My last blog focused on some general guidelines to protect our children online, here are some quick, concrete tips to keep them safe:
-- Make sure usernames/screen names/email addresses do not have any personally identifiable information
Stay away from initials, birthdates, hobbies, towns, graduation year, etc.
The smallest piece of identifiable information could lead a predator to you - remember they are highly motivated
--Don't link screen names to email addresses - if a child gets an email they tend to think it is okay, it's not. Reiterate that if they don't actually know the person, they are a stranger, regardless of how they contact them.
--Set up their buddy/friends list and regularly update and check them to ensure your kids are only interacting with people they actually know; this goes for their phone too.
--Don't post personal information - don't respond to requests from people OR companies
eMarketer found that 75% of children are willing to share personal information online about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services
--Keep the computer in a public part of the house
--Consider limiting the amount of time they can spend on their phone, iPod, iPad, computer, etc. to whatever you deem as reasonable.
--Regularly check their online surfing history - know exactly where they are going and talk to them about it, so they know you know.
--Use filtering software to prevent access from things you know are bad. Note: only 1/3 of households are using blocking or filtering software.
--Protect your computing resources
Use parental controls - check out Norton's family plan as an example of tools you can consider installing
Here's a list on security technologies (protection from viruses, bots, Trojans and other malware) you might want to consider
Note be sure to use software from a reputable source, otherwise you may be unwittingly downloading malware that can do more harm than good
Make sure it offers a wide range of protection - different attacks use different methods to infiltrate your computer and you want full coverage
--Follow good rules of thumb
Don't open anything (emails or attachments) from anyone you don't know
Don't open anything that looks a little too good to be true - it probably is
Make sure your email doesn't automatically open emails - check your settings
Kids will be kids; they will be curious, test boundaries, and do things that show less than stellar judgment. As parents, we try to guide, support and love them to keep them safe and on a productive path. Inevitably, our efforts collide- you've all seen the tween/teen TV dramas - the problem is in this digital age the opportunities for unhappy outcomes have grown.
This just means we have to redouble our efforts; we need to connect with our kids and give them the tools they need to navigate and stay safe both in the physical world and online one. From day one, we teach our kids to look both ways before crossing the street, to never take anything or go anywhere with strangers, to walk away from a fight, to speak up when someone is not being nice, to say no to drugs, etc. We need to also teach our kids to do the same things when they go online.
Sarah Sorensen is the author of The Sustainable Network: The Accidental Answer for a Troubled Planet. The Sustainable Network demonstrates how we can tackle challenges, ranging from energy conservation to economic and social innovation, using the global network -- of which the public Internet is just one piece. This book demystifies the power of the network, and issues a strong call to action.<br /><br clear="left"></div>We need to remove the idea that stuff online is "not real," or that it doesn't have consequences. We need to drill into them that they will be held accountable for what they do and say when they are online, just as they would be when they are at home or at school. Explain to them that they need to think before they post and they don't have a right to post whatever they want. For example, "sexting" or sending racy photos to your boy/girlfriend is not harmless, even if they are the same age as you; those messages can go everywhere and could be considered child pornography. Cyberbullying is a real problem, with real consequences - threatening someone online is just the same as threatening them on the playground.
Actually the online world opens up new ways for predators or bullys to get at their victims. Unlike the bully on the playground that your child is able to get away from when they go home, the cyberbully is able to follow your child wherever they are. They can send menacing texts to your child's phone, make hurtful comments on their Facebook page, take and post photos of them with their digital cameras, and pop up and threaten them as they interact in digital worlds and games (such as Gaia, Second Life and World of Warcraft).
We need to ensure they protect themselves; that they are aware of their surroundings and understand that they shouldn't trust anyone that they don't physically know. As I mentioned in a past blog, "Protecting Our Children Online", there are three guiding principles that can help kids stay safe:
1. Don't share any personal information
2. Remember that everyone is a stranger
3. Know there is no such thing as private
But, let's face it, even the best kids (and adults) make mistakes. It's inevitable. They get curious or drop their guard, or do something without thinking through all the consequences.
