JCL Blog

Pew Says Tech is less than 2% of Media Coverage

If you are interested in technology media coverage or new media, you should take half an hour and study the report just out from the Pew Research Center.  Here are the main points I took from reading it:

Echo-chamber: Technology coverage in mainstream media is less than 2% of the total.  This just shows how those of us in the industry spend all of our time talking at each other!  Twitter is more reflective of the tech biz with 51% about technology.  So anyone getting their news from Twitter is going to have the bias of a technology insider.  

Microsoft is in the back of the media bus:  Of companies featured in the media it was 15% to Apple, 11% to Google, and Microsoft comes in at 3%.  Jay Rosen and Dave Winer had an interesting take on it on Rebooting the News this week.  They proposed that Google and Apple are fighting on purpose just to suck all of the oxygen away from Microsoft and everyone else.  Whatever the reason, it is apparent to people on the inside and the real world that Microsoft is not making the news these days.

Keep it Simple:  If you want to get into the main stream media, keep your story simple.  The study has a stark example comparing policy coverage on texting while driving to policy coverage on net neutrality.  Texting got 12% and net neutrality got 2%.  If those of us in the industry cannot form a clear description of what net neutrality is:  how is anyone in the real world going to become interested?

No matter your take on the results, we are lucky to have a quality organization like Pew to do a study like this.

My Track

I have been a boater for a long time.  Ever since the advent of navigation software in the early 90s I have been accumulating tracks.  Those dotted lines that follow my boat across the electronic chart.  I am closing in on twenty years of tracks and going back and looking at them would be fun.  I have upgraded and changed platforms to the extent that going back and mining those tracks is probably more work than I will ever do.  Maybe some long dark winter.

Now with GPS in my cars and phone, creating my personal track could be pretty fun.  When i think of the ultimate personal new years day review of the prior year, it would be cool to replay my track for the year on a globe.  I suspect it will be a few years until it is easy enough to do this.  For starters, right now I have no idea how to get my gps data out of my car.

If pressed to guess who will figure this out, I would say it will be Google.  Mash together an android phone and maps and presto.  Zoom right into street view and it would be just like reliving any part of my past.  Cool....  Yikes!  Some of this information could be sensitive.  Do I want to see my personal track badly enough to give that data to Google?

This brings up the best tweet I saw this week:  If you are notpaying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold” I think this is attributed to @lawrencebrown.  It is more accurate to say that your data is being sold. 

As we rush into using these cool new gizmos we are going to have to think more about this stuff.


The Changing Way I Use the Phone

I recently downgraded my cellular plan to less minutes per month.  This is the first time I have done this since I got my first mobile phone in 1989.  I suspect I am not alone.  After all why would Verizon be playing those silly "this message has not been heard; first unheard message..." games with voicemail -- just to boost minutes.  It is only a matter of time before we get the "Telephone is Dead" stories in the press.

Amazingly, I am spending more time on my office phone.  Not only that but the time I am spending on the office phone is of higher value than ever before.  Here is a list of the moving parts impacting all of this.

The Law:  Now that it is illegal to talk on the phone in the car without hands free -- and the quality of the hands free systems still do not make the grade -- I rarely talk on the phone in my car.  I don't have a Bentley and I have never found a hands free system that cancels out road noise.

Email:  Email is that other thing that the press likes to declare dead.  Email has been with us for long enough on smartphones -- that my team get's all of the short answers they need from me by email.  I don't email while driving, but in between meetings I check my email (never voicemail), so if something needs my attention it can usually find me within an hour or two.

Conference Calls:  Most of my phone time is spent on conference calls, and a good deal of those are augmented with shared desktops.  These calls are scheduled in advance by email, and prepared for.  They are much higher value than just plain phone calls.  Even before it was against the law, attending conference calls from the car was bad form.  The background noise, lost connections, and other distractions take away from the value everyone gets from the meeting.  Unless you are sitting in your hotel room with a great signal, attending conference calls on a mobile phone should not be done.  

