Saturday, January 30, 2010

Beatport presents Camea

Go to Beatport.comGet These TracksAdd This Player

I started an account at Beatport, a great source for techno and electronic music downloads. You get 10 free, pre-selected music downloads when you join, a total of 72 minutes of floor-pounding, wall-thumping energy.

Here's a embed player I made from Beatport. You can choose a player for a specific Artist, Label, Release, Genre, Chart, or Top Downloads. Then you can choose 10, 30, 50, or 100 songs.

Right above the track listings, you see page 1, 2, 3. Click on 2 when you're finished with page 1, to hear the tracks 11 - 20, then on page 3 to hear tracks 21 -30.

Camea is a talented female techno artist/DJ, incorporating slinky whispery vocals.

"Camea and Tim Xavier the Techno Couple" interview on Beatportal.



Beatport presents Richie Hawtin

Go to Beatport.comGet These TracksAdd This Player

I started an account at Beatport, a great source for techno and electronic music downloads. You get 10 free, pre-selected music downloads when you join, a total of 72 minutes of floor-pounding, wall-thumping energy.

Here's a embed player I made from Beatport. You can choose a player for a specific Artist, Label, Release, Genre, Chart, or Top Downloads. Then you can choose 10, 30, 50, or 100 songs.

Right above the track listings, you see page 1, 2, 3. Click on 2 when you're finished with page 1, to hear the tracks 11 - 20, then on page 3 to hear tracks 21 -30.

Richie Hawtin aka Plastikman aka Fuse aka Minus aka Plus 8 is one of the most popular and best-selling minimalist techno artists, and a huge influence on my own Str8 Sounds music.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Representative Baird website hacked

Again, please excuse the language in the above screen cap, but it's hard to avoid bad language when you're showing hacked sites. For some reason, crackers like to use profanity.

I guess that shows their infantile mindset and lack of productive intelligence.

Item on display today is the hacked website of Representative Brian Baird.

Don't count on government protecting or providing for you -- when they are full of security breaches and "lack of inter-departmental information sharing" or whatever they're currently blaming their incompetence on. I blame bureaucratic bloating aka agency sprawl. We need less government, not more.

See also: "Congressional Website Defacements Follow State of the Union"


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

new job as Corporate IT Director and Web Systems Administrator

Just as I finished recording my first commercial Christian techno music CD, which will be distributed through a prestigious record label (more news later!), I just got hired for a new job.

I will now be the Corporate IT Director and Web Systems Administrator for a local company. This means I will handle all their ecommerce, internet marketing, video, digital photography, podcasts, website content, blogs, social media (including Twitter and Facebook), email, and network computer systems.

They will basically approve whatever I recommend, providing me the freedom and authority to implement or oversee all processes and technology designed to increase sales and improve customer service.

I was also told I could name my price, they'd pay me whatever I wanted, within reason. This company has been a client of mine for years now, and was my first social media client. I am a loyal customer of their products. I totally believe in their business, so I can really sink my teeth into my responsibilities.

Thanks to all my friends and fans who have helped me along the way with advice and support. I'm especially appreciative of the web professionals I've interacted with on SitePoint, Evolt, YCombinator,, WDVL, Twitter, and various discussion lists and online forums.

BTW, here's that Christian techno album (volume 2 of the Robert Alter Psalms translations) I completed last night:

Str8 Sounds "Eternal Majesty"


TechCrunch hacked twice now

The above screen capture shows that TechCrunch has been hacked again. I heard that they explained the first hack as being NOT a hack, but a "bad file uploaded to the comments section". That's hilarious. It's still a hack, and it's the easiest type of vulnerability to exploit.

Here is the text that appears in the screen cap (please excuse the rough language that I normally don't allow on this blog):

So Arrington, how much did all the media coverage yesterday brought you in trough the welcome.html ad you forced people to? What a fucking retarded move was that you twat. You should be thanking me and sucking on my fucking ballsack for not deleting everyone on the box and publishing the mysql, if that's what you want O.K, I can do that. Also, you fucking dickwads from sites like Yahoo!, BBC and plenty more, where the FUCK do you see adult content on ???????? I mean honestly, are you fucktards also in just for the money?!?!?!

The whole story is a geek comedy of grand proportions.

Apparently, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, ran an interstitial ad on TechCrunch to take advantage of increased traffic due to the first hack attack. So the hacker is scolding him for being an opportunist. You can't make this stuff up! LOL

If you have a WordPress blog, be afraid. Be very very afraid. Those Code Mess blogs are not what a professional person should use.

Follow the "TechCrunch Hacked Again" story on YCombinator.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

TechCrunch hacked by porn jerk

For the first time that I can recall, TechCrunch, one of the world's top 5 most popular blogs, has been hacked.

There has been some fluctuation in what comes up when you navigate to TechCrunch domain. As someone on a hacker forum stated: "Looks like it's switching around depending on what backend their load balancer throws you to. It's jumping around for me, which suggests they don't have any session affinity."

Another hacker forum member said, and I totally agree: "Maybe people will finally stop using the duct-taped spaghetti called Wordpress."