By the way there is new research that provides some insight to the question that most of us parents have asked, "what were you thinking?" - it turns out that children's brains (until their mid-20s) may not be as adept at thinking through the consequences of their actions because their brains process information differently than adults. (hmmm, what's my excuse?)
At these times, it's good to remember why kids go online in the first place. It may be they are looking to figure something out, want to fit in or belong, hope to be popular, or want to escape reality. The best thing we, as parents, can do is understand why our children are going online - are they researching for school, playing video games, chatting with their friends, exploring, etc.? We need to talk to them, get involved and know exactly what they are doing, so we can monitor their behavior and identify changes that might indicate something is wrong.
And sometimes, they find themselves in situations that they didn't intend to get into and are uncertain how to extract themselves from. At these times, we hope they turn to us, their parents, for help, so we can work through the problem together. However, they are often afraid to come to us because they:
1. Don't want to be restricted from using the computer - which may be their social lifeline
2. May not want to expose the offender (typically in cases of abuse, the victim has formed a relationship with the abuser, who has invested the time to gain their trust and be their "friend" - for a child, the average predator will talk to them for 4 to 6 months before approaching them for more)
3. Believe the threats of the offender that something bad will happen to them or their family if they tell
4. May fear punishment for their own bad behavior or participation the activity
5. Are embarrassed that they fell for the scam or were used in this way
Understanding why they may not approach a parent is important, so you can try to address these fears head on. Again, there is no substitution for ongoing communication; but research shows that only 15% of parents are "in the know" about their kids' social networking habits, and how these behaviors can lead to cyberbullying. So, talk to your kids about the dangers and look for changes in their behavior. Have they suddenly lost all interest in going online? Do they shun their phone after getting a few texts? Are they irritable or demonstrating big mood swings?
Offer them a safe environment where they participate in online activities. Make sure they know you are paying attention to what they are doing while online, and ensure they know they can confide in you and ask for your help the second something feels strange or uncomfortable. Apply the same good parenting skills and tactics that you would use in the physcial world to your child's activities in the online world to help keep them safe. And just as generations past, we should strive to ensure they have the tools they need to go out on their own and navigate the world; it's just that the world is a lot more connected now, presenting our children with both greater risks and possibilities.
On April 6th, a federal appeals court ruled that the F.C.C. did not have the authority to regulate how Internet service providers manage their network. At issue was Comcast's right to slow customer's access to the bandwidth intensive, file-sharing service BitTorrent. While they can now limit traffic that is overloading the network, Comcast was careful to say that it had changed its management policies and had no intention of doing so.
These comments were most likely to ease the minds of those who recognize the affect that this court ruling has on the F.C.C.'s authority to mandate "net neutrality." Advocates of net neutrality worry that this decision is going to give providers free reign to control what a user can and cannot access on the network.
It is this point that many of the media outlets focused on, turning this case into a potential watershed moment for watchdogs looking for unfair and biased treatment of traffic by Internet service providers. A single instance of seemingly preferential treatment of one type of content over another could end up causing a provider to lose the trust of their customers. It could also be reason enough for Congress to step in and explicitly grant the F.C.C. the authority to regulate.
As such, it is more important than ever for Internet service providers to be transparent in their actions to sustain customer loyalty. They need to make sure customers know how they plan to manage their networks and what to expect in order to build trust and a lasting relationship. Given that the national focus is on increasing Americans' access to high-speed Internet networks, anything seen to be contrary to achieving that goal, regardless of whether it is real or simply perceived, will have very negative connotations on the brand of that provider.
This is probably why Comcast's statement around the verdict was subdued and focused on the future: "Comcast remains committed to the F.C.C.'s existing open Internet principles, and we will continue to work constructively with this F.C.C. as it determines how best to increase broadband adoption and preserve an open and vibrant Internet."