Voicemail:  We have a new system that delivers my voicemails to my email inbox with a .wav file attached.  I get the caller ID info, so I can tell who called.  Most of the voicemails never get listened to.  The ones from people I know usually say:  "I will send you an email about this".  

The net for me:


  • Mobile data up
  • Mobile voice minutes down
  • Office voice minutes up
  • Voicemail minutes down


Craig Newmark is a Good Guy

The face of Craig Newmark, the founder of Craig's List, is posted on dartboards in many newspaper publishers offices, right next to the down and to the right revenue chart.  Very few newspaper publishers know what to do about the loss of classified advertising revenue.  What they know is that Craig's little company has an up and to the right revenue chart.  Somehow those publishers think that by blowing up Craig their problems will be solved.  

Every unhappy under-performing business needs someone to vilify.  It sure is easier than looking in the mirror to find the problem.

The newspapers efforts to paint Craig Newmark as a pornographer surely emphasize that delusional people have a hard time understanding the extent of their delusion.  We advertise on Craig's list for job postings.  Craig's list is much more effective, and we pay $75 for an add that used to cost us over $600 in the newspaper.  

I know that Craig Newmark is a good person and the service he provides works.  I cannot imagine this ploy accomplishing anything for the newspaper publishers.  If anything it will serve to remind us that it is dangerous to be associated with an industry in decline, particularly one without leadership or good ideas.   

Confidence in Effective Government Regulation

There are too relatvely boring stories in the NY Times today that when taken toghether tell a somewhat interesting tale.

Andrew Pollack's piece titled: Modified Salmon Is Safe, F.D.A. Says and Joe Nocera's take on net neutrality with the title: The Struggle for What We Already Have.

I wonder how many readers really think genetically altered salmion is safe enough to feed their kids.  I guess not many.  The FCC's ability to regulate the internet? -- just as shaky.   And the SEC doesn't do much to build the credibility of federal agencies.

It is a miracle the FAA keeps the planes in the sky.  I suppose the highly visible planes falling from the sky scenario is what makes the price of buying the FAA beyond the reach of the hired guns in Washington.  You can bet they are trying everything they can.

So I for one do not believe that the FDA knows any more about the long term effects of the altered salmon than they do about the long term effects of the growth hormones in our beef.  Best to eat as little of that stuff as possible.

Whether or not the FCC gets some regulations to enforce against Comcast -- I am pretty sure Comcast is going to be managing my network traffic however they want.

Here is another post I did a few weeks ago on net neutrality.


Just a Picture

Once while getting a new Costco card I was joking around with the person taking my picture.  She said: "Stick out your tongue."  I did.  She took the picture. And we both thought we were pretty funny.  I walked back to the backdrop to take another one and she handed me my new card.  For years after that I had to explain to the Costco check out person how I came to have my tongue sticking out on the card.  It kept things pretty light hearted at the check out stand.

Each time I renew my passport I get more and more serious in the picture.  Getting into or out of a country is somewhat more serious than spending money at Costco, and accordingly requires a more serious photo.  I don't want to know how the friendly people from Homeland Security would respond if I was making a face in my passport photo.

Today I was getting a new card at my athletic club and the nice person in charge gave me the choice of a new picture, or to keep the old one.  The old one was pretty old -- I even had hair.  In fact it was one of my better photo ID pictures.  I was tempted, but in the end opted for a new picture of my more mature self and was mature enough to keep my tongue to myself.  

I have a nicely done, PR type head shot on this blog that was taken about five years ago.  I use it for all kinds of professional stuff and it works just fine.  It has about the right amount of hair, I have a blazer on but no tie -- versatile enough for just about any situation.  I use this picture to represent who I am on Linked In and can't think of a reason to change it.

I have monkeyed around on Facebook with a variety of pictures including one with my dog, one as a kid, and right now that funny looking guy from the old Egghead Software logo.  The addition of pictures to facebook, Linked-in, and now built into Outlook 2010, have changed electronic communication from its formerly faceless self.  

