Spyware by another name, still is

I have 99.99% good things to say about Steve Rubel (micropersuasion).  He was on a panel discussion with the Bulldog Reporter where I was a fellow panelist last week in NYC.  And having read his blog in the past I really do believe his insight on PR is great.  And he gets the good in Seth Godin without running around with a purple pain brush trying to interpret it all literally.  That said, in PR I firmly believe that a large portion of the strategy must evolve through truthfulness and honesty so it IS the PR practitioners responsibility to filter out icky clients.  I found that I cringed when Steve mentioned the spyware company Weatherbug as a client in one of his examples.  For fun, check out the historical edits on wikipedia for weatherbug to see the debate "it IS spware" … "it definitely is NOT spyware" … (repeat)

For the corporate defense they do offer a paid product that is spyware free (good) as well as an icky version that will pop-up for you if you don’t understand computers enough to grasp the concept of what you have agreed to (evil).  Look… there are people who will sell their organs for the right price.  That doesn’t make the practice acceptable.  In this case the client is wrong wrong wrong.  Client selection does matter in PR.  Choosing this client was a mistake.  A profitable one, but not something to emulate.  Even Edward Bernays eventually worked against tobacco.

Emergency RSS Proposal

This blog, written by an amateur, will hopefully evolve to be interesting to others as well as affect change on a global basis.  And the best way to affect change globally is to start locally.  To pick up the cigarette butt on the corner.  Cliche?  Sure, but damnit it works.

The biggest screamingly loud demand, need, I see in the world of social software is a distributed method of responding to a crisis.  We just had Katrina hit and she was a bitch by any measure.  Lives were lost.  Pause on that sentence, lives were lost.  The most sacred thing we are capable of creating or destroying, lives, were lost as a result of poor human organizational skills.  I don’t want to know who accepts responsibility, I want to know that disaster is prevented before it occurs.

To that end I want to state that we need a simplified RSS type system to track data in an emergency.  No one site can handle all emergency response.  Even if it could it would create a single point of failure.  We need something as simple as RSS, call it emergency RSS or ERSS, to handle the needs that arise in an emergency.

Let me step back and repeat the basis for the need.  With Katrina, which hit in 2005, what I observed were numerous sites heroically put up, only to go down once they were picked up by the blogosphere and the media.  Go here for help “¦ everyone does globally including the curious from other countries “¦. Server dies.  Nobody gets help.  Next site is suggested.  Repeat the process. 

Yet when it comes to blogs and news we can easily replicate with RSS our posts.  Even if one server went down, the outline of the content would still be cached at feedburner or similar.  So if in time of crisis 10 sites had relevant content of who is looking for what, who needs what, who needs to be dispatched where, then if one goes down you still have 9 sites up and replication of 100% of the content on each node.  This is just like DNS.  I am not inventing anything here.  I am just screaming that we should have this in place for times of crisis already.