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What do you do when YouTube is down?
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Oh, yes. It goes down for maintenance.

1:52 AM | 0 comment(s) |

PR nightmare
Monday, November 20, 2006

The internet is changing everything. And PR firms will make a killing.

Take for example, an employee berating possible customers for trying to save money in a wedding. This is the email exchange that has made it all over the world:

    Possible customer:
      Paula and I went and viewed your marquee set-up at Devonport the other weekend and unfortunately we did not like it, so this is just to let you know we will not require your services on 7 April 2007.

    Hotel employee:

      Hi Steve, Thanks for your reply. Your wedding sounded cheap, nasty and tacky anyway, so we only ever considered you time wasters. Our marquees are for upper class clients which unfortunately you are not. Why don't you stay within your class level and buy something from payless plastics instead. Kindest Regards, Katrina.

Ouch. What's a company to do? Issue an apology on their main web site:


    We would like to advise that we regret the exchange. We have apologised [misspelling from the original site] to the customer concerned and this staff member's contract has been terminated and processes has been put in place to ensure it won't happen again.

(I'm sure the apology will go down shortly, but here is a screen shot of it.)

Needless to say, they fired the employee, however, this one thoughtless act will probably loose some money to this company. How much effect this action will have on the bottom line, it's hard to say but Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia is thinking of dropping them from the event (this is probably a good source of clients). I'd also think it is hard to judge the company for the actions of one employee, however, they do train their employees (and the employee happened to be the owner's wife).

This is a very tough situation for this company, but I'm not sure if I would have advised to put the apology right at front or not. Why? Although it is a good gesture, it detracts from their business, and not everyone knew this happened, but now, because of the apology, everyone knows--including new prospect clients, of which some will care and some won't. A very tough situation indeed.

7:54 AM | 0 comment(s) |

The "new" new web

The new internet (the web really) is all about collaboration, and we've all known that for quite some time. However, what we haven't known is that we can use all those people connected to internet to do stuff that creates value for companies (for free).

For example, google has this really cool "game" where two people are connected, at the same time, via a google application to put labels on images so that they are easier to search, i.e., millions of pairs of people look at an image and suggest labels and if the labels match the users get points and the image catalog is probably updated with the keyword that the users suggested.

It's really quite addictive: try it for yourself. You will feel very good to have helped the small company make images easier to search.

Has this collaboration been planned all along? I really doubt it, however, it is one of those things where the growth of the technology and acceptance of the users create brand new business opportunities and forces companies to revise their corporate and business strategies.

You can come with a myriad of products that use this same "non-artificial massively distributed human intelligence." With very little knowledge about your users, you can find out a lot of things about a lot of different things.

(Note that marketing department in large software and gadget companies keep talking about collaboration, but I doubt this is what they had in mind. I think that their "collaboration" ridden ads have to do with using your own data to do different things within your organization and in the end create value and hence "mo money" to shareholders. And I'm all for value creation and shareholders' satisfaction--there is no other way.)

And speaking of different things, you should read Wired's "The Secret World of Lonelygirl" article. If you don't know who "lonelygirld15" is, you should. It is quite an interesting story of how the evolution of entertainment is taking shape.

There is always something missing with interesting and cool new ways of content distribution, though, for example: how does anyone make money?

And for the world of "content" (and this includes blogs), it is all about advertisement dollars, unless the content is sponsored by some major corporation.

Sponsoring will probably become the norm in the future, and this fact will make finding bias-free content almost an impossibility. For example, how do you know that Wired didn't pay me to write about their article? Or that google didn't pay me to advertise their "imagelabeler" game? For the record, no one pays me to write, but will every blog come with a disclaimer that they are totally and completely independent? I surely hope so.

It's the "new" new web, I guess...And we'll soon find out if product placement will actually become the content. If that happens, will content be king?

1:23 AM | 0 comment(s) |

One of the "isms"
Thursday, November 16, 2006

Either of the invented "isms" (capital, social, marx, commun, etc.) has been put in place to control the game of civilized living. Some promote absolute control over Estate matters, others argue that control actually ruins the party.

Most of the free world has decided on one, but there are always detractors and there is always someone who has a better idea of how to do things. These "isms" are global trends that traverse the globe: in the 20th century communism gave it a shot all around Europe, and, as they say, the rest is history.

Plato, during his robe wearing days, argued that a "timocracy" was the best way to control the populus. When you think about it, things have converged to that state of affairs, except that we should change "land" for "capital" and we kind of have a timocracy or sorts.

When it comes to social control, Economist have played an important role in the political process. Some economist even think they benefit greatly from such status and controlled economies. Peter Klein (from the University of Missouri) wrote, "It's clear that academics benefit from living in a highly interventionist society." So the whole argument presented in his essay "Why Intellectuals Still Support Socialism" does not only apply to Economist. He claims that ""second-hand dealers in ideas" - the journalists, book editors, high-school teachers, and other members of the "opinion-molding" class" have vested interest in highly controlled societies because they will be needed--create and fulfill the need.