Providers who want to allay customer fear and skepticism around their motives should make an extra effort to reaffirm their commitment to providing high-speed access and high-quality services. They should start to have an authentic, ongoing dialogue (that is threaded through everything from their Web and social media communications to policies and procedures) that explains the challenges associated with supporting all the different demands of high-bandwidth applications and exactly what they are doing or are going to do to meet these challenges. Only if customers trust that they are providing an equal opportunity service will providers be able to sustain their business without a lot of regulation.
Extending the use of computing devices is critical if we are to create more sustainable consumption. We can divert waste from landfill and reduce the energy it takes to extract materials and build new devices, if we can lengthen the life of the devices we already have or find new ways to use its components.
I think most of us try to recycle our devices and are happy to pass along those that have outgrown our needs. But what if its reuse poses a risk to you? Hard drives can pose such a risk and, as such, often have their lives and usefulness cut short.
What do you do with your hard drive, which often houses all of your intellectual property and sensitive information, when you are done with it? How do you make sure your information isn't found and used by someone else? Just deleting the information off of it doesn't mean it's gone, it is not too difficult to get the data back. (Something I am often thankful for when I delete a file by accident, but which opens up a huge risk when you really want to get rid of the information.) Even when your hard disk is corrupted or physically damaged, all is not lost (just do a quick search on hard disk recovery and you will find a whole host of sites and solutions that will help you recover the information).
But wouldn't it be more sustainable if we could extend the life of that device? What if there was a reliable way to permanently erase the data on it without having to shred the device? Just because the model is no longer of use to you, it is very likely it would suit the needs of someone else. We could divert that device from landfill for a little while longer. Then, because we have a way to erase the data, we could explore recycling and reusing the components to further reduce waste.
This is something that has been done with cell phones and copiers; they often receive an extended life in the hands of those who find an older model perfectly suitable. (I know I have donated my cell phone in the past; it's easy to <a href="http://charityguide.org/volunteer/fifteen/cell-phone-recycling.htm">search </a>to find organizations in your area who have needs.) But is this safe to do now?
In the past, phones were only used for voice calls - the data potentially exposed consisted of your phone book. Remove your SIM card and you could be fairly sure that future users would not find anything personal left on your phone. Today's smart phones have the computing power of many desktops; they are being used to conduct our business and personal lives. Ever search the Web? Take a photo? Check your bank account? Pay a bill? Read your email? Download a file? Think of all the data that is potentially on your smart phone stored on the hard drive that now sits on that phone... how do you make sure that it is gone when you are done with the phone? Does this mean we are back to destroying the device? Again, it would be great to know that we can reliably erase the data, so the device can be used by someone else.
Same thing with photocopiers; over the past five to seven years, most copiers are networked to a variety of computing devices and each have a hard drive that records all the information that is copied, printed, faxed or scanned. Since most organizations don't want to spend the capital to buy a copier they lease it from a provider (which also enables them to offloading the repairs and maintenance). When the lease is up, the copier provider will come, delete the data, and send it off to another customer. But we have already mentioned that simply deleting data doesn't mean it is gone. So these copiers can provide a wealth of information to those who know to look for it. Again, this doesn't make it a sustainable solution.
So what can you do? As an organization, you
Once the hard drive no longer poses a risk, it can be reused. The goal is to promote a more sustainable way to use technology, so we can reduce our impact and drive change on a global scale.
I believe strongly in the potential of the network - heck, I wrote a book about it - however, I also understand the same connections that can be used for good can also be used for bad. And the reality is they can be downright dangerous for our children, who can be bullied, stalked and targeted online.
How prevalent is it? The statistics are alarming. One in five teenagers in the US have received an unwanted sexual solicitation online acorrding to the Crimes Against Children Research Center Child pornography is one of the fastest growing businesses online. The National Crime Prevention Council suggests that more than half of American teens are exposed to some sort of <a href="http://www.cyberbullyalert.com/blog/2008/08/cyber-bullying-statistics-that-may-shock-you">cyberbullying</a> and the Kids Helpline found as many as 70% were harassed online.
