Groklaw has now shut down it's operations to avoid exposing all of it's email to government surveillance.
Groklaw is a site that provided deep analysis of the legal system, providing explanations of ongoing court cases. Now it's joined other online services like Lavabit and other email providers that have closed down in order to protect their users from drag-net government surveillance.
You can read the entire story here but the following I found especially compelling:
...What I do know is it's not possible to be fully human if you are being surveilled 24/7.
Harvard's Berkman Center had an online class on cybersecurity and internet privacy some years ago, and the resources of the class are still online. It was about how to enhance privacy in an online world, speaking of quaint, with titles of articles like, "Is Big Brother Listening?"
You'll find all the laws in the US related to privacy and surveillance there. Not that anyone seems to follow any laws that get in their way these days. Or if they find they need a law to make conduct lawful, they just write a new law or reinterpret an old one and keep on going. That's not the rule of law as I understood the term.
Anyway, one resource was excerpts from a book by Janna Malamud Smith,"Private Matters: In Defense of the Personal Life", and I encourage you to read it. I encourage the President and the NSA to read it too. I know. They aren't listening to me. Not that way, anyhow. But it's important, because the point of the book is that privacy is vital to being human, which is why one of the worst punishments there is is total surveillance:
One way of beginning to understand privacy is by looking at what happens to people in extreme situations where it is absent. Recalling his time in Auschwitz, Primo Levi observed that "solitude in a Camp is more precious and rare than bread." Solitude is one state of privacy, and even amidst the overwhelming death, starvation, and horror of the camps, Levi knew he missed it.... Levi spent much of his life finding words for his camp experience. How, he wonders aloud in Survival in Auschwitz, do you describe "the demolition of a man," an offense for which "our language lacks words."...
One function of privacy is to provide a safe space away from terror or other assaultive experiences. When you remove a person's ability to sequester herself, or intimate information about herself, you make her extremely vulnerable....
The totalitarian state watches everyone, but keeps its own plans secret. Privacy is seen as dangerous because it enhances resistance. Constantly spying and then confronting people with what are often petty transgressions is a way of maintaining social control and unnerving and disempowering opposition....
And even when one shakes real pursuers, it is often hard to rid oneself of the feeling of being watched -- which is why surveillance is an extremely powerful way to control people. The mind's tendency to still feel observed when alone... can be inhibiting. ... Feeling watched, but not knowing for sure, nor knowing if, when, or how the hostile surveyor may strike, people often become fearful, constricted, and distracted.
I've quoted from that book before, back when the CNET reporters' emails were read by HP. We thought that was awful. And it was. HP ended up giving them money to try to make it up to them. Little did we know.
Ms. Smith continues:
Safe privacy is an important component of autonomy, freedom, and thus psychological well-being, in any society that values individuals. ... Summed up briefly, a statement of "how not to dehumanize people" might read: Don't terrorize or humiliate. Don't starve, freeze, exhaust. Don't demean or impose degrading submission. Don't force separation from loved ones. Don't make demands in an incomprehensible language. Don't refuse to listen closely. Don't destroy privacy. Terrorists of all sorts destroy privacy both by corrupting it into secrecy and by using hostile surveillance to undo its useful sanctuary.
But if we describe a standard for treating people humanely, why does stripping privacy violate it? And what is privacy? In his landmark book, Privacy and Freemom, Alan Westin names four states of privacy: solitude, anonymity, reserve, and intimacy. The reasons for valuing privacy become more apparent as we explore these states....
The essence of solitude, and all privacy, is a sense of choice and control. You control who watches or learns about you. You choose to leave and return. ...
Intimacy is a private state because in it people relax their public front either physically or emotionally or, occasionally, both. They tell personal stories, exchange looks, or touch privately. They may ignore each other without offending. They may have sex. They may speak frankly using words they would not use in front of others, expressing ideas and feelings -- positive or negative -- that are unacceptable in public. (I don't think I ever got over his death. She seems unable to stop lying to her mother. He looks flabby in those running shorts. I feel horny. In spite of everything, I still long to see them. I am so angry at you I could scream. That joke is disgusting, but it's really funny.) Shielded from forced exposure, a person often feels more able to expose himself.