If you have not yet upgraded to Outlook 2010 or if you have, but not hooked up the picture thing, you should really think about it.  Having pictures of everyone who is going to be in a meeting -- right there in the invitation -- is a tremendous help to me as I visualize the meeting in advance.  When some people are attending by conference call -- having their picture in front of me helps me put their comments into context.

This seemingly small thing, the addition of a picture to an electronic communication is a significant and game changing thing.  Any picture is a big help to the humanizing of the communication.  Not knowing whether the communication context will be a Costco, a Homeland Security, a Linked-in, or a Facebook, drives most of us to present ourselves on the serious end of the scale.  No matter which picture you choose, it is a good idea to take a few minutes and think it through.  The face you present in electronic communications makes a big difference -- clearly not just a picture.

I am looking forward to the day when we make the leap to easily deployed live pictures -- aka video conferencing that works.  That will be a game changer too.


Expectations and the Uncanny Valley

I find myself lucky to be exposed to the most interesting issues as I work on our RetroDex event.  In particular the intersection of virtual worlds and the real world.  Most recently I came across the subject of the Uncanny Valley on one of my favorite radio shows (podcasts), NPR's On the Media.

The Uncanny Valley is the name animators give to the negative correlation between audience acceptance of their craft as it approaches perfection.  In other words, as viewers we much prefer an animated being that looks animated enough to clearly not be human.  For the last decade or so, technology has enabled the creators of animated beings to enter the Uncanny Valley and render an image so lifelike that it disturbs the audience.  As a result, ever since Dreamworks created the first Shrek movie in 2001, technology ceased to be the limitation and the artists had to intentionally back off on the realism of their creations.

What a wild idea.  We like the way animations approximate the human form and are constantly asking for better and better animations.  But at some point the image generated leaves the realm of great animation and enters the realm of a human with flaws -- and we get nauseous.

There are many ways this translates into business.  One is linked to the common quip "Even the worst day [insert favorite activity here] is better than the best day at the office."  We work hard at CSG to create a great place to work and are making pretty good progress.  However, if we slip into a warped expectations zone like the uncanny valley we will never succeed.  After all work is work and not soaking up the sun on the beach.


Real Meets Virtual

Yesterday we announced Retrodex, a live event in Seattle to compliment Comdex Virtual in November.  This real world and virtual world story gets more interesting every day and I find new examples regularly.  At what point does the virtual reality GPS display in the car get to be more useful than looking out the real window?  There have been bad weather days on my boat where GPS and Radar became the primary inputs of reality, and pilots have been flying IFR since the 50s.

National Geographic has a short piece running this month on augmented reality - which demonstrates the possibilities of a converged real and virtual experience.  Anyone with a camera equipped Andriod phone can put this type of capability today with Google Goggles.  I for one am looking forward to the day my phone whispers peoples names in my ear as they approach.  

Over the past two years we have virtualized all of our servers at CSG -- cutting the number of physical machines to a tenth of the prior number while increasing availability, uptime, and redundancy.  This very real example of the virtual machine skipping to a place ahead of the real machine in line is yet another example of the many layers of the real meets virtual world.

We all have the opportunity to use these new capabilities to improve our world.  Telemedicine and Distance Learning are just two examples of ways virtualization technologies can be put to practical use improving lives and the world.

We are delighted to be in the middle of this convergence.  In the event you are interested in following this story, you may want to subscribe to the RSS feed of the Retrodex blog, or follow Retrodex on Twitter.

My Photo Sharing Education

Digital cameras have done a great deal for photography and it is time the web services end of the photo industry get its act together. I take several thousand pictures per year and do what I can to keep them organized.  Here is a short history of the things I have experienced when it comes to taking, sharing, and organizing pictures.

