Wednesday, December 30, 2009

3 huge mistakes corporations make on Twitter

(1) Having a list of Links to Social Media Sites, but the Twitter logo is linked to the main Twitter home page, instead of their specific corporate Twitter account profile page.

WHY IT'S WRONG: People don't want to visit the Twitter home page, they want to visit the corporation's Twitter page, and perhaps Follow it. Often the Twitter account name of an organization is not intuitive. A company called XYZ might use "XYZDave" or "SpreadXYZ", not just the name of the company. Linking to Twitter's home page makes you look inept, amateur, disorganized.

(2) Putting the list of Links to Social Media Sites at the bottom of the corporate website home page, instead of up near the top so everyone can see it.

WHY IT'S WRONG: People are flocking to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social networks. By burying your social media links, putting them at the bottom of your corporate home page, many people will not see these links. Web users are in a hurry, distracted, multi-tasking, and not reading websites carefully. They skim, scan, and skip content that's not immediately relevant or sufficiently interesting. Often, they don't even scroll all the way to the bottom of a home page.

(3) Having only a Company XYZ News account on Twitter, perhaps with an email contact in their profile bio, rather than having an additional Company XYZ Support account on Twitter, so people can quickly contact them with problems, suggestions, questions, and other input.

WHY IT'S WRONG: News is somewhat self-centered, and while many customers are interested in your company's news items, many of them also want to contact you. Twitter news profiles generally don't Follow other Twitter users, nor do they tend to interact with them, so it's just another unilateral, one-way communication medium, violating web norms and social media expectations. Smart companies use Twitter for more than just news, like Comcast, they create a separate Twitter account for Support.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Iranian Cyber Army hacks Twitter

This is really funny. Some losers, claiming to be from a tyrannical and decaying regime, called Iran, hacked into Twitter. They replaced its interface page, for a brief time yesterday, with a poorly written message, but all I have to say is:

"Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein! Hezbollah is doomed. Total victory for Iran rebels and Mir Hossein Mousavi."

Nobody is afraid of tyrants. No one pays attention to totalitarian authorities. All wicked rulers shall fall, all sacred scriptures agree: oppression shall be destroyed completely. Karma cannot be avoided. Truth and Integrity shall preside over the world.

Here is the foolish, awkwardly worded message from the cyber bullies of illegitimate Iran regime:

Iranian Cyber Army



U.S.A. Think They Controlling And Managing Internet By Their Access, But They Don’t, We Control And Manage Internet By Our Power, So Do Not Try To Stimulation Iranian Peoples To….


Take Care.

Oh don't worry...we freedom-loving people and noble anarchists shall take great care to see you vanish from reality. You are already defeated for you are corrupt. Your power is only to laugh at, for the whole world to despise and mock you forever and ever, amen.

Twitter is against you. The Internet is against you. USA is against you. Democracy is against you. Liberty is against you. Anarchy is against you. Islam is against you. Christianity is against you. Buddhism is against you. Atheism is against you. Revolution is against you. You are done.

According to a CNN report, Twitter became so fundamental in spreading news of the protests that followed that the U.S. State Department asked the company to delay a planned shutdown for maintenance.

According to the Christian Science Monitor "Twitter Hacked":


Twitter on Friday stated that its domain name records “were temporarily compromised but have now been fixed.”

Twitter attack came as opposition prepared for showdown with government.

The attack on Twitter coincided with the start of the holy month of Moharram in Iran, during which, for 10 days, Shiite Muslims mourn the martyrdom in 680 of one of their most hallowed saints, Imam Hossein.

The green flag on the “Cyber Army” page shows the words “Ya Hossein,” with lettering at the top which reads “Hezbollah [Party of God] is victorious.”

The “Cyber Army” page has been appearing for several days on hacked websites of Iran’s opposition, which has for more than six months vigorously protested on the streets and in cyberspace what it considers to be the fraudulent reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June.

The Twitter attack, though also a warning directed toward the US, could be among the first moves to thwart opposition activists preparing for a further showdown with the government during the coming religious holiday. During the holiday, Iranians traditionally take to the streets to march, chanting slogans for Hossein’s memory. The commemoration peaks on the day of Ashoura, which marks the day of Hossein’s death.


Also see my previous posts on Free Iran:

"20 Philosophical Notes on Iran Revolution 2009"

"Twitter, Iran, and Citizen Intelligence Agents"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Content is Slave, not King

Contrary to popular myth, Content is NOT "King." Completely dependent on other factors, Content is actually...a Slave.

Many times, not only is Content not King, but Content poses as a Drag Queen -- something prancing around, dancing as corporations pull its strings, pretending to be something it's not.

Content cannot be King. Dethroned, or better, usurped by Connectivity, Presentation, and Interactivity, Content is low man on the totem pole.

Often, people search for pure Content, like movies, music, news and opinions. But even then, if the content is poorly organized, badly displayed, hard to navigate, or non-interactive, it will be ignored.

Many times, when someone is consuming content they enjoy or find valuable, their first impulse is to interact with it. They want to post a comment, a question, a praise or a complaint. Some may want to enrich the content, add their own view, amplify or criticize it.

Content, to be effective and valuable, is entirely reliant upon other factors. Content is extremely important, but is not the ultimate, universally dominant entity.

To call Content a "king" is to revert to old fashioned imperialistic, phallocentric, male-dominated hierarchy. Even worse, "Content is King" is a meaningless mantra that people chant, without being able to explain it.

It almost goes without saying: fancy flashy packaging or presentation with poor content is going to fail. But even the world's best content, all by itself, just sits there, isolated, accomplishing nothing, attracting nobody.

One thing many business owners don't understand, when it comes to websites, is how important Content is. Sometimes they even think the web designer just "makes it up" for them. "I have to provide content for my site?" they say with a disappointed look on their face. "What kind?"

But to dump a bunch of Content into a website is not nearly enough. The hard part, or fun part (depending on how you look at it) is to keep adding fresh, relevant, updated Content. That's what search engines and consumers want.

Some say "all things being equal, good content beats bad or no content". But we could also say "Packaging is King" because nice, attractive packaging will be more compelling than ugly or no packaging.

Calling one element "king" allows people to get away with slighting other elements. A clueless corporate person might say, "I don't know why nobody visits our website. It's loaded with great content!"

Perhaps it's because your highly exalted Content is missing the synergists that make it complete. Things like Presentation, Understandability, Substantiating Links to Reputable Sources, Findability, Relevance, Timeliness, Update Frequency, Context, Usability and Navigation Ease.

If there is a "King" on the web, it's Connectivity. Caring and Sharing. Interactivity. But not Content, especially not the pre-packaged, corporate kind that comes in the form of broadcast homogeneity.

People care more about trivial but personal communication than they do about the "content" of professional hucksters like Big Entertainment, Big Advertising, Big Government, Big Religion, and even Big Sports.

Hit rewind.

