Archives for August 2006


How To Tell an Employee She Should Lose Weight

HR Pro’s are getting a heart attack about now… you can’t! At least not in the US.

Well, CBS may have found a way to hint at it, without actually saying so: they took a photo of Katie Couric and published a version showing some Photoshop wizardry: she lost a good 20 pounds.

Couric, who was made aware of the picture’s alteration yesterday, joked that she liked the original better.

“There’s more of me to love,” she quipped.

(full story at the New York Post)

Tags: , , , , ,


Why the Wikipedia Enterprise 2.0 Debate is Irrelevant

The ongoing almost finished debate about the deleted Enterprise 2.0 article in Wikipedia is quite educational, at least for someone like me, who uses Wikipedia a lot but don’t contribute myself. Not that we had that insight originally; the entry was first wiped out without a discussion and it took Ross Mayfield’s clout to resuscitate it for debate, albeit semi-sentenced for deletion.

The key learning for me is that Wikipedia is governed by far more rules than I would have expected. Like it or not, I can rationalize that any organization, organism, collective initiative..etc. of this magnitude will sooner or later develop self-defense mechanisms, and for Wikipedia these are the (sometimes rigid) rules and an army of Praetorians … I mean Deletionists.

The key arguments for deleting the Enterprise 2.0 article are that it’s not notable enough, is neologism , original research which is not verifiable by reading reliable sources. (links point to Wikipedia policies)

Notability is a rather dubious requirement – that is if we consider Wikipedia *The* encyclopedia, which is what I think it has become for millions of readers. The “Sum of Human Knowledge” (see ad on right) is constantly increasing, forcing paper-based encyclopedias to be selective/restrictive for obvious reasons. Wikipedia does not have such physical limits, and has an army of volunteer editors, so why be restrictive? “When in doubt – look it up” is still what I think encyclopedias are all about, and that approach is what propelled Wikipedia to the No. 1 spot leaving the Britannica in the dust.

Neologism doesn’t belong in Wikipedia”: as several commenters pointed out, the term neologism itself is a neologism:-) But let’s get real: considering the body of knowledge already covered in Wikipedia, an increasing ratio of new articles will by definition be neologism. An overly exclusionary approach by Wikipedia administrators will relegate it from being *The* encyclopedia to being just one, in fact likely still #1 of many, giving way to the Refupedias so eloquently defined by my fellow Irregular (and I might add, subject matter expert on this debate) Niel Robertson.

While I question the principles behind the notability and no-neologism rule, I understand that the debate on deleting an actual submission is not the appropriate forum to discuss the validity of Wikipedia rules.

Yet I am surprised by the sharp contrast in the two side’s approach: defenders of the article, mostly domain experts in enterprise software but Wikipedia-newbies discuss the merits of the article itself, while the deletionist side avoids such conversation strictly focusing on adherence to policy only. In fact it’s this part of the discussion that convinced me we’re not seeing a constructive debate (side note: why isn’t there a Wikipedia entry on this?), instead the most active deletionists are pre-determined to kill the article, and are shutting down reasonable arguments / citations in a rather dogmatic manner.

The trio of no original research, verifiability and reliable sources should be more or less self-explanatory, and one would think references to “Enterprise 2.0” in respected publications like MIT’s Sloan Management Review and Business Week certainly meet these requirements. Not really. Our Praetorian Deletionist discards both:

“The problem is only readers that have access to this journal can verify the information. It must be available to anyone (by heading to the library, searching online, or stopping by a book store)”

“Journals that the general public can not easily access are not valid sources. Period. That is wikipedia policy.”

Wow. Not accessible… well, I don’t see any restrictions on these subscription pages:

In fact the individual article is available for $6.50, but (don’t tell anyone!) it can also be found as a free PDF file on the web. Now, I am not claiming these publications have as wide circulation as the New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Newsweek – all papers that our gatekeeper finds acceptable – but why should they? We’re not talking about architecture, medicine or gardening – for the cross-section of business and technology it’s hard to find more authoritative source than the SMR or HBR.

All other citations the “defending team” comes up with are refused, for formal reasons, without looking at content.

