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Archive for the month “August, 2012”

If you tweet “911,” you have 137 characters left

My age is showing.

When Linda Lawrey recently shared a post from All Twitter, at first glance it sounded like the stupidest thing that I had ever read.

The Japanese government is considering taking steps to make Twitter and other social networks an official emergency call system.

Yes, Twitter. We have enough problems placing emergency calls from anything other than a landline, and now people want to tweet disasters? And, as someone noted in a comment on Lawrey’s thread, if the person already has a phone, why not call in the emergency instead of tweeting it?

My initial reaction, however, neglected three important points. First, the discussion is taking place in Japan, not in the United States. Second, the discussion takes account of times in which people don’t have phones:

There are upsides to a move like this, including more ways for citizens to contact their ambulance, police and fire departments if they don’t have access to a phone – a situation which happened for many Japanese citizens during the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In the aftermath of the disaster, many people reported not being able to reach emergency personnel due to voice networks being overcrowded.

Third, I completely failed to account for generational issues. I am of the generation that traditionally uses the telephone as a voice communication mechanism. Yes, I use my smartphone for other purposes, but a phone is a phone is a phone.

But that’s not true for younger people. In a Pew Research study, 38% of all teens contacted their peers by cell phone, compared to 30% who talk on landline phones.

But 54% of teens communicate with their peers via text message.

I don’t know the numbers for Japan, but I wouldn’t be surprised if text message use is even higher over there.

In an environment like that, the ability to place emergency “calls” via a service like Twitter is not only desirable, but a necessity.

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A new measure of modern speed

The following appears on the White House’s Digital Government Strategy page:

When a 5.9 earthquake hit near Richmond, Virginia on August 23rd, 2011, residents in New York City read about the quake on Twitter feeds 30 seconds before they experienced the quake themselves.

Creating a fake paper trail in the paperless era

While fraud has in some respects remained the same over hundreds or thousands of years, the tools used to commit fraud have certainly changed.

Years ago, people would commit fraud by creating false receipts and the like.

Now they commit fraud by creating fake websites.

When baseball player Melky Cabrera was found to have ingested a banned substance in violation of Major League Baseball’s anti-drug policy, Cabrera noticed a possible out in MLB’s rules.

The idea, apparently, was to lay a trail of digital breadcrumbs suggesting Cabrera had ordered a supplement that ended up causing the positive test, and to rely on a clause in the collectively bargained drug program that allows a player who has tested positive to attempt to prove he ingested a banned substance through no fault of his own.

So how could Cabrera “prove” that he inadvertently ingested a banned substance?

San Francisco Giants star Melky Cabrera created a fictitious website and a nonexistent product designed to prove he inadvertently took the banned substance that caused a positive test under Major League Baseball’s drug program….

Cabrera associate Juan Nunez, described by the player’s agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, as a “paid consultant” of their firm but not an “employee,” is alleged to have paid $10,000 to acquire the phony website.

Unfortunately for Cabrera, the ruse didn’t work:

MLB’s department of investigations quickly began asking questions about the website and the “product” — Where was the site operating from? Who owned it? What kind of product was it? — and quickly discovered that an existing website had been altered, adding an ad for the product, a topical cream, that didn’t exist.

Now Cabrera is in much more trouble than he was originally. But this is something that James Ulvog has been saying for years – because, regardless of the technology used to perpetrate fraud, the consequences of fraud are always devastating:

Remember when you tossed a rock out into a calm lake? The ripples of the splash spread far. You can see the ripple bounce off a rock or the shore and have a reflected ripple spread across the lake. If the water is very calm, you can see the ripples spread out a long ways from the initial splash. It is the same way with fraud. The devastation just spreads and spreads.

When remixes change genres

Dave Audé has done a club remix of Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man.”

How to write with a typewriter (it’s not a computer)

Back in April 2011, I wrote my obituary for the typewriter on the occasion of the closure of Godrej and Boyce’s typewriter manufacturing plant in Mumbai, India.

Well, there must be zombies about, because they’re still talking about typewriters today.

Nina L. Diamond tweeted a link to a CBS Sunday Morning piece on Bill Wahl, who owns a typewriter repair shop in Mesa, Arizona.

But it’s really eye-opening to read a University of Arizona piece on the typewriter. Now back when I was in college, I used a typewriter regularly (at least until I had to write a 100-page thesis). To a University of Arizona student, a typewriter is an amazing new thing. And with this new perspective, Brenton Woodward is immediately able to realize things about the typewriter that I have long since forgotten.

