Posts tagged ‘United States’

December 14, 2011

How Social Media Is Ruining Our Minds [Infographic] | Geekosystem

by Mark E.

There’s no doubt about it, social media has drastically changed the way we, as humans, interact with each other. The question is, though, is it changing the way, or destroying the way? This infographic, curiously made by the folks at Assisted Living Today, suggests that social networking is shortening our attention spans and rewiring our brains and brings some science along to back it up. It’s worth questioning though, if we’re living in a world where things are making us have a shorter attention span, is that a bad thing? I mean, maybe having a short attention span was only bad before it started becoming a necessity. The world is changing, guys. Maybe we’re just changing with it.

TL;DR It’s an infographic about why you just read the TL;DR instead of the paragraph above.

(Assisted Living Today via Social Times)

Relevant to your interests

What? Huh? I wasn’t paying attention.

December 7, 2011

St. Louis Doesn’t Suck-Forbes

by Mark E.

I’ve lived a somewhat nomadic existence in my adult life, moving from Richmond to Miami to New Orleans to New York to Raleigh to St. Petersburg.  Six years ago my wife and I reluctantly moved to St. Louis but very quickly found it to be a great place to live, work, and raise small people.

St. Louis has its problems like anywhere else, but there’s a lot to like: good schools, nice parks, great public institutions, competitive sports teams, strong corporate base, the world’s largest mustache (Gateway Arch), and plenty of places that make delicious beer.

The world’s largest mustache – St. Louis’ Gateway Arch

In the last two weeks, however, two stories have taken pot shots at my adopted hometown.

First there was a farcical piece in The Onion that the Labor Department reported 4 million new U.S. jobs in October, “though government officials hastened to add that the new positions are all located in the St. Louis…” I love The Onion but it essentially delivers the underlying message that people outside of “The Lou” think it’s not so hot.

Then there was something a bit uglier.  Yahoo! Health reported St. Louis to be among the 10 saddest cities in America based on suicide and unemployment rates, the percentage of households that use antidepressants, and other factors.

Oye gevault!

I’ve got to believe St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, the Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA), or St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley can’t like pieces like these.

The trouble being that nearly every political or civic entity in the region working to fix metro-St. Louis’ reputation is doing it on their own, in a silo, with little coordination with other partners. There have been some quiet efforts to galvanize private sector forces, but nothing has materialized primarily due to the political infighting that seemingly lies beneath the surface.

Why do you think that despite being a relatively safe place to live, St. Louis crime statistics are listed by the FBI as being four times higher than the national average and the city is routinely noted as one of America’s most dangerous? It’s because as the city and surrounding county battle for turf, they refuse to do what most other major metro areas do in combining regional crime statistics which leads to better rankings.

Thank you Mssrs. Slay and Dooley.

So with all of this in mind, as my holiday gift to St. Louis, I’m going to outline a strategy for altering St. Louis’ reputation on the national landscape.

St. Louis Doesn’t Suck

Let’s begin with the foundation — one that’s a bit edgy and disrupts the same conservative Midwestern sensibilities that caused the city to foolishly pass on hosting Red Bull’s popular Flugtag event a few years back.

You see, despite a recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch report citing that the city attracted more young people than it lost for the first time in eons, the city has a long way to go in drawing the younger workforce that leading edge employers crave. And as my partner Brian Cross wrote on his blog, natives are still looking elsewhere for post-graduate jobs.

After all, a recent Stanford or Univ. of Miami graduate doesn’t really care if St. Louis is “Perfectly Centered. Remarkably Connected.” They want to live and work somewhere that has a thriving downtown with a great night life and is perceived to be progressive.

