A good step toward transparency

NEW YORK – A company that helps advertisers connect with bloggers willing to write about their products for payment will now require disclosures amid criticism and a regulatory threat.
Before this week, advertisers were barred by PayPerPost Inc. from telling bloggers they can’t disclose the sponsorship, but bloggers were able to decide on their own whether or not to do so. Under the new policy, bloggers must disclose that they are accepting payment, either in the write-up or in a general disclosure policy on the blogger’s Web journal.

Bloggers must disclose sponsored posts – Tech News & Reviews – MSNBC.com

Everyone (well most everyone with a brain) understands that social media is here, and that until something changes it’s going to be around for a while. One of the things that could change it/lessen its impact is if people begin to think that the whole thing is a scam. Sony tried to job the idea; but they got busted. A few people of Digg were messing with the system but changes were made to try to correct that too.

For me, the important things around social media are that it be as authentic and transparent as possible. The more it is perceived to be real and credible the more it will grow; and the more that it grows the more successful and effective it will become.
[tags]Bloggers, PayPerPost, Social Media, Sony, Digg[/tags]

Blogged with Flock

Sony – a threat to creativity

A lot of PR, advertising and marketing people are trying to figure out how social media effectively. I’d like to think that most people understand that if you want to be a part of a community you need to play by the rules. If you don’t, you will get caught and you will pay a price. Somehow that point was lost on Sony, whose alliwantforxmasisapsp.com blog got busted.

Alliwantforxmasisapsp.com was a marketing campaign fronted as an independent blog, whose authors supposedly had a friend (“Jeremy”) that wanted a PSP for Christmas.

Sony Screws Up

Now there have been plenty of planted blogs, and when they are done well, they tend to be forgiven (to a degree); but when they are both bad and a bad idea, well, then things just aren’t pretty. Sony managed to have both a bad idea and bad execution on its hands with this one and that’s too bad. They been dashing recklessly through a minefield of potential mishaps and have managed to step on pretty much all of them.

The bigger problem though is for all of the companies that are not Sony. Because Sony has screwed up again, any commercial use of social media is going to be scrutinized more carefully. There are already people that want to hold businesses and institutions (and the people who communicate for them) to a higher standard than the average user. That goes against the social media grain; but unless there is transparency for all, I can understand the intent. It’s one thing for a lone nut to pretend to be someone they’re not, it’s another thing for a multi-billion dollar company to use its resources to dupe people.

Unless and until the issues of identity and transparency are sorted out, communicating through social media is going to take greater care than Sony showed and some good ideas are going to have to stay on the shelf.

[tags]Sony, PSP, Fake, Faux, blogs, social media, PR, advertising, marketing[/tags]

Sucked in by the new

There was an article posted on Digg about a school district in Illinois that was ditching the Mac in favor of Windows. Being someone that uses both, I was pretty interested in the thinking behind this move.

Willard [Eric Willard, the district’s new director of technology, the Platform Transition Task Force] said he decided on the new platform because most people use Microsoft programs in “the real world,” and open source systems provide a way for the district to keep students from downloading items such as music and movies onto the school’s computer hard drives — items that, ultimately, cost the district to delete.

The Courier News :: News :: D300 eyes Mac attack

First of all, “in the real world,” most people use computers to do only a small number of tasks:

  • Writing/editing
  • Calculating
  • Communicating
  • Organizing
  • Browsing

At this point, any computer and/or operating system is going to allow you to do these five things.  And, with the exception of systems running Linux, you can do all of those things (if you wish) using Microsoft software.  You can also do all of these things on pretty low-end hardware.  A few years ago I gave my mother an old P-133 that I had laying around.  That system is probably ten years old but it lets her do everything that she wants or needs a computer to do.

It’s hard to imagine that the computers currently in place are any less capable than the my mother’s; or that the students are doing more than the five basic activities listed above.  Now while the fact that Microsoft is the software of choice in “the real world,” plans are mentioned to use open source; but only to monitor and manage surfing behavior.

The district is also planning on purchasing hand held devices (at $200 each) for students as well (no mention is made of how many students would be receiving one).

Information technology is wonderful stuff; but it needs to be kept in perspective.  This district – like thousands across the country – has invested in making technology part of the educational experience; and that’s a good thing.  They’ve not only invested in the hardware, but also in the software, networks, expertise and shared user familiarity – and those things also have value.

