Archive for March, 2009

The Nexus of Technology and Institution

March 20, 2009

From the time AOL introduced the country (possibly the world) to the internet by distributing free software–there has been a deep chasm between the institutions of our society and technology.  By institutions read here government and courts.

I can remember how proud police departments in and around NYC were 25+ years ago when they announced the creation of computer crimes squads.  Congress debated for years what would be the first round of the Digital Media Copyright Act (DMCA) only to have it obsoleted by the time it was enacted.

Now comes the stories of sitting jurors Tweeting about deliberations.  In law parlance-this is now a slippery slope for the courts–and by extension for all of us.

If you have ever served on jury duty or sat in during a trial every time the jury leaves the room the judge delivers a set of admonitions–which include not to discuss the case or read about it. The reason for this–in the jury system 1-there are rulings that have been made on evidence and research may undo some of those rulings and 2-as a lawyer you hope a juror does not begin to assimilate thoughts on the case until they have heard all of the evidence (or at least all of your evidence).

But what is the damage of a juror Tweeting that they are in deliberations? They say the bell can’t be unrung, but I am not sure this rings a bell.

Courts in some cities have taken to taking away cell phones from jurors during the day while they are in court.  That is not reasonable–and certainly not in the domain of legal (a whole Fourth Amendment search and seizure issue I would think).

So what is the answer? The answer is for the court system–and beyond that the institutions to realize that we are not in 1985 any longer.

Back in my radio days–this goes back to the early 1990’s, I can remember covering courts and trials throughout the New York Metropolitan area. During this time, NY State courts were conduction an “experiment” with allowing cameras and microphones in court.  Countless times we set up “daisy chains” of cable to get audio and visuals of court proceedings.  That “experiment” was allowed to end, and has never been revisited in NY.

During this same time period, there was no such experiment in the US Federal Courts.  However, I can remember covering hearings and trials in the court toom of Vincent Broderick–who passed soon after leaving the bench in the mid-1990’s. Judge Broderick never understood the ban–and openly defied it.  I got tape of sentencings, rulings and hearings in his court. The reason–this was the technology of the time and it was part of society.

I had long conversations with the judge about this–he was a techno-file of sorts.  And his philosophy was that the court had to be open to the public to be effective–and the technology of the early 1990’s made the courts open to technology.

Back to 2009. 

The problem is not rogue jurors doing what they do every day. The problem is a rigid institution unwilling to accept that this is not 1985 any longer.  It took until 2009 for a US president to have a BlackBerry, computer and CTO?

Yeah, we need institutional change.

There is a Time and Place for Everything

March 19, 2009

Its been kind of amusing over the last week or so to see some of the stories come out about Twitter, and people Tweeting–and the kind of trouble you can get in.

First there was the guy (not this one may be internet urban legend at this point) who got a job at Cisco and then tweeted how the gig was good money but he really didn’t want it–only to be found out by some other exec @ Cisco.

Then there is the story of Charlie Villanueva of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.  During a tight game withe the Celtics, in the heat of a playoff push–he ducks to a quiet spot during half time and updates his Twitter followers at @CV31 found out “In da locker room, snuck to post my twitt We’re playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up.”

Then there have been stories popping of of late about jurors in cases Twittering their time in the jury room away–and some judges declaring mistrials. (there is another blog about this coming later this week I hope).

But the take away-its great to be connected, but really that connected.  Now few people are more wired in than I am.  I carry with me an iPhone, BlackBerry, N95 and consumer phone daily. Lug my laptop (with Sprint Air Card) around regularly…and I have to admit during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services this year–I tweeted.

And maybe that was wrong.  Maybe its going too far.  I love that Charlie Tweeted during half time of a game–I actually flipped over and watched the second half because I thought it was cool.  And the jurisprudence sect needs to loosen up anyway…

But still–time and place for everything.  I think in the world of connected–there may be a time where we have gone too far.

Looking at Twitter apps

March 17, 2009

Tweetme, dabr.co.uk, tweetcitizen, follow.com and wondering if there will ever be some sort of sensible beginning middle and end to these. Not sure why any of them (followme.com the possible excecption) exist–much less how any are a buiness.

Applying Social Media to Your Everyday

March 13, 2009

I am one who is not ashamed or upset to admit that Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other social networking and social media platforms have largely gone main stream. Yeah, there are still some that are not quite in the main stream-but conceptually its out there and reality is it is main stream. 
 
So now that everyone is here what are we going to do with it? 
 
In very separate conversations over the last month or so a couple of cool scenarios have opened up–and I think its these types of “applications” of the tools that will evolve all of these platforms from curiosity to utility. 
 
Scenario 1: 
 
In looking for a new place (for those who follow me on Twitter you know how much my daily commute does not go well) and was talking to a realtor.  After reviewing some listings and what I am looking for in a place we started talking about his business–and the way he uses Facebook and other apps.  Its very non-structured and fragmented.  I gave him (off the top of my head) a couple of uses, including Twitter and he has increased his traffic flow.  These tools allow us to be highly targeted.  Cut down wasted CPM for marketing and reach the specific audience you want. 
 
Scenario 2: 
 
My network is making a hard push to get everyone using Twitter.  Its not mandatory and is being done on an adhoc basis right now.  But the upside is–I am walking down 57th Street and shoot a Twitpic of the gang from Gossip Girl taping a segment at one of the restaurants.  That pic can then be used by other CBS properties (ET, Insider etc). It instantly connects disparate groups within the network and allows us to share experience, information and text–with the added benefit of driving our own traffic (by adding links to our posts). 
 
Scenario 3: 
 
A colleague was at an event and was live Tweeting it. At that event, one of the partners my group works with was presenting some new technology and changes.  I now have a virtual first look at the new product, can tailor my questions for the partner and was able to find out if another part of the company had any interest. 
 
None of this is going to bring drastic changes to anyone’s bottom line, or turn red to black.  What it will do though is help justify the learning curve and time investment now-so when there is a viable business model we will have a leg up.

Changing the Model and Slaying the Nay Sayers

March 4, 2009

Its no secret-just look at the publications closing the media jobs that have been lost-that for years, probably decades the business model for big media and ad-supported business has been upside down. But while the model was unsustainable, during the boom of the 90’s and into the early part of 2000 (with some very short points of exception) there was very little reason to change the model–it was working.

Then came the great recession, depression, downturn, economic screwing or any other term that you like of 2008-2009 and likely into 2010.  Low and behold, the upside down business model doesn’t work and now venerable institution (read Rocky Mountain News for instance) are gone, others (read NY Times) are teetering and others (read Young Broadcasting) are fighting for survival.

With that background I read with great interest in this morning’s NY Times an article about a company I have worked for twice, Cablevision Systems, and its long talked about concept of targeting ads by demographics–making the commercial you see while watching TV more valuable and increasing the CPM.

Its so simple and straight forward, that of course there are nay sayers–those who are concerned that there will be backward engineering and abuse of the data.  Guess what, the data is out there.  This is not abuse, this is use.

Cable companies through digital offerings and bundling with ISP, VOIP and other products have a mountain of data on their customers. Wouldn’t TV be more compelling if instead of seeing a commercial for Depends (not quite my demographic) I was served a commercial about the next great family vacation resort so I can plan my next family vacation with my girls–and not take a peek into what may lay ahead for me in 40 years?

Doesn’t that increase the value to the advertiser?

This is a great leap forward for the media business.  For what I do at CBS–targeting ads by demographic and by location is the holy grail for just that reason–we want to make the experience holistic and meaningful to the end user. And its not altruistic, its about doing good business–and providing a robust platform for our advertisers and making sure we are engaging our audience with our sponsors.

This is how media will save itself.

Convergence-and is it Game, Set Match

March 4, 2009

So I have to thank Howard Lindzon for pointing out a great write-through on the state of the media today-and why TV may have lost the battle for eyeballs with interactive (read here computer and mobile) media.  I encourage you to read Paul Graham’s insight, its an interesting take.

Since I am a TV guy by training, and one of the job skills I use to sell my self with is an ability to boil things down–let me save you some time.

It comes down to accessibility of the platform and socialization.  On line and on mobile its an open canvas and we can all join in.

Mr. Graham (whom I have never met) continues that networks (which is where I work) have been slow to respond-and while that may be the case in the past-I do not think that is the case today. My network has a site dedicated to on-line viewing of shows and an iPhone app that carries that content.

I am actively working to bridge the gap between local and network–to allow for synchronicity.  Is it coming slower than it should? Probably.  But its happening–and at the end its a good thing.

So yeah–we’ll still have appointment viewing.  There will be an Evening News at 6:30 (or something like that) but it won’t be the only way its available.  In the case of CBS News–that 6:30 Evening News cast is available every night online, on MobilTV (Sprint) and on MediaFlo TV. 

Its small steps, yeah. But we are moving in the direction of accessibility, and in the end, thats a good thing.


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