Unfortunately, these statistics became more personal for me when I learned of a recent incident in our local middle school. And if you are thinking, "Well that's there, it's not happening in our school district," you may want to check with your city's police or even just search your local news; you will find these crimes can and are taking place everywhere. So what can you do?
As a parent, it's natural to want to remove the threats and simply shut down your children's access to the Internet. But are you really prepared to not only cut off access to their computer, but also their cell phone, digital camera, iTouch, video game consoles (Wii or PlayStation), etc.? Let's face it, we live in a digital age and the network is embedded in almost everything we do; so rather than ban it, we need to teach our children how to use it safely and effectively.
I think the following three principles are a good start. Every parent should make sure their kids:
And of course, the most important thing that our children need to know is that they can come to us, no matter what, and we will help them. As in the physical world, there is no substitute for being involved in their lives and that goes for their online activities. Make sure they know you are there and that should anything uncomfortable or threatening arise, you will support them.
Tomorrow, the F.C.C. is putting forth to Congress a 10-year plan focused on developing high-speed Internet access as the dominant communications network. Up for debate includes a recommendation for a subsidy for Internet providers to wire rural parts of the country, an auction of broadcast spectrum for wireless spectrum (the goal is to free up roughly 500 megahertz of spectrum, much of which would come from TV broadcasters, for future mobile broadband uses), and the development of a new universal set-top box that connects to the Internet and cable service.
The proposal includes reforms to the Universal Service Fund to focus on broadband access and affordability. It also call for a "digital literacy corps" to help unwired Americans learn online skills, and a recommendation for $12 billion to $16 billion for a nationwide public safety network that would connect police, fire departments and other first responders.
It strives to put a stake in the ground for standard broadband speeds, with the promise that the F.C.C. will begin assessing the speeds and costs of consumer broadband service. In conjunction, consumers will be encouraged to test the speed of their home Internet access through a new suite of online and mobile phone applications that will be released by the F.C.C. to see if they are getting the promised speeds for which they are paying.
This move by the F.C.C. comes on the heels of Google, who announced they would offer ultrahigh-speed Internet access in a few communities to showcase what's possible with faster broadband networks. This move by Google was seen as a prod in the direction now being taken by the F.C.C. to make sure that high-speed networks are truly available nationwide.
What this will do to the industry of network providers who are currently trying to carve out their place and create business models that will enable them justify the investments that need to be made to create this high-speed network reality is yet to be determined. But it is clear, this move by the F.C.C. will have an affect on public policy for years to come and definitely puts pressure on the network offerings of existing providers. Stay tuned. It is going to be an interesting journey; one that has the potential to bring the best platform we have for sustainable progress, change and action to us all.
This week, I spent some time at <a href="http://www.rsaconference.com/index.htm">RSA</a>, an event where security vendors and professionals connect. As I have mentioned in past <a href="http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2009/08/security-paramount-to-the-sust.html">blogs</a>, security is paramount to the sustainability of the network. If we are to leverage the network as a powerful tool for change, we need to be able to trust that the information and resources on it are secure.
As recent headlines have demonstrated, attacks on the network are ever-present; 2009 saw <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-10454870-83.html">malware and social networking attacks surge</a> (spam carrying malware was averaging 3 billion each day by the end of the year) and <a href="http://securitywatch.eweek.com/mobile_malware/sexy_new_mobile_botnet_on_the_move.html">increasingly sophisticated mobile attacks </a>emerge. Just as in the physical world, there are individuals motivated by greed, power and personal gain (the <a href="http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/news/article/0,289142,sid14_gci1389667,00.html">rise </a>and <a href="http://www.federalnewsradio.com/?sid=1891919&nid=19">co-opting </a>of the <a href="http://www.krebsonsecurity.com/2010/02/zeus-attack-spoofs-nsa-targets-gov-and-mil/">Zeus attacks</a>, which originally targeted financial institutions, is just one example - to date it has infected about 74,000 PCs, and that's just one attack), and there are those who are looking to achieve <a href="http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Strange-News/Mahmoud-Ahmadinejad-Iranian-Presidents-Website-Hacked-With-Message-Mentioning-Michael-Jackson/Article/201001115514791">political</a> or ideological ends.