On the Mac:  In around 2003 I went to Macs big time with the thought that if anyone was going to figure this out it would be Apple.  I used all of the Apple tools like iPhoto, iMovie... and was having a great time.  I could sync all of my photos with my big iPod classic in full image mode -- so I had a regularly synced backup too.  All was good.  Then the wheels came off.  I got a new Sanyo Xacti HD video camera -- but the video format was incompatible with the mac.  There were converters, but the quality was terrible.  What is the point of taking HD video if you have to convert it to another format that looks bad?  Shortly after that the hard drive on my Mac G5 desktop failed and I lost all of my pictures.  I could get them back on my iPod -- but the folders (iPhoto's version of tagging) were all gone.  Ouch.  10,000 organized pictures now unorganized.

Windows Photo Gallery:  So I switched to Windows Photo Gallery.  The main reason was that the meta data is in a standard file format and independent of the Windows Photo Gallery software.  So if I ever decided to switch -- all of the work I would do organizing would go along with me.  Also, the organizing by date, the tagging, the integration of video and stills together, and the close integration with Windows Movie Maker -- were all attractive.  It turns out that I had just blown out of iMovie on the Mac because a new version left all of the past versions orphaned -- what was that?!?!

Video Formats:  I am still on Windows Photo Gallery but am not all that happy and am looking for another solution.  I now have a second HD video camera, this one from Sony, and the HD format is different and requires more converting before the video can be used in Windows Photo Gallery or any other software.  Somebody has got to figure this stuff out.  The codec thing is driving me crazy and my Windows machine is giving me the goofy "COM Surrogate has stopped working" error all of the time.  I have no reduced functionality and I cannot figure out what causes this, but I just minimize the error to the toolbar and call it good.  If I"X" it out, it just comes right back but if I minimize it -- it just sits there talking to itself and more or less leaves me alone.  Just a constant reminder of how screwed up computers can be.

Sharing:  I don't share photo's on Facebook because I want to control who sees them.  I am also trying to figure out how to allow my friends to get full image files of my photos.  I like Shutterfly for the private web sites it makes so easily and how the members I invite can add comments or contribute pictures.  But Shutterfly does not have image download.  I am just now trying Picasa -- but without downloading the desktop app -- the functionality is quite bad.  It seems to me that every photo sharing site either wants to you use their photo printing service (Shutterfly; Kodak Gallery...), download their software (Picasa...), or take away control of who sees you photos (Facebook...).  This area of the computer experience is very broken and should present an opportunity to someone.

Microsoft:  It would not surprise me if Microsoft has a solution to this somewhere in the Live thing.  But everytime I sit down to try to figure out what is up with Live I just cannot get my head around it.  I think it is because Microsoft wants you to be all in and therefore integrates hotmail, Messenger, and other things I don't use regularly into one experience and I just cannot figure out how it works.  When I gave it another try today was presented with a friends list (which I don't ever remember setting up, but could have over the years somehow) and they were not really any of my friends.  I could add friends but not remove them, not easily anyway... so that trail is dead too.

So for now I am sharing photos with Picasa.  Someone I invite can get the full image downloaded, but they must install the desktop application first.  

If anyone out there has a better solution -- please save me!


Who Talks on the Phone Anymore

Clive Thompson has a great piece in wired magazine right now about how minutes talking on the phone have been on the decline since 2007.  He points to the rise of other means of staying in touch, and the rising practice of text, email, or chat precursors to a call asking for permission.  I would imagine that caller ID helps us to not answer calls that we don't want -- further reducing the volume of calls.

I remember a time a few years back when I would come out of an hour long meeting and have 5 to 7 new voicemail messages -- in just one hour!  I had to clear out the box multiple times during a single day just to make sure callers were not presented with the voicemail box full message.

Now I have my voicemails delivered to my email box with caller ID info in the subject line.  Most of them never get listened to and I also get to listen to the ones I want in the order I want (like email).

