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Sep 25, 2012, 11:38 CDT
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Monday, March 21, 2011, 12:31 PM
Following are ProfNet’s Expert Alerts for Monday, March 21.
Via Expert Alerts, ProfNet members can alert reporters to experts and potential stories by showcasing the experts' knowledge on timely issues or trends. Reporters can contact experts via the contact information listed at the end of each alert.
For more information on Expert Alerts, please go to budurl.com/expertalerts
1. Building: Government-Subsidized Weatherization
2. Business: Invest in the Future of Your Business
3. Public Relations: Conventional Media Is Not Yet Down for the Count
4. Real Estate: Reasons a Home Retains Value
5. Technology: Amazon's Yet-to-Launch App Store
6. Workplace: Office Madness or Employee Badness?
7. Workplace: Office Pools Can Be Treacherous for Gambling Addicts
**1. BUILDING: GOVERNMENT-SUBSIDIZED WEATHERIZATION. Brian Kearney, owner of Neponset Valley Construction in Norwood, Mass.: "Now is a great time for consumers to take advantage of free energy audits offered through local energy companies. Without any out-of-pocket expense, homeowners can qualify for government-sponsored weatherization projects that will help save hundreds of dollars in heating and cooling expenses each year. Projects covered through federal and state programs depend on where you live. For example, in Massachusetts, vapor barrier and air sealing are covered, although that might not be the case in Florida. In any event, it's important that consumers only use contractors from the list they are given after their energy audit because not all contractors are qualified for government work. If a homeowner hires someone that isn't on the list, they will have to pay for the work out-of-pocket." Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/brian_kearney News Contact: Lucia Scott, Lucia@exposeyourselfpr.com
**2. BUSINESS: INVEST IN THE FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Jonathan Gassman, CAP, CFP, CPA, is a partner of Gassman & Golodny and managing director of G&G Planning Concepts, INC.: “Succession planning is an investment in the future of your business for the owners and your family, employees and clients. The existence of a succession plan emphasizes your commitment to your business's long-term growth and creates confidence with customers, clients, lenders, employees, service providers, vendors and other key suppliers. You always have to consider that by investing in the future of your business you are really protecting its current value. Your key employees will feel more secure and you do not have to worry about losing them to outside job opportunities. And it never makes sense to pay needless taxes or to waste your precious resources. By investing in the future of your business, you are also investing in your own future. The proper design and coordination of estate, business and retirement plans can allow for income to be paid (deferred compensation) to the founder through cash flow, and for benefit plans that are set up to reward the present owner, while at the same time allowing for the smooth transition from you to the next owner of the business." Gassman is available for media interviews. Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/jonathan_gassman News Contact: Patricia Vaccarino, email@example.com Phone: +1-206-979-3380
**3. PUBLIC RELATIONS: CONVENTIONAL MEDIA IS NOT YET DOWN FOR THE COUNT. Richard Berman, president of Berman & Associates, a public relations firm: "In our rush to embrace the latest apps, one would think that the conventional media has folded up its tent and gone home. Recent studies, however, report that the majority of chatter in social media is a reaction to news in the conventional media. A story I helped generate on The Associated Press appeared on more than 50,000 websites on the first day it was published. The AP was founded in 1846 and still carefully researches each of its stories. Few blogs have such resources or objectivity, and therein lies the reason that conventional media is still the most credible, trusted source for news. Therefore, in building a media campaign, I tell clients to approach the mainstream media first -- success you have there will soon trickle down to the blogosphere." Berman is located in Westchester, N.Y. Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/richard.berman Berman: BermanPR@gmail.com
**4. REAL ESTATE: REASONS A HOME RETAINS VALUE. Chobee Hoy, owner of Chobee Hoy Realty Associates, Inc., of Brookline, Mass.: "Identical homes will increase or decrease in value based on location. A good location includes a top-rated school district; a nice view; proximity to outdoor recreation, shopping and entertainment; and convenience to public transportation, hospitals and jobs. Remember that swimming pools will decrease prospective buyer traffic when it comes time to resell. Don't buy the nicest house in the neighborhood, as many studies have shown that the smallest home in the neighborhood has the greatest resale value. An open, flowing floor plan or layout with multiple bathrooms will be the most appealing once you decide to sell. Most buyers won't look at a home unless it has at least three bedrooms." Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/chobee_hoy News Contact: Lucia Scott, Lucia@ExposeYourselfPR.com
**5. TECHNOLOGY: AMAZON'S YET-TO-LAUNCH APP STORE. Jonathan Gellar, founder and editor-in-chief of Boy Genius Report, a resource for breaking news and analysis on products in-market as well as prior-to-launch, can speak to the iPad launch, app news, AT&T’s new bandwidth limit, CTIA, and a variety of content regarding technology and new media. In particular, Gellar can discuss Amazon’s yet-to-launch app store: "Amazon’s answer to Google’s Android Market may be just around the corner. Android News recently paid a visit to Amazon.com/apps and found a listing of Android applications, 48 in total, with prices. When Amazon announced it was throwing its hat into the app store ring, we weren’t sure what it would do to differentiate itself, but it looks like offering exclusive app titles is going to be the game plan. 'Angry Birds Rio' for Android, which will launch as an exclusive, wasn't to be found, but others, such as 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Force Recon,' were listed. Those may be reason enough for us to check out the Amazon's app store when it launches." Gellar is located in Connecticut, but is also available in New York City. Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/jonathan_gellar News Contact: Nick Carcaterra, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-212-333-7728 ext. 126 Website: www.bgr.com
**6. WORKPLACE: OFFICE MADNESS OR EMPLOYEE BADNESS? Audrey Mross of Munck Carter in Dallas: "When it comes to the NCAA basketball tournament, employers can try to keep employees from watching the games and participating in the hoopla (pun intended), but doing so can be an immense challenge. You don't even need a television anymore, as employees can watch on their computer, laptop or smartphone. Given that dynamic, many employers instead incorporate the excitement into the workplace as a team-building exercise. You can have casual days and encourage people to wear team colors and logos. Some companies convert television-equipped conference rooms for watch parties complete with snacks, brackets, pools and prizes, or you might consider donating the cash to a favorite charity." News Contact: Mark Annick, email@example.com Phone: +1-800-559-4534
**7. WORKPLACE: OFFICE POOLS CAN BE TREACHEROUS FOR GAMBLING ADDICTS. Mary Jo McCurley, a name partner in the Dallas-based family law firm of McCurley Orsinger McCurley Nelson & Downing L.L.P.: "Entering your office's NCAA pool may be a nice way to bond with your co-workers, but for those with gambling issues, it can put additional strain on a marriage. Most office pools have a reasonable buy-in of $20 or less, but those with a gambling addiction may seek out a more thrilling, high-cost pool. Gambling is one of the more pernicious addictions when it comes to the impact on marriage. It combines the risk of bankruptcy with a toxic level of deceit and subterfuge, all of which are napalm to a happy marriage." News Contact: Amy Hunt, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-800-559-4534
Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 2:36 PM
Following are ProfNet’s Expert Alerts for Wednesday, March 16.
Via Expert Alerts, ProfNet members can alert reporters to experts and potential stories by showcasing the experts' knowledge on timely issues or trends. Reporters can contact experts via the contact information listed at the end of each alert.
