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Should I date Steve Jobs or Eric Schmidt?

Posted by andreaitis on June 9, 2010

Steve Jobs VS Eric Schmidt

Image by Dakiny via Flickr

This is what it’s come down to:

1. The open web is only as open as its benevolent dictators allow it to be.

2.  We are all Sophie and we must make a choice.

3. Poor AOL (er, I mean Aol.) can’t catch a break.  Had a wall when walls were decidedly un-cool.  Tore it down and a few years later walls are all the rage again courtesy of digital overlords  Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerberg.

As Michael Hirschorn confirms in his latest piece in The Atlantic, the open web is, in fact, an illusion; closed is the harsh reality.

The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, where the app and the pricing plan now hold sway, signals a radical shift from openness to a degree of closed-ness that would have been remarkable even before 1995. In the U.S., there are only three major cell-phone networks, a handful of smart-phone makers, and just one Apple, a company that has spent the entire Internet era fighting the idea of open (as anyone who has tried to move legally purchased digital downloads among devices can attest). As far back as the ’80s, when Apple launched the desktop-publishing revolution, the company has always made the case that the bourgeois comforts of an artfully constructed end-to-end solution, despite its limits, were superior to the freedom and danger of the digital badlands.

via Closing the Digital Frontier – The Atlantic

Look, I don’t think the browser is going away any time soon, but someone always has the power in a relationship.  When it comes to technology, media and communication,  it’s not us.  I repeat: We are not running this show.

Which CEO got people to camp out overnight to buy a product sight unseen?  Apple CEO  Steve Jobs.

Which CEO runs a company that was “inadvertently collecting data about people’s online activities from unsecured Wi-Fi networks” over the past four (FOUR!) years?  Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

It’s all coming down to a choice between Apple and Google.  They are already far along the path to dominate our every interaction with media and information.   Sure, Mark Zuckerberg has the big murky moat around Facebook Island, but it’s contained.  We can choose to live with or without Facebook.  With Apple and Google, that choice is not as clear-cut.

Apple and Google both have mobile operating systems — Apple’s iPhone OS 4 vs Google’s Android.  They both develop, build and distribute devices for their own platforms.   They’re both in the advertising business — Apple’s iAd vs Google’s AdMob, to start.    They’re both also in the app-etizing business:

Like Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes App Store and Google’s (GOOG) own Android Market, the Chrome Web Store will showcase free and paid videogames, magazines, productivity apps and the like. As Web applications, they’ll run on most modern browsers. But if you happen to be running Chrome, you can “install” the apps directly in the browser so that they can be accessed via a sort of “super-bookmark.”

via Google’s App Store for the Web – All Things Digital

All this before we even get to TV.   If video killed the radio star, then Apple and Google are going to kill video.  Pay attention, because television as we know it is dead.  The concept of a television set is history;  it’s now just another (bigger) screen in your house.  Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt understand that one of our most important relationships is with the screen — small, medium or large, mobile or docked.  This is the relationship they want to control.  They want to be by our side every time we touch a screen:  anytime, anywhere, any way.

This is why I say it’s pretty clear Apple and Google are courting me.  Obviously they each want to build a future with me.  They’ve both managed to create an experience that strategically leaves me unfulfilled with a simple  flirtation.   Oh, I can have a casual encounter with Apple or Google products and see all the possibilities and potential but I have to actually commit to really get what I need.  They want me to commit, to share my personal information so they can lock me in, take me off the market.   It’s not even dating, really, more like a common-law marriage because once I choose between Apple and Google, that’s it.  I’m in it for the long haul.  Who wants to go through that break-up drama, trying to save and export data,  having to go back into that confusing scene to try to find a better match and then having to start all over again with the settings and preferences and the getting-to-know-you routine.

Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt are the controlling forces here, they are establishing how these relationships work and how they and their respective companies will benefit from consumer acquiescence.   Factor in their personal rivalry, and the stakes are high.  Think about how often you interact with a screen each day.  Google and Apple are truly our significant others.

I know I can juggle them for only so long, but I am not yet sure who will win my affections.  Apple focuses on fewer things but pays attention to every detail.  Google is more experimental but typically skips the finishing touches, the last 20% that puts some polish on rough edges.  With Apple, you’re in for elegance, style and whimsy.   With Google, you’ll have wide-ranging experiences but have to carry your own bags and at some point end up sleeping in one of those Google Street View cars.

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

And where does Mark Zuckerberg fit into all this?

Seriously, we’re just gonna be friends.

Facebook is the BFF for more than 400 million people around the world.   Zuck’s got his hooks in us and he’s got our data, but he’s platform agnostic so he can play the field with both Google and Apple.

In the end, that may make him the best catch of all.

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Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Forget Facebook privacy, now charges of Facebook securities fraud

Posted by andreaitis on May 20, 2010

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg turned 26 last week.  I wonder if anyone got him a bullseye with his picture in the center — because that’s where Zuck lives these days.  People want the underdog to succeed, but once he does he becomes target practice.

The latest unwelcome gift: accusations of securities fraud from former Harvard schoolmates who say he and other Facebook executives tricked them into a supposed $65 million settlement that was actually worth far less.

Judge James Ware of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear those arguments, filed in an appellate brief late last month, in an upcoming court case.

