Todd "Turbo" Watson -- IBM Corporation
This has been a dark 24 hours in the Blogosphere.
If you haven't read Kathy Sierra's post about the misogynistic comments and death threats that were made on her own "Creating Passionate Users" blog and on a recently pulled blog called "meankids.org," you can read it here. (Be warned, it is both dark and disturbing.)
The headline conveys the key point: "Death threats against bloggers are NOT "protected speech."
Robert Scoble has announced he'll take the week off from blogging, in silent protest. Countless others have sounded off with both sympathy and disgust.
I join in their outrage, but do not agree silence is the way forward.
Also, it has been widely observed that the comments and horrible images were posted anonymously.
While I most assuredly don't condone the sick musings of the anonymous coward who posted them, and while I agree with Sierra's headline verdict that this was not protected speech, I also do not believe that this act would justify a blanket condemnation of anonymity online.
In countries around the globe, the opportunity to speak truth to power and, often, to reveal unconscionable acts to the rest of the world using the online media, is made possible with the very same promise and expectation of anonymity that, in this particular case, was used as a mask from which to hide behind.
That mask admittedly has two faces: one which protects the cowardly, the other which protects those who risk their lives to shine transparency and light on such cowards and bring them to justice. Let us not burn one side of the mask lest we minimize the opportunity to use the other side to reveal horrible truths and injustices in the world.
As Shahed Amanullah, a founder of Halafire Media, observed during a recent SXSW Interactive panel entitled "Blogging Where Speech Isn't Free":
"People can be shamed into doing the right thing. Make it be known that people are watching. We will judge you on how you treat these people."
We must and will shame the offender in this case.
But we should not allow the same promised anonymity that helped masked this offender to unmask the thousands of others around the globe who depend on that very same anonymity to shine light on the corrupt and speak truth to power as their last perimeter of defense.[Read More]
Speaking of print magazines about digital topics, Wired has a great cover story on transparency in business and business communications in edition 15.04.
Great case studies (including my friend Shel Israels' journey into "Dell --ll" and Edelman's Wal-Mart blogging blip and later mea culpa), as well as some "participatory" comments in the margins from bloggers who collaborated with writer Clive Thompson in the actual writing of the story.
You want to know what's going on out here in the blogosphere and what it means to be a straight corporate shooter?
Read this story.[Read More]
The digital cannibalization continues.
InfoWorld's editor-in-chief blogged earlier today that the "rumors are true" and that InfoWorld will discontinue its print component as of April 2, 2007.
Everybody's all abuzz about the news, but I would just have to ask, what took them so long?
When I first started working at IBM in 1991, I actually was hired to help publish some IBM customer magazines.
I remember when I used to go over to the IBM library near our Westlake offices in Roanoke, Texas, to do research by thumbing through the pages of InfoWorld, ComputerWorld, and a host of other print IT publications.
But that was 1991! Like Ed Brill, I haven't read an IT publication in print (save for Wired, the irony of which still amuses me. The one digital magazine I read using pulp!) in years!
Why would I? The information is often out of date -- this is IT, not cattle ranching -- and things change by the nanosecond!
Also, the information in pubs like InfoWorld is often actionable intelligence -- you need to refer back to it, share it with your colleagues, save it for future reference, categorize it, etc.
Social bookmarking, tagging, and RSS provide a much more potent approach in enabling such behavior than filing a dust-eared copy in your filing cabinet.
It was never the delivery vehicle of the information that was important. It was the information.
That information ought and will be delivered by whatever means are most efficient and useful to the audience.
More publications and marketers could learn huge lessons from this bold, if overdue, new approach by InfoWorld.
Not to mention save a lot of postage and a whole lot of trees.
I was glad to see we announced IBM's intent to further cut greenhouse gas emissions by 7% through 2012 through our partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency Climate Leaders program.
The decrease in emissions is due to reduction of carbon dioxide through energy conservation, and also by lowering perfluorocompounds through the user of new technologies in semiconductor manufacturing.
I like to think I've been doing my own part to help with this effort for several years now, working from home nearly 100% of the time. At last count, I've seen stats suggesting that 40% of we IBMers are now telecommuting regularly (Considering all the very useful collaboration software coming out of Lotus, we ought to be encouraging telecommuting!)
The gas prices go higher, and I just feel more and more empowered sitting in front of my Sametime windows, chatting and collaborating with colleagues around the globe. Never thinking to myself, "Gee, I wonder how traffic on Mopac is today."
Meanwhile, we announced on Friday a partnership with academic to build a worldwide repository of materials that will enable student developers to make software more accessible to those with disabilities and an aging population.
The Accessibility Common Courseware Exchange for Software Studies (ACCESS...c'mon, we're IBM...you had to know there would be a clever acronym involved!) will be a repository for professors around the world to collect, store and share information around accessibility technologies.
It will store everything from accessibility software to courseware to teaching, training tools and books. And, it will be available to the academic community at no charge.
You can access ACCESS here.
So you're aware of how significant an issue accessibility is via the Web, between 750 million and 1 billion of the world's 6 billion people have a speech, vision, mobility, hearing, or cognitive disability, according to the World Health Organization.
Yet in a recent survey IBM commissioned of more than 200 two- and four-year U.S. universities, it was discovered that the majority of faculty respondents do not teach accessibility in the classroom, mainly due to a lack of familiarity with the topic and a shortage of learning materials to incorporate into existing classes.
The ACCESS project is already underway, with the University of Illinois, California State University at Long Beach, Georgia Tech, University of Toronto and the Rochester Institute of Technology already working with IBM to build a repository of repeatable learning materials to incorporate into everyday computer programming classes.[Read More]
It's almost beer-thirty, but I didn't want to bail on the day/week without commenting about my AppleTV experience thus far.
It showed up in a nice Apple package courtesy of FedEx early this A.M. I had to scoot out to get an HDMI-to-HDMI cable.
But my experience hasn't been quite as easy as Robert Scoble's apparently has.
However, I think it's Sony's issue, not Apple's. I am unable to get my Time-Warner HD cable box working at the same time as the Apple TV device. One uses component video cables (the Time Warner box), the other is supposed to use either/or. But that's not working for me.
So, I called Apple Tech support. I really feel for those people getting calls on a new product like this. The guy was very helpful, but at the end he made that fated comment that made me want to reach through the phone and..."Well, I suppose you could call Sony and ask them how to..."
Wrong answer, dude.
Anyhow, I pulled the HD component video and audio cables out, and plugged the Apple TV in that way. Within minutes it was up and running and syncing with my iMac upstairs via 802.11b. Which means all my stuff ought to be synced up by, oh, say next July.
But Mossberg, Scoble, et al are right...assuming your HD TV can find the Apple TV box in the first place, it's really easy to use. And right now I'm listening to REM's "Automatic for the People" from my upstairs iMac via an 802 stream to the Apple TV device, AS it's syncing the rest of my content.
Pretty darn cool.
Meanwhile, if anyone knows how to get a Sony Wega to recognize an HDMI signal while still plugged into an HD box from Time Warner via component video, I'm all ears.[Read More]
Whoa. This is the problem with getting on a series of planes instead of staying synced into the series of tubes:
"NBC Universal and News Corp. Announce Deal with Internet Leaders AOL, MSN, MySpace, and Yahoo! to Create a Premium Online Video Site with Unprecedented Reach."
I don't think I've seen this kind of blogospheric action since Google bought YouTube.
Mark Cuban thinks the Fox/Peacock video venture is a great idea. PodTech's John Furrier calls it a "YouTube killer." Jeff Jarvis says this deal "potentially provides an infrastructure for the viral, audience-controlled recommendation and distribution of video with the two elements the producers demand -- control and monetization."
Still others are referring to it as the "MeTooTube."
Turbo says competition in the online video space is veddy healthy, but wishes his soon-to-arrive Apple TV could view videos from the all the online boob tubes and not just the iTune-tube.[Read More]
First there were 78 rpms.
Then there were 45s.
Then there were 33 1/2s.
Then there were 8-tracks (remember that skip in the middle of a song while it switched tracks?)
Then there were cassettes.
Then the MP3.
And then the long whipping tail of digital music distribution.
The Wall Street Journal had a breathtaking story (reg required) today about the continuing seven-year sales decline, especially if you're a record executive.
The key factoid: CD sales were down 20% for the first three months of this year.
Can you say industry inflection point?
I've always believed the single greatest characteristic of search engine marketing (SEM) is that it creates an efficiency in the market by bridging the common divide between buyer and seller.
Or, as I often say in those endless conference calls, "If you're a car dealer, would you rather talk to the person walking around your showroom floor or the one hitchhiking down the highway."
Actually, the hitchhiker might be interesting to talk to, but the person on the showroom floor is probably more interested in buying that black BMW 3 series sedan.
Good SEM, then, is all about intercepting the hitchhiker with his thumb out at the moment he's ready to trade up for the sedan. Simple as that.
Or, in other words, it's about driving the right users to your Web site. Because not all traffic is good.
You want the most qualified traffic.
As I learned in a session at last week's SXSWi 2007, once the good traffic does land, your priorities should shift to:
Stat: Nearly 90% of Web sites are initially found through search
Stat II: 95% of Web sites fail to engage their visitors in a meaningful and compelling manner
Ooops. As Bill Leake, CEO and president of Apogee-Search said in his session entitled appropriately "How to Make Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Usability Work Together," organic search is "a balancing act between conversion and maintaining a high ranking with search engines."
Some of Bill's tips for striving to reach that balance:
Which means you that you need to ensure that your site navigation provides context on every page so that users can more easily orient themselves and navigate the site.
Also remember, you often only have one shot at this: Users will bolt for the Web "Exit" sign when your landing page content doesn't map to the mental model (the user expectations) for that search.
Some easy-to-remember tips for helping ensure that the user experience leads to the desired conversion:
Better yet, think about your own behavior when conducting searchers and put yourself in the searcher's shoes, and you'll be well on your way to getting the qualified prospect into your showroom.[Read More]
If you've ever used 37signals' BaseCamp, Campfire, or other Web-based tools, you know the power of Web-based software (some might even refer to their apps as "software as a service.")
They've just introduced a new addition to the family, their shared contact management and task list app "HighRise."
As the new site indicates, Highrise "helps you keep track of who you talk to, what was said, and what to do next." It lets you set reminders for follow-ups, send thank you notes, calls, tasks, etc.
Back to the personal productivity meme, it's about getting things done, in groups, via the Web, no intermediating desktop client required.
Take the tour here.
Adobe's Web servers must have been screaming the last couple of days with the much-anticipated liftoff of the alpha version of their rich Internet application (better known in these here Web parts as "RIA") development tool, "Apollo."
It may only be one small step for a software company, but the battle for developers dabbling in RIA apps has been joined.
ZDNet's Ryan Stewart is blogging the launch here. As Stewart writes, "Apollo gives developers with a web skillset the chance to deploy applications [on the desktop]." An opportunity for the best of both operating solar systems, as it were.
Apollo is a cross-OS runtime that combines the best of Flash and PDF and allows developers to leverage their existing Web development skills (Flash, Flex, HTML, Ajax) to build and deploy desktop RIA's.