Business Week: “the article itself is not about the term “Enterprise 2.0”, but about “Web 2.0” “. In fact “Web 2.0 in the Enterprise” is what the entire article is about, and that is indeed Enterprise 2.0, but the Wikipedian here does not understand the content, he is just looking for a verbatim match.

ZDNetBlogs” by Dan Farber or Dion Hinchcliffe are rejected for being blogs, and self-referencing, being about the deletion process, not the original term. Once again, this is a rigid, dogmatic argument: true, the deletion debate is referenced in the articles, but it was just the trigger, the authors (recognized subject matter experts) explicitly discuss the validity of Enterprise 2.0. Ross Mayfield then cites further articles, including one by Dion Hinchliffe, ZDNet specifically referencing Enterprise 2.0: “Fortunately, the title of McAfee’s piece says the important part” – and that title is: Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration . Not accepted, after all it’s just a blog.

I can’t leave Wikipedia’s exclusion of blogs as reliable source without a comment. Tehcnorati is tracking over 50 million blogs, and we know it does not track everything, so who knows what the total number is: 70M? 100M? How can they all be lumped in one, “unreliable” category? As non-PC it may be, I have to side with Robert Scoble here, there is a slight difference between content-light (LiveJournal) diaries and professional blogs by industry experts. The ZDNet blogs mentioned above really shouldn’t be personal blogs, they are professional publications. And by whose standards should the HBS Faculty Blog, bearing the logo of Harvard Business School not be considered a reliable source, in fact an authority on matters of business and technology?

The concept of authority is not unknown to Wikipedia, just check the following excerpt from the guidelines on reliable sources:

“Advanced degrees give authority in the topic of the degree.”

“Use sources who have postgraduate degrees or demonstrable published expertise in the field they are discussing. The more reputable ones are affiliated with academic institutions.”

Guidelines or not, Mr. Deletionist has his own view about Harvard Prof. McAfee:

“While I respect your knowledge and status as an Associate Professor, I take a dim view of a person who coins a term also being the person that is the main editor and follower of that term’s wikipedia article.” (for the record Prof. McAfee did not edit the disputed Wikipedia article at all)

Oh, well… instead of talking about Wikipedia, let’s focus on why this whole debate is irrelevant. Because “Enterprise 2.0” is really just a label. Opponents call it “marketing buzzword”. So what? Labels, Marketing buzzwords can be quite helpful:

  • In the beginning of this post I spent 2 paragraphs detailing my point of view on Notability and Neologism, when I could ave simply referred to a “label”: I am an Inclusionalist. (I believe in editing rather than killing posts)
  • In the very early 90’s I was implementing SAP systems (yes, guilty of being a domain expert). The concept of an integrated cross-functional enterprise system was rather unusual, it took lot of “evangelism” to spread the idea. A few years later Erik Keller and team at Gartner coined the term ERP, and it is the industry definition ever since.
  • Here’s a fairly lengthy explanation of how a web application can look and feel like a desktop application. (alert: it’s a blog!). The post is from January 2005. A year later the term Ajax was coined, and now the author of this article could save half a page and just say: Ajax.

Perhaps the above examples make the point: in business and technology, marketing “labels” are typically coined to describe an already existing phenomenon. Enterprise 2.0 as a term my be relatively knew, but it’s not some theoretical concept a bored professor is trying to sell the world. It’s a disruptive change, a confluence of technological, social and business changes in how corporations conduct business using new IT tools. No Wikipedia gatekeepers can prevent this seismic shift. Let’s move on, do our work, and in less than 6 months Enterprise 2.0 will find its way back to Wikipedia.

Update (9/1): The debate is now closed, Enterprise 2.0 stays in wikipedia.

Related posts:

(Note: this is just a partial list, pros and cons from domain experts – all this representing zero value, per wikipedia policy, since they are blog posts.)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Zemanta Pixie

Women 2.0 Party

I should read the PR 2.0 blog more often.  A lot more often.  Here’s the invitation I missed:

You’re Invited – Women 2.0 Party Today  Wow!  Woman 2.0 – Peter Rip should update his Everything 2.0 list now.

Here’s a set of photos from the previous Women 2.0 Party.  But wait…  where are the women?

Guys, you’re nice and everything… but if this is what 2.0 means, I’d rather stay with Women 1.0

Update (8/28): Stowe, what’s on your mind?

