How Honest Is Too Honest? Facebook & YouTube In The News

By Ben

Almost a year ago, a new application called the ‘honesty box’ was developed for Facebook. This application allows users to post a question that people can answer anonymously – something that The New York Times says “has become another weapon in the cyberbully’s arsenal.


Some students Palo Alto High School in California have been using the honesty box for this exact purpose, and one student even received a message saying “You should kill yourself. No one likes you.”

Although one of the application’s creators, Dan Peguine, says he developed the honestly box because he was curious to see what people thought of him, it’s not shocking that the application has been abused. Still, Peguine says that the word used most in the honesty box is ‘love’.

In other news, the Chinese government blocked YouTube after protest videos about Tibet were posted on the site.


March 17, 2008 at 1:11 pm 1 comment

Bloggers Banned?

By Ben

Dallas Mavericks owner (and former ‘Dancing with the Stars’ participant) Mark Cuban has instituted a new policy of banning bloggers from the team’s locker room. According to an AP article, “the policy was put in place after Cuban decided to keep out a reporter for The Dallas Morning News whose primary job is writing for the newspaper’s sports blogs.”

As one can imagine, this decision has been met with complaints throughout the blogger community. TrueHoop, an ESPN blog, posted an email exchange it had with Cuban about his decision. Other bloggers have posted open letters to Cuban’ about his decision, such as this one where Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Kamenetzky says the ban is a slap in the face.


Ironically, Cuban posted a response to the outrage in his own blog,

“Some out there will take this as my not “liking” blogs. Ridiculous. Its the exact opposite. What I don’t like is unequal access. I’m all for bloggers getting the same access as mainstream media when possible. Our interview room is open to bloggers. We take interview requests from bloggers. I’m a fan of getting as much coverage as possible for the Mavs. What I’m not a fan of is major media companies throwing their weight around thinking they should be treated differently.”

Cuban also manages to throw in his own opinion on blogging:

“Newspaper blogging is probably the worst marketing and branding move a newspaper can make. The barriers to entry for bloggers are non existent. There are no editorial standards. There are no accuracy standards. We bloggers can and do write whatever we damn well please. Historically newspapers have set some level of standards that they strived to adhere to. By taking on the branding, standard and posting habits of the blogosphere, newspapers have worked their way down to the least common demoninator of publishing in what appears to be an effort to troll for page views.”

While many are questioning whether this new policy was put in place just to ban one specific blogger from being in the locker room, Cuban has certainly created some chaos, and a distraction from his team’s recent drop in the standings.

March 12, 2008 at 2:08 pm Leave a comment

The Value of Boredom

By George

It’s no secret that the Boston Globe does a mediocre job of covering technology innovation in Massachusetts. The newspaper often spends more time covering California companies or the big national technology brands (like Google and Microsoft) than exploring the incredible innovations happening right in its own backyard.

The reason seems to be that the Globe doesn’t believe the technology happening here has enough consumer value. We’re constantly getting push back from Globe reporters not interested in striking firsts happening here: like the creation of the first real DNA microscope, the invention of the portable CT scanner (being used by the NFL and being featured on TV’s “ER”) or protecting our mounting amount of digital data from disaster – be it dynamic, virtual or physical.

It’s true that a lot of the emerging companies in the Bay State are business-to-business, but we think the Globe needs to spend less time covering the video gaming industry and more time on what’s happening here.

One notable exception, however, is reporter Carolyn Johnson. She has been a refreshing addition to the business pages and appears to have a real passion for writing about next-generation technologies. And the great thing about Carolyn is that she gets technology and is able to translate complicated technologies to a mainstream audience.

I was impressed with her piece in yesterday’s Idea section on – of all things – boredom. Carolyn explores the idea that boredom is necessary to spark innovation and that our modern obsession with filling every moment with micro-entertainment might not be good for us. Take this passage:

“But are we too busy twirling through the songs on our iPods — while checking e-mail, while changing lanes on the highway — to consider whether we are giving up a good thing? We are most human when we feel dull. Lolling around in a state of restlessness is one of life’s greatest luxuries — one not available to creatures that spend all their time pursuing mere survival. To be bored is to stop reacting to the external world, and to explore the internal one. It is in these times of reflection that people often discover something new, whether it is an epiphany about a relationship or a new theory about the way the universe works.”

It’s a fascinating read and an example of how Carolyn gets beyond the obvious and explores the philosophy and trends behind where we are going as a society.

It also makes you want to put down your mobile device – at least for a couple of hours every day (or until it rings).

March 10, 2008 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

How the Web and Social Networking Sites Have Changed News Gathering

By George

Another senseless act of gun violence erupted today – this time on the rural campus of Northern Illinois University. A graduate student is being identified as the gunman who went on a murderous rampage that left five students and the gunman dead. A total of 21 people were shot.

Our sympathies are with the victims, their families, and their friends.

