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:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Personal Media vs Social Media

On Twitter, "Beyond Social Media", a post by pioneer blogger and tech guru Doc Searls is getting lots of RTs (retweets). After reading it, I thought a good sub-title would be "Personal Media vs. Social Media".

Doc Searls, one of the first bloggers in the blogosphere, and one of its most brilliant and tireless theoreticians, states that when Social Media is controlled by companies, and cannot evolve apart from them, they are not really empowering the personal.


Later questions in the survey assume is that social media is something that happens on private platforms, Twitter in particular. This is a legitimate assumption, of course, and that’s why I have a problem with it. That tweeting it is a private breed of microblogging verges on irrelevance.

Twitter is now as necessary to tweeting as Google is to search. It’s a public activity under private control.

Missing in action is credit to what goes below private platforms like Twitter, MySpace and Facebook — namely the Net, the Web, and the growing portfolio of standards that comprise the deep infrastructure, the geology, that makes social media (and everything else they support) possible.


Tweeting today is in many ways like instant messaging was when the only way you could do it was with AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple and ICQ. All were silos, with little if any interoperabiity. Some still are. Check out this list of instant messaging protocols. It’s a mess. That’s because so many of the commonly-used platforms of ten years ago are still, in 2009, private silos.


Computers are personal now. So are phones. So, fundamentally, is everything each of us does. It took decades to pry computing out of central control and make it personal. We’re in the middle of doing the same with telephony — and everything else we can do on a hand-held device.

Personal and social go hand-in-hand, but the latter builds on the former.

Today in the digital world we still have very few personal tools that work only for us, are under personal control, are NEA, and are not provided as a grace of some company or other. (If you can only get it from somebody site, it ain’t personal.)

That’s why I bring up email, blogging, podcasting and instant messaging. Yes, there are plenty of impersonal services involved in all of them, but those services don’t own the category. We can swap them out. They are, as the economists say, substitutable.

But we’re not looking at the personal frontier because the social one gets all the attention — and the investment money as well.

Markets are built on the individuals we call customers. They’re where the ideas, the conversations, the intentions (to buy, to converse, to relate) and the money all start. Each of us, as individuals, are the natural points of integration of our own data — and of origination about what gets done with it.

Individually-empowered customers are the ultimate greenfield for business and culture. Starting with the social keeps us from working on empowering individuals natively. That most of the social action is in silos and pipes of hot and/or giant companies slows things down even more. They may look impressive now, but they are a drag on the future.


The key phrase from Doc Searls is "Starting with the social keeps us from working on empowering individuals natively".

My interpretation of this aligns with the Sitting Duck Theory of Social Media Marketing.

Many businesses think of social media participants as easy targets for sales hype, investment opportunities, and PR. Malware promoters try to trick Twitter users into clicking on links in DMs (direct messages). Spammers use deceptive tactics like kitty tweets (inspirational quotes and fake personal trivia) to seduce people into thinking they're normal, average users.

Few companies recognize that social media is where they can provide customer service. Instead of pushing products, they should be handling complaints, responding to questions, sharing insights, linking to relevant web pages unassociated with their company -- in short, being non-productively altruistic.

That's how good will can be generated, which will ultimately increase sales, but in a nice way.

Social media as "not empowering the personal"?

This concept leads me to another tangent: what happens to the sociability of social media participants when they step away from their computers? How sociable will we be if the internet went down forever, and we had to go back to social interactions via direct contact with real physical persons?

My comment posted at the Doc Searls post:

Wonderful analysis, by a pioneer blogger, on Personal Media vs. Social Media.

I also think that Social Media, if there really is a deep socializing element in it, should make all participants more friendly, compassionate, and extroverted in the real world.

If all "social" interaction is happening on the social media sites, but we're surly, sour, and asocial in our daily offline affairs, then Social Media is a Grand Illusion.

In blogocombat, my primary technique is to respond with text to text. I don't make it personal. I fight bad ideas with good ideas, hopefully. But in blogocaring, I try to connect my heart with the hearts of the people who seem to reside behind or beyond the text.

I've noticed that I indeed have become more sociable in the offline world, as a result of intense social media interaction, as typified by RTs, @s, :^) and sincere kindness to those who ask questions or provide me with comfort and support.

But to many, social media may be just another video game where points accumulated are Followers numbers and now Listings.

And, back to your point, if social media platforms are controlled by companies, then we are only slightly empowered personally.


Friday, November 6, 2009

The Heart of Violence is Within You

Americans are hypocrites. They act all shocked and sad when they hear of serial killers, school shootings, Jihad terrorist acts, and other violence. Then they return with glee to violent video games and slasher films.

But it's vicarious violence, these games and movies.

Vicarious means: using, in your imagination, others as surrogates. You watch other people or you pretend to be someone else. You put yourself, consciously or unconsciously, in the place of the villain and/or the victim.

As vengeful sadist, you thrill in watching others suffer. As guilt-ridden masochist, you delight in getting the punishment you feel you deserve. You do it through others or via an alter ego.

You may switch from inflicter of pain to recipient of punishment, back and forth, or you may settle on being one or the other. One thing's for sure. If there was a technology that you had to hook up to, as you watched slasher films or played video games, that would make you actually feel the pain you inflict on others, or watch others inflict, you would not engage in vicarious violence.

Since violent video games and slasher films do not have mandatory "pain feedback" apparatus, forcing you to experience the violence you vicariously enjoy, you think you get away with it.

You don't. You attract violence to yourself as you vicariously engage in it. You unleash karmic forces against your safety and life.


"The Heart of Violence is Within You" at OpenSalon

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Stealth Spammers and Kitty Tweets on Twitter

Stealth Spamming and Kitty Tweets are popular new techniques of con artists. These criminals are phishing for usernames and passwords, offering to sell you automated programs to "Add 10,000 Followers weekly", or promoting Get Rich Quick schemes.

Sometimes they trick you into revealing your password, so they can hijack your account and send out spam to others using your username and Twitter account.

On Twitter, the Stealth Spammers either tweet messages with their silly claims, or go "under the radar" and send you DMs (Direct Messages), private communications, with links. These links lead to a variety of scam sites, which typically shout at you to "Register Now. Enter Your Password. Start Earning Big Money!"

They typically skip such standard features of credible websites as About pages, FAQs, links to reputable sites, and Client Lists.


"Stealth Spammers & Kitty Tweets on Twitter" at OpenSalon