For more information on Expert Alerts, please go to budurl.com/expertalerts
1. Education: Education Should Be above the Political Fray
2. Education: Is ‘Rain’ the Answer to Texas’ School Funding Dilemma?
3. Law: Deadly Skydiving Mishap Shines Light on Legal Waivers
4. Law: Lessons to Learn from Facebook Firing
5. Law: Repeal of 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell': How Employers Can Prevent Harassment
6. Law: Supreme Court to Consider Shareholder Class Action
7. Taxation: New FATCA Reporting Procedures
**1. EDUCATION: EDUCATION SHOULD BE ABOVE THE POLITICAL FRAY. Marcos Ronquillo of the Dallas office of Godwin Ronquillo, which frequently represents school districts: “As public school districts across Texas find themselves forced into cutting programs as well as faculty, it may become difficult for state government to justify the decision to turn its back on millions of dollars from the federal Department of Education. Texas already is 43rd in the nation in educational spending, and now political posturing threatens to drive us down further. By failing to submit the proper paperwork for available grants, the state is playing politics with future generations of Texans and may lose more than $800 million in federal funds available to Texas schools. Compounding the problem is the political perception that education is a ‘cost’ to the state when it is actually an investment in Texas. Student achievement is not a commodity to be brokered.” News Contact: Rhonda Reddick, email@example.com Phone: +1-800-559-4534
**2. EDUCATION: IS ‘RAIN’ THE ANSWER TO TEXAS’ SCHOOL FUNDING DILEMMA? Tom Brandt, Dallas attorney from Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin, which represents schools and school districts: “With Texas facing the potential for drastic cutbacks in local school district budgets, some have suggested tapping into the state’s rainy-day fund to help make up the difference. The fund could be part of the solution. After all, who among us, as parents, would think twice about dipping into our savings to take care of our children’s needs? At the same time, the state must address systemic issues that have left schools wanting for money. The rainy-day fund is not going to fix this every time. It’s imperative we develop a solution to the serious structural problems concerning the way we finance education.” News Contact: Mark Annick, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-800-559-4534
**3. LAW: DEADLY SKYDIVING MISHAP SHINES LIGHT ON LEGAL WAIVERS. John Flood, a plaintiffs’ attorney in the Corpus Christi, Texas, office of Flood & Flood, can comment on two Houston skydivers that died recently after their chutes became tangled in midair, leading observers to question the liability of the skydiving facility where seven fatalities have occurred in the past decade: “High-risk businesses are able to operate by using legal waivers that require users to acknowledge an activity’s inherent dangers and absolving operators of basic negligence claims. If the tragedy is caused by an obvious risk that the victim willingly assumed, then the law will generally allow a business to make money off of that risk without the liability. However, such waivers do not absolve businesses from gross negligence or serious carelessness.” News Contact: Robert Tharp, email@example.com Phone: +1-800-559-4534
**4. LAW: LESSONS TO LEARN FROM FACEBOOK FIRING. Audrey Mross, head of the Labor & Employment practice at Munck Carter in Dallas: “Businesses would be wise to review the recent settlement between the National Labor Relations Board and American Medical Response of Connecticut, regarding an employee who was fired for Facebook postings about a supervisor that the employee wrote while off-duty on a home computer. As part of the settlement, the company is revising its ‘overly broad’ social networking policy so that it doesn’t infringe on workers’ rights to discuss wages, hours and working conditions. While this was a union worker, the reach of the National Labor Relations Act is not limited to unionized employees. Firing an employee for comments about work conditions, in or out of the workplace, usually runs afoul of the act.” News Contact: Mark Annick, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-800-559-4534
**5. LAW: REPEAL OF 'DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL': HOW EMPLOYERS CAN PREVENT HARASSMENT. Shanti Atkins is the president and CEO of ELT, the leading specialists in ethics and compliance training. With years of experience under her belt, Atkins can discuss possible harassments stemming from the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." Only 21 states offer protection against sexual orientation on a state level, and homosexual employees in the 29 states that don’t offer protection can be legally fired, harassed, paid less -- and the list goes on. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has already been passed in the House, and with 71 percent of Americans supporting laws that prohibit workplace discrimination and the Pentagon initiating a force-wide program in the military to accept homosexuals, this puts ENDA in the forefront of employers' minds: "Bringing policies and workplace rules to life is about effectively educating the workforce, and giving them the awareness and practical skills needed to create and sustain a productive and safe environment. Many employees don’t know where the boundaries of 'free speech' lie when it comes to acceptable behavior in the workplace. Policies and periodic harassment training are essential to ensuring employees understand the rules, and treat one another with dignity and respect." She is located in California. News Contact: Shani Wright, Wright@formulapr.com Phone: +1-212-219-0321
**6. LAW: SUPREME COURT TO CONSIDER SHAREHOLDER CLASS ACTION. Brad Foster, a partner in the Dallas office of Andrews Kurth: “Securities lawsuits will be under scrutiny next month as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in Erica P. John Fund Inc. v. Halliburton Co. At issue is whether shareholders must prove that alleged fraud caused a drop in stock prices in order to form a class action, or if that question is better left for trial. ‘Loss causation’ is the latest battleground in securities cases, and the Supreme Court will be asked to strike a balance between protecting shareholders and preventing vexatious litigation. Loss causation is an exceptionally rigorous barrier for shareholders, and the Court’s ruling could dramatically alter the securities litigation landscape.” News Contact: Alan Bentrup, email@example.com Phone: +1-800-559-4534
**7. TAXATION: NEW FATCA REPORTING PROCEDURES. Bob Simon, managing partner and tax expert with Manhattan-based CPA and consulting firm EisnerLubin llp, can discuss the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) that will carry far-reaching disclosure and reporting requirements for U.S. taxpayers, as well as for foreign financial institutions with accounts owned by U.S. taxpayers: "New and more detailed reporting procedures have been mandated -- and non-compliance carries stiffer penalties than ever before. The Act is intended to close the gap in information reporting to the IRS and to curb abuses relating to the use of offshore accounts by U.S. taxpayers. In addition, recognizing the potentially large number of individuals and companies that could be involved, there is a companion piece -- the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) -- an important 'amnesty' period for taxpayers with undisclosed income hidden in offshore accounts. This important period expires at the end of August." Simon cautions that those involved must proceed with caution. News Contact: Lois Russo, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-212-563-8025
Monday, March 14, 2011, 3:14 PM
Following are ProfNet’s Expert Alerts for Monday, March 14.
Via Expert Alerts, ProfNet members can alert reporters to experts and potential stories by showcasing the experts' knowledge on timely issues or trends. Reporters can contact experts via the contact information listed at the end of each alert.