But, as the show floor and conference discusssions demonstrated, there are a lot of technologies out there designed to help organizations combat and mitigate against all these attacks. There are literally thousands of companies, focused on everything from user and data authentication to spyware and cloud security. So why is it that even though there is an answer or feature out there for almost every threat or need, organizations are still struggling to protect the network? I think it's because security is more of a control and data management problem than a feature-set issue.
I heard Palo Alto Networks talk about controlling exactly what should and should not be allowed on the network, based on the user and their role, the application and exactly what they are trying to do. This approach makes sense because with a focus on control, you can eliminate a lot of the risks right off the bat. You can restrict peer to peer traffic and file sharing applications that can be used by attackers to gain access to the network (through malware/trojans) and all its resources. The key is to have this level of control over every aspect of your network, from the edge to the core and within the hosts themselves, and then, for what is allowed, look for threats and mitigate attacks within that "allowed" traffic.
This gets us to the data management problem; a typical network's security infrastructure contains multiple different devices, each with different management consoles, each producing a lot of logs that can contain thousands of pieces of information. Linking all this data and making sense of it all requires a lot of manpower and expertise. Oh, and don't forget that physical security measures, which can also provide clues and contain indicators of risks, are kept almost entirely separate from the network security activities (typically they are run by two different groups with very little connection, though I did see a <a href="http://www.alertenterprise.com/">company</a> that was trying bridge that gap).
I think it is telling that it took Google and a host of other companies targeted by attackers originitating in China <a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jMvzWYB0BvmRgL2ZI0Y4b9I-vBOg">MONTHS</a> to figure out exactly what happened (in fact, I believe the investigation is still going on now). So, under the cover of the data deluge that network administrators are under from all these different security devices, attackers can infiltrate a network and operate undetected.
All of the calls to better manage business information and increase the value derived from insights and analysis of that information (take a look at last week's Economist's special report) need to be applied to network security. Organizations need a singular, meaningful view into the network that helps them identify in real-time what is going on and any threats to that network. To date, I haven't seen big advances on this front, sure there are the large, generic platforms offered by the likes of HP and IBM and security-specific management platforms from folks such as ArcSight. I would love to hear from you if you have seen promise in this area. Right now, I think we need more innovation; we need truly comprehensive visibility and the ability to easily and actively control and manage of the network. The security and ultimate sustainability of the network as a platform for change is reliant on it.
Information is more accessible than ever, and more content is being created on a daily basis than existed in the world 100 years ago. In fact, three years ago, IBM predicted that by 2010 the amount of digital information on the Internet would be doubling every 11 hours! I am not sure if we are there yet, but that milestone is likely not that far off.
As recent as the middle of last century it was reasonable to assume that a scientist or doctor was generally knowledgeable about any type of science or medicine; they could stay apprised of new discoveries, theories or applications in all different fields of study through regular reading of scientific or medical journals. Now, due to the sheer volume of information and advances occurring around the world, scientists and doctors are only able to keep up with their area of study or specialization, and it is unreasonable to think they would have a level of depth and greater understanding in all areas outside of their particular field.
<div style="border-top: thin gray solid; border-bottom: thin gray solid; padding: 20px; margin: 20px 2px; width: 46em;"><a href="http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596157036/"><img style="float: left; border: none;padding-right: 10px;" src="http://cdn.oreilly.com/oreilly/promos/9780596157036thumb.jpg" /></a>Sarah Sorensen is the author of <a href="http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596157036/">The Sustainable Network: The Accidental Answer for a Troubled Planet</a>.<br /><br />The Sustainable Network demonstrates how we can tackle challenges, ranging from energy conservation to economic and social innovation, using the global network -- of which the public Internet is just one piece. This book demystifies the power of the network, and issues a strong call to action.<br /><br clear="left"></div>
So, how do we navigate this digital information world? How do we try to maintain a real-time understanding of all the things that are important to us? Well, this is where the services and news feeds offered by the Twitters, and Facebooks, and Googles of the world come into play. Through short bursts of information, we are able to stay up to date on our friends and family, local and global communities, activities of interest, etc. Through innovative use of technology and the myriad of applications and services that are delivered by the network, we are constantly finding new and useful ways to search, synthesize and package information, distribute it to interested parties and foster a dialogue that can be global in scope.
