Monthly Archives: October 2008

Communication technology against Violence in British Stadium

White Hart Lane, Home of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

White Hart Lane, Home of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

Until the mid-eighties, violence has plagued football games in England.

Then, successive governments, the Football Association, clubs and fans got together to bring peace back to the terraces. Technology has been put to good use.

In the latest effort to stamp-out not only violence, but abusive language and chants, Tottenham Hotspur have set-up a SMS-system which allows fans to report unruly behaviour and language.

By sending a text message to 07766 553 225 anyone at White Hart Lane stadium can inform Control Room if they hear discriminatory language.

Click on the picture below for more details from the club.

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur

WBUR Social “tweet-up”

WBUR Social Media Group

Open House Thursday Oct 30th @ 6:30 PM

Location: 890 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA

Tentative Schedule:

Doors Open @ 6:30  PM

Ten minute meet & greet.


6:35: Welcome. Hashtags & other info. #wbursocial

6:40: Clint gives those interested a tour of the station

Those interested are welcome to join one of the following sessions @7:00 — 8:15

Journalism in a 2.0 World (Large Conference Room)

Facilitators: Robin Lubbock, Dan Kennedy

We’ll kick off this discussion with a brief overview of the local media-maker ecosystem. Whom should we be paying attention to and why?  How can/should professional journalists engage this community of  bloggers, Tweeters and other social/new media makers?  What opportunities and pitfalls does collaboration present each group?

We will conclude this session with an overview of & two other homepages. What are their comparative strengths & weaknesses?

Hype 2.0? (Cafeteria a.k.a. “The Event Room”)

Facilitators: Ken George, John Carroll, Adam Zand (tentative)

With old fashion media drawing numbers many a start-up would envy, and a fiscal climate that will usher Web 2.0 companies the way of,

how does one balance a healthy skepticism of social media with practical ways of mining its potential?

At 8:30 those interested will held over to the Sunset Grill at 916 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston to feast on food and more ideas.


John Carroll

John Carroll

John Carroll

Carroll, a regular WBUR commentator for more than 10 years prior to moving to WGBH-TV’s “Greater Boston” in the mid ’90s, will analyze electoral and print media during the presidential race, and following the election, he will dissect issues related to advertising, politics and culture.

Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy

Dan is an assistant professor at the Northeastern University School of Journalism. He writes for the Guardian (U.K.), CommonWealth Magazine and the Boston Phoenix, and is a regular panelist on WGBH-TV’s “Beat the Press,” hosted by Emily Rooney. E-mail him at da {dot} kennedy {at} neu {dot} edu.

Why most presentations fail.

One of the reasons why presentations fail is that presenters confuse the purpose of visual aids and notes.

See Why presentations fail on SlideShare.

Addendum to Joe the “plummer”

As mentioned below, “Joe the plumber”‘s website will experience a lot of hits.

the "Plummer" effect.

Perhaps, it might have done even better even the owner of had not been so strict with spelling.

Google trends records “Joe the Plummer” as being in the top 100 searches today.

The tags in the posting, will therefore reflect the mizpeld word as well.


Missed opprtunity for “Joe the plumber”‘s website.

Staying well away of political partisanship, it is interesting to note that someone has capitalised on the “Joe the plumber” popularity.

Of course, this will disappear in a week or two, in the meantime here is your “Joe the plumber” website at

Interestingly, a search on “” to find out to whom the URL belongs yielded this response:

The IP address from which you have visited the Network Solutions Registrar WHOIS
database is contained within a list of IP addresses that may have failed
to abide by Network Solutions’ WHOIS policy
. Failure to abide by this policy can
adversely impact our systems and servers, preventing the processing of
other WHOIS requests.

The phone number given in the Contact Us page bears a Texas, Amarillo area code (806) prefix (376).

The “Joe” everyone has been talking about is in fact Samuel J. Wurzelbacher of Ohio, not Texas.

Surely is experiencing a lot of traffic mostly outside of Amarillo. The question is, will the person who set-up the URL gain more from selling plumbing services, or would it have done better with featuring targeted commercials?

Expecting much traffic from this post, and avoiding the above-mentioned mistake, I promptly refer you to for public speaking, presentation skills, media training and career advancement services.