Divya Narendra and brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss  contend that they hired Zuckerberg to work on their social network, ConnectU, when they were all students at Harvard, only to have him delay the project and use ConnectU’s code to launch his own project, then called TheFacebook. Their side of the story gained credence after instant messages sent by Zuckerberg bragging about his success in duping them emerged in the press.

via Facebook CEO’s latest woe: accusations of securities fraud | VentureBeat

The battle between ConnectU and Facebook has been raging since they were all in college together at Harvard.  A $65 million settlement was reached in 2008, but Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra filed an appeal.  They claim “the settlement was never finalized and that a judge acted improperly in allowing the settlement to proceed and awarding ownership of ConnectU to Facebook.”

In the midst of the Facebook privacy fiasco, though, the smoking gun — or, in this case, the smoking instant messages — are an ironic twist.   Business Insider walked through the overall timeline and revealed what they believe are the IMs  ConnectU’s creators say support their case.

In January 2004, Mark met with the Winklevoss brothers and Divya Narendra for what would be the last time. The meeting was on January 14, 2004, and it was held at the same place Mark met with the HarvardConnection team for the first time — in the dining hall of Mark’s residence, Kirkland House.

By this point, Mark’s site, thefacebook.com, wasn’t complete, but he was working hard on it. He’d arranged for Eduardo Saverin to pay for his servers. He had already told Adam that “the right thing to do” was to not complete Harvard Connection and build TheFacebook.com instead.  He had registered the domain name.

He therefore had a choice to make: Tell Cameron, Tyler and Divya that he wanted out of their project, or string them along until he was ready to launch thefacebook.com.

Mark sought advice on this decision from his confidants. One friend told him, in so many words, you know me. I don’t ever think anyone should do anything bad to anybody.

Mark and this friend also had the following IM exchange about how Mark planned to resolve the competing projects:

Friend: So have you decided what you’re going to do about the websites?

Zuck: Yeah, I’m going to fuck them

Zuck: Probably in the year

Zuck: *ear

via At Last — The Full Story Of How Facebook Was Founded – Business Insider

Interesting when juxtaposed against another instant message exchange a 19-year-old Zuckerberg had while in college.

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb fucks.

via Well, These New Zuckerberg IMs Won’t Help Facebook’s Privacy Problems – Business Insider

Notice a pattern?

But the big question:  Is this fancy legal eagle’ing because so much money is on the table, or is there a real case of securities fraud here?   The best answer I found is in an excellent comment on Hacker News by Silicon Valley business lawyer George Grellas.  He says, in part:

This appeal is a testament to what high-priced (and quite excellent) lawyers can do to stir things up when large amounts of money are at stake. I have been involved in countless mediations over the course of a 30-year-plus career and can strongly attest that no one in his right mind (or otherwise) even begins to think that federal securities laws should be taken into account when settling a case by which stock is transferred from one party to another as part of the settlement.

[…]

The alleged “fraud” is likely bogus here as well. The theory is that FB did a press release shortly before the settlement touting Microsoft’s $240 million investment and suggesting that, based on that investment, FB had a market cap of $15 billion. The claim is that the ConnectU founders relied on that valuation in determining what the value of the common stock was that they received. Later, supposedly, they discovered that FB had in fact done a 409A valuation of the common stock and that such valuation had placed an approximately $8/sh price on the common stock (in contrast to the $35/sh price placed on the preferred at the time of the Microsoft investment). Thus, the ConnectU founders were supposedly defrauded by having been misled about the value of the FB stock they were receiving to settle their claims (that is, as alleged, they thought they were getting stock worth $35/sh when it was in fact worth no more than $8/sh and, presumably, they would not have settled their claims for this supposedly lower amount had they known the true facts about the 409A appraisal, which facts were not disclosed to them at the time of the mediation). That might sound plausible to someone who knows nothing about startups but it is in fact an absurd argument to anyone who knows even the basics of startup financing. Every startup deal-maker knows that startups value preferred stock at 4 to 5 times higher (it used to be more like 10 times higher) than the common stock. This is vital for keeping employee incentives reasonably priced. Anyone who has been through even a single financing with a startup will know this. Therefore, what are the odds that the ConnectU founders, knowing that the $35/sh price was based on a press release discussing Microsoft’s preferred stock investment, did not immediately know and understand that a startup of this type would be putting a significantly lower price on the common stock at the same time. Thus, the argument strikes me as entirely artificial. It is a lawyer argument, very likely concocted after the fact. Because of this, too, in my judgment, I believe the argument will be rejected on appeal, just as it was by the lower court. If courts were to hold that no stock could be transferred in a settlement effected through mediation unless the parties stopped to comply with federal securities laws, the result would be utter chaos whenever a party sought to transfer equity as part of resolving a dispute.

If you want the nitty gritty, read Grellas’ full comment on Hacker News (yes, there’s more!).

As for Zuckerberg, I’d suggest someone get him a suit of armor as a belated birthday gift.  He’s gonna need it.

Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

College newspaper penis prank leaves nine seniors in graduation limbo

Posted by andreaitis on May 7, 2010

It’s getting harder and harder to make this whole ‘journalist’ gig sound appealing.

Today is graduation day at the University of Utah except for nine seniors from the student newspaper, the  Daily Utah Chronicle.

As a parting gift to the University of Utah, graduating senior writers at the student newspaper decided to leave with a vulgar word, or two.

The starting letters of each of the nine veteran reporters’ and staff members’ editorials, including one written by editor-in-chief Rachel Hanson, spelled out coarse words for male and female reproductive organs in their final printed edition, which hit stands April 28.  Since then, the stunt has gone viral, earning more than 8,400 votes on failblog.org. It has been shared on Facebook and Twitter at least 3,000 times.

