Archive for November, 2009

An Overview of the FTC’s “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

November 30th, 2009 5 comments

iStock_000001553198XSmall-megaphone-worldThe U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released a PDF document “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” that describes changes to the rules of disclosure for advertising endorsements and testimonials. These guides update existing rules regarding advertising disclosure to incorporate social media and go into effect tomorrow, Dec 1, 2009. I hope that a brief overview of the Guides will be a useful reference.


I do not work for the Federal Trade Commission, have no connection to the organization to disclose, and since this article is not an endorsement in the first place, I guess I didn’t even need to say that, but… given the topic I figured it couldn’t hurt!

Actually, my important disclaimer is I wrote this post with my understanding of the rules, from reading source documents and walking through the “Guides” PDF document linked above. I am not a lawyer. Nothing I say here should be construed as legal advice. Nothing. At all. In the least. Did I remember to mention that I am not a lawyer?

I am hoping that an overview of the new disclosure rules will be helpful. Please feel free to comment on anything I’ve gotten wrong, right or anything else important that got missed!

Is Every Product or Service Description an Endorsement?

All descriptions of products and consumer experiences in “consumer-generated media” are not considered to be endorsements by the Commission. The Guides state that the rules apply to situations where, “viewed objectively, the relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can be considered “sponsored” by the advertiser and thus an “advertising message.”

Why Self-Regulation Did Not Win

Some commenters suggested that the industry should be allowed to self-regulate. The Commission clearly disagreed with this position, stating Read more…

Killing Two Birds With One Stone: Why Page Speed’s Influence On PageRank Is Strategic To Google

November 28th, 2009 4 comments


Final edit updated Nov 28, 2009 22:40

Random Connections

Some days I’ll be thinking about a topic, and suddenly an unexpected connection appears. That just happened as I was reading two posts, one about potential changes to PageRank and another about a new protocol that Google is pitching to speed up web page loads. The PageRank discussion seemed to be completely about the marketing impact of this change on search engine optimization strategies, while the protocol discussions were centered on technology and global standards issues. It seems that these two apparently separate things may be very tightly coupled indeed.

PageRank, Page Speed And Marketing Effects

PageRank is supposed to measure the authority of a page, to determine whether
it is “the best” trusted and primary resource to answer the user’s search query. It is hard to fathom how response speed has anything to do with authenticity, authority, correctness of data or trustworthiness. It seems to be much more strongly linked to the cash position of the person or organization who authored the page, and how much they have invested in having the right page design, hardware and network infrastructure (either their own or hosted) to provide fast response.

One quasi-altruistic reason for adding or emphasizing page load in the PageRank calculations may be to nudge the web community to think more about page load speed when designing sites. However Read more…

2009-12-01 We Are The Network: Social Engineering Goes Massively Multiplayer – Are You The Next Target?

November 28th, 2009 2 comments

We Are The Network logo 300“Social Engineering Goes Massively Multiplayer – Are You The Next Target?”

Please join us for a discussion every Tuesday at 12PM noon SL (US Pacific Time)

This Tuesday, Dec 1st, we will be at the Epoch Institute in Second Life

Click here to teleport to the Epoch Institute in Second Life

This Week’s Topic

computer user engineering crowdSocial Engineering Goes Massively Multiplayer – Are You The Next Target?

The explosion of social networks has enabled a new level of study in human behavior. Never before have large social networks been readily available easily for interactive engagement. Social media “gurus” proclaim that they know how to generate results with social networks, yet we are really at the beginning of understanding both how networked societies work and how to harness them (or change them) to achieve results.

A week or so ago I noticed this post Social Wargaming – Triangles 2.0, announcing the start of a social network enabled serious game to determine whether “quantitative methods and social network analysis allow us to consciously and precisely craft the shape of social systems online?”

The advent of quantitative research applied to the development and manipulation of social media and social networks may be the start of a new generation of ability for marketers to reach audiences, and a potential dark side, or statistically driven, highly effective social manipulation on a large scale. Public references to various academic work in process in this arena suggest Read more…

2009-11-24 We Are The Network: The Age Of Professional Fake Authenticity

November 23rd, 2009 No comments

We Are The Network logo 300“The Age Of Professional Fake Authenticity”

Please join us for a discussion every Tuesday at 12PM noon SL (US Pacific Time)

This Tuesday, Nov 24th, we will be at the Epoch Institute in Second Life

Click here to teleport to the Epoch Institute in Second Life

This Week’s Topic

The Age Of Professional Fake Authenticity

This space for rent back of headProfessional advertising and marketing organizations have taken to social media as the “new new thing” that will be their future business and income. An increasing number of “digital marketers” are acting as writers and content providers for their customers, ghost writing large numbers of blog posts, Twitter feeds and other public facing items that purport to be authentic creations of their clients.

It seems that a new level of this professional social media marketing is emerging, including services that intersperse small numbers of advertising messages, disguised as normal authentic messages, in the streams of normal people for profit. (One article describing this phenomenon is linked below).