The one thing that I would like to add to Clive's post:  I have more scheduled conference calls than ever before.  This must map to the expanded geography of the people I am working with, but I find myself doing this even for people close by that I would have otherwise met in person.

I wonder if this is tracked in the survey referenced, because often we will have ten or more people on these calls for a full hour -- something we never would have done before.  Also, does the tracking capture VOIP services like Skype and Google Voice -- there could be a rotation to that mode that is not visible to the phone data trackers.

Next up:  Video calls.  We are currently expanding our calling capabilities to have conference calls enhanced with video.  So don't count the phone as dead just yet.

Signs of the Future

Attracting customers to a business has involved putting an image in front of the largest population possible with the hope that some of them will come to your physical store.  This proved to be such a popular business tactic that municipalities started regulating retail signage with building codes and city ordinances.  It seems that voters like retail signs about as much as they like junk mail.  But we still have plenty of both -- so they must be effective.


(Credit for this photo goes to the blog Ephemeral New York)

Now that an increasing number of customers come equipped with GPS / mapping smart phones, the need for physical signs could become a thing of the past.  Search for what you want on the web, get directions, watch yourself blink across the map on the way there and you can find what you are looking for without ever looking at a sign in the physical world.

(Credit for this photo to the Observer.com)

One of these days we may find ourselves telling our kids that back in the old days we had to find things with the phone book, printed map, and signs posted on the side of buildings.  

Double Time

I am using the double time (2X) feature on my iPod more and more often when listening to podcasts or books.  This is not a good thing.  Sure I am taking in the information faster, but there is no question it is less enjoyable. I do not think my motivation is from a time maximization neuroses -- but rather an impatience with poor quality recordings.

There are many benefits to audio books, but the one significant new element that too often is a drawback, is the addition of the style of the person doing the narration.  A good narrator is of critical importance to the success of an audio book. And it appears that good narrators are hard to come by.  I have abandoned many books based on the quality of the narrator.  I always think I am going to go and get the printed book, but often that does not ever happen.

To all of the authors out there -- do not read your own books.  Good authors do not often occupy the same bodies as good narrators.  The two exceptions I have encountered are Steve Martin and Michael J. Fox.  If you are an author, and your skills as an entertainer are as good as these guys -- go to it.  Otherwise leave it to the professionals.

Right now I am a few hours into David Kirkpatrick's "The Facebook Effect".  The book is good, narration -- terrible.  I am quite interested in the subject, so I am sticking with it at double time.  At that pace the large inhales between sentences are less distracting.  Ever notice how something like that will charge into your brain and get louder and louder until you are ready to jump off the nearest bridge?  I have to wonder if the guy ever exhales.  My mental picture is of this guy the size of a hot air balloon and I find my shoulders up by my ears, all scrunched up and waiting for the guy to pop.  Every so often I have to turn it off and go for a walk to calm myself back down.  

On the podcasts, I find that people that come from a traditional media background seem to be filling the space in between the commercials.  This is crazy in the context of a podcast because if you don't have any content, just shorten the show.  My favorite podcast is still Rebooting the News with David Winer and Jay Rosen.  Anyone thinking of doing a podcast should follow their lead.  Packed with content but still open enough that they can pursue tangents.  It is awesome and I eagerly await each installment.  The other end of the spectrum is anything produced by Leo Laporte.  Now I really like TWIT, and Leo does an amazing job getting interesting people onto his shows.  But they crawl, and double time is definitely needed.  I think he just cannot escape his history in traditional broadcast media where the challenge has always been finding enough content to fill out the hour.



Thoughts on Blogging After Six Months

This is my first post for the second half of the year.  So far I have made 170 entries to this journal and have really enjoyed the process.  I stopped a few months ago to reflect on the first 100 posts and the thoughts there are still central to my work on this blog.  My numbers have gone up and down a bit, but overall, I have now had over 2,000 unique visitors view over 7,000 pages on my blog.  I still have not many comments -- so if you have a thought, don't hesitate to contribute.  