Which brings us to the St. Louis Doesn’t Suck campaign, focusing on delivering four key messages that support any thriving metro area:

  • St. Louis has affordable housing: According to the Cost of Living Index Calculator, greater St. Louis has the lowest cost of living among the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas for 2010.
  • St. Louis has a collection of outstanding education resources:The cities of Clayton and Ladue have two of the finest and well-funded public school systems in the U.S., there is a nice collection of high ranking private and parochial schools, and a several leading colleges including Washington University — regularly ranked in the top 10 nationally.
    Danforth Plant Science Center
  • St. Louis has a strong employment base: Did you know there are more plant scientists in the St. Louis region than any other concentrated area in the world? We do a great job telling each other that here — just not the outside world. But thanks to the likes of Monsanto, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and a host of mid-size and smaller plant science related entities in the region — and the fact that the city is located within 500 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. corn crop — St. Louis is arguably the center of plant science research and innovation worldwide.  Add that to the fact the region is also home to 21 of the Fortune 1000 companies with leading employers like Anheuser-Busch/InBev, Peabody Energy, Emerson Electric, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Boeing, Mastercard, Nestle-Purina, and Build-A-Bear — and the case is easy that there are good jobs to be had.
  • St. Louis has rich cultural resources: Let’s start with the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals and the team’s fine downtown ballpark. Then there’s one of the top ranked zoos in the U.S. that also happens to be free of charge to enter, a symphony that is highly respected worldwide, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S., a very healthy and diverse collection of restaurants, tremendous live music venues, acclaimed art and history museums as well as a City Museum that is beyond explanation, and the list goes on.

Sot sucking at all thus far. But now comes the hard part. How do we best deliver these messages? It takes a comprehensive approach that not only touches the manner in which people seek and find information today, but then compels them to take action.  

St. Louis Doesn’t Suck harnesses the most meaningful marketing communications channels and surrounds working adults ages 22 to 55, delivering a consistent message that St. Louis has the housing, education, employment and cultural resources that encompass a great place to live, work, visit, and play.

The tools the program leverages include:

  • Digital centerpiece: While the Regional Chamber has tried, there’s no digital centerpiece or website that represents the region in a way that makes you want to stay on the site for more than 30 seconds. It’s an ADHD world people, and to keep an audience — especially today’s 21 – 35-year-old young professional — you need engaging and fresh content that is comprised of the people and entities that enrich the region telling the story in first person.  No one really wants to read, “Situated at the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois rivers, we have a tradition of leadership in transportation, distribution, and logistics.”
  • Video speaks volumes: A strong message in 60 seconds can potentially say far more than 1,500 words of text. Let’s see CEOs George Paz of Express-Scripts, Hugh Grant of Monsanto, Energizer’s Ward Klein talking about their vision. How about young employees from Arch Coal, HOK, or Brian Cave showing people their favorite haunts around town?  Remember the “I’m a Mormon” campaign from the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints? Very strong stuff.
  • Social media: Yes, have a Facebook page. Sure, a Twitter account is nice. More important, however, you’ve got to understand how to use these tools other than to simply have an account or page, like the Regional Chamber’s Facebook page that has 140-some fans. How about livestreaming a free concert from the Pageant music venue on Facebook; or get a group of CEOs from mid-size companies engaging in a Google Hangout with some top college students talking about what they are looking for from the local workforce; or take suggestions from city residents via Twitter (and actually use one of them) on how to improve a public park.  Just spend some time looking at how Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak engages constituents on Twitter. It’s not your standard press feeder.
  • PR: Once you’re doing some of these things and there’s an actual a story of change to tell, take some leaders of influence on the road in tandem and visit some national media. And by “leaders of influence,” I don’t necessarily mean the Mayor and head of the Regional Chamber. It’s about the sum of the city’s parts — a coalition of leading CEOs, the heads of the five local angel investors group,  a handful of leading entrepreneurs.  Or, how about pitching a recurring HuffingtonPost column from the mayor or a collection of local CEOs. Why not ask InBev CEO Carlos Brito or one of his top lieutenants to write a column on beer.
  • Mobile: There are more cellular phones in the U.S. than there are people, and at the very least any centralized website for a coordinated effort should be mobile enabled. But think bigger: an app that serves as a virtual tour guide, has push notifications for events, and includes searchable capabilities for activities meeting specific criteria.
  • Paid media: Look at a small, controlled program of paid media — traditional and digital. How about a Letter to America ad in the Wall St. Journal about the needs of American business co-signed by a group of local CEOs, but more important use Google Adwords and Facebook cost-per-click to drive to engaging video content telling first person stories about the region.
  • SEO: I saved this for last because online search is the magic bullet. It’s what everything drives towards. And if you don’t have an SEO component as part of an integrated marketing plan, you lose. Think of it this way: you own a business in Miami and you’re tired of all of the fair weather sports fans there so you tell your director of facilities it’s time to find a new headquarters town. What does that director do? He puts together a due diligence committee and they all start doing research — online — using search engines and terms like “best cities to work” and “best cities to live” and looking at tax incentives and quality of life, etc. In short, all the other stuff you’re doing in the marketing channels are filling the SEO funnel that needs to be filled, stacked, stuffed and overflowing with good news.