Now that we've disrupted the mantra, dislodged the parroted mindset, let's back up a bit. Before we can decide if Content is King, Queen, Court Jester, Serf, or Villain, let's define what people generally mean by "Content".


What is content? This word derives from the Latin "contentum," which means "that which is contained," but this derivation is not very descriptive.

There is no precise definition, but generally content is used to denote material prepared by professionals to be used by large numbers of people, material such as books, newspapers, movies, or sports events. That is the sense in which it is used in this work. In general, content is distributed by "mass" or "broadcast" communications systems.


In this work I do not classify information services such as weather, directory assistance and airline schedules as content.

Many of the standard phone calls access just such services, and the Internet is leading to increasing usage of them. I also do not classify most of e-commerce as content.

Somebody going to the Godiva Web site may be exposed to creative work in the ads flashed on the screen, but is interested in purchasing a tangible good. These types of interactions will flourish on the Internet, and some will be merging with content, but they are more typical of the standard point-to-point communications.

-- "Content is Not King" by Andrew Odlyzko


While corporations, media, and other organizations try to hype their fabricated, often deceptive or over-priced Professional Content, consumers are sharing their own home-made, so-called Amateur Content.

From music and videos to photos and text, Do It Yourself Content is making Professional Content providers jealous. They want to go back to the good old days when the public was a passive, easily influenced group of spectators and consumers.

Perfect example is the telephone.

When it was first invented, Alexander Graham Bell thought it would deliver Content, not intimate connections between people. "Useless chit-chat" was discouraged and mocked, even as some still poke fun at the "triviality" of blogs and Twitter.

Take the post office as an illustration of Content vs. Connectivity or Professional Content vs. Do It Yourself Content.

The US government believed the main benefit of mail would be delivery of newspapers, a Content-rich medium. While newspapers did outweigh personal letters in pure data, people valued the mail system as a means to communicate with each other. Propaganda and mass entertainment were a distant second.

Those who keep shouting "Content is King!" often conceal a greedy agenda.

They typically mean "User Generated Content is Amateur Crap! Long Live Professional Content!" Or they want unpaid users to fill their social media site with Content, so they can put ads all over it and use the amateur content to lure search engines and paying customers.

They want to turn the internet into a broadcast medium. They see social media as comprised of sitting ducks, low hanging fruit, dumb chumps they can bombard with ads and seduce into buying their junk.

You, as a blogger, Twitter user, or website owner, need good Content, that's for sure. But if that's all you've got, if you don't pay adequate attention to the other factors that make Content valuable and easy to search, use, and share, you're doomed to fail.

Content is Slave...but it's a good, hard-working slave if it's under the right Task Masters!

Tiger Woods and Public Shame

Tiger Woods was a great golfer. He also promoted himself as a clean, decent family man. Sponsors paid millions of dollars to have him represent their products. Combining sports star power with the image of a loyal husband and loving father, who could beat that?

Now we know that this Tiger Woods, like many celebrities, politicians, and leaders, was corrupt beneath the carefully crafted surface. Even if you don't believe in monogamy and marital fidelity, you have to think of the children.

Even if you think adultery is no big deal, if Tiger Woods had unprotected sex, as some mistresses claim, then you must also think about disease. If he got AIDS or some other terrible venereal disease, and passed it on to his wife, then Tiger Woods is a criminal, perhaps a murderer.

Those who worship celebrities hate to hear harsh assessments of those they idolize. They will support their idol, no matter how vile and evil they may be. Star lovers get angry when you insinuate that they've been worshiping a scumbag.

I've even heard, on Twitter, "what about the whores who disrespected golf by having sex with Tiger Woods?", which is the most ridiculous statement yet. But it's creepy when Tiger Woods fans show no sympathy for his wife and children, not to mention the sponsors who are now embarrassed and disgusted.

Phallocentric. That means "giving privilege to the male as the dominant gender in all aspects of life", which is absurd. Patriarchy. That means "male elders ruling over everyone else". For too long this phallocentric patriarchal society has demeaned women and children. We see it in our factories, offices, and courts.

Crimes against women and children, by soldiers, serial killers, molesters, and rapists, are typically not treated as seriously as crimes against men, especially if they're white and rich. Now the tide is turning.

Fortunately, the betrayed women are starting to wise up, wielding weapons, re-writing pre-nuptial agreements, and removing their wedding rings. It's so refreshing to watch the downtrodden wake up and assert their rights.

The stupid "stand by your man" days are over. Women are rising up and taking their lives into their own hands. No longer intimidated or overshadowed by the male, females are becoming more powerful and self-confident.

Tiger Woods is losing his sponsors, and may lose his wife and family. Divorce? He's lucky his wife didn't castrate him and sell his loathsome dangler on Ebay. I think it was alcohol, and maybe Viagra, that fueled his infidelity. Maybe if Tiger Woods just smoked pot, he would have stayed home listening to music.

While we should not kick a person when they're down, we do need the spotlight to shine brightly on a celebrity's errors, as a warning to others, and to de-idolize the frail human being. We should want all un-repented, un-amended sins of leaders and celebrities to be exposed and publicized. Public figures are under scrutiny and deserve to have their lifestyles analyzed. That's part of being famous, like it or not.

It's funny how celebrities demand adoration and attention, until they screw up. Then they whine about privacy and stress. You can't turn scrutiny on and off at your own whim. It's like Attention Karma, the more you seek good attention, the more you'll get bad attention when it's deserved, due to your own behavior.

"What is done in darkness shall be dragged out into the light."

The very fact that unseemly things are done in secret, albeit recklessly, is enough to condemn you. You're ashamed of what you're doing, you don't want your sponsors or fans or family to find out. But you keep doing it, with no regrets or bad conscience...until you get caught.

Once caught, the celebrity acts all contrite, sorrowful, and apologetic. "I've disgraced my family," they moan with a hurt look on their face. We're supposed to forgive and forget, act like it never happened, and show love and support for the scumbag. Even when their "repentance" seems fake and opportunistic.

Why so harsh? Because it always seems like they don't really regret their behavior. What they regret is getting caught. You can hear it in their tone of voice and carefully scripted confessions of remorse.

Politicians often won't even resign, they insist on maintaining their position of dignity and trust, even when they've betrayed that trust and soiled that dignity. They grasp at the power they revel in, and they desperately need the money.

Enough of idolatry! Down with celebrity, up with you and me! End of stardom, rise of everyone! Hierarchy and privileged classes be damned!

Tiger Woods, may you get the karmic reward you so richly deserve, and may you and all your celebrity buddies come to true repentance, an authentic change of heart and transformation of soul.

Until then, rot in your own foul nature.

Vaspers Twitter Poem for Tiger Woods:

What you did, you tried to do discreetly.
But life and wife shall punish thee sweetly.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

3 Sins Christian Pastors Never Preach Against

To listen to today's Christian leaders, pastors, and televangelists, you'd think the only sins are gay marriage and abortion. Oh sure, once in a while you'll hear a sermon that mentions divorce, political liberalism, Communism, or pornography.

