Andy Ostroy: OMG, My 82-Year-Old Mother Just Friended Me On Facebook!

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What do you do when your 82-year-old Jewish mother from Long Island sends you a friend request on Facebook? My first instinct is to take my laptop up to the roof and toss it off the building like an oversized Frisbee. Quickly. And cancel my Internet service. And never look back. My second instinct is to simply click "accept" and hope for the best.

So I wonder now just what my Facebook relationship with mom is going to look like. Will I be receiving embarrassing status updates like, "Mildred is rinsing her dentures now?" Or, "Mildred just had a nice glass of tea?" Or maybe I'm going to be invited to her senior citizen's rec-room parties, or be forced to read the results of her "Which Sex Symbol Am I" test. Oy.

Here's a very funny, and highly appropriate, video making the 'net rounds. It's about Twitter and why it's perfect for Jewish mothers. Perhaps it'll now apply to my Facebook life as well. Yeah, ma, I'm wearing my sweater......



Ronald B. Robinson: Democrat Alan Grayson Calls Out “Neanderthal” Republicans on CNN: Follow His Lead!

Take Note, Take Note Oh World! - Democrat Alan Grayson "calls out lying Repugs on CNN" - and truth tellers and seekers the world over must study him and follow his lead!

His appearance on CNN's "The Situation Room" is the real deal.

2009-10-02-GraysonGrayson tells it like it is and the way it needs to be told. His approach represents the prototype of how to promote a positive agenda and take on the U.S. Republichinis, as well as the fascist movement -- whether in the US, Italy, or elsewhere. It's also what Drew Westen, author of "The Political Brain" has long been advocating for.

And the CNN punks, who like predators tried to beat Grayson down, never did this to the Republicans during all of their lying, predatory, death threatening, unethical actions, which continue to this very second. Grayson stood his ground against this onslaught of hypocrisy from Wolf Blitzer, Gloria Borgia, and "Token Brotha"...and CNN needs to be taken to task for it.

Especially since CNN spawned Glenn Beck and continues to give refuge to Lou Dobbs who daily dishes out the Republichini lies and lines like he was an outpost for Fox "Fact Free" News on "Americas Most Trusted Name in News." Sadly, CNN has become another Media Mouthpiece for Republican predation and the only thing they can be trusted to do is continue their predatory ways. And MSNBC did their best to follow suit, except for their afternoon lineup of Ed Schultz, Keith Olbermann, and Rachel Maddow.

Please study the vids and spread them around. I am adding the video of his comments on the floor of the Congress as well (shown on Keith Olbermann, including Keith's and Arianna Huffington's Commentary) since it also represents a prototype for how to confront Republichini predators and their predatory politics and economics.

We need to rename the GOP the "Nagger Party" since it seems all these naggers do is nag. They've become nothing but a bunch of naysaying naggers with nothing to say but "NO!"

Being progressives and promoting a positive agenda of Socio-Spiritual Liberation and Joyful Justice doesn't mean being wimpy. Nor do we need to seek a disembodied, abstract, "moral highground" when confronting these predators and naggers with their ACORN fetish. In other words, we don't need to pursue or preserve a fake image and idol of what it means to be progressive, positive, spiritual, and/or advocate Oneness and Unity - seeking security in platitudes and a false sense of spiritual or intellectual superiority.

No! We need to be positively SPIRITED in the face of falsity and assert the truth with vigor and verve, seizing the joy of that moment without bitterness...like the cat in this video who finds a new way to drink and enjoy water while listening to some good jazz :-) and like Grayson.

Come on folks. Lets follow Grayson's lead and get this done!


Jenny Darroch: What Do Social Media and the Printing Press Have in Common?

Alex Carey suggested that the 20th Century was "characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting the corporate power against democracy".

To me, the first decade of the 21st Century will be remembered for the historic election of President Obama, the public distrust of large corporations and their brands as a consequence of the financial crisis and ensuing recession, and the role of social media in giving a voice back to the people. Just as the printing press of 1440 enabled democracy in the West, so too has social media enhanced the democratic process today, given a voice back to the people and restored the balance of power between governments and/or corporations and the masses.

I want to focus the rest of this discussion on how social media can restore the balance of power between organizations and its customers, which then provides the potential to restore trust in brands and the organizations who own brands. I will do this by relating my discussion to the five principles of democracy:

1. Freedom of speech, debate and democracy: traditional mass communication channels involve one-way communication between the organization and its customers. Customers can become aggrieved that the organization has lost touch with customer needs and somehow doesn't value the importance of individual customers in keeping the organization afloat (remember: "customers are the reason you are in business"). With social media, consumers can communicate freely between themselves, seek recommendations from people they trust and/or people who position themselves as opinion leaders, and they can freely give opinions back to the organization.

2. Popular democracy: traditionally organizations have shaped and controlled their own messages, for example, messages about the brand and its value proposition. One characteristic of social media is that it is consumer generated. While many marketing managers fear losing control of the brand message, there are benefits with consumer generated media in that it provides rich insights for marketing managers, immediate feedback from the market on any aspect of its product, brand and marketing strategy, and quick identification of problems or misinformation. For consumers, one advantage is that they can mobilize and then put pressure on an organization to change a product, policy or part of the way in which the product is delivered to consumers.

3. Open accountable and diverse media:
mass media should be open and transparent so that we can identify the source of news and individual, corporate or government agendas. In addition, mass media should be sufficiently diverse such that monopolies do not develop and dominate opinion. While on-going mergers and acquisitions can create an oligopoly structure within the communications industry, with social media the messages are many and not controlled by a few.

4. Economic democracy for the people: with this principle, power is decentralized and smaller communities can form. Social media has not changed the desire of consumers to join a club or community; it has simply made it easier for brand communities to form and consumers to engage.

5. Equality before the law: social media removes any hierarchy and allows consumers to be treated as equally important. What this means is that an organization does not know whether a consumer generated comment comes from say a small or large customer, or a recent or lapsed customer. Rather, the organization has to treat each customer comment as equally important.

What does all this mean for marketing managers? There is plenty of evidence to show just how social media can facilitate the democratic process: think back to the election of President Obama, or the recent election in Iran. These examples also provide rich evidence of the willingness of the masses (or in the context of this post, consumers), to be heard.

Yet, we know that many organizations struggle to know what to do with social media - for example, only 15% of Fortune 500 companies maintain a blog and most of these blogs are hosted within the organization's website. The low incidence of Fortune 500 blogs is likely to be a reflection of a generation gap (that is, the Chief Marketing Officers who make strategic marketing decisions being unfamiliar with terms such as Facebook, blogs, posts and Twitter) and an overwhelming fear of the consequences of losing control of the brand message. In addition, and at a time when organizations need to be more accountable for marketing expenditure and make more efficient decisions on how to allocate scarce marketing resources, social media poses substantive challenges because it is difficult to demonstrate a return on marketing investment for something so new, something for which we talk about "best known practice" not "best practice".

But, times have changed and like it or not, social media is here to stay. Social media is not as a replacement for traditional media but should be seen as a compliment, as part of an integrated marketing communications strategy. To me what is interesting is watching different organizations embrace social media, leaders who are willing to learn and experiment in order to shape best practice, and be brave enough to recognize that they can no longer completely control the brand message.

Jenny Darroch is on the faculty at the Drucker School of Management. She is an expert on marketing strategies that generate growth. See www.MarketingThroughTurbulentTimes.com


Testing Vook—The Video Book Hybrid

The e-book market has exploded, and readers have their pick of slim, little e-readers to choose from—but they’re still just reading words on a page, albeit digitally. Enter Vook, the funny-named startup that’s trying to take books to the next level, by integrating video and social media elements with the story. The company launched its first four titles, called Vooks, with Simon & Schuster and Atria Books today. Once you buy the video book hybrid, you log in and the Flash-based application opens right in your browser. There are also individual iPhone or iTouch apps; the online versions cost $6.99, and the iPhone apps are $4.99.