St. Louis isn’t perfect — the local  style of pizza is horrendous, our NFL football team should not be playing in a dome, the airport is an embarrassment, and the traffic lights aren’t timed.  More important, we still struggle to create, attract, and retain more skilled workers.  It’s an old-time, Mississippi River-based manufacturing economy that’s yet to fully reinvent itself that last year lost 14 percent of its professional services companies (law firms, architects, ad agencies).

Without question, St. Louis does not suck. But with the exception of one very smart tourism campaign developed by the CVB, we typically do a terrible job of externally articulating what those offerings are.

Perhaps by stepping out of our comfort zone, moving beyond silly turf battles, and developing a comprehensive approach to marketing the area, St. Louis can better promote a region that has much to offer.

Happy holidays.

Great read by Aaron Perlut on Forbes.com. I agree with him on most points, and know that sometimes the region’s worst enemy is itself. He lays out a great marketing program for the region, and I agree that its something that should be done. But will it ever happen? Probably not because of the powers that be around here. But we can dream, and for now keep our little secret about how, believe it or not, St. Louis (County) doesn’t suck.

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December 6, 2011

Are There Any HONEST Job Search Websites?

by Mark E.

I’m learning some hard lessons in the job search.

I’ve already written about the challenges companies put in the way of job seekers by using online application and evaluation systems and how hard it is to speak with a hiring manager because they hide behind these bots.

Today, I applied for a job and had to answer a few questions, would I take a drug test?, am I cleared to work in the USA?, do I have at least a Master’s Degre?  When I answered “no” to that one, I was told I didn’t meet the minium requirements for that job and the application process stopped dead.  They wouldn’t even let me submit an application or talk in a cover letter about how some 35 years of work experience taught me a lot more than a Master’s Degree.  Thank YOU, Anheuser Busch, for being so open minded.

I’ve signed up for quite a few job sites, and I know they all want to show the people who list with them that they can deliver the best candidates, but sites like monster.com send me e mails every day with a list of jobs I’m neither qualified for or interested in taking.  Yeah, I’d be a GREAT over the road hauler.

Sites like TheLadders.com seem to exist only to take job seekers’ money, not to really help them. Many of the jobs the list are already filled, when I sent a note asking for customer service, got an auto-response saying it would cost me at least $25 to interact with someone who could help me. This is what bounced back to me:

10:26 AM
to me
Dear Reader,

This is an automated email. Thanks for writing in!

Live support from one of our Job Search Advisors is reserved for Premium members, but don’t worry – there’s lots of other ways you can get support.

If you’d simply like to make a change to your membership please visit: http://www.theladders.com/updateinfo

The best way to get any membership questions answered is by chatting with us. Please click on the link below to start chatting now:

If you’re experiencing technical troubles you can reach out to the tech support team directly by calling 1-877-302-4239.

Best,
TheLadders Team

I know we’re all in business to make money, but it doesn’t seem right for The Ladders and other job sites to bait and switch job seekers like that.  Since they wouldn’t even look at my note without money changing hands, I posted a note on their CEO’s blog (which has since been removed) explaining how I felt about the way they do business.

