Thursday, October 02, 2003

Glove Girl Cheat Sheet -- A Blogger In Their Midst

On Sunday I'll be presenting the case study I did for Harvard Business Review called "A Blogger In Their Midst" I wanted to post some important details which will help you during my session whether you've had time to read the case or not. I worked at Harvard doing events and I know in all the excitement and fun of attending a conference no matter how much time you think you'll have to read something -- it's really hard to get around to it.

So here's the basics of the case you'll need to follow my presentation. First the executive summary from HBR:

"It was five minutes before show time, and only 15 people had wandered into the conference room to hear Lancaster-Webb CEO Will Somerset introduce the company's latest line of surgical gloves. More important, sales prospect Samuel Taylor, medical director of the Houston Clinic, had failed to show. Will walked out of the ballroom to steady his nerves and noticed a spillover crowd down the hall. He made a "What's up?" gesture to Judy Chen, Lancaster-Webb's communications chief. She came over to him. "It's Glove Girl. You know, the blogger," Judy said, as if this explained anything. "I think she may have stolen your crowd." "Who is she?" Will asked. Glove Girl was a factory worker at Lancaster-Webb, whose always outspoken, often informative postings on her web log had developed quite a following. Will was new to the world of blogging, but he quickly learned about its power in a briefing with his staff. After Glove Girl had raved about Lancaster-Webb's older SteriTouch disposable gloves, orders had surged. More recently, though, Glove Girl had questioned the Houston Clinic's business practices, posting damaging information at her site about its rate of cesarean deliveries--to Sam Taylor's consternation. This fictional case study considers the question of whether a highly credible, but sometimes inaccurate and often indiscreet, online diarist is more of a liability than an asset to her employer. What, if anything, should Will do about Glove Girl? Four commentators--David Weinberger, author of Small Pieces Loosely Joined; Pamela Samuelson, a professor of law and information management at the University of California, Berkeley; Ray Ozzie, CEO and chairman of Groove Networks; and Erin Motameni, vice-president of human resources at EMC--offer expert advice."


Employees of Lancaster-Webb, Medical Glove Manufacturer:

---Will Somerset, CEO, Lancaster-Webb
---Glove Girl, the blogger from Lancaster-Webb's shop floor
---Judy Chen, Head of Corporate Communications, Lancaster-Webb
---Evan Jones, VP of Marketing, Lancaster-Webb
---Jordan Longstreth, Legal Counsel to Lancaster-Webb

Prospects and clients of L-W:

---Dr. Samuel Taylor, Medical Director of the Houston Clinic and sales prospect
---"Head of Nursing" -- nameless character from the Houston Clinic, reports to Taylor
---Rex Croft, Medical Director of Fort Worth General Hospital


1. Glove Girl works on the factory floor at a medical gloves manufacturing company called Lancaster-Webb. She is also a blogger.

2. The CEO, Will Somerset and Glove Girl are speaking at an industry conference -- in back-to-back time slots -- and she draws a bigger crowd.

3. Somerset was really not aware of what blogging was, or what bloggers were and now has a great deal of interest.

4. In a scene where his leadership team discusses Glove Girl on a conference call, they find out she has been blogging about the new product release before they would have liked to make it public, she has a positive effect on sales when she blogs about her favorite products at Lancaster-Webb, she blogs about her personal life, she has been critical of a prospective client , The Houston Clinic -- questioning whether it would be ethical to do business with them since they have a very high caesarean rate which she considers a negative -- and thereby risking the deal for her company.

5. On the conference call, members of the leadership team include: Judy Chen (PR) and Evan Jones (Marketing) and Jordan Longstreth (Legal).

6. Later it is revealed that the Houston Clinic's high caesarean rate is due to the fact that they are the premier hospital in a new caesarean procedure and have a long waiting list of mothers who want to give birth there and can be proud of their outstanding record.

7. Another customer, Rex Croft from Fort Worth General Hospital, gives Will Somerset, the CEO of Lancaster-Webb, this information about Houston Clinic's excellent reputation and asks if he will tell Glove Girl to post it. Somerset suspects telling any bloggers what to post or what NOT to post is a bad strategy.