My impetus to talk about this topic was a discussion I had this past week, with a person who had been an intern at an advertising and marketing firm. This person, as a condition of their internship, Read more…

Categories: Misc Tags: , , ,

Five Critical Success Factors For Mainstream 3D Virtual World Projects

November 20th, 2009 No comments

Virtual world imageThe New Mainstream 3D Virtual World Project

Today’s mainstream users of 3D virtual worlds have expectations and needs that do not match those of pioneering explorers of these platforms. New projects are measured in different ways, and expecting a mainstream project to be successful using an explorer’s strategy is like expecting that you can win a road race riding a tricycle.

Early 3D virtual world experiments were driven by explorers trying to push the boundaries of possibility. These projects tested the feasibility of ways that a 3D virtual world could be used, and focused on trial scenarios to prove or disprove a particular usage theory. Success was often measured on technical terms, with users whose involvement was project focused and short term.

Mainstream projects take feasibility as a given, and create an environment to support day to day use by the regular members of an organization — as an educational platform, a place to enable distributed teamwork for global companies and academic institutions, as a virtual classroom environment, or a “better conference call”.

Mainstream projects have user-driven success metrics. Merely passing the “it works” test does not mean automatic project success. Successful mainstream projects result in “normal users” who are happy with the environment, find it to be compelling, continue to use it willingly and recommend its use to others. They judge the environment on how it improves their day to day experience while doing their real work, not based on whether it is a cool technology or has promising possibilities. They also have limited motivation to learn a new environment as an exploratory exercise, and must find value in the experience quickly in order to justify additional effort.

Mainstream 3D Virtual World Project Success Factors

Read more…

An Evening At Pokin’ Holes, A DartBoston Event For Young Entrepreneurs

November 19th, 2009 1 comment

Pokin' Holes logoTonight I went to an event called “Pokin’ Holes”, “a podcast/live stream show for young people starting companies to get feedback from the most talented young professionals students and entrepreneurs in Boston.” (from the Pokin’ Holes web site).

This was an inspiring event from many perspectives, and I’d like to give a big callout to Cort Johnson and Jake Cacciapaglia for a great concept executed flawlessly.

Pokin’ Holes provides a forum for young entrepreneurs (under 30 years old) to present startup companies and get feedback from a panel of three guests (also under 30 year old entrepreneurs and professionals), as well as from the attendees in the audience, who were tonight in large part Bentley business students, on their business strategy and advice on next steps.

The session tonight was at Bentley University, and was the first time it had been held in a college setting (the start of a college tour). Cort and Jake’s goals for the event are to do everything possible to have people build real action-based relationships through these sessions, to both connect the entrepreneur presenting with people who can actively help achieve the next steps and to build a thriving community of young innovators. It sounds like the typical home for Pokin’ Holes has been a bar with a less formal atmosphere, but I’d have to say this more formal setting fit just as well.

The evening was set up with a while of general networking and open discussion before the show started. The show opens with an interview of the principal of a company in “the hot seat”, to understand the company’s goals and strategy, and present the company’s plan and current status. Tonight the Andy Watson of Greenergy Living had the hot seat.

The show then moves on to a panel discussion with three panelists, whose job it is to get going “pokin’ holes” in the company’s plans and execution. At the conclusion of the panel discussion, the audience is pulled in to have group commentary and discussion.

Tonight had strong attendance and lively discussion all around. I think it’s fair to say that everyone in the room learned some things, had a good time and gave some solid constructive feedback in a positive way.

Thanks to all the folks I met tonight and great work – hope to see you again soon!

Categories: Misc Tags: , ,

2009-11-17 We Are The Network: What Would You Do If The Omega 13 Was Real?

November 16th, 2009 No comments

“What Would You Do If The Omega 13 Was Real?”

Please join us for a discussion every Tuesday at 12PM noon SL (US Pacific Time)


This Tuesday, Nov 17th, we will be at the Epoch Institute in Second Life
Click here to teleport to the Epoch Institute in Second Life

This Week’s Topic

What Would You Do If The Omega 13 Was Real?

“In the far reaches of the galaxy, a civilization is under siege. They’ve searched the universe for a leader. What they got…were struggling TV actors.”  This gem of a movie has an interesting discussion topic hidden in it, but you’ll have to keep reading to get to it.

Maybe Galaxy Quest, the 1999 cultish movie send-up that relentlessly pokes fun at the Star Trek cast, show and fans, is not really in mind as “serious drama” or “serious film” or “serious anything” but it was a funny and surprisingly good movie. As they say in the infomercials, don’t take my word for it — see the Rotten Tomatoes review below — they gave it 89% and even said you don’t need to have Trekkie knowledge to enjoy it.

By now, you are probably thinking I’ve completely lost it…and…while you may be right, there is a real We Are The Network topic in here below the break.

Read more…

Categories: Misc Tags: ,

Would adding mobile Wi-Fi to the city transit system increase ridership?

November 14th, 2009 1 comment

City BusToday at the MassDOT Developer Conference we got to talking about the goal of changing the image of buses and other mass transit to be the solution of choice for a wider spectrum of people.  Lost time is sometimes the reason that people will drive instead of taking public transportation.  It often takes longer to get to your goal using mass transit, and while en-route, you often can’t get much done, other than people watching or reading.

