Brandwashing and Privacy: A book review of Digital Destiny: New media and the future of democracy – On Data privacy day ..

Today is Data privacy day and hence an appropriate day to write this post.

As I mentioned in a previous post FTC complaint against Mobile marketing – An analysis , I have been reading the book Digital destiny by Jeff Chester with some interest. The book was an interesting read because it is not the usual blurb that many other books provide i.e. it offers a genuinely different perspective. It reminds me of a strategist from a Mobile Network Operator who mentioned that they read my blog(Open Gardens ) regularly within their organization because it provides a different perspective from one which the consultants/ media often feed it. In that sense, I recommend you read the book Digital Destiny. You may agree or disagree with some of it’s insights but it certainly makes you think. It is also well researched , for instance – pages 210 to 274 are ‘references’, which is good to see.

Although I have called this post as a ‘Book review’, I will focus only on one specific aspect of the book i.e. impact of media and brands(maybe I will do other blogs about different elements later). However, I am not qualified to discuss some areas of the book (ex chapters on the Powell doctrine etc). So, it will always be a narrow review. I also believe that the ideas raised in this book will gain in prominence on account of the new changes at policy level and the recession (which has caused us to question many of our institutions and the status Quo)

Finally, the review is based on my thoughts and insights to the ideas presented in the book – so I hope it contributes to the conversation i.e. I have listed some key ideas and then added my thoughts to these ideas – thereby adding to the analysis.

Brandwashing:

The book uses a term called ‘Brandwashing’, which indicates that most of the latest technology is driven by brands and the interests of the brands are not necessarily aligned with the interests of the customer. Hence, the notion that ‘We need brands and brands need us’ has to be tempered with the basic reality that the primary purpose of Brands is to sell. As media becomes rich and complex, brands seek to engage with us and to measure that engagement for maximising their revenue. Hence, a customer advocacy is needed to look after the interests of the people. This relates especially to the privacy domain.

Data and privacy/trust are two sides of the same coin. Advertisers need a lot of data to make their advertising more personalised (and by extension, to claim more money from the companies who use their advertising), but the acquiring of the data needs the customer to give up their privacy rights in the interests of the advertiser.

Convergence

Consider the emphasis on ‘convergence’. If the media and advertisers were to indeed ‘join the dots’ between the various information elements left by us i.e. cookie crumbs of information in different media, then advertising becomes powerful and personalised. This benefits the advertiser especially in a converged media scenario(where the same provider owns the TV, landline, mobile subscriptions etc) – but this could lead to some questionable behaviour which could be currently legal but may soon be regulated. It could also lead to consumer backlash

I can explain a scenario as below:

I am a fan of the rock group ZZ Top . This has been on my blog (OpenGardens) for years. Now, consider this scenario. Many of the TV companies are exploring ways to ‘personalise’ TV advertising to the home. For instance, they seek to gain viewing preferences from set top boxes and other avenues and then (in an extreme scenario), to tailor the advertising to each home.

The question is: Which data elements can be used to tailor this advertising?

Consider the ZZ Top data element which can be obtained from an RSS feed from my blog. Now it is easy to combine three sets of data: The home address and my name which the Cable company has along with the RSS feed from my blog(which ties to my name) and the phone book/voter registration(as a confirmation of my address). Knowing these elements, the Cable TV can then ‘personalise’ the advertisement to tailor specifically to me i.e. show me an advertisement of the next ZZ Top concert in the commercial break on the TV/Cable.

Presumably, this makes the advertiser ‘happy’ since they are ‘personalising’ the advertisement to me – and I could even ‘engage’ with it by pressing a ‘Buy’ button(An advertising utopia!).

On the other hand, it could be seen a gross invasion of privacy and questionable ‘Big brother’ tactics. This ‘personalization and engagement’ could be made progressively worse in future based on the abundant availability of different datasets available to advertisers – all of which could be user to co-relate data elements from different data sets to gain new insights about us to ‘sell’ to us.