Milton Friedman

10:23 PM | 0 comment(s) |

Is blogger browser sensitive?
Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I don't understand why a web application is browser sensitive (forget all the HTML and JavaScript engine compatibilities). I mean, that I can access blogger with IE but can't with FireFox.

I wonder why?

5:49 PM | 0 comment(s) |

He said, he said

Mark Cuban said (well, didn't say so himself, but spread the rumor): google set aside some money to settle with copyright holders. (Some intimate details on the Google YouTube Deal.)

And Eric Schmidt said: not true. (Google CEO denies rumor of YouTube legal reserve.)

It's like highschool gossip, at a much larger scale. You've got to love the blogsphere: you can say whatever you want and pass it as original thought.

5:40 PM | 0 comment(s) |

Democracy is where it's at

For better or for worst, voting changes the balance of power:The most radical of all changes is perhaps the one in Nicaragua. Although, Mr. Ortega already had a shot at the presidency, from 1985 to 1990, and things didn't work out that well--does anyone remember the Iran-Contra story? (I actually don't but read about it.)

Things are different now, he says, but I'm sure the US will be keeping an eye on that one.

One of the major implications for Mr. Ortega is the one of foreign investment and free trade. History has revealed that this type of governments like to nationalize industries and take all the foreign investments and give them to the "people." (This is no great insight from my part; this has happened many times in the past.) However, rumor has it that not all appropriated assets go to the people. Some say that the coffers of the ones in power grow larger--note that I'm not saying this is true, but people talk. Even Plato argued that absolute power corrupts. So if you haven't had for a long time and then you have it all for a short period of time, would you be tempted to take and misuse?

I have written in the past that when changes of power in North America take place, we don't see an immediate impact in our lifestyles (well, I save 2 pennies in my coffee thanks to a decrease in GST, but this was more of play in policy than anything else), however, in a place like Nicaragua, electing an ex-guerrilla fighter is a big deal and everyone reacts. Hopefully the changes in our small, unpopulated, and under-developed sister nation will benefit the majority and not just a few. It's only fair, and it is the democratic way.

8:02 AM | 0 comment(s) |

Hacking butterflies
Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting machines should be tamper proof, however, software voting machines will always have the same vulnerabilities any other software system has: it is unlikely that either of them will ever be 100% secure and tamper proof. If it has 0s and 1s, some clever block will find a way to modify it.

The HBO documentary, Hacking Democracy, is just bad news for everyone involved, specially Diebold, Inc., the makers of the actual voting machine. (Lets see how its stock is doing.)

Of course, the company would like the program to not air on cable TV. But does it really make a difference when it is already available online? If you have not seen it, you can watch the whole thing online at google video.

By the way, the word hacking sounds cool, and when it is used in documentaries is it even better. "The revolution will be hacked."

8:21 AM | 0 comment(s) |

What does war look like?
Friday, November 03, 2006

First graders need to know about the realities of the world. I try to be as honest as I can be to Gabriel, without scaring him too much. However, I wouldn't know how to start to explain the theme of War. And I have never tried.

War is an irrational invention, yet we (humanity) can't seem to live without it. There is no logical explanation for it. Wars seem to start with one aggressor who awaits a retaliatory action, however, why does the first attack take place? Not the action, but what is the real motive behind the action? Is it the action of one person? Is it the common consciousness of a whole population that drives leaders to attack?

In the times of antiquity, wars were means to empire expansion. Alexander the Great would have just been Alexander of Macedonia had he not been so driven to accomplish greatness for greatness sake and the want to expand the Greek empire to the ends of the world. Julius Caesar would have died an old man, without glory, had he not been one the greatest war generals of all time. What would our World look like without the dark ages or the Crusades, which were in essence religious wars against logic?

Wars are bad, and yet are necessary evils. Wars drive economies, yet destroy entire societies. Revolutions and the need of change have been the catalyst for the civil Wars of our romantic past--long live the Emperor. Too much is sacrificed, yet we sacrifice.

To my son, war is a battle of mice against frogs. They fight against each other for some reason he can't explain. At least, this is the sanitized version the Canadian government has included in the first grade curriculum. He knows it is bad, but it looks to him like red crayon scribbles fighting against blue crayon scribbles. And because he is a boy, there has to be a robot for good measure. I prefer this version and not the technicolour version with crumbled buildings, flying shrapnel, and sulfur smell. I am sorry if you have to explain that reality to a 6 year old. I truly am.

We didn't ask him to draw it, nor set up the scene for him. He acted on his own volition, as he does most of the time when he grabs his drawing pad and crayons and he starts to doodle making up stories and putting names to shapes: there is the 7 fin shark, the stick men with 10 toes and 10 fingers, giant snakes with 10 faces.

What I find the most refreshing on his "art" is that there is no inhibition or crazy drawing theory, only mood and feeling. We all do things to interpret everything going around us: we even rationalize War to be all about peace.

Today my son learned about war, and he drew war--he captured the chaos and messiness of it, without experiencing the true horror of mice and frogs mutilating each other for the glory of...Empire?

8:49 PM | 0 comment(s) |

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