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No Amount Of Paid Lobbyist Dollars Can Prevent Content Revolution

Brian Solis checked in with a guest post on TechCrunch this morning regarding the disclosure debate.

To be clear, it’s a thoughtful post and I don’t disagree with anything materially in what was said. So why write about this? I find the entire conversation to be 100% completely unnecessary.

First a story. When I was a teenager, I saw in ad in the back of a magazine, it stated to send $1 and a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to receive information on a tried and proven money making business strategy. It sounded good so I sent it in. A few weeks later I got a my envelope in the mail. It contained a small note that contained a message like this:

A proven way to make money:

– Open a post office box

– Place a small ad in the back of a magazine asking for $1 and a SASE to “learn a proven way to make money”

– Put your $1 bills in the bank and send notes like this one

Yes, I was scammed. But being scammed was an important event in making me a more careful and better consumer. I learned. It was necessary for me to grow. Did the magazine know the ad was a scam? Probably. Did that stop them from publishing it? No. Consumers need to judge each situation for themselves based on the data available and make the best decision.

So Dave why is this potential FTC regulation unnecessary (and possibly quite harmful)?

  1. The content revolution is not well enough defined to regulate it – It’s changing all of the time, if businesses and individuals still have trouble understanding it’s implications on our society. How can a group of elder statespeople in our government know what is right? Simple answer. They can’t. As traditional media loses relevancy/power content will increasingly be created by the masses. It’s a simple fact. Get used to it, in the long run, it may actually lead to the removal of the abuse of monopoly power.
  2. Traditional advertising is not generally marked in the manner the FTC is suggesting – When you watch TV, ADVERTISING is not in giant letters on the commercial during the program is it? No. It’s not on outdoor billboards. It’s not in newspapers, magazines or the majority of web site banner ads. Why? Because it’s obvious to those who look closely. Creating a double standard here is just plain silly and it’s insulting to people’s intelligence.
  3. Previous FTC measures have proven to be massive failures – The FTC instituted the Do Not Call List Registry and the CAN-SPAM  Act several years ago. Yet I get numerous unsolicited commercial calls to numbers I’ve registered on the list. I get tons of spam from email lists that I have NEVER signed up for on a daily basis. Regulation without enforcement results in selective usage of the law. This is not good and can be abused on both sides. The FTC has a proven history of failure and should go fix it’s previous messes before creating unnecessary new ones.
  4. Social media platforms should do everything possible to prevent fraudulent usages – I see tons of fraudulent Twitter users emerging daily. Twitter should be creating validation of each and every user which would lead to an immediate reduction in questionable activity. Why aren’t they? Because it would put holes and raise questions about Twitter’s “growth story” and that with no revenue model in sight would lead to lower valuations and less money being pumped into the company. Twitter has a responsibility here and I don’t see it doing everything it can to eliminate questionable activity on the platforms. If the social media platforms acted responsibly – unnecessary legislation could be avoided.
  5. The traditional advertising industry is apparently using lobby influence dollars to try to maintain it’s declining monopoly power via regulation – Content is taking over the economy as search allows people to find it and social media networks allow it’s distribution.  This is similar to how the printing press once revolutionized content distribution. We are living in something like this again now.  Yes there will be pain. But regulations in the middle of the content revolution will hinder commerce and slow the process of replacing business models that are no longer highly relevant. Do we legislate against fuel efficient vehicles in favor of gas guzzlers? No, of course we don’t – why create unnecessary legislation that harms new forms of efficiency? yes, this really is this unnecessary. 
  6. “All Marketers Are Liars” – This famous book by Seth Godin indicates that deceptive advertising has always been a part of society and likely always will be. This is NOT new. Don’t we respect people enough to make their own judgments? I do. Why then act like it’s new? It’s not.

Look at the facts of history, the proposed FTC regulations will solve nothing and do nothing besides place a greater burden on commerce in an already struggling economy. We can prevent this grave mistake. Now let’s go do it.

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eComXpo is October 9,10,11, 2007

Chicagoland’s very own eComXpo is October 9,10,11, 2007. You can join the fun and learning from anywhere in the world though!

eComXpo is the premier virtual Internet Marketing conference that is FREE to attend. I’ve also had the honor of speaking there previously. It’s a great resource for learning Internet marketing concepts and networking. Register now.

