Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bill (William E.) Gates on professionalism

Right now, Bill (William E.) Gates of Midnight Engineering fame is now speaking to the 2007 EntConnect conference about professionalism. In the past he has spoken at length about personal productivity, but has now become much more interested in professionalism, in particularly how it has been "leaking out."

He asks us what the marks of a professional are, or how we define professionalism.

He gave an example of a service employee who acted in a very professional manner, but shortly later he encountered that employee delivering bad service. So, maybe professionalism is something transient.

The discussion with conference participants centered on service and how good service really sets a business (or employee) apart from service that is merely predictable but not helpful in solving problems.

A counter example is McDonald's where you get what you expect even though the service is very predictable and quite bland.

Someone gave an example of thousands of employees being layed off to be replaced with lower-cost employees since the existing employees are not being productive enough relative to their cost.

Time to run to lunch.

-- Jack Krupansky

Blogging via email from EntConnect 2007

I was able to successfully mail my previous post from the 2007 EntConnect conference meeting room once I manually mangled my main email account to use the SMTP mail server for my website ( and Port 587. I tried port 25, but that was blocked by the hotel Wi-Fi. Port 587 works fine.

I had spent over an hour back in December to figure out this port setting, but luckily I had blogged about it and was quickly able to do a web search to find that blog post.

-- Jack Krupansky

Blogging from EntConnect 2007

The Saturday session of the 2007 EntConnect conference is now underway.

This message is simply to make sure that I have figured out how to configure my email to send a post to this blog using the free Wi-Fi in the conference meeting room.

First, I'll test if I can use my ISP's outbound email.

That first test failed, with the following error message:

Response received is: 452 4.4.5 Insufficient disk space; try again later

I believe that this is simply the response of the hotel Wi-Fi blocking the outbound email.

Next, I'll re-configure my main outbound email account to use my website domain name and Port 587 to bypass any port blocking.

-- Jack Krupansky

Monday, March 26, 2007

How important is LinkedIn for maintaining an online identity?

I've had a profile in LinkedIn for a couple of years now, but can't say that it has been very helpful. The best I can say is that since a LinkedIn profile is free, the benefits do in fact outweigh the costs.

I hadn't updated my profile in quite some time and was even thinking of dropping it, but somhow today I got inspired and updated my LinkedIn profile to reflect my current situation. It did bother me that my old profile was no longer current, but I just hadn't got to the point of removing myself from the LinkedIn "network."

I actually have run across one useful benefit of LinkedIn: I get notified any time one of my connections updates their profile. I haven't gotten any measurable business benefit from this information, but at least it is interesting and lets me keep up with people with little effort.

My real bottom line is that I have been unable to demonstrate a clear business value to maintaining a profile on LinkedIn, but I still find the service to be at least marginally interesting. I am unable to heartily recommend the service, but I do encourage people who express at least a mild interest.

My ultimate goal is to have a service-independent file format for maintaining professional profiles and to have general-purpose search engines crawl and index these profiles in a service-independent manner. That would provide greater benefits to a larger audience and assure that every minute of effort you put into maintaining your profile would be leveraged to the max.

Meanwhile every service maintains its own proprietary profile. For example, I have a minimal profile here on Blogger.

Can anybody offer me any reason to continue patronizing the LinkedIn service?

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Finally backed up my PC

It has been almost a year since I last made a full backup of my data from my Toshiba notebook PC, but I finally got around to doing it today. I have no good excuse for not doing it sooner and more regularly, but I do have lots of weak excuses.

Previously, I simply used a .BAT command file which copied all of my data files across the network to a desktop PC where I was doing some consulting work a year ago and then I burned the files to DVD.

Now, I updated the .BAT file to reflect some minor changes to where my data was stored and to copy to a folder named C:\BackupTemp on my hard drive. I then manually copied that folder (2.71GB) to C:\Backups\BackupToshiba2007MMDD where MMDD is the month and day of month. This will let me keep multiple backups right on the hard drive. Then I used the Sonic RecordNow! utility which came with my Toshiba to burn the DVD using the Toshiba's built-in DVD-RAM drive. It only took about 15 minutes to burn the DVD.

-- Jack Krupansky

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Post or blog post?

Is it really necessary to refer to this as a "blog post" and "blogging" as "blog posting" or "posting to a blog", or given the ubiquitous nature of blogs, can we now simply refer to "post" and "posting"? I think we may finally have arrived at the latter. Henceforth, I will presume that is the case. This is not a "blog post", but simply a "post." Sure, we'll still use the term "blog" to describe the media itself, but the activity is "posting."

