20 September 2002
Oh, yes! I am immediately forwarding this story to a select few in Irish govt: Calif. bans mobile phone spam. <<Gov. Gray Davis signs a bill that would prohibit companies from spamming mobile phones and pagers with unwanted text messages.>> [CNET News.com]
8:07:20 PM  #   your two cents []
Hmmmmm: ICANN still rules the Net. <<The U.S. Commerce Department extends for one more year its contract with the organization that governs the Internet's infrastructure.>> [CNET News.com]
8:02:59 PM  #   your two cents []
I know this is really, pathetically geeky, but Danny O'B. has a link for buying coloured LED fans for your PC, which light it up in a rather tasty way, for only $15. I want one.
8:01:38 PM  #   your two cents []
Well, that's one approach to customer service...: Eircom, the dominant Irish telco, has announced it will no longer let customers include its own cut-rate internet access telephone numbers among "Circle of Friends" listings (the numbers a customer can include in one of Eircom's discount charge services).
2:29:43 PM  #   your two cents []
Engineers Meet for Mass Mind Meld. <<Engineers of all stripes convene this week to talk interdisciplinary shop. With all the big science knowledge before them, they're as giddy as kids set loose in a candy store.>> [Wired News]
2:08:12 PM  #   your two cents []
ADSL for £12.99 - How do they do that?. Freedial smashes through several price barriers [The Register]
2:05:38 PM  #   your two cents []
If you subscribe to the Ireland.com site, then you can access today's story on the days I spent at the COSAC security conference, detailed last week in this weblog. A version I wrote for Wired.com appeared yesterday.
11:27:38 AM  #   your two cents []

Seeing the media from the other side: yesterday's all-day role-playing exercise was extremely interesting. The gist of the event was, some 30-40 senior-level people from various private and state organisations gathered to engage in a role-play in which they had been assigned to a pretend organisation very different from the one they belong to in real life. The pretend organisations have distinct, realistic roles and budgets and constraints -- there's a govt social dept, a city council, a bank, a charity, the police, a citizen's advice centre and so forth. The groups have a goal of achieving at least one partnership with another group. Each group is advised by someone whose job in the real world IS that area, to keep activity within the bounds of reality. I came in to advise a group of 4 assigned to be 'the media'. I think our brief had the most potential fun built into it -- we were to be tabloid-esque and cover the negotiations but could choose how to do this. We then print out frequent 'editions' and distribute them.

My sharp four got to grips very fast with their roles as writers and an editor and were up and running pretty quickly. Interestingly to me, the editor and others decided to look swiftly thru the various organisation briefs targetting 'issues' to pursue. They were really good -- they found that in one brief, a city problem with drugs and crime was identified. The police brief noted they'd started 12 initiatives, which the media group decided displayed a waste of taxpayer money if there were still drug and crime problems! They found some examples of potential corporate greed. Their first edition was a bold editorial about the paper's role as a fighter on behalf of its readers against drug abuse, corporate greed, etc. Then off they went to cover negotiations in the groups.

The 'reporters' soon came back to me to say they'd never realised how hard a reporter's job was -- they thought they could just go to the organisations (scattered around function rooms in a hotel) and the organisations would happily explain what they were up to. As in the real world -- no way! Then some organisations started bringing us press releases and were annoyed when we didn't publish them (because they were too boring and contained no news! Interesting to see how quickly the reporters spotted this -- they who in real life often feel frustrated that their releases don't get published...). I was very much only in the background of all this -- steering them towards what real journos would do next but not setting their agendas or telling them the 'best' thing to do.

At the feedback at the end, the groups had some very insightful observations: all the organisations were shocked at how disruptive the media was to their deliberations and also at how many had to start shaping their projects around what stories were running in the 'paper'. I think also the media helped identify some potential partnerships for them in this way. The media people started with an agenda but gradually realised they couldn't stick to it entirely -- the stories began to break about negotiations and partnerships and they had to both report on those and pursue their own angles, sometimes having to drop one or the other. The reporters realised they could get more info by threatening the groups with info they had or could publish! They were really frustrated by one or two groups which refused to comment and reveal what they were up to til our final edition of the day (very like real world government groups! They are adept at manipulating the media to publish what they want, not allowing us time to seek further comment etc -- which can of course backfure as well for them). My own observations to the groups at the end of the day were that 1) I was surprised more of them hadn't assigned a media rep to handle the media enquiries, which would have let the rest of them get on with negotiations; 2) I noted that while all complained about media intrusion, the flip side of that was that they were all very content to try and negotiate out of sight of any public scrutiny. At the end of the day, newspaper readers are the general public -- who want transparency when public and private groups cut deals, esp. when many are handling huge amounts of their taxpayer money. A fun and informative day all around!

11:01:04 AM  #   your two cents []
BT to launch £10m broadband ad campaign: "BT Group on Thursday said it was embarking on the most intensive TV advertising campaign ever seen in the UK to try to double broadband internet connections." [FT]
10:02:10 AM  #   your two cents []
Cisco sees Dell as a rival. <<The networking giant names Dell as a competitor for the first time in its annual report. Plus it certifies its financial results and details them as if it expensed stock options.>> [CNET News.com]
9:39:22 AM  #   your two cents []
Happy trails 
  From Doc Searls' weblog. Do check out the Jim Young pic link below -- really beautiful and eerie: "While I was busy looking at the Space Weather page to see if there was a chance of catching an aurora tonight (yes, they have been seen this far south), Mary Lu called and told me to get my ass outside to watch the rocket that just took off from Vandenberg.
  It was already past Hawaii, I guess, by the time I got out where I could see the trail in the sky, to the West. But it was spectacular. The photo above doesn't do it justice, but does give a sense of how surreal it looked. Better than any aurora we're likely to ever see here. This picture, taken by Jim Young at JPL's Table Mountain observatory, gives you a much better idea. He was also using a real digital camera. I was using a Sony camcorder that also shoots 1-megapixel stills. Not bad, considering."

9:37:16 AM  #   your two cents []
A fifth of dot-com era start-ups failed. <<Nearly one in five start-ups backed with venture capital at the peak of the Internet boom went out of business before first-stage investors could sell their shares, a study finds.>>[CNET News.com] This figure is lower than I would have expected, actually, and falls well under the average failure rate for companies (maybe about half?) So what gives? Consolidation and lots of secret successes? Or is 'dot-bomb' an unfair and spurious term?!
9:31:34 AM  #   your two cents []
When I'm 64. <<In defense of the Rolling Stones, the Who and the Other Ones: Anyone who says rock 'n' roll is just about youth is a critical fascist.>> [Salon.com]
9:29:07 AM  #   your two cents []
Dirt Makes You Healthy. <<Plastic::SciTech::Health: Just one more study that suggests our abhorrance of germs directly contributes to our susceptibility to them. >>[Plastic: Most Recent]
9:25:58 AM  #   your two cents []
Online gaming makes room for Hulk. <<Vivendi Universal hopes a massive multiplayer online game based on the Hulk and other Marvel characters can make it a little green. >>[CNET News.com]
9:25:15 AM  #   your two cents []
A million jokes come to mind, but I'll just post the link to this story: Males Susceptibility to Parasites May Help Explain Shorter Lifespans [Scientific American]
9:24:10 AM  #   your two cents []
Jean Cocteau. "We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?" [Quotes of the Day]
9:22:01 AM  #   your two cents []