You could call this ‘Micropersuasion’ and indeed it raises some questions about the ethics of advertisements and engagement (although none of this behaviour would be seen to be illegal).

It also(in my mind) raises a genuine spectre of consumer backlash i.e. if I were to see many such ZZ Top ads, I would know that my TV is watching me and I would take action(such as change channel providers).

Government

The overall theme of Jeff Chester’s book is that advertisers will push the envelope when it comes to feeding us their advertisements at the expense of privacy. Governments will also follow suit. I have been speaking of this issue before(Policy for the cloud Cloud computing, Policy, Privacy and empowering the user ) so I will not cover this aspect in detail here. Governments need to be involved in two ways: Creation of regulation that benefits consumers in addition to the advertisers especially in relation to new areas where regulation is sparse and consumers can be potentially exploited. Secondly, ensuring that the privacy rights of individuals are protected in the light of ever increasing encroachments from brands and advertisers.

At one level, we have laws such as the data protection laws in the UK. However, at another level, governments can be a part of the problem for instance the proposed law on ‘Data sharing’ in the UK.

Under the guise of ‘mass exchange of data can offer some benefits’(to advertisers and governments!), the UK government is proposing legislation (source the Telegraph web site) where data held by the police, the NHS, schools, the Inland Revenue, local councils and the DVLA could all end up in private hands, according to Privacy International. At the same time, information gathered by companies including hotel registrations, bank details and telecommunications data could be transferred to the Government as part of the provisions of the Coroner’s and Justice Bill, it is claimed. The campaign group admits the “mass exchange of personal information has the potential to deliver some benefit”

Targeting minorities and ethnic groups

Yet another grey area is targeting minorities and ethnic groups. Legally, there is no law that prevents the targeting of specific ethnic groups by advertisers. In fact, it can be profitable to do so as per the benefits from the ad network JumpTap which predicted that Hispanic-centric campaigns would quadruple this year, with revenue increasing at least 20% in the segment

There may be indeed nothing wrong in selling Hispanic oriented content, music etc targeting a specific demographic – but change the model slightly and you get some serious privacy concerns. For instance, South Asian population is genetically susceptible to Diabetes. Does this mean that Diabetes medication advertisements should be targeted to South Asians in the UK? Again, this is not too difficult to do using current technology and increasing convergence and data availability.

Where do we draw the line?

For many of us who travel to the United states, we see drug companies advertising medication on Television. This is illegal in many countries – especially in Europe. The message from the advertisements seems to be that ‘Call your General practitioner(GP) and ask him to recommend our drugs’. Broadcasting drug company advertisements on Television raise the ethical issue of the advertising company influencing the doctor’s judgement for commercial reasons(selling their products). In many countries, this is an ethical question and under regulatory scrutiny.

Pushing the boundaries – Consumer kids

Yet another area is protection of minors especially in an era dominated by Mobile and social networking.

Social networks, mobile and other emerging mediums offer the possibility of pushing the boundaries of advertising to target kids. Again, this practise is not illegal(yet!) but it is certainly morally questionable.

As per the Guardian, the book Consumer kids introduces a case study: seven-year-old Sarah, who has been recruited through Dubit.com to act as a brand ambassador for Mattel and promote her Barbie MP3 player to schoolfriends. In exchange for keeping the sought-after shiny pink gadget, her job description includes creating a fansite where she blogs about the product, taking pictures of her sales missions and posting them back to Dubit, where she is rewarded.

Impulse purchasing

As more and more mobile devices are able to purchase goods and services, extending the above discussion, we enter into the realm of the ethics of impulse purchasing. Impulse purchasing is not un-ethical in itself. Supermarkets for instance regularly encourage impulse purchases though product placements.

However, with a mobile device though, new problems could arise.

Consider the example of the phone ‘reminding’ you to buy a related product. This would be based on ‘opt-in’ so it’s not SPAM. So far, so good. At worst a minor irritation – at best a useful recommendation.