I did get a call from some flunky in The Ladders office who confirmed that therre were indeed dead ends and jobs that didn’t exist on their site and that he had personally seen that one of the jobs they sent me was not an actual listing.  Then he offered me a two week trial of their “Premium Service” but I’d still have to give him a credit card and be responsible for cancelling the special trial or I’d be billed up to $25 a month automatically.  Are you KIDDING me?  You treat me like dirt and then try to extract money from me?  An amazing case of indifference at best, predatory taking advantage of the unemployed at worst.

I just want to find a job that will let me keep my house and feed my family.  Why does it seem like the online job sites are all so sketchy, or seem like they’re running a scam?

BLATANT SELF SERVING PLUG: By the way, if you or someone you know is looking for an experienced online and broadcast content person, check out my profile at about.me/markedwards.

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November 18, 2011

Document Trove Exposes Surveillance Methods-Wall Street Journal

by Mark E.

By JENNIFER VALENTINO-DEVRIES, JULIA ANGWIN and STEVE STECKLOW

Documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal open a rare window into a new global market for the off-the-shelf surveillance technology that has arisen in the decade since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The techniques described in the trove of 200-plus marketing documents, spanning 36 companies, include hacking tools that enable governments to break into people’s computers and cellphones, and “massive intercept” gear that can gather all Internet communications in a country. The papers were obtained from attendees of a secretive surveillance conference held near Washington, D.C., last month.

Intelligence agencies in the U.S. and abroad have long conducted their own surveillance. But in recent years, a retail market for surveillance tools has sprung up from “nearly zero” in 2001 to about $5 billion a year, said Jerry Lucas, president of TeleStrategies Inc., the show’s operator.

Critics say the market represents a new sort of arms trade supplying Western governments and repressive nations alike. “The Arab Spring countries all had more sophisticated surveillance capabilities than I would have guessed,” said Andrew McLaughlin, who recently left his post as deputy chief technology officer in the White House, referring to the Middle Eastern and African nations racked by violent crackdowns on dissent.

The Journal this year uncovered an Internet surveillance center installed by a French firm in Libya and reported that software made by Britain’s Gamma International UK Ltd., had been used in Egypt to intercept dissidents’ Skype conversations. In October, a U.S. company that makes Internet-filtering gear acknowledged to the Journal that its devices were being used in Syria.

Companies making and selling this gear say it is intended to catch criminals and is available only to governments and law enforcement. They say they obey export laws and aren’t responsible for how the tools are used.

Trade-show organizer Mr. Lucas added that his event isn’t political. “We don’t really get into asking, ‘Is this in the public interest?'” he said.

TeleStrategies holds ISS World conferences world-wide. The one near Washington, D.C., caters mainly to U.S., Canadian, Caribbean and Latin American authorities. The annual conference in Dubai has long served as a chance for Middle Eastern nations to meet companies hawking surveillance gear.

 

Many technologies at the Washington-area show related to “massive intercept” monitoring, which can capture vast amounts of data. Telesoft Technologies Ltd. of the U.K. touted its device in its documents as offering “targeted or mass capture of 10s of thousands of simultaneous conversations from fixed or cellular networks.” Telesoft declined to comment.

California-based Net Optics Inc., whose tools make monitoring gear more efficient, presented at the show and offers a case study on its website that describes helping a “major mobile operator in China” conduct “real-time monitoring” of cellphone Internet content. The goal was to help “analyze criminal activity” as well as “detect and filter undesirable content,” the case study says.

Net Optics’ CEO, Bob Shaw, said his company follows “to the letter of the law” U.S. export regulations. “We make sure we’re not shipping to any countries that are forbidden or on the embargo list,” he said in an interview.

Among the most controversial technologies on display at the conference were essentially computer-hacking tools to enable government agents to break into people’s computers and cellphones, log their keystrokes and access their data. Although hacking techniques are generally illegal in the U.S., law enforcement can use them with an appropriate warrant, said Orin Kerr, a professor at George Washington University Law School and former computer-crime attorney at the Justice Department.