Blog = Organize my Thoughts

The one thing I appreciate most about the process of writing is it forces me to think through my ideas.  It is pretty easy to throw out an idea in a conversation at a party and much harder to think it through enough to craft it into a blog post.  Also, I have found very interesting reading on the web that I never would have found otherwise because I make it a habit to search for thoughts similar to mine while writing.  I do want to contribute some original thinking -- not just say the same thing everyone else does.  When I find a piece that says everything I want to say, I just link to it.

Twitter = Keep Track of Links

I also make some entries at Twitter @jcleon.  These are links to articles I find that I want to go back to later.  Sometimes I will add bit of an intro, other times not.  I think I will be using Twitter more and more -- particularly after the World Cup is over.  I use backupify to back up my Twitter entries. This is a great service and gives me the ability to get the full list of links without being subject to Twitter's ups and downs.

So it has been a great six months and I am looking forward to hitting over 300 posts before the end of the year.  If you want me to write about something in particular, don't hesitate to put it in the comments.

Thinking Like the Customer

Here I am wanting to catch a little World Cup or Wimbledon action before I start in on my Saturday list.  The broadcast of sports events on the web has come a long way -- but still has a long way to go.  I remember watching with amazement when the Masters first started putting real time scoring on the web -- how cool was that!

There is no question that I am not a big time sports enthusiast.  I am not so deep in the pursuit of these activities that I already know what is going on, or that I am willing to go through a whole bunch of effort just to see a few minutes of a match.  In essence, I am a customer available for the catching -- but you are going to have to make it easy, and explain everything.

One thing I do not have memorized is the time difference between here and South Africa.  Sure I can easily find out by going to a world clock website.  But as a possible new customer, does FIFA really want to send me away from their site to figure out the time difference?  They do a great job of putting the time of the next match right on the web site, but they do not say what time it is in South Africa now. 

They could learn from the Wimbledon team.  Right there on the site they show the local time in Wimbledon, and my local time.  Thinking like the customer I see.  Clearly this is not a technical feat.  Just a simple example of understanding what it would be like to be somewhere other than where the event is occurring.  

Wait.  I still cannot figure out when the next match is going to be held -- because they do not say what time the match is starting!  So close.  I am sure the argument is that the matches play in order and they do not know the exact time -- well then, why don't they say it follows some other match.  

Come on people! I am going to mow the lawn now.  No more eyeballs for you.

Intuit's Cloud Outage

When I saw some traffic in Twitter last night about Intuit's web site going down I first thought it would be back up in a minute and would be no big deal.  An hour later I checked back -- still down.  I checked @intuit, @quicken, and @quickbooks on Twitter thinking they would post an update -- none.  I searched for Intuit related blogs -- no posts in over a month!

Knowing that millions of people use intuit's accounting, payroll, tax preparation, and merchant services, and thinking that these activities are almost always time sensitive, I naturally thought that this was going to be a big story. Next I thought that since small businesses are a big deal for technology companies, and technology companies want small businesses to adopt cloud computing, this would be a big deal in the technology industry.  A major vendor like Intuit going down for hours without any communication to its users is enough to set back cloud adoption a few years -- right?

So I searched the news on Google about a story.  Top search result: Intuit press release about low cost Payment Solutions, next was CEO Brad Smith being profiled by "Inspiring West Virginians", and the next four were all about stock performance upgrades due to good recent financial results.  No stories about the outage.

Back to Twitter, a real time search for Intuit Down:  just a few tweets.  Nothing like I expected.

When a $3 Billion company with millions of customers goes down for over 12 hours without a mention in the press, without an update to its customers, and without any public outcry to speak of I can only conclude one of three things:


  1. I fell down the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole and never came back, or 
  2. Not communicating during a crisis works -- no communication = no crisis, or
  3. Not that many people are using Intuit's Cloud Services.


