Tag Archives: LinkedIn

Why Print Matters.

There’s a fascinating discussion going on at the LinkedIn Print Networking Group about the viability of print in the age of web, email and social networking.  While guessing about the imminent death of an industry is always great sport, the death of print is wildly overstated. While print now has numerous competitors for “eyeballs” and attention, it still remains one of the most effective communication mediums on the planet. In a time when only 77% of American households own computers, print narrows the digital divide by providing ready access to books, magazines and other knowledge resources affordable to most everyone or available for free at community libraries.

Information technology marketing has long thrived on “smoke and mirrors” announcing new product launches well before the underlying technology is ready for “prime time” and by selling products that do not function as promised or are so complex they require a programmer’s level of knowledge to operate.  While I love technology and use plenty of it, I have also seen it unnecessarily waste limited financial resources, deliver mediocre results and frustrate even the most devoted users. Technology companies positioning themselves as the “green