But is this enough? As we struggle to stay on top of everything that crosses our paths, are we missing opportunities to get more out of the information? Are we becoming too much of a "right now" society? Are we able to delve into an issue at length or stick with a topic that doesn't have a quick pithy answer?
My fear is that in our quest for quick information, we may be losing a vital tool in books that have helped us for generations formulate new thoughts, prod and poke at existing conventions, think through the universe's toughest questions and open our eyes to the possibilities. The book is one of the few written word formats that enables topics to be explored and expanded upon in hundreds of pages. As the journalist Edward P. Morgan said, "A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy."
But, it seems its value in this Digital Age is diminished, as the reading of books has been been on a steady decline for decades. Back in 1998, <a href="http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:FEoN1mMBvCcJ:news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/talking_point/newsid_82000/82321.asp+reading+is+dead&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us">surveysin the U.K.</a> showed that "more than one in seven adults had not read a book in the last year and more than one in three has never visited their local library." A survey in 2007, found <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-08-21-reading_N.htm">one in four people read no books during a year</a>. Folks like Steve Jobs have even been <a href="http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/the-passion-of-steve-jobs/#more-829">quoted</a> as saying "people don't read anymore."
But, as I previously noted, the amount of content that is created and consumed on a daily basis online continues to grow at an astronomical rate. So perhaps it is the format that is dead? Perhaps the book as we know it is too antiquated, explaining why it's not drawing our attention as it once did. There are simply too many types of information competing for our time. (Fortune had an interesting cover article on the Future of Reading that's worth checking out.)
This is one reason why the iPad has excited my attention - it could be a road back to the written word of books. As an author, I am interested in the idea that extra features or updates to <a href="http://techbus.safaribooksonline.com/9780596806699">my book </a> could keep the content current and readers engaged on the topic. It can go beyond the search and bookmarking features (which are very cool by the way) offered for smaller form factors, such as the iPhone, and really start to create a more dynamic and interactive book reading experience.
We have seen news sites incorporate video and other rich media applicaitons into their reporting and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/education/23tufts.html?th&emc=th">students embed video clips </a>into their college application submissions, so it's not a stretch to think that we will soon be seeing commentary from the author or <a href="http://www.safaribooksonline.com/events/2010/SustainableNetwork.html">upcoming webcasts or talks</a> on topics that relate to the book. I can imagine playing games or taking polls or viewing movie clips for the stories we are reading (though in my mind the movie version is often a shadow of what the imagination can conjure.)
I am for anything that will help us reinvent books and inspire a love of reading. Because without books, there is the fear that everyone will know just a little about everything, and have a good understanding about nothing; we will be experts in our lives, but leave thoughts, opinions and worlds outside our immediate needs unexplored.
With new technologies, such as the iPad, I see that the future of books can be relevant and interactive, helping us once again get lost in a good story or cut through all the quick snippets of information to delve into something in a meaningful way. It has to be, because the content of books is what will help us sustain the deep thinking and in-depth analysis that is required to achieve those "aha" moments that revolutionize the way we live and are needed to solve our biggest problems.
The revelry and rituals of Super Bowl Sunday seem to grow each year. The game takes on a life of its own, bringing unlikely viewers together on the couch to eat, commiserate and cheer for several hours.
It's because the Super Bowl is more than a game; even if you are not a sports fan there's the pregame show, national anthem, halftime show and let's not forget the advertisements that keep people watching.This year, a record number of people - Neilsen Co estimated 106.5 million - tuned in to watch the game from around the world. There are a lot of theories as to why it made viewership history (you can check out the <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/02/08/why-did-super-bowl-2010-become-the-most-watched-tv-program-ever/">Wall Street Journal's take</a>), but I would like to suggest the expanded reach and interest in the game is due, in part, to the many ways in which it is integrated into our digital lives.
