Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sam Zell goes all crowdsource on the Trib

Update 8/1/08: In Sam Zell's Deal From Hell BusinessWeek points out that things might not be going all that great at Trib for a plethora of reasons. So much for the crowdsourcing :-(

Imagine that! Sam Zell--who's taken much heat from the journalism establishment--has gone and done something truly unique: he's "crowdsourcing" the Trib newsroom to get the best ideas for moving the Trib forward.

Who better to come up with suggestions than his own newsroom! Zell sez about "IdeaBank"--the place where he wants peeps to contribute:
Most importantly, I want to convey that this is not some lighthearted initiative. I expect you to participate. Make deposits. Make withdrawals. Review the ideas to determine how you might adapt them to your business unit. And, managers, by reviewing and analyzing these ideas, you dramatically increase the probability of their viability.
So, be prolific. The future of our company is literally in your hands.

As well it should be!

Zell's also done such revolutionary stuff such as get rid of net-nanny style filters on reporter's computers--"do not see how a member of the Fourth Estate, dedicated to protecting the First Amendment, can censor what its own employees and partners can see," said Zell on the matter--as well as desire to sell under performing properties like NY Newsday...

But The Valley Advocate which was held by Hartford Courant companies, a subsidiary of the Trib was sold to Newspapers of New England, Inc in Dec '07, in part (from what I understand) due to its under-performance...

So the sell-off of under-preforming Trib properties shouldn't be all that shocking (that is, unless you hadn't heard about the smaller ones like the V.A.)

Overall, Zell seems to really be shaking up the establishment. And I'm really glad to see it! Most of us know that the business model for journalism--and the way that the journalism business has been treating its newsroom--has been shot for awhile. With the "IdeaBank" Zell appears to actually want to know what his journalists are thinking and what they might want to do to keep the thing afloat. Who better to ask than the folks who are in the trenches daily? Certainly makes better sense to ask them than a bunch of disconnected business consultants....

Besides, we all knew you could conceivably crowdsource your newsroom for ideas, but who was going to be the one to *actually* do it first? Certainly wasn't going to be one of the entrenched. Can't wait to see what Zell does next....

Just my $.02

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Congratulations BlogDigger!

When I read this a.m. that BlogDigger would be acquired by Odeo I thought this to be absolutely fantastic for Greg Gershman's little blog search engine that could....

I had a brief back and forth with Greg back in '05 and could see some promise. Watching Greg's little project grow and change over the past 2-plus years has been fun (yes, I didn't write about it, but I watched for sure) and it's truly great to see it go on to bigger things.

And I agree with Greg's post--to see tech blossom in D.C. would be great. It's a big country--let's start migrating the innovation a little more from the Silicon Valley!

Congrats again Greg! :-)

Monday, March 17, 2008

If You Haven't Already Heard....Cool Links 3/17/08

So, I've been pretty sick with an un-removed kidney stone* for the past 10 days or so , which has seriously limited my ability to sit at my desk for periods of time that would allow me to write some cool blog posts. Instead, I'll pass the links along so you can write your own cool posts:

Web creator rejects net tracking (BBC)--Tim Berners-Lee doesn't like Phorm. Neither do I. And stop trying to tell me that behaviorally-targeted ads are good for me. Not if I don't know you're following me.... teams with Google for local search(Kelsey Group Blog)--’s mission is to move away from “” toward becoming the aggregator of local community content, notes VP of Product Bob Kempf. The site has taken several concrete steps to get there, including local news outreach, crawls for local events, multimedia search, and perhaps most importantly, business listing search (i.e., Yellow Pages). Well, now *this* is interesting stuff! It goes on: also appreciated the ability to use Google to build out a tiered list of searches that any newspaper would want to have; a “white list” for pure listing lookups; a “gray list” for in between searches, such as place names; and a “black list” for inappropriate searches, such as tying merchandise ads to a news story on a murder in Worchester.

On a business basis, the deal with Google gives a chance to make money on reselling the CPM at higher rates and also from local AdSense ads that appear alongside the searches, says Kempf. It also provides new inventory to sell around the search box — not dissimilar to what newspapers have always done, selling mortgage ads around real estate listings and other content.
So, there's a new-ish, or updated, business model. But should all papers partner with Google? Will Google soon be saying "all your news belong to us!"

Eliot Spitzer's bank turned him in to the IRS (NYNewsday)--Question: what do former NYGov. Eliot Spitzer and deceased ganster Al Capone have in common? Both were gotcha'd! by the IRS! Ain't life funny? But I coulda told Spitzer to watch those transactions--this is a long story that will precipitate a blog post soon...

The Washington Post's Plan to drag the editing process into the 21st century(Slate)--when it takes 12 freakin' editors to put one one story, you've got a problem in your newsroom. I thought the reason one went into journalism or got a job writing for a paper was because one could actually write. I wonder if there's some internal distrust in newsrooms--of management for reporters' abilities to write a story--that's one of the many roots of the current problems with journalism. Twelve editors! With twelve editors on my butt, not only would my spelling be better, but my prose would be completely lifeless!