For more information on Expert Alerts, please go to budurl.com/expertalerts
1. Building: Tell-Tale Signs of Water Damage
2. Finance: The Truth behind Trigger Leads
3. Real Estate: Consumer Tips when Attending Open Houses
4. Technology: The Complexities of Cloud Computing
5. Workplace: Hold on to Top Employees by Enriching Them
6. Workplace: Lessons to Learn from Facebook Firing
7. Workplace: Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don’t Tell': How Employers Can Prevent Harassment
8. Workplace: Toning Down Distractions during March Madness
9. Workplace: Why Haven't You Done a Succession Plan for Your Business?
**1. BUILDING: TELL-TALE SIGNS OF WATER DAMAGE. Brian Kearney, owner of Neponset Valley Construction in Norwood, Mass.: "Harsh winters can bring a great deal of water damage to a home, as heavy accumulation tends to wreak havoc on roofing. It's important for homeowners to inspect their attics for moisture or stains on the ceiling and floor. Inspect chimneys, vents and skylights for water or discoloration. Check to make sure all windows open, shut and lock properly, because if they don't, it means there might be hidden water damage within the walls. Rusty nails within your home's interior are also red flags. When it comes to insulation, make sure that it is uniformly thick and fluffy and be especially aware of areas around your home's eaves." News Contact: Lucia Scott, Lucia@exposeyourselfpr.com Phone: +1-617-797-9869
**2. FINANCE: THE TRUTH BEHIND TRIGGER LEADS. Chip Poli, CEO of Poli Mortgage Group, Inc., of Norwood, Mass.: "Loan applicants need to be aware of a growing lead-generation system within the financial industry known as 'trigger leads.' When lenders obtain copies of a credit report for a potential client, personal information from that report is sold by credit bureaus to competing lenders. Lenders and mortgage brokers can buy these leads based on gender, state, age, income, mortgage payment and credit score. Some consumers might like the idea of lenders competing for their business, but they are also at a higher risk for identity theft and unsolicited phone calls and mailings. We have decided not to use trigger leads because we believe it's a breach in privacy. There's no guarantee that a company using trigger leads is reputable; proper research is vital for consumers to protect themselves. To opt out, consumers can visit OptOutPreScreen.com." News Contact: Lucia Scott, Lucia@exposeyourselfpr.com Phone: +1-617-797-9869
**3. REAL ESTATE: CONSUMER TIPS WHEN ATTENDING OPEN HOUSES. Lisa Johnson Sevajian, vice president of Coldwell Banker in Andover, Mass.: "Sign in. Most people avoid handing their contact information to agents because they are afraid of being inundated with calls and e-mails; the truth is brokers are busy and they will usually only contact you if there is a price change. Explore the space inside and out. Before you fall in love with the interior of the home, check the condition of the attic and basement -- have they been properly cared for? Also, make sure to walk the perimeter to get a good idea of the lot. Make sure to get copies of listing sheets and all other information made available by the agent so you can confirm details with public records. Ask the agent about potential selling incentives. Don't forget that the listing agent's priority is the seller; a strong buyer's agent will protect your best interest, so make sure you have one." Johnson Sevajian: Lisa.Johnson@nemoves.com News Contact: Lucia Scott, Lucia@exposeyourselfpr.com Phone: +1-617-797-9869
**4. TECHNOLOGY: THE COMPLEXITIES OF CLOUD COMPUTING. Ed Laczynski, vice president of cloud strategy for Datapipe, a leading solution provider for managing and securing mission-critical IT services: "Many organizations have, or they are seriously considering, using the cloud. However, according to industry analysts, most companies that try to run their own private cloud will fail. Therefore, if private cloud is on the menu for a business, a managed service provider can help to create, deliver and manage a private cloud environment, minimizing the risks and maximizing the benefits." Laczynski can discuss the pain points companies may face when adopting cloud computing technology, and offer considerations and solutions to manage the complexities of running cloud operations. He is located in Jersey City, N.J. News Contact: Kristin Davie, email@example.com Phone: +1-212-931-6176
**5. WORKPLACE: HOLD ON TO TOP EMPLOYEES BY ENRICHING THEM. Jennifer Rosenzweig, director of research at the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement, affiliated with Northwestern University: "While the term 'employee engagement' has been mentioned frequently as a way to keep talented employees on board in a recovering economy, a new approach is to create a work environment that 'enriches' employees -- one that encourages their development and meets their needs as both an employee and a person, and acknowledges how important they are to the success of the business. An employee who is part of an enriched environment has the support and resources they need to go above and beyond when serving customers." News Contact: Sue Voyles, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-734-667-2005
**6. WORKPLACE: LESSONS TO LEARN FROM FACEBOOK FIRING. Audrey Mross, head of the Labor & Employment practice at Munck Carter in Dallas: "Businesses would be wise to review the recent settlement between the National Labor Relations Board and American Medical Response of Connecticut, regarding an employee who was fired for Facebook postings about a supervisor that the employee wrote while off-duty on a home computer. As part of the settlement, the company is revising its 'overly broad' social networking policy so that it doesn't infringe on workers' rights to discuss wages, hours and working conditions. While this was a union worker, the reach of the National Labor Relations Act is not limited to unionized employees. Firing an employee for comments about work conditions, in or out of the workplace, usually runs afoul of the act." News Contact: Mark Annick, email@example.com Phone: +1-800-559-4534
**7. WORKPLACE: REPEAL OF 'DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL': HOW EMPLOYERS CAN PREVENT HARASSMENT. Shanti Atkins is the president and CEO of ELT, the leading specialists in ethics and compliance training. With years of experience under her belt, Atkins can discuss possible harassments stemming from the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." Only 21 states offer protection against sexual orientation on a state level, and homosexual employees in the 29 states that don’t offer protection can be legally fired, harassed, paid less -- and the list goes on. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has already been passed in the House, and with 71 percent of Americans supporting laws that prohibit workplace discrimination and the Pentagon initiating a force-wide program in the military to accept homosexuals, this puts ENDA in the forefront of employer’s minds: "Bringing policies and workplace rules to life is about effectively educating the workforce, and giving them the awareness and practical skills needed to create and sustain a productive and safe environment. Many employees don’t know where the boundaries of 'free speech' lie when it comes to acceptable behavior in the workplace. Policies and periodic harassment training are essential to ensuring employees understand the rules, and treat one another with dignity and respect." She is located in California. News Contact: Shani Wright, Wright@formulapr.com Phone: +1-212-219-0321
**8. WORKPLACE: TONING DOWN DISTRACTIONS DURING MARCH MADNESS. Tim Newton, partner in the Atlanta office of national labor and employment law firm Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP, is available to speak about what employers can -- and should -- do to limit their liability and tone down distractions among its employees: "March Madness can be pure madness for employers. Not only can this exciting time in college sports lead to absenteeism at work, but it can lead to 'presenteeism' as well, with employees physically there but not engaged with their work. Employers should set ground rules in advance and remind workers of Internet usage and absenteeism policies. Some workplaces may want to consider some organized event during March Madness to give employees an outlet to watch a game or two, but then allows workers to get back to business without distractions." News Contact: Wendy Angel, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-404-230-6724
**9. WORKPLACE: WHY HAVEN’T YOU DONE A SUCCESSION PLAN FOR YOUR BUSINESS? Jonathan Gassman, CAP, CFP, CPA, is a partner of Gassman & Golodny and managing director of G&G Planning Concepts, INC.: "Your business goes on from day to day without anyone knowing what would happen tomorrow if you were suddenly no longer able to manage the business. Without you, what would happen to your business? Even though there is a real and obvious need to prepare for the future, many business owners offer different reasons for not having a succession plan. For example, you might think you will eventually sell the business or you are not yet sure what your children will want to do, or you are afraid of making the wrong decision. Despite some good reasons why you may not have a family succession plan in place, an overwhelming majority of business owners want their businesses to stay in the family. While 81 percent of family-owned businesses want the business to stay in the family, studies have shown that without a succession plan in place, 70 percent of family businesses do not survive to the second generation. And only 12 percent survive to the third generation." Gassman is available for media interviews. News Contact: Patricia Vaccarino, email@example.com Phone: +1-206-979-3380
Friday, March 11, 2011, 12:03 PM
Following are experts who can discuss various aspects of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan and consequent tsunami preparation, expectations and impact for Hawaii, the U.S. West Coast and 19 other countries. We will continue to update this list.
