February 23, 2018

Politics and Political Blogs

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Whatever your political persuasion — right, left, or center — the blogosphere is a great place for bloggers to share their political views and make plenty of friends and enemies. We try to follow the conservative, liberal, and everything in between of politics and political blogs/blogging — but only when it intersects with business blogging.

Have a read below of our latest entries on politics and political blogging…

Sun CEO on Communication through Blogging

Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz gave a great keynote interview at the Web 2.0 Expo last month. He was interviewed by Tim O’Reilly. The 30 minute-plus interview covered a wide range of fascinating business- and technology-related topics, not the least of which was business blogging. The first five minutes after the introduction concentrate specifically on how Schwartz — whom O’Reilly called “One of the most senior bloggers around” in terms of business leadership — uses his blog to reach both employees and potential clients.

Jonathan Schwartz accepts blogging wholeheartedly, but rejects the word itself. “‘Blogging’ will at some point be a little anachronistic. I communicate. My number one job as a leader of a company is to communicate. You used to communicate by being the celebrity CEO, you flew around and spoke with heads of state, and got local media to cover it, and got your message out in an inefficient and environmentally irresponsible way. Then the Internet came along and gave you access to the whole planet all at the same time. So why not use the Internet as a way to communicate directly and authentically to the marketplace? Then I will have satisfied at least one portion of my job.”

Blogging doesn’t just communicate with the marketplace, though. Sun’s CEO also uses his company blog to communicate with the more than 32,000 Sun employees. When they have questions about business decisions, Jonathan can respond to both the company and the marketplace via his blog. “If you are going to lead, you must communicate,” he said in the interview. “You can communicate in many different ways, through your actions, through your products. The way I communicate is by using the spoken and written word.”

Schwartz is a genuine blogger — he’s very much against having the PR people do any writing for him. But do they mind that they’re not in control of his message? “I don’t think I’ve ever terrified our PR department, but I’ve terrified our securities department once or twice, and they’ve been very quick about telling me to put in a safe harbor statement at the beginning of the post, and then they make an SEC filing based on what I just said, but now we’re very practiced about this and that’s no longer the norm. I can get away with a link to a safe harbor statement now.”

The CEO isn’t the only blogger at Sun — more than 4300 people at the company, from marketing and HR staffers to high-level engineers and managers have blogs on the Sun Microsystems corporate site. Some of them are in languages other than English, and many of them are fascinating not solely as an insight into the internals of one of information technology’s founding companies, but as a collection of smart people who love to share ideas about a wide range of subjects. “The most terrifying day for me as a blogger was when our general counsel started writing a blog,” Schwartz said jokingly. “Actually that’s not true — he’s very thoughtful. And guess who reads his blog? Other general counsels.”

The rest of the interview covers Sun’s MySQL purchase and the integration of two businesses into one, Sun’s open source strategy, cloud computing, how giving away products for free gives insight into the market and access to potential hardware and services customers, utility computing, the evolution of high-performance computing, the “black box” data center, efficiency and power consumption (“[electricity] is the number two expense, next to people”), and how blogging helps inform people about all of these issues.

Good stuff!

If you’re a CEO, you’d do well to emulate Jonathan’s approach to business blogging.

The Dangers of Anonymous Blogging

BusinessWeek reports on anonymous blogging gone bad in a recent article Busting a Rogue Blogger.

Yes, there’s controversy in the sexy world of patent litigation, as Troll Tracker–formerly anonymous, now outed as Rick Frenkel–a blogger who writes on patent trolling, was outed as a Cisco employee. Why is this relevant? Because Frenkel was blogging about the very issues that Cisco was in court over.

Apparently Cisco didn’t know that they employed the Troll Tracker, but Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler cited the blog as an “independent source of information” while lobbying for changes in patent laws that would be beneficial to Cisco.

Death threats, bounties on the Troll Tracker’s identity, and litigation followed.

Cisco has since established some blogging policies, but they probably won’t help them in court. Even if these policies had been in place before Frankel started blogging anonymously, they probably wouldn’t save them from litigation.

Perhaps it’s time to start to develop your own business blogging policies for employees? What policies do you currently have in place?

The Do’s and Don’ts of Business Blogging from a Legal Standpoint

Too many articles about the legal ramifications of corporate blogs focus entirely on the negative side of blogs. This makes sense; corporate lawyers are hired with the intent of keeping the company safe and limiting risk. Marketing, extending your brand, and keeping employees and customers happy are someone else’s responsibilities.

