the TRAGEDY of the commons

no dumping allowed CC heyjoewhereyougoingwiththatguninyourhand
CC heyjoewhereyougoing...

When we say “the tragedy of the commons” I really think it should be stated “the TRAGEDY of the commons” to indicate that it really is an all caps TRAGEDY.

Summarized on wikipedia as

(the the tragedy of the commons is) a dilemma in which multiple individuals acting independently and solely and rationally consulting their own self-interest will ultimately destroy a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long term interest for this to happen.

Hardin’s original article on the tragedy of the commons expands on this.

Picture a pasture open to all. It is to be expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons. Such an arrangement may work reasonably satisfactorily for centuries because tribal wars, poaching, and disease keep the numbers of both man and beast well below the carrying capacity of the land. Finally, however, comes the day of reckoning, that is, the day when the long-desired goal of social stability becomes a reality. At this point, the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy.

Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit–in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.

Rationally it makes more sense for me to pollute. Rationally it makes more sense for me to over-fish. Treachery in fact pays. In a recession it is logical to steal. There is a reason you see “no dumping” signs by the side of the road – rationally it is more profitable for people to illegally dump than to pay the dump fee. It’s wrong, it’s unethical, it ruins the commons, but it is in fact rational.

And there are only three ways to avoid the tragedy of the commons. ONLY THREE.

  1. Legislative (ex: make it against the law/rules),
  2. Material (ex: tax it like a parking meter or a toll road) or
  3. Social Pressure (ex: make a public negative example of the person, Stockades).

That’s it people. That’s it. There are no other solutions.Yes get creative within those three, but that’s it folks.

People are NOT going to sing Kum Bay Ya and do the right thing if it is in their rational best interest NOT to. Period. Some people will, but all it takes is one rational actor hiding behind Machiavelli. And there is always one. I have written about this before in the three motivations of people.

Understanding this makes listening to political debate painful. Tax the rich to provide health care to everyone else? What is the rational thing to do? To use as much health care (the commons) as possible which would bankrupt the system (irrational result). You would need rules (rationing) or fees (taxes and copays) or social disclosure (social pressure, but not a good idea for health care privacy). Ask a sociologist, that won’t work.

But this post is not about health care. It is about a tragedy of the commons in the form of an office break room. And while I rationally understand that it is in everyone’s rational best interest to not clean it at the end of the day, it is still a tragedy to observe. Rationally they are right to observe it is always miraculously clean in the morning regardless of if they participate in the cleaning!All of the benefits with none of the work. Woot! (a tragic woot, but woot none the less).

Hopefully the team will forgive me for using material motivation (removal of coffee) to encourage dialog and transparency (social pressure) to find a solution (process and procedures to ensure cleaning). And as the person who cleans the coffee pot more than any other, hopefully I’ll be down to only cleaning the coffee pot once a week as I lock up and head home. I can live with once a week.

Selective Benefits and Web Applications

The term “selective benefits” is usually thought of in relation to programs such as welfare as in this definition of selective Benefits:silver and gold - small - by eschipul

Selective benefits are provided on the basis of a claimant’s income and circumstance. An example of a selective benefit is the Child Tax Credit.

We are not all treated alike by the other humans. For example numerous studies have shown “attractive people are more likely to receive altruistic behavior.” Humans being a murderous lot, intelligence is a true selective benefit that may keep you away from being the one “naturally selected.”

Business leaders refer to selective benefits as differentiation.   Reward the high performers! And in business benefits that are transparent, such as hours worked, are usually not the first place you see differentiation. Salary and monetary rewards are the first areas to differentiate as this prevents problems with other employees (This varies by role of course, commissions are typically public info between a sales team to motivate others, but that is a different post).

But what of selective benefits in web applications? The differentiated web app I think of first is slashdot with its famous   meta-moderation system. Karma points are awarded to those who contribute to the community in the slashcode application. Listening to Jeff Bates & Rob Malda speak at MSU in 2007 they commented that “if you put a number on anything it will become a competition between users.”

And we are so obsessed with the number of followers we have, and others have, on social networks that we have sites to measure, manage and rank each other! And we treat these people differently because, well, having 3,686,570 followers as Ashton Kutcher does right now means he has HUGE influence!

From the perspective of the person who enjoys these differentiations, they also receive selective benefits like free admission to conferences, access to other influencers, acceptance into good old boy clubs, etc.