Now extend this further. Knowing the person, object they are looking at(based on location – for example they are standing in front of a car show room) and their credit history(available on the Web), can we ‘sell’ a ‘One click’ loan? – to ‘engage’ with the person and ‘encourage’ them to buy the car?

Legally and technologically it is not banned. However, morally and ethically it is dubious. Note that all this precise engagement and personalization can be enabled by co-relating different datasets

Can advertising dictate content?

To what extent does advertising dictate content? It is an intriguing question and most media channels will deny that their content is influenced by advertising. However, there are indicators that this may be the case based on the limited and advertising led range of content. For instance, advertisers would favour entertainment led content since it places the viewer in a more receptive mood to buy in contrast to the more serious documentary based content(which does not)

Profiles

The question of profiles is also interesting and raises some questions.

For instance consider the abstract of the following patent filed by Google(source search engine journal)

Results based personalization of advertisements in a search engine, was filed yesterday by Google and is described in the abstract as : Personalized advertisements are provided to a user using a search engine to obtain documents relevant to a search query. The advertisements are personalized in response to a search profile that is derived from personalized search results. The search results are personalized based on a user profile of the user providing the query. The user profile describes interests of the user, and can be derived from a variety of sources, including prior search queries, prior search results, expressed interests, demographic, geographic, psychographic, and activity information.

Such a profile would appear to be recording all our activities in cyberspace and tying them individually to us(to be used for the purposes of advertising). This practise does raise privacy concerns

On the other side are anonymised profiles which seek to anonymise personal data and then create ‘templates’ of user behaviour which may be used to predict future behaviour based on past behaviour. For instance, it may be used to identify in advance who will Churn from a social network. In this case, rather than getting an individual profile, we get audience segments. Audience segments are not tied to individuals(of course in a very small segment – for example a segment of One – they could be)

What about the mobile platform?

Here I add my own insights(i.e. not from Jeff Chester’s book)

The mobile operators generally have a good reputation for managing data and preventing misuse from advertisers. Misleading promotions like Crazy Frog ringtone in the UK were not created by Telecom Operators but rather by Mobile marketing companies.

Certainly, most Operators take privacy seriously

Over time, Operators and the industry will face new challenges they will work with new forms of advertising as I have indicated in the discussion above.

Whatever the direction we choose, I believe that ‘mobile’ due to it’s unique, personalised nature will have to go beyond ‘Opt-in’ and may need higher standards beyond statutory regulation based on moral and ethical integrity with a view to protect consumer interests

The future of privacy

The future of privacy will lie in customer empowerment. I have mentioned some of the mechanisms before in the blog FTC complaint against Mobile marketing – An analysis and they include

a) Anonymization

b) Revocation

c) Vendor relationship management and

d) Full disclosure

Conclusions

The book raised some interesting questions for me and did cause me to question the mantra of free, engagement, brands benefiting society etc.

Perhaps I had also been brandwashed!

But in any case, I expect that the issues raised will be increasingly an important part of the debate going forward. For marketers, the temptation to treat social media as a ‘channel’ is strong along with the desire to retrofit the new world of communication to the familiar world of Brands, traffic, audiences, growth etc. However, this is not in the consumer’s interest.

The pendulum of legislation will shift from an emphasis on brands to empowering the consumer .. and I think that discussion is just beginning.

The book again is Digital destiny: New media and the future of democracy

Bebo sale? Excellent analysis from Mike Butcher .. – what happens when you confuse a social network for a TV channel ..

This is excellent analysis from Mike Butcher of techcrunch. I give some insights from this long article which I read fully and found extremely useful and a link at the end ..

1) What advertising agencies wanted was in simple terms, where the value lay. And that’s exactly what Shields did.

2) “Shields was extremley really good at getting the slightly dim media buying agencies to automatically tell their clients that they just had to be on Bebo.”

3) It would be fair to say that many advertising agencies then – and even to some extent even now – don’t have a clue about the Web.