However, As Blogging Grows, So Do Its Do’s and Don’ts, over at Law.com’s Legal Technology is a much more even-handed approach. (In fact, its do’s outnumber its don’ts about 2-to-1.)

There’s advice for public companies (do be mindful of security laws…risks associated with…making material misstatements that could manipulate the stock price and expose the company to liability for securities fraud under Rule 10b-5), companies with trade secrets, and just about anyone else.

The article can be summarized by the final quote:

The key to sticking with the “Do’s” is remembering that corporate blogging is like any other business communication that represents the company: Honesty and common sense go a long way to keeping the company (and its blog) on the right side of the law.

Blog Inside: IT@Intel Joins the Blogosphere

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on 10/12/06

There is a new arrival on the corporate, indeed Fortune 500, blog scene – the IT@Intel Blog.

The site will probably not appeal to people who want the full array of possible effects – audio, video mashups etc. Because unlike the groovy, dancing main Intel site, the IT@Intel blog is visually and organizationally sparer, along the lines of the related IT@Intel web site.

The blog uses MovableType’s Enterprise 1.3 platform, but again the graphic presentation is quite unlike some other corporate blogs using MT Enterprise, such as the rather jazzy GM FastLane blog.

The appropriateness of the IT@Intel Blog’s very neat design becomes evident when you see that, although this is a public blog, it appears to be aimed not so much at the general public as at the IT community and people with related interests.

And although I am not an IT engineer, and I like my rococo in its place, for me the visual spareness of the blog’s layout reflects a pleasingly elegant clarity of architecture and navigation.

There is a simply stated manifesto of guiding principles:

  • We will provide unique, individual perspectives on what’s going on at Intel and in the world;
  • We will post comments, except for spam and remarks that are off-topic, denigrating or offensive;
  • We will reply to comments promptly, when appropriate;
  • We will respect proprietary information and confidentiality; and
  • We will be respectful when disagreeing with others’ opinions.

For anyone who thinks that’s a bit light on for a corporate blog, never fear. There is a more extended and decidedly heavier statement in the legal page, whose phrasing, with its caveats and warnings, reminds us that this blog is indeed a corporate one.

The neat architecture is expressed in the simplicity of layout. The navigation menu along the top has just five items, so whatever your interest in the blog you can find your way there quickly – no need for head-scratching:

  • Recent Posts
  • About the Blog
  • Meet the Bloggers
  • Archives
  • Contact us

And as indicated above, other than the almost monochrome banner there are no pictures, no audio, no videos.

One other comment on underlying concepts and architecture is that the URL structure, http://blogs.intel.com/it/, allows nicely for any number of additional blogs to be created within the Intel blogs framework. Admittedly that’s not a big revelation from an IT engineering-based company, but it is a handy reminder of the value of thinking through structure and architecture before launching any blog in the business space.

There are four bloggers listed and posting at the IT@Intel blog, enough presumably to spread the load but not so many as to make it a case of “everyone’s responsibility is no one’s”. All have titles that indicate a high, or reasonably high level of seniority in the corporation (I don’t know the corporate structure or Intel’s policy on titles). And all are apparently working in an IT engineering or user experience framework. No one from marketing.

It is noticeable that there are no buttons or icons, not even a modest orange button for XML/RSS.

I like the way they have set up the sidebar with six elements, each in its own text box: Most Popular Tags, Recent Comments, Most Active Posts, Blogroll, Related Links, and Subscribe.

The treatment of the tags is interesting – no cloud in the sidebar, just four tags and a link to All Tags for anyone who really needs a cloud to make their day. There are only seven blogs in the Blogroll (that would have been an interesting discussion to be a fly on the wall for, surely – who’s in, who’s out?), only six Related Links and a simple, linked list of basic feed options in the Subscribe box, including a “What are feeds?” text link to a clear explanation on a separate page.

And content? Style?

Early days, but I liked what I read. Four individuals, each with a different style and each evidently keen to make his (yes, all males) mark as a blogger.

But they might have to up their rate. Four posts on October 9 and, at this posting, none since, is not exactly off to the races, guys. But those four posts have already attracted a number of supportive comments. So I hope the bloggers are encouraged by that and produce more, and more frequent, posts.

Pickedup from a Techwhack story via Google Alerts.

