "someone should throw this up on a wiki for editing to see what happens." No need for a Creative Commons license for this one.

Podcasting Kit

Thanks to Robert Scoble for posting about this. Carl Franklin at Pwop Productions has put together a podcasting kit with "high-quality gear that is also compact and affordable." For less than $400 you can open your own Internet-based, time-shifted radio station.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Yahoo 360

Can Yahoo harness the power of its 165 million registered users to do what no company has done before -- successfully bridge the blogging market with the world of social networking? The Internet giant vows to do just that, starting March 29, with a service called Yahoo 360. One thing that might make this work: the deep wells of subject-specific content that Yahoo has aggregrated through the years. Content can help to organize communities, and blogs -- especially group blogs -- can create an ever-expanding landscape for these communities. And don't forget the business model -- more landscape means more real estate (advertising).

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

User-Focused Biz Tech

See Rob Hof's post today on the BusinessWeek Tech Beat blog. He talks about "creating software without software," a not-so-far-out concept that companies like Salesforce.com are advancing. But this is part of an even larger trend that's pushing software vendors to rethink whom they are designing for, whom they are selling to, and what business they are in (software company? Web-based service). One thing's for sure: software companies see bigger opportunities for businesses that are modeled around "use."

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Yin and Yang of New Media

Newsweek's Steven Levy asks why "is the blogosphere dominated by white males?" Saith thegoodseed: blogging is more yang, and wikking is more yin. And yes, we can all get along.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Whom Do We Blame for Manufactured News?

Just as VNRs are falling out of favor in the corporate PR world, the federal government is successfully using the format to promote its views, says The New York Times. It's an approach that's strikingly discordant with the new-media ethos -- which insists on transparency -- but for now it appears to be working. Prediction: bloggers will direct most of their ire at offending broadcast news outlets, rather than the government or the PR industry. The media world -- old and new -- increasingly is going after its own.

The practice of packaging VNRs as "news" is not new. What is new is that it is getting full treatment, in a 4,500-word story on page one of a national newspaper, and everyone who profits -- the media, the PR industry, and the government -- is being held accountable:

This winter, Washington has been roiled by revelations that a handful of columnists wrote in support of administration policies without disclosing they had accepted payments from the government. But the administration's efforts to generate positive news coverage have been considerably more pervasive than previously known. At the same time, records and interviews suggest widespread complicity or negligence by television stations, given industry ethics standards that discourage the broadcast of prepackaged news segments from any outside group without revealing the source.

***

An examination of government-produced news reports offers a look inside a world where the traditional lines between public relations and journalism have become tangled, where local anchors introduce prepackaged segments with "suggested" lead-ins written by public relations experts. It is a world where government-produced reports disappear into a maze of satellite transmissions, Web portals, syndicated news programs and network feeds, only to emerge cleansed on the other side as "independent" journalism.

It is also a world where all participants benefit.

Local affiliates are spared the expense of digging up original material. Public relations firms secure government contracts worth millions of dollars. The major networks, which help distribute the releases, collect fees from the government agencies that produce segments and the affiliates that show them. The administration, meanwhile, gets out an unfiltered message, delivered in the guise of traditional reporting.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Scholarly Tags

And speaking of lawyers, here's a tool tip for that crowd. David Weinberger posts about CitULike, a new tagging tool for scholars and other cite-happy writers.

It saves citation details and exports them in a couple of standard formats. It aggregates journal articles for your posting pleasure. It encourages long-ish descriptions and lets you assign stars.

Lawyers Read Blogs

Thanks to Media Culpa for this one. No big surprise here. And did we not say it's the year of the lawyer? Better believe it is.

Gilbane Report: Blogs and Wikis Will Fuse

See Gilbane's excellent monograph on new media for corporate environments. It clearly articulates our position on blogs and wikis -- at some point, the functionalities will need to come together. Lots of innovation to come as businesses learn not only to publish but to collaborate.

As requirements from companies become more complex, for example as the size of the company grows, or in highly competitive or heavily regulated industries, the requirements placed on the systems also grow. The trend in commercial products is towards combined systems that have features from both blogging systems and wikis as well as full audit trails and version control. What is noteworthy about these systems is that they are using the functionality developed for personal online diaries and turning them into systems for information sharing where the individual voice and personality is less important than the information that is being imparted. This is where blogs shift focus from the sometimes hubristic to the collaborative, from the individual to the group. And thus many other types of systems that work to support collaborative efforts are looking to add blogging or wiki-like capabilities, forming hybrid systems. I foresee this trend continuing, and that just as content management systems now are expected to provide ways to take advantage of XML documents, so will enterprise systems be expected to provide blog-like capabilities and/or RSS feeds.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Ingenious Use of the iPod Shuffle

Regret not seeing this Wired article when it was published, but thanks to David Pogue for posting this yesterday. A Long Island library is loaning out iPod Shuffles, preloaded with audio books. Saves money for the library, and it's a cool use of a product that many have been doubting. The cheap-but-stylish container may find even better uses.