Frequently the alternative to a selective benefit is a monetary expense. You can join an association or buy a house in that exclusive area. If you can’t get a pass to an event, you can usually buy a ticket (but not always). In other words, fame and access in real life and in social media amounts to selective benefits that have a real monetary value to the person who possesses them. So technically speaking, this is more than a game.

I can’t help but notice that flickr, the nicest social network I know of, does NOT show follower counts on your photo pages. Nor do they make it easy to see how many of your photos make it into explore. You need another app for that.

So to improve a blog or social network, should you make “rank” easily visible to everyone knowing the people who rank the highest will enjoy selective benefits that have monetary value? Does this build community? Or does that even matter and the bottom line is monetizing the site?

What about things like recommendations and testimonials? Should you confer additional site access to “verified” accounts?

Should social media do more to extend “selective benefits” to individuals based on rank (followers, explore, interestingness, page views, linkbacks, etc…)? Aren’t we supposed to be “levelling up” as the kids say?


As a society declines, it becomes more polarized

“As a society declines, it becomes more polarized as factions stake out turf they can cling to. polar bear by eschipul-smallHere, you have a choice. You can either embrace the widening middle ground now opening up between the polarities or exploit the passions on the extremes. Organizations that follow the latter course will look and feel more traditional and be able to cash in on the loyalty of a fervent customer base. The problem is that this direction has a short life span: it is not where the society is headed over the next twenty to thirty years. RenGenners can be found in the middle ground. But hitching your star to the RenGen movement means committing to innovation.“

Patricia Martin, RenGen, 2007

Difficult times we live in folks. Don’t go polar. Stay cool. It’s gonna be alright. Really.

Candor in a Recession is Even MORE important

First a quote from Jack Welch on Candorbroken tracks by eschipul

“There’s still not enough candor in this company. [By that] I mean facing reality, seeing the world as it is rather than as you wish it were. We’ve seen over and over again that businesses facing market downturns, tough competition, and more demanding customers inevitably make forecasts that are much too optimistic. This means they don’t take advantage of the opportunities that change usually offers. Change in the marketplace isn’t something to fear; it’s an enormous opportunity to shuffle the deck, to replay the game. Candid managers ““ leaders ““ don’t get paralyzed about the fragility of the organization. They tell people the truth. That doesn’t scare them because they realize their people know the truth anyway.“

Jack Welch quoted on pg 120 of Absolute Honesty

I believe candor is particularly important for American businesses right now given we are in the middle of the great recessions. Officials continue to give us ridiculous platitudes (Bernake? Baroo?) when observations of the facts say otherwise (see Ghost Fleet of the Recession).

My observations of candor within our company over the last 12 years has been that the two biggest dangers and misuse of candor are:

  1. People who use candor as an excuse to be rude.
  2. People who falsely accuse others of using candor to be rude.

In my experience #2 is more dangerous as it is the most effective way for a squeamish or low performing person to combat candor within an organization. So don’t be rude. Yet also hold your ground on speaking the truth. It’s just that important. And as the quote says, “leaders ““ don’t get paralyzed about the fragility of the organization … because they realize their people know the truth anyway.”

Technology and Crisis Communication Panel at SXSW. Vote?


Please vote for my panel at SXSW DON’T PANIC ““ The Geek’s Guide to the Next Big Crisis


A little more than four years ago I wrote my first blog post. It was about the need for a form of Emergency RSS. We can share celebrity gossip headlines through feed readers faster than we could use technology to respond to a crisis. And this was an important point as I started blogging in 2005 right after and in response to a need to share after Hurricane Katrina. Katrina Lower 9th Ward PhotoCrisis response and crisis communication has always been a passion of mine, and seeing our government’s mostly failed response in New Orleans compelled me to start blogging and contributing where I could.

Running the company I chose to stay in town during the Hurricane Rita evacuation. While Rita did not hit Houston, instead crushing the gulf coast near Beaumont with little news coverage in the wake of Katrina, we did learn from the Rita evacuation. We used a wiki page on Tendenci (our software) to track down all employees. Employees on the road, which for some of them was 10 to 20 hours during the evacuation, would text their manager’s who then updated the wiki to account for everyone. We quickly knew everyone was OK.