We have also created a Twitter List of experts on this topic: bit.ly/gCcQXr
**1. George Bradt, managing director of PrimeGenesis, the leading executive onboarding and transition acceleration consulting firm, can discuss how to prepare a disaster response plan, the steps to effectively react to a crisis, and how to improve capabilities to respond to future crises. His analysis can be broken down into three steps: 1) Prepare in advance: There is a finite set of the most likely, most devastating types of crises and disasters that are worth preparing for. Think them through. Run the drills. Capture the general lessons so people can apply them flexibly to the specific situations they encounter. 2) React to events: The reason you prepared is so that you all can react quickly and flexibly to the situation you face. Don’t over-think this. Do what you prepared to do. 3) Bridge the gaps: In a crisis, there is inevitably a gap between the desired and current state of affairs. Rectify that by bridging those gaps in the: a) situation -- implementing a response to the current crisis; b) response -- improving capabilities to respond to future crises; and c) prevention -- reducing the risk of future crises happening in the first place. News Contact: Ryan Bartholomew, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-908-276-4344, ext. 221
**2. Brady Cox, assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Arkansas, can discuss damage to buildings and infrastructure due to the earthquake in Japan. A geotechnical engineer, Cox specializes in issues related to earthquake loading, soil dynamics and material characterization, and response to stress waves. Cox documented construction failures and collected additional data on the devastating effects of the Haiti earthquake in 2010. He traveled to that country as a member of Geo-Engineering Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER), a national organization that partners with the National Science Foundation to conduct reconnaissance efforts of extreme events such as earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides. Cox is familiar with earthquake activity and impact in Japan, as he participated in a GEER deployment immediately following the 2008 earthquake in Iwate-Miyagi. Cox’s research has focused on the development of a new test method for directly measuring the dynamic-pressure response and behavior of liquefiable soil deposits. He currently operates a Vibroseis shaker truck as part of his earthquake and dynamic material characterization research. He is a member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Arkansas Governor’s Earthquake Advisory Council. News Contact: Matt McGowan, email@example.com Phone: +1-479-575-4246 or +1-479-422-3681
**3. Christoph Gorder, VP of emergency response, AmeriCares, can discuss disaster response and disaster preparedness (international and U.S.); health needs among displaced populations; best practices for medical gift-in-kind donations; pharmaceutical supply chain management in the humanitarian sector; public/private partnership in relief efforts; and security issues facing aid workers in conflict areas. He has appeared on CNN, Fox News, NBC's "Today" show, "NBC Nightly News" and BBC World News. He has been interviewed on CNN Radio, NPR, Voice of America and WCBS Radio, and has been quoted by several major news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Reuters and Christian Science Monitor. News Contact: Donna Porstner, firstname.lastname@example.org
**4. Richard Gordon, director of Bournemouth University Disaster Management Centre, is a civil defence and disaster management expert. He has worked with the BBC outlining a disaster management strategy following the Haiti crisis. He is currently hosting the annual international disaster management annual course at Bournemouth University, aimed at people with existing or anticipated responsibilities for disaster management, and has worked specifically with counties around the Pacific Rim. Following the earthquake in Japan and the risk of tsunamis in other countries on the Pacific Rim, Gordon can provide informed comment and insight on the following: advice on what steps can be taken; setting priorities; how people will cope; and preparedness. News Contact: Sally Gates, email@example.com Phone: +44-(0)1202-961041 or +44-(0)1202-963963 Twitter: @bournemouthuni
**5. John Lyons, a Ph.D. student in geophysics at Michigan Technological University whose research focuses on earthquakes, can offer scientific context for earthquake/tsunami stories: "The strong tsunami and damaging shaking are due to the shallow depth of the earthquake and the earthquake’s mechanism, which is classified as a thrust-type earthquake due to the Pacific plate subducting beneath the Eurasian plate. Japan is one of the world leaders in earthquake science and engineering and one of the most earthquake-resistant countries in the world, due to strong scientific and governmental efforts. However, despite these efforts, it is still impossible to predict where and when powerful earthquakes will strike, which is why education and earthquake disaster prevention research is so important. The earthquake location reported by the USGS places the depth at 15 miles (24 km) below the surface, which is very shallow and caused a large, damaging tsunami. The tsunami swept miles inland and reached 33 feet (10 m) high in some of the most affected areas. A tsunami warning has been issued for the entire Pacific basin by the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, including the West Coast of the U.S and Canada. The waves recently passed through the Hawaiian Islands, with the largest waves reported along the coast of Maui over five feet. Waves over six feet (2 m) have been predicted for areas of Oregon and Washington and evacuations in low-lying coastal areas are under way." News Contact: Jennifer B. Donovan, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-906-487-4521 Website: www.mtu.edu/news
**6. Curtis R. Welling is president and chief executive officer, AmeriCares. Under his leadership, AmeriCares has become a leading humanitarian aid organization for delivering donated medicines and supplies. Committed to helping more people live longer, healthier lives, Welling has guided AmeriCares in the distribution of $5 billion in aid to health care institutions serving people around the world and in the United States. News Contact: Donna Porstner, email@example.com
**7. Carol Asiala, assistant research scientist/engineer at Michigan Technological University, can provide and discuss a graphic generated by earthquake sensors in Michigan Tech's geological and mining engineering and sciences department that picked up the Japan earthquake about 12.5 minutes after it happened. The large vibrations reveal the magnitude and length of the quake; the smaller jumps in the bars show the aftershocks. News Contact: Jennifer B. Donovan, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-906-487-4521 Website: www.mtu.edu/news
**8. David Bohannon, J.D., a law and policy analyst with the University of Maryland Center for Health & Homeland Security, can address disaster preparedness for families, businesses and government agencies. Bohannon’s background is in disaster preparedness and public awareness. He is in Baltimore and can do television in that market. News Contact: Jeff Raymond, email@example.com Phone: +1-410-706-3803 Twitter: @umbjeff Website: www.mdchhs.com/
**9. Michel Boufadel, chair of civil and environmental engineering, Temple University, can discuss tsunamis and their impact on the coast line, flooding, saltwater incursion and drinking water. News Contact: Preston M. Moretz, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-215-204-4380 Website: www.temple.edu/newsroom Twitter: @TempleU_SciTech
**10. Ellen Cornelius, J.D., senior law and policy analyst at the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security, is available to discuss disaster preparedness and reaction. She can discuss identifying potential threats (in the mid-Atlantic region, it tends to be hurricanes/flooding); evacuation/shelter decisions; and how families, businesses and government agencies can prepare/respond to disasters. Cornelius lives and works in Washington, D.C., and can do television in that market. News Contact: Jeff Raymond, email@example.com Phone: +1-410-706-3803 Twitter: @umbjeff Website: www.mdchhs.com/
**11. Dr. John Ferguson, professor of geosciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, can discuss seismology and tectonics. News Contact: Katherine Morales, Kmorales@utdallas.edu Phone: +1-972-883-4321
**12. Vince Gawronski, associate professor of political science at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Ala., is available to discuss the earthquake in Japan. Gawronski’s area of expertise is on disaster response. His latest research, published in the Journal of International Studies Perspectives, offers a framework on how leaders should approach disaster response. The paper suggests this can be done by using the 5C+A dimensions: capability, competence, compassion, correctness, credibility and anticipation. News Contact: Scott Willyerd, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-330-601-0857 Twitter: @djcnewsroom
**13. Bob Glasser, managing director and head of the Business Interruption and Insurance Claims practice at BDO Consulting, can discuss what local businesses, as well as multinational organizations with operations in Japan, can do in the upcoming weeks to recover from the disaster. Glasser has worked with small and large companies to help them quantify financial losses from catastrophic events. He can speak to issues businesses can expect to experience with the claims process, and has extensive experience advising the hospitality and retail industries on preparing, negotiating and settling claims. Specifically, he can discuss: how to avoid and overcome common roadblocks in the claims process, as well as understand potential unique issues coastal businesses may experience; rational expectations as to the amount claimed and timing of the settlement process, including whether indirect claims will be reimbursed; future losses versus actual current losses (Can you file an interim claim that allows you to file subsequent claims as additional future losses may occur?); and best practices for future disaster prep, including establishing a disaster recovery plan, reviewing insurance policies for appropriate values and coverage, and assessing whether accounting systems and employees can adequately capture relevant losses. News Contact: Emily Simmons, email@example.com Phone: +1-212-584-5482
**14. Jim Grace, president and CEO of InsureMyTrip.com, a leading online travel insurance comparison website: “An 8.9 earthquake hit Sendai, Japan, in the middle of the night, sending off tsunami warnings to more than 20 countries, including the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii. A tsunami warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii has been widened beyond East Asia to include Hawaii; Australia; New Zealand; Mexico; North, Central and South America; and the rest of the Pacific Ocean. Travelers with travel insurance coverage who are currently in Japan should contact the emergency assistance line for their individual insurance providers. Those who have plans to travel to Japan imminently should make every effort to contact their insurance provider with questions about their policies." News Contact: Vikki Corliss, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-401-773-9210
**15. Jafar Hadizadeh, professor of geography and geosciences at the University of Louisville, studies earthquakes and is available until 3 p.m. EST today. News Contact: Denise Fitzpatrick, email@example.com
**16. Medical and security experts from International SOS, the world’s leading international medical assistance and security services (evacuations) company, are available to discuss the earthquake in Japan. International SOS’s crisis team is already on the ground in Japan and has crisis command and control teams in place. Experts can offer comments around: on-the-ground reaction; preparedness tips for tsunami, aftershocks, medical rescue, etc.; travel advice (business travelers, families, etc.); and more. News Contact: Dave Whiting, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-202-828-9758
**17. Steve Jaume, geologist with the College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Hazards Center: “This was a shallow earthquake where part of the Pacific Ocean floor slides beneath the islands of Japan along what is called a subduction zone. Earthquakes of this type produce the largest tsunamis – the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was created by the same type of earthquake. The seismic waves of this massive earthquake have also been recorded worldwide, including here in South Carolina.” News Contact: Mike Robertson, email@example.com Phone: +1-843-953-5667
**18. Thomas Jordan, Ph.D., is the director of the Southern California Earthquake Center and the W. M. Keck Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California. His expertise includes earthquakes; plate tectonics; seismology; geodynamics; earthquake forecasting; tsunamis; seismological study of earth structure; geodetic observations of plate motions and interplate deformation; continental formation and tectonic evolution; mantle dynamics; and statistical descriptions of seafloor morphology. News Contact: Carl Guido Marziali, firstname.lastname@example.org
**19. Jim Kirby, professor of civil and environmental engineering, University of Delaware, studies the way the ocean moves, with particular emphasis on ocean waves and currents. Kirby can authoritatively discuss tsunamis, and was featured in various media outlets after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Bio: bit.ly/eafwbH News Contact: Andrea Boyle, email@example.com Phone: +1-302-831-1421
**20. Tom Larsen, product architect at catastrophe risk modeling firm EQECAT, Inc., can discuss the extent of the damage/economic losses and the impact on the insurance industry as this unfolds. EQECAT will be issuing an insured loss estimate based on the damage from the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Japan. News Contact: Jennifer Wasilisin, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-215-793-4666, ext. 109 Website: www.eqecat.com
**21. Hussam Mahmoud, a Ph.D. researcher at the University of Illinois Mid-America Earthquake Center, studied the major China earthquake of two years ago and is monitoring today's developments. Mahmoud: email@example.com
**22. Christopher Meehan, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, University of Delaware, studies earthquake engineering, and is a specialist in geotechnical engineering (solving problems involving soils and rock). His current outreach/research project mobilizes students after natural disasters to perform rapid engineering reconnaissance in affected areas. Bio: bit.ly/etfUbi News Contact: Andrea Boyle, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-302-831-1421
**23. Gilberto Mosqueda, Ph.D., associate professor of civil and structural engineering at the University at Buffalo-SUNY, is an expert on earthquake engineering. Mosqueda is a member of research teams that travel to countries devastated by earthquakes. He can discuss damage done to buildings and infrastructure due to earthquakes and other natural disasters. News Contact: Ellen Goldbaum, email@example.com
**24. Jonathan Nyquist, professor of earth and environmental science, Temple University, can talk about earthquakes and catastrophic geology, and is responsible for Temple's seismometer, which recorded the Japan quake. News Contact: Preston M. Moretz, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-215-204-4380 Website: www.temple.edu/newsroom Twitter: @TempleU_SciTech
**25. Rob Olshansky, urban and regional planning, University of Illinois, has written about earthquake recovery, building codes, etc., and has visited and written about Japan, Los Angeles, New Orleans, etc. Olshansky: email@example.com
**26. Joe Ruiz, humanitarian relief program manager, The UPS Foundation, can provide insights and commentary on: tips for keeping the relief supply chain clear so supplies get to those who need them most; humanitarian disaster relief considerations and best practices; and insights from past relief efforts. UPS is unique among large U.S. corporations as it has assisted with relief efforts for numerous disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake and the tsunami in Southeast Asia, among others. News Contact: I'sys Caffey, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-404-460-1482 Website: www.engageinhealth.com
**27. Annie Searle, principal, ASA Risk Consultants, is an expert on earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires and pandemic flu. Searle spent 10 years at Washington Mutual bank, seven of which were running the companywide business continuity program. She was loaned to projects involving public-private preparedness at the international and national level. She is currently an operational risk consultant running her own practice, and co-chair of a new Coalition for Organizational Resilience. News Contact: Annie Searle, email@example.com Phone: +1-206-453-4386 Website: www.anniesearle.com
**28. Dr. Robert Stern, professor of geosciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, is an expert on formation of continental crust and complex geological systems in the Pacific Ocean. News Contact: News Contact: Katherine Morales, Kmorales@utdallas.edu Phone: +1-972-883-4321
**29. Paul Thenhaus, senior