Nikon and eBay Get Hip to Social Media

Are you wondering how large companies can tap into the popularity of social media, Web 2.0, and other contemporary trends in the online world? Well, they could just pay $50,000 and set up a commercial MySpace account (no kidding, that’s the base fee for a fancy professional profile) or they could actually be inspired and tap into the popularity of YouTube or Flickr and do something really cool…

That’s exactly what auction giant eBay did when it created an admittedly cheesy 75 second introductory movie promoting an upcoming course they’re offering to the eBay seller community. They filmed the movie then simply uploaded it to YouTube and mentioned it on the eBay Chatter weblog to help drive more customers to the training course: check it out. Cool!

Nikon did something even more cool, though: it picked out a group of existing Nikon digital SLR photographers from popular photo sharing site Flickr and sent them brand new Nikon D80 camera setups. Their assignments? Take pictures, send us your best. The result? Stunning Nikon. A very savvy marketing effort!

I applaud both companies for experimenting – and succeeding – with social media and look forward to more companies tapping into the wisdom, enthusiasm and verve of popular social media.

An extended version of this article, with samples from Stunning Nikon and the eBay YouTube video, can be found at eBay and Nikon: Examples of New Media Marketing.

Blogs, Podcasts, RSS and B2B: New Research Study Available

KnowledgeStorm and Universal McCann have begun to release an emerging media series study into how blogs, podcasts and other RSS technologies affect technology purchasing decisions.

So far only the podcasting study has been released (free with registration), but they’ve released some teaser factoids:

  • 53% of respondants get business and technology information from blogs
  • 59% of business and IT professionals are somewhat or very familiar with RSS
  • 70% pass along content from blogs

Of course, they don’t go into detail (at least yet) on whether these people are making a buying decision on what they read at Engadget, or whether an RSS feed is helping them choose the right server or keeping them up with last night’s episode of Lost.

You can read the abstract and register for the free report here.

Thanks to Media Buyer Planner for the link.

Spam Attack!

Posted by: of One By One Media on 08/28/06
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You never really know what good something is doing in the blogosphere until it is broken and you don’t have it anymore. Over the weekend, the popular spam assassin Akismet was down and out. I only knew this after logging in to my site and seeing over a 1000 comments. At first I thought I had been the newest news story out there and my popularity had soared through the roof based on something that was said in the land down under. I was far from that fantasy.

With as many as came through the filters in that period of time, I was convinced that Akismet would be worth it even if I had to pay for the service (my site does not make enough money to be paying for the service yet. They require big companies to buy a license fee). I spent most of the day cleaning up the comments and the trackbacks and wasted a better part of my day.

The folks at Akismet had the same thing to say on their blog:

“I’m really sorry about this, when things are working smoothly it’s easy to forget how much vile junk is actually being blocked day to day.”

The better part of this lesson is that the folks at Akismet could talk to me about their problem. I don’t mean to say that they called me up at home while I was cursing all things spam, but when I went to their blog they had the information right there on their site and I was able to know what happened in real time. I knew that the glitch came after an upgrade or some similar technical backend move and it caused the system to fail. I was given the problem, the solution and an apology. Here is a company that understands the power of a blog as a communication tool.

Measure Map Acquired by Google

Posted by: of Made for Marketing on 02/14/06

Just got a nice, semi-personal email from Jeff Veen at Adaptive Path stating that their newest project, Measure Map, the great blog analytics tool, has been acquired by Google.

So I said there was news, and here it is: I’m writing you to announce that Measure Map has been acquired by Google, effective today. For the near term, you will see no difference in its operations. In the not so distant future, you can expect great things from this acquisition. We couldn’t be happier to find such an ideal home for Measure Map, and are thrilled at the possibilities.

Read more on the Google blog.

Google China reflects a new, healthy pragmatism at Google HQ

One of the hot topics of debate in the media this week has been whether Google should have launched its new Google China service, a search engine built atop servers located within mainland China that have content filters based on the laws and requirements of the Chinese government. While many people have criticized Google’s decision, along with other firms that also opt to meet legal requirements for doing business in the Chinese market, I actually believe that this decision marks a turning point in the growth and maturity of Google as a corporation. It’s the beginning of Google the pragmatic corporation, and it’s a trait that suggests that the company is recognizing the difference between idealism and success:

    Google gets pragmatic and enters China

There are lots of interesting parallels that I draw in this article too, including companies that opted to do business in South Africa and helped destroy apartheid, and even eBay’s meeting the requirements of the German government in terms of Nazi memorabilia sales.

Audible Releases Podcast Listenership Measurement….Sort of…

Posted by: of Made for Marketing on 11/11/05

The end of an era where we can’t meausure podcast listenership is almost over, so says Audible.com. I’m betting that this was ‘all the rage’ at the Portable Media Expo near Los Angeles today.