AMR: Standards for Corporate Blogging

In a column for CRM Buyer, AMR's Louis Columbus advocates standards in corporate blogging that follow best practices in marketing:

For any company looking to create direct, honest and open communications with their customers, blogs are a great tool, but the fact remains that they must be considered a marketing communications vehicle, not an electronic printing press. Publicly held corporations must put standards into place to ensure communication on blogs is compliant with Sarbanes-Oxley legislation and the many Securities and Exchange Commission rules about forward-looking statements.

Meta on Corporate Blogging Policies

Thanks to ZDNet for this post, quoting from a recent Meta Client Advisor:

Organizations have long had formal policies addressing discussion by employees with media outlets, postings within public forums (e.g., bulletin boards, Usenet, Web sites), and participation within professional associations. As technologies emerge that enable users to externally share information, enterprises must ensure processes exist to re-assess and update these policies, as well as inform users of revised practices. Newer tools such as blogs, wikis, and social networking services should be included in updated guidelines, and users should expect disciplinary action when employees personal blogs are interpreted by management as a policy breach.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Wikis for the Classroom

From the Washington Post:

Sometimes wikis don't click. But at their best, wikis are provocative, inspiring, funny and addictive. Some course sites read like journals, some like debates and some shimmy in and out of topics with music, photos and video pulling readers along. One of Phillipson's students drew a picture of a poem; another made a movie. Wikis can encourage creativity, remove the limits on class time, give professors a better sense of student understanding and interest and keep students writing, thinking and questioning.

Seth Godin's New Book/Blog

Cannot wait for Seth Godin's new book to come out. For now, we have his new blog.

The "Anonymice"

Alice Marshall, scourge of the anonymous poster, mints a new word.

PoweR Girls Bad for Industry Rep?

Thought things couldn't get worse for the PR industry? But the new MTV reality show offends on another level, says the Boston Globe: it stinks. Decide for yourself tonight, when the show premieres.

On one level, it's a chaotic look at the world of PR flacks and how a team of Manhattan chippies gets press for rich customers such as Ja Rule and P. Diddy. And on another level, it's a troubling image makeover for PR princess Lizzie Grubman as well as a repulsive celebration of fame for fame's sake, featuring Paris Hilton as its vapidity divinity. The show, which premieres tonight at 10:30, worships the velvet ropes as if they were the gates to heaven.

Blogs to Consolidate into Groups?

In part II of an article on PR and blogging, Tom Foremski discusses the value of the blogger brand as both reporters and PR bloggers learn build up their credentials. He also sees a trend toward group blogging -- as we've begun predicting here -- as the blogosphere starts to consolidate.

Individual bloggers have to build their media brand, just like the traditional media, and that takes time.

Negative and positive comments made by bloggers carry little weight either way—until a blogger establishes their credentials, their media brand. And that is a long process requiring a lot of diligent writing and reporting.

***
Building a personal blogging brand and cultivating a key readership within such an increasingly noisy media landscape will become increasingly difficult for individuals. We will see consolidation as blogs become group blogs and then become fully-fledged online news magazines.

Cisco Blog -- Government Affairs

Neville Hobson posts on the new Cisco government affairs blog. Worth reading.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Fortune 500 Companies that Blog

How do People Look at Blogs?

From Seth Godin ... excellent stuff.

CNET Misses the Mark?

See Neville Hobson's critique of CNET's recent FAQ on corporate blogging. Neville finds the FAQ superficial, U.S.-centric, and, in some places, just plain wrong. He points readers to The New PR Wiki for better info on this subject.

PR and Control

Tom Foremski has an interesting post about the difficulties PR folks have applying the command-and-control approach in the blogosphere. It is indeed a new world. But many folks in the PR biz have seen this change coming for quite some time, well before new media. Truth is that control never quite worked in the company/reporter relationship. Control -- among other things like, er, obfuscation, hype, deception -- has done a lot to strain relationships between PR reps and journalists. Not that things are so great today, but the blogger class, which claims quite a few folks from both worlds, has done a lot to bridge the gap.

To Wik

Over the next few weeks, we'll be soft-launching a new practice at Eastwick Communications called eastwikkers. After we work out the kinks and knots in the system -- and there are many -- we'll make more of a traditional "public" announcement. But for now, here are the key details.

--eastwikkers is a new practice at Eastwick that provides services and technology to organizations that are looking to integrate new-media tools into their communication programs. First customer: Intellisync (Nasdaq: SYNC).

*technology--the eastwiki, an extensible wiki -- powered by the folks at Socialtext -- that businesses can use to intelligently manage the adoption of new media in their organizations.