8. Glove Girl finds out from the Head of Nursing that the ceasarian rate is a praise-worthy statistic and blogs about her mistaken notion that the Houston Clinic is in some way unethical, setting the record straight.

9. Toward the end of the piece, Croft praises Somerset about his great insights about using blogging at Lancaster-Webb and asks Somerset if he's willing to let Glove Girl go since he'd like to hire her away from them to set up a blog that creates customer intimacy for his own organization.

10. In the end, the questions are posed, do you keep Glove Girl, do you let her go, do you promote her, what's the best course of action?

Berkman Tonight After Dinner w/Phil Wolff

Hey Phil Wolff, see you behind the fire wall tonight for dinner -- then afterwards, let's make the scene at Berkman, just in case we want to know how to start a weblog.

Seriously, I think your session will be very important in explaining where the real sweet spot of blogging resides. I'm glad it follows mine because I think Glove Girl's energy and efforts need to be repurposed, so to speak, but hey, I'm giving things away here. Shhhhhhh!

Gonzo Kick-Off

Fun dinner last night at Legal's with Chris Locke and others as BloggerCon folks are beginning to arrive and it's going into full throttle. Chris told a funny joke based on the famous efficiency expert Frederick W. Taylor. I was looking around the table thinking there was a serious pile of IQ there, when you can tell a joke based on scientific management theory. Only in Cambridge, I thought to myself.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Cool New Gift

Someone got me the prettiest new Louis Vuitton purse. It's called "monogram multicoleur" I think. Colors look like autumn leaves I figure.

No Comment

Really busy cleaning house for a guest. Lots to do. Later.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Our 1 Millionth Customer

Holy Moley, 1 Million blogs according to Dave Sifry, per Doc Searls most excellent blog. Don't miss.

A Man Named Charlie

Let me tell you the story
Of a man named Charlie
On a tragic and fateful day
He put ten cents in his pocket,
Kissed his wife and family
Went to ride on the MTA

Charlie handed in his dime
At the Kendall Square Station
And he changed for Jamaica Plain
When he got there the conductor told him,
"One more nickel."
Charlie could not get off that train.

Did he ever return,
No he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn'd
He may ride forever
'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned.

Now all night long
Charlie rides through the tunnels
the station
Saying, "What will become of me?
How can I afford to see
My sister in Chelsea
Or my cousin in Roxbury?"

Charlie's wife goes down
To the Scollay Square station
Every day at quarter past two
And through the open window
She hands Charlie a sandwich
As the train comes rumblin' through.

As his train rolled on
underneath Greater Boston
Charlie looked around and sighed:
"Well, I'm sore and disgusted
And I'm absolutely busted;
I guess this is my last long ride."
{this entire verse was replaced by a banjo solo}

Now you citizens of Boston,
Don't you think it's a scandal
That the people have to pay and pay
Vote for Walter A. O'Brien
Fight the fare increase!
And fight the fare increase
Vote for George O'Brien!
Get poor Charlie off the MTA.

Or else he'll never return,
No he'll never return
And his fate will be unlearned
He may ride forever
'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man (Who's the man)
He's the man who never returned.
He's the man (Oh, the man)
He's the man who never returned.
He's the man who never returned.

About the song -- btw, see this site:

"In the 1940s, the MTA fare-schedule was very complicated - at one time, the booklet that explained it was 9 pages long. Fare increases were implemented by means of an "exit fare". Rather than modify all the turnstiles for the new rate, they just collected the extra money when leaving the train. (Exit fares currently exist on the Braintree branch of the Red Line.) One of the key points of the platform of Walter A. O'Brien, a Progressive Party candidate for mayor of Boston, was to fight fare increases and make the fare schedule more uniform. Charlie was born.

The text of the song was written in 1948 by Jacqueline Steiner (nee Berman) and Bess Lomax Hawes. It was one of seven songs written for O'Brien's campaign, each one emphasized a key point of his platform. The song was recorded by a group called the Almanac Singers whose members included Lomax-Hawes, Steiner, and a young guitar player named Pete Seeger. One recording was made of each song, and they were broadcast from a sound truck that drove around the streets of Boston. This earned O'Brien a $10 fine for disturbing the peace.