The documents show that at least three companies—Vupen Security SA of France, HackingTeam SRL of Italy and Gamma’s FinFisher—marketed their skill at the kinds of techniques often used in “malware,” the software used by criminals trying to steal people’s financial or personal details. The goal is to overcome the fact that most surveillance techniques are “useless against encryption and can’t reach information that never leaves the device,” Marco Valleri, offensive-security manager at HackingTeam, said in an interview. “We can defeat that.”

Representatives of HackingTeam said they tailor their products to the laws of the country where they are being sold. The firm’s products include an auditing system that aims to prevent misuse by officials. “An officer cannot use our product to spy on his wife, for example,” Mr. Valleri said.

Mr. Valleri said HackingTeam asks government customers to sign a license in which they agree not to provide the technology to unauthorized countries.

Vupen, which gave a presentation at the conference on “exploiting computer and mobile vulnerabilities for electronic surveillance,” said its tools take advantage of security holes in computers or cellphones that manufacturers aren’t yet aware of. Vupen’s marketing documents describe its researchers as “dedicated” to finding “unpatched vulnerabilities” in software created by Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc. and others. On its website, the company offered attendees a “free Vupen exploit sample” that relied on an already-patched security hole.

Vupen says it restricts its sales to Australia, New Zealand, members and partners of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The company says it won’t sell to countries subject to international embargoes, and that its research must be used for national-security purposes only and in accordance with ethical practices and applicable laws.

The documents for FinFisher, a Gamma product, say it works by “sending fake software updates for popular software.” In one example, FinFisher says intelligence agents deployed its products “within the main Internet service provider of their country” and infected people’s computers by “covertly injecting” FinFisher code on websites that people then visited.

The company also claims to have allowed an intelligence agency to trick users into downloading its software onto BlackBerry mobile phones “to monitor all communications, including [texts], email and BlackBerry Messenger.” Its marketing documents say its programs enable spying using devices and software from Apple, Microsoft, and Google Inc., among others. FinFisher documents at the conference were offered in English, Arabic and other languages.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on FinFisher specifically, adding that Google doesn’t “tolerate abuse of our services.”

An Apple spokeswoman said the company works “to find and fix any issues that could compromise [users’] systems.” Apple on Monday introduced a security update to iTunes that could stop an attack similar to the type FinFisher claims to use, namely offering bogus software updates that install spyware.

Microsoft and Research In Motion Ltd., which makes BlackBerry devices, declined to comment.

The documents discovered in Egypt earlier this year indicated that Gamma’s Egyptian reseller was offering FinFisher systems there for about $560,000. Gamma’s lawyer told the Journal in April that it never sold the products to Egypt’s government.

Gamma didn’t respond to requests for comment for this article. Like most companies interviewed, Gamma declined to disclose its buyers, citing confidentiality agreements.

Privacy advocates say manufacturers should be more transparent about their activities. Eric King of the U.K. nonprofit Privacy International said “the complex network of supply chains and subsidiaries involved in this trade allows one after the other to continually pass the buck and abdicate responsibility.” Mr. King routinely attends surveillance-industry events to gather information on the trade.

At the Washington and Dubai trade conferences this year, which are generally closed to the public, Journal reporters were prevented by organizers from attending sessions or entering the exhibition halls. February’s Dubai conference took place at a time of widespread unrest elsewhere in the region. Nearly 900 people showed up, down slightly because of the regional turmoil, according to an organizer.

Presentations in Dubai included how to intercept wireless Internet traffic, monitor social networks and track cellphone users. “All of the companies involved in lawful intercept are trying to sell to the Middle East,” said Simone Benvenuti, of RCS SpA, an Italian company that sells monitoring centers and other “interception solutions,” mostly to governments. He declined to identify any clients in the region.

In interviews in Dubai, executives at several companies said they were aware their products could be abused by authoritarian regimes but they can’t control their use after a sale. “This is the dilemma,” said Klaus Mochalski, co-founder of ipoque, a German company specializing in deep-packet inspection, a powerful technology that analyzes Internet traffic. “It’s like a knife. You can always cut vegetables but you can also kill your neighbor.” He referred to it as “a constant moral, ethical dilemma we have.”

—Paul Sonne contributed to this article.