Then last year we prepared for Hurricane Ike which went over our town. When the storm hit the ONLY thing that worked was SMS messaging. No power, no water, no data, no TV. Just radio and text messaging.  Hurricane Ike hits at nightLuckily we had set up a product called Yammer, which is like Twitter for your company (and they have a business model) and we were able to keep in touch. Data services, which is what your cell phone depends on to get to web pages, went down. Voice went down. The only thing that allowed us to keep in touch with all of our employees and their families was text messaging sent directly and through Yammer.

We learned a lot about the role of tech in a crisis combined with human behavior. Example – an employee’s cell phone would die. They would use someone else’s cell to text a message to their manager saying “we are OK and staying near College Station”. Except that is ALL they would say. We didn’t recognize the number and had no idea WHO sent it! The solution was to train all of our people to put their NAMES at the end of each text message. Seems like a small thing. It is. But it makes it possible to do a head count!

Since 2005 our firm now does the web site for the Houston Red Cross and Reliant Park, both of which are key for Houston Emergency Response planning. We have the privilege of working with Firestorm Crisis Communications and Preparedness and long time clients like crisis communicator Dan Keeney. I have attended Netsquared Houston meetings when David Geilhufe taught us about People Finder Information Format. And I work with people like Jonti and Katie who have helped all of us set up our ICE cards for our families.

Now I need your help. I’d like to continue the dialog on Social Media and Emergency Response. What IS the role of twitter beyond updates? What are the alternatives for Yammer? Is there a cost effective solution for businesses and families? We have come a long way, so let’s talk about it.

PLEASE VOTE AND COMMENT on this SXSW Panel I hope to moderate. Without your vote and your comments the panel might not make. And I believe in this topic too much to see that happen. Spare a minute? Please VOTE!

DON’T PANIC ““ The Geek’s Guide to the Next Big Crisis

Are you and the people you care about prepared? Our panelists will share their crisis stories and tell you how to be ready, both online and offline. PFIF, Yammer, Facebook and iPhones ““ the technology and strategy is there and getting better, so let’s take it to the next level.

  1. How does emergency response and communication relate to the Web? Do developers and small business owners really need to care about Crisis Communication?
  2. How can our emergency teams (fire, ambulance, police, etc.) benefit from standardized data sharing? What can I do about it?
  3. What does the rise of Mobile Web mean for the next natural disaster or other catastrophe?
  4. What tools (Web, mobile and otherwise) are out there right now that my family, friends and company should be using now?
  5. As a geek, what are 5 things you should do TODAY to keep your family safe and your business running when disaster strikes?
  6. If practice makes perfect, what kind of drills and regular training should your business be doing right now that won’t break the bank or kill your billable hours?
  7. What are some of the technical lessons we learned from Hurricane Katrina?
  8. Tech and communication stories and lessons from Virginia Tech, Hurricane Ike and beyond…
  9. What is a crisis to you and how do you strategically and technologically deal with it internally and for the rest of the world to see?
  10. How can you best identify your strongest and most reliable communicators and rock stars during times of crisis? How do you deal with employees that book it and vendors that disappear?

Why am I doing this?

Well, it isn’t for business as I have no financial ties to yammer or twitter or any other messaging services. Tendenci is a content management system that powers associations and sites like the Houston Red Cross, but they are already customers. And ANY emergency response technology must be open source for maximum adoption long term. I just believe passionately in our need to share information and I think technology can help with crisis communication. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter bring a lot to the table. If you, like me, are passionate about this, please vote for the panel “DON’T PANIC ““ The Geek’s Guide to the Next Big Crisis” and I hope to see you in Austin next March!

Speaking to Association of Fundraising Professionals Fri 8-21-09

While I have the privilege of speaking to groups throughout the US on a somewhat regular basis, it seems like I speak out afp houston screenshot for public speakingof town more than in town! One of those ironies of being a speaker. While particularly honored to speak to the Association of Fundraising Professionals Houston Chapter, it is even better that it is here in Houston this Friday August 21 at the Junior League! From the description of August Educational Seminar on the AFP Houston site:

Online fundraising has already changed the landscape for many organizations, but in today’s environment it is becoming even more important.   At this session you will learn to tie traditional strategies and new tools together.   You will learn the importance of storytelling, sharing triumphs, and the “3 motivations of Humans“.   In addition, you will witness the current trends and technologies that are making a difference to local organizations.

