Wednesday, February 25, 2009

SF Chronicle may shut down

Reuters reported today that, the “San Francisco Chronicle may shut down

Struggling with “devastating decline in advertising revenues and big losses” ($50M in 2008), The Chron’s publisher Hearst Corp. is now deciding to sell or shut down Northern California’s largest newspaper.

As a native San Franciscan, this sad story hits home with me personally:
My Dad Bill Rafter—a former Chronicle staffer and before that at the late San Francisco News (where my stepfather Kellogg Smith also worked as a copy editor when it was the SF News-Call Bulletin, before it became the San Francisco Examiner).

One of my dearest childhood memories was walking through the paper’s City Room with my Dad as he proudly introduced me to his press corps pals (including the iconic columnist Herb Caen and the photographer who snapped the flag raising at Iwo Jima: Joe Rosenthal).
The Smith-Coronas went clackety clack, phones jangled and cigar smoke was thick.

A world without newspapers is too tragic to contemplate. I hope that some miracle orbrilliant re-incarnation helps to save “The Voice of the West” and that the Chronicle won’t join Wikipedia’s list of “Defunct Newspapers of the United States

Friday, February 20, 2009

Top 30 Innovations of the Last 30 Years?

In commemoration of its 30th anniversary, PBS’s Nightly Business Report partnered with Knowledge@Wharton to create a list of the "Top 30 innovations" that have impacted our world and lives.The list is thought provoking for what’s included (heavy on developments in computing/communications/healthcare),what’s not included (economic and political changes)

The list is as follows, in order of importance:

  1. Internet, broadband, WWW (browser and html)

  2. PC/laptop computers

  3. Mobile phones

  4. E-mail

  5. DNA testing and sequencing/Human genome mapping

  6. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

  7. Microprocessors

  8. Fiber optics

  9. Office software (spreadsheets, word processors)

  10. Non-invasive laser/robotic surgery (laparoscopy)

  11. Open source software and services (e.g., Linux, Wikipedia)

  12. Light emitting diodes

  13. Liquid crystal display (LCD)

  14. GPS systems

  15. Online shopping/ecommerce/auctions (e.g., eBay)

  16. Media file compression (jpeg, mpeg, mp3)

  17. Microfinance

  18. Photovoltaic Solar Energy

  19. Large scale wind turbines

  20. Social networking via the Internet

  21. Graphic user interface (GUI)

  22. Digital photography/videography

  23. RFID and applications (e.g., EZ Pass)

  24. Genetically modified plants

  25. Bio fuels

  26. Bar codes and scanners

  27. ATMs

  28. Stents

  29. SRAM flash memory

  30. Anti retroviral treatment for AIDS

Read the entire write up at

Since we all differ in our individual interpretations of the concept of "innovation"--it's interesting to see what this project's 8 learned judges picked. Reading over the list reminded me of a one of my favorite New Yorker cartoons (above)

Beyond this summation of “innovations” two ambitious projects (not volunteering for them) would be to chronicle:

a) Top 30 developments (pro and con) in the world in the past 30 yrs (e.g. fall of communism, rise of warming, the interconnected world marketplace)

b) What were the top 30 innovations of the 30 yrs prior to 1979? How many are obsolete?

c) What will the next 30 yrs bring?


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't Tweet What You Eat-- it ain't worth SPIT

While Charlie Hash is only 19--- there's a reason he's called Mr. Blog Professional.
His posts are helpful tips for people who want to get more out of their blogs.

See Charlie's Ten Tips at

My suggestion for an 11th Twitter tip:
"Don't tweet what you eat"

Does anyone really care that someone just snarfed a slice of pizza)?
Use Twitter to communicate and connect with others on things that really matter.

I call those kinds of tweets "SPIT" (a combination of spam and Twitter).

Effective Social Media and PR

I’m a long-time fan and booster of Rhode Island-based Marketing Sherpa, whose research and how-to advice I’ve read and purchased for years.

Of particular interest is its just-published 2009 Social Media & PR Benchmark Guide
While everyone knows that social media is changing the world of PR, communications and online marketing— this is the first significant piece of research I’ve seen that provides a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the value of social media, tips and techniques, and survey results from 1,200+ marketers on their current and anticipated use of social media.

Excerpts from the Sherpa Social Media Marketing & PR: Benchmarks & Best Practices:

  • 48% of respondents said their expenditure on “social media” would increase in 2009.
  • 48% plan to increase spending on e-mailing to house lists--good news for e-mail tools vendors like Constant Contact.
  • 83% would cut back on Radio/TV ads, 60% plan to cut back on print ads.

  • 69% of those surveyed said they thought an external consultant with expertise in social media and PR would be the most effective resource to execute effective social media outreach (vs. in-house or using a conventional agency)

    I was amused to read two quotes in the Guide that closely paraphrase the description of my own view of modern communications (as embodied in the name of my own consultancy: INTRASTAND):

    1) Sherpa: “Social Media marketing and PR is the practice of facilitating a dialogue and sharing content between companies, influencers, prospects and customers”

    “When clients & those with whom they interact (press/analysts, partners, employees) "intrastand" one another-- relationships become intradependent. Everyone wins.”

    2) Sherpa: “The premise of social media and PR is engaging the consumer in a way that delivers mutual value.”

    Intrastand: “We help clients achieve "mutual advantage" with their Very Important Publics: media/analysts; customers/prospects; partners/public”

At 202 pages, the Sherpa Social Media report is a hefty tome.

Still at only $397 for the PDF version, $447 for a Print/PDF combo it’s a good value for anyone who wants to learn how social media will be effective in building brand and driving site traffic.

Check out the Exec Summary and decide for yourself.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

Ravit Lichtenberg has written an interesting piece "10 Ways Social Media Will Change in 2009" delivering his perspective of the status quo and what's likely ahead in social media.

Ravit notes that while everyone seemingly is looking to leverage the power of social media—“social media today is (sic) a pure mess: it has become a collection of countless features, tools, and applications fighting for a piece of the pie.”

John Naisbitt made his oft-quoted comment "we're drowning information yet starved for knowledge" in Megatrends, way back in back in 1982. If we were drowning then, where are we now?

Despite all the innovations in tagging, SEO, new tools, etc.-- locating content and reliable sources on topics that are highly relevant and personally important is getting more and more difficult. Twitter Tweets on what someone had for lunch are a waste of time. While Social Media enable transparent communications-- we still can't effectively separate the wheat from the chaff?

Companies seeking to leverage social media for benefits—shouldn’t confuse the technology of communications with the higher purposes of communications:
connection, exchange, alignment, and learning

Leave it to a poet to articulate this much better:

“Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
T.S. Eliot “Choruses from The Rock” (1934)