But the major themes of the Bible are completely ignored.

They don't want to "offend" anyone and lose their financial contributions.

Here are 3 things that the Bible calls extremely evil. Chances are, your church avoids teaching against these, due to their own brand of political correctness, which I refer to as "ecclesiastical correctness".

In the final analysis, the materialistic American church is all about collection plates and membership growth.

(1) WAR

To proclaim the sanctity of "family values", then send your children off to kill whoever your government tells you to kill, is hypocrisy. In the Old Testament, pagan parents sacrificed their children on the altar of Molech. Today, it's the altar of Extreme Militarism. You can't serve God and Molech. You can't be Pro Life and Pro War.

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. [Thus, cursed are the warmongers, for they will be called sons of Satan.]

Matthew 26:52 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword."

Matthew 5: 38, 39 You have heard that it was said, "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.


Preach against the corporations, banks, and government bureaucracies that exploit or ignore the poor? Not a chance!

The malicious greed of CEOs, bloated compensation, golden parachutes (hush money), credit card companies, mega-banks, federal deficits, over-taxation, bailouts, failed stimulus packages, Wall Street swindlers...all these topics are off-limits to most clergy and churches.

Psalm 12:5 “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now I will arise,” says the Lord. "I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.”

Psalm 10:2, 3 The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord.

Psalm 82:3, 4 Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; Free them from the hand of the wicked.

Ecclesiastes 4:1 I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun: And look! The tears of the oppressed, but they have no comforter. On the side of the oppressors there is power, but the victims are helpless.

James 2:5-7 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?


The kids in Sunday school are into Harry Potter, but if the pastor preaches against the occult, the parents will be upset. It's a divisive issue. The adults might decide to leave the offensive church and share their tithes with one more tolerant of black magic. So the churches tolerate films and games and books based on sorcery, spells, and demonic powers.

Leviticus 19:26, 31 Do not practice fortune-telling or witchcraft. Do not defile yourselves by turning to mediums or to those who consult the spirits of the dead. I am the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy 18:10-14 Never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead.

Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the Lord your God will drive them out ahead of you. But you must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you are about to displace consult sorcerers and fortune-tellers, but the Lord your God forbids you to do such things.

Revelation 21:8 But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars, their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

Friday, December 11, 2009

call in sick without speaking with text to speech processor

Got laryngitis, it's painful to try to speak, but you have to call in sick to work? No problem. Just use the AT&T Labs Text-To-Speech processor. The official name for it is

Natural Voices® Text-to-Speech Demo

Here's how to convert your text to voice, to call in sick to work, without speaking:

(1) Type in your message (300 character limit).

(2) Select the voice you want to represent you:

* language (US or UK English, or Spanish, French, German)

* male or female (Crystal, Mike, Rich, Lauren, Charles, etc.)

(3) Click on Speak. A WAV file will be generated and your QuickTime audio player will play it.

(4) Adjust the volume by playing the recording a few times.

(5) Call your boss at work, and when he or someone answers, play the recording, with your computer speaker up close to the telephone receiver. Play it 2 or 3 times, to make sure the message is received.

EXAMPLE: "This is Steven Streight. I have swine flu with severe laryngitis. Painful to speak. I'm using a Text-To-Speech processor to deliver this message. I can't make it in to work today. Thank you."

I actually used this today to call in sick.

It used to be possible to type in a comment on a YouTube video, then, before posting the comment, you could click on Play Audio of Comment, and some widget would convert your message to speech.

I guess they no longer offer this service, but I used it to create an entire parody video of a Jean Baudrillard interview "Jean Baudrillard - Cultural Identity and Politics - 2002 1/8":

Streight interview Twitter - Fundamental Misgivings

Restrictions On Use Of Audio

This page is for demonstration purposes only.

See the FAQ for full policy details.

-- Audio samples are for private, non-commercial use. Publication and distribution require licensing. The restrictions are the same for non-commercial use as for commercial use.

-- Exceptions for limited private use are described in the FAQ under Usage Policy. Information about licensing and sales can be found in the FAQ under How To Buy.

-- Input text is logged. It is treated as private customer data and is handled according to AT&T's Privacy Policy. Note that AT&T will cooperate fully with law enforcement.

Monday, December 7, 2009

8 Common Homepage Mistakes

A website's homepage is the first thing a person sees when they visit your site.

This is obvious, but many homepages contain mistakes, or leave things out. As customers do more shopping online, and do internet searches to find information, your homepage is becoming more vital for business survival.

Errors and deficiencies on homepages are easily corrected, once you identify what can be improved or added.

Here are some Common Website Mistakes:

(1) No photo of CEO/Owner.

Showing your face is not a matter of vanity. It's all about humanizing your business, making it more personal and friendly. A homepage with no picture of the President, CEO, Owner, or Founder seems cold, bleak, even unaccountable.

You'll increase good will, personal warmth, and credibility for your homepage by displaying a nice photo of the primary spokesperson of your company. This photo will instantly convey authenticity, a person who is in charge, whose reputation is on the line.

People like to do business with people they can see and relate to. Select your photo carefully. Look approachable, charming, professional, smart, kind.

(2) Clutter.

Trying to display too many items on the homepage can cause all of them to disappear, lost in chaos. Instead, show the most customer-relevant items and functionalities. Then group the secondary items under headings that make sense to customers, in words they typically use to talk about the topics, and make top navigation bar links to these categories.

(3) Hard to read.

Be especially careful about the color of your text and the background colors. Medium gray text on light gray backgrounds is difficult to read, for example. Gradients, where a color fades from top to bottom, can sometimes reduce readability.

Your website visitors are always in a hurry, or multi-tasking, or otherwise distracted. Don't assume they're devoting total attention to your website. Make it easy to scan quickly, so customers can readily find the information they need, and can ignore what's not relevant to them at that moment.

(4) Drop down menu About links.

Even if you feel you must sub-divide your About page, don't make your customers choose categories from a drop down menu. It seems minor, but any extra complexity can cause frustration to customers.

Your About page link should be a single item that takes them to a page where you explain who you are, what you offer, and how customers can benefit. Then, on the main About page, you can display links that focus more on each separate item, like Personnel, History, and Employment.

(5) Hiding Contact page in About.

While it's good to have Contact information in your About page, you should display a separate Contact link in your navigation bar on the homepage. Again, we must keep in mind how customers are in a hurry.

You want customers to contact you. And contact is a primary action that customers want to perform. If they don't see a Contact link on the homepage, it could frustrate them, and they may leave your website to visit a competitor.

(6) No tagline or slogan.

People like jingles and statements that sum up what your business is about. You probably have one you're using now. It's part of your identification. So why leave it off your homepage? Customers like to do business with familiar entities.

By adding your slogan, jingle, tagline, or motto, under your logo or business name, your customers will more readily connect with your business. It can be the hook that says, "You already know us. You've heard our commercials for years. You can trust us."

(7) Unfriendly.