“It wasn’t meant to be obscene or pornographic,” Hanson said. “It was in poor taste, I’ll give you that, but it was just supposed to be a silly joke.”

via University of Utah seniors say goodbye with vulgar send off in the Chronicle

It’s more than just a silly joke, though.  It’s a tradition, one that began in the ’80s in fits and starts but has been consistently upheld for the last 12 years.   Since 1999, graduating seniors at the Daily Utah Chronicle write and edit farewell pieces that, with some creative layout and design, reveal unexpected words.  Previous years have included hidden words like “hateu,” “tipsy,” “drunk” and “balls.”   Over the years the words have taken a more graphic turn.  This year, the hidden words were “penis” and “cunt.”

When the Daily Utah Chronicle penis prank landed on failblog.org it received the digital equivalent of a standing ovation.  University of Utah officials, however, were not laughing.  They placed a hold on the academic records and diplomas for the nine graduating seniors.

Editor Rachel Hanson was concerned the administration’s response could impinge on students’ press freedom, as was the paper’s outgoing faculty adviser, Jim Fisher.

“It was childish and stupid, but it’s not a cause for institutional notice,” said Fisher, an associate professor of communication who had long planned to step down as adviser this spring. “It, at the very least, has a chilling effect, and at the most could be censorship. I don’t agree with the behavior at all, but I support their right to be idiots.”

via Outgoing U. columnists in trouble over ‘hidden’ vulgarity – The Salt Lake Tribune

Isn’t that what college is for, to work out your inner idiot so you can successfully mask that part of you when you get a real job?  I remember walking one afternoon  in between classes at Rutgers University, listening to our college radio station WRSU-FM (on my sony walkman, thankyouverymuch).   I was a dj at the radio station, I knew the gang and the drill.  Suddenly, the standard “Some of the music heard on WRSU-FM is provided by Cheap Thrills”  was replaced with “Some of the music heard on WRSU-FM is brought to you by John’s record collection.”

They had stolen the airwaves.  A few of the guys — mostly graduating seniors — stole the airwaves and were broadcasting from their apartment.

I don’t recall why, I just know it was funny.  Then, and still.  It wasn’t so funny, though, when a disciplinary committee was brought in and there was a formal review.  I even had to testify, and while many of the details are now fuzzy I do remember how surreal it all seemed, like the bizarro world.   It was a college prank!  A really funny college prank.  I understand there were some FCC issues but no one was hurt, they switched it all back, let’s laugh, slap a wrist and move on.

Perhaps the University of Utah is using this as a “teaching moment.”  There is a valid point there, one of judgment and lines to be crossed, or not.   How a single decision can have cascading impact.   Match that against the First Amendment and the discussion heats up.  In an email to editor-in-chief Rachel Hanson, Associate Dean of Students Lori McDonald accused the nine graduating seniors of  “[I] intentional disruption or obstruction of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary proceedings or other University activities,” stating these offenses could lead to disciplinary action.

Such a charge is without merit, contends the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the Student Press Law Center in a joint letter Thursday to U. officials.

“While the content in question might offend members of the campus community, it is unquestionably protected expression under the First Amendment,” the letter states, urging the U. to lift the hold on the students’ records and allow them to graduate today.

via Outgoing U. columnists in trouble over ‘hidden’ vulgarity – The Salt Lake Tribune

Are the students graduating today?  They were told they could participate in the ceremony, but that their diplomas are on hold pending a post-graduation meeting.   I went searching for the latest update on the Daily Utah Chronicle’s website but — surprise — there’s no coverage of their very own breaking story. Not on their newspaper site, and not on their @thechrony twitter feed.   Is that the result of all this?  That student journalists are intimidated into hiding?  They’re not covering their very own story for fear of recriminations from the University.  Journalists need to be fearless.  They need to learn to make good decisions, to chase stories, to follow their instincts, to not back down when the story is out there.   I understand it’s scary, taking on the administration.  Did you make a mistake?  Was it a bad judgment call?   Most will say okay on “penis,” but  “cunt” went too far.   So, you learn from your mistakes.  Trust me, every journalist has at least one big mistake they never ever forget.   Thanks to this mishap, future employers will have their eyes on all nine of you now.  Forget resumes, writing samples, cover letters.     What are you going to show them, right now, right this minute?  Turn #peniscuntgate into an opportunity.   And for Pulitzer’s sake, cover your own story.

courtesy of Salt Lake's cityweekly.net/utah

Posted in Strange, technology, U.S. | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Lost iPhone 4G, Gray Powell, Jason Chen and Gizmodo immortalized in Hitler meme [VIDEO]

Posted by andreaitis on April 20, 2010

If there was a Webby Award for all of the Hitler meme videos out there, this one would hands-down win.  It brings together all the elements in an inspiring takeoff of the iPhone 4G takedown.

Hitler shows his frustration for the lost iPhone 4G that wound up in the hands of @Gizmodo

via Michael’s Posterous

Some quick background, for those lagging behind.

What’s with the Hitler meme?

“The Hitler Meme” or “Hitler finds out” is a video meme involving the addition of new subititles to the dramatic scene of Hitler’s final meltdown from the German movie Downfall directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. The subtitles are often anachronistically altered with humerous English subtitles surrounding current events.

via Know Your Meme

What’s with the lost iPhone 4G?