A singer named Will Holt recorded the story of Charlie as a pop song for Coral Records after hearing an impromptu performance of the tune in a San Francisco coffee house by a former member of the Almanac Singers. The record company was astounded by a deluge of protests from Boston because the song made a hero out of a local "radical". During the McCarthy era of the 1950s, the Progressive Party became synonymous with the Communist Party, and, since O'Brien was a Progressive, he was labeled a Communist. It is important to note that, contrary to popular belief, O'Brien was never on the Communist Party ticket. Holt's record was hastily withdrawn.

In 1959, The Kingston Trio released a recording of the song. The name Walter A. was changed to George to avoid the problems that Holt experienced. Thus ended Walter O'Brien's claim to fame.

Walter A. O'Brien lost the election, by the way. He moved back to his home state of Maine in 1957 and became a school librarian and a bookstore owner. He died in July of 1998."

Thanks Ryan

Wow, new improved bloggerific directions on how to take the T from Logan to Harvard Square if you're visiting for BloggerCon. Here's a weird thing about the Boston T. If you don't know if you're going INBOUND or OUTBOUND you're in big trouble. Inbound means vaguely that you're heading into the center of Boston and Outbound means your heading vaguely out of the center of Boston.

Drink two beers and try to remember when your heading to Fenway Park for a Sox game, which is kindof in town, but you need to go kindof out of town towards Brookline to get to it, what the hell direction you're going in and you'll see why they wrote that popular song about a guy who gets lost on the MTA and never returns.

Also, if you don't get that some of the lines connect upstairs and some connect downstairs at key transition T stops, you get totally lost.

I have to thank the way cool Ryan aka SKADZ over here for these pointers. He's got the "upstairs, downstairs" shit way figured out, which is key in the very strange Boston mass transit system. Here's his email.

"When they get to Gov't Center, go up the stairs to the Green Line
platform and hook a hard left, that's the outbound train side (outbound
at Govt Center is towards Park)

When they get to Park Street, they will need to go down the stairs for
the Red Line. The stairs to the platform towards Alewife are behind
stairs leading outside, so don't just do down the ones right as they
off the T, hook around the back."

This Map Is Lame

I have a friend visiting who wants to take the T from the airport to Harvard Square and I have to tell you their site sucks. It took me about a million clicks to even find a map.

Okay guys, here's my directions from the airport to Harvard Square. They seem pretty good ... one thing I'm not sure about is whether you go blue line to green to red line and if I got the right stations for transfering. Can you check it out for me. Is it AIRPORT to GOVT CENTER to PARK ST to HARVARD?

Here's my email -- what am I missing?

> Take airport bus to T station to get AIRPORT Blue
> Line
> stop. Sit through stops at MAVERICK, AQUARIUM, STATE
> ST. Get off at GOVT. CENTER
> Get on a Green Line train one stop only from GOVT.
> think)
> Sit through stops for MGH (Mass Gen'l Hospital),
> KENDALL MIT, CENTRAL SQUARE, take next stop after
> Central Square, HARVARD.

Love Lessons, Mondays 9AM

Nice story by Lara Vapnyar. Thanks Brian. I like the part about the new teacher getting stuck with all the hideous assignments and errands. I used to be a new teacher in LA and I can tell you, that's just how it works.

Park The Car In Harvard Yard

I was trying to explain this the other day to my son -- how people use this phrase to demonstrate the classic Boston accent -- and he totally didn't know what the heck I was talking about. This may be because I don't have a Boston accent and he finds nothing even remotely strange about parking the car in, around and near Harvard Yard on a regular basis. I may have to refer him to Mayor Quimby, the Simpsons character who sounds a lot like Ted Kennedy.

Speaking of which, my kid actually tried to get me to let him do something terrible like stay up 'til midnight or some crazy thing, citing Bart Simpson as a kid who was allowed to do this and was a good kid and why didn't I agree to do it if Marge Simpson agreed and she seems like a nice Mom and I said, "STOP!" and reminded him they are characters on a TV show -- not real people. He did his usual "shucks" kindof look and shuffled off. I guess he really thought I would fall for it.