I hope that makes it clear why I can't continue. There is now no shield from forced exposure. Nothing in that parenthetical thought list is terrorism-related, but no one can feel protected enough from forced exposure any more to say anything the least bit like that to anyone in an email, particularly from the US out or to the US in, but really anywhere. You don't expect a stranger to read your private communications to a friend. And once you know they can, what is there to say? Constricted and distracted. That's it exactly. That's how I feel.
What I’ve come to realize about the world is that there are three kinds of people. The unconfident and unserious, the unconfident and serious, and the confident and unserious.
There is no confident and serious type. In fact,
The less confident you are, the more serious you have to act.
Truly confident people and seriousness… Hmm, it just doesn’t match.
EXTRAORDINARY INTERACTION TOOLS DESIGNED FOR BUSINESS.
Over the last 30 years, the shift has been to digitize the person. They have become a number, a profile, a keyword, a resume, a bullet on a piece of paper. It isn't anybody's fault - it comes down to scale and there is nothing scalable about live, real time interaction. Fundamentally though, people are voices, stories, experiences and personalities.
BUILT FOR HUMANS.
The goal of HireVue Labs is to bring "human" back to "human capital". More importantly what if the way people interact could be reimagined and scaled to a point that thousands of interactions could occur instantly and they could all be consumed in 1% the time it usually takes.
We've done it with job interviews. Think about all of the other personal interactions between people. What's next?
I'm at HireVue building new startups? How did that happen?
Since I updated my LinkedIn profile I've been contacted by a number of friends and contacts who have asked what HireVue is and what I'm going to be doing there.
HireVue is the worlds leading video interviewing company with clients that include Starbucks, GE, Dow Jones, Red Bull, Ocean Spray, Geico, Living Social and a few hundred others. Something like 20% of the Fortune 100 are now using Hirevue to time-shift their interviews, shred their hiring costs, and improve their new hires. Hirevue's sitting a the junction of a sea-change in HR and the trend is only going to accelerate.
My role at HireVue is to build startup teams and products to expand HireVue's core technologies outside of video interviewing by building new products and - where needed - new startup teams. I'll be running an entity that's currently referred to as "HireVue Labs" which will be taking on special projects as well as another entity that will be outside of HireVue and is as of yet still unnamed.
The goal of HireVue Labs is to utilize all of the new methodologies and tactics around lean startups, minimum viable products, business model canvas, and blue oceans to quickly discover customers, build and launch new products, and iterate. These are exciting times at HireVue and we're going to be building some incredibly interesting products and services across social networks, healthcare and education We'll also be open to helping other startup teams who might utilize HireVue's technology or who are in a market of interest where we can help with technology, team building or help financing.
I'll also be handing businesses that HireVue either acquires, or spins off. The first of these is a company called CodeEval, a 'code testing' community that came out of I/O Ventures incubator program and is based in San Francisco. HireVue acquired CodeEval to help develop HireVue's capabilities around technical 'coding' hires and turned into "CodeVue".
Of course all of this is risky and unusual. Failure to focus is a know and common killer for startups... exactly why all of these projects and teams will be built outside of HireVue, preventing distractions that could compromised HireVue's domination of the video interviewing market (where they're killing it). Undoubtedly, we'll make some mistakes and go down a dead end or two, but we'll be trying to be smart about what bets we make, and when we'll cut bait or let the winners run.
So, if you've got a startup or company that could leverage HireVue's technology or core competencies, we should talk.
I haven't posted on this, my personal blog, for what seems a long, long time.
In many cases, a personal blog suffers when business needs heat up and this one has been no exception. I think I may try to turn this into a stream of conciousness since it's not commercial and probably the best form it can take is the use for which the term 'blog' was coined... a journal.
Of course, I have been pretty busy having fun. (We're designing a house and hopefully I'll get it built this year.)
Medical Spa MD and Freelance MD (my physician communities) have grown a great deal and I recently (a few months ago) hooked up with some medical school students and launched Uncommon Student MD. All of these are pretty fun and put me in contact with a lot of interesting physicians around the world, some of whom are doing some really interesting things in healtcare.
Additionally, I've been helping some great little companies get bigger as an advisor. (AppleCore is now changing it's strategic direction and becomming more self-controled.) There are some other companies that are also in this category that I'm working with, mostly in the technology/internet space.
I'm in agreement with Kevin Ryan about the best advice he ever got: Article
"When I was 32, I joined DoubleClick a couple of months after it was started by Kevin O'Connor and Dwight Merriman. Before, I had always worked for large companies. After two weeks Kevin came to me and said, 'You need to move faster. The only advantage that a startup has is that it moves faster.'
Jeremy Weaver is a medical school student I'm working with as one of the editors over at Uncommon Student MD where he's written a really good post on The Top 10 Reasons You Should Go To Medical School, And The Single Reason Not To.
Whether you're a first year medical student or a practicing physican, there's a good chance you've asked yourself the quesion, "WHY the @#$% DID I GO TO MEDICAL SCHOOL?" Here are a few EXCELLENT reasons... and one bad one.
Just as the blisses of Christmas break was ending for most of us tortured souls who fly the banner of "medical student," and sail these uncertain scholarly seas, Uncommon Student MD got some serious traction with medical students around the world. I believe timing had a large part to do with the explosion in its popularity. Simply put, after christmas break a lot of medical people were thinking, “what am I doing here?!” - A case of mass buyers remorse.
Frontdesk's truly awesome waiting room videos and DVDs for doctors, dentists, chiropractors, medical spas, and laser clinics...
Putting a jaw-dropping, attention grabbing video in your waiting room or lobby is the perfect way to add additional sales and profits to a clinics bottom line.
The benefits are obvious. You're marketing directly to a captive audience that's already in your business with information about your products and services. Your clients will be entertained at the same time that you're educating and informing them of the scope of your services. Special offers? New services? Packages or gift certificates? Video marketing will 'soft-sell' your clients and get conversations started that result in increased sales!
I started this new business as a way to get my wife Shelly involved in some of our online ventures and it's worked out really well since she's a wiz at this stuff having been a long-time advertising director for DSW and then Euro-RSCG.
She's bringing all of her experience with clients like Intel, Iomega, Microsoft and Alphagraphics, as well as her time with our cosmetic practices (Surface) and plugging it into this new venture.
Groupon wasn't exactly the same, but now it's becoming Nimble.
Oie. If only.
Many of my friends who know about my former startup Nimble and are aware of the massive growth of Groupon give me a conciliatory pat on the back when they see me.
Nimble, that I founded in 2004 allowed any local business to sell it's inventory at a discount in real time. And it worked.
(Of course we were tiny compared to Groupon and I made many typical startup mistakes. Mainly, that I didn't have the right team in place.)
Now, Groupon is actually starting to copy Nimble: CNN Article
...a new mobile application that the company hopes will change when and how society chooses to eat, shop and play.
The application, known as Groupon Now, is remarkably and elegantly simple, yet it's a radical departure from Groupon's current deal-a-day business model. When a user opens up the smartphone app, he or she will be presented with just two buttons: "I'm hungry" and "I'm bored."
Clicking either button will open up a list of time-specific daily deals, based on his or her location.
The familiar $10 coupons for $20 worth of food are still there, but they're not one-time offers. Instead, businesses can choose when they want these deals to be available.
Say a restaurant is incredibly busy on Saturdays but could use more business on Wednesdays. With Groupon Now, that business can fill its seats during slow business days using time-specific deals.
That's the beauty of Groupon Now: local businesses have never really had a simple way to manage their perishable inventory, especially labor and food. Why waste those resources during slow periods when you can bring savings-savvy consumers through the doors with a highly targeted Groupon deal?