Email info AT mediacodex DOT com and enter “amarillo texas” as a promotional code for a free consulting session in Massachussets.

MIT – Chairman’s Salon



Date: Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Venue: MIT Museum in Cambridge

This by-invitation-only event is hosted by Dana Mead PhD ’67, the Chairman of the MIT Corporation.

Chairman’s Salon gathers MIT’s most exclusive group of Alumni at the MIT Museum in order to celebrate the successes of the Institute’s unparalleled world of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Featured guests will include Bob Metcalfe, Desh Deshpande, Brian Shin, Rod Brooks , Ken Zolot, Ann Whittaker, Alex Wissner-Gross, Larry Sass, Anjali Sastry, Tonio Buonassisi, and Brit d’Arbeloff.

From (mis)behaving markets to iconoclasm

From (mis)behaving markets to iconoclasm.

The surprise in the past few weeks is that people (professionals included) are surprised by financial crisis.

In a book titled “the (Mis)behavior of Markets” Benoit Mandelbrot demonstrated that crisis of this magnitude took place more often then even financial models assumed and that therefore, interest rates did not fully account for the effectively much higher level of risk.

Obviously, few people have read this book, but many more people read the Economist, the Financial Times, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. In the period 2002 to 2005, you will find countless articles warning about the impending crisis.

Two main arguments were described in those articles: house prices were growing far faster than wages and the economy in general and secondly, the United States’ relationship with its creditors was unsustainable (to simplify, how long can China lend money to the US so that in turn, this money will be used to buy Chinese goods?).

Yet, house-buyers, house-sellers, brokers, financiers, fund managers and politicians world-wide were mostly oblivious. Everybody was making money easily and nobody wanted to be left in the sidelines.

A new book by Gregory Berns titled “Iconoclast” makes the argument anew, that, people however intelligent and individualistic they think they are, behave like a school of fish.

I everybody is doing something, I should be doing it too. It simply costs one’s brain too much energy to think otherwise or to try to see things in a different way. At any rate, there seems to be safety in numbers. This works until it works, and like in the game “Lemmings” the entire tribe falls off the cliff.

So if you really want to make the most of this situation: now is the time to get a degree in real-estate, now is the time to set-up a private equity fund and take advantage of falling asset prices, now is the time to invest in financials and insurance companies; not in 2004 nor 2005 nor 2006, nor again, when the clouds will have dissipated.

Tracking “Murphy in the Morning”

Tracking "Murphy in the Morning"

Tracking "Murphy in the Morning".

“The Murphy in the Morning Show MAY have engaged in an illegal phone call during their show today. These allegations are being taken very seriously and we are launching an internal investigation into the matter. Until this matter is resolved we are suspending all the members of the Murphy in the Morning Show including all Murphy in the Morning Show content indefinitely. We hope to resolve this matter quickly and appreciate your patience during this investigation.

Bruce Wheeler
Vice President & General Manager of Dick Broadcasting    ”


The futility of the “The Netflix Prize”

“If you liked this book then you will like these other books”. If you are an Amazon user you probably could not avoid this, presumably, tailored recommendation.

Amazon and other, mostly e-commerce sites, allow users to grade the products they sell, usually on a scale from 1 to 5. From there, they try to forecast what you are most likely to purchase next, based on your and other people’s purchasing patterns.

The next step in the search for the ultimate oracle, is to find an algorythm that will forecast, as accurately as possible, your likes and dislikes.

Netflix, put-up a prize of $1,000,000 for anyone who will devise such an algorithm. In particular, the aim is to improve on the current ” CinematchSM ” software whose ” job is to predict whether someone will enjoy a movie based on how much they liked or disliked other movies. We [Netflix] use those predictions to make personal movie recommendations based on each customer’s unique tastes. And while Cinematch is doing pretty well, it can always be made better.”

This is most likely a futile pursuit as far as this particular endeavour is concerned.

There are at least four fundamental reasons as to why this is so.

1. Relative grading as opposed to absolute.

Look at your own grading behaviour. Let’s say that you think a film deserve a 4 stars. You then realise that it scores an average of 3 stars. Therefore, you will not give a 4 stars but a 5 stars vote, in order to skew the average.

Are you influenced by the existing rating of 3.5 ?

Are you influenced by the existing rating of 3.5 ?