4) Media agencies found other social networks at the time far more complex to deal with. But “dealing with Bebo was very similar to traditional online buys. They got into agencies easily because of that. They just pitched exactly what you wanted to hear: audience, gowth, traffic, costs, and branding/textlinks packages. Simple.”

5) But in particular, Bebo did very well targeting the completely Web-clueless TV planning agencies, largely responsible for buying TV shows, not running the ROI numbers on a PPC web campaign.

6) Bebo was pitched as a kind of new-era TV network. The creation of the Kate Modern series. The partnership with media companies. All of it was cleverly designed to pull fat, undiscriminating ad budgets out of TV agencies.

7) Thus, once the agencies had been coaxed into singing the praises of Bebo to clients, brands starting to join in with the choir. The bandwagon started rolling. Bebo went on a media-savvy PR offensive the like of which has rarely been seen form a tech started.

8) Should Bebo be blamed? My agency contact thinks not. “I don;t blame Bebo as much as the agencies who don’t know how to engage with Bebo users, and made bad decisions. We are now moving away from a walled garden in social networks anyway. You don’t just have to be on one social network in the way we thought we did two years ago.”

9) They say: “Bebo was great at the time but no we are dissapointed because socnets are not about sending loads of taffic to a profile page. At the time it was fine, but people are now dissapointed. You don’t get ‘friended’ much as a brand. It’s not just about being inside one socnet but about being everywhere.”

10) Now, no-one is saying that Bebo lied about its figures. It’s merely that the people who were singing its praises just prior to the sale – the agencies, the media and the brands – did not have any kind of handle on Bebo’s key metrics like dwell time, engagement, demographics, you name it. So effectively AOL bought it for its agency and brand relationships, not the metrics, thinking that the metrics would get sorted out by Bebo’s growth.

11) A more obvious reason AOL is contemplating a Bebo sale is that it’s main business model has clearly switched to niche editorial sites, not social networks. Niche editorial is a direct driver for decent relationships with advertisers to offer close conversation with a core user group. It means you need to be really good at managing a portfolio of niches across a broad spectrum.

12) This month AOL launched MediaGlow, a formal business unit to organise the 75 sites in its publishing portfolio, which will grow to over 100 in the coming year.

A Year Later, AOL Is Contemplating A Bebo Sale

SPAM text messages growing out of control in UAE – why is this not more common?

Hello all

See below. My question is: not SPAM itself but why does this not occur more often?

i.e. It should be easy even to ‘generate’ mobile numbers from a program and spam them. Even if mobile numbers are leaked(sold) as this article seems to suggest – all you have is the number(no more details about the person). So

a) Why dont spammers target more mobile devices?(even by autogeneration)

b) How do Operators protect themselves?

c) Why is not the Etisalat scenario more common? for instance I almost never recollect getting a spam message

d) Does this imply that the Operator(Etisalat) has sold the database OR has the database been hacked? Neither of the two scenarios are good

kind rgds

Ajit

From wireless duniya – SPAM text messages growing our of control in UAE

Mobile phone subscribers in the UAE say spam text messages are growing out of control and it is time to clamp down on them, as questions are raised as to how marketing companies get hold of databases with over a million numbers.

These messages are extremely irritating and annoying as they are unsolicited.

Mobile subscribers and marketing executives say that while the rise of SMS marketing is a cause of subscriber frustration, the boiling point is often reached when a glitch in the system causes one subscriber to receive the same message up to 200 times.

Most of those complaining about spam messages have been etisalat subscribers. The UAE’s second telecom company du is relatively new and marketing companies have not got hold of du databases yet.