Posting is simply an abbreviated form of writing. Short and to the point. Shorter than an essay or article or long letter, a "post" is somewhat similar to a postcard, although in general a typical good post would be a bit longer than a typical postcard.

Now, back to the post that inspired this post.

-- Jack Krupansky

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Testing... is Blogger email posting working again yet?

This is just a test to see if Blogger email posting is working again.

-- Jack Krupansky

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Short or long, blog what makes sense

Shel Israel of Naked Conversations fame has been bombarded with quite a few silly comments about his posting of his overview for his new Global Neighborhoods [sic] book, not the least of which is that his posts were too long or people were too busy or whatever. Enough whining already. The truth is that length does not matter. Just blog whatever makes sense. Sensible people will deal with it and it will be okay. Whiners can... go twitter with themselves. Now, back to matters of substance...

I do like material that is conveniently chunked for serious thought. Breaking a chapter into multiple parts (posts) makes a lot of sense. And sectioning each part (post) into multiple key points makes sense as well.

From what I have seen so far, Shel's longest posts could actually be a fair amount longer. He has had a few that actually felt too short. Half to a full page of text may be the sweet spot for content length, not for "normal" blog posts, but for meaty, "content" blog posts such as Shel is posting for his book.

-- Jack Krupansky

Onliners in global neighborhoods

I do like the term "onliners" that Shel Israel of Naked Conversations fame has used in his overview for his new book entitled Global Neighbourhoods [sic]. The key to understanding "global" is not in terms of mere distance, but the plethora of new modes of online interaction that no longer depend on geography or distance. It's no longer simply email and viewing web pages, or even instant messaging and chat, but also online virtual worlds where users themselves design the forms of online interaction, as well as user-generated content.

All manner of social networking tools and environments will define how onliners are inherently different from those who came before them. Onliners are not simply communicating, but collaborating. They are not simply using text, but creating and sharing complex media and multimedia content.

Social media is not simply a discrete tool in a toolkit, but is the complete environment in which onliners work and play, and they do so in a way that crosses and blurs all manner of boundaries [except maybe natural language].

-- Jack Krupansky

Blogger once again ignoring emailed posts

Sigh. Once again, Blogger is ignoring posts submitted by email.

Service had been great for the past week, but late last night I emailed a post and nothing happened. I emailed it again, and still nothing. I just emailed it again a few minutes ago, and still nothing.

I'll have to send Blogger another nastygram.


-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Global Neighbourhoods vs. global neighborhoods

I continue to struggle with the decision by Shel Israel of Naked Conversations fame to go with a funky, pseudo spelling for the title of his new book entitled Global Neighbourhoods [sic], rather than the more literate Global Neighborhoods without the fanciful "u." Yeah, intellectually I understand what he is trying to say and do, but in the practical world it doesn't come off so smoothly.

For one thing, I think his subconscious disagrees with the decision and forces him to keep spelling it "wrong", without the "u." To wit, on his Global Neighbourhoods web page, I find seven instances without the "U", and only three with it. Shel is lucky that his blog isn't a democracy! On the flip side, the "u" spelling is more common in

Importantly, two of the tags were missing the "u" as well, so there are now two distinct databases of tag terms.

From a practical perspective, a normal spelling checker is either going to "fix" the "u" spelling, or fail to fix the non-"u" spelling. Either way, no joy.

And what about users who wish to search the web or blogs for references? They may accidentially leave out the "u" and miss some references to Shel's book, or they include the "u" and miss some references where the writer left out the "u". Not exactly a win-win situation either.

Shel has made his bed and now will have to lie in it, but I'm tempted to caution future writers from going down this path of tweaking the spelling of normal English words. Better to completely contrive fanciful words than go down a path that depends on ambiguity and possibly leads to confusion.

That's all my first point here.

My main point here (hence the post title) is how does Shel expect to "square" the stylish title of his book with the more technical concept of a "global neighborhood"? As in "organizations need to recognize and support the development of global neighborhoods as espoused by Shel Israel in his book Global Neighbourhoods [sic]." In other words, should I espect to find the term global neighborhood in the Wikipedia as a social concept, distinct from the title of Shel's book? Or is global neighborhood considered an improper spelling of global neighbourhood?

Does he fully intend that people referringto his concept of a global neighbor-place include the "u", or does he accept that the underlying concept excludes the "u"?

I can understand the desire to have a monopoly on defining the term with the "u" (ala O'Reilly trying to claim "ownership" of Web 2.0), but maybe that's not his actual intent.