Apple software engineer Gray Powell drinks beer.  Loses never-before-seen-next-gen  iPhone 4G.   Gizmodo’s Jason Chen and Jesus Diaz acquire never-before-seen-next-gen  iPhone 4G.  Write blockbuster expose posts.  Apple asks Gizmodo to please return  now-seen-but-still-next-gen iPhone 4G.

1. How Apple lost the next iPhone

2. All the details about the device

3. And finally, how Apple asked for their phone back

via Gizmodo

What’s with the lost iPhone 4G Hitler video? Behold, while you can.   Just like the iPhone 4G, Hitler meme videos are disappearing.

Constantin Film is the German film production and distribution company behind the film Downfall (Der Untergang in German). The uploader of one of the Hilter parodies notes in the comments of his video that, “Constatin Films has filed a copyright infringement claim against this video, right before it was about to reach 500,000 views! Even though it falls under Fair Use, I suspect this video will be taken down soon. Sad face.

via Hitler Is Very Upset That Constantin Film Is Taking Down Hitler Parodies – TechCrunch

Since we found a blogger who still has the video up — watch it quickly one more time before it’s just a memory, like Gray Powell’s life before that ill-fated German beer bash.

The Webby acceptance speeches are traditionally only five words. After watching this video I think we all agree:

Gray loses iPhone.  We win.

Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Gray Powell, Steve Jobs and the silver lining in Apple's lost iPhone fiasco

Posted by andreaitis on April 19, 2010

You are about to forever know the name Gray Powell.

Gizmodo posted this story Monday morning:

This Is Apple's Next  iPhone
You are looking at Apple’s next iPhone. It was found lost in a bar in Redwood City, camouflaged to look like an iPhone 3GS. We got it. We disassembled it. It’s the real thing, and here are all the details.
via Gizmodo

They published all those details — and pictures — while shockwaves rocked the interwebs richter scale.  Gizmodo’s Jason Chen and Jesus Diaz reported what’s new: “Front-facing video chat camera.”  They documented what’s changed: “The back is entirely flat, made of either glass (more likely) or ceramic or shiny plastic in order for the cell signal to poke through.”  They solidified their place in Apple history and Steve Jobs’ long-term memory.   The story received 6,485 diggs, and was  retwittered 27, 096 times.  Colossal.

It was followed by another story: How Apple lost the Next iPhone.  And, more specifically, who lost the next iPhone.  Enter Gray Powell.

The 27-year-old Powell—a North Carolina State University 2006 graduate and talented amateur photographer—is an Apple Software Engineer working on the iPhone Baseband Software, the little program that enables the iPhone to make calls.

On the night of March 18, he was enjoying the fine imported ales at Gourmet Haus Staudt, a nice German beer garden in Redwood City, California. He was happy. The place was great. The beer was excellent. “I underestimated how good German beer is,” he typed into the next-generation iPhone he was testing on the field, cleverly disguised as an iPhone 3GS. It was his last Facebook update from the secret iPhone. It was the last time he ever saw the iPhone, right before he abandoned it on bar stool, leaving to go home.
via Gizmodo

Steve Jobs was already having a tough week.  Self-proclaimed nerd Paul Shadwell was frustrated by a  delay in the iPad’s international release.  He sent an email to Steve Jobs expressing his concern and overall Apple anxiety.  Not only did Steve Jobs respond to the email, he got right to the point.

“deliberately pulling the wool over the rest of the worlds eyes”

Are you nuts? We are doing the best we can. We need enough units to have a responsible and great launch.

via A Letter to Steve Jobs

On top of that there’s a Steve Jobs backlash brewing over Apple’s walled garden and rigid guidelines for developers.  Plus,  the Off-Broadway show Notes Toward the Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs premieres on April 22 for a one-night-only run.  So, really, did Steve Jobs need this lost-and-found-and-bought-by-Gizmodo-for-$5-to-$10K iPhone drama?  Hardly.

Still, as the sun sets on this day in iPhone history, there is a silver lining.  It comes to us not through Apple but a different kind of next-gen tech:  Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.  You see, Gray Powell now has a Facebook Fan Page. On it he says:  “Hi, my name’s Gray and I work for Apple.  I also like beer.”    Under Phone he doesn’t list his number.  Nope, our Gray enters:  “Lost it.  😦 ”

Turns out Gray Powell is one  unlucky but funny and likable guy.  We all wondered, will Gray would be reprimanded or even fired?  Will Steve call him directly, yell at him, tell him how disappointed he is in his beer-goggled goof?   Will he survive this horrid embarrassment or will he shatter like an iPhone screen when you accidentally drop it on the cold, hard, unforgiving sidewalk of life?

Seems Gray Powell bounces.  And  instead of ruining Steve Jobs’ week he may have saved it.   I don’t know how the Facebook Page came to be, if it was created by Gray or (god forbid) a brilliant Apple marketing move.  Either way, a PR disaster is now a quirky and personable mistake.  Through Gray Powell Apple can be human, Steve Jobs can be kind and forgiving.   It wasn’t so long ago the interwebs was on high-alert,  in single-minded support as Steve Jobs battled cancer.   But public opinion is like that volcano over in Iceland.  Once it starts spewing, it takes a while for the ash cloud to lift.   What lesson do we learn?  Things happen. Sometimes people across the country wait in line all night long to be the first to buy a brand new sight-unseen device.  And, once in a while, a next-gen iPhone gets left on a bar stool after too many beers.  There but for the grace of Jobs…

You go, Gray.