Spam text messages are great business for advertising companies and their clients. Clients can be sure they reach their targets directly, and advertising companies can make “a killing” on one mass text message.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said in a statement that it is “against the law for the licensed telecom operators in the UAE to either sell mobile number databases without the permission and clear approval paperwork of the number holder, or send unsolicited promotional text messages on behalf of a third party”

The dark side of brands – Brands are using legal loopholes to market their products to web-savvy children, a new book reveals

consumer kids.JPG

Brands are using legal loopholes to market their products to web-savvy children, a new book Consumer Kids: How Big Business Is Grooming Our Children for Profit by Ed Mayo and Agnes Nairn reveals

I have touched on this issue before .. FTC complaint against Mobile marketing – An analysis

As an industry, we have to address these issues and go beyond what is the statutory minimum – especially in relation to Mobile and Social media else we cannot avoid the regulation! As the father of an extremely tech savvy five year old, this is an issue that affects many of us.

The growing significance of policy bloggers and their impact on social/policy change

The growing significance of policy bloggers

I have been thinking more about blogging and its impact on policy and social change. There is an interesting research paper called “Getting the Word Out”: Policy Bloggers Use Their Soap Box to Make Change Laura McKenna Ramapo College of New Jersey – Which is worth reading if you are interested in this issue.

I have always been interested in impact of impact of technology (especially social media and mobility) to bring about social change and a change in public policy. For instance my blog about Africa (July 2005) Mobile Internet will do more for Africa than Live 8 shows how empowering people through technology can bring about a positive change to society.

The present time offers us a unique opportunity to leverage these ideas considering the emphasis of the current USA administration on openness, transparency and in the use of the Internet and social media to make a difference to democracy.

Many people and organizations I know are working in this space from different perspectives. For instance, researchers like Valerie Frissen and her team also do some interesting work in this space for the EU as part of IPTS The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) – European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC). (and I have been privileged to be invited to attend their workshops). I have also been invited to speak at a number of events organised by the EIF and more recently by Internet Education Foundation – both of which offer interesting ideas into the cross Atlantic policy thinking

I see a greater role for such initiatives and ideas going forward.

While traditional media will continue to play a role, its impact will decline – (for instance falling newspaper circulations). Irrespective of the role of traditional media in future, traditional media has never covered niche topics well. This presents an opportunity for blogosphere – specifically policy bloggers as I describe below

The role of ‘citizen’s journalism’ has received a lot of – less so the role of policy bloggers.

Citizen’s journalism is concerned with “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information,

In contrast, policy bloggers differ from citizen’s journalism in that they are narrowly concerned with understanding some issues in great depth. They are often already involved in the space itself(for instance they could be doing PhD research on the subject). Hence, they are knowledgeable and are primarily concerned with getting their ideas/views out and / or getting feedback on those ideas(for instance for ongoing research)

Some more ideas and thoughts on policy bloggers

a) As I mentioned, they may be already involved in the subject matter as part of their work(ex research)

b) The landscape as I see it comprises of three classes of policy bloggers: Corporate policy bloggers, Academic researchers and others who have an interest

c) Policy bloggers are not ‘political bloggers’ i.e. they are concerned primarily with a narrow but in-depth analysis of a specific area. They are not concerned with picketing your local MP for an issue for instance

d) I think policy bloggers will have a political ethos. For instance, my personal libertarian, pro business / pro capitalism / pro human rights bias comes through in my posts. I am also pro-technology and try to take a pragmatic view of Openness. This bias will be reflected in the overall coverage for any blogger.

e) Policy bloggers have a unique window of opportunity based on their personal contacts and expertise in narrow sectors at the present time.

f) Many mainstream bloggers will also cover policy as part of their existing discussion but I suspect that the niche bloggers will gain greater mindshare purely on the basis of their detailed coverage of the

g) Corporate bloggers will always be limited by their company viewpoint. But there are some initial attempts by Cisco , Google, Verizon