I do recognize that we also have the issue of American English versus "British" English, where the "u" is the normal form, but as far as I can tell, Shel is at least initially focused on getting the book out in the U.S., with the rest of the world to follow.

Finally, as a mundane editorial issue, should the "[sic]" notation be placed after Neighbourhoods [sic] to acknowledge the intended alternative spelling?

Maybe Hugh McLeod could do one of his curious cartoons that encapsulates this whole issue in a way that makes the proper path all too clear. But since he hails from the land of the "u", I'm not hopeful.

In any case, I won't belabor the point and will vigorously support Shel even if he does continue with the "u" thing. I won't even deign to ask him to make a "U" turn.

Besides, the old saying in marketing is that "No PR is bad PR", so a little (but not too much) confusion and controversy can actually be a win.

-- Jack Krupansky

Blogging versus writing

I continually contemplate the prospect of doing some serious writing, like a book. I have always resisted the desire to pursue that path, but it continues to intrigue me. Meanwhile, blogging seems to be at least a partial substitute for a large-scale writing project. One question is whether blogging complements traditional writing efforts and reinforces good writing skills, or whther blogging is a distraction and possibly may have negative consequences for any serious future writing efforts. I'm simply not sure.

A number of years ago I decided that writing a book was not likely to be a successful effort for me. I concluded that a successful and truly satisfying bookwriting project would need to:

  1. Have a clearly targeted audience, a demographic to actually buy the book.
  2. Be a real labor of love, since most bookwriting projects would be unlikely to financially do much better than cover the advance payment. If you manage to earn minimum wage for your hundreds of hours of work, consider yourself lucky.

For me, for now, blogging is something to do to convert ideas in my head into a form that others can read.

I enjoy briefly sketching out simple ideas, rather than weaving a complex quilt as would be required for a full-scale book project.

I have also considered essays as an intermediate form between simple blog posts and full books, but haven't pursued that route either, yet.

I'll continue to contemplate the prospect of writing a book someday, but for now, blogging seems to fit the bill for me for my writing interests.

-- Jack Krupansky

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Global Neighbourhoods vs. Global Ghettos - the language problem

I deeply appreciate the efforts by Shel Israel of Naked Conversations fame to compose a new book entitled Global Neighbourhoods [sic], but I am still hung up on a problem which he himself has acknowledged: the language barrier.

I agree that the concept of a global neighborhood is very relevant and will be increasingly more relevant in the years and decades to come. The Internet and Web really do breakthrough a lot of geographical, political, economic, social, cultural, and technical barriers, enabling people from around the world to communicate, meet, and organize in "global neighborhoods", but natural language is still a huge barrier, effectively partitioning the universe of global neighborhoods into language-specific global ghettos, communities between which little communication is possible.

Luckily, quite a number of people have learned English as a second language, at least enough to be able to read it and possibly even scribble some rough blog posts, but vast numbers of otherwise intelligent people from many cultures around the world either do not know English or even if they can read it are not comfortable putting themselves out there to be assaulted by the kind of shoot-from-the-hip "cowboy" bloggers who [over-]populate the Blogosphere.

Of course, we do have "anonymous" forms of communicating on the Internet and Web that make it possible to communicate even when we aren't completely comfortable, but there is something about anonymity that doesn't quite seem consistent with the theses of global neighborhoods.

Incidentally, that is one reason to encourage real-world meet-ups for people in "global neighborhoods": a lot of people may feel more comfortable in real-world, face-to-face meet-ups, especially where a little "social lubrication" can eliminate some of the cold harshness of the raw, devil-may-care Blogosphere.

In any case, I'm sure there will be all manner of technical and semi-technical "solutions" in the coming years and decades that will lower if not eliminate language barriers. For example, I'm sure there are plenty of people who would willingly translate blog posts and comments between languages if only there were an infrastructure in place to support web-service translation services.

But for now, the natural language barrier is formidable indeed.

I do hope that Shel includes at least part of a chapter on language barrier issues and opportunities.

Even in an average workplace, language and cultural barriers are issues, even today.

In the category of opportunities, photography, music, and video can be used to facilitate cross-language sharing, assuming at least a minimal level of language-neutral tagging.

-- Jack Krupansky

Why I no longer read The Economist

I was reading a post by Shel Israel of Naked Conversations fame entitled The Economist invites Blogger Ideas about how Tom Shelley of The Economist is soliciting people to "send in your idea (or ideas) about truly innovative services we could offer online. Your idea can be as simple or complex as you like. It could be a product, a service or a business model. Before you jot your idea down, think about how best to describe it (here are some hints for doing this). If you want to track our progress, please visit our blog, where we would love to hear from you."