Your website is you. It represents your business just like a sales person does. Is your staff aloof and depersonalized? Of course not. Then why should your website homepage look sterile, like a manual or textbook?

The wording should sound like the way normal humans talk. Some trendy companies go so far as to be comical, edgy, or even smart alecky, just to lighten things up a bit. Your homepage should have the feel of a friendly person who enjoys helping people, not a spec sheet with "just the facts ma'am". LOL

(8) Links that disappoint.

If you have a News link on your homepage, fill it with actual news, rather than just a statement about how you'll be featuring news there eventually. If you have a link to a blog, why not state some reason to visit it, some benefit to customers? If you have a Photo Gallery link, be sure to fill it with interesting, educational, or entertaining photos, including recent events, with captions explaining the scene.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Age of the Orator is Over

I hereby paradoxically proclaim, from my exalted pulpit, that the Age of the Orator is officially over. De-throned, debunked, dead.

What killed the idolizing of the golden-tongued orator?

First the web, then blogs, and now Twitter.

All you could do at old fashioned websites was stare at them, read a few things, maybe buy something. No more. Now we expect to post a comment, ask a question, contact the author, add our critique or praise, contribute something to the topic, enrich the discussion with our anecdote or expertise.

The old broadcast model of communication, advertising, and propaganda is dying fast. Democratic formats, where all who wish to say something are enabled to do so, are replacing the authoritarian, command-and-control format.

Twitter is a great example of decentralized discussion.

Nobody dominates the conversations. Someone says something provocative or controversial. Others RT (retweet) the statement, while some respond via @ (replies) and a lively debate results. Or people will add their own insights, examples of what happened to them, or requests for clarification.

We want to join in and participate, not absorb and regurgitate. We don't mind listening to you, if you'll also listen to us.

We demand to assert our own opinions and knowledge in discussions, not keep silent and passively consume lectures. From the President of the United States to televangelists, we're sick of it, all that blabbering, that fancy speech-making that bores us to death and leaves us depleted.

"Shut up and listen to me" is the standard mode of hypnotism, brainwashing, and cult indoctrination. It's being phased out and replaced by free conversational modes, where everybody gets to say something and to respond to what others say.

Oratory no longer moves us.

We aren't motivated, educated, or entertained.

We don't get inspired, excited, or pumped up.

We despise it. We'd rather be anywhere but there, in the auditorium or pew, politely smiling, sporadically clapping because the speaker says something we agree with. We hate being talked at, no matter what the topic may be.

Applause ruins speeches. Clapping and hooting are a barbaric form of minimal interactivity. It can be seen as a sort of "positive heckling". Applause often comes between one important statement and a vital follow-up to that statement, which is why the speaker often has to stop in the middle of the second remark, to allow the cheering to occur.

Applause is a butt-kissing interruption that says, "We approve of that statement and want to show you our approval. We clap to show our support for that idea you just expressed. Your other ideas were okay, maybe, but this one was great, exactly what we wanted to hear! It pleased us. We want you to know that this particular statement is very much part of our belief system. We enjoy hearing things we agree with."

But that leaves in question the statements that are not applauded. Hopefully, the speaker's final remark will result in a standing ovation, the seal of an audience's approval for the entire speech.

Speakers sprinkle easy-to-agree-with statements, composed in "soaring rhetoric", into their speeches, with the express purpose of eliciting some gratifying reactions from the crowd. The clapping and cheering acts as a boost to the speakers fragile self-esteem, it affirms his worth and propels him to keep droning on and on and on.

All an orator usually accomplishes is inflating his ego. Secondarily, he hopes to represent or express what the audience believes or wants to hear. He goes on and on and on, about whatever, while the subdued and docile audience soaks up the information like sponges, goes to sleep, or fidgets in their seats, seeking an escape.

Speeches don't solve problems. Speeches rarely enlighten anyone. We dislike one person getting up and acting like they have all the answers, while we are seekers or students or lemmings seeking leaders to follow like dumb lazy sheep.

If you want to reach people, shut up once in a while and let them say something. Let them interrupt you, heckle you, challenge you, enhance your understanding, and chime in with their own viewpoints.

This democratic, non-hierarchical communication platform is being realized in social media, blogs, and Twitter. It's not an opinion. It's an emerging reality that's usurping the old way of conveying information and achieving a consensus.

Think about how your website, sales staff, conferences, and marketing strategy could be improved by paying attention to this major, profound shift toward interactive communications.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Twitter Changes the Question and Improves Its Content

Finally, Twitter is depersonalized! They changed the question (or "prompt"), and it promises to be a huge improvement. Hopefully, everyone will pay attention and slavishly obey the new inquiry.

I blogged, in a comical manner, about "Changing the Twitter Question" back in February 2009. Twitter has finally seen the error of their ways. Follow me on Twitter, I'm: @vaspersthegrate

"What are you doing right now?" was the original question that greeted Twitter users, right above the small text entry box that permitted only 140 characters per message or "tweet". This Twitter inquiry was mocked by detractors."Who cares?" and "How narcissistic!" were common responses by those who did not "get on Twitter" and wanted to emphasize the frivolity of such an application.

Sarcasm and disparagement directed toward Twitter and Twitter users mirrored the attacks on blogs years ago when they were called "web logs". Old fashioned "slomo" (slow motion) blogs were derided as "online journals" that only myopic, self-centered teenagers would ever care about.

When CEOs began to use them, and mainstream journalists got "Ratherized", starting with Dan Rather, and individuals as well as organizations realized that blogs were great as mini-websites they could design, update, and control all by themselves, they gradually gained acceptance.

Twitter also entered the fabric of daily life as cable news networks began using Twitter and incorporating tweets as timely, spontaneous, average folk feedback on news items.

Tragic events like school shootings, the Burmese massacres of Buddhist monk dissidents, the corrupt Iran elections, the Balloon Boy Hoax, and the Ft. Hood lone terrorist massacre brought Twitter into the limelight as a viable means of interpersonal communication and first hand news reporting by citizen journalists.

But, in spite of occasional good uses of Twitter vanity question persisted in generating boring personal drivel, reducing the overall value and relevance of Twitter content.

"What are YOU doing right now?" spawned endless geysers of private details to bloat the Twittersphere. Many users could not think outside that dreadful box. We had to hear about what they ate for lunch, what con artist blog conference they were attending, and what airport they were at.

No more!

"What's happening?" is the new question.

Interpretation: Twitter no longer cares about what you and I are doing. Or what we are thinking. Twitter now enlists us all to be citizen journalists. We are commanded to report on what's going on around us, or being done to us (by the government or whatever?)

Twitter wants you to be a news source, probably due to how rich and valuable such content is to the mainstream media and other interested parties. Perhaps now the quality of tweets will skyrocket!

Another benefit: spammers will not be as likely to hype their junk! It may be more difficult to tweet a sales message. Commercial usage of Twitter may wane and completely disappear. Nobody joins a social network to receive hype or corporate PR anyway! Purity and joy are within reach once again!