I did watch the movie and even with the 3D I don't think I am chasing the Jabberwoky -- so #1 is out, BP and others will tell you that #2 is not true, so logic tells us that #3 could be the most rational conclusion.

Intuit's recent acquisition, Mint, has stayed up the whole time.  No mention on any of Mint's blogs either.


One Last Post About Facebook

I have found myself promising to stop writing about Facebook lately.  It surely is a tired old rant, and this really is going to be my last blog post on the matter.  After today, you can find Facebook related thoughts on a section of this website called Facebook.  

On that page I intend to chronicle my efforts to find a suitable replacement.

On 5/19 I turned all of my Facebook settings to the most private possible ("Custom>me only").  I was surprised to find today that what appears to be a new category just controlling what outsiders can see of my friends was turned to "everyone".  

I found this by creating a new Facebook account with a fake name so I could see what people outside of my network could see.  On a side note, I picked Ty Webb as my fake name.  Ty Webb is the name of the character Chevy Chase played in Caddyshack.  Can you believe there are over 700 Ty Webbs on Facebook and most of them have pictures that look exactly like Chevy Chase!

If you are a Facebook user I encourage you to go through this exercise.  I found it much more illumnating than the services that tell you what others can or cannot see.

Much to my surprise, I navigated Ty Webb to my Facebook profile and I could see my full list of friends, and could click through to see all of their friends.  In the past Facebook only presented a few friends and you could not click on them at all until that person had accepted you as their friend.

Interesting I thought.  After bolting down my friends (again), I thought I should have some fun with this -- you know -- now that I could see all of Mark Zuckerberg's friends without actually being his friend.  Turns out, Mark is just not very social.  He does in fact have a page, but it is a fan page, and I could not find a Facebook page for Mark.  He has over 500,000 fans -- but no friends.  And I was fool enough to think he would be leading the charge to share the names of his past girlfriends, ex business partners, and current investors and advisors and employees with all of us.  I could not see what web sites he had gone to, what he bought with his credit card, or where he was right now either.  Not a word about what he was working on, who he was having lunch with today.  Turns out Mark Zuckerberg is quite the private person.

Seems strange that he would want everyone else to share their identity information.


The Score on Facebook

The next week will be very interesting with regards to Facebook.  Here are a few things to watch:

People Quitting Publicly on a special site set up just for this purpose.

Not that any number of quitters will make a difference to Facebook's nearly 500 million total. But this was just 2,000 last week and this is just a sample of the true number of quitters.


People Giving Money to Diaspora on Kickstarter here.

These guys don't have anything going for them except having said they will build a competing system. So far?  $185,000!  (they wanted $10,000)












Later:  Mark Z. posts his response in the Washington Post.  

Anonymous Sources: The NY Times Encourages Bad Behavior

Is it just me or is the use of unnamed anonymous sources increasing?  I guess it is not so much the fact that their names are withheld, but that the circumstances surrounding their wish for anonymity are freely disclosed and problematic.  The type I find the most disturbing are the direct references to sources who acknowledge breaching other legal agreements to which they have freely entered into.  

Here is an example from today's NY Times:

One person at the Department of Justice, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the situation publicly, said that the...

A person from the Department of Justice no less!  Either the person is authorized or not.  This is not a case where we need a whistle blower inside the Department of Justice.  The subject of the article is Google and it is not even about a conflict inside the Justice Department about how to handle the issue.

Here is a link to the official NY Times policy about anonymous sources.  Where the paper acknowledges that people may be skeptical of anonymous sources:

In any situation when we cite anonymous sources, at least some readers may suspect that the newspaper is being used to convey tainted information or special pleading

True, but a how about the readers who think the NY Times is encouraging people to violate, participating in the violation of, or portraying as acceptable the violation of other legal obligations.

Here is a post to the NY Times Freakonomics Blog about the matter where Ian Ayres exposes the paper's role in the misappropriation of other people's property.