Gray "iPhone Loser" Powell

Update:  Sadly, it’s beginning to look like the Facebook page is actually a poorly executed stunt.

This is Gray’s new status update:

Sounds like a marketing person trying to sound like a guy who drinks German beer and builds iPhones.   Meanwhile, I posted a question directly on the Facebook page:  “hey gray – did you create this page on your own or is it an apple marketing effort?”

No answer.

Ah, Gray, you’re in a tough spot.    Did you happen to build an app for that?

Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Just can't get enough? Follow True/Slant on Facebook and Twitter

Posted by andreaitis on April 5, 2010

Here we are on Facebook:

Friend us.


And don’t miss  all of our Twitterage:

Follow us.

Why?

Every time I think of you I know we have to meet.
And I just can’t get enough.  I just can’t get enough.

[youtubevid id=”1WQRUTITwS4″]

(thank you, everyone)

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Should registered sex offenders be identified in social networks?

Posted by andreaitis on March 9, 2010

In October of last year, 17-year-old British teenager Ashleigh Hall ‘met’ a young, handsome teen named Pete Cartwright on Facebook.   They struck up a friendship and made plans to get together on October 25th.   Ashleigh told her mom she was going to stay with a friend, but instead went off to meet her Facebook friend for the very first time.   At least, she thought she was meeting Pete Cartwright.  Turns out she was really meeting Peter Chapman, a 33-year-old convicted rapist.

Peter Chapman and Ashleigh Hall.  Should Facebook add a Panic button?

Chapman raped and killed her, before dumping her body in a gully, close to Old Stockton Road near Sedgefield. He was arrested the following day.

Following his sentencing, Ashleigh’s mother, Andrea Hall branded the 33-year-old murderer “inhuman” and called for closer monitoring of sex offenders.

Appearing on ITV’s This Morning, Mrs Hall said authorities should reveal where sex offenders live.

via Facebook killer Peter Chapman monitoring probed — BBC News

Here in the U.S., we can find out where registered sex offenders are living with a couple of clicks on  Family Watchdog.  Type in an address or city/state  and you instantly get a map showing the name, picture and location of registered offenders.  You see their proximity to schools and parks, their convictions, any aliases and even sign up for alerts.   It is incredibly easy to find out if sex offenders are in our neighborhoods.   These days, though, we don’t just live in suburbs and cities; we also live online.   We can find out if registered sexual offenders are in our neighborhoods, but what about on our social networks?

The Liberal Democrats & home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, criticised Facebook for not adding a panic button, created by the Home Office & Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, to its site. Ceop says the button, a large graphic which once installed features prominently on each profile page and gives internet safety advice, should be added to all social networking websites. Its chief executive, Jim Gamble, said it was “beyond logic” that Facebook and MySpace have not joined.

via Facebook security measures criticised after Ashleigh Hall murder | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Facebook released a statement addressing Huhne’s criticism:

“What is clear is that Peter Chapman was a twisted, determined individual with an evil agenda who used every online and offline opportunity to meet people.  This case serves as a painful reminder that all internet users must use extreme caution when contacted over the internet by people they do not know.”

“We echo the advice of the police, who urge people not to meet anyone they have been contacted by online unless they know for certain who they are, as there are unscrupulous people in the world with malevolent agendas.”

According to a report in The Guardian, Chapman was just 15 when he was first the subject of several  sexual assault investigations.  At 19 he was sentenced to seven years in prison for raping two prostitutes, and was released in 2001.  Several months before Ashleigh’s murder, convicted rapist Peter Chapman fell through the cracks.

Merseyside police, who should have been monitoring Chapman, today referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The force acted after revelations that it waited nine months before issuing a national wanted alert for Chapman, after realising last year that he had vanished from his home.

This begs the question:  if we can’t properly track registered sex offenders in the real world, how can we possibly track them in a digital world where it’s even easier to hide?  Even if there was a solid technical solution (there isn’t), someone would surely find a loophole or hack.  There is momentum, though, for a proposal to remove sex offenders from social networking sites.

State Rep. Rob Teilhet is introducing a measure Tuesday that would allow the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to send sex offenders’ information to Facebook, MySpace and other sites.

The sites could then remove their information, ban them from creating profiles and notify state authorities of any suspicious activity.

A similar proposal has already been adopted in New York and others are being considered in California and Oklahoma.

via Georgia could restrict sex offenders from Facebook — Atlanta Journal Constitution

In Illinois, as of January 1, 2010 it is now a felony for registered sex offenders to join social networking sites.  Should all sex offenders be prohibited from joining social networks?  What about those who have served their time, who are now living their lives as proper citizens — should they be identified in some way if allowed to participate in a digital social circle?

In Ashleigh’s case, there very well could have been a different ending if Peter Chapman was not allowed to join Facebook.   Or, Peter Chapman would have found another way to get on Facebook and prey on teenage girls.

There are some things we do know:

– Digital media easily allows anyone to create a persona, a veil of anonymity.

– It’s unlikely a panic button would have saved Ashleigh’s life.

– Facebook does offer several ways to alter privacy settings and block users.

– Parents need to be involved with their children’s online education and behavior.

– Authorities need to take responsibility for more vigilant monitoring of sex offenders.