What is missing? – Opportunity for bloggers

Being involved in discussions at workshops/events on both sides of the Atlantic, here are some thoughts

a) Bloggers are likely to play a key role in influencing policy in future depending on how much leverage they get

b) I believe that due to the nature of the topics, people who already have a good grasp of the issues and can communicate them to people will be interesting to watch

c) There is too much complexity in current policy/academic discussions- there is a need for simplicity

d) Initiatives like e-government largely did not take off because they were seen to be too complex. I don’t see policy blogging as e-government – in the sense that I see it as people covering narrow niche sectors

e) Certainly, there is a need to clarify and expand the discussion. For instance, I identified three categories – Corporate, academic and other. At the moment academic institutions do some great work – but it needs to be simplified. There is also a need to include a much wider set of people and to capture their inputs. Many discussions are framed too narrowly and the views are often may ignore views from outliers

Extending the definition of Open Gardens ..

The OpenGardens blog started off as a technology blog covering the Telecoms/walled garden scenario and open systems (open source, open standards and open platforms) in general. This will always be a key focus of the blog. But I have also been interested in the wider application of technology and open systems to technology especially Social media, Mobile and the Web.

Considering my existing work in this space both with technology and policy, I certainly can add some unique insights to The evolution of Open: From Open systems to Open Government -a topic that I have been thinking/blogging for a while now. Beyond that, it would be interesting to network – link to bloggers who are in this space. For instance, I understand nothing of Green issues – but there must a range of very good bloggers contributing to the discussion online that I can link to at least.

Cross Atlantic policy issues related to technology i.e. lessons learnt from Europe to USA and vice versa have also been of interest considering the work I have been doing recently. There is much to learn from cross pollination of ideas. For instance, here we have a much greater emphasis on the Internet of things . In contrast, in the USA, broadband and social media have a much greater emphasis.

The goal overall is to decentralise and simplify the discussion and also to provide great content and unique insights

Here are some interesting links. I will be tidying them up soon.

However, what I really want to do is to know bloggers by issue .. that would really create an interesting discussion.

I can cover some issues but I see the blog linking out to others who cover more specialised issues(for instance Green policy)

1) 8 Principles of Open Government Data http://public.resource.org/8_principles.html

2) Benchmarking e-government in web 2.0 http://egov20.wordpress.com/

3) Dave Fletcher\’s Government and Technology Weblog, v. 2.0 http://davidfletcher.blogspot.com/

4) Candi on content http://candioncontent.blogspot.com/

5) http://www.edparsons.com/

6) http://www.mysociety.org/

7) The Connected Republic http://theconnectedrepublic.org/

8) Innovating Government http://blog.gartner.com/blog/government.php

9) Whitehall Webby – digital media in government http://whitehallwebby.com/

10) http://www.egovblog.com/

11) http://europa-eu-audience.typepad.com/en/

12) http://www.idealgovernment.com/index.php/blog/index/

13) http://change.gov/newsroom/blog/

14) http://www.epractice.eu/community/pubserv20

15) http://www.designingforcivilsociety.org/

16) http://www.europeanideasnetwork.com/

17) http://jbarrat.blogspot.com/

18) http://governing.typepad.com/13thfloor/

19) http://www.stephensonstrategies.com/

20) http://www.politechbot.com/

21) http://blog.diverdiver.com/

22) http://generationshift.blogspot.com/

23) http://www.johnhudson.me.uk/about/

24) http://simondickson.wordpress.com/

25) http://www.govloop.com

26) http://www.iampublicservice.org

27) http://rprjournalblog.wordpress.com/archive/mckenna/

For instance, consider Candi on content which says that

This blog is aimed at government web managers and others (like me) who are passionate about improving the way government serves citizens through the internet. I managed a U.S. government website for 10 years. Now happily retired, I’m passing along some of my experiences and ideas through this blog. Agree or not, I hope my posts make you think about ways to make government communications practices better. For RSS feeds, go to http://feeds.feedburner.com/CandiOnContent.

Certainly an interesting viewpoint and perspective. I believe more such voices will contribute to the discussion going forward.

Comments welcome. Any suggestions on interesting blogs to follow also welcome.