Write to Jennifer Valentino DeVries at jennifer.valentino-devries@wsj.com, Julia Angwin at julia.angwin@wsj.com and Steve Stecklow at steve.stecklow@wsj.com

This, in a word, is some scary stuff. Not only can the government use these things, companies and even individuals like you and me can. For the details on the items, check out http://projects.wsj.com/surveillance-catalog/?mod=djemalertNEWS#/

November 15, 2011

Great Radio Job That I’m Not Qualifed For, But Maybe You Or Someone You Know Is

by Mark E.

I’m in the midst of looking for a job right now, and most of the things I see are straight commission sales “opportunities” or something that I take an hour to fill out an online application and get an automated rejection letter in two days.  THAT is another blog post.

I came across this listing, and while I’m not qualified to do the job because of the whole lots of sales experience thing, this could be a tremendous opportnity for someone who is ready to plant roots and do REAL radio.  Here’s the listing:

Nmf68as

Do you love small market radio? Are you known as a street fighter and problem solver that leads by example? Would subordinates praise your people skills and leadership abilities? Would superiors commend your work ethic, character and ability to produce results? Is one of your dreams to live in a beautiful area like the Northwoods and Lake Country of Wisconsin? Heartland Communications Group has an exceptional opportunity for a great General Manager to lead WERL-AM and WRJO-FM in Eagle River, Wisconsin. Email your resume in confidence with contact information and references to Dave Martin erheartland@gmail.com [EOE]

I hope you ro someone you know finds this job of interest.  Good Luck!

Oh yeah, if you hear of anything for yours truly, feel free to drop me a line at mark@markedwardsworldwide.com or call 773.336.2753.  Thankyouverymuch!

November 13, 2011

Government Approved Censorship Could Be Coming To The Internet. STOP SOPA, SAVE THE INTERNET – Boing Boing

by Mark E.

STOP SOPA, SAVE THE INTERNET

By at 8:51 am Friday, Nov 11

Tiffiny from Fight for the Future sez,

Google knows it. Viacom knows it. The Chamber of Commerce knows it. Internet democracy groups know it. BoingBoing knows it. But, the Internet hasn’t been told yet — we’re going to get blown away by the end of the year. The worst bill in Internet history is about to become law. Law is very real here in the United States and legal language is often different than stated intentions — this law would give government and corporations the power to block sites like BoingBoing over infringing links on at least one webpage posted by their users. Believe the EFF, Public Knowledge, Google when they say this bill is about much more than copyright, it’s about the Internet and free speech everywhere.

The MPAA, RIAA, Hollywood knows that they have been flying in CEOs of as many companies as possible, recruiting people to get petition signups at malls in California, and here’s the big point– they know they have gotten their message through to Congress — the worst bill in Internet history, the one where government and their corporations get unbelievable power to take down sites, threaten payment processors into stopping payment to sites on a blacklist, and throw people in jail for posting ordinary content is about to pass before the end of this year. The only thing that is going to stop Hollywood from owning the Internet and everything we do, is if there is a big surprise Internet backlash starting right now.

PROTECT IP (S. 968)/SOPA (HR. 3261) creates the first system for Internet censorship – this bill has sweeping provisions that give the government and corporations leeway and legal cover for taking down sites “by accident,” mistakenly, or for NOT doing “enough” to protect the interests of Hollywood. These bills that are moving very quickly through Congress and can pass before Christmas aim to give the US government and corporations the ability to block sites over infringing links posted by their users and give ISPs the release to take any means to block peoples’ sites, including slowing down your connection. That’s right, some say this bill is a workaround to net neutrality and is bigger than net neutrality.

This is the worst piece of Internet legislation in history – the lawmakers who have been sponsoring (Leahy, Lamar Smith, Conyers) this bill need to be shamed by the Internet community for wasting taxpayer dollars on a bill that would break the very fabric of the Internet, create an Internet blacklist, kill jobs and great startup companies, huge blogs, and social networks.