Hope to see y’all there on Friday! Now go register, it’s only $25 bucks y’all! I promise great content and a reasonable response to any hecklers. Heh.

Chron Blog Post: The Unnecessary Apologist

New post up on Chron’s list blog: The Unnecessary Apologist

The proprietors weren’t the in-your-face preachy kind of folks. Typically quiet, he became a loud fellow who would amble up to the register for the lunch rush like he was holding court. A different joke for each of the regulars….

The deli was a small family-owned shop and the owners were an older couple who, like many, walked the walk more than talked about it. The only way we really knew they were religious besides their actions was they closed the deli early on Wednesday night to host bible study. All the cotton-tops would wander in and gather near the front while we were still mopping behind the counter and calling in the bread order for tomorrow.

I mention my work schedule to apologize for something really bone headed that I did.

Years ago I worked 40 hours a week at a deli in San Antonio Texas over the summer. This was in addition to mowing lawns on Sundays when the deli was closed and working three or four nights a week as a server at Pizza Hut until 2AM. It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college and as a young man I could survive on little sleep and a few beers after work. NoDoz was my friend… Continue reading on the chron site here.

Uninstall Facebook Applications Internationally Day (UFAID) September 1 2009

I am a fan of Facebook. I enjoy using it and it has brought me closer to a lot of awesome people. We are even approaching 1000 people on our Facebook Fan Page!

stopBut I can’t handle Facebook’s lack of respect for our privacy. The fact that it shows me “dating website” advertisements (I’m married and they KNOW this!?) even after I mark them “thumbs down” and “irrelevant” or sometimes even “offensive.” Yet they return.

In response to previous privacy concerns, Facebook launched a charm offensive for better Facebook Governance. As someone who studies PR, this was a smart thing to do. Start by listening and their blog in fact did request feedback. Great job! But wait! There’s more!

A few months go by and this poor chap finds a dating advertisement on his Facebook profile featuring a photo of HIS WIFE! Not cool. At all. Facebook’s response on the unauthorized use of the photos is:

In the past couple of days, a rumor has begun spreading that claims we have changed our policies for third-party advertisers and the use of your photos. These rumors are false, and we have made no such change in our advertising policies.

If you see a Wall post or receive a message with the following language or something similar, it is this false rumor:

FACEBOOK has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures WITHOUT your permission.

The advertisements that started these rumors were not from Facebook but placed within applications by third parties. Those ads violated our policies by misusing profile photos, and we already required the removal of those deceptive ads from third-party applications before this rumor began spreading.

I feel for them. But the answer seems weak – it wasn’t us. It was a third party. And we stopped the practice AFTER y’all complained about it. The weak link in the chain here is the facebook application provider. I’d like to see two things change to improve security and privacy on facebook.

  1. Facebook needs to be explicit about the “reputation” of a particular application provider or advertiser. Make this transparent. I LOVE the “report this” next to the advertisements, but as I mentioned above, for me they are ignoring my feedback. And why can’t I see EVERYONE’S feedback on an application or an advertisement? Would this type of transparency be a bad thing?
  2. We, the Facebook customers, need to uninstall as many applications as possible. We need to uninstall these unnecessary Facebook applications for our own safety until we can see more transparency. Just remove them. Only add back the necessary ones. So many people remove the box from their profile and THINK they have removed the application. They have not!

We propose September 1st 2009 as Uninstall Facebook Applications Internationally Day (UFAID).

Not all applications mind you, just the ones you don’t trust or recognize.

To uninstall your Facebook Applications follow these steps:

  1. Login to Facebook
  2. Click on your “Profile” link at the top of the page.
  3. Scroll down to the “Applications” link on the lower left. Click it.
  4. Click “Edit Apps” link which should take you to a page like this:
  5. IMPORTANT Change “Show” from “Recently Used” to “Authorized”!
  6. Click the “X” next to the applications you want to remove.
  7. Confirm.
  8. Repeat until all cruft and untrustworthy applications are removed.

Find any applications you did not realize were installed? Yup, thought you would. Put them in the comments below so we can see the sneaky ones?

Michael Jackson Creative Commons Photo

From a random trip into the wax museum in Tijuana Mexico while in San Diego on business.

michael jackson wax by eschipul

Yes I enjoyed Michael Jackson’s music. But I guess I never really “got it” at the level of so many people. Since MJ passed away, this creative commons photo of Michael Jackson has taken off in traffic on flickr. So I thought I’d cross post it here.