Update (9/3):  Valleywag shows an improved photo

Tags: , , , ,


Scammers Are Getting Smart

Here’s an email I received this morning:

Dear xxxxxx,

Thank you for your subscription to
http: //  (link removed for my readers protection)

You have been billed as KRBILL LLC for the amount of:
3.95(USD) for 3 days (trial) then 34.95(USD) recurring every 30 days .
Your new subscription identification number is:xxxxxxx,
Your membership access information is:
Username for your subscription: xxxxxxx
Password for your subscription: xxxxxxx
E-mail: xxxxxxx
Membership website: http: // (link removed)
Thank you for choosing KRBill as the eMerchant for your subscription!
Customer Support/Cancel Your Subscription 28/08/2006 07:06


Obviously scammers are getting smart: reading you’ve just been billed, wouldn’t you instinctively click to clarify/cancel?  We’re all getting smarter about scam, but the sense of urgency can easily trigger a kneejerk reaction, forgetting all precautions, and that’s exactly what the scammer counts on. However, there’s two safety precautions I strongly recommend to everyone:

  • No card to charge: I only ever use throwaway, virtual credit card numbers on the Net, so scammers can bill all they want, they can’t charge my card
  • Protected Email address: I have specific email addresses for subscription lists and online orders,  another one for financial activity (banks, brokers), yet another for the blog…etc.  I don’t ever use online my “real” email addresses that I want to protect. So when scam arrives to the protected email, I can rest assured they don’t have any of my data, the email is harmless junk.

Any other good ideas?  Please leave them in a comment below.

Update (8/28):  Polar Youth appears to be a non-profit, not selling anything. However, the full URL (I did not click it, but retyped it) leads to a page where one can supposedly by a software product, and the licence terms refer to Intuit.  Since it’s obviously forgery, perhaps someone from Intuit will chime in here.

Update (9/1):  Wow… apparently this scam was first insignificant enough that only I posted about it, thus getting the #1 postition on Google for the search term “Krbill”… than it got widespread enough that a lot of people are searching for it… I am getting a lot of hits.  I also may have become the target of the scammers revenge: the appear to phish my email as sender.  I received emails asking for explanation, even one asking for a refund of any money charged to them.  Rest assured: the scammers could not get your money, unless you provided them with data.

As a commenter points out below, the websites the scam email leads to contain hidden iframe that attempts to download malware on your computer.

Tags: , , , , ,


Friday Quiz: What do Astronomers and Wikipedians Have In Common?

Hints here and here.

Tags: , , ,


Items to Avoid Aboard a Flight: Dell, Apple Laptops and…Penis Pumps

As I reported before, Qantas airlines restricts the use of Dell computers on board their aircraft; other airlines may follow suit, and with Apple joining the battery-recall, perhaps Mac’s get on the restricted list, too.

But this is minor inconvenience compared to the trouble carrying a … penis pump (*blush*) can get you into, reports the Chicago Sun Times:

“The female airport security guard held the small, black, squeezable rubber object she’d just plucked out of Mardin Amin’s backpack, and eyed it suspiciously.

Standing next to his mother, an embarrassed Amin whispered out of one corner of his mouth that it was a “pump” — as in a penis pump. The guard misunderstood the Iraqi man and thought she heard the word “bomb,” Amin’s attorney told a Cook County judge Wednesday.

“He told her it’s a pump,” attorney Eileen O’Neill-Burke said as a cluster of burly, snickering police officers watched the court proceedings. “He’s standing with his mother. Of course he’s not going to shout this out.”

But after listening to the female guard testify she heard Amin “clearly” say the word bomb during the Aug. 16 incident at O’Hare Airport, Judge Gerald Winiecki decided there was enough evidence for the case to move forward. Amin, 29, is charged with felony disorderly conduct and faces up to three years in prison if convicted.”

Oh, well, judges have their way with penis pumps:  in unrelated news, former Oklahoma Judge Donald Thompson was sentenced to 4 years in prison for repeatedly using a penis pump – during trials he presided over in his courtroom.

I’m starting to think these pumps are really not worth all the trouble. After all,  Small is the New Big

Perhaps it’s time to update the list of things to avoid during air travel:

  • sex toys
  • your mother
  • thick accent

or any combination of the above.

