Nokia USA: It’s Not Your Intermediaries, It’s YOU

I was so happy and excited to get my N95 (see video). I could be this happy again, if only Nokia would get its US service and support act together.

As I noted earlier, this morning Charlie Schick of Nokia USA left a comment on this blog to reach out to me about my recent heartbreaking experience with the Nokia N95. Here’s what he said:

“These are the nightmares that we never want to happen.

“I remember in the days before we allowed users to do their firmware updates, this was one of the worries that could have killed the whole process.

“I think what makes it hard for us is all the disintermediation – the, sometimes small but crucial, gap between us and you.

“And what concerns me is that we know when it happens to folks like you who write about it. Yet, that leads us to a one-time fix.

“How can we spread a policy or procedure down the line that helps anyone with this issue (and without costing the company or you an bundle)?

“I don’t know, and any more speculation on my part might be irresponsible.

“For sure, the more folks who bring this up, the more likely the company will come with a plan that can deal with this in a way we are both happy with.”

Here is my response — which I hope will lead to further constructive conversation and perhaps better options for current and would-be US users of high-end Nokia products…

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Social Media Spam: Ick!

(NOTE: I originally wrote this for Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits blog. Since it’s also relevant here, I’m cross-posting it.)

What does "Digg bait" look like? These screen grabs from a site that sells dental insurance via an affiliate program show how out-of-place the article "Geek’s Guide to Getting in Shape" is. (Click to enlarge)

Well, I knew it would happen. Spammers have figured out how to game social media news aggregation sites like Digg, Reddit, and Newsvine.

On Nov. 21, blogger Niall Kennedy examined one example of this kind of spamming in detail, explaining how it happened and why it’s a problem.

Here’s his explanation of how this particular instance of social media spam worked:

"Last weekend I noticed a Digg submission about weight loss tips had climbed the site’s front page, earning a covetous position in the top 5 technology stories of the moment. The 13 sure-fire tips were authored by ‘Dental Geek’ and posted to the ‘Discount Dental Plan’ category on his WordPress blog. Scanning the sidebar links and adjacent content it was obvious this content was out of place on a page optimized for dental insurance. The Webmaster of had inserted some Digg bait, seeded a few social bookmarking services, and waited for links and page views to roll in, creating a new node in a spam farm fueled by high-paying affiliate programs and identity collection for resale."

Ick! Now, I’m all for posting valuable content as a way to engage communities and attract audiences. But this really crosses a line, I think…

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Blogs: Popularity Doesn\’t Equal Influence

Technorati’s latest snapshot of blog influence (click to enlarge). Consider what this data really shows.

(NOTE: I originally posted this item on Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits blog. I’m cross-posting it here because I think it’s also relevant to Contentious readers.)

On Nov. 6, Technorati published its latest quarterly state of the blogosphere report. Currently, this search service tracks 57 million feeds, mostly from blogs — with a strong focus on English-language blogs, especially from North America.

One of the most controversial sections of this report discusses a key concern for any media: influence or perceived authority. Personally, I think Technorati’s interpretation is rather awry…

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Justin Crawford: Notes for his talk

As I mentioned, Halloween morning my colleague Justin Crawford and I are giving a talk to a class of journalism graduate students at the University of Colorado on the amorphous topic of blogs and citizen journalism. Here are some notes for Justin’s talk, What are blogs and why should you care?…

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE over at The Right Conversation. You also can comment there if you like.

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.)

10 Ideas: What To Post to a Conference Blog

I’ve been working hard lately to get the unofficial conference blog up and running for the 2006 conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Now that it’s up and the crew of volunteer bloggers is mostly trained in how to use our blogging tool, Typepad, they’re starting to request more guidance on content. Most of these contributing bloggers come from print media. They know how to write, but they’ve never blogged before — and most of them also have little or no experience in creating any content specifically for online media.

Consequently, they aren’t familiar with conference blogs. That’s fine — many people aren’t, although that’s starting to change. I’ve worked on some conference blogging efforts, so I’ve pulled together a list of 10 kinds of posts that work well on conference blogs.

As with any conversational-media effort, it helps to know your audience, as well as your community of contributors (both bloggers and commenters). What skills and expertise do they bring to the table? What do they want? Ultimately, that should be your guide.

Here’s my list…

(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.

Blogging Gets Bumpy, and that\’s OK

Recently, PR blogger Kami Huyse published an interesting article: 5 Tips to Avoid Comment Hell: Dealing with Trolls. There, she posed a crucial question for new bloggers who are nervous about allowing comments on their blogs:

"I have had many clients ask me about the risks of blogging. How do you keep competitors and arch enemies from taking over the conversation and dissolving the ‘conversation’ into a shouting match?"

Her answers:

  1. Moderate comments.
  2. Have a written comment policy to manage expectations.
  3. Be in it for the long haul.
  4. Ban grossly abusive comments, but let most negative comments ride.
  5. Turn comments off if necessary, preferably temporarily.

A few quibbles notwithstanding, I mostly agree with Kami’s advice.

That said, I also believe it’s important for everyone who chooses to participate in conversational media to learn how to handle the inevitable unpleasant bumps of conflict and even flames.That’s not something you can learn theoretically. Personally I think you need to live through it. Only then can you put Kami’s advice into balanced practice. Otherwise, you might be tempted to protect yourself into total vulnerability.

Of course, surviving public conversational conflicts is not fun — but it’s crucial. If there’s one thing you learn fast in conversational media, it’s that you can never really control the conversation. Most of it happens in venues that are beyond your control, anyway The best you can do is influence it.

I raised that issue in this comment to Kami’s post…

READ THE REST of this article over at my other blog, The Right Conversation