seismologist at catastrophe risk modeling firm EQECAT, Inc., can discuss the extent of the damage/economic losses and the impact on the insurance industry as this unfolds. EQECAT will be issuing an insured loss estimate based on the damage from the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Japan. News Contact: Jennifer Wasilisin, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-215-793-4666, ext. 109 Cell: +1-609-682-4153 Website: www.eqecat.com
**30. Tricia Wachtendorf, assistant director, University of Delaware Disaster Research Center, studies the coordination between organizations in disasters. She has conducted reconnaissance field research at the Red River Flood (1997), Sept. 11 New York City terrorist attacks, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Wenchuan China earthquake and Haiti earthquake. Her research examines how people react in disasters and social vulnerability to disasters. Bio: bit.ly/fVPj6H News Contact: Andrea Boyle, email@example.com Phone: +1-302-831-1421
**31. Bill Zhang, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, Temple University, is an expert in earthquake engineering and seismic design, and can talk about how structures in Japan held up against the quake and possible future problems. News Contact: Preston M. Moretz, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-215-204-4380 Website: www.temple.edu/newsroom Twitter: @TempleU_SciTech
**32. Paul Booth is assistant professor of new media and technology at the College of Communication at DePaul University. Booth, located in Chicago, can discuss the roles that technology and social media are playing in disseminating news and information about the impact of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. Booth: email@example.com
**33. Clay Naito, a professor of structural engineering at Lehigh University, investigates earthquake- and blast-resistant buildings, but has recently been funded by the National Science Foundation to research tsunami forces and debris. The goal is to improve our understanding of, and predictive capabilities for, tsunami-driven debris impact forces on structures. Of special interest are shipping containers, which are virtually everywhere and which will float even when fully loaded. The forces from such debris hitting structures, like evacuation shelters and critical port facilities such as fuel storage tanks, are currently not known. Bio: bit.ly/hWlFN4 News Contact: Jordan Reese, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-610-758-6656
**34. Richard Sausse is a professor of structural engineering at Lehigh University who specializes in sustainable infrastructure. He is currently testing a new, reinforced concrete building system that contains earthquake-resisting technology developed at Lehigh's Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems Center (ATLSS). He is also conducting experiments on the world's largest earthquake shake table. ATLSS technology employs a self-centering system, which consists of reinforced concrete wall panels that are designed to "rock" during an earthquake with post-tensioned steel strands that, like a rubber band, pull the building back to its original position. Tests are conducted at the Hyogo Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Japan, which funds the project. Bio: bit.ly/gj6SEL News Contact: Jordan Reese, email@example.com Phone: +1-610-758-6656
**35. Frank Gunter is an associate professor of economics at Lehigh University and a retired Marine Corps Reserves colonel who served as deputy director of the Tsunami Coalition Coordination Center in Thailand and deputy of coalition operations in Iraq. He is intimately familiar with tsunami-relief planning between civilian international/non-governmental organizations and military contingents. Bio: bit.ly/gaa7hm Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/frank_gunter ... News Contact: Jordan Reese, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1-610-758-6656
**36. Dr. Jay Lehr, science director at The Heartland Institute in Chicago: “It is a crisis. It’s absolutely terrible. But it’s probably not 1 percent as bad as what we’re reading every day in the newspapers. This is no Chernobyl -- not even close. Low-level radiation is releasing into the air. But at the levels of radiation we are measuring, it is not likely to be a significant health risk. The Japanese people have enough to worry about with the floods, potential pollution and disease to get caught up in a panic mentality.” Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/drjay_lehrphd&nbs... News Contact: Jim Lakely, email@example.com
To see a continuation of this list, please visit: prn.to/eAALCV
Monday, February 14, 2011, 10:58 AM
Social Media Week, from Feb. 7-11, is a worldwide gathering of people and businesses interested in exchanging ideas and learning more about online social interaction and communication techniques. By offering free and inexpensive sessions with gurus on a variety of topics in nine cities across the globe, Social Media Week has something to offer everyone with an online presence.
This was only the second year that Social Media Week took place in New York City, but it was hard to tell from the session that I attended, called "WikiLeaks and Online Civil Disobedience," since there were nearly 300 people who showed up to listen, discuss and network.
The session was a discussion of online "activism" in connection with the WikiLeaks controversy. The experts were mainly addressing the question: "Are DDoS attacks just criminal mischief, or should they be considered a legitimate form of political activism?"
Background on WikiLeaks in the U.S.
WikiLeaks, directed by the now-infamous Internet activist Julian Assange, is a whistleblowing organization that publishes secret and classified information from anonymous news sources. This international nonprofit organization has been around since 2006, but made mainstream news in the U.S. last July by publishing 67,000 intelligence reports from the war in Afghanistan, and again in October, when it posted nearly 400,000 secret reports from the war in Iraq. "[The archives] disclose important new facts about civilian casualties, the torture of detainees by our allies, Iran's exported violence, the disruptions caused by private contractors, and the debilitating patterns of clandestine warfare in two benighted regions," according to an article by Steve Coll that appeared in The New Yorker. And most recently, starting on Nov. 28, WikiLeaks has been releasing some of more than 250,000 secret State Department documents, casually referred to as "the diplomatic cables," including (among many other things) our intelligence assessment of Iran's nuclear program, our international spying habits, our involvement with corruption in the Afghan government, and how our security plans to track detainees once Guantanamo closes.
The controversy surrounding WikiLeaks is rooted in the argument of whether or not government actions should be public knowledge. On the one hand, WikiLeaks has succeeded in exposing state and corporate secrets, supporting freedom of the press, and encouraging democratic discourse. And yet, on the other hand, WikiLeaks has threatened national security, harmed international diplomacy, and compromised the lives of our diplomats and soldiers abroad.
(This background pertains particularly to WikiLeaks and the U.S., but many other countries, leaders, incidents and wars have been exposed in past cables. The ethical debate is international; the history of United States' experience with WikiLeaks is simply used as an example to point to the controversy that WikiLeaks can incite.)
How #Anonymous and Operation Payback Become Involved in the WikiLeaks Controversy
In the days following the initial publications of "the diplomatic cables," on Dec. 1, Amazon dropped WikiLeaks from its servers, temporarily causing the WikiLeaks website to be unreachable. Three days later, Swiss bank PostFinance froze Assange's assets, and PayPal, a money-transferring site, cut off the account that WikiLeaks used to collect donations. On Dec. 6, MasterCard also began refusing donations to WikiLeaks, and the next day, Visa followed suit as well.
After these institutions denied financial services to WikiLeaks and Assange, a group of anonymous "activists" coordinated themselves online (mainly via Twitter) to carry out decentralized attacks on the corporations' websites. They worked under the name "Anonymous." This moniker is a reference to an Internet meme that represents an online community acting together anonymously. However, the pro-WikiLeaks attackers referred to themselves specifically as "Operation Payback." Although Operation Payback existed throughout 2010 attacking other types of sites, they began focusing their attention on the companies that opposed WikiLeaks in December.
Operation Payback used distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to temporarily shut down the sites of the companies that had opposed WikiLeaks. The most common type of DDoS attack floods a website with external communication requests, so that the website cannot handle the level of Web traffic and is temporarily inaccessible to the public. In laymen's terms, it would be like if you could reload a page 10,000 times in a minute, and 1,000 other people were doing the same thing at the same time -- the server can only process a certain number of requests at once.
DDoS attacks are Internet piracy -- but not hacking. Hacking tampers with the content and business operations of a website, while DDoS attacks are only affecting website traffic levels. To launch a DDoS attack, anyone with a computer can simply download a DDoS software program and pick a target. However, DDoS attacks are illegal, and law enforcement (or more specifically in the U.S., the FBI) can trace DDoS attackers from their IP addresses.
In the U.K., five Operation Payback people have been arrested so far for offenses under the Computer Misuse Act, and now each face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 5,000 euro (or about $6,762). On Jan. 28, about 40 search warrants were executed in the U.S. by the FBI in search of American DDoS attackers from Operation Payback. The FBI has not confirmed any arrests, but said that suspects could also face up to 10 years in prison.
The Event: "WikiLeaks and Online Civil Disobedience"
The session I attended at Social Media Week was hosted by Personal Democracy Forum at the Hearst Corporation's global headquarters in midtown Manhattan. Titled "WikiLeaks and Online Civil Disobedience," the gathering featured four media-tech experts: 1) Micah Sifry, cofounder and executive director of Personal Democracy Forum, 2) John Perry Barlow, cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; 3) Deanna Zandt (@randomdeanna), author of "Share This! How You Will Change the World with Social Networking" (Berrett-Koehler, June 2010); and 4) Evgeny Morozov, author of "The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom" (PublicAffairs, January 2011).
The event took place in a large conference room on the 44th floor of the Hearst Tower. The room was filled with chairs, and behind the chairs were two very large windows that showed off a scenic (and vertigo-inducing) view of the city skyline. A small platform stage was situated in the middle.
When the session began, a host introduced each of the guests, and they commenced their discussion in debate-style fashion.
The Discussion: "WikiLeaks and Online Civil Disobedience"
Are DDoS attacks just criminal mischief, or should they be considered a legitimate form of political activism?
1) Issues from Deanna Zandt (@randomdeanna), author of "Share This! How You Will Change the World with Social Networking" (Berrett-Koehler, June 2010):
What is the digital equivalent of throwing yourself in front of a tank?
DDoS attacks can be compared to a sit-in because they make businesses inaccessible, but don't permanently damage operations or property.
The uprising in Egypt also proved that we cannot entirely rely on social media and the Internet to protest because the government can shut down the Internet, thus, it can be a way to control people. In other words, DDoS attacks can't be the only means of attaining a political goal.
Social media is a mirror that shows our primal need to be connected.
2) Issues from Evgeny Morozov (@evgenymorozov), author of "The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom" (PublicAffairs, January 2011):
DDoS attacks also put psychological pressure on the leaders of a company. They worry: "How many computer resources will we need to stay online in the future? How can this be prevented from happening again?" This concern increases as DDoS attacks become easier and easier to launch. For example, people can rent botnets and purchase a DDoS attack on an organization for several hundred dollars. Instead of needing a grassroots movement to collectively attack a website, now it's possible to just pay for it instead.
How much jail time do DDoS attackers deserve? Ten years in prison is disproportionate to the damage done to the institutions.
Three criteria need to be considered legitimate activism: 1) attacking based on moral principles, 2) attempting to change government policy, and 3) being prepared to suffer the consequences for illegal activity. The third point brings up intent. If the attackers knew they could be traced, and did it anyway without trying to hide their identity, then that is evidence to support that it is a legitimate form of activism.
A judge should decide what is right and wrong, and the right to protest should cover cyberspace.
3) Issues from John Perry Barlow (@jpbarlow), cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Social media is a human right. The purpose of the Electronic Frontier Foundation is to assure rights which had not previously been assured.
The Internet is also a great tool of surveillance.
The system and architecture of the Web needs to allow the free flow of information. DDoS is irresponsible because it closes the openness of the internet and therefore is inherently wrong. There should be no laws governing the Internet. "If you control one part of it, you control all of it, in principle."
The objective of DDoS attacks is to get a rise out of the media and advertising companies, but just because something destructive is effective doesn't mean that it is right.
Governments don't let their sites have public protests. We don't own our own tweets (not that Twitter would necessarily abuse the privilege of owning them). We need a decentralized network system.
4) Issues from Micah Sifry (@mlsif), cofounder and executive director of Personal Democracy Forum:
Harsh laws (in reference to the 10 years in prison for DDoS attacks) are in place to prevent trouble.
"WikiLeaks doesn't change anything; it highlights everything."
DDoS gives ammunition to people in favor of the Internet "kill switch." (The "kill switch" is associated with the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, which is intended to protect the U.S. from external cyber attacks, but it could also potentially give the president the ability turn off the Internet during a crisis.)
Overall Questions to Consider:
Are DDoS attacks a legitimate form of protest?
(Overall, the experts seemed to agree that the intent of the attacker is key to whether or not it can be considered political activism.)
Should the Internet be decentralized, or should there be corporate servers and a "kill switch"?
(All of the experts agreed that the Internet should be free and decentralized.)
Friday, December 3, 2010, 9:36 AM
Research.ly, an online tool introduced this week by the social media analytics company PeopleBrowsr, helps social media gurus, brand managers and marketing experts sift through Twitter users to find the ones that matter most to their company, product or brand. By allowing users to search for tweets around specific keywords -- like a name, company, competitor or product -- this Twitter search engine can filter information by gender or location, or even break down tweets according to positive or negative sentiment. Notably, Research.ly can search for keywords that were tweeted up to three years ago. The search results can also show related hashtags, links, events, word clouds, @names and more.
After finding what Twitter users are saying about a particular organization or item, Research.ly uses a technology they call "Viral Analytics" to translate those tweets into line graphs and pie charts -- an analytics platform. These depictions show keyword volume fluctuation and sentiments over a seven-day or one-month period.
The service isn't free, however -- it's $99 per month, per user, for unlimited use (although they do offer a seven-day free trial). On this aspect, Mashable.com reports in "New Twitter Search Tool Gives Marketers Insight into User Communities" that: "The unfettered access to Twitter data and the myriad of filters make for an interesting browsing experience, but there doesn't seem to be much more you can do with the information you discover." On the other hand, this social search engine allows marketers to immediately identify their market and find key influencers. "Similar to Kevin Bacon and the six degrees of separation, Research.ly presents evidence of how Twitter users are connected in a conversation about a brand -- which is critical for brands that rely on the trust of their network when making connections," according to a review on Entrepreneur.com. By revealing demographic breakdown, sentiment analysis, keyword mentions and viral data, marketers can easily pinpoint their niche audiences by placing content into applicable frameworks and contexts.
Would you be willing to pay $99 per month for this service? Before you decide, consider this: According to an article by VentureBeat.com, "Twitter says it plans to release its own analytics service (which doesn't seem to be as full-featured as Research.ly) for free, with the idea that it will be useful for advertisers on Twitter."
Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 4:47 PM
RockMelt, an Internet browser that launched in beta on Nov. 8, is the new love child of social media and Web surfing. By allowing users to share searches, pictures, videos, news articles, and more with friends without ever having to leave the browser window, RockMelt is challenging the way we use the Internet in general.