According to an article in today’s Wall St. Journal (sub. req.), Audible will be releasing technology, already deployed in it’s audio book products, for the podcast market which will help track and measure the listenership of any given podcast that’s run though its proprietary system.

Audible is making its tracking service available to outside podcasters.
The company will charge three cents per downloaded podcast to report
whether a downloader listened, and for how long. Audible will also
offer tools that will stop the podcast from being emailed to others. It
will charge five cents per download to track listening and attach the
access restrictions. For half a cent per download, Audible will insert
an ad relevant to the podcast.

Let’s all line up, nice and orderly now, to get in partnership with Audible to better track ads in podcasts.   The technology will be made available some time next quarter.

SixApart’s Mena and Ben Trott explain current problems with TypePad

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 10/27/05
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Update (2 days later): SixApart’s CEO Barak Berkowitz provides more details. He posted his Message from the CEO to the TypePad blog and also sent it in an HTML email to customers:

Dear Debbie,  

As you might know, some of our users have been experiencing slow performance with the TypePad service over the past few weeks…

Pretty nice. To back up a minute… we (meaning a bunch of contributors to this blog) are taking partial credit for these blogged
responses from SixApart. We started complaining vociferously on
Wednesday Oct. 26th (first me and then Tris Hussey, Rich Brooks, Toby Bloomberg and Paul Chaney) about the recent slowness and outages with TypePad, SixApart’s popular hosted blogging service.

The result? SixApart co-founders Mena and Ben Trott posted a reponse,
the first real explanation we’ve gotten from the company after several
weeks of problems with TypePad. The number of TypePad blogs and the
activity on them (the good news) has outstripped their server capacity
(the bad news), they tell us. They’re working to move TypePad to a new
data center (which hasn’t been going smoothly).

Moral of the story? The blogosphere works. You kvetch enough. You get everybody’s attention. (Addendum: we’re quite pleased with the effect of our buzz campaign.) Now let’s  hope they can fix the problems…

I sent Anil Dash
(a SixApart VP) several emails yesterday begging him to "listen up" and
to make lemonade out of lemons, so to speak. Anil is a friend and
colleague. I suggested he get the top dogs at 6A to acknowledge the
recent problems and address them more transparently than the cryptic
messages we get on 6A’s Status Weblog about "temporary service degradation."

He listened.

takeaway… there are many channels of communication. You need to use a
combination of public and private ones. The blogosphere is a very very
public place. It’s not right for everything.

Listen up SixApart: some of your TypePad customers may switch

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 10/26/05

Update: SixApart’s Anil Dash responds.

As I wrote here and here a few weeks ago, I’m one of thousands running a business blog on TypePad. The service has been excruciatingly slow of late. (Just now I thought I’d tear my hair out while waiting for this post to Save.) Sometimes it’s down altogether.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a “trash 6A” blog entry. It’s a please please please listen to your customers before it’s too late message. The buzz is building. There’s talk of moving some high-profile blogs (including this one) to WordPress or another platform.

My advice? Post fast. Post fresh. Be transparent. The blogosphere is gonna bite if you don’t. And get something up on your Status Blog (which, BTW, doesn’t have an archive so it’s conspicuously not quite a blog) or on Mena’s Corner that acknowledges the problem.

C’mon guys. We love you! Don’t disappoint.

SixApart talks openly to customers about bad stuff

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 10/13/05
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SixApart is one of the companies largely responsible for the migration of blogging from personal musings to the small business and corporate world. Their hosted TypePad service has been wildly popular amongst professionals. IBM legend Irving Wladawsky-Berger uses TypePad (instead of IBM’s blogging platform); Seth Godin uses it. Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, uses it. Intuit’s QuickBooks uses it here and here. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America uses it. This blog uses it. And lots more.

So when the TypePad service goes down, as it did earlier this week, it’s a pretty big deal. Lots of business blogs disappeared for hours. And if you’re the publisher of one of them, as I am, it strikes fear in your heart. Has the damn thing been swallowed up? All those thousands of words gone forever?


I was in a panic to put it politely. For me, and thousands of other customers, this was a crisis. Frustratingly, there was scant information at the time on SixApart’s supposedly real-time status blog.

Well, I’m delighted to report that 6A now gets this crisis blogging thing (see above). They’re talking to us. They’re telling us, candidly, what happened:

Both Monday’s and Tuesday’s outages were the result of hardware failures…

That’s really all customers want. We care more about being kept in the loop than about how bad the news is.