WARNING: Do not visit TechCrunch until the site has been cleansed and secured. Be aware that visiting it right now is equivalent to visiting a suspicious, untrusted site. It could serve malicious content that takes advantage of unknown vunerabilities even on fully patched systems.

Security is a huge problem for Obama, the CIA, Fort Hood, airports, Twitter, and now TechCrunch, all of them compromised recently. You need to understand how to harden your enterprise against such attacks, which are increasing.

Chinese and Iranian cyber-thugs are getting better every day. What are you doing to improve your network and home computer security savvy?

Here's what the hacker put on the TechCrunch domain, which linked to a website with links to adult material, until TechCrunch administrators removed it and replaced it with the message at the top of this post:

This is pretty spooky. I'm anxious to find out the criminal's identity and motive.

While we're on the topic of internet vandalism, what would you do if the root servers of the internet were hacked and destroyed? If the internet, the whole thing, vanished forever? Do you have print-outs of your best blog posts? Have you burned to CD all your most important data and favorite songs?

How would you waste your time if you could never again visit Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, Mashable, Daily Kos, InstaPundit, Huffington Post,, MySpace Music, Pandora, Amazon, eBay, Ubu Web, Pluperfecter, or ... TechCrunch?

Think about it.

NOTE: Images from Graham Cluley's post on TechCrunch hacked.


Monday, January 25, 2010

The Jobless, Darwinian Economic Recovery

You've heard about the Jobless Recovery. Experts predict that only Wall Street, banks, and a few large corporations will thrive, while the rest of us grovel for chump change. We have seen more bank failures and company closings, with millions of people out of work, and with bleak prospects.

If a recovery actually occurs, it will also be Darwinian. It's time to do some introspection and determine if you've got what it takes as an individual or a business -- to survive amongst the fittest.


A Jobless Recovery means that many people will have to forget being employed, stop trying to get hired, and become freelancers, independent contractors, entrepreneurs, or consultants.

You may have to start your own business. Or you may have to figure out what, specifically, are your marketable areas of expertise. What have you been praised for by former employers? What do your friends and family say are your greatest talents and strengths?

Once you pinpoint your marketability, you need to begin marketing yourself, not as a potential employee, but as a supplier or service provider. Start a blog and use text, audio, and video to showcase your work. Start a Twitter account and occasionally tweet links to your blog posts. Tweet links to other relevant work by leaders in your field.

You can establish yourself as the Go To Specialist by using the internet and web apps. The more you put online, the more likely people will find you and contact you. Search engines like frequent, keyword-rich, unique, relevant content. Polish it up and pump it out.


Survival of the fittest. In this horrible economic climate, only the smart businesses will survive. You must be savvy, fast, professional, under-promising and over-delivering. Are you evolving...or just coasting...just plodding along?

Throw away your books on Management, Financial Miracles, and Get Rich Quick schemes. Study and devour your books on Quality Assurance, Customer Relations, and Sales and Marketing.

To thrive, you must mingle with customers, experience or at least identify with their problems and needs, develop better solutions, then differentiate yourself from the competition.

Be known as "The Gal (or Guy) Who...." Who -- what? What marks you as an individual?

The blogger who has tons of information on child safety? The company that has the best selection of health food items? The newspaper that actually threads reader comments under the article, rather than shoving them off to a separate forum?

The business that's genuinely friendly, extremely helpful, and fair priced? The Christian music record label that keeps their artists to strict moral codes? The bookstore that bends over backwards to satisfy customer requests and loves to special order items for people?

Only the best and the brightest will survive. Everyone else will become permanently poor and dependent on government, which is itself broke and buried under tons of debt.

What are you doing to increase your expertise?

What are you doing to improve your skills?

What are you doing to enhance your friendliness?

What are you doing to beef up your professionalism?

What magazines are you reading to gain insights relevant to your business or art?

What classic novels are you reading to enrich your writing skills?

What philosophy books are you studying to sharpen your thinking skills?

What software are you mastering to transcend your current performance?

What personal shortcomings and vulnerabilities can you identify?

Who are you cultivating as mentors, contacts, and references?

How often do you turn off the TV and do something less passive?

What customer problems and needs do you need to learn more about?

How can your customer service and sales become more altruistic, caring, and kind?

What are you doing to help someone else succeed?


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wolf Blitzer vs. Robert Gibbs on Transparency

One of the core values of blogging is transparency.

We early bloggers used to chant "Authenticity. Transparency. Integrity." as a slogan that differentiated blogs from old fashioned "Stare and Shop" websites, where all you could do is read propaganda or buy stuff. The blogosphere was founded on open, honest discussions and interactions that enabled everyone to join the conversations.

Bloggers tried to be transparent about everything except sensitive private information that could lead to identity theft or other criminal acts. We fought against insincere and "sponsored" posts and comments. We attacked Pay Per Post and Pay Per Tweet schemes. We refused to accept merchandise and incentives, unless such compensation was revealed upfront. We refused to be coached on what to say about a product or company.

Early bloggers took the concept of Transparency very seriously.

Transparency, however, like the word "awesome", is on a rapid decline into meaninglessness.

President Obama promised, among other things, to have the most transparent administration in history. But, aside from some after-the-fact revelations of political dealings, the real-time, unprecedented transparency, has not materialized.