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An Example of the World’s Data Crisis

The World Trade Center had one zip code, 10048. Five years later after their destruction, mail of all kinds arrives there daily! It’s an all too sad and vivid reminder of the crisis in our society with businesses not putting priority on cleaning data. This happens every day with catalogs sent to people who have moved or are now deceased.

In this case it’s inexcusable because it’s all one zip code that would be easy to surpress: 10048.

Whether it’s mail, e-mail, web pages, web 2.0 social networks and/or social media, the value creation foundation starts with data integrity. To build the superior ideas of the future, this area will play a pivotal role. Unfortunately, all too many people do not properly value data integrity or value not been blessed enough to be immersed in a culture who is obsessed with it as I have been in the past.

Consider whether you have a good enterprise data strategy before you launch your next project!   

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Email crisis!!!

Yahoo! and Gmail both need to put work into their e-mail software. I’ve outlined this in previous posts.

Yesterday was the last straw though.  My Yahoo! webmail lets spam through that it shouldn’t – all the time – while classifying real email as spam. Yet yesterday I was told that an email from a relatively new gmail account that I sent was classified as spam by a Yahoo! Mail account I sent it to. Gmail lets some spam through to my Inbox, while other e-mails not only haven’t made it to Inbox, they didn’t even go to the spam folder. Then inappropriately classifies one of my shared domain servers as spam.   

Alright enough! How in the world is is anyone supposed to communicate in a reliable fashion? Maybe you guys should have some people work on fixing this stuff?

It’s a serious problem whether you are in London, New York, San Francisco or Singapore. Regardless of what portal you apply, no matter what your job or career.

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Southwest Props for Customer Listening – Kinda Sorta

Everyone has heard the rumors about Southwest moving to assigned seating. They gave me the impression that they were clearly listening this morning for a moment or two.

I was sent an e-mail asking me to vote on the issue (Including using my frequent flyer number to create integrity) – though the questions were not detailed and there was no comment box option. It’s clear that they are looking at a few seating options.

OK, Dave, what could they have done better? Well, for one while they sent me the e-mail the poll is not mentioned anywhere on their blog at this time and it should be. Secondly, they should have made the poll results transparent to the voter afterwards so they got the feeling their opinion matters.  But overall, props for taking the time to ask!

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Online E-mail Service Reliability Needs Improvement

At present, I have 4 web-based e-mail accounts, Google’s Gmail, Microsoft’s Hotmail/, Yahoo! Mail and my University of Chicago Graduate School of Business “Email4Life” account.

I can now discuss the issue without being accused of favoritism or bias because all four of the organizations above have now done this recently. This is the issue of e-mail reliability and making large changes in the live environment and ignoring the issues of a continuous and positive user experience is a disturbing trend. All of the above providers have had large outages and/or rollbacks to previous versions in the past month. This is not optimal and should not become the “norm”.

I’d like to ask program managers to please consider the following going forward:
1) Reliability of service is paramount and should not be sacrificed
2) Sacrificing long-standing features in new versions is not a good idea
3) Communicating and explaining the feature upgrades transparently is encouraged
4) Asking for user feedback on new features is encouraged
5) If the application operates more slowly using Ajax than it did before, please optimize it before implementing

I would hope that these organizations would understand the potential attrition and retention implications of actions such as these and change their future actions before it adversely affects them.

I’d like to share a glimpse at the top items on my wish list for improvements:
– I love the conversation bundling feature, though there are times when I would like to unbundle a conversation and adding the ability to do this would be helpful
– Automatic spell checking (the new Hotmail/ Beta has spell check integrated as you type – this should become the best practice)
– In, restoration of the radio buttons to complete actions on multiple e-mails at once is necessary
– Stability of needs to be a priority, I switched back to Hotmail for now (you get kudos for the feedback form – though an acknowledgment that shows someone read it would be confidence inspiring)
Yahoo! Mail
– In the new version, restoration of the radio buttons to complete actions on multiple e-mails at once is necessary
– Automatic spellchecking (the new Hotmail/ Beta has spell check integrated as you type – this should become the best practice)
– In the new version, I’d like it to look and feel more like the old Yahoo! Mail – e-mail me if you’d like more detail
University of Chicago
– Build an understanding that Email4life is a critical alumni networking tool and treat it as such
– Communicate clearly with all members of the community and act on their feedback in an accountable manner; In summary, providers need to fully consider the user experience when making changes in their offerings
Do other people have other suggestions or thoughts on this issue?