It may be harder to reply to "What's happening?" with relentless inspirational quotes!

It may be harder to reply to "What's happening?" with announcements of dubious investment opportunities, Twitter Follower Acquisition Automation apps, and declarations of private affairs and vague feelings that nobody wants to clutter their mind with!


Twitter finally figured it out!

We want to know "What's happening?" and NOT "What are you doing?"!!

Prediction: Eventually, the Twitter question will be changed to "WTF?"


FURTHER READING: Brian Solis post "On Twitter, What Are You Doing? Was Always the Wrong Question".


Thursday, November 26, 2009

interstitial ads vs below content ads

Interstitial ads (also called transition ads) are advertising that comes between you and the web page to which you're trying to navigate. Or they appear in your transition from one webpage to another webpage within the same website.

The word interstitial means "coming in-between two things".

It's a form of browser hijacking. They annoy people. Don't do it. "interstitial" definition:

A full-page ad that interrupts sequential content, forcing exposure to the advertisement before visitors can continue on their content path.

Interstitials are a form of interruption marketing. This quality appeals to advertisers who feel Web advertising needs to be more like a broadcast medium to be effective.

Interstitials often draw an above average amount of response and resentment. The high response rates typically translate into higher CPM rates. The high level of resentment may translate into consumer backlash, although the exact long-term effects are unclear.

For example, you do an internet search, see a promising link, and click on it. But instead of seeing just the web page, you see an ad overlaid on top of the web page, partially or totally obscuring it. It's a commercial intrusion that interrupts your web browsing.

You want to see what you believe is relevant, interesting, or entertaining web content. But you're rudely confronted with an irrelevant ad instead! The ad may be relevant to the topic, but it's irrelevant because you are seeking information, not products related to a topic.

You're not shopping for anything. You're not in the mood to buy. You feel insulted and offended. You've been tricked into viewing a video commercial with loud, horrible music. Or a digital print ad that's hyping something you don't care about. Even if you might care about such a product, the way it's imposing itself on you turns you off.

Instead of successfully selling the product, you get pissed at both the product and the website that lets these interstitial ads come between you and it.

Irony of ironies! The definition of interstitial advertising is itself interrupted by an interstitial: an ad for their email newsletter (a very common content type for interstitials).

Interstitials are similar to pre-content video ads, that force you to watch a short commercial prior to enjoying a movie, news report, or other video content. You have to endure the commercial to get to the content.

While the pre-content video ad runs, you're probably resenting it, and making a note to boycott the company behind the commercial. Bad will and negative word of mouth are generated instead of increased sales.

Ads that are unexpected, unwanted, and disruptive to web browsing are counter-productive. They backfire. And they may increase the webpage's loading time.

What's the answer?

Below Content Ads.

These are sales messages that come AFTER the content.

You get the content you want. Now you're happy, in a good mood. When you see an ad below the content, you may be curious. Interested. Prone to investigate a product that's possibly relevant to your interests. Like a book or DVD that expands upon the content you've just consumed for free.

Below content advertising is natural, non-annoying, non-intrusive, endurable. You may skip it and move on, but at least those who do click on the ad or respond to an email newsletter sign-up form, are not antagonized. They will be more qualified, more likely to buy something or receive something free that carries more advertising.

There is also Above Content Ads, which are treading a fine line between Interstitials and Below Content Ads. While they're unexpected and unwanted, at least they don't block your view of desired content. You just have to scroll down a little.

Don't use interstitial advertising no matter how they're hyped to you. Go with below content ads and generate good will as well as increased sales.

Wikipedia article on interstitial webpage.

Smart Computing article on interstitial ads, with Above Content Ad.

"10 Online Ad Formats People Hate Most" from Catalyst Group, as seen on Silicon Alley Insider:

They are:

* Banner ads below headers

* Ads that look like content

* Dancing ads

* Auto-expanding half-page ads

* Banners next to logos

* Billboards in the top right corner

* Google text links interrupting content

* Ads with hidden close buttons

* Interstitials

* Page Take-overs


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How to Embed Flash Slideshow into Blogger

This is just a demonstration of an embedded slideshow on Blogger. A client asked me today how to embed a single .swf Flash file into a blog post.

You have to first make a Flash Slideshow with one or more images. A
Flash image cannot just be embedded like a JPEG. It needs a widget, something to transmit the image to, or render it within, a web browser.

Use a free software program like Flash Slideshow Maker.

Install this program. Then use it to Create Slide Show. Select the image or images you want in the slide show.

When you get the Publish Now dialog box, be sure to give it an HTML title and SWF title (default is "myalbum", I changed it to "Str8 Sounds CDs").

Once Published, you have to then upload the slideshow to a host site.

You'll get a prompt to upload to SkyAlbum. Click on that. Create an account with username and password.

Here's the "Str8 Sounds CDs" slideshow on SkyAlbum.

Once the slideshow is hosted on SkyAlbum, you'll get embed code and swf code.

Highlight the embed code, copy it, then paste it into Blogger > Create New Post (or Edit Post if you want to embed the slideshow into an existing post) > Edit HTML > paste that embed code in > change the dimensions.

You'll see

object width = "____" height="_____"

at the start of the embed code, and for my blog I use w=380 and h=400.

You'll also see it again, toward the end of the embed code. Be sure to change the dimension values at both spots in the embed code.

Publish Post.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

corporate websites vs social media

Many companies, despite the advice of so-called social media gurus and blog conferences, still fail to prominently display their Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, blog, and other social network links.

You will notice how I display a link to my Twitter profile near the top of my sidebar, and links to other online presences are further down. You can find my web activities in my blog sidebar, without having to Google my name and go hunting all over the internet for them.

Marketing blogger B.L. Ochman tackles this odd deficiency in a recent post.

"Why are companies hiding their social media involvement"


While thousands of companies have either experimental or well-established presence on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites, those communities remain invisible on all but a tiny fraction of company homepages.

Why do companies hide their social media efforts from visitors?

My guess is that their reasons include

* fear that they'll lose control of their brand if too many people know they can have a say;

* lack of cooperation between marketing and IT;

* and perhaps pressure from lawyers who are nervous about new-fangled new media.

It's hard to find a company website whose homepage easily and clearly allows visitors to see all of the its social media initiatives. You'd have to be Nancy Drew to find the company blog on most websites, or its Facebook page, or all of its YouTube videos.


I think the reason social media is not integrated with the main corporate website is simple incompetence.

Corporate websites do many things wrong. It's only natural that they would forget to have links to all their other sites, Twitter, YouTube channel, blog, etc. They're inept.

Here's another failure that's common. Corporate websites should include embedded videos of current and classic commercials, with HTML code to enable people to embed the commercials in their own blogs, especially if the commercial is funny or innovative.

Why would a company NOT upload their tv commercials to YouTube? This would make it easy for marketing bloggers to display the commercial and comment on them.

Are companies afraid they might get negative reviews? They shouldn't fear this if they're confident in what their ad agencies are doing, and paying them big money to create good work.