It’s just that we want the information in real-time, during the crisis. Tell us something, anything immediately. Acknowledge that there’s a problem (even a big problem) and that you’re working on it. But do it in plain English. Get the CEO to jump on the "status blog," if necessary. Don’t for heaven’s sake leave it up to your techies to pen one sentence about a "temporary service degradation." That’s jargon. It’s not communication.

Hard to do in a crisis, I know. But it’s the whole point of having a blog as a channel for real-time communication. To turn your customers, who are momentarily in a panic, into your evangelists. And who better than SixApart to model how this should be done. Thanks guys, for being responsive to my comments.

Note: turns out you can back up the contents of a TypePad blog into a file and download it to your computer. I just did it here. Now that would be a good tip to give TypePad customers, wouldn’t it? Doesn’t reflect badly on 6A and is a gentle reminder that these are just machines after all.

DoubleClick DART Motif Blog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 08/3/05
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I’m pleased to announce DoubleClick’s first blog, the DART Motif Blog. It’s part of the roll-out for the new web site supporting Motif, DoubleClick’s rich media advertising platform. I’m still working on getting a business blog of my own launched around here (stay tuned), but this one is written most capably by Ari Paparo, Motif’s product manager and an experienced blogger in his own right.


Can Technorati Compete?

First off, can I just say how stoked I am to be included in this list of blogorati? This must be how Lupus felt taking the field in The Bad News Bears.

And yes, I just said "stoked" with no intended irony.

As a supplement to a blurb in its UpFront section, BusinessWeek interviews Technorati’s David Sifry online. The print version (check your local news racks) describes him as a "serial entrepreneur"; is that a good thing or a bad thing?

In reading the beginning of the interview, it’s hard to know if Sifry is trying to kid the readers or himself. However, he finishes strong talking about the purpose and possible future of Technorati.

As has been noted elsewhere, some people are already reporting the
death of Technorati due to the upcoming competition from Google, MSN
and Yahoo into the blog search arena. Of this competition, Sifry says,

it really competition?….You go to Google and type in wine, and it
will tell you the best places to buy wine. But if you really want to
find out what the world’s leading wine experts are talking about,
Google isn’t really built to do that.

Ummm…being a
bourbon drinker I’m not overly concerned about what wine experts are
saying, but I’m guessing that after a couple of Google searches I could
uncover it.

Even if what Sifry [thanks, Peter!] says is true to a degree, I find it hard to believe that Google couldn’t figure this out in about a week if they put their collective mindpower to it. Plus, they have server resources that few companies on earth could compete with. (Those companies include MSN and Yahoo.)

Near the end of the interview, Sifry talks to the mission [statement] of Technorati:

Hey we’re a Web site, [but] we also have to be providing some real value to people, because that’s what being of service is really about. And that doesn’t mean controlling or owning, because when you’re of service, you’re supporting. If you’re providing people with something that they like and that they value, with that value comes money.

B.S.? Maybe, but I bought it.

Sifry finishes up with a couple of ideas that might keep him ahead of the more established "traditional" search engines, at least for a little while. He obviously "gets it"; let’s hope this serial entrepreneur cools his heels for a little while and figures out how to continually improve an already cool service.

[Hmmm…I must be nervous. I always blog a lot when I’m nervous.]

HP Blogs

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 03/9/05
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Deb Weil points out that HP has several blogs, including those of executives Rich Marcello, SVP & GM of Business Critical Servers, HP and Dan Socci, VP of HP Services, Technology Services Marketing.


Cisco High-Tech Policy Blog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 03/8/05
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Launched in February, a decent example of a blog (comments, bylined posts, XML feeds, etc.). I just don’t like the use of frames. I also don’t see permalinks.
Powered by Blojsom.


GoDaddy’s CEO Explains How NFL and Fox Nixed Second Super Bowl Ad

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 02/8/05

Bob Parsons, CEO of bargain domain registrar GoDaddy, has been blogging for a few months. In this post, he tells his company’s side of the story for why the NFL and Fox chickened out at the last minute from airing the second of its racy ads during the Super Bowl.

Earthlink’s Protection Blog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 01/19/05

Earthlink has recently launched the Protection Blog to help customers battle spam, spyware, viruses and other dangers of online life. It’s a great example of using a blog for customer service on a particular theme (mission statement post) of interest to your customers that isn’t simply talking about how great your product is.

Earthlink’s Protection Blog

MSN Search’s Weblog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 11/12/04

Continuing to demonstrate that it understands and values blogs, Microsoft has launched a blog to complement its new search service.



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