As an aside, I would note that Shel makes a reference to "citizen journalists", which is a term that really bugs me. It is a vague term (look it up in the Wikipedia), but encompasses two radically different forms of "participatory" journalism: independent bloggers (like me) who are beholding to and dependent on nobody, as contrasted with people who have a desire to contribute free content to established media in return for little more than an opportunity to "get their name in the paper" and in the exchange lose control of their content to the media's "terms and conditions." I personally read the term "citizen journalist" as a reference to the latter form of indentured servitude, while I reserve "blogger" for the former. That said, labeling someone as a "citizen journalist" is rarely helpful.

But, I digress. Someday I'll do a separate post on this whole "citizen journalism" thing.

What I really wanted to talk about here is how Shel's commentary reminded me of all of the reasons I abandoned The Economist as both a reader and subscriber.

For me, just as for Shel, The Economist is the last paper magazine I stopped reading. Quite literally. I no longer subscribe to any print media. I still read tons of articles online, but print publications seem so quaint now. My specific reasons for dropping The Economist include:

  1. Their gung-ho support for invading Iraq, rather than simply objectively reporting the facts.
  2. I suspect that if I was reading the magazine today, I'd feel the same about staking out positions on Iran and Syria and terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
  3. Their staking out of specific positions on U.S. Fed monetary policy, rather than simply objectively reporting the facts.
  4. Their staking out specific positions on the U.S. economy and financial markets, rather than simply objectively reporting the facts. I always found their objective reporting to be quite enlightening and valuable, but whenever they jumped the track over into subjectivity land, the value, to me, went to zero if not deeply negative.
  5. Way back in 1998, they staked out a specific position in the Microsoft Antitrust trial, rather than simply objectively reporting the facts. Why should they even think of taking sides in any court case?
  6. As much value as I got out of each issue of the magazine, there was always something that smelled bad and strongly suggested that there was some sort of "agenda thing" going on behind the scenes at the magazine.
  7. Their patronizing tone towards America, Americans, and all things American. At one point I half convinced myself that they still think of America as "The Colonies" and are still deeply skeptical that "The American Experiment" has any chance of ultimately succeeding.
  8. Lack of bylines, which I equate with a lack of accountability.

On the plus side, I certainly read any number of great, short articles that brought topics to my attention that I hadn't heard of from the "traditional" media. You could always count on them to cover things either a little broader or a little deeper. I also appreciated the short, concise, and to the point nature of most articles. Alas, for them, with the advent of the Web, they no longer have a monopoly on novel or concise coverage.

The cumulative bad karma of The Economist simply overwhelmed the good, and that coupled with the vast, broad range of news, data, and analytic content available on the Web, brought my subscription and readership to an end.

I have to wonder about their demographics. In my own life, I have met only two people who subscribed to The Economist, and one was an older college professor who introduced the magazine to me on a plane flight back in the 1980's. I personally know of no "young people" who read or subscribe to The Economist. I have to wonder whether their readership might be in a state of perpetual decline.

I can appreciate their desire to dip their toe in the Blogosphere, but I'm afraid that this Project Red Stripe is likely to be too little too late.

My suggestion is that they split The Economist effort into two pieces: continue the print magazine in its current form to satisfy a loyal but dwindling audience, and spin off a wholly independent new media operation that has access to the print side's content, but has an absolute 100% focus on catering to the "deep thinkers" of the online generation. Jack up the subscription price to the level where it is economically viable, and let the subscriber base reach its own level of equilibrium. In any case, DO NOT hog-tie the new media folks with a need to get management approval before experimenting. Make sure the new media operation is fully, and separately funded and in no way dependent on the trajectory of the "legacy" magazine operation.

This does raise a key question: what news, editorial, data, analytical, or survey needs does the online generation feel are not yet met by current online media? Could the answer really be "None"? The ball is in The Economist's and Tom Shelley's court to demonstrate that "none" is not the actual answer.

My advice to Tom is that I, as a potential reader, am not looking for half-baked content from a bunch of half-assed bloggers and "citizen journalists", but for The Economist to dump all of the pretensions and biases that drove people like me away and substitute a brand new form of professional journalism that pulls fragmented or half-expressed thoughts from blogs and other online "citizen" content and synthesizes it all with professional objectiveness and balanced coverage into truly great articles that give readers "the best of the Blogosphere" and the best of professional journalism combined. All The Economist needs to do in return is simply engage in "fair use" and excerpt from blogs with proper citations. A little "link love" goes a very, very long way and doesn't cost The Economist a single dime, and it addresses the revenue sharing issue as well.