Then this little idea appeared…

Read more…

Categories: Misc Tags: , ,

10 Must-Do Security Checks To Prevent Virtual World Event Disruption

November 13th, 2009 2 comments

LockVirtual world event management is, in the large, similar to real life event management. You’ve got to make sure that guests and performers are lined up, that marketing and advertising is effective, and if it is a broadcast event, that the technical and support staff logistics have been completed. Security is a bit different in virtual world settings, and requires special handling in order to avoid enabling disruptions at your event. This post focuses on some specifics for Second Life™ security management; however, the principles are similar for other virtual world platforms.

Event Disruption Categories

  • Purposeful region crashes (exploiting a bug to cause the region to crash “on demand”)
  • Littering (leaving objects in inconvenient places, placing them out during an event, or moving them around in the way of the event)
  • Pollution (planting a particle generator that creates a spray of smoke, fog or distasteful imagery)
  • Disruptive chat or voice participation

Must-Do Security Checks

Read more…

Categories: Misc Tags: , ,

2009-11-10 We Are The Network: Is Google Destined To Become Evil?

November 8th, 2009 3 comments

Please join us for a discussion every Tuesday at 12PM noon SL (US Pacific Time)WeAreTheNetwork-istock-titled.001.150x88

This Tuesday, November 10, we will be at the Epoch Institute in Second Life
Click here to teleport to the Epoch Institute in Second Life

This Week’s Topic

“Is Google Destined To Become Evil?”

In Google’s 2004 SEC registration statement was this statement from the founders of Google, explaining the new pact that Google would make with the world, in order to ease concerns about privacy, control and security related to the services that were being constructed, as well as others to come later on. This statement has been widely referred to as Google’s goal to “Don’t Be Evil”:


Don’t be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served—as shareholders and in all other ways—by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains. This is an important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company. Google users trust our systems to help them with important decisions: medical, financial and many others. Our search results are the best we know how to produce. They are unbiased and objective, and we do not accept payment for them or for inclusion or more frequent updating. We also display advertising, which we work hard to make relevant, and we label it clearly. This is similar to a well-run newspaper, where the advertisements are clear and the articles are not influenced by the advertisers’ payments. We believe it is important for everyone to have access to the best information and research, not only to the information people pay for you to see.


We aspire to make Google an institution that makes the world a better place. In pursuing this goal, we will always be mindful of our responsibilities to our shareholders, employees, customers and business partners. With our products, Google connects people and information all around the world for free. We are adding other powerful services such as Gmail, which provides an efficient one gigabyte Gmail account for free. We know that some people have raised privacy concerns, primarily over Gmail’s targeted ads, which could lead to negative perceptions about Google. However, we believe Gmail protects a user’s privacy. By releasing services, such as Gmail, for free, we hope to help bridge the digital divide. AdWords connects users and advertisers efficiently, helping both. AdSense helps fund a huge variety of online web sites and enables authors who could not otherwise publish. Last year we created Google Grants—a growing program in which hundreds of non-profits addressing issues, including the environment, poverty and human rights, receive free advertising. And now, we are in the process of establishing the Google Foundation. We intend to contribute significant resources to the foundation, including employee time and approximately 1% of Google’s equity and profits in some form. We hope someday this institution may eclipse Google itself in terms of overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world’s problems.


Google is not a conventional company. Eric, Sergey and I intend to operate Google differently, applying the values it has developed as a private company to its future as a public company. Our mission and business description are available in the rest of this prospectus; we encourage you to carefully read this information. We will optimize for the long term rather than trying to produce smooth earnings for each quarter. We will support selected high-risk, high-reward projects and manage our portfolio of projects. We will run the company collaboratively with Eric, our CEO, as a team of three. We are conscious of our duty as fiduciaries for our shareholders, and we will fulfill those responsibilities. We will continue to strive to attract creative, committed new employees, and we will welcome support from new shareholders. We will live up to our “don’t be evil” principle by keeping user trust and not accepting payment for search results. We have a dual class structure that is biased toward stability and independence and that requires investors to bet on the team, especially Sergey and me.”

As Google has grown, it has accumulated and centralized a previously unknown level of personal information, made it eminently searchable in seconds, and provided numerous services that are focused on accomplishing these goals. At the same time, the willingness of people to freely share personal information (often in return for services that have the appearance of being free to the individual) is based on a generalized belief that Google will forever hold to its mantra of “do no evil”.  Is this a reasonable assumption?  What if that assumption, that millions of us have taken as a reasonable risk, turns out to be false?

A phrase that appears as part and parcel of corporate and political governance discussions is “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”.  Is Google on the path to absolute power (or perhaps has reached it already?), and if so, what would stop this long known maxim from exerting itself over time?

In this session we will discuss the meaning of absolute power in the Internet age, how Google fits into the picture of privacy, security and trust, and discuss some possible scenarios, both good and bad, for how Google’s continued expansion might play out.

Join us Tuesday at 12PM noon SL, and thanks for being part of “We Are The Network”!

Best regards,


Reading links below – have fun and see you soon!

Read more…

Categories: Misc Tags: , ,