The Benioff Coup. I Almost Got it Right

benioff reporter Watching CEO Marc Benioff interview Mike Arrington @ Davos in January, I predicted the Big Marc was after a new job in media.  It all felt confirmed when Benioff launched a series of posts at TechCrunch (although I suspected a fellow XXXXX blogger wrote his posts).

But now it looks the other way around: Benioff stole TechCrunch contributor Steve Gillmor.

Strange.  But I could still be right.  Here’s my conspiracy theory: it’s a job swap.  Gillmor will soon take over as CEO while Big Marc will retire to his Hawaii Mansion to lazily edit TechCrunchIT.

Gartner probability: 0.01

(Yes, I know it’s not April Fool’s Day – that’s how I reacted to the TC post first.)

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve )


Is Video a Crock? It’s Certainly Not the New Holy Grail. Get Off the Screen, Dudes.

Many of you will recognize the title – borrowed from "Enterprise 2.0 a Crock" Dennis Howlett.

Needless to say I was quite interested in his discussion with David Terrar, who is more of an E20 fan.

Hm…hard to watch.  Dennis is too loud while David is barely audible.  I kept on turning the volume up and down, until I quit after a few minutes.  But it’s not just the technical issues.  It’s a long video for the message it delivers, and I hate to admit but it could not glue me to my chair for 8 minutes. 

His opinions and sometimes abrasive style aside Dennis is a great analytical thinker, but he is (as I suspect all of us are) simply more organized, more concise in writing.  Simply more convincing – or thought provoking – and definitely easier to "consume" in writing, than this video-torture.  So now you see where my title comes from.  If Dennis says E20 is a crock, then I say so is video. It’s simply not the best medium for a lot of messages.

But I am not picking on Dennis.  Here’s a video by Allen Stern of the CenterNetworks fame:

Continue reading


Forbes Gaffe: Prints Private Chat Between AP Reporters. How to Correct Online Publications.

The Forbes Gaffe

Ok, now that I got your attention with the title, this is about more than Forbes’ Royal Gaffe. But first things first: Forbes mistakenly printed a “story”, (update: original deleted, see saved copy) which isn’t a story but private chat between two AP reporters, and should not have been published at all (hat tip: Mathew Ingram):

Associated Press

Swiss arrest Polanski on US request in sex case

Associated Press, 09.27.09, 10:41 AM EDT

i checked already, and so did zurich. they say the question is irrelevant. he answered me with the quote i used, about we knew when he was coming this time. he’s been here many times in the past, we think.

thx brad. aptn is aware, but unfortunately won’t make it in time, but is hoping to catch tail end.

i’m pushing out another writethru with some more background details before press conference.

no surprise, new york is really hot on this.

they particularly want to know why now. (has he never set foot in switzerland before?) sheila, theorizes that’s because they’re under intense pressure over ubs and want to throw the U.S. a bone, but can yo ucheck with justice department sources there?

is frank around too, or are you alone?

u can tell aptn press conf 1700 (15 gmt) in bern at the parliament

i’ll watch it live on internet

Clearly, somebody at Forbes / AP must be sleeping, since the “article” is still online after a full day – but let’s assume they will wake up and remove it, so I’ve  saved it on Zoho Viewer.  But let’s use this opportunity to discuss something more important.

Airbrushing Online Articles After the Fact

I borrowed that title from Jeff Nolan who discusses the case of The Washington Post materially changing an article after the fact, without notification:

It’s one thing to correct references or relevant facts but to materially change entire sections of an article is alarming and undermines the central argument that newspapers themselves make about why they are essential systems of record for society.

The record of an event is only changing as the timeline plays out and new facts and arguments emerge, which may serve to invalidate previous reporting and in that case should be noted as new content, not airbrushing of already published content. At the very least a record of corrections should append each online story when necessary rather than flagrant material editing of content done “under the cover of darkness”.

Newspapers must recognize that the public trust they cherish is at risk whenever they rewrite an article that is already published online.

I fully agree with Jeff, in fact, let’s just extend it to any form of online publication, including blogs.  For minor changes we can always use there is always good old strikethrough. Of course if you do it a lot your text becomes unreadable, so for more changes, the right approach is to indicate the change and list the previous version of the story.

But wait!  We already have the technology to automate this!  Wikis are known for full version control and trackability, any Wikipedia reader can follow how much-edited article took shape by clicking on previous releases.  The WordPress editor has for a while offered rolling back to previous releases – but that’s just for the blog author.

