Wifi: When Will Conference Venues & Planners Realize It\’s a Must?

I go to a lot of media conferences, where attendees generally expect (or even need) wifi access in the conference areas — for filing or updating stories or blog posts, fast fact-checking, coordinating with editors, participating in chat-based coverage, etc.

Almost invariably, the hotel or conference center has no infrastructure for providing wifi in the conference areas — especially meeting rooms and ballrooms where events on the main agenda are taking place.

What is wrong with the hospitality industry? Yeah, wifi in the lobby is nice — but these days, it’s downright crucial to offer it in the meeting spaces…

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Running a Group Conference Blog: What I\’m Learning

This Tuesday I’m flying to Burlington, VT for my annual brain food festival — the conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ). I’ve been working with this group since 1990, and I have a lot of friends there, so this event is always a blast.

This year, I set up an unofficial SEJ2006 group weblog. It’s "unofficial" because it’s a strictly volunteer, independent effort by people who are either SEJ members, attending the conference (speakers, exhibitors, others, etc.) or who are working on the conference (staff, etc.). I did this mainly because it was more efficient to just set it up by myself, on my own, than to have to deal with any organization to get it done.

To be quite honest, this blog has been consuming much of my time this week. More than I’d intended — but this is an experimental project, and experiments always entail unforeseen resource demands as well as results. It’s OK, I’ve been learning a ton of useful stuff from this effort.

So if you’re considering setting up a blog in support of your conference, benefit from my experience. Here’s what I’ve learned, so far…

(READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE at my other weblog, The Right Conversation. You can also leave comments there, if you wish.)

Transparency vs. Payola: Weighing Risks

PayPerPost: Worth the risk?

Over at the Center for Citizen Media blog, I’ve joined an interesting conversation concerning the thorny issue of payola in online media. See: PayPerPost: A Cancer on the Blogosphere, or Merely Semi-Sleazy? by Dan Gillmor.

Background: The controversial online advertising service PayPerPost attracted considerable blog and media attention after it recently got $3 million in venture funding. In a nutshell, PayPerPost is an automated system where companies can advertise their sites, products, services, or brands through a network of approved bloggers who get paid $2 per qualifying post. That is, bloggers who sign on to PayPerPost agree to write about those advertisers.

PayPerPost reviews and approves those posts, which can be required to be positive. Although PayPerPost urges its bloggers to be "honest," it discourages them from disclosing their relationship with PayPerPost. So, ethically, everyone involved appears to be on thin ice — but when did ethics ever have much to do with the advertising business?

…Anyway, Dan Gillmor’s post on the PayPerPost flap nudged me to consider the issue of payola more closely. Here are a couple of comments I contributed to that discussion…

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE over at my other blog, The Right Conversation
— If you wish to leave a comment on this post, you can do so there.

Apologizing: Good for Your Reputation

Often I’m amazed at how the universe conspires to hit me over the head with a theme, yelling “You MUST blog this!” That’s just happened this morning on the theme of apologies. Particularly, how crucial apologies are to public discourse — and to re-establishing broken trust with your core community and the general public.

Everyone messes up sometime. However, acknowledging your role in a problem, apologizing for it, and making amends is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s often the bravest, strongest, smartest, and most constructive thing an individual, publisher, or organization can do. Especially because conversational media has a way of amplifying any failure to apologize, thus making the consequences of your original screw-up much worse in the long run.

Here are all the hints on this theme that fate has handed me in the last 24 hours…

READ MORE at my other blog, The Right Conversation…

Google Adsense: DMCA policy

Following up on my earlier posts: It turns out that Google has a policy for its Adsense program regarding abuses that involve infringement of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). They explain in detail how to file DMCA-related complaints.

Note that this is not a strictly online process. They require a written and signed complaint letter as well (snail mail or fax).

After the instructions, Google offers some vague information about account termination:

“Many Google Services do not have account holders or subscribers. For Services that do, Google will, in appropriate circumstances, terminate repeat infringers. If you believe that an account holder or subscriber is a repeat infringer, please follow the instructions above to contact Google and provide information sufficient for us to verify that the account holder or subscriber is a repeat infringer.”