What charity did Obama donate his Nobel Peace Prize award money to? He has refused to reveal this information.

Why are his birth certificate, college records, and medical records sealed? No other president has made this information off-limits. Some suspect Obama may not have attended classes, while some wonder if he was a foreign exchange student. Others have questioned if Obama may have had a mental illness or nervous breakdown. Forbidding public scrutiny of his personal records causes people to speculate wildly.

Chicago-style gangster politics, backroom deals, selective bribes, and other shady wheeling and dealing has occurred in the Obama Administration. He promised to let C-SPAN cameras into the healthcare deliberations. When asked why he flip-flopped on this promise, the topic is immediately changed to boast of vague "transparencies" that often equate to opaque murkiness, paraded as real transparency.

Perhaps the most glaring discrepancy was when Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, then escalated the troop levels in the Afghanistan War, in what is called a surge. The Nobel committee violated their Founder's rules by awarding this prize to someone based, not on actual achievements, but on alleged intentions and speeches.

Now the White House press secretary Robert Gibbs takes Non-Transparency even further by saying "if you know we had backroom deals, then they weren't secret". This silly twisted logic is like saying "if you know I was cheating on you, it's not adultery."

Notice how Robert Gibbs circumvents questions about C-SPAN cameras. Gibbs seems to imply that backroom dealings are okay as long as you know they happened, even if you don't know what was said or done in them.

It's obviously disingenuous to say the President has been focused every single day on creating jobs when he's been flying off to pitch the Chicago Olympics, global warming agenda, Democratic candidates, and, of course, healthcare take-over.

excerpt from CNN Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer
Transcript of January 20, 2010


ROBERT GIBBS: ... Change takes a long time in Washington, Wolf. I am here today exactly one year after I first came to work at the White House. We have not done all that we want to do to change the way Washington works, but the president woke up today just as he did a year ago, determined to change the way Washington works.

WOLF BLITZER: Here is what the president said exactly one year ago on this day. Listen to this.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those of us who managed the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.


BLITZER: The president says do our business in the light of day. Transparency. But a lot of these negotiations were done behind closed doors, backroom deals with the pharmaceutical industry, for example, labor unions, special interest, all sorts of other special interests.

GIBBS: Wolf...

BLITZER: And the Republicans took full advantage of this.

GIBBS: Wolf, I bet the most dominant political story you did in 2009 was on health care. My sense is you're not about to tell me that what you did all throughout 2009 was inaccurate, because you got information on what we were discussing, you watched committee hearings, you watched House and floor debate.

You watched meetings that were happening here at the White House. You have a list of every person that's walked into this White House that's come to talk to an official about health care.

This White House has been the single most transparent White House in the history of our country. We now released the list of people that come here for meetings. That's something that's never been done, not just in recent time, it's never been done in the history of this country.

The president is focused on and has met the promise of transparency. The American people can have confidence that they know what is going on in their government.

BLITZER: But the promise that all of these negotiations, backroom deals, would be on C-SPAN, that hasn't been met.

GIBBS: Well, I -- I don't agree with the notion that somehow these are backroom deals. If they're backroom deals, how do you know about them, Wolf? How are you reporting on them?

BLITZER: Well, we...


GIBBS: Ed Henry who's standing right over there gets information from me and others and is able to accurately report on them.


GIBBS: Look, Wolf, I know we've all got a script and we've got to say certain things, but let's be honest and forthright with the American people. You've covered health care more than you've covered any single issue in the past year, because you've had and watched the debate that's transpired in this country, and it's been transparent.

BLITZER: But we didn't have access to the negotiations, the discussions you had, for example, with the pharmaceutical industry in Washington. We learned about it after the deal was made, but we didn't watch it unfold.

GIBBS: But you learned about what was in it, Wolf. That's what Ed reported. That's what you've talked about.

The reason that you're talking to me about it is you know about it. If you're talking to me about it, it's a poorly kept secret, if it's a secret.

BLITZER: Well, it's just a little point, but it's significant...

GIBBS: No, it's...

BLITZER: We learned about it after the fact. We didn't watch it happen.

GIBBS: Well, Wolf, I'm happy to come to your editorial meetings and watch how the news happens. This has been the single most transparent White House in the history of our country.

You know because people asked, we would like a list of people that have come to the White House to discuss health care. You have that. In the previous administration, when you ask for that same list about energy, what happened? You went to the Supreme Court.

There's a difference. Transparency has happened in this White House. It's happened under President Obama's watch and people feel confident about that.

BLITZER: Why have the Democrats in three statewide elections, in Virginia, New Jersey and now in Massachusetts, lost?

GIBBS: For varying and different reasons. Obviously, gubernatorial races hinge mostly on local issues. I think there were a myriad of reasons why Martha Coakley didn't win yesterday in Massachusetts.

We've certainly dissected -- and I know you've discussed a lot of those issues. There is an anger and a frustration in this country that the president heard and was elected hearing and inaugurated a year ago.

That same anger continues in this country because there's a genuine frustration that we haven't seen more progress on our economy, that unemployment continues to be at 10 percent.

The president hears and understands that anger, and he's focused each and every day on getting our economy back on track.

BLITZER: Robert Gibbs is the White House press secretary. Thanks very much for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

GIBBS: Wolf, I'm happy to do it.