Here’s a simple proposal:

Make version control available to readers. I don’t mean the tiny edits while you shape up your thoughts.  There should be a check-mark for “major edit”, and if you click it, it should cause a “Previous releases of this story” link to appear in a prominent place, at the top or bottom of each article.

This would go a long mile toward improving blogs’ credibility (and yes, newspapers can do it, too).   Oh, and just to clarify: I’m discussing content change here.  The Forbes story is different, it was a mistake, and I fully agree it should be removed when (if) Forbes / AP wakes up. (Update: they did.)

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve )


LA Earthquake: Twitter Reports First – Again. Fake Video Caught.

Google thinks I am an earthquake expert simply because I pointed out Twitter was the first to report the recent earthquakes in Japan and China.

Today the same happened: Twitter was on fire with user reports of the Los Angeles earthquake 9 minutes before the first AP wire came out.

It’s an undeniable trend – but is it important?

I received some flak in comments to the previous two posts, for neglecting to mention that I was comparing apples to oranges.  New agencies have the responsibility to verify information and it takes time. Reliability over Speed.   Fair enough.  ReadWriteWeb asked the question: Did Twitter Really ‘Outshine’ the Mainstream Press?

The only thing Twitter does better than the traditional news is speed. It doesn’t do depth, it doesn’t do fact-checking, it doesn’t do real reporting. It does breaking news, and it does that very well — in many cases these days better than the mainstream press (in terms of how fast it breaks news).

Very well said, and I think we need both: speed and depth.   Ironically, MG Siegler’s post @ VentureBeat describing twitter’s power in such situations provided an example for the opposite by including what appeared to be the very first video footage of the LA quake.

I watched it without sound first, but was immediately suspicious:

I wonder what this video shows. It’s NOT the building shaking. The movement is too fast, and it’s inside the room, relative to the window frames  we see. It looks more like a camera quickly moved left and right.
If this was an indication of how the building moved, we’d see a lot less movement behind the window (inside) and a lot more outside.

It did not take long to get confirmation on Venturebeat:

Update 2: The 12seconds vid was fake, posted after the fact, a co-founder of 12seconds confirmed.

So there you have it.  People do take advantage of the relative naivete of social media and don’t hesitate to post fake news to gain 5 minutes of fame.   But that doesn’t undermine the importance of speed, which in some cases can provide early alerts and potentially save lives.  We need both.

Related posts: CNET, Twitter Blog, Valleywag, Brij’s One More Idea ,, LA Times blog, Live Digitally.


Re-blogging: The Difference Between Press and Bloggers

I don’t normally do this, but I figured if re-tweeting on Twitter is accepted, then re-blogging should be OK, too.smile_wink

Some of my fellow Enterprise Irregulars are at SAP’s European Conference, SAPPHIRE 08 in Berlin, and James Governor juxtaposed two photos taken there:

James leaves it to the reader to work out which group the bloggers are.smile_eyeroll


The Whole World Knows Microsoft Lost the Open XML Vote – Except the New York Times

Screenprint from today’s TechMeme:

Did MS Win or Lose? Of course by now we know they lost, so what’s wrong here? It’s not Techmeme’s fault, the article they linked here is dated today (Sept 4th), but when you actually look at it, it’s obvious that the Times published a day-old material which simply “expired” before publication.

It’s not everyday to see such obvious contradiction, but since TechMeme started to lean more heavily towards traditional media, it’s quite typical to see the same news twice: first by bloggers, who publish it on the weekend, as the news occur, then by the big papers two days later as journalists come back to work.

Food for thought, Gabe. (Who, incidentally is not this Gabe).

Update: While the NYT clearly just stumbled publishing old information, Microsoft’s reaction: Strong Global Support for Open XML as It Enters Final Phase of ISO Standards Process is clearly a showcase of doctoring the facts.

The results show that 51 ISO members, representing 74 percent of all qualified votes, stated their support for ratification of Open XML…

You have to read through a full page to find this little hint:

Although no date has been formally set, the final tally is likely to take place in March 2008. ISO/IEC requires that at least 75 percent of all “yes” or “no” votes (qualified votes) and at least two-thirds of “P” members that vote “yes” or “no” support ratification of a format in the Fast Track process.

It’s up to the reader to figure out what really happened, as nowhere in the full-page document does Microsoft mention they actually lost a vote. Confused

Update (9/5): Today’s New York Times correctly prints: Panel Rejects Microsoft’s Open Format but this is published as news, without any reference to the previous. conflicting article by the same journalist. Techmeme list it as new…

Related posts: Ars Technica, Channel 9, Computerworld,, Microsoft News Tracker, The Open Road,