 

Everyone, the entire Internet community needs to stand together if we don’t want to see this bill actually become law. Internet and democracy groups are planning an Internet-wide day of protest called American Censorship Day on Wednesday, November 16th for the day Congress holds a hearing on these bills to create the first American Internet censorship system. Every single person with a website can join and needs to.

Boing Boing, Grooveshark, Free Software Foundation, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, Demand Progress, Open Congress/PPF, TechDirt, Fight for the Future and dozens of other sites have created this day to ask you to join them to stop S. 978 and HR 3261, as hard as you can. Write them, protest, call them, protest, support your favorite sites, protest, sign a letter, block out your site, protest.

Many public intellectuals who are often the ones to help win the public interest over and over are about to come out to lead the charge to stop PROTECT IP/ SOPA – they have to when they learn that the House and Senate will be working to pass this bill before the Christmas. From those doing work on the hill, it’s very clear we have been stacked comparatively lightly. The House bill has 40 co-sponsors and major industry support. The only thing that will change the dynamic now is if Congress gets a knock on their door by CEO”s of small and large tech companies, blogs, and news sites and if Internet users start piling on, one by one, and protest.

Tech companies, blogs, news sites are already in a death-do-die battle cry — listen to them — it’s a few days before the hearing on this bill. But, we need more tech companies, blogs, new sites before the hearing on this bill. Help get them.

I’ve been trying to think about whether or not the world is going to end if this bill passes like it’s supposed to — and the answer is, “kind of yes”. When small sites, and it’s the small sites that get turned off in the night and no one for the most part notices, say my friend’s political blog or news site gets blocked by the US government and she has no way to get it back up even though everything she did was legal according to current law, and no one can help her except she can choose to file suit to defend herself, I feel like I die inside a little. Living in a country where you are being shut out and left powerless to really defend yourself is like living in another country, the ones you hear about. Life starts to feel shot when that happens, especially to our friends or our favorites sites.

Every site who has user-generated content, posts links or videos to anything copyrighted in it could face new legal threats.

If a copyrights holder disliked links you have on your site, they could simply file a complaint with a payment processor (Visa, PayPal), who would then have 5 days to respond to their request or risk legal ramifications. If bills like this are allowed to pass, we’ll be spending another $47 million dollars every year to help corporations fill out and enforce Internet blacklists.

Sites that would be legal under the DMCA and its safe harbor provisions would now risk losing everything for allowing user generated content. It also has added in the streaming felony bill that would make it so ordinary Internet users are at risk of going to jail for 5 years for post any copyrighted work that would cost $2,500 to license. And because copyright is so broad, that means videos with copyrighted music in the background, kids in a school play, people singing karaoke could all be a risk.

Because the law affects almost every Internet user and the sites they use every day and have come to love, and because granting sweeping blacklisting powers is just sickening to almost everyone, we need your help — if you can encourage your favorite site to join the protest, and help drive the maximum number of people to contact Congress on November 16th (until the bill dies), please help.

These bills represent a major blow to openness and freedom on the Internet, free speech rights, and the fabric of the Internet itself. If SOPA is allowed to pass, the Internet and free speech will never be the same again.

SOPA: Hollywood Finally Gets A Chance to Break the Internet (EFF)

House takes Senate’s bad Internet censorship bill, tries making it worse (Ars Technica)

Protect The Internet (Brad Feld)

Protecting The Safe Harbors Of The DMCA And Protecting Jobs (Business Insider)

S.978 – Commercial Felony Streaming Act

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This isn’t the wild ravings of a small group of activists. This is a serious threat to content providers and regular people who use the internet every day. The RIAA is the only organization I have had personal experience with in regards to abuse of copyright laws, and they are simply EVIL. If this bill becomes law, they and other industry groups will be able to have almost anything taken down from the web at their whim.

We don’t need this kind of censorship in the name of copyright or protecting artist’s rights. I believe in protecting artist’s rights and that artists should be compensated for their work. I don’t believe in “industry organizations” acting like brown shirted Storm Troopers yanking anything they think threatens their ability to make a profit from the internet.

America may be the land of opportunity, but it should not be the land of censorship or prior restraint. Please do what you can to make ure this bill doesn’t become law.