Technology is playing a critical role in sports, both improving the experience and extending the life of any particular event. In football (American), the players, teams and league use a broad array of technology to enhance the game. Fans can connect with their favorite teams through their online communities; they can play digital games as their favorite players and participate in Fantasy Football leagues with people from around the globe. All of which serve to increase the interest and affinity viewers have for the game, creating ties to players, organizations and the league that fuel multibillion dollar apparel and merchandising industries.
In addition, technology can be found throughout football's operations, from the scouting teams to the post-game analysis. Just think of the wealth of information these players and coaches have at their fingertips that can be linked and analyzed a hundred different ways to try to increase competitiveness and gain a mental edge in the game. There are even sensors embedded in the helmets that wirelessly transmit impact data on hits to the head (up to 2000 a year for some players!) to the sidelines to help team doctors monitor the players as they run up and down the field. The list goes on...
Then there is the Super Bowl - the crowning jewel of the season - it dominates all types of conversations for weeks if you count all the before and after game/event analysis, and the reality is that many of those dialogues are taking place online. The rich media experiences that are now an integral part of the event create opportunities for businesses and brands to connect and develop relationships with their target audiences. It's the online chatter and buzz, with friends and fans sharing the information and resources that are most relevant to their groups, that are driving sustainable revenue opportunities and mindshare.
In case you missed anything during the game, you can easily go online and get play-by-play coverage, as well as play-by-play commentary. You can watch and review virtually everything to do with the game, from the amazing catches to the half time show. You can <a href="http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/06/super-bowl-ads-2010-watch-vote-embed.html">vote for your favorite commercials </a>, as fan favorites get a viral marketing life that helps support the business case for spending millions for a 30 second TV spot.
Some advertisers are<a href="http://www.nesn.com/2010/02/is-social-media-to-blame-for-mediocre-super-bowl-ads-.html"> skipping the TV </a>altogether, going straight for interactive social media campaigns. This year, Pepsi, a traditionally stalwart Super Bowl advertiser (spending $142 million on 10 Super Bowl spots over the last 10 years), opted out in favor of using Facebook, Twitter, Ustream and iPhone apps to reach out and try to engage customers with their <a href="http://www.facebook.com/refresheverything?v=app_4949752878">"Refresh Everything"</a> campaign. A strategy that seems to be working for them - Neilsen Co reported that PepsiCo got 21.6 percent of the chatter about Super Bowl advertisers over the last two months - way more than their rival, Coca-Cola, received.
And don't forget the money games around the big game </a>- namely the <a href="http://www.esquire.com/the-side/feature/super-bowl-prop-bets-2010">betting industry </a>that pulls in big bucks by enticing people to bet on virtually anything, and I do mean anything, related to the game. What influence will technology have? Well, soon, if <a href="http://www.cantorgaming.com/">Cantor Gaming </a>has its way, gamblers won't be relegated to sitting at the sports book to place bets, they will be able to do it from anywhere on the casino's premise and will have access to real-time odds. (Actually, if they had their way, you would be able to do it from your mobile phone!)
There is also the money around merchandising for the big game, which has taken on many new dimensions, as retailers scour blogs, chat rooms and Google searches to try to identify where fan loyalties lie and then use the Internet to reach out to those fans to sell them team merchandise and memorabilia (<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/08/business/media/08link.html?th&emc=th">check out an interesting article in the New York Times</a>), filling a gap and extending the reach of typically regional retail coverage.
So, while I watched the game yesterday, I was also watching all the activity around the game and thinking about what the future will bring. CBS didn't get its way and the NFL didn't allow <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/163440/cbs_pushes_nfl_to_stream_super_bowl_2010_online.html">thegame to be streamed live in its entirety</a>online, but it is inevitable. And when that happens, it will add yet another dimension to the game. In short, we are just starting to tap into the opportunities presented by the big game and can expect entertainment events, such as the Super Bowl, in the digital age to get bigger and the reach broader year after year.