Think about it ;-)

*it will be removed in the near future, if my ureter will cooperate and expand enough so they can get in with the laser and blast the little bugger. All I can say is that the near future isn't near enough!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Blogrolls: Resurrection and Re-Vamping

A short time ago, Fons Tuinstra, one of my colleagues, posed the question Do Blogrolls Still Matter? As many of the folks who answered Fons--and I have to agree--they do....

A couple of reasons why: First, they help readers find new and interesting blogs....

Second: they help us acknowledge folks who are important to our little corner of the blogosphere. They let people know who some of our connections happen to be.

Blogrolls are nice things. Blogrolls are community-building things. Blogroll *are* indeed still important.

If we keep them up.

Over the next couple of weeks, in between some new gigs like posting on the conversation hub for Supernova 2008 and my mulitple schizo-brain-making consulting gigs and my kidney stone surgery (gee...think I do too much?) I will be re-vamping the sidebar of this blog to link back to many of the great bloggers I know in the marketing 'sphere and they hyperlocal 'sphere and some who are just, well, regular readers and always there (you know who you are.) I've felt kind of weird for awhile that I haven't acknowledged so many of the cool marketers I know, and felt that there was no reason for me do be so doctrinaire and not link to them. And the hyperlocal 'sphere has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 6-9 months--so much so that both deserve their own sections on the blogroll. The others will just pop up in the categories already there.

You'll see them when I put them in.

I wish I could start it tonight, but I just took a percocet for some muscle spasms, and I'd hate to keel over mid-blogroll....

I'll also be putting up a post when there's been a *big* change....

Stay tuned :-)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Do You Know Who's Googling You?

Update 4/21/09 at ReadWriteWeb, Marshall Kirkpatrick reports on Google Profile
a service whereby people can go in and alter their google results. But, as Kirkpatrick points out, do we really want to give Google more information about us then they already have?? and it's not going to help us track who's searching our identities online anyway. So, we just have to get used to the fact that we're really not going to know exactly who's searching our names daily. And, even if we could find that info out, how much of our privacy might we be willing to give up for that info? IMO, I'm fine with paradoxes and mysteries in life.

Update 4/30/08If you want to know what kinds of stuff you've put online can be found by Google or any other search engine, go to this most recent post

Most of us don't think about who might be searching us online. Most of us don't even bother to Google our own names to find out what might come up in search. The thing is, most employers, most people who meet us at networking events, and lots of folks who get wind of us one place or another are certainly searching our names and finding out all sorts of stuff online. Some of it might be right, some of it wrong, and some of it they shouldn't be seeing at all. So, tonight at 7pm, I'll be doing a talk on e-Networking and online profile at Bay Path College out here in Longmeadow, MA. This talk is free and open to the public...

I'm very pleased that Bay Path is giving me this opportunity and that they recognize that their students, if not prepared, might end up losing opportunities with never knowing the reason why. I was more convinced of this after hearing John Bell from Ogilvy mention during a panel at We Media Miami that Ogilvy routinely looks at Facebook profiles--for both headhunting and applicant screening.

Yet it's one of those factors that's not mentioned--and I'm sure no human resources person is going to tell you that you weren't the ideal candidate because of that drunken puking picture on Facebook....

That's not the way human resources does things.

Actually, I'm pretty horrified that a routine legal background check is no longer the only means an employer might use to find out information about an applicant. I'm sickened that they feel a need to go rummaging around in the underwear drawers of our social media profiles--something most of us are under the impression are private. But, if we allow those profiles (as well as our blogs, etc.) into search, then we're putting them out there as public info. It all seems like a nasty game of Gotcha!: when it comes to search and the Internet, many employers know how to exploit the ignorance of potential employees.

Many of my Silicon Valley insider friends feel that, if there's a critical mass of personal information out there, eventually employers won't care about the degree of personal information they find. Well, thing is, Internet life moves faster out in the Silicon Valley, and there are pockets, like where I live in Western Mass, that aren't going to change their conservative ways any time in the near future (when you might need a job.)

Better to know what's going on--know what employers are doing, and how to leverage social media to help you get a job, not disqualify you from it.

See you tonight in Longmeadow!

Update Mike Ho's article Should you research job candidates at social networking sites? notes that of a recent survey by the Society for Human Resources Mgt, rought 20 percent of those companies answering the survye admitted that "they had disqualified at least one candidate based on information that was found" on social networking sites. And while there may not currently be any suits against companies for not hiring someone due to their soc. networking profile, the chances are this is because H.R. departments either outsource the research or simply won't tell you that they were indeed poking around in there. How can someone sue if they're never told the truth??