*consultation/services
--new media training
--best practices in blogging, security, compliance
--collaborating with global distributed teams

*uses for the eastwiki
--agency wiki
--client wikis
--private rooms for reporters and analysts
--group client collaboration wikis

What do we expect to get from this new venture? Our expectations and desires are many, and we have spoken, written -- and blogged -- on this subject as individuals. Now we'd like to wik. We see that we can accomplish more as a team, and that as wikkers we are better equipped to tap the "wisdom of crowds" for the benefit of our clients and the various communities -- internal and external -- that shape their identity in the marketplace. The spirit of the eastwikkers blog
-- the public face of eastwikkers -- is collaboration, and we invite you to work with us on the blog, and someday on our wiki.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

CNET Blogger FAQ

See CNET's FAQ on do's and don'ts in corporate blogging.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Transparency in Wiki Scholarship

See Danah Boyd's clarification of his known problem with Wikipedia: the lack of known authorship. He writes:

(Note: i have the same problem with encyclopedias and dictionaries too, but i don’t see the Wikipedia arguments as boiled down to paper references vs. digital references.) I want to know that what part of the Wikipedia entry the Jane Austen scholar wrote and what was edited out by others. I want to know that the Jane Austen scholar looked at the entry that a 14 year old wrote and thought it was perfect. I want to know the investment level of the authors. I don’t think i’m alone on this one.

Attack on the House of Research

Andy Lark and David Berlind have posted some of the toughest posts yet on the industry analyst industry. This is a tough one, but few will diasgree about the ethical quandaries that persist, or whether some firms are more trustworthy than others. This market, like PR (my market), advertising, and general marketing, will surely experience reform in the years to come.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Web Gaining Favor For Political News

Also from Nick at AP.

Reliance on the Internet for political news during last year's presidential campaign grew sixfold from 1996, while the influence of newspapers dropped sharply, according to a study issued Sunday.

Businesses Keep Worrying About Worker Blogs

See Nick Jesdanun's article in AP: "Firms Take Action Against Worker Blogs." Not much new here, but Nick is helping to take this story to the mainstream. Excerpt:

"Flight attendant Ellen Simonetti and former Google employee Mark Jen have more in common than their love of blogging: They both got fired over it. Though many companies have Internet guidelines that prohibit visiting porn sites or forwarding racist jokes, few of the policies directly cover blogs, or Web journals, particularly those written outside of work hours.

"Simonetti had posted suggestive photographs of herself in uniform, while Jen speculated online about his employer's finances. In neither case were their bosses happy when they found out.

"'There needs to be a dialogue going on between employers and employees', said Heather Armstrong, a Web designer fired for commenting on her blog about goings on at work. 'There's this power of personal publishing, and there needs to be rules about what you can or cannot say about the workplace'."

New Tag Feature for Serious Bloggers

David Weinberger reports that Technorati will launch a new "tag aggregation" feature this week. Sounds like a nice add-on for serious bloggers -- corporate or independent -- who want to expand their capabilities to search and find related content on the Web. Says David:

When you search on a tag, you’ll be shown a list of “related” tags. The relationships are automatically discerned by the software, analyzing the other tags used by people tagging the same set of pages and photos. Dave Sifry let me play with a beta of it, and the suggested tags were generally quite relevant.

There are two types of relationships the “related” tags help with. First, they suggest slightly divergent topics so you can browse off the path you were heading down. Second, they help get over the problem that people use different words to flag the same ideas; the “related” tags can help you find more sources that are directly on the path you were heading down. So they help with both digression and focus.

Nerd Values

Gotta love today's Q&A in the San Jose Mercury News with Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist. Great comments about citizen journalism (a form of new-media collaboration, a big topic of discussion on these pages) and "nerd values" ("make a comfortable living, then make a difference").

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Rebels and Gardeners

Adam Gopnik's terrific essay on Voltaire in the current issue of The New Yorker reminds me of the parallels between the most enlightened rebels of our time -- the systems thinkers who are using new media to combat the world's injustices -- and the most rebellious voices from the enlightenment. Voltaire's admonishment that "we must cultivate our garden" could be the slogan for the wiki generation, which has, coincidentally, already appropriated the gardening metaphor. Were the Frenchman alive today, he would have a blog, a wiki, and a gardener in his wiki. Saith thegoodseed.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

New New-Media Biz ... in Europe

Elizabeth Albrycht and a few other top PR bloggers have launched a new new-media business in Europe. This is one of the first businesses of its kind across the Atlantic where there appears to be a great deal of interest in corporate blogging, wikis, etc. Here's what Elizabeth had to say yesterday:

Today, Guillaume du Gardier, Neville Hobson, Christophe Ducamp and I launched our new business: Blogging Planet.

As I have delved into blogging, wikis and other new communications tools over the past 20 months or so, I have become ever more intrigued with how they enable a transformational approach to communications. Neville, Guillaume and Christophe all reached the same conclusion from their work as well. It made tremendous sense for us to link up and create a set of offerings for organizations that are seeking to make sense of this new environment, as well as for those early adopters who are seeking to truly push the limits of what is possible.

Blogging Planet will be the brand under which we focus on counseling organizations on new communications strategies and tactics, both in the US and Europe. New Communications Forum remains our events production arm and growing knowledge community. Albrycht McClure & Partners continues as our more traditional public relations agency.

I am tremendously excited about this new endeavor. Please let us know if we can help you! The press release follows below and is available as a PDF download here.