I have been disconnected, without a working computer for a day and a half! You are probably wondering, "how did that happen?" "how did you survive?" "what did you do?" and honestly, I hardly know. It's been a blur. But one thing is crystal clear - a simple upgrade is ANYTHING but simple!
Based on the recommendation of a couple of friends, who had just gotten new computers and were talking up some of the useability features of the Windows 7 operating system, I sat down at my computer and decided I would do the upgrade from XP. The upgrade packet had been sitting on my desk for the last couple weeks and I decided it was time to commit.
Little did I know what I was committing to! Like many a blind date, where you hold out hope for Mr. Right, but open the door to a guy wearing too tight pants and smelling slightly of dirty socks, I found myself facing a situation fraught with mind-numbing discourse and disappointment. I had tried to do everything right - I had backed up all my files, I had all the software ready to load, I had all the product keys in hand - I was feeling good, maybe even a little cocky! Then I opened the DVD drive, and just like opening the door for that blind date, it was all downhill from there.
Time stood still - only it didn't and I lost a day and a half of productivity! That's a lot for anyone. The Strategy Group conducted a study a couple years ago where more than 32% of respondents (representing companies with 100 or more employees) stated they had zero tolerance for network downtime. They estimated the average cost incurred when something went wrong with the network was $3 million per day, with 10% of the group estimating it would likely cost them more than $10 million in damages and lost revenue per day. Infonetics Research estimated that large businesses lose an average of 3.6 percent in annual revenue due to network downtime each year.
On my own small scale I could relate - I felt the pain. If Windows 7 buys me an extra 10 minutes a day of productivity, due to it's ease of use, I am going to still need 72 business days to get that time back! So what did I do wrong?
I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person. I am fairly technically conversant - I have even passed a few IT/networking certification courses. I can follow instructions and have basic common sense. (I feel a need to include these last attributes to ease the minds of the support folks who asked me questions like "are you sure it's turned on?" or "are any of the lights blinking?") So, why couldn't I get my computer,applications and network up and running in a reasonable amount of time?
I am not trying to shift blame, but I don't think it is me. And I don't think it's specific to any one particular OS. I think it is the overarching complexity associated with all the software and hardware that we increasingly relying on to run our lives, businesses and governments. Think of all the different vendors that make up our extended technology ecosystem - oh, and don't forget the open source folks. Then think of all the different products each one offers and all the different versions of each of those products that exist out there. One change to one of those things is enough to throw everything else out of whack. It's enough to make your head spin and start some serious finger pointing.
Specifically, I heard, "sorry, it's not the hardware, that's a software issue," "those applications are compatible, but not those versions," "yes, we sold you that package and it did include that application, but we can't do anything (unless you want to pay us $$$), so you will have to talk to the individual application vendor to get a specific solution..."
Each individual application or services is working on being "simple to use," but when you put them all together they don't always play nice. Anyone in IT will tell you that while everything is "interoperable" it doesn't mean its going to work together, at least right away. Which explains, why 70% of IT's time is spent on simply keeping things going; simply keeping up with the changes that occur during regular course of business, along with necessary patches and security upgrades, to make sure everything is working. There has to be an easier way!
Is it a pie in the sky dream to wish that vendors would come together and truly provide solutions with a simple evolution path that makes it easy for anyone, including me, to upgrade my system? Are there simply too many vendors? Or is it that things are changing too quickly? Will it be something else entirely that will bring us simplicity? Should we be focused on using hosted or managed services in the cloud to take much of the complexity out of the hands of end users? What are your thoughts? I would love to know.
I have faith that simplicity is on the horizon because it has to be... It's the only way we will get what we need from our technological resources to sustain innovation, efficiencies and meaningful change on a worldwide scale. It has to be simple for everyone, so everyone can use the resources and take part. The alternatives, like Mr. Wrong, are just not palatable.