– Ultimately, we still make choices about who we communicate with and in what manner.

Yesterday Peter Chapman was sentenced to life in prison for killing Ashleigh Hall.  At least we know where he’ll be for a good long time.

[youtubevid id=”UrxVenUu8UM”]

Posted in crime, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Arianna Huffington, Steve Case and Jay Rosen walked into a bar…

Posted by andreaitis on March 2, 2010

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 19:  Arianna Huffington a...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

“I didn’t kill newspapers, darling.”

Arianna Huffington knows a good soundbite when she says one.  Perhaps that’s why The Huffington Post co-founder quoted her own 2009 Webby Awards acceptance speech at the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ conference in San Francisco yesterday.  Ariantrepreneur (my new nickname for her) was at the4A’s conference to speak about their theme,  Transformation 2010.   Here’s a description of the conference from 4A’s site.  To help, I’ve highlighted in this lovely hue some of my favorite jargon-y phrases:

It’s time for a transformation. Not just of words, but of actions. Of the ways of thinking that influence how brands communicate with consumers. About moving the mindset from disruption to partnership. Of even changing the ways that agencies conduct business and think of their products and deliverables.

Transformation 2010 is not just the amalgamation of the 4A’s Media and Leadership Conferences. It’s a unique opportunity to get everyone—managers, creatives, media, digital, production—into the same room at the same time to discuss the pressing matters of the day. Collaborate with and ask questions of one another. Listen to leaders who have first-hand experience in transforming their own businesses to meet the emerging needs of a new era. Be a part of the bigger picture, the solutions to the time-consuming age-old questions of monetization and evolution.

via American Association of Advertising Agencies

Well.  You might expect a conference of ad agency types to have better, clearer, less trite copy.   What’s it actually mean, what’s the conference about?  A reasonable question.  Arianna provided some perspective by revisiting her famous five words:  “I didn’t kill newspapers, darling.”  In that she captured the ever-growing gap between traditional media and digital media, and the need for various bridges to help consumers, content creators and advertisers walk (or even run)  from single-minded media to social multimedia.

Arianna was there to help.  Knowing she was speaking before the national trade association of the advertising agency business, Arianna worked the room with a tried but true formula:  List + Alliteration. While she may have tossed off the old line, she unveiled some new ones as well:  the 4E’s.

She charted the “4E’s” — engagement, enthusiasm, empathy and energy — needed to tap into the zeitgeist of the digital era that’s transforming the content business.

“This is the era of engagement,” Ms. Huffington said, then quoted musician Will.i.am’s assessment of the news climate, where consumers used to get news on the couch, and are now getting news on a “galloping horse.”

via Arianna Huffington Preaches 4E’s of Web Content at 4A’s — Advertising Age

The second I heard the 4E’s I recalled a similar list from my AOL days.   Back when Steve Case and Bob Pittman held company meetings dressed as the Blues Brothers and, yes, threw the requisite beer bashes on the lawn, Steve Case also talked about the 5C’s.  This from a 2004 interview:

When I was trying to popularize the concept of the Internet — ten or 15 years ago — I came up with this concept of “the 5 Cs.” Services needed to have content, context, community, commerce, and connectivity. After that, when I was trying to think of what the key management principles were to build into the culture, I started talking about the Ps. The P’s were things like passion, perseverance, perspective and people. I think the people aspect is really the most important one.

via Steve Case interview, 2004 — Academy of Achievement

I don’t remember much talk about the 4P’s, but the 5C’s were the backbone of many strategic discussions at AOL.  Steve came up with this list in the early 1990s, and many of the words he selected are still relevant today.  Looking at the 5C’s, 4P’s and 4E’s together, we can group them pretty easily.

Product: Content, Context, Perspective

Interaction: Community, Engagement

Audience: People, Empathy

Drive: Passion, Perseverance, Energy, Enthusiasm

Revenue: Commerce, Connectivity (Rupert Murdoch would add Content here as well)

These all add up to a social, digital media experience.  While it is now mainstream, it is definitely not new.   Different words in different times, but Steve Case was undoubtedly the godfather of social media.  From Q-Link to AIM to AOL Chat… message boards, Member Directory, Hometown, AOL Journals and AOL Live… Steve Case and AOL paved the way for MySpace, Facebook, Skype, Flickr, Twitter, ChatRoulette and so many more.   Arianna calls this the “Era of Engagement,” and she’s right.  But this era dawned years ago with Steve Case and the 5C’s.  It often seems his contributions are overshadowed by finger-pointing over  the failed AOL Time Warner merger.  Were there flaws and mistakes in his leadership?  Of course.  Make no mistake, though:  Steve Case and AOL forever changed the way people communicate.

I should note that while I enjoy mocking jargon, I’m not entirely opposed to it.  When we first started working on True/Slant we came up with our own jargon-y phrase for the news experience we wanted to create:  Open  Social  News  Exchange.   It wasn’t really a list, there was no alliteration and the initials didn’t create a cute name (OSNE?  Uh, no.).  Still, each word meant something to us.   We also talked about what’s most important to us, jargon aside:   authenticity,  credibility, transparency, intimacy, knowledge.   These words are filters not just for our contributors, but also for marketers and our real-time advertorials,  T/S Ad Slants.   To us, true engagement means breaking down walls between news providers and news consumers, but it doesn’t stop there.  It also means breaking down the wall between  marketers and consumers.   In this scenario the sixth C — credibility — is crucial.  That’s where NYU professor Jay Rosen comes in.  I found his post on Twitter today: Eight key terms for determining legitimacy in journalism.