For example, I wanted to show my blog readers and Twitter fans how the current Ditech Refi Rate Sales tv commercials are almost identical to the Twitter graphics, the bird, the blue color. But this new commercial is not on YouTube or the Ditech corporate site.

Even though my purpose was to point out how Ditech seems to be imitating Twitter in their use of a bird and blue color, my article would also provide more exposure for their tv commercial, and would promote their Refi Sale.

These companies are just plain clueless. It seems amateur and childish to resist the new ways people are interacting with products and promotions.

If you seek competitive advantage, start integrating your social media presences with your corporate website. Also, be sure to include videos of recent commercials on your corporate website, and upload them to YouTube. Provide embed code so people can post your commercials on their blogs.

Don't fear criticism, which only makes us smarter. Don't thwart praise, which helps distribute your message.

*** B.L. Ochman, one of the first marketing bloggers I ever read, consistently posts thoughtful articles about corporate internet marketing and social networks. Follow her on Twitter: @whatsnext

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Morons from Outer Space FILM

One of the most bizarre films I've ever seen is Morons from Outer Space. It seems deceptively simple. Human aliens from the planet Blob accidentally crash into Earth. They're just like us, but even stupider!

"They came. They saw. They did a little shopping." - promotional slogan.

Directed by Mike Hodges (Get Carter, Terminal Man, Pulp, Croupier, Flash Gordon, Black Rainbow, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead).

Watch a clip at Video Detectives.

The dumb and dumber aliens hope to accomplish a few things: dress in wild costumes, sample earth food and drink, sing some extra-terrestial pop songs with partial lyrics, and do a little shopping.

Of course, even after thorough analysis by Earth scientists proves the aliens are less intelligent than the average trailer trash, and harmless as dewinged flies, the Pentagon decides it's sinister ruse, thus a military solution is needed. "Kill them!" the commander screams, and the campaign is promptly botched, of course.

Have you ever considered the possibility that aliens who crash land on Earth might be rejects from their home planet? In a self-piloting rental spaceship? Or that they were sent off into space, just to get rid of them? Well, fasten your seat belt and put your mind into cruise control. This movie is so packed with weirdness, it's hard to process the entire thing in one viewing.

Morons from Outer Space makes fun of those who hope alien visitors will be smarter than Earthlings. But it also makes fun of us. It's a put down of Western civilization, militarism, scientific hubris, consumerism, celebrity status, and space exploration. How did they manage to do it, and still be funny, and trippy artistic...and really dumb?

Reviews of Morons from Outer Space are almost univerally negative. Critics hate it, calling it "as boring as lettuce and water", etc.

Here's a typical clueless critique from Weird Wild Realm's Paghat the Ratgirl:


The big "joke" for Morons from Outer Space (1985) is that aliens are standard-issue trailer trash.

If it doesn't seem like much of a joke that the alien spaceship includes everything you could get in any other second-hand trailer house, or isn't it funny they happen to speak a language exactly like English with the same accents as the earthlings in the cast, then there won't be many chuckles here for you.

I was warned this was a stinker but I had refused to believe a fairly decent director like Mike Hodges could be this dull. After all, he already had Get Carter (1971) & Terminal Man (1974) under his belt, so surely his comedy sci-fi film would possess a certain level of competence.

Was I ever wrong. It attempts to be a pop culture satire as the Morons are not too moronic to become rock stars, a fact that is offered as proof that pop culture is retarded. But the only thing retarded here is the film itself.

Anyone who liked Mel Brooks' stinker Space Balls (1987) may find enough slapstick in this one to enjoy as well, though the awful Space Balls was a hundred times funnier. No one else need bother.


I suspect that American reviewers are offended by the British comic satire genre in general. It makes them uncomfortable to see their cherished beliefs and behavior lampooned with such adroit parody.

They don't want to give up their expectations of gross sexual humor, jokes they "don't have to think about too much" (per George Castanza on Seinfeld), and scientific mythologies that are catered to by most comedy fare and alien science fiction films.

More astute fans do get it, though. Check out this Latherman-9 user review from Internet Movie Database (IMDb).


In director Mike Hodges's only openly comedic film to date, Anlgo-American pop culture of the '70s and early '80s is mercilessly lampooned.

From "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977) to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) to David Bowie as the avatar of Ziggy Stardust, nothing escapes a satirical mauling by Hodges and writers/actors Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith.

On the surface, much of the humor appears to be at the level of Benny Hill, but it is actually much more subtle in its subtext, addressing the mindlessness of celebrity worship, the nature of friendship, the willful self-delusion that can arise from one's own expectations, and the fleetingness of fame.

With satire more subtle than seen in similar, American films of the same period (e.g., "This is Spinal Tap" (1984)), "Morons from Outer Space" may not be to everyone's taste.

I will be the first to admit that British humor is an acquired taste for many of us non-Brits, but I found this film far funnier than many recent American comedies that have received rave reviews ("Meet the Parents" (2000), "Something about Mary" (1998), "Analyze This" (1999), etc.).

Any viewer willing to expend the effort to actually concentrate on what is going on and being said in the film will be amply rewarded. The most difficult part of viewing this movie is finding it, a problem with many of Hodges's works. Rating: 7/10.


Also check out the good reviews of Morons from Outer Space on Amazon.

Back cover of the VHS tape: "Sci-fi meets hilarity in this wildly adventurous comedy that goes where no man—or moron—has gone before. We can now safely conclude that there is no intelligent life in space. Four holiday travelers from the planet Blob have somehow lost control of their rented spaceship and crash-landed on Earth.

At first, the military and scientific teams assume they are higher life forms. But not for long. Idiocy is hard to hide. The stranded wayfarers are complete morons, content to drink their green beer, sing ear-splitting pop songs and talk to trashcans, which they assume are the planet's leaders. But not until an enterprising journalist decides to market their dazed innocence and turn them into glitzy superstars do they find their true mission on Earth.

With amusing parodies of famous film classics like Close Encounters of the Third King and warp-speed laughs, this is one screwball comedy that's out of this world!"

If you like campy underground classics like Liquid Sky, Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Sins of the Fleshapoids, and Andy Warhol's "Bad", you'll love Morons from Outer Space.

Directed by Mike Hodges

Starring: Mel Smith, Griff Rhys Jones, Jimmy Nail, Joanne Pearce, Paul Bown, Dinsdale Landen, James Sikking, Tristram Jellinek, George Innes, John Joyce, Mark Lewis Jones, André Maranne, Miriam Margolyes, Jimmy Mulville, Derek Deadman, Shane Rimmer.

Catch it on Comcast Cable On Demand now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

FBI warning on spear phishing



11/17/2009—The FBI assesses with high confidence that hackers are using spear phishing e-mails with malicious payloads to exploit U.S. law firms and public relations firms.

During the course of ongoing investigations, the FBI identified noticeable increases in computer exploitation attempts against these entities.

The specific intrusion vector used against the firms is a spear phishing or targeted socially engineered e-mail designed to compromise a network by bypassing technological network defenses and exploiting the person at the keyboard.