Okay Bostonians

I need to tell a friend the easiest way to get from Logan Airport to Harvard Square for dinner if you arrive around 4PM and need to be in the Square by 7PM. Also the cheapest. Please send directions. Thanks.

No Doubt

Gwen Stefani is great in this video. Saw it last night. I always kinda knew ... no doubt.

Tiga Getting Hot In Here

This is my BloggerCon song. Tiga's Getting Hot In Here. I like it a lot. Way cool.

Dinner @ Uncle Pete's Can't Be Beat

This is just the greatest funkiest place for bbq ribs. It's in East Boston -- like nearly at Logan Airport. In fact, you take the tunnel over to the airport and take that mysterious first exit which no one ever takes. Had a great dinner there tonight and the mango salsa, as usual, was so so good.

Oh THAT Josh Marshall!

There oughta be a name for it. You know a blog by it's title -- like Talking Points Memo -- but you keep forgetting the name of the author. Or maybe you know the name of the author -- like Glenn Reynolds -- and you forget the name of his blog. You might call it Blog Brand Blur.

Anyway, maybe BloggerCon will fix that problem. I really was reading the schedule wondering why that bright guy who writes Talking Points Memo wasn't going to be there. But he IS going to be there. Whoops, sorry Josh. And so's Glenn aka Instapundit Reynolds.

Are You Experienced?

I have to say I'm a bit shocked that this survey says the next big thing is older women and younger men. They didn't survey me I guess. Give me the guy who's been around the block a few times.

Prince Charming? Let It Go!

Come on girls, give these guys a break. Check out these statistics and let me tell you what's going on here.

"Frequency of sex? Sixty percent of the women and 45 percent of the men said they hadn't had any in the past six months."

This is just not healthy. What the hell are you guys and gals doing all night -- blogging?!

"Nearly 30 percent of the singles reported difficulty finding dates, and said they would be delighted to start a romance if they could find the right person."

This right person thing drives me crazy. Let's lower the barrier to entry, girls. There are a lot of nice men out there. Are you looking for Prince Charming? I'm worried you are. Check out these stats.

Percentages of fiftysomethings who say they would date someone who…
Is unemployed
Men 55 percent
Women 13 percent

Is married
Men 9 percent
Women 3 percent

Has less education than they do
Men 73 percent
Women 48 percent

Has paid for sex
Men 15 percent
Women 7 percent

Has been paid to perform sex
Men 10 percent
Women 2 percent

Has less money than they do
Men 71 percent
Women 33 percent

Has a criminal record
Men 14 percent
Women 5 percent

See how forgiving these guys are? Damn! A guy will date you even if you have no job, no brains, a husband, have been paid to perform sex, have no money, hell ... even if you're a convicted felon. I told you I love men -- what's not to love?

Sex Sex Sex -- Is That All We Ever Think About?

Answer: well, yes, sortof, I mean, yes, for sure if you're a man, wait, and also if you're a woman, and probably if you're a fruitfly. Yes, the data on dating is all here. Check it out.

But what's the original source? My favorite magazine, AARP! You thought it was for senior citizens. WRONG. Seems to be for swinging singles.

And ladies, looks like you like younger men (Shhh! Don't tell anyone!)

Monday, September 29, 2003

To Bee Or Not To Bee Edited -- Is That The Question?

With the arrival of this morning's New York Times (add italics), which landed in the dirt on the far side of the garden (editor's note: is this relevant to the story? Do we care about author's inept home delivery of the paper or muddy toes?) and required me to get my bare toes muddy while fetching it (run-on sentence, please cut), I have before me an article about weblogs (Web logs per style manual) and whether or not they should be edited. The piece by Michael Falcone, is called "Does An Editor's Pencil Ruin A Web Log? [Okay, I'll stop adding the editorial notes, it's very annoying.]

Of course this piece was prompted by the Sacramento Bee's recent decision to edit Daniel Weintraub's blog California Insider and other blogger's vociferous reactions to such.

To be or not to be edited. That is the question. At least, that seems to be the question in the Times article at least.

To Bee or Not To Bee, I suggest another question entirely, and another answer.

By the time a writer has written a post that he/she knows will be edited, what self-censuring has already taken place? That's my question. A rigid policy like this is antithetical to the spontaneous and FREE nature of blogging. It's all over before it began. There may be freedom of speech, but is there economic freedom of speech? Is a writer who is paid a salary by an employer with such a policy dumb enough in these tough times to really let loose with words that could get them fired? An editing policy is a subtle policy of coercion. The damage has been done long before "An Editor's Pencil" has arrived to edit a blog.

And what about that headline ... how many editors edit with pencils anyway? Don't they edit electronically? Do their editors arrive at work in a coach and four? Do they sport antimacassars on the back of their leather desk chairs?

And when will the New York Times wake up and recover from the antiquated convention of "Web log" -- it's the silliest thing I've ever seen. If you want a real howler to go with "Web log" enjoy some early archived pieces (circa 1990 - 1995) where they referred to something called "electronic mail"

I'll stop picking on the paper and get back to my original point.

What DOESN'T get written? What NEVER sees the light of blog? Is there really economic freedom of speech for paid writers?

Last week I wrote a piece here called "On My Mother's Refrigerator" about the fact that with both my parents dead, I felt a lot more free to write about my life and my family. Later in that day, my older brother called me and started in on a conversation about "I need to talk to you about your blog" which sounded like it was heading in the very same direction, his good advice on what I should and should NOT write on my blog.

I stopped him mid-sentence, and as it was the anniversary of my mom's death, I asked him he'd read my piece and if I could read the piece aloud to him. He had not read it, so he said yes, and I read it to him. It stopped the conversation to be sure, as it was a very emotional piece, but my take-away from the phone call was his duly noted desire to make me NOT write about certain things.

In fact, though many readers would not believe it, there are a lot of personal things I do NOT write about here. And there have been personal pieces I've written and then decided to take down on my own. There are a very few pieces, I think actually only one, that I wrote, someone found offensive and I deleted at their request. Did that person censure me?

How would I feel about my brother's request if he were my editor and I were being paid to write this Web log?

Last week I wrote a piece here about this same issue and suggested this: "If you are a media organization, ask a blogger if they would like to be COPYedited. I think most bloggers would say yes -- I know I would. If you have more than one copy editor, let them pick who they want to work with. Ask if they want to have their editorial content reviewed by an editor. If they don't, rely on them to seek out an editor for more contentious issues relating to politics or decency as the need arises. Write a blogger's pre-nup about their employment with your organization. Nice to spell things out up front. If they don't like your terms from day one, don't start the relationship."

This week I'm perhaps contradicting myself, or at least taking a much stronger stance, but a lot's happened in a week. My brother's request has gotten into my mind, made a deep impression.

Two months ago, I wrote a piece for Harvard Business Review called "A Blogger In Their Midst" which explored an employee blogging counter to the wishes of her employer, which we'll discuss at BloggerCon here next Sunday morning. A thorny topic, sure to inspire a heated debate. I understand there's a good chance some of the writers who provided commentary on the piece in HBR will be there to discuss their opinons as well.

My question remains, "What never gets written?"

Air Guitar Nearly Ready For BloggerCon

Man, my air guitar is really a little beaten up after all the events I've been dragging her to. But I got her out last night and polished her up, so she's looking better and better. Don't you hate when you lose your air pick? And one string broke so it's off to the air music store to get a new one.

She looks cool though -- cool enough for the party the first night -- and when I got her going last night, she really sang out. Looks good with the black high heels and mini skirt too. I have to go find her case so I don't get her banged up on the way into Cambridge. She is sweet.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Web Border Patrol

Gillmor's piece today in the San Jose Merc and on his blog speaks to how we all help keep the coasts clear on the Web. Don't miss it.

Border Patrol

If you've never perused a Federal Government Publications bookstore and your wasting all your time at Borders, you really ought to check one out. One time I found an amazing book like this -- Border Patrol Exam Guide -- and a Spanish/English Border Patrol Phrase book in a Fed Gov Bookstore that was out of this world. These days they may ask you to know a few middle eastern languages as well.

Border Play

Got the word "border" stuck in my mind since I had dinner last night in Harvard Square at Border Cafe. So I got a whole lotta posts going on here about borders. Best to read from the bottom up.

Was SOB Bordering On Racism?