September 7, 2011

10 Years Later It’s Clear America Overreacted To 9/11

by Mark E.
WTC Memorial

Image: 911memorial.org

Perhaps the strangest thing about the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday is how it hasn’t managed to suck all the air out of the news cycle.

To be sure there are plenty of retrospective specials, most of the cable networks will be airing wall-to-wall coverage on Sunday, and the big newsweeklies have all issued anniversary editions (the best of which is far and away New York magazine’s ‘encyclopedia‘).

But this is more or less just an increase by degrees of what happens every year, and there is a sense in the air, at least here in New York City, of exhaustion with the topic.

Maybe it was last month’s hurricane that saw the shut down of the subway (for the first time since 9/11) and the evacuation of parts of the city for the first time ever that drained the city of its ability to gin up the sort of emotion one would anticipate from the milestone anniversary.  Nothing reminds you of how terrible an actual emergency is like an actual emergency (or in the case of Irene, preparing for one).

Or maybe all the left-over emotion from 9/11 was exerted last year during the Ground Zero Mosque controversy.

Either way, four days before the anniversary, the news cycle remains consumed with Obama’s jobs speech, the economy, the GOP debate, and the generally dire outlook of the nation.

Which makes sense when you consider that many of the big 9/11 retrospectives put out so far seem to be drawing the same conclusion: America overreacted to 9/11.

The first person to float this was Bob Woodward in Foreign Policy:

“It’s so sobering for journalism: You think you know what something means, and you think something is a disaster. But maybe it isn’t. One of the big questions about 9/11 now: In the history books in 50 years, is the headline going to be “U.S. Overreacts to 9/11″? In other words, if there are no other attacks in this country, if we have strategically defeated al Qaeda. Or maybe the headline’s going to be “U.S. Wins the Cold War, U.S. Wins the War on Terror.” Or maybe it’s going to be “The Ongoing War on Terror.…”

In New York magazine’s 9/11 retrospective Frank Rich, who spent much of the decade from his NYT perch castigating Bush for going to war, says:

In retrospect, the most consequential event of the past ten years may not have been 9/11 or the Iraq War but the looting of the American economy by those in power in Washington and on Wall Street. This was happening in plain sight—or so we can now see from a distance. At the time, we were so caught up in Al ­Qaeda’s external threat to America that we didn’t pay proper attention to the more prosaic threats within.

In such an alternative telling of the ­decade’s history, the key move Bush made after 9/11 had nothing to do with military strategy or national-security policy. It was instead his considered decision to rule out shared sacrifice as a governing principle for the fight ahead. Sacrifice was high among the unifying ideals that many Americans hoped would emerge from the rubble of ground zero, where so many Good Samaritans had practiced it.

And here is Andrew Sullivan (at his most dramatic) speculating that Osama bin Laden won:

But what we did know was that only one word really sufficed to define the scale and gravity of what had taken place: war.

The bait was meant to entice the United States into ruinous, polarizing religious warfare against the Muslim world, so that the Islamist fringe could seize power in failing Muslim and Arab dictatorships. The 9/11 attacks were conceived as a way to radicalize a young Muslim population through a ginned-up war of civilization against the Great Satan on the Islamist home turf of Afghanistan and, then, Iraq. It looks obvious now. It wasn’t then. We were seized with righteous rage, every ounce of which was justified. But the victim of a rape is not the best person to initiate the strategy to bring the rapist to justice. And we, alas, were all we had.

The NYT ran a piece over the weekend about how media outlets are walking a fine line in their coverage of the anniversary.

But one wonders, coming as it does in the midst of Obama’s jobs speech and the inevitable GOP reaction, and the dire economic numbers, if the impending retrospectives will capture the country’s attention in the manner we would have anticipated even a year ago.  One gets the sense the catharsis they are aiming to provide is no longer necessary.

There will be many, far too many, stories written about 9/11, but the very bright Glynnis MacNicol may have managed to nail the story with this piece on www.businessinsider.com. Thanks to Glynnis for her usual great writing and for not being afraid to say what many of us feel.

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