You won’t know what to write your first time typing on a typewriter, becase you won’t know what words are worth being struck so permanently onto the surface of the paper. You’ll type pithy greetings, and strings of random characters, as you watch the mechanisms swing and shuttle along. You’ll listen to the click and clatter of the machine that seems alive under your fingertips, then, after the initial coy flirtations, you’ll get serious. You’ll find the words coming to you, the right words, the words that are meant to be there.

I of course remembered the permanence of typewritten text, but I had forgotten how it affects the writing process. Woodward quotes from Will Self:

“I think the computer user does their thinking on the screen, and the non-computer user is compelled, because he or she has to retype a whole text, to do a lot more thinking in the head.”

After 30 years of working with the ability to edit before committing text to final form, I wonder if I could still write the old way.

Remember pagers? Well, they’re still around.

Many years ago, I began thinking that it might be a good idea to have a way for someone to contact me at any time. So, I was seriously considering buying a pager and signing up for pager service.

Instead, I did something really wild.

I got a cellular telephone and signed up for cell phone service.

As cell phones became more and more prevalent, pagers – the former status symbol used by important businesspeople (including professionals in the illegal pharmaceutical business) receded from the national consciousness. But they didn’t disappear – which was a good thing in August 2011:

SPRINGFIELD, Va., Aug 29, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — USA Mobility, Inc. (Nasdaq: USMO), a leading provider of wireless messaging,mobile voice and data and unified communications solutions, today reported its paging networks remained fully operational in the aftermath of last week’s East Coast earthquake, once again demonstrating the reliability of paging networks over cellular networks, which reportedly experienced significant outages and disruptions to customer service after the quake.

So all of us tech-weenies who were stupid enough to use cellphones lost contact, while the pager people stayed in touch.

But who are these pager people? According to USA Mobility (created in 2004 via a merger of Arch Wireless and Metrocall), pager people are found in a few select vertical markets.

USA Mobility is a comprehensive provider of reliable and affordable wireless communications and software solutions to the healthcare, government, large enterprise and emergency response sectors.

Apparently illegal pharmaceutical distributors have moved their operations to other platforms – or at least they aren’t providing comprehensive employment information to USA Mobility.

It should be noted that NPR has documented a potential shift in hospitals from pagers to smartphones. But even NPR notes:

Still, switching over completely is more complicated than just swapping devices. Smartphones’ extra functionality comes with complications, like safeguarding all the patient information that lives on the phone. Pagers, on the other hand, are simple, reliable.

“The little things, like replacing batteries. Your smartphone runs out of battery, it takes a while to charge. A pager runs out of battery, you pop a new triple-A in there.”

…And then there’s price. Between equipment, data plans, developing apps, NYU Langone spent $10,000 to $20,000 to pilot just 16 phones. Which all means Edds expects the pager to coexist with smartphones in hospitals for the next decade.

But if you see someone in a hospital, fire station, or large business with a pager, now you know why.

What Craig Barry did – A funny follow-up to the Cathryn Sloane brouhaha

Remember Cathryn Sloane? I wrote about her about a week ago, comparing her experience to the experience of others. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, Sloane is the person who famously stated that every social media manager should be under 25 years of age.

In the process of searching for an update to the story, I ran across a website named CathrynSloane.com. When you go to the website, you are greeted by the message

If you’re looking for Cathryn Sloane – she won’t be found here.

The site (created in WordPress, incidentally) actually belongs to Craig Barry, who says:

I’m a Digital Strategist focusing on Personal Branding, Web Search, Social Communication Strategies & Reputation Management in the Greater China Market. I’ve been active in this market for the past 20 years.

Um, did you catch that last part? If you didn’t, he reiterates the point later on in his autobiographical information:

Not bad for an old guy!!

Sloane – whoops, I mean Barry – also states that he created the site as a “case study” for his personal branding and web search classes. Barry also makes the point that when you have your own website, you don’t have to depend upon others (e.g. Facebook) for your personal marketing.

Unfortunately, I see one problem with Barry’s strategy. Didn’t he say he is skilled in reputation management? Isn’t he endangering his personal branding by associating it with Sloane?

Barry’s own website is at http://craigbarry.com/.

Bill Catlette on a challenge faced by companies

…you now have representatives in the workplace from different generations and the challenge of being able to communicate with them.

From Sales and Marketing Management.

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