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm guest blogging at Naturally Yours

I'm currently guest (not ghost) blogging at my client's blog, Naturally Yours. Guest blogging means you, in your own name, contribute articles to a blog. Ghost blogging, which violates the core blogospheric value of transparency, is writing in the name of someone else, pretending to be that person. In other words, people think Mr. Caliber, Owner of Caliber Chocolates, is blogging, but the posts are being written by some other person.

Why is Ghost Blogging wrong? Because the whole point of corporate blogging is to put a warm, approachable, human face on a business. People want to read, and interact with, real communications from the representative of a company. They want to trust that what the blog says is coming directly from the CEO or Owner or whoever is chosen to do the blogging.

If you want to see a blog I designed, check it out. Be sure to notice the Recent Visitors map. People from all over the world are attracted to this blog, thanks to the former chief blogger Matt Kowal.

My first 3 posts are:

"Be Nice to Your Heart"

"People On Twitter Who Discuss Organic Foods"

"Have a Healthy Lunch at Naturally Yours".

The Naturally Yours blog is sponsored by a local organic grocery and health food store, where I buy all my herbal teas and natural remedies.

If you're interested in how a real Social Media Specialist can add content, in the form of sales-oriented and customer-centric posts, to a business blog, watch what I do on this one. You can apply the same basic principles to any commerce-oriented blog.

Monday, January 18, 2010

5 reasons why charging for online content is risky business

The New York Times Online is in the news for moving toward a paywall. That means they're considering going away from free content online. They want to start charging money for it.

"We're Going to Have to Pay to Read the NYT Online" by Althouse.

"Slim Times Option" at New York Post.

"After 3 Months, Only 35 Subscriptions to Newsday Paywalled Website"

5 Bad Things That Happen With Paywalls

What can you expect when you throw up a paywall on your web content?

(1) Decrease in readership, since only paid subscribers can view it.

(2) Decrease in linking, since blogs and websites can't link to paid content, it's blocked, entry is denied unless the reader is a paid subscriber.

(3) Decrease in search engine results, since nobody's linking to your content If people can't link to your content, reputable bloggers won't quote it because only paid subscribers will be able to verify that the quote is accurate. With fewer websites linking to your articles, your authority and popularity rankings with search engines will plummet. Say goodbye to blogospheric buzz, too.

(4) Decrease in ad revenue, because your readership, linking, and search engine results have sharply declined. Fewer readers of your content means fewer eyeballs seeing the ads surrounding it.

(5) Decrease in competitive advantage, because now everybody's going to the free online content of your competitors, rather than bother with getting a paid subscription to your content. Your competitors will end up providing information to people who used to read your free online content.

If you provide extremely rare, unique, exclusive, hard to find, unusual online content, and that special content is extremely valuable to a large number of people, you might be able to use a paywall.

If you provide online content that helps people make money, find a job, or succeed in their own business, and if that content is consistently superior, you might be able to charge for it.

But how do you become known, in all the noise and clutter of the internet?

You'd have to spend a ton of money advertising and promoting your paid online content. Good luck with that.

Does the New York Times, which has repeatedly suffered loss of credibility in recent years, due to various editorial scandals, have such super-valuable and super-exotic content? Time will tell.

Alternatives to Paid Online Content

One alternative business model is to charge for exclusive premium online content, targeted to a specific audience. Another idea is to charge for special tools associated with your content, that helps people use it or enjoy it more.

I've thought a lot about how YouTube could generate revenue, aside from charging users to view regular content, so let me use YouTube as an example.

YouTube could charge premium users for access to an exclusive video editor that would enable them to add titles and effects to their videos.

YouTube could also make special editions of content not available online, or hard to find in their website, and charge money for it. For example, high resolution DVDs of video compilations, in categories like music video, comedy, home-made craziness, documentaries, and science/technology.

Perhaps the New York Times could package some sort of valuable content, call it the premium edition, and charge money for that. But their regular content, the news and opinions, are basically more generic than specialized. You can get the same news story, and even similar opinions, all over the internet.

Paywalls are risky business. Before you start charging money for online content, consider less risky alternatives.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

How To Avoid Haiti Earthquake Donation Scams

Don't be an Impulse Donor, who gives money to anyone who claims to be a charity or a relief worker. Why be a victim of crime? Why be a chump who enriches a manipulative thief, preying on your sincerity and your good intentions?

Wise up. Learn the signs of a charity fraud. Know the tricks con artists use to take advantage of well-meaning kindness and generosity.

Here are some links that contain information about Haiti earthquake donation frauds, how to spot a scam, and how to donate wisely.