Veracity, accuracy, transparency, intellectual honesty, currency, inquiry, utility.  That’s where I would start in attempting to define legitimacy in journalism. Providers of news, information and commentary who devote themselves to those seven things are solid citizens of Legit-a-land.

I have to add one more, but you will probably hate me for it because it will strike you as jargon, and all journalists claim to hate jargon (but “lede” is okay, right?) Anyway, my eighth pillar of legitimacy is polyphonicity. I know: awful term! It means “more than one sound.”

Journalism to be fully legitimate needs to present a plurality of voices, not just one.  I don’t mean to invoke the gods of balance. They are false gods. I mean to suggest that journalism isn’t a monologue. More than one person speaks in it. More than one angle is taken on the object.

via Eight key terms for determining legitimacy in journalism — Jay Rosen

I have to say, Rosen nailed it right down to polyphonicity.   He’s applying these eight terms to legitimacy in  journalism, but I think they go beyond.   They are really 8 commandments for good citizenship in a social media world.  These are the values that will make for productive social exchanges around news or any other subject.

As I thought today about  Steve Case with his 5C’s and 4P’s as America first went online, Arianna with her 4E’s at the 4A’s, and Jay Rosen with his 8 Commandments for credibility, I got dizzy (hah) and then I embraced the polyphonicity.    Plurality of voices, dialogue vs monologue, intimacy of engagement, this platform that is above all the great equalizer…

“I didn’t kill newspapers, darling.”

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Tony Kornheiser, Hannah Storm and free speech as an endangered species

Posted by andreaitis on February 24, 2010

Hannah-Storm-SportsCenter-outfit

Hannah Storm in the "horrifying" outfit. PS: I'd wear it.

Hannah Storm’s Wikipedia entry has been updated already:

In February 2010, fellow ESPN colleague Tony Kornheiser harshly criticized her outfit that day on his radio show, and was suspended from ESPN for 2 weeks. He has since apologized to her via a 15 minute phone conversation.

via Wikipedia

What did Kornheiser say that warranted a two-week suspension and a 15-minute apology?  Did he say she stood by and did nothing while videotaping kids bullying an autistic child?  Did he call her a racist?  Did he suggest she repeatedly and casually incorporated the other r-word into her conversations (hint: it rhymes with me-tard)?  Did he call her (gasp!) fat?!?

Nope, none of the above.   Kornheiser’s offense:  He criticized her outfit.

What Kornheiser said, on his weekday local radio show on ESPN’s Washington, D.C. affiliate Friday, was that Storm was on-air in a “horrifying outfit” with “red go-go boots” and a skirt “way too short for somebody her age.” He added the kicker: “She’s what I would call a Holden Caulfield fantasy at this point.”

Kornheiser has apologized on-air and as well as to Storm personally. On the show Tuesday, he noted his suspension and said he wouldn’t talk about it in any interviews.

So, some context. Kornheiser, on that show, occasionally critiques on-air TV fashions —Kathie Lee Gifford, on NBC’s Today show, has been found wanting — which is perfectly fair game given costuming is a big part of TV. He also makes great use of what he finds irritating — Storm’s stylings just seemed like fodder.

via ESPN suspends Kornheiser for comments on Hannah Storm’s attire – USA Today

ESPN executive vice president John Skipper said “Hurtful and personal comments such as these are not acceptable and have significant consequences.”    What he actually meant is that “hurtful and personal comments” about colleagues are not acceptable.

Asked if the key was that Kornheiser was talking about a fellow staffer rather than specifically what he what said, spokesman Mike Soltys said: “Yes. Respect for colleagues is paramount!”

And here is where we slap the WTF?!? label on this little incident.   Have we learned nothing from Jay and Conan?  Perhaps this is some reverse psychology plot by a super-smart TV executive to get some attention for ESPN, a last-ditch effort to get a ratings spike as February sweeps come to a close.  More likely, it’s just another boneheaded bungle.  How does ESPN react?  A wannabe white knight TV exec rushes in to protect and defend the damsel in distress, and the implication is that Hannah Storm went crying to management.

That is offensive — much more offensive than Kornheiser calling her outfit horrifying.  Where is Hannah Storm in all this? Trash talk is part of sports.  Where’s the feisty comeback, the call-him-on-the-carpet confrontation, the self-deprecating sense of humor?  More than anything, I’d like to hear from Hannah Storm, get her reaction and have her stand up to Kornheiser herself rather than standing behind the men of ESPN.

Here’s how this should have gone down:

– Tony Kornheiser does what he always does.  Nothing new, nothing different, and certainly nothing extraordinarily offensive.  He criticizes Hannah Storm’s outfit and her judgment in wearing such an outfit.  File that under “freedom of speech.”

– Let’s imagine Hannah Storm blows a gasket or, at the very least, is annoyed.  She has several options:

1. She calls into (or shows up on) Kornheiser’s  show, Pardon the Interruption, to criticize his tie.

2. She invites Kornheiser onto her show, SportsCenter, to criticize his tie (and talk about trash-talking in sports).

3. She comments on Twitter, Facebook or in a blog post.

4. If ESPN execs release their idiotic statments, she notes the double-standard  idiocy:  It’s okay to make fun of other people but not of one another?   She also notes the ridiculousness of a two-week suspension and her ability to speak for herself.