Hmmmm… OK, I interpret that as meaning that a single complaint is probably not sufficient to shut down a splogger’s Adsense account. What’s unclear is whether a single complainer must document two instances of DMCA infringement from the same splog separated by time in order to justify a claim of “repeat” abuse — or whether Google keeps track of all DMCA complaints and as soon as one account gets two documented complaints against it, it’s toast.

…That is, if Google deems the circumstances “appropriate” for termination, whatever that means.

I’ll ask Google about this when I get a chance. In the meantime, can anyone with experience in making these complaints according to Google’s process shed further light on this? Please comment below.

Shutting Down Sploggers via Google Adsense

As I mentioned earlier, as far as I’m concerned, hunting down and shutting down individual splogs is a waste of energy — because a splogger can set up another (or dozens) of new sites quickly and easily for each one that gets shut down.

Many bloggers
have been discussing this issue, with a deluge of often-heated comments in the wake of these posts.

Somewhere in that multilayered discussion, I saw someone mention what seems like a way to take constructive action against sploggers that’s more meaningful than shutting down a single splog. My apologies, I can’t recall who offered this suggestion.

Anyway, Google Adsense is the most common financial incentive program used by sploggers. I can’t remember seeing a single splog that didn’t carry Google ads. One Adsense account can support a multitude of splogs. Google ostensibly doesn’t approve of splogs, and apparently will cancel Adsense accounts for sploggers who abuse the program.

Therefore, when you find a splog, you can report it to Google and ask them to close the associated Adsense account.

Back on July 10, Quick Online Tips explained how to do that…
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Why hunting sploggers is a waste of energy

The 8th circle of hell: Future home of every splogger on earth.

Several popular bloggers, including Shel Israel, Allan Jenkins, and Jeremiah Owyang, lately have been voicing consternation over the last few days over what appears to be a large-scale, wholesale theft of their content by a splogger site: Bitacle.org. (No, I’m not linking to Bitacle, you can find them if you want to.)

This is a pretty ambitious, but otherwise typical, splog (spam blog): a site that uses automated tools to scrape and republish (without authorization) content from other sites as a lure for high-paying contextual ads from Google and other services.

(UPDATE SEPT. 23: Today I learned that David Martín, who claims to work with Bitacle, posted a comment to this Lutrov.com posting back on July 28, 2006. He offered what I consider specious and fallacious explanations why his site is neither a splog nor a content thief.)

It doesn’t look like Bitacle has scraped my content yet, but this happens often to me — almost daily, in fact. I hate sploggers and what they do, and I agree with Allan Jenkins that there’s a very special place in hell for these miscreants. But personally I don’t invest much effort into tracking down and shutting down sploggers who steal my content. If I did that, I’d do nothing else.

Personally, I think going after the sploggers is the wrong way to address this problem…

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How Movie Theaters Might Thrive in an On-Demand, Long Tail World

Last night, my husband and I went out to the movies — something we rarely do, since we think movie tickets are drastically overpriced and prefer the convenience and selection of Netflix. However, every once in a while we still get the urge.

Since we were in the mood to mock, we went to see the remake of The Wicker Man. We figured it had to be better than the 1973 original. We were wrong — which was good news, given our intent. The remake offers even more heckling fodder, with substantially less coherence than the original. And if you’ve seen the original, you know that’s really saying something.

But I digress…

For a Saturday evening, the huge AMC theater complex at Flatiron Crossing Mall looked pretty dead. If I were managing that theater, I’d be nervous. As on-demand entertainment becomes more popular, what reason to people have to keep making the trip to movie theaters — especially when most of your choices there are overhyped, lowest-common-denominator, gutless, and mindless attempted blockbusters?

I had an idea about that: What if movie theaters joined forces with a social networking service such as Meetup.com to make it easier for communities to pick their own movies and fill the seats? In essence, make it easy to arrange movie parties or similar events?

Here’s how that might work…

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Grapes of Wrath and Communications Technology

Lately I’ve been fascinated with learning about the Dust Bowl, thanks to Tim Egan’s excellent recent book “The Worst Hard Time.” This book inspired me to finally get around to reading John Steinbeck’s classic novel of High Plains refugees, “The Grapes of Wrath.”

One thing that struck me about Grapes of Wrath: I doubt that particular story could happen with today’s communication media, even that available to the poorest of the poor. Here’s what I mean…

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