[Editorial note to Shel: You keep forgetting to capitalize "The" as in "The Economist."]

-- Jack Krupansky

Friday, March 09, 2007

Who wants to advertise to me?

I was reading a post by Shel Israel of Naked Conversations fame entitled New Comm Forum: Changing Media Panel where I ran across the assertion that "we are at an inflection point where advertisers are finding a more targeted audience online". That got me thinking about exactly who would or could or should be advertising to me. I'm not sure I have the answer, but obviously I spend a fair amount of money each year, so in theory there are quite a number of advertisers who would benefit by getting my attention. The problem is that so many advertisers are completely clueless about how to get my attention.

Like everyone else, I am bombarded with ads, but very few of them attract my attention. It's as if they didn't want my attention.

Even trying to target me based on solid demographics won't help to attract my attention. My interests and needs are a bit out of sync with my actual demographics.

To me, the key would be if the advertisers could actually tap into my needs or even my desires. Imagine how effective ads could be if they had a sense of what I believe?

And then there is timing. If you hit me when I'm not ready to buy, you've lost me or wasted your time, but if you hit me when I am "engaged" and ready to buy, I'll be much more responsive to the ad.

So, yes, advertisers could target me, but currently they do a particularly lousy job of it.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to the fact that advertisers insist at talking at me rather than with me. They don't seem to grasp the concept of a conversation.

-- Jack Krupansky

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

An inkling of Global Neighborhoods

I see that Shel Israel of Naked Conversations fame has finally posted the "Overview" for his new book, Global Neighborhoods. The overview is in three parts:

  1. The legacy of Boomers
  2. The Online Generation
  3. Culture Blending & World Peace

Nominally, this is version 4 of the overview, but somehow I missed or skipped over the first three versions.

I see that Shel remains conflicted as to whether to go with the "u" in Neighbourhoods. In the post titles for parts 1 and 2 he omitted the "u", but he included it in the title for the third post. My vote: Drop the "u", because it is trying to make a fine point in too weak a manner. My suggestion: Simply translate the phrase "global neighborhoods" into two dozen languages and make that the point, and maybe even the basis for the cover art.

It is now 11:00 p.m. and past my bedtime (I get up at 5:10 a.m. to head off to The Evil Empire), so I'll refrain from making any half-baked criticisms that I would regret after a few hours of sleep. But just one...

I'm not convinced that the generational distinction is airtight. I know that I never related to "my generation." Sure, I don't relate to "Generation X" either, but I relate to somewhere in the middle. Shel talks about "The Online Generation" as "They don't read newspapers, or watch much television. ... Onliners have a Teflon ® resistance to traditional advertising and marketing.  They don't much trust authority and celebrity endorsements rarely move them", but those same words fit me to a "T" as well. So, Shel has a choice to make: focus on the "Onliners" as an age demographic and ignore the onliners who also happen to be "Boomers", or focus on the qualities of the onliners and acknowledge that they are not age-dependent.

I am intensely relieved that Shel refrained from using the Friedmanesque "flat" even once. Bravo. But, I suspect that eventually that improper metaphor will find a way to sneak into the conversation. I like the "global" metaphor as it implies "well-rounded", whereas "flat" implies an intolerance for differences.

At least I now have some meaty food for thought.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Microblogging via Twitter

I have to admit that the concept of microblogging via twitter is an intriguing concept. A full, carefully crafted blog post is still a bit too much effort. Microblogging is more of a spur of the moment, off the cuff, sound bite kind of thing. It's perfect for those with severe attention deficit disorder.

Still, I'm not convinced that it's the thing for me. I think it makes more sense for a closely-knit group, or for somebody "famous" who has "groupies" ("twitties"??) who wish to follow their every move.

In any case, it is a new social networking "phenomenon."

-- Jack Krupansky

Blogger email posts now working quite well

Posting to Blogger via email has been working flawlessly for three straight days now.

-- Jack Krupansky

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Trying for three Blogger email posts in a row

This is a third consecutive email post. If it does get through, maybe we can safely conclude that Blogger is back up and running well enough to try a real post.

-- Jack Krupansky

Or, maybe Blogger email posting actually is working again

My previous email post actually did get posted, so maybe Blogger email posting is actually back up again. We'll see.

-- Jack Krupansky

Well, maybe Blogger email posting isn't really working again

I sent another post via email and I didn't see it get posted. I guess Blogger still has problems.

-- Jack Krupansky

Test - Is email posting working again yet?

Blogger email posting may actually be working again.