Tags: , , , , ,


Vista Startup Sound – Blind Ignorance

Vista beta testers mad about forced startup sound – reported Robert Scoble yesterday.  What several testers observed was that the Windows startup sign can not be turned off.   Naive me, this is how I tried to calm down the “mad users” in a comment:

“Oh, for God’s sake it can’t possibly be by design… It’s a beta, and with Microsoft’s so-called stable products being so buggy, what do you expect? Just be happy it doesn’t force an automatic reboot every 30 minutes :-)

Yeah, right. Today the story continues, as Robert interviewed Steve Ball, group program manager for the Windows Audio Video Excellence team (basically, the team that builds the stuff that plays audio and video in Windows).”   Wow, thank God they have an entire team for that!  But it gets better: they hired famous guitarist Robert Fripp for the job.  Geez, just give me a machine that boots fast and doesn’t crash, I’ll get my music on my own! yell

And here’s the best part from Steve Ball:

This will be a non-customizable sound, and that’s been part of the plan for Windows Vista for many months, he said.
However, the plan might change and Steve Ball is reading all the feedback, both on blogs, and in the newsgroups for beta testers, and his team is considering all of this stuff and still has not made final decisions (although they’ve spent a lot of time already arguing this stuff out and are heading down a path of making this a non-customizable sound that can’t be turned off, just like the Xbox has today).

“Why the hell would you want to do this in the first place?” he told me is a common question.”

Wow. If he really can’t think of a reason, how about  this:  has it ever occurred to anyone that some of us Microsoft-slaves might just wake up in the wee hours and want to work (i.e. turn on the computer) without waking up the family?

I am fuming… this is yet another case of product-focused thinking ignoring users. cry

Update (8/24):  Here’s another scenario, from a comment to Scoble’s blog:

I really hope this isn’t true. If it is, we’ll never deploy Windows Vista in a clinical environment or care setting. We currently have Windows 2000 PCs running in very sensitive care environments that need constant reboots — if the system is forcing the startup sound to play, regardless of other settings, that could be very disruptive to a care environment without us have to take unnecessary steps to mitigate the noise. Microsoft, _think_ about your users not yourselves!”

Another commenter sums it up perfectly:

Microsoft is still doing what Microsoft does best, telling their customers that Microsoft owns their computer and not them.”

Better yet, just watch this video.

Also read Silence is Golden by Michael Parekh.

Update (9/23): Microsoft listens, after all, says Scoble.  They are making the sound optional.


Tags: , , , , , ,


TechCrunch Getting a Facelift Again?

The focus of the announcement is the launch of TechCrunch UK.  But that’s not all, towards the end Mike casually mentions:

“For those of you who’ve asked, we’ll be moving all of our sites over to this new design in the coming weeks.”

There are subtle differences between the two versions now, so this facelift will definitely not be as dramatic as the previous one.  But if you ask me (I know, no-one really asked me), I still prefer the Classic TechCrunch designed by Frederico Oliveira. 



Tags: , , , ,


Technorati Gone Crazy This Morning

Impossible to sign in; you get thrown back to the sign-in page. That means no account info, no favorites, stats… etc. What a morning 🙁

Tags: ,


Dell: Don’t Leave Home *With* It…

…At least not if you want to fly. 

After the well-publicized Dell-explosions and a recall of over 4 million batteries (made by Sony) Qantas Airlines issued new rules:  travelers are allowed to bring their Dells on board, however, they can only use them if they first remove the battery, then plug it into an outlet – which is only available on business- and first class.

Security at some airports apparently goes a bit further:

“One passenger who flew out of Canberra on a Qantas flight on Monday reported that he and his colleagues had encountered security personnel removing the batteries from all Dell computers, and taping up the contact points on the battery ” – reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

I guess from  now on there are three classes of notebooks: the Mac, the Win and the Dell.

Also read  Engadget, Gizmodo and The Unofficial Apple Weblog.

Update (8/24):  As Jim points out in a comment below, after Dell now Apple issued a battery-recall, too.  I suspect the story is far from being over, a lot of other manufacturers use Sony’s batteries.

Update (9/6):  Korean Air joined the ban, in fact they go a step further: passengers have to remove the batteries and pack them in their check-in luggage.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,