Capitalism ..

what a wonderful quote spotted by Tim O Reilly on twitter

“Our founders loved capitalism but they believed to their core that capitalism had to serve the democracy and not the other way around.”

DEC Gaza appeal ..

DEC gaza appeal.JPG

I donated to the DEC Gaza appeal – and whatever your political affiliations, I think this is a good initiative since it benefits the people. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) was formed in 1963 and is an umbrella organisation for 13 humanitarian aid agencies. see their website for more details.

Some of the reasons for the appeal as per their web site as below

After an 18 month blockade of Gaza and three weeks of heavy shelling the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is now completely overwhelming.

Thousands of people are struggling to survive with many having lost their homes and most down to their last supplies of food and only limited amounts of fresh drinking water.

* Just £25 can buy warm blankets for 8 children

* Just £50 can provide a Food parcel for a family for one month

* Electricity – supplies to Gaza are erratic at best with 75% of the area cut off completely. There is a significant public health risk arising out of the almost collapse of Gaza’s water and sewage system, the running of which is dependent on electricity.

* Water – Around 500,000 people are without running water with 37% of Gaza’s water wells not working effectively and fuel reserves depleted due to restrictions on access and damage to pipes.

* At least 412 Children have been killed and 1,855 injured

* 60% of the population is living in poverty

* 1.1 million people are dependent upon aid to survive.

* Health – The capacity of the health system has been significantly reduced due to the damage of at least 21 clinics. Ten primary health care clinics are functioning as emergency clinics and hospitals and intensive care units continue to treat the mass casualties.

Ovi strategy being played out – Nokia shipped 500 thousand 5800 XpressMusics in a month

5800 XpressMusic.JPG

Nokia shipped 500 thousand 5800 XpressMusics in a month

Very impressive especially coming on the back of a meltdown in Zune sales by $100 million

This is great news for Nokia and exactly what is needed. I believe that the Ovi strategy is yet to be fully played out i.e. the sever side (Ovi/ Download!) is there. The supporting devices are coming out 5800 is the first one.

The big gap as I see it is a disconnect to Download! Platform. It’s far better to unite these two things (Ovi – for content and Download! for apps) and brand it in a more consumer friendly way.

Image source: Mobile crunch

Why should any government promote a private company’s brand (Java) under the guise of Open source?

I find this very curious indeed …

Scott Mc Nealy claims that the new US government has asked him to write a paper on Open source ..

He claims Java is open sourced ..

Whatever the status of Java as open source(and that’s debatable), If SUN claims Java is open sourced and that Scott Mc Nealy is writing a paper on Open source, then it is a marketing coup for Sun ..

Why?

Because the Java brand is firmly controlled by Sun .. To the extent that ‘JAVA’ is Sun’s stock ticker

In effect, Sun seems to be getting the Obama campaign to ‘market’ its own brand(and stock) under the guise of ‘open source’

Scott Mc Nealy says ..

“Open source does not require you to pay a penny to Microsoft or IBM or Oracle or any proprietary vendor any money.”

Yes .. But why build up brand royalties for Sun?

Jonathan Schwartz, president and CEO of Sun says when announcing JAVA as sun’s stock ticker (emphasis mine) : “More than a billion people across the globe, representing nearly every demographic, market and industry, rely upon Java’s security, innovation and value to connect them with opportunity. That awareness positions Sun, and now our investor base, for the future.”

This actually does a dis-service for the real Open source folk ..

I would be curious to read this white paper – if indeed that’s true – since any mention of Java – and open source is fundamentally a brand building exercise ..

Update from Andreas of visionmobile

I have a lot of respect for Andreas’s views .. and he sends the following update

NOTE:

a) when Andreas says below ‘which they won’t-it’s GPL’ – it raises a secondary question of which open source license Java phone ME is released – which I did not address for now.

b) Also, I suspect same cetification issues also exist in the enterprise side ie J2EE certification also needs you to pay money to Sun – which should be contrasted to the ‘not a penny’ statement above .. :)

Comments from Andreas as below:

There are two different concepts here:

- The cup & steam trademark and the ‘Java’ name that Sun has trademarked

- and the OSI-approved licenses that Sun has released some of its products under (Java phone ME is GPL-licensed).