As a creative commons photo, you are free to use with attribution “photo by Ed Schipul” But you might want to get the full high resolution version here.

Yammer – can we have an emergency preparedness option?

I posted previously on Yammer. That it was a big help for us during Hurricane Ike in 2008 in Houston. During the hurricane the ONLY thing that worked was text on the cell phone. sailboat on a truckNo voice. No data plans on the cell. No land lines. Certainly no cable or dish or regular TV. Radio worked, but that is listening only. The only way to communicate person to person is by texting. Or I suppose HAM radio, but we don’t use those.

Yammer is a new company, so we thought it “broke” when the SMS portion stopped working. But then I realized they moved the “SMS feature” to a paid plan for $1 per employee per month. OK, I rolled with that. I signed up, with 25 employees that means I am spending $300 a year to have an emergency back channel to all of my employees. I’ll pay that. And I do.

Of course using a service like yammer for emergency response is problematic – because you want the emergency communication to be SIGNAL it means we can’t use the service for regular conversations as that becomes NOISE. Employees won’t tolerate 50 text messages on their cell from their coworkers. Filtering by a list, and only that list, to automatically text using a prefix like “ice:” adds complexity. And in a crisis you want things dirt simple. So our implementation of yammer is that

  1. Everyone gets text messages from any other employee.
  2. We test it once a month.
  3. We Pay yammer $25 a month to have this as a backup plan.
  4. And are quiet but confident in case an emergency comes along.

I am sure this implementation puzzles yammer. “These guys in Houston pay monthly, but never use it. What’s up with that?” So the first thing Yammer should do is have an “emergency mode” so that when turned on by an administrator EVERYTHING is sent by SMS until turned off regardless of all other settings, time of day, carrier, etc. Any messages is texted to all in this mode. If this were done we might be able to use other features of yammer.

And ahhh, about those other features. They added a bunch including now “Directory Integration” and “Priority Customer Support”. Alas, with all of these features they insisted on bundling SMS with them. And raised the price 300% from $1 to $3 per employee. No go. While their product might be worth $3 per employee for firms that use it for communication, it is NOT worth $3 per employee for a dormant backup communication system.

If anyone from Yammer is reading this, how about it? Can we have a lower cost “emergency communication” only option at the $1 price? I’d rather not change at the onset of hurricane season but I can’t justify $900 a year when there are other options on the market.   And can we stop adding features that complicate the interface?

What other solutions are out there for emergency text broadcasting to a restricted list of people?

The Godfather, The Undertaker, and Informal Systems

In recent talks I have found an anecdote that has worked well to explain the difference between formal and informal systems that most Americans can relate to. The book The Godfather opens with:

Amerigo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her. (pg 3)

bridgeThe two young men who did this were set free by a corrupt judge. Amerigo Bonasera, the Sicilian Undertaker, concludes “For justice we must go on our knees to Don Corleone.” The formal American system in this fictional book has failed our Undertaker. So he reaches out to the informal system in his community; Don Corleone. When they meet on the day of Corleone’s daughter’s funeral, a day “that by tradition no Sicilian can refuse a request” (pg 17), Amerigo asks the Godfather to have the men killed. Corleone refuses and rebukes Amerigo for basically being a rainy-day-friend. Corleone says:

“…until this day you never came to me for counsel or help. I can’t remember the last time you invited me to your house for coffee though my wife is godmother to your only child. Let us be frank. You spurned my friendship. You feared to be in my debt. … Now you come to me and say, ‘Don Corleone give me justice.'” (pg 21)

he continues

“Why do you fear to give your allegiance to me? … if you had come to me, my purse would have been yours. If you had come to me for justice those scum who ruined your daughter would be weeping bitter tears this day. If by some misfortune an honest man like yourself made enemies they would become my enemies” – the Don raised his finger pointing at Bonasera – “and then, believe me, they would fear you.”

“you shall have your justice. Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do me a service in return. Until that day, consider this justice a gift from my wife, your daughter’s godmother.” (pg 23)

Justice is delivered on page 53 “… they seemed to be pulps of human beings. Miraculously, said the News, they were both still alive though they would both be in the hospital for months and would require plastic surgery.” – And the Undertaker owes the Godfather.

All of us can relate to this story, particularly if we have children. “I don’t need you! I’m (an adult/in high school/have my own job/etc/etc) now! I can do it on my own!” But really NONE of us can do it on our own, with any level of success at least. It takes support from both formal and informal systems. Success requires support from family, the rule of law, the employer and these days more and more success requires the full support of extended urban tribes.

For Public Relations folks, I like to bring up the shift from formal distribution (traditional mainstream media) to informal distribution (bloggers, youtube, twitter brand attacks). In my opinion, many people in PR and in media DO understand the shift from centralized to distributed (long tail, small pieces loosely joined) media. Yet what they potentially don’t fully understand is the shift in authority from the police to the Don Corleone’s of the world. And let us not forget the Godfather wasn’t exactly a saint, collecting protection money, bribing the police and “knocking off” the competition.

For public relations professionals, the bloggers are hidden (no Bacon’s directory! gasp!). And bloggers are completely biased and proud of it. And have authority far beyond what a small olive importer should have. From the bloggers perspective the world is finally acknowledging their informal system of authority. About time.

Just an observation about the shift from formal authority in the media to a more informal system. And we all need to get to know and be friends with the new kids in town. With respect.

Swine Flu – We’re all (NOT) Gonna Die Man!

STOP IT! Just STOP IT damnit. No, we are all NOT going to die from Swine Flu. Sheesh.

“The biggest question is this — how severe will the pandemic be, especially now at the start,” Chan said. “It really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic.”

True, the definition of pandemic is:

pandemic: an epidemic that is geographically widespread; occurring throughout a region or even throughout the world

Yet that could describe the popularity of Heidi Montag as well as the spread of Swine Flu (hat tip to the Jewish & Muslim Political correctness police). Even the Governor is fundraising excited.

protect-yourself-firestorm-flu-webinarSo what are the facts about Swine Flu? I attended an informative webinar about swine flu from Firestorm today. Some highlights are:

Dr. Stephen Cunnion explains Swine Flu:

  1. The swine flu is not transmitted by eating pork. People catch the flu from other people passing the germs.
  2. The first reported case was on March 22nd. The gestation of the influenza virus can be up to a week long so we still don’t have exact facts and figures.
  3. The flu virus is the number one cause for lack of productivity for companies any given year.
  4. The BEST WAY to avoid contracting the Flu is the use of Hand Sanitizers and the avoidance of super crowded places.

How is the Flu transmitted?

  1. Directly via human to human contact, droplet or airborne contact
  2. Indirectly via objects handled by someone who has contracted the flu

So how is this swine flu thing going to play out. A few predictions about the Swine Flu / H1N1 flu in the US. I shouldn’t call these a prediction, this is more of how I see things possibly playing out in a “best and worst case” scenario.

End game: It is a new virus. It is here permanently. People get used to it and live with it. We just have to make it to September when a new vaccine is produced. In the meantime the virus responds to treatment and regular flu prevention tactics.

Short Term Media Panic:

  1. Media hysteria leads to –
    1. shut all schools in the USA and we all stay home.
    2. NBA, MLB, NFL all play to empty stadiums
    3. NYC subways shut down, the American (wasteful/isolated) car rules
  2. Many small businesses shut down because nobody is working. Worsening the depression recession. (when can we call it a depression?)
  3. Businesses can’t pay people because, well, they don’t have any money at this point.
  4. Employees call the office and say “um…. can we get some cash?”
    1. Management calls the White House for a bail out.
    2. White house says “no, we gave it all to the bankers and a pittance to the car guys who can’t negotiate a contract and we’re broke. Ooops.”
  5. Everyone realizes that they need to go back to work. But there are no customers.
  6. Employees, white collar included, come back with partial telecommute schedules.
    1. Most work hourly because there isn’t enough work for salary.
    2. Hourly wage works against self-containment of infected workers as there is no “sick time” so they have a monetary incentive to come to work even if sick. Irony.
  7. You can’t buy a surgical or painters mask anywhere
    1. Western Stores sell out of handkerchiefs
  8. Bleach gets very popular (a dangerous chemical, some will injure themselves with it)
  9. Pig farmers go out of business and religious nuts gets all old-testament righteous about it.
  10. Purell, the maker of sanitizers gets very popular / stock goes up
  11. Density of housing goes up with families moving in together to cut costs even though this spreads disease faster.
  12. Community unlicensed child care facilities form on an ad-hoc basis. Mary covers Tues, Thur. Bob covers the kids Mon, Wed, Fri. etc…
    1. Neighbors helping neighbors.
    2. Untrained unlicensed facilities means accidents will happen that are not related to the flu.
  13. Home schooling goes up.
  14. Abandonment of marginal properties by upside-down home owners skyrockets, particularly in dense North Eastern cities
    1. Or alternatively this may not happen as banks may not bother to kick out foreclosures or tenants because there is no market for upside down houses.
  15. Victory gardens in the backyard are very popular. Seeds sell out, but few know how to garden anymore.
    1. Community gardens
    2. Web tutorials on gardening become popular.
    3. Theft of community vegetables as is typical of the tragedy of the commons.
  16. UPS, FedEX and the USPS all see a surge in business. Drivers paid a premium.
  17. has huge success selling books, videos, anything that fills time for a family trapped at home!
  18. Wall mounted hand sanitizers sell out, only to find you can’t buy refills for them.
  19. The Internet slows to a crawl with the increase in throughput from telecommuters
  20. Local Internet Service Providers force through variable pricing on bandwidth with public consent because everyone wants the network to run faster.
  21. Gun stores have an increase in sales, with all customers entering and exiting the store wearing masks. Really.
  22. Hard alcohol and beer sales up, wine sales drop based on discretionary spending priority. More bang for the shot with the hard stuff.
  23. Gas prices drop – with no place to go demand side of equation drops, at least until the fall of 2009 when oil and natural gas go up with more people staying home.
  24. Home safe sales increase. Gun safes as well.
  25. Debit card use increases so people can avoid touching cash and physical artifacts of money.
  26. The virus reveals itself to have genetic targeting factors meaning different races have different fatality rates.
  27. Increase in religious activity, but perhaps a drop in mass/service attendance
  28. Cruises see a huge drop in use, advertise guest/square foot ratios to emphasize separation. Heat detectors throughout the ship to measure body temperature.
  29. Blogging increases, facebook increases as people have time on their hands. Short term.
  30. Tamiflu and Relenza sell out because it is safer for docs to prescribe those if they are unsure of what a patient has, and it takes 3 to 5 days to get the test results back

What can you do now?

  2. Antibacterial Soap – buy it. Purell is sold out, but hand sanitizers are not as good as actually washing your hands anyway.
  3. Bleach – buy it. Best sanitizer/cleaner ever. And cheap. Just be careful with it.
  4. Facemasks – questionable if these work, but if you go to the mall and EVERYONE is wearing one, social pressure says you will want one. Handkerchiefs will do.

Showmanship for Magicians – Entertainment Fundamentals

From Showmanship for Magicians, PG 24-25

magic1“From the above, then, we should be able to to begin to cull a list of the often-found integrants in successful and popular entertainment. Most often appearing in our analysis, as shown above, are the certain fundamentals:”

  1. Music
  2. Rhythm
  3. Movement
  4. Youth
  5. Sex appeal
  6. Personality
  7. Color
  8. Comedy
  9. Harmony
  10. Romance
  11. Sentiment
  12. Nostalgia
  13. Pointing
  14. Timing
  15. Surprise
  16. Situation
  17. Character
  18. Conflict
  19. Proper costuming
  20. Careful grooming
  21. Physical action
  22. Group coordination
  23. Precise attack
  24. Short scenes or turns
  25. Efficient pacing
  26. Punch
  27. Careful routining
  28. Tireless rehearsal
  29. Special material and score
  30. Grace
  31. Effortless skill
  32. Sure-fire
  33. Spectacle
  34. Thrill
  35. Emotion
  36. Common problems
  37. Escape from the humdrum
  38. Unity
  39. Up-to-datedness

Tracking Buzz Through Stock Photography Geography

Via David Brown of Spacetaker, I saw this article in the New York Times called The Geography of Buzz, a Study on the Urban Influence of Culture. The methodology of the study itself is quite fascinating – reviewing stock photography taken at parties and plotting them on a map.

The overall report is a reinforcement that there is good news for PR people, for property owners and for main stream America! And it has great visuals on tracking buzz!