"For merchants, the daily deal is like teeth whitening, and Groupon Now is like brushing your teeth. It can be an everyday thing to keep your business going," Groupon founder and CEO Andrew Mason told Bloomberg Businessweek in an extensive interview on the new product.
The daily deals company has been on a tear recently -- in fact it is the fastest growing company in history -- but it faces stiff competition from companies with increasing muscle.
Oh, this kills me.
Read this post on: Medical Spas & Groupon
Good sales communications can make a brilliant statement about your business.
The Package that Calistoga Ranch is using is a phenomenal example of sales materials that set the stage for immediate followup and move the sales process down the field.
I was impressed when I opened this communications. Not only is the Calistoga Ranch Package beautifully executed sales message, it also delivers just the message that a high end real estate community want's to deliver. A great execution for sales acceleration.
My good friend Chia Messina is a terrific headshot photographer in NYC.
Chia's been shooting actors headshot and has expanded into advertising and lifestyle photography. I had to laugh when Chia told me recently she'd taken the headshot of the actress Gennifer Goodwin who plays the youngest wife 'Margine' in the HBO series Big Love.
About two months I had a conversation with Chia around social media, blogging and the like. Chia alredy had a site, Twitter account and a Twitpic feed. Unfortunately her site was in Flash wich posed some nasty problems around adding or changing content and wasn't filling her SEO needs at all. I finally talked her into letting me put together a headshot blog that could reallys showcase her photography and let actors who might be potential clients to read a few posts and build up a comfort level before picking up the phone and making a call.
On the plus side she's a photographer. That give her ready access to the kind of images that the rest of us can only dream about and have to buy from iStock.
Beautiful Sales & Marketing Communications.
I've been building some training Packages for Sendside's sales automation clients and I have to say, they're some really beautiful communications. Don't you wish your sales and marketing emails looked like this?
Once you get the hang of how the peices fit together and get your noggin around the fact that you can actually send any content using one of the different tab tipes (Text Editor Tabs for HTML that's built in the editor, Web Page Tabs for embedding any URL or web page, and File Tabs for showing document inside a tab) you can do some incredible things that provide real business value.
Not only do they look great, but you can see when they're opened and what content's being read. If you're using a CRM you can track all of that information all the way through to sales. It's no wonder that we have clients whose close rates have jumped by as much as 500% within three months of implementing Sendside into their sales process. Yowza!
You have to love this kind of feel-good stuff.
jetBlue just tripped over a dollar to pick up a dime.
Here's the deal. I'm flying to Boston next month. While there are a bunch of other airlines that offer direct flights to Boston and have a much shorter actual 'trip time', I bought a ticket on jetBlue. You see, I used to fiy to NY all the time on jetBlue where their hub is and flying on jetBlue feels something like the home team.
I just got off of the phone with jetBlue customer service. It was an example of complete mistrust and obfuscation which surprised me more than a little. You see, I loved jetBlue...
But I'm not loving jetBlue right now.
You see, when I booked my flight last night I used their online system (good) and made a mistake in booking the date for my return (bad). I'm going to Boston for the weekend and accidently booked by return flight a month later in August instead of the 4 days I was looking for.
Of course their site has a lot of bookings and almost no one makes an error like this. But any UI designer who looks at their site could see that it's absolutly possible since the length of the trip is never revealed except for the flight dates. (I"m arguing that they could put in a little fading header that tells you how long your trip is for.) If' I'd see anywhere that my trip was scheduled for 35 days I'd have immediately know there was an issue. (I could make a simple change to the jetBlue UI that would solve this problem for everyone within a day.)
Today when I looked at my emailed itinerary I immediately spotted the problem and went online to change my ticket. They have a $100 change fee which I paid thinking I'd give them a call and that surely they'd waive that. After all, it wasn't a change I was asking for, it was the ticket I wanted in the first place. It was less than 24 hours and the flight wasn't for a month.
In speaking to the customer service rep who 'called' a manager. I was informed that I had only a 4 hour window to make any changes and that after that, there was nothing anyone could do. You see, no one at jetBlue customer service has the 'authority' to refuse this fee. It was company policy that they couldn't actually do anything.
What kind of a company has a customer service department that can't service customers?
I was instructed that my 'only recourse' was to submit feedback on their web site. That's it. Evidently they wouldn't even be entering it as a note. I couldn't even talk to the manager. I was just informed what she supposedly said.
Look, I run customer service for Sendside and deal with customers all of the time. I know unreasonable when I hear it. But asking for a change fee to be waived when it's obvious you made a mistake is not unreasonable.
Evidently jetBlue doesn't trust their own employees enough to make any decisions, at least until you get somewhere past the 'Manager' level. That's sad, and indicative of a company that doesn't really value customer service. Customer service should allow the people in the trenches making decisions. jetBlue just became another airline in my view.
I'll cease to sing the jetBlue song. I won't book with them if there's a shorter trip. And I won't give them any preference at all when having all of our corporate travel booked.
So jetBlue will make an additional $100 from me, but they're losing so much more.
I was reading tonight a Paul Allen post about CEO's who code.
I tried to leave a comment but I think I was unsuccessful. At least I didn't get the 'moderation' confirmation that's common on Wordpress blogs.
Paul's post was dead-on with this.
There’s an amazing feeling of satisfaction when you build something that works – and better yet, something that is used by thousands of people.
Now, I'm not a coder by any means. In fact, any mention of coding by those are not immersed in C+ or Java or Ruby on Rails or whatever is probably too much.
For myself, I've had to learn a little CSS, HTML, SEO and enough of other stuff that I can often cut and paste real code to get things to work the way I need them to.
The first 'application' that I created was cobbled together from some off the shelf shopping cart software and, what was then, newly discovered RSS feeds... but it worked. (Way before Groupon I might add.)
As soon as you have the title of CEO (and it's a real company) it's irresponsible to be coding. A CEO is responsible for the direction fo the entire organization, and that requires that a CEO's head be above the trench line and not down in the Java.
That being said, CEO's who understand how code is developed, structured and what's possible are a huge asset to a technology company. Before you can create something new you must understand what's possible and the shortest, most efficient way to get there.
$60K a year can make you happy
Psychologist and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman says millions of dollars won't buy you happiness, but a job that pays $60,000 a year might help.
Happiness levels increase up to the $60K mark, but "above that it's a flat line," he said.
"Money does not buy you experiential happiness but lack of money certainly buys you misery," he said. But the real trick, Kahneman said, is to spend time with people you like.
Products scale quite nicely than you.
Services? Not so much.
While I'm beating the bushes 24/7 at Sendside, I've got some systems in place around launching products that's working quite well, and it's all built on the premise that incremental value is scalable only around products, not services.
I think I know something about this. After all, I was a painter for about 20 years. Artists have perhaps the poorest business model there is. Painting is a huge time investment and you'll need some serious inventory with no assurance that what you're doing will sell. At least to start.
One of my epiphanies came when I entered the limited edition print market. Suddenly I was painting a single painting, but selling it thousands of times. (Incedentally this does drive up the price of the original which is also nice.)
But before I wax too philosophic, let me come back to my point. Products scale. So my crack team organized under my medical spa site at Medical Spa MD is busy creating value by leveraging our expertise to take specific products to market.
Last year we launched a new site that ships wholesale Botox worldwide. In the next month we're launching three new services: Teeth whitening, medical outsourcing, and do it yourself SEO. There are about eight other products, services, and partherships lined up behind those. And that's just for Medical Spa MD.
I've got designs on the artist, painter, headshot photography and actor markets in NY and LA since I've got some experience there as well. While I'm not quite at the four-hour work week with these sidelines, I'm probably close to eight... and I work on weekends.
Of course I couldn't do this myself. I have a team that reside in various locations around the world; California, New York, India... And they do the heavy lifting. I'm just around to provide direction, and to pay the bills. Fortunately, with scale comes profitability.