This district – like thousands across the country – needs to consider whether their current technology meets the needs of their students.  Will kids be able to write, calculate, communicate, organize and browse with these computers?  I think the answer is probably yes and will continue to be yes for some time.  (I have a 1998 G-3 “Molar Mac” that’s slow, ugly and clunky – but it does a fine job running the applications from 1998.)

If you’ve got functional systems and software in place, why go through the cost and headache of switching?  There are only a few reasons I can think of – the systems are so old that they can’t perform the five core computer tasks, the systems are so thrashed that upkeep has become too expensive and time consuming or someone’s bought into the hype that newer = better.

I think it’s probably safe to rule out the first reason because there is enough simple (and frankly older) software out there to do the tasks that students need to do.  I accept the possibility of the second (having kids of my own I know the toll they can take on their systems) but it’s hard to imagine that EVERY system in the school district is so compromised.

That leaves option three – newer = better.  It’s a pretty American trait.  shiny is good.  New car smell is good.  Faster is good.  Clean is good.  Etc., etc., etc.  I fall for it too – a new version (of almost anything) becomes the object of my desire.  (I’m sitting writing on a MacBook Pro – a system that I love; but part of me wishes I had the Core 2 . . .)

Newer isn’t always better though.  If what you have does the job, stick with it as long as you can.  In the case of this school district, they have 3,000 Macintosh computers (as compared with 1,500 Windows machines) so the change would be pretty dramatic.  And, while the average age of the Mac systems is eight years, Willard is quoted saying, “We just bought Macs; we can’t throw them out.”

The article also states that “A referendum proposal that voters approved in March allowed for the district to revamp its technology and purchase new Macintosh computers this school year.”  So the voters approved the purchase of new Macs, the district is already predominantly Mac-based, and “real world” Microsoft applications are available for the Mac.  But the new director of IT has decided that the best and wisest step is to ignore the voters, ignore the existing infrastructure and ignore the availability of software that will meet the students’ needs.

I don’t get it myself but I’d love to hear a good explanation.

[tags]Macintosh, Windows, Microsoft, The Courier News, Carpentersville, Community Unit School District 300, Eric Willard[/tags]

iPod battery replacement

I have a 15GB 3G iPod that I’ve had for a few years now.  A while ago my battery crapped out and I started getting less and less time until I was only able to use it when it was plugged in (which kind of defeated the purpose).  My unit was covered by the recent class action suit and I followed all the steps to get a replacement.  I got my brother (who bought it for me as a gift) to give me a copy of his credit card receipt, I filled out the various forms and affidavits, mailed everything in and then I waited.

I waited for a long time – months and months and months and months.  Every now and then I’d check online to see how things were progressing with a potential settlement and I kept on waiting.  Finally, details of the settlement were released and I was psyched – I’d be getting something from Apple!

Well, my happiness was premature.  I got a letter stating that my receipt didn’t specifically state that the listed Apple purchase, was, in fact an iPod.  The letter asked that I provide more corroboration or sign another affidavit.  I needed to find the receipt again and figured I’d get around it some time.  Months passed and I did nothing.  I started to think about replacing my iPod with a Shuffle and even tried to buy one (with out any luck).

I started to wonder how hard/how expensive it would be to replace my battery.  As it turned out it was cheap, easy and fast.  I bought a battery on laptopsforless ($23 with shipping), opened the iPod and swapped batteries in less than ten minutes and the device is none the worse for wear.

[tags]Apple, iPod, battery, replacement[/tags]

Phone Sex

Yesterday CNN.com ran a story, “Modern romance: Get texted when love is near.”  I don’t know, there’s something a little creepy about this one to me – especially the GPS-enabled services.

Online dating is so last year. Now, if you’re thinking romance, look to your mobile phone. Match-making companies are creating new services that allow people to post their dating profile online and then automatically receive a text message on a GPS-enabled phone when a match is nearby, say, at a coffee shop around the corner.

Modern romance: Get texted when love is near – CNN.com

The story is about love and romance but lets be honest, what might one get with service like this?  A serious relationship? Unlikely. A casual relationship? Possibly. Casual sex? definitely.

  • He: Hi, I tagged yor profile on9, Im rght rownd d corner & 1DrD f I c%d tag U.
  • She: suR, swNdz gr8, Im jst finishing a cup of Cofy, whr do U wnt 2 MEt?
  • He: How bout d mens r%m whr U R, I cn b ther n 3 mins.
  • She: Perfect, knock 3 tImz & Ill unlock d dor.

Ah yes, modern romance indeed.

[tags]CNN, Phone, GPS, dating, SMS, text message, casual sex, match-making[/tags]