U.S. Dept. of Justice - FBI "Haitian Earthquake Relief Fraud Alert"

U.S. Dept. of Justice - FBI "Donation Fraud - Haitian Earthquake Relief Complaints"

Charity Navigator on Wikipedia

Charity Navigator blog: with warning about Wyclef Jean's Yele charity

Washington Post "Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Foundation under financial scrutiny"

"FTC: Avoid Charity Fraud" Guide

CBS News "Red Cross Uses 9-11 Donations for Other Causes than 9-11 Victims"

CNN on Red Cross Mismanages Donated Funds for 9-11 Victims

Charity Fraud website

American Institute of Philanthropy Charity Watch

List of American Institute of Philanthropy approved Haiti charities

"Better Business Bureau: How to Vet Haiti Earthquake Charity Appeals"

"Better Business Bureau: Check Out a Charity" online review form

ABC News "Help Haiti But Beware"

ABC News "Haiti Relief Scam: First Email Spammers Appear"

"Guidelines for Appropriate Disaster Donations" Center for International Disaster Information

"Guidelines for Corporate Disaster Relief Donations" Center for International Disaster Information

"Haiti Earthquake Donations and Theology"


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti earthquake donations and theology

1. Altruism vs. Exploitation

It's a tragedy of vast proportions, the earthquake in Haiti. Only a hedonistic, self-obsessed misanthrope could fail to be horrified at the loss of human life and the damage. To weep and mourn for the suffering of other sentient beings is a core human trait. Only a machine, something less than an animal, a rock or a computer, could not be emotionally devastated by this tragedy.

This is no time for celebrity grandstanding or political opportunism. To play the game of "Look how compassionate I am" or "Admire me for all the money I'm donating" is depraved and unseemly, a form of oppression.

But many con artists will try to exploit people by tricking them into donating money to an unaudited, unaccountable charity. Unscrupulous businessmen and women will claim that 100% of the proceeds from the sale of some item will be donated to Haitian relief efforts. Fake charities will arise, to rip off well-meaning donors.

Money donated to charities for a specific cause, like Haiti earthquake relief, may NOT necessarily be allocated to Haitians. Sometimes charities will choose to accept donations for one tragedy, but consider the donations to be to them, and they can do whatever they please with your money.

This is not a rare case. The Red Cross did this with 9-11 donations, they distributed the money to various offices and other causes that had nothing to do with 9-11.

So it's hard to know what to do when disaster strikes.

Pray, yes, if you're a praying type of person. Be sure to pray for the leaders, charities, and distribution workers, that they may safely, honestly, and successfully get the money to those who truly need and deserve it, not thugs or gangs or corrupt politicians in the disaster-stricken area.

Pray also, if you pray, that we may all become more tender-hearted, loving, caring about others, from wildlife and pets to our families and neighbors. Pray that we may become more aware of how precious life and material blessings are to us, poor sojourners in an often hostile and cold world.

Remember how living entities are suffering and dying all over the universe. Life is short. Use it well. Think about what others will say about you ("he/she always...") when you are dead. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Fight on the side of sincere, altruistic goodness. Fight against and expose and denounce those who take advantage of suffering and exploit the poor, the weak, and the downtrodden.

2. Theology of Disaster

Were the Haitians, as Pat Robertson implied, punished by this earthquake for a pact they made with the devil in 1791?

If you think so, then do you see all disasters as divine judgement? Who was being punished by the 9-11 terror attack? Katrina? Malaysian tsunami? Tornadoes that hit the Bible belt of the Southern USA?

Pat Robertson also said the Haiti earthquake "could be a blessing in disguise, allowing them to rebuild." This is the height of insensitivity and ignorance, an insult and a disgrace.

No. Disasters cannot automatically be attributed to divine retribution or karma or cosmic justice.

Jesus was 100% opposed to this idea. He stated his opinion in no uncertain terms.

Luke 13: 1-5

About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were sacrificing at the Temple in Jerusalem.

"Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than other people from Galilee?" he asked. "Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you also will perish unless you turn from your evil ways and turn to God.

And what about the 18 men who died when the Tower of Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will also perish."

Jesus pointed to the disasters as reminders that spiritual, karmic disaster dooms all of us who ignore the salvation offered by God and the self-improvement demanded by true discipleship.

Perhaps Pat Robertson should read his Bible more often, and come down from his lofty "holier than thou" pulpit. And start wearing his wedding ring, like a good married Christian man.

3. Do Some Research Before You Donate

Here are some links to great information about making wise, not stupid, donations to disaster relief organizations. Many scam websites are being set up to lure impulse donors, people who donate without investigating the organization appealing to them for funds.

Please read through this material before you send any money to anybody.

"The DOs and DON'Ts of Disaster Donations"

my post with lots of links: "How To Avoid Haiti Earthquake Donation Scams"

"Tracking Donations in Haiti Poses Another Daunting Task"

"ABC News on Haiti Earthquake Donation Frauds"

"Pat Robertson, Haiti, and the Devil"

"US State Department Report on Religious Freedoms: Haiti"


Friday, January 15, 2010

ROI as resistance to social media altruism

In the debate on whether or not social media can be proven financially lucrative, I see a pattern emerging. It's not really Participation vs. Non-participation in Social Media. The real question is "Does our company really value customers and want to help them?"

It's Corporate Greed vs. Corporate Altruism.

Or frame it: Exploiting People vs. Helping People.

Some will resent this portrayal and say the demand for ROI is not greed, just smart business. "Why waste time Twittering or blogging, when the time could be better spent?" they'll whine. Meanwhile, smart competitors are establishing warm, human connections with customers and inspiring them to be enthusiastic and loyal.

People use social media, not to buy things, but to interact with other people. They're sharing insights, jokes, links, warnings, favorite songs, satire, scorn, confessions, questions, answers, political opinions, a wide variety of personal concerns.