5. They appear together on The Daily Show, with Dr. Phil and Jon Stewart as mediator.

6. They appear together as surprise judges on Project Runway.

7.  They immediately shoot a series of promos for ESPN that are posted to youtube and predestined to go viral.

8. Hannah Storm makes a video ripping apart Tony Kornheiser’s Penguin Dance.

[youtubevid id=”7RO82Rwdj1o”]

Remember,  Tony Kornheiser likes to have fun.  And Hannah Storm likes to dress up.

[daylifegallery id=1267047120620]

Were Kornheiser’s comments nice?  No.   Does he have a right to his opinion?  Yes.  The reaction by ESPN implies there was a complaint.  Did Hannah Storm have an issue with Kornheiser’s comments?  I’d really like to know (Hannah, you can reach me at andreaitis@trueslant.com).

Meanwhile, I just told my T/S colleague Michael Roston that his grey shirt doesn’t go with his brown sweater, and suggested he try Garanimals.   Gee, I hope I don’t get suspended.

Posted in Business, Entertainment, sports, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

How Betty White got screwed by the Winter Olympics

Posted by andreaitis on February 12, 2010

NEW YORK - JUNE 11:  Actress Betty White atten...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

She’s the hottest octogenarian ever. Golden Girl Betty White may have started her showbiz career in the 1940s but these days you haven’t hit the big time until you’ve gone viral. Now, finally, the 88-year-old actress has arrived: Betty White is a real live meme.

More than 245,000 people have joined a Facebook campaign suggesting Betty White host Saturday Night Live. You hear that and you think, “Huh. Good idea, Internets.” The Facebook page Betty White to Host SNL (please?)! has been gathering momentum with status updates and blog posts and twittering and re-twittering.
Are you listening, Lorne Michaels?

Dear Lorne Michaels...Please let Betty White host SNL.  Love, the Internets.

Dear Lorne Michaels...Please let Betty White host SNL. Love, the Internets

You can’t really call this a comeback since Betty White never went away. She is on quite a streak, though, the kind  that makes Chevy Chase, Mickey Rourke and Jay Leno drool with envy.

The streak started with Betty White’s role in the movie The Proposal, alongside Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Is she funny in the movie? Yes. But she’s even funnier in this behind-the-scenes spoof.

[youtubevid id=”wn1r1jb4–k”]

That sent Betty White and the phrase “ab-crunching jackass” into the digital galaxy. In the past month, though, Betty kicked it up three notches:
1. She accepted the SAG Lifetime Achievement award with this line: “I look out at this audience and I see so many famous faces. But what really boggles my mind is that I actually know many of you. And I’ve worked with quite a few. ::beat:: Maybe had a couple.”

2. She was the surprise star of a Super Bowl ad:
[youtubevid id=”X1Sv_z9jm8A”]

3. She became the subject of the aforementioned grassroots Facebook campaign to get her to host Saturday Night Live, which prompted coverage from NPR and the New York Times.

All good, right?  Wrong.  As Betty White knows, timing is everything.  In this case, the timing could not be more off. You see, there is a new formula for today’s multimedia economy:

Digital Presence + Story Arc = Window of Opportunity

In the past, the Window of Opportunity would stay open weeks at a time.  As information immediacy grew with blogging and Facebook and Twitter, the WoO closed bit by bit.   Television has four Sweeps periods each year; in the digital world every day is Sweeps.  Scratch that, every hour is Sweeps.  Looking at the formula in Betty White’s case, the timeline is pretty clear.   Her digital presence is high, her story arc is peaking, the window of opportunity is now.  She should be on Saturday Night Live tomorrow night.

Enter the Winter Olympics.  More than 2,500 athletes from 80+ countries over 17 days  are collectively ruining the Betty White SNL dream.  All that Olympic-ness is on NBC, home of — you got it — Saturday Night Live.   In fact, SNL isn’t even on the air tomorrow night.  The next show is scheduled for February 27th with Jennifer Lopez as host.   Anything can happen between now and then, 15 days is an eternity in the tweet life.  One thing, though, will most certainly occur:  the Betty White momentum will stall.  Might she still appear on SNL?  Very possibly.  Will we still tune in on a Saturday night two weeks from now with hopeful anticipation?  Very possibly not.  If it happens, we’ll catch it on Hulu the next day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see Betty White host SNL.  It’s exactly the kind of surprise that show needs.  But the meme-line demands it happen now to take advantage of the build-up, the Betty White mind-meld.  With the 2010 Winter Olympics starting tonight, we’re already off meme’ing about Vancouver and luge and the fateful turn of events.

Still, the idea of Betty White on SNL is too good to let it fall into the short-attention-span precipice. So Lorne Michaels, here’s what you should do:  Make Betty White a regular. Have her join the cast of Saturday Night Live.  Let Betty White pop in and out of every show in an unexpected and surprising way.   She can sing with Samberg.  Report the news with Seth.  Hijack JLo’s monologue — or better yet, sing and dance backup.

We’ll never know when she’ll show up or how, but we’ll all keep watching and waiting for Betty White.   If you really want to shake things up, don’t even tell the cast members which skits she’ll be in.   Let’s see what happens when you go off-script with improvisation and ad-lib.  A cameo by Abe Vigoda wouldn’t hurt, either.

The new meme starts now:  Put Betty White on SNL, and put the Live back into Saturday Night.

Posted in Entertainment, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »