Who’s the boss of your identity?

Apparently not you anymore. Privacy isn’t what it used to be. Consider the range of business applications of social networking. On the one hand, there’s LinkedIn. It’s a buttoned down environment that puts up barriers to mixing and mingling. Even if you see someone you know, you’ll have to pay LinkedIn to get back in touch if you don’t have a current email address. If you see someone that’s in your friend’s network that you’d like to contact, the LinkedIn cash register is likely to ring again. A sound idea, but it’s taken 4 years for LinkedIn to turn the corner in popularity, if not revenue according to CEO Konstantin Guerike. Even after “turning the corner’ LinkedIn is still raising cash.

Contrast the moderated environment of LinkedIn with the wild west of Jigsaw.com. Jigsaw has an important mission. They intend to map every organization on the planet. They aim to be the repository of employee names, titles, email, and phone numbers of every business worth prospecting. It’s a salesman’s paradise.

The difference is that LinkedIn is opt in while Jigsaw is opt out. You can choose to be in LinkedIn or not. With Jigsaw, you first have to be aware that you are in the database, and then ask to opt out. Their business model puts a value on all of those old business cards you have. Here’s how it works. Let’s say you’re in sales and you want to break into Alcoa Aluminum. A search on Jigsaw reveals that they have contact data on over 1,900 Alcoa employees. How did they get that data? From people willing to trade business contacts. Supply two contacts to Jigsaw from your own stash, and get one in return. You can also pay per name.

On the surface, this seems like a boon to someone hungry for a new prospect. On the other hand, it violates the trust I place in those that I give my card to. After all, when I give someone my card, I expect that they will use it, or they will pass it on to someone in their organization that can write me a purchase order. Jigsaw creates a situation in which I don’t know where my contact data will end up. Maybe it’s time to stop giving business cards to people under 30? I don’t think so.

Opt out may not be the preferred arrangement, but at least I have that option. I don’t have that option with all of the other ways my contact data can leak out. Credit card companies, mail order companies, even my grocer may sell my data to a list dealer, or more obnoxiously a telemarketing outfit. Nobody questions where the junk mailer got your name, so why should it be such a big deal with Jigsaw. Just be forewarned that doing business now means you are in the public eye.

I’m reminded of Burningman. Forty thousand people living life out in the open. Showers, sex, dancing, eating…all human activities are open and visible. There’s very little to hide behind on the Playa. Since many of the burners design and write our software, is it any surprise that more and more things that were previously private are now public? I don’t think so. Perhaps the genie is out of the bottle once and for all.

The erosion of privacy has been going on for a long time. There is nothing new in this. The trend has accellerated now that we’re fighting evildoers in today’s 100 year war. The only solution is to model our data security laws on those of the EU. Unfortunately, our contact data will remain unprotected in the name of unfettered business ambition for decades to come.


Down the Avenue

Renee Blodgett recently invited me to post to her blog. I suppose it’s appropriate. We met at the New Journalism conference at Stanford last year. It was my first taste of what citizen journalism could be.

I’ll be posting on some of the Silicon Valley events I attend as well as topics of interest to me. Social media, alternative energy and sustainable business practices are all fair game. You’ll find my first post here.

Down the Avenue is so much a part of Renee, I don’t think any number of guest posters will ever change the voice and point of view she’s established. I hope that I bring another set of eyes and ears with a focus on current business events and trends. As much as I’d like to write about women’s shoes, I’ll leave that to Renee.

So what about Dogpatch Dispatch? I’m still going to post items that interest me here. The posts here will interject more opinion and/or expand on the workaday reportage posted on Down the Avenue. Add both to your aggregator.

Legitimizing Enterprise 2.0

IBM announced yesterday that they will release a set of social networking tools called Lotus Connections. “MySpace in a box” for the enterprise. This validates the market in a way that only IBM can. Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM…

It’s also incredibly good news for Marc Canter. The burden of education and market preparation has been lifted from his shoulders. Here’s his take on it.

ok to look

ok to look

Originally uploaded by Mike_fj40.
I saw an ad on the tube tonight for Match.com. A creepy Dr. Phil reassured us that it was “ok to look.” I think he even said “Go on, put yourself out there.” Out where? Match.com, obviously.

We’ve always known that it was ok to sneak a discreet look, but God almighty, do we have to wade through hundreds of misleading pics and poorly written profiles? Can’t the digital lifestyle do better?

I prefer the messy randomness of nature.

World IQ Averages

World average IQ

In 2003, the journal American Psychologist published an article by Tomoe Kanaya (formerly of Cornell University, now at Muhlenberg College) that plotted the average IQ of every country in the world. While many questioned the methodology and the Flynn Effect influence on the statistics, it does point out interesting regional differences. Whether or not the differences bear any relation to reality remains to be seen.

After the last presidential election, there were reports that states with higher average IQs voted for Kerry, and states with lower average IQs voted for Bush. The data was reported in several respected publications including The Economist. They later published a retraction because they could not verify the source of the data.

Inherent in the freedom to blog is the ability to perpetuate urban myths. The effect of many blogs is to amplify stories from other media, but without the compulsion to check facts bloggers have become a notorious source of wrong or misleading information.

Consider yourselves warned.

Times are changing at Time, Inc.

Ann S. Moore

The New York Times reports that Time, Inc. is laying off nearly 300 staffers from the editorial and business side of their top magazines. They are also closing their news bureaus in Washington, Miami, Chicago, Austin and Atlanta. The restructuring and cost cutting is being given a positive spin by Ann S. Moore, the Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of Time, Inc. She says the moves will allow them to “sustain our progress” and expand their online efforts as the Internet continues to disrupt old media business models and advertising revenues.

The problem is that Time, Inc. has not made enough progress to date to make a smooth transition to digital properties. By progress, I mean ad sales. I’m sure they can fill in the editorial with stringers and freelancers, but who’s going to pay for the salaries? A quick look at Time.com or People.com revealed only empty sidebars with an Advertising header, but no ads. I find this to be remarkable. Adding insult to injury, Time.com is a co-production of Time and CNN. That means a revenue split. That’s not what Time needs.

It may be impossible for the old media types to reinvent themselves. Reproducing the print version online doesn’t add value. The publications need to be rethought from the point of view of the capabilities that are inherent in a connected social medium. Out with the old model, in with the new.

Add this to the long list of transitions on Time Warner’s plate. From AOL to Warner Brothers, their world is being rocked. I hope they rise to the challenge.

The Half Century Marc

Master of Ceremonies and birthday boy

Some ignore birthdays as a way of denying the inevitable passing of time. Others embrace it and create a memorable event. Marc Canter’s 50th was in the latter category. Interesting people, great conversation, and tasty food capped off by Marc’s slide show. Quite the aggregation.

Many of Marc’s friends showed up and a good time was had by all. I particularly enjoyed meeting Raines Cohen, a legendary figure in Macintosh history. He founded the Berkeley Macintosh User’s Group (BMUG) back in the day.

temps vs piratesRainesfsm.gif

He looked dashing in his pirate hat and brandished a high end bottle of grape juice. Like many pioneers, he’s moved on to new endeavors. This is important stuff and we ought to pay attention.

http://www.greenmymac.org http://www.greenmyexpo.com