Social media is your opportunity to establish things hard to define in dollars and cents. Things like Credibility. Friendliness. Expertise. Caring.

Social media is not an advertising or sales platform to exploit, though it can generate new customers and increased sales, if done correctly. Your company must be customer-centric, on social media to provide service, expertise, and occasional news about products and company activities.

Give tons of advice, handle complaints, listen to feedback, take note of suggestions, explain your side of a story -- and people will like you and will tolerate a few sales messages from you -- that's the magic of social media.

Social media is sometimes seen as a Get Rich Quick scheme, but more realistically, social media is Get Human Quick. Your company can face customers more intimately via social media, far more than via a typical corporate website, most of which are still boring fluffy We -oriented sludge.

The bottom line is this: many are called, but few are chosen.

All companies can benefit with social media, but few are willing to really help people.

Only businesses that truly value enhanced customer relations, and want to reach people where THEY are at, which is social media increasingly, will bother with implementing social media programs.

Altruism, what I call "unproductive interaction" (meaning non-commercial messaging) is the only way to succeed in social networks. What is social media altruism? It's being a regular guy or gal. Sharing the wisdom you have about your industry, the needs and problems of customers, and how they can solve them, without promoting your products all the time. Just general principles or how-to tips.

Why spend time on (mostly) non-commercial messaging in social media?

Because you want to differentiate your company as the company who cares. Most of your competitors provide lousy customer service, and rarely share their expertise without charging for it, as in a book or seminar.

Nobody joins an online community to receive spam, sales hype, or egocentric PR messages. But if your company provides tons of advice to people on Twitter or Facebook or in a corporate blog, people will think kindly and highly of you. You open their hearts to respect and like your company. They'll be more likely to listen to your sales messages because you use social media to help, not exploit, them.

If a company really cares about people, you won't have to twist their arm and present an ROI analysis to them to get them to provide their insights, service, answers, and solutions to interested parties.

I suspect that companies who "don't get" social media are merely old fashioned, stubborn, resistant to change and intelligent risk-taking.


It costs so little to engage in social media, it's pathetic to demand that it "pay its way", when Blackberries, country club memberships, new carpet, golden parachutes (hush money), business cards, conference attendance, corporate jets, and many other things are not subjected to ROI analysis.

Don't argue with stupid selfish companies.

Find those whose hearts are already prepared, companies that don't just say they care, but are willing and eager to prove it. Evangelize them with the good news of social media and what it can do for competitive advantage, PR, and positive word of mouth.

The resistant companies will eventually jump in, when it's too late.


If You Do Your Job Right, Nobody Will Ask About Social Media ROI by Shel Holtz

The ROI Label and the Credibility of Communications by Shel Holtz

my post How To Understand Social Media ROI

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to Understand Social Media ROI

Can participation in social media be justified by ROI (Return On Investment) analysis? Should you be able to show revenue gain or time savings with social media engagement? What goals are attainable via social networking?

This is a controversial and inflammatory topic. Here are just some preliminary remarks on Social Media ROI.

Business managers often want to know "how much bang for the buck" they get from a new piece of equipment or set of procedures. Social media participation may require an investment in money for such things as branded blog design and paying employees to spend time representing you online.

Expenses for social media participation are meager compared to many other things you do. The main investment is time. Your Twitter person or corporate blogger can spend a lot of time, and they can even get sucked into wasting time on trivial matters, just like with telephones and email.

You need to establish guidelines for how your social media participants conduct themselves, how they represent your company, and how they interact with social network members. Blogocombat, online debate, and the handling of trolls, abusers, and spammers must also be dealt with prior to engaging in social media.

Surely you see how major players in business have leveraged social media to gain substantial advantages. Many new products have been launched successfully with social media playing a large role. When you have a blog and a Twitter presence, that are genuine and transparent, you have a great venue in which to promote your values, offerings, and what differentiates you from competitors.

But how do you measure good will, customer satisfaction, and the ability to present your side of a controversy?

Social media, primarily blogs and Twitter, enable a business to enter the realm where potential and current customers are swarming. You don't jump into social media to hype products or make sales pitches necessarily -- you optimize customer relations and customer service.

You participate in social media to position your company as customer-friendly.

You interact with members of online communities to prove that your company can solve their problems. Customer service, letting people contact you quickly and easily, with complaints, questions, suggestions, and praise -- this is the Main Idea of Social Media.

Thus, you can't necessarily measure the impact of your social media involvement. Social media participation is similar to other hard-to-measure efforts, like advertising. ROI on radio and television advertising is notoriously fraught with difficulties. ROI on public relations is also not easy.

How about doing an ROI analysis on your mission statement? Or positive attitudes in the workplace?

Have you run an ROI analysis on smiling? New carpet? Golden parachutes (hush money)? Executive parking spots? Promotions? Raises? Bonuses? Titles? Conference attendance? Artwork adorning the halls? Email?

Have you banned frivolous Forward Emails?

Business does certain things, simply because (1) they make sense, (2) they're right, and (3) your competitors are doing it. You sometimes have to bite the bullet and invest some time and money in something, even when it's not entirely clear what the FINANCIAL payback will prove to be.