The shooting has unleashed another 24/7 cycle of news coverage. The cable channels, wire services, and national newspapers have been updating the story continuously since it broke this morning. One of the remarkable aspects to this tragic story is the significant role that social media networks and the Web are having on the coverage.

The Web continues to transform the news industry – the way to cover the news, research the news, and present it to readers. For example, CNN is showing photographs of the victims from their Facebook pages. Facebook is fast becoming a news destination for reporters looking for personal information about people suddenly thrust into the spotlight. The cable station even has video of Facebook as an unseen user clicks through the individual pages of the shooting victims.

CNN has also been conducting online research into the identified suspect – finding photographs and other Web content to help fill out its profile of him. ABC News is doing the same. They posted a story today containing information culled from users of an online music community where the killer was allegedly an active participant.

CNN is among the first news outlets to set up an online forum for readers to sound off on the shootings. Hundreds of readers have already left comments behind on the tragedy. CNN has used the forum as a way to gauge national reaction to the shootings.

But it wasn’t only readers wanting to communicate using the latest technology. According to the Washington Post: “Inside the library (at Northern Illinois), more than 50 students gathered around computers. They searched for news and to send messages to friends and relatives, and also tried to use their mobile telephones.”

February 15, 2008 at 7:47 pm Leave a comment

Corporate Social Responsibility — Getting Beyond Philanthropy

By Peter Prodromou

People can find something to criticize about everything, including the transparency of Bono’s “Red” campaign. The Red campaign was started a little over a year ago and includes corporations like the Gap, who donate a portion of sales proceeds from Red branded merchandise to help with medical issues in developing countries. It seems the New York Times has questions about how much of that money is getting to these countries.

The Times article comes on the heels of Dell Computer joining the campaign and publicizing its participation during a Super Bowl ad.

That’s the problem with today’s brand of corporate social responsibility (CSR). It simply too sporadic and even if it isn’t — the way it’s executed leaves people with the best intentions open to criticism. This trend points to the glaring need for companies to reform their views and execution on social corporate responsibility. Companies today need to ingrain in their DNA and their corporate positioning the spirit of CSR.

We applaud Dell, Gap and every other participant for joining the Red campaign. Now we ask them to be truly bold. They can begin by reframing their corporate images around a handful of the most important issues in the world today – whether the environment, solving poverty or something else. They should think not only about giving, but empowering societies by developing and providing them with the tools they need to elevate themselves.

Imagine a cleaner world brought to you by a Green General Motors, or a future bastion of democracy in the developing world with entrepreneurialism powered by accessible computers. That’s the true spirit of CSR – the kind companies must focus on to lead and compete in the 21st century.



February 7, 2008 at 7:27 pm Leave a comment

Disappointing Superbowl, Commercials

By Ben

In December I wrote that a 30 second commercial during the Superbowl was going for $2.7 million. If not for the unfortunate outcome of the game, I would have said the commercials were the least memorable part – and USA Today seems to agree.

According to the paper, celebrities showed up in 18 ads this year, but not one of the advertisements cracked the top five in USA Today’s ‘Ad Meter’, and exclusive real-time consumer rating of the ads.

For businesses, these kinds of results may be even more disappointing that the game itself.


February 6, 2008 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment

It’s a Brave New World (2.0)

By Peter Prodromou

It’s been nearly 80 years since Edward Bernays changed the face of PR by marching a bunch of women down Madison Avenue smoking cigarettes. Yet even with the passage of time, you could argue nothing’s changed. Companies and governments still use the same tired approaches to publicize their agendas:

1 Part Wall Street Journal + 1 Part Charitable Act = Successful Reputation Management

The problem with that formula is that the world has passed it by.

The Wall Street Journal is still important and, let’s face it, who can argue with the righteousness of charitable acts? But the reality is, today’s audiences are more fragmented, sophisticated and connected than ever. The power of the internet and digital media has given everyone and anyone the power to drive perception. At the same time, the public is more issues driven than ever. Just think about how many of your friends and neighbors talk about the environment… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The companies and countries that are going to define this century are going to need more than economic might and an audience with print and broadcast media. They’re going to be tapped into those issues and, equally important, they’re going to have to understand the value of new technology and web media for not only communicating a story, but creating conversations and on-on-one constituent relationships.

They’ll do it through digital media, blogs, forums and other discussion sites. They’ll do it visually, using the web to spread their message far and wide. Most important, they’ll do it credibly with true commitment to the issues that concern the public today and through true relationship building.

So who’s getting it right? Think One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) – empowering people all over the globe to gain access to knowledge and talking about it on the web, as well as through traditional media. Think British Petroleum, moving to transform from an old oil company, to a next generation energy resource – and is proud – and daring enough — to talk about it.

These are the organizations that give you hope for a better tomorrow and a view into real leadership. These are the model organizations that work now or will work with World 2.0.

February 6, 2008 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

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