Here's an interesting piece about how they took all the politically incorrect South Of The Border Mexican-speak billboards down. The owner's comment is one I like a lot "These baby boomers do not have a sense of humor."

Pedro Standing Tall On The Carolina Border

That's more like it. Here's a site that gives you all the down and dirty on South Of The Border, the joint I posted about below, as I remembered visiting it as a kid on endless trips to Florida.

It's in Dillion South Carolina. And it seems to still be standing.

South Of The Border For Real

Hey, I found a reference to that crazy place I described in my last post. I'll keep digging. Hurray for the web!

South Of The Border

When we were kids, my dad would get us all in a station wagon and drive us from Connecticut to Florida over the Christmas vacation or Spring Break some years and on the way, I think in Georgia, there was this totally weird store called "South of the Border" where they sold sticky pralines and other horrible food you do not want three girls with long hair in a station wagon to get all over themselves and the car.

The fun part was a serious of ridiculous billboards that began about 100 miles before you reached the place and counted down "100 miles to South of the Border" and then "Only 95 miles to South of the Border" and on and on until you reached it. I've got to go do a web dig to see if this place was real or I made it up. And I honestly can't remember what border (Georgia?) it was south of.

Of course, it used all these cliched Mexican guys in big sombreros and serapes as part of the logo that had absolutely ZERO to do with Georgia's pecans and pralines industry. My sisters and I loved the place. We'd make up goofy Mexican voices as we read the billboards. Of course we knew nothing about Mexico in those days. I would finally visit Mexico about 25 years after these weird car rides to Florida. In the old station wagon, I was so little and cars were so big then, I rode on the floor in front of my mom who sat on the couchy bench padded seat on the passenger side. Ugh, no seat belts for kids then, frightening to recall.

Borders Books

Good place to go today. Do they have them out West as well as East? I forget -- one of those problems with living in LA ten years and then moving back east to Boston three years ago. I'll go look. Duh, they're all over the country, Halley.

Oh, sure I remember the nice one in Westwood I used to love visiting.

Borderline Personality Disorder Website

Yes, good lordy lord, there is a website for everything. This one is rather interesting. I've heard this term tossed around but didn't know exactly what it meant until I read this. Sounds sad.


Thinking of Madonna on Oprah's show last week promoting her new children's book. She sat in the guest chair in a weird little Catholic girl's school uniform like a bad kid at the principal's office waiting to get yelled at. She was alternately surly and grandiose. Very odd. I think Oprah just plain scares her. At least someone does.

Also, the idea that she wrote this book because other girls were rather nasty to her daughter at the schoolyard playground in a very expensive private international school in London, is another of these odd moments where really really wealthy people demonstrate how completely unreal they are, how unreal their lives are and how out of touch they are with the rest of the world. I could give two shits about people being mean to Madonna's daughter at school honestly. Call me crazy, but I don't believe it matters all that much.

Border Cafe Border Grill

My mind is floating along, playing with words. Border Cafe reminded me of Border Grill in Santa Monica. I like their sister joint in Las Vegas very much too.

Lost in Translation

So much to say about this movie, but I think I need to give it a few days. I went into Harvard Square last night for a great dinner at Border Cafe with a friend and then we saw Lost in Translation. It reminds me of a movie I've always loved, Hiroshima Mon Amour, but it's also so different from any movie I've ever seen, and SO GOOD, it's really hard to compare it to anything else. It's a must see.

The link above is from IndieWire's interview with Sofia Coppola. Here's a tiny bit of the longer interview:

Coppola: For everyone, there are those moments when you have great days with someone you wouldn't expect to. Then you have to go back to your real lives, but it makes an impression on you. It's what makes it so great and enjoyable.

iW: Part of the powerful nature of their relationship is that it's fleeting.

Coppola: Yeah, it's just for that moment. And sometimes with strangers, you can tell them something that you couldn't tell someone you know. But I just liked those brief moments of connection when they're feeling so disconnected.

iW: Did you ever consider a version of the story in which they were physically intimate?

Coppola: I liked this relationship. I've had friends like that where you have a flirtation but you're just friends. I wanted it to be more innocent. If they slept together, that would bring in reality.