Social media is a company's opportunity to put a human face on their business, to make it easy for customers and the public to contact a manner that THEY want to do it.

Competitive advantage can't always be nailed down to numbers and cash flow.

I'm sure when the telephone was invented, most business thought it was a time waste and trivial.

"Who wants to be interrupted by phone calls? I don't want customers yakking at me on a telephone. I want them to jump on their horse and visit the store. Time spent on the phone is time away from physically present shoppers. No thanks!"

How about an ROI on ROI?

It's hard to do ROI on training, for example, because it may take a long time for the training to pay off in increased productivity. Often training is bad short term, but good long term.

Social media is simply mandatory, not subject to ROI as final arbiter.

To measure everything according to Profit and Loss or Revenue Generated or Time Saved or Complaints Decreased is an accountant mentality, which is good where applicable but can be a bit ridiculous where irrelevant.

Customer perception. How do you measure that in revenue flow? You can't.

If your competitors are engaging in social media, and maybe even getting mainstream media buzz from it, from some popular innovation or startling application, where does that leave you? Playing catch-up in a mad panic?

Remember the telephone and email.

At first, these seemed trivial, bizarre, distracting, prone to abuse and misuse.

It's going to be a Darwinian Economic Recovery: only the strongest and smartest companies and employees will survive. Mediocres, slackers, lazies, and late adaptors are doomed. If you're not a pioneer, willing to take risks, bold enough to strike out on your own and try new things, you don't have a very bright future.

Master the new technology and the new media.

Come to social media with a positive attitude and an altruistic strategy. Enrich social networks with your expertise, insights, and solutions.

Social media can be a secret weapon in your arsenal for success, whether or not you can do an ROI analysis on it.

It can be stress-relieving and reassuring when you know you're doing everything possible to promote and protect your business. Social media is a mandatory element in the mix. Now figure out how to use it in an economical, customer-centric, and productive manner.

Let me conclude these preliminary remarks with a quote from the remarkable uber-blogger and social media specialist Shel Holtz, from "If You Do Your Job Right, Nobody Will Ask About Social Media ROI."

You can’t point to the value of that improvement on a balance sheet. But nobody will ask for ROI if your plan goes like this:

  1. We’re being hammered in online discussions. It’s surely affecting purchase decisions. Right now, nearly half of all comments about us are negative.
  2. We plan to initiate a variety of social media efforts designed to turn the situation around.
  3. We’ll monitor the space to assess whether our effort is having an impact. Our goal is to reduce negative commentary to 20% within two years.

Measurement of communication—any communication—is all about the degree to which you achieved the measurable objective that drove the communication in the first place.

Also see: David Meerman Scott's "Epic ROI Rant".


Friday, January 1, 2010

Books I Plan to Write in 2010

It's a New Year. Why not also be a New You?

As I survey my past, I see that I have fulfilled many of my wild dreams of youth. I've had a successful career in advertising and marketing. I've been a successful musician, grinding out a new CD every month, for many years now.

I've proven my marketing expertise and music creativity by practicing them both in New York City. In the case of marketing, I was highly paid, but in music, I perform and distribute the music compositions free of charge.

I have room to grow and expand, new heights to reach in marketing and music, so I'm not complacent or smug about my achievements.

But in writing, I haven't accomplished my original goals: to have lots of published books. I abandoned this goal as being egocentric and even superfluous in light of my avid blogging. I generate tons of text in the digital realm. Why publish anything on paper?

Yet, there's something special about a book that fits nicely in the hand. You can interact with it, underlining, yellow highlighting, scribbling notes and questions and "see p. 256" and "this makes no sense at all" in the margins. You don't have to plug a book into an electrical outlet. You don't need a Wifi connection or other internet access to read a book. I love books.

So I've decided that, although I did publish one book, my "Bicycle Fever: Peoria Races from 1890 to 1990" a while back, I've failed to publish the many other books that have floated around in my head, and now I must correct that omission, fill that void.

Here are a few of the books I'm planning to write and try to get published in 2010:

(1) "Social Media Training for Business"

The opportunities and pitfalls for companies that attempt to communicate in social networking sites. How to effectively use social media to provide customer service, sales messages, and altruistic sharing in online communities. Why too much focus on company news, inspirational quotes, and commercial hype are counter-productive in social media.

(2) "God vs. Oppressors of the Poor"

An examination of a relentless thread running through the Old and New Testament: rich oppressors of the downtrodden, weak, and impoverished. Why the Bible uses the word "exploitation" and "oppression" so frequently. What Jesus thought about wealth, the love of money as the root of all evil, and how it was more likely to see a camel go through the eye of a needle than see a rich man enter heaven. A rebuke to the "Prosperity Gospel" deception advanced by televangelists (wearing $5,000 suits and big gold jewelry) who beg for contributions, rather than trusting God to meet their needs.

(3) "Jesus Was Not a Warmonger"

Why pastors who support war are in opposition to Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount, and the non-violent revolution of the Early Church saints. How Constantine perverted Christianity with his "In This Sign Conquer" delusion and the demonic ecclesiastical errors that spawned the sadistic Crusades and "Just War" doctrines. A critical assessment of the "live by the sword, die by the sword" statement of Jesus and how individuals and nations can "turn the other cheek" without being suicidal or masochistic.