But newspapers routinely grant anonymity to employees who misappropriate employer information. Often times these grants are given to sources who could be legitimately fired or disciplined for violating their fiduciary duty to their employer. The sources who steal — I mean misappropriate — employer information aren’t willing to directly disclose because they know they could be fired for the disclosure.

Here is a post to the NY Times Bits blog where a source is quoted in violation of a non disclosure agreement.

A senior editor of a major magazine publishing empire working on an internal corporate project, and speaking on the condition of anonymity because of a nondisclosure agreement, told me...

Sure, the non disclosure agreement may have said that you can disclose this sensitive and proprietary information to the press but just not with your name attached, but I have never seen an NDA like that.  

Here is a post from the NY Times public editor about this from a year ago.  There is no mention of this business of encouraging people to break other legal agreements where there is clearly no societal greater good to be gained.

The New York Times and other leading papers should stop this practice.  Not only is the Times turning itself into a publisher of press releases by doing so, but they are reinforcing a growing societal norm that fiduciary responsibility or non disclosure agreements have no weight or meaning.

Truth in Banker Speak

The advertising industry has benefited significantly from Bank of America's ad budget.  It is hard to imagine a human in North America that does not know about Bank of America's 1.5 trillion dollar pledge.  

I have to wonder if anyone is going to track what this means or if they do it.  

Here is a link to a page on the B of A website with a April 28, 2008 transcript of remarks at the Federal Reserve Public Hearing on the proposed merger between Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Corporation where Liam McGee, President, Global Consumer & Small Business Banking, Andrew Plepler, President, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, and Janet Lamkin, California State President outlined their intentions. 

It is a little long, with each of the three of them taking turns saying the same thing over and over.  Here are the basic details quoted from Liam McGee's part of the transcript:

I am proud to announce Bank of America’s new, and unprecedented, 10-year goal of $1.5 trillion for community development lending and investments. This is the largest community development goal ever by any company in America. In coming years, this goal is certain to enhance quality of life for millions of Americans in need, by:

• helping finance construction of affordable housing throughout the nation,

• providing loans and other needed capital to small businesses,

• supplying consumer loans, including housing finance, for low- and moderate-income and minority borrowers, and

• financing economic development for communities in need.

In addition, our Charitable Foundation is raising its philanthropic giving goal from $1.5 billion to $2 billion over 10 years. This is the most ambitious long-term corporate philanthropic goal ever announced by any company. We are setting this goal despite uncertain economic times.

I am glad that B of A has made a large commitment to community development.  This list however is just a list of things that bankers do.  So the advertisements saying that Bank of America is giving 1.5 trillion dollars back to the community are a little misleading.

Even so, a search on the B of A website for press releases about community reinvestment produced this from November of 2009:  (dramatic music here) 1 billion dollars!  Some simple math tells us that a 10 year campaign starting in April of 2008 is 20 months into its 120 month life or 16% complete.  I am pretty sure that 1.5 trillion is 1,500 billions.  So 1 billion is .067% of goal.  It appears that Bank of America is REALLY going to have to get after this in the remaining 100 months.

Has anyone seen any news items digging into this?  According to CNNMoney we have given B of A 15 billion dollars in bail out money.  

Even with the diminished capacity of the newspapers to do investigative work, this has got to be worth looking in to.

Facebook Blocks Out the Sun

Here is an amazing graphic that shows how Facebook's privacy settings have changed since 2005.  I would say it was day in 2005 and closing in on night now -- who knows what is next.  

There is no shortage to people giving the thumbs down to Facebook these days -- we just may be at the inflection point where something else takes the stage. I have been following the tech pundits/journalists and most of them seem to be souring on Facebook:   Leo Laporte, Dave Winer, Jeff Jarvis, Steve Gillmore, and their peers all seem to be giving the Facebook "like" idea a thumbs down.  

So, what next?  Even Mark Pincus is turning away -- and he (Zynga) has benefited from Facebook more than anyone other than Zuck himself!

Could it be time to start taking back identity management with a service like ClaimID?