0407-buzz-nyc-mapsBut mostly the data helped show the continued dominance of the mainstream news media as a cultural gatekeeper, and the never-ending cycle of buzz in the creative world.

and concludes

Ms. Currid added: “People talk about the end of place and how everything is really digital. In fact, buzz is created in places, and this data tells us how this happens.“

But even after their explicit study of where to find buzz, Ms. Currid and Ms. Williams did not come away with a better understanding of how to define it. Rather, like pornography, you know it when you see it.

“As vague a term as “˜buzz’ is, it’s so socially and economically important for cultural goods,“ Ms. Currid said. “Artists become hot because so many people show up for their gallery opening, people want to wear designers because X celebrity is wearing them, people want to go to movies because lots of people are going to them and talking about them. Even though it’s like, “˜What the heck does that mean?,’ it means something.“

Worth a read. Definitely buzzworthy!

Social Media Training for Political Campaigns Presentation

Busy weekend. From the Bill White Social Media Training post on the Schipul blog

We had a super morning this Saturday, meeting with Mayor Bill White, his WONDERFUL wife Andrea White, their staff and a great group of volunteers.   The topic was telling Bill White’s Story online and responding to less-than-wonderful commentary on Blogs, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Monica Danna (Cosmopolitician) coordinated the event at HTC – including @kolachefactory breakfast and @coffeegroundz coffee.   Awesome small group leaders included Maggie McDonald (Magsmac), Laura Mayes (Girl Con Queso), Grace Rodriguez, Katrina Esco, Ashley Minor, Julie Pippert and the lovely Jennifer Rebecca Stephenson (LolaJRS).

I have to say teaching the class with @happykatie was a blast. And quite an honor. Thanks for the support Houston!

I’d also like to add a HUGE THANKS TO MARC NATHAN! Mr. marc1919 did an awesome job of getting the Houston Technology Center ready on a Saturday. Very much appreciated Marc!

Hall’s 10 elements of culture

From The Silent Language by Edward T. Hall culture can be discerned by reviewing 10 elements of a culture. In his words:

The criteria, from an anthropological point of view, are firm. There are ten separate kinds of human activity which I have labeled Primary Message Systems (PMS) (editors note: how unfortunate?!) Only the first PMS involves language (editors note again: really?) – pg 37, The Silent Language, Hall

and here is the list from page 37+

  1. Interaction – irritable interaction and speech, to not be dead.
  2. Association – pecking order and joining cells, patterns
  3. Subsistence – food to the economy of a country
  4. Bisexuality – sex and reproduction (no, not the “bi” you are thinking)
  5. Territoriality – the taking, maintenance and defense of territory
  6. Temporality – cycles, rhythms, the passage of time
  7. Learning and Aquisition – study or “acquire” knowledge
  8. Play – humor, joy, competition
  9. Defense – warfare, religion, medicine, and all ways we cleverly defend ourselves
  10. Exploitation – use of materials, adapt to environment

Other gems from this amazing book include:

… humans experience on three different levels, how they communicate to their children in three ways while in the process of rearing them, how they alternate between three different types of awareness or consciousness and embue each experience with three different types of emotional overtones. I have called this crucial trio:

  1. the formal,
  2. the informal, and
  3. the technical

He continues

One of the most effective ways to learn about oneself is by taking seriously the cultures of others. It forces you to pay attention to those details of live which differentiate them from you.

This is one of those blog posts that you post mostly for yourself, as a record, so you will find it later. Nothing replaces reading the book. It may have been written in 1959, but not much has changed. Really.

Mom2Summit Panel Video: It’s the end of Marketing as we know it. And we feel fine.

Well it took me half a week, but here is the full video of our panel from the Mom2Summit last weekend. The title was “It’s the end of marketing as we know it. And we feel fine.” First the full video.

Panel: It’s the end of Marketing as we know it. And we feel fine. from Ed Schipul on Vimeo.

Lessons learned about video: Given this was my first real attempt at video, I learned a few things. Like you can’t work with MOV files on a PC with Movie Maker. Macs have iMovie, which rocks. And iMovie compresses video into mv4 files which is cool with youtube. Limiters: Youtube limits video length to 10 minutes. Facebook limits video length to 20 minutes. Google video allowed longer videos but they are shutting it down. The ONLY product that worked was Vimeo for a 32:56 video. In short, vimeo ROCKS!

A direct link to “It’s the end of marketing as we know it. And we feel fine