So, yes, Java can be called Open source but also if an OEM wants to use the open source phone ME for their phone (which they won’t-it’s GPL) they have to pass the TCK tests in order to call their product Java, in which case they have to pay Sun money.

Clever marketing..

Policy bloggers network / carnival ..

I met David Osimo yesterday in Brussels and it’s interesting to see that there are now a few bloggers who cover policy. This area has always been of interest to me and there is an informal network of policy bloggers developing across both sides of the Atlantic (and beyond). This is an interesting time to be thinking of the policy implications for government and society in general considering the ideas of Open Government. I have covered this issue in a number of places for instance

Building a government for the 21st century

FTC complaint against Mobile marketing – An analysis

Europe in a digital world and Web 3.0 – The European Union vision

I also follow the work of US based bloggers like Andrew Krzmarzick and many from USA like Andrew do likewise with my work

I was considering of creating a network like a carnival of the mobilists – i.e. an informal, decentralised network of bloggers worldwide interested in this issue.

Anyone else interested in this?

Or can you suggest blogs who could be interested in the wider implications of technology to policy and government?

I helped create a very successful / open network at Oxford University for mobile applications and in my view – networks start small – often with a coffee or with a blog post and then it is a lot like ‘herding cats’ as I said in my keynote at forumoxford ie you create an ecosystem, let the best ideas flourish and keep the ‘admin’ to the minimum

Blog Carnivals benefit bloggers immensely – and there are many around – we hope we can create one.

What is a blog carnival?

A blog carnival can be compared to a real life carnival – which goes from site(blog) to site(blog) every week – amongst a set of blogs which are related

An example explains this best:

Suppose Ajit, Simon and John each have blogs in this a space

Now, on ‘week one’ supposing the carnival is on Simon’s blog on a specific date(Monday).

The cutoff date is Sunday night before the date

On that day, we all submit one entry to Simon

Simon chooses the best entries edits it and creates a blog post as a

synopsis for the best thinking and links to the posts(see examples

below)

Everyone else then links back to Simon’s blog

The next week, the process repeats at someone else’s blog

This simple activity has a number of unique advantages

A). Blogging is long tail and incestuous. By that I mean it matters more that your blogs are followed within your own peer group than in general blogosphere by Joe public. A carnival creates a simple – decentralised community ie a virtual network of blogs. Entries linked by a common theme

B) every participant is motivated. They get back links. They get peer visibility. They get blog traffic

C) it is an open ecosystem. Anyone can join at any time – there is no compulsion to post every week. As long as there is enough of an ecosystem – we are fine ie enough of good entries for a given week(or maybe even for a fortnight)

D) It becomes best of breed since people will submit their best entries to get best exposure

E) It leverages the way google works. From a google perspective, not all inbound links are equal. Ideally the site linking in matters a lot. Not only should it have a high page rank(ideally) but it should be on the same subject. Hence, sites selling cars which link to auto insurance sites is good but sites selling organic food linking to Motor insurance is not (and thats why ‘link farms’ don’t work)

g) It raises exposure in one’s peer group – which is what most people want rather than to Joe Public i.e. wider blogosphere

Example:

Carnival of the mobilists

Hosted at Xen Mendelsshon’s blog

http://www.xellular.net/

My entry to Xen’s carnival

http://opengardensblog.futuretext.com/archives/2008/10/lbs_for_179_vic.html

Xens Carnival entry(synopsis of all entries_

http://www.xellular.net/2008/10/i-havent-writte.html

My back link entry to Xen’s carnival entry(others also link back to Xen)

http://opengardensblog.futuretext.com/archives/2008/10/carnival_of_the_45.html

main site

http://mobili.st/

Any questions welcome ..