I was intrigued by the premise of the Vook from when news about it first trickled out; the company is founded by Bradley Inman, founder of online video stock production company TurnHere, so I jumped at the chance to test it out. I tried Richard Doetsch’s Embassy, a suspense title, first. The Vook browser makes the book look a bit like a web page; icons at the top of the screen let you switch between a text view, video view or a split-screen view (we’ve bundled the different views as a slideshow, pictured here). There’s also a “connect” button that brings up info about the author, links for sharing details about the story on Facebook and Twitter, as well as a Twitter stream linked to a hashtag of the Vook’s title (in this case, #embassyvook).

It’s decidedly interactive, which may not be a good thing for people that like to “veg” when they read. On the first page, my eyes immediately went to the small video icon nestled between the first and second paragraphs. I could barely skim the opening sentence before I clicked the button; it launched a drop-down video screen that set the scene with slightly ominous music, landscape shots of skyscrapers (Embassy is set in NYC) and glimpses of the main characters. The clips are in HD-quality, and you can skim through to videos in subsequent chapters; one clip featured a mock newscast detailing a kidnapping, another showed a police car chase.

Too hi-tech for its own good? The Flash-based browser makes the videos look slick, with fluid navigation buttons—but it’s almost too fluid. It’s very easy to skim past the next page when you click the forward arrow, and hard to get the clips to stop playing when you’d rather go back to just text. The semi-transparent background also makes the words hard to read, but those should be kinks that Vook will ultimately work out. Still, the overriding feeling I had when I was trying to read Embassy as a Vook was just that—I was trying too hard to read it and not be distracted by the interactivity.

Better for non-fiction: The second Vook, The 90 Second Fitness Solution, by Pete Cerqua, felt much more suited to the video/text hybrid. A tome for busy women that want to tone up and lose weight, the clips let you follow along with specific exercises, connect with Pete, the author and personal trainer, and even learn how to shop for healthier foods. Since the book is trying to get readers active, the need to click through videos and skim text feels natural.

The early verdict: I haven’t been able to sit with the Vooks for long enough to see whether I can make it through an entire novel, but my preliminary feeling is that the current iteration is better for non-fiction. I’m a champion of interactivity—I like it in my ads, in my video games, and even some of my TV shows—but when it comes to digging in to a crime thriller, the bells and whistles prevented me from losing myself in the story. It will be interesting to compare sales stats for the non-fiction vs. fiction Vooks in the coming months to see whether other readers feel the same way.

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Annie Leibovitz Trailing President Obama

Annie Leibovitz has been trailing Preisdent Obama all day, according to a pool report.

The Wall Street Journal's Elizabeth Williamson filed the following report:

Photographer Annie Leibovitz zipped around behind the ropes, taking photos of POTUS as he spoke; was accidentally bodychecked (no injury!) by one of our corps. She's been on POTUS all day, took pix of him entering car to DGA luncheon motorcade at WH earlier today; she stayed behind on WH lawn. No information forthcoming thus far on what her assignment is.

Leibovitz has photographed Obama before: she followed him on the campaign trail last spring, and she did a series of portraits on the Obama administration for the March issue of Vanity Fair. Leibovitz also photographed First Lady Michelle Obama for the March cover of Vogue.

Leibovitz recently won more time to repay a $24 million loan to Art Capital Group, restructuring the deal to regain control of her assets.


TV Guide Magazine Cuts Include Publisher, Four Other Senior Staff

BusinessWeek employees, read this carefully. Could be your potential future owner. TV Guide magazine, now owned by PE Firm OpenGate Capital (one of the four shortlist bidders for BW), laid off Pete Haeffner, TV Guide publisher since October 2005, along with four other colleagues, reports Minonline. Others leaving are publisher/sales Gary Kleinman and associate publisher/marketing Mindy Nathanson. This is part of a cost-cutting move, the story says. This follows appointment of former Hachette CEO and magazine industry vet Jack Kliger as the interim CEO and senior adviser to the company back in July, in an attempt to save the magazine from continued irrelevance.Former CEO Scott Crystal left in a huff in May, accusing the PE bosses of mishandling the magazine and raiding its assets.

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