NYT Thinks \”RSS\” is an Awkward Acronym

It’s been a while since I mentioned the whole nongeeky-nickname-for-RSS flap. It’s not dead yet! Here’s the latest salvo.

In his June 23 New York Times piece, What’s in a Product Name? columnist David Pogue observed:

“Some good technologies don’t even stand for something that people can agree on. RSS is a terrible name for a great technology; it can stand for either Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication, and neither really tells you that it means subscribing to a Web site so you don’t have to check it for updates.”

This wasn’t the last word on the matter…

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Communicating with Women: Tips

Right now I’m listening to the latest Church of the Customer podcast: Women’s word of mouth. (You can download the podcast via that link, but this show is generally great so I suggest you also subscribe to its feed.) The first segment features a lengthy interview with Andrea Learned, co-author of “Don’t Think Pink” (about word of mouth and women).

Although this conversation relates primarily to marketing communications, there’s ample food for thought here for people involved in any aspect of public or private communication – including weblogs, education, live discussions, etc.

Learned concluded with three key tips for marketing to women. I’ve followed each with my thoughts on how these can related to communication beyond marketing…

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The True Cost of Cowardly Management

OK, I’m warning you, this is a bit of a rant. I’m peeved. I have no tolerance for abject, short-sighted stupidity.

Last week a close friend of mine (a senior software engineer) was fired without warning. He didn’t embezzle company funds, threaten his coworkers, or indeed commit any major transgression that would warrant such extreme action. First thing on a sunny Friday morning, he was called into a meeting and told that his job performance wasn’t acceptable. Believe it or not, this “You’re fired, get out now!” conversation was the first time his manager (or anyone at his company) had mentioned any problem with his work.

To add insult to injury, my friend was treated like a criminal. While he was being fired, they removed his laptop from his office without telling him. Then they told him to leave the building immediately. Weirdly, the only reason offered for his dismissal was trivial – unrelated to his core tasks, and contradicted by evidence. My friend was given no opportunity to discuss this decision. The firing was a done deal before he walked into the meeting. He still does not know the real reason why he was fired, and it’s unlikely he’ll ever find out.

Yes, I know this has become the common method for letting employees go, at least in the US – even though it really only makes sense in the most dire and rare circumstances. Such lack of communication and clarity on a matter of paramount importance is cowardly and cruel. Even worse, it’s very bad business.

Why should employers care? Aren’t surprise firings efficient? Don’t they prevent damage by “disgruntled employees?”

Absolutely not. Only the most naive executives and managers believe such corporate fairy tales. Disgruntled employees are made, not hired. Clear communication is the key to keeping employees “gruntled” in the first place.

The truth is, surprise firings are very costly and risky for business. That’s a shame, because this practice causes otherwise promising companies to rot away from the inside.

Here’s how that works…

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Having Fun with My Bio

This week has been a whirlwind, for good and terrible reasons. I’ll focus on the positive for now.

My new venture I, Reporter is off to a meteoric start. That’s good, because the topic of citizen journalism is deeply meaningful to myself and my partner in that project, A. Adam Glenn. Also, I’ve been attracting many intriguing speaking engagements, including the New York Press Assoc. (Just scored that one today.)

Given all these new speaking engagements, and given that I’ve committed to mainly having fun with pursuing that aspect of my career, I’ve revamped my bio. I’ve found that when I try to sound impressive and professional in a bio, it backfires. I get lost in the crowd.

So here it is – whadya think?…

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I, Reporter Launches

Last night I published a new blog, I, Reporter, which will serve as the main hub for my citizen journalism efforts. My partner on this project, Adam Glenn, is traveling at the moment – but he’s online, so I’m sure he’ll make an appearance there shortly.

I’ve posted a couple of articles there already, and I’ve got lots more in the works.

FAIR WARNING: I, Reporter is very basic as of today. Be kind: this is my first Typepad blog and I’m just learning their tools. Also, I rushed to put it together in order to have its appearance coincide with today’s Monitor article that highlighted my citizen journalism efforts. Expect this blog’s appearance and functionality to improve.

How can you get involved?…

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I\’m in the Lead of a Monitor Article

This is so exciting… Last night I posted about my new citizen journalism training project with Adam Glenn, I, Reporter. There, I mentioned that I’d been interviewed on the topic of citizen journalism by the Christian Science Monitor

Correspondent Randy Dotinga told me he expected the article to run Monday. Much to my delight, I just found out that the online version has already been posted – and I’m in the lead! Way cool!

See: Write the News Yourself. It’s an excellent beginner’s overview of the emerging citJ field.

I’ll take a little break from building the I, Reporter site (due up later tonight) to share a few thoughts on this article, and on the other coverage this project is already receiving from various quarters…

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