(Taken from RockMelt)
You may know already RockMelt's inventor, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, as he is originally famous for introducing both Mosaic and Netscape, two old-school browsers from the '90s. Andressen, who is also a member on the Facebook Board of Directors, based RockMelt on the same open-source platform that supports Google Chrome, however, unlike Google Chrome, when RockMelt opens, the user is asked to login using his/her Facebook information. By logging in immediately, users' surfing won't be slowed down when they want to share a breaking news article or the latest viral video.
Instead of just having control options at the top of your browser (like "Home" or "Refresh") RockMelt creates this seamless interaction between social media and Web surfing by including two columns, one on the right side of the browser screen and one on the left side of the browser screen, that feature additional social media controls. The left-hand column shows the user's Facebook friends and the right-hand column features widgets for Facebook, Twitter and other applications. So if a user wants to share a video with friends, instead of opening a new browser to visit Facebook, the user can simply drag the link to one of their Facebook friends' pictures displayed in the left-hand column and choose to post it on their Facebook wall.
So far, the reviews of the new browser are mixed. ZDNet's Christopher Dawson in his article "Rockmelt - How big is the threat to Google?" seems skeptical of this browser's progress. Dawson illustrates that "the integration isn't all that tight" by mentioning that although his Twitter feed is in a sidebar, he still isn't automatically logged into Twitter. In other words, RockMelt is only fully integrated with Facebook -- which may or may not be a bad thing depending on the user's social media prowess. However, Dawson points out: "It's one thing to use Facebook extensively; it's another to let Facebook know everything you do, everywhere you go, and require you to log in to your Facebook account to allow it to capture all of these data."
On the other hand, RockMelt is "the first browser that's backed by a set of servers in the cloud," according to Eric Vishria, RockMelt's co-founder and CEO via the ABC News article "RockMelt: Is the New Social Browser for You?" This cool feature allows users to have the same settings on any computer and to pick up exactly where they left off from the last time they logged in. Additionally, TechCrunch writer Erick Schonfeld gave RockMelt a positive review in "Google versus RockMelt: Who Does Search Previews Better?" for the way it set up its search capabilities. While both search previews allow users to see a visual preview of a site they searched for, Google's preview picture is considerably smaller than RockMelt's -- and therefore harder to actually see. Although the success of the social-media-and-browser combination has yet to be proven, RockMelt has made some convincing improvements in other terms.
According to Net Applications, Internet Explorer still holds about 60 percent of the market as of October, while Firefox had about 23 percent and Chrome about 9 percent. The numbers show that people tend to resist change. With so many services already accessible, do the features of RockMelt offer enough to sway users' preferences? Interestingly enough, RockMelt isn't even the first social media browser! Flock is a social-media-integrated browser that was introduced in May 2009, but has never been widely used. So why would this format work now? Perhaps RockMelt has a better execution, or maybe RockMelt was introduced at a better time -- when Facebook has over 500 million users.
Thursday, October 28, 2010, 11:41 AM
With only a few days left until Election Day, political ads have been flooding our TV screens and airwaves with last-minute messages frantically attempting to win us over. With many candidates neck-in-neck, battling for each and every vote, these political ads could be a deciding factor in election outcomes. Before casting your vote, consider the accuracy of political ads.
You might be surprised to learn that "truth in advertising" is not a universal advertising standard. Although commercial companies are prevented from making false claims about their products or competitors, politicians' claims are considered "political speech," and protected under the First Amendment, according to a 2008 Time Magazine article called "Truth in Advertising? Not for Political Ads." In other words, it's legal for politicians to lie. However, according to a new evaluation by PolitiFact.com, a project of the St. Petersburg Times, politicians during this election season have increasingly used this tactic to influence voters.
After researching statements made by politicians, PolitiFact.com reporters use a Truth-O-Meter to reflect their evaluations of their claims. The Truth-O-Meter uses six ratings that range from "True," "Mostly True" and "Half True," to "Barely True," "False" -- and for the most preposterous inaccuracies -- "Pants on Fire." On Oct. 27, PolitiFact.com announced their overall rating of politicians' claims and attacks during this past election season as "Barely True." After examining hundreds of claims from "TV ads, debates, interviews, and mailings," PolitiFact.com reporters and researchers concluded that the majority of politicians' claims since the election season kickoff on Sept. 1 distorted or overstated the truth in order to create a different impression.
According to their website, PolitiFact.com has used the same methodology to rate claims throughout their three-year history. Throughout this time, "True" ratings have accounted for 20 percent of their 2,500 Truth-O-Meter rankings. However, "True" ratings have only accounted for 10 percent during this past fall. As the percentage of "True" and "Mostly True" rankings have fallen, the percentage of "Barely True," "False" and "Pants on Fire" have all increased.
Here are two examples of "Barely True" claims, taken directly from the article:
Republican Christine O'Donnell claimed that Chris Coons, her Democratic opponent for Delaware's U.S. Senate seat, "thought a 911 call should be taxed." But we found that was a big stretch because landline telephones had long been taxed to support 911 service. What Coons did was extend the tax to cell phones because of a sharp increase in their use for 911 calls.
In California, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer claimed that Republican challenger Carly Fiorina's "plan would mean slashing Social Security and Medicare." But we found there was sketchy evidence to support that. Fiorina hasn't said much about her ideas on Social Security and Medicare, and what she has said doesn't provide much proof of "slashing."
Here are two examples of "Pants on Fire" ratings, taken directly from the article:
In Wisconsin, Republican Reid Ribble earned a Pants on Fire for claiming, "I lost my health insurance and doctor because of Obamacare." But his insurance company actually decided to get out of the health insurance business years ago.
During an appearance on the Daily Show, Rep. Eric Cantor, the No. 2 House Republican, claimed that in the past two years, Democrats "spent more money than this country has spent in the past 200 years combined." We sliced the numbers many different ways, but found his claim ridiculously false and rated it Pants on Fire.
The good news is that while it is perfectly legal for politicians to lie in their advertising, it is also perfectly legal for journalists to research the facts and publicly blast them for stating inaccuracies.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010, 3:37 PM
If you're thinking about starting a blog, or even if you're a blogging pro, this Black Web 2.0 article called "Tumblr vs. Blogger vs. Wordpress: What You Should Know" provides a useful breakdown of these three most popular blog platforms. For new bloggers, this might be a useful tool to help you decide which blogging platform is right for you. For blogging pros, this article provides a straightforward outline of the best uses for each platform. By providing an overview, as well as the pros and cons for each option, this article concisely highlights the major differences between Tumblr, Blogger, and Wordpress.com.
Here is the author's "bottom line":
"Use Blogger if you….want to write a personal blog, run occasional ads and build a strong community among readers using Google Friend Connect.
Use Wordpress.com if you….want a lot of theme options, like to obsess over visitor stats and don’t care about monetizing.
Use Tumblr if you…are on the younger side, have friends who also have Tumblr and are willing to devote lots of time to reblogging."
For blogging pros: What do you think of this breakdown? In your experience, is it accurate? Do you think these profiles left out any pertinent information, or perhaps even other platforms that could be valuable in some cases (e.g., Posterous)?