2. Different people grade different features.

Consider a 007 film; let us say that you give it a 3 out of 5 stars. But what exactly is the “3” reflecting? It all depends on who you are.

If you are have been a fan since the 1960’s, your grade might reflect a relative judgement with respect to all 007 films. You rank them in your mind from 1 to 5 (presumably those with Sean Connery).

If, on the other hand, you are interested solely on the creative direction of the film, you might consider this 007 with respect to all other films you saw by this director.

There are countless features people can consider and their importance differs from one person to the next. Worse for forecasters, different characteristics can shift in their importance in the same person. For example, acting might be paramount in a film such as “The Remains of the Day” while less in “The Empire Strikes Back”.

3. One’s mood and feelings.

A final set of problem with trying to forecast grades, is that they are subject the individual’s mood at the time of grading.

Let us take the film “Under the Tuscan Sun for instance. A viewer might feel like the film was worth a 5 right after he watched it. However, this person does not immediately log in the rating. Then, this person has an argument with the significant other. By the time gets rated, it might may be a 1.

4. Opinion makers.

Other important events happen between watching the film and casting a rating. For instance, a chance conversation with your older brother who is an amateur film-critic and whose opinion you respect might turn what started as a 3 towards a 5 or a 1.

Other important factors might include the self-selected nature of the people who rate the film. Was it a good film but is only rated by people who cared about rating at that particular moment? How many potential ratings were not given and might they have had a significant impact?

In a Wired Magazine article, we read that “The benchmark Netflix uses for the contest is called root mean square error, or RMSE. Essentially, this measures the typical amount by which a prediction misses the actual score. When the competition began, Cinematch had an RMSE of 0.9525, which means that its predictions are typically off by about one point from users’ actual ratings. That’s not very impressive on a five-point scale: Cinematch might think you’re likely to rate a movie a 4, but you might rank it a 3 or a 5. To win the million, a team will have to make predictions accurate enough to lower that RMSE to 0.8572.”

There are simply too many relative, time-dependent, idiosyncratic variables to render this effort much more accurate than what it is. In other words, the software will have to know how one feels, what is the scale a person choses for this particular rating, the emotional state of mind and what conversations took place on regarding the film. Perhaps this is too tall of a challenge in the existing state of technology.

Thoughts on how to use social media.

Paul Gillin of poses the following situation:

Here’s a question I hear from marketers all the time: “We want to launch a corporate blog, but we don’t know how to go about it. Where should we start?”

His recommendations include:

  • Build customer community (blog, video, social network, private community, virtual world)
  • Counter negative publicity (blog, podcast, video, customer reviews)
  • Crisis management (blog, video, social network, virtual world)
  • Customer conversation (blog, social network, private community, virtual world)
  • Generate website traffic (blog, video, customer reviews)

Another way to look at Social Media, is that they are a complimentary tool to your communications and promotional arsenal.

I think social media are best used to create buzz and / or experiment new products and services.

For instance, if you are a radio station and are thinking of introducing a new show or segment, you might best test it with a few trusted followers using perhaps instant chat, twitter, utterli et cetera.

Then, once you get reasonable feedback you can migrate this to the second level of broadcasting: Blogs and newsletters for instance. These reach varied constituencies which are not necessarily core customers. They may allow you to make announcements that you wish to broadcast but without any fanfare.

It is at the stage that you may chose to start traditional forms of marketing and advertisement. If for some reason, the feedback you got from these experiments is inconclusive, you might go back to the drawing board.

Important Do’s and Don’t’s.

  • start with high overblown expectations
  • engage erratically (a lot one day and then nothing for a week)
  • fill-up with too much third party content
  • over-reach
  • expect too much at first, you need to gain trust and notoriety
  • put too much time and money up-front and pull the plug in a month

  • start small
  • increase your interactions in small, incremental steps
  • say why you are using this social media (if it’s just a me-too it might not be enough)
  • be dedicated, know who in your company will manage this and support that person
  • be candid, this is your chance to move away from the official corporate lingo
  • be reliable, it’s better to have few, but regular high-quality updates then many poor quality ones
  • find a core social media “friends” who have proven they can give constructive feedback
  • give, if possible, these “friends” a stake in what you are trying to promote: exclusive invitations and other sneak-peaks