(4) "Art Against Society"

A meditation on Theodor Adorno's masterpiece Aesthetic Theory, teachings of Ethnomethodology, and the writings of Jacques Derrida on art. How authentic art means being a Socratic gadfly or thorn in the side of status quo social mechanisms. Why revolution and dissent in artistic productions can have far more impact that political parties and golden tongued orators.

(5) "Selected Biblical Commentary" or better: "Meditations on Scripture"

Controversial contemplations on some of my favorite verses, that most people misinterpret or don't fully appreciate. How some of Jesus' miracles can be seen as practical jokes or social subversion, while still glorifying God and helping suffering people. Paying a tax with a coin from the mouth of a fish (thus, not taking money from his own wallet or the group's funds), turning water into wine (thus, drinking alcohol per se cannot be a "sin"), and asking whose image was on a coin, then saying if Caesar's face is on it, it must belong to him (thus, you'd have to give all your money to Caesar, not just the tax payment!), are a few examples.


Vampires Deconstructed as Government and War

Vampires have become increasingly popular in our modern world. It's trendy to glorify vampirism. What's really motivating this cultural phenomenon? Is there a metaphoric message that society is driving into our consciousness?

The common definition of "vampire" is "A reanimated corpse that is believed to rise from the grave at night to suck the blood of sleeping people." (The Free Dictionary by Farlex).

The fact that women tend to be the victims shows the patriarchal domination aspect of vampirism, but female vampires, created by a male aggressor, are also common.

A variation on the vampire theme is the succubus: "A female demon supposed to descend upon and have sexual intercourse with a man while he sleeps." (The Free Dictionary by Farlex).

Translate "sleep" as "unconscious", when one's guard is down, unaware, not realizing what's really happening, seduced by one's own deep unacknowledged desires, beyond the range of focused attention.

A male or female entity takes advantage of you. A patriarchal domination system. A seductive depravity that presents itself as flattery, fun, excitement, horror, the thrill of fear, a euphoric dysfunctionality.

What is the root reality of the vampire and succubus?

(1) corpse, something "dead" that normally is supposed to remain dead, but is now magically "alive"

(2) arises from a "grave", a confined chamber, coffin, not underground like most "dead" entities, where it is sleeping, merely pretending or appearing to be dead

(3) functions, moves, lives at "night" when normals are asleep, innocent, unaware

(4) attacks innocent, unsuspecting living people, using hypnotism, charisma, mysterious powers, the lure of the uncanny, the grotesque

(5) drains living people of their "blood", their life, their personhood, transforming, converting, evangelizing them into involuntary slaves, fellow vampires, the "undead" who nevertheless "live" but only on the life of others, non- or pre-vampiric entities

(6) strong sexual aspect is involved, swooning in the embrace, overcome by an evil attraction, an attraction to evil in exotic manifestation, with a gruesome version of "eternal life", joining the ranks of the seductive "undead"

(7) identification with "prince of darkness", the demonic, the depraved, colossal wickedness, in line with the macabre perversity of serial killers, child molesters, rapists, con artists, warmongering, all things in allegiance with death, doom, and destruction

(8) conquering people, or The People, with deception, lies, false promises, sexual allure, forbidden pleasures, preying on weakness, supernatural powers, esoteric practices, secret rituals, sneaking around in shadows and crypts and dark castles

(9) taking victims away from those who really love them, their husband, wife, family, morality.

What corresponds, in today's world, to these conditions and activities of the vampire and succubus? What is preying on people and sucking the life out of them? What is using occult powers with hidden agendas?

What offers itself as danger and hope? as the adrenalin rush of ruthless behavior? the wild excitation of predatory exploitation and rich reward?

What is robbing people of their hopes and dreams? their happiness and ethics? their dignity and independence?

What is feeding, secretly, non-transparently, deceptively, on our productivity, our resources as a nation and as individuals? What or who are the real parasites of society?

What entities love to sneak around and perform heinous acts? and then disappear in a fog of forgetfulness, denial, and self-righteousness?

What elements of society are shrouded in secrecy, mystery, and nefarious cloaks of impenetrable opacity?




Radical Military Extremism with its Doctrine of Eternal War and Winning Even When Wrong.


Enronish Corporations.

Criminals, especially the Wall Street variety.

Law enforcement that enforces unjust laws.

Churches that have become unspiritual country clubs.

Media, sedating us with sports, speculation disguised as news, mindless entertainment, vulgarity and immorality presented as humor and drama.

Trust in military might instead of moral right.

Obsession with success, victory, "winning" immoral wars that prop up corrupt governments and the profiteering of security agencies and arms manufacturers.



Exaltation of cruelty, sadism, the infliction of pain and suffering, as exemplified in violent video games, slasher films, and radical pseudo-patriotic militarism.

Anti-diversity as manifested in hatred toward gays, immigrants, the poor, non-conformists, the "different", the disabled, mentally challenged, lower class, manual laborers, women, blacks, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, peacemakers, artists, entrepreneurs, over-achievers, anarchists, non-partisans, environmentalists, spiritual teachers, independent thinkers.