Hackers exploit the ability of end users to launch the malicious payloads from within the network by attaching a file to the message or including a link to the domain housing the file and enticing users to click the attachment or link.

Network defense against these attacks is difficult as the subject lines are spoofed, or crafted, in such a way to uniquely engage recipients with content appropriate to their specific business interests.

In addition to appearing to originate from a trusted source based on the relevance of the subject line, the attachment name and message body are also crafted to associate with the same specific business interests.

Opening a message will not directly compromise the system or network because the malicious payload lies in the attachment or linked domain. Infection occurs once someone opens the attachment or clicks the link, which launches a self-executing file and, through a variety of malicious processes, attempts to download another file.

Indicators are unreliable to flag in-bound messages; however, indicators are available to determine an existing compromise.

Once executed, the malicious payload will attempt to download and execute the file ‘srhost.exe’ from the domain ‘’; e.g. Any traffic associated with ‘’ should be considered as an indication of an existing network compromise and addressed appropriately.

The malicious file does not necessarily appear as an ‘exe’ file in each incident. On occasion, the self-executing file has appeared as other file types, e.g., ‘.zip’, ‘.jpeg’, etc.

Please contact your local field office if you experience this network activity and direct incident response notifications to DHS and U.S. CERT.

-- public domain information "Spear Phishing Emails Target US Law Firms & Public Relations Firms" at FBI Cyber Investigations unit.

It's time to get smart about cyber crime and cyber war techniques. This is the realm of blogocombat on steroids. In regular blogocombat, words are used to attack, defend, and debate issues or personalities.

In cyber crime/war, the combat is waged against your personal computer or corporate network. They use highly seductive or relevant phrases, like the name of a fellow employee or a family member, or a topic related to your job or personal interests.

A Twitter friend, Michael Koby, (his blog: Michael Koby - Commentary on Technology, Media, News and More ) recommends this book (Amazon item page):

"The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security" by Kevin D. Mitnick

Mitnick is the "reformed cyber criminal hacker" whose exploits inspired the movie War Games. He was the Most Wanted Computer Criminal at one time. See the Wikipedia article on Kevin D. Mitnick.

Social Engineering article on Wikipedia.


Social engineering is the act of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. While similar to a confidence trick or simple fraud, the term typically applies to trickery or deception for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or computer system access; in most cases the attacker never comes face-to-face with the victim.

All social engineering techniques are based on specific attributes of human decision-making known as cognitive biases.[1] These biases, sometimes called "bugs in the human hardware," are exploited in various combinations to create attack techniques.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Against Dominionism and Cruelty to Animals

"A righteous person regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." Proverbs 12:10 (NKJV)

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Matthew 5:7 (NIV)

"Incapable of respecting the Being and meaning of the Other, phenomenology and ontology would be philosophies of violence. Through them, the entire philosophical tradition, in its meaning and at bottom, would make common cause with oppression and with the totalitarianism of the Same. The ancient clandestine friendship between light and power, the ancient complicity between theoretical objectivity and technico-political possession." Jacques Derrida, Violence and Metaphysics.

Christianity, and Western metaphysics and culture in general, has been heavily influenced by dominionism, which is a sadistic perversion of the caretaking of the earth and its inhabitants. Although humanity was created in the image of God, the other life forms were here first, according to Genesis. To regard any creature, human or non-human, as inferior and unworthy of ethical treatment, is contrary to the principles of humility, self-denial, and love.

To exercise "dominion" over subjects is, in the pure or utopian sense, a serious, non-trivial obligation to care for, preserve, respect, and be accountable for the treatment of those under this dominion. Reckless, insensitive abandon is clearly not integral to the stewardship entrusted to mankind.

Unfortunately, the reign of kings, CEOs, Presidents and other leaders in society has often been manifested in acts that fall far short of the responsible, benevolent ideal.

According to many scholars and mystics, animals did not originally attack or eat each other, in the paradise of Eden. In the coming Kingdom of Heaven on earth, living creatures, both human and animal, will enjoy each other's company without fear of being considered a delicious meal by the other.

Isaiah 11:6-9 (NIV)

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,

the calf and the lion and the yearling;

and a little child will lead them.

7 The cow will feed with the bear,

their young will lie down together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,

and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.

9 They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,

for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea.

Furthermore, the old concept of "dominionism" -- the idea that humans have been granted supreme rulership over creation, so they can do as they please with nature, the environment, and living beings -- has been discredited as not only unspiritual, but also impractical from a global survival standpoint.

Some people have questioned "Will I be re-united with my pets when I go to heaven?" and the answer is generally "No, only humans have eternal souls." This error of this anthropocentric (human-focused) point of view is clearly shown all through the Bible.

As just one example, the sacrifice of innocent animals as figurative, imperfect atonement for human sins, was meant to be disgusting. Levite priests were not to relish this barbaric act, but to commit it as an act of faith in a coming human redeemer who would give up his human life for the redemption of the world.

Toward the end of the Old Testament, from Isaiah through Malachi, God began to dismantle this animal sacrifice system, and even declared that the hypocrisy and insincerity connected with it was a stench in His nostrils.

Isaiah 66:3-4 (NIV)

This is the one I esteem:

he who is humble and contrite in spirit,

and trembles at my word.

3 But whoever sacrifices a bull

is like one who kills a man,

and whoever offers a lamb,

like one who breaks a dog’s neck;

whoever makes a grain offering

is like one who presents pig’s blood,

and whoever burns memorial incense,

like one who worships an idol.

They have chosen their own ways,

and their souls delight in their abominations;

4 so I also will choose harsh treatment for them

and will bring upon them what they dread.

For when I called, no one answered,

when I spoke, no one listened.

They did evil in my sight

and chose what displeases me.”

Humans created in the image of God is often explained, based on the cruel and unscientific teachings of Rene Descartes, that only human beings have self-consciousness, autonomy, will, emotions, and feelings of pain and pleasure. In other words, it's okay to torture, abuse, and harm non-human entities, for they are "just automatic machines", with nothing remotely like fears, dreams, hopes, intentions, plans, self-identity, or a continuous cohesive ego.

The extreme characterization of "unfeeling animals" is that when pain is inflicted, as through live vivisection, the animal is not screaming in agony, but merely "vocalizing". Strict behaviorism states that we cannot know what an animal is thinking, we can only observe the behavior.

But this crass indifference that justifies sadism can also be applied to human subjects, especially if we label them with inferiority stigmas based on political orientation, nationality, race, gender or ethnicity.

This then allows humans who enjoy cruelty to treat others as mere machines of no consequence, because they're black, illegal immigrant, female, poor, deformed, low caste, leper, uneducated, elitist, senile, unborn fetus, religious, atheist, working class, terrorist, savage, liberal, conservative, anarchist, radical, fanatic, or extremist.

Yet when Jesus mentioned a highly ethical man who had mercy on a victim of robbery and beatings, the person was a member of what was considered a "cult", an "unorthodox" outcast who was despised by his fellow Judeans: it was a Good Samaritan.

Mystics of some Eastern spiritual traditions have proclaimed that even one cell creatures have the same emotional range as humans. The inferiority of non-human creatures has been used as justification for inhumane conditions of burden-bearing and edible animal rearing, harvesting, and slaughter techniques.

What the Bible actually teaches is that humans are less than animals in terms of their fallen, sinful condition, since Adam and Eve disobeyed God and got kicked out of Eden. Animals are portrayed as obedient, communicating with God, praising the Lord, even as His "armies" which are used to punish evil humans, as in the plagues of Pharoah and the hornets attacking Israel's unjust enemies.

Why would the Creator would endow, for example, your pet dog "Rex" with a distinct personality and loyal friendship, then callously allow that unique personhood to be extinguished upon the dog's death?

How could it be that while there will be animals, including dogs, in the new heaven and earth, poor old "Rex" was just a temporary reality that cannot greet you there? Such an opinion is absurd, and contrary to both common sense and Biblical exegesis.

The term for such hostility toward animals and the "beastial" is misothery (similar to contempt of humans: misanthropy) based on the Greek "misein" to hate, and "therion" animal.

A quick look at Paul's letter to the Romans indicates that the Creator is going to redeem all of His creation, including animals and other non-human life forms, and not just self-centered human beings.

Romans 8:19 (ESV) For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope

21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

Thus, the merciful who, in the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-11), Jesus calls "blessed" (favored by God, not necessarily happy all the time) must show gentle kindness, forgiveness, and compassion to everything in the material world, from sentient beings to non-sentient objects.

It would necessarily include such socially marginalized aspects of tenderness as not stepping on ants on the sidewalk to not slamming doors violently, and would also encompass a noble restraint when describing people who hold views opposed to ones own in realms of politics, faith, and art.

Monday, November 16, 2009

7 keys to success in social media

You create a profile, upload photos and media files, personalize your page to reflect who you are, but then what?

Social interaction comes next.

Depending on the contextual relevance of the site, your involvement with other members of your network can be anything from intense and nearly constant -- to casual and sporadic.

For example, I might spend hours on Twitter, RTing (retweeting) and @ing (replying to) various Twitter users. It could be joking, advising, debating, self-expressing, self-promoting, other-promoting, or just plain chatting about whatever.

However, on MySpace Music, I rarely interact with other musicians, aside from an occasional comment or private message. I often update the content, adding new tunes to my mp3 player, or new photos and videos. While I keep my Str8 Sounds page fresh and always changing, I don't spend a lot of time interacting with others.

I do more than most bands probably. I at least comment back when another band posts a comment on my page. And I make a point of complimenting bands that I really like and admire. I'll post a photo of me holding their new CD, as a comment, for example. Or mention some specific song or musical style of theirs that I enjoy greatly.

So my social interactions on MySpace Music is sincere and steady, but not all that frequent or intense. I never debate anything over there. I don't seek advice or express my thoughts like I do on Twitter.

Twitter interactions are rather well defined. Norms and netiquette sprang up spontaneously, with services like Twitter Fan Wiki to codify and keep pace with the site. Then we develop our own pet peeves or idiosyncratic practices.

To succeed in being human, or a humanized organization, on social media depends on several considerations. You will judge your ROI in social media according to your own goals. But the basic social media ideology remains the same.

Social media is fundamentally about caring and sharing. Not sales. Not viral marketing. Not investment opportunities. Not spam. Not positive affirmations.

To simplify: success in social media depends on being social. Not contrived. Not scripted. Not trendy. Not self-impressed. Not corporate fluffy. Not hype-driven.

Nobody joins a social media network to receive sales messages or corporate PR.

If you act human, caring and sharing, some few may be interested in your product or organization. But social media is not "just another communications / advertising platform." If you see social media participants as dumb sitting ducks waiting to waste their money on your junk, you're doomed.

We see the spammers do this. They lure you into Following them by using relentless inspirational quotes from other people. Or they try to act like a normal person, posting trivial details about their life, then every 10th post will be about some product or "opportunity".

Here's what it takes to succeed in social media, the kind of personality and behavioral qualities required to interact effectively with others online.

7 Keys to Success in Social Media

1. Value

You, or your organization, have plenty of knowledge or talent to share. Provide your insights, expertise, links to relevant sites, news, facts, questions, experiences, trials, struggles, triumphs, humor, skills, education, training, dreams, art, music, poetry, whatever you have to contribute to others.

Share links to sites you know about, but most others probably don't. What web tools do you use that others could profit from? What sites are authoritative in your field? Link to them! That's how you prove you're an expert, and people are attracted to those who share nice things.

2. Authenticity

Be yourself, don't quote others constantly. Emphasize what your friends or customers say are the good points of yourself or your product.

No ghost-posting! Don't position yourself as an individual, then have a staff pretend to be you as they interact with others. You'll be hated for this fake and insincere approach.

3. Altruism

Genuinely care about others. Prove it by interacting kindly, sympathetically, inspirationally with fellow members of your network.

Are you pushing something that will really help others, or are you selling something just to make yourself rich?

In social media, we discover your orientation a lot faster than you realize.

4. Articulation

You have to be a fairly good writer. Much social media consists of micro-content, short bursts of text, encapsulated contexts, abbreviated ideas, condensed thought.

As you practice, you'll gain marketable skills in communicative brevity.

5. Strength

You must be tough, able to take criticism, flaming, trolling, and assorted abuse. Some people think debates are things to "win" at all costs, rather than a mutual search for truth. Google the word "blogocombat" to learn more. Most of what you'll find was written by me, as it's one of my specialties.

For the definitive work on internet trolls, see Troll Guide: The Return.

Never let an online statement, especially if it's anonymous or from a total stranger, bother you or make you react in an immature or unprofessional manner.

Express your opinions or product claims firmly, but remain open to questions, challenges, and hostile attacks. Respond calmly and methodically. Provide links to substantiate your assertions.

6. Revolution

Realize you're a revolutionary, a ground-breaker, a pioneer in the midst of a communications upheaval. Never before in human history have ordinary people possessed a global platform to publish text, image, sound, music, art, etc.

Have patience with yourself, your online community members, and the technology itself. We and the technology are evolving together. The faster and further you go in social media, the better positioned and prepared your organization will be, as the new media reinforces or replaces the old media.

7. Goals

What do you wish to accomplish in social media? It can be anything from making real friends, gaining a virtual advisory staff, entertaining people, collaborating with colleagues, providing better service to customers, promoting an idea, campaigning for a candidate, or selling a product.

No matter what your ultimate objective may be, keep the overt actions to a bare minimum. Promote your seminar not with pushy hype, but by freely and abundantly sharing your expertise, valuable insights, how-to tips.

For better view, CLICK ON IMAGE BELOW -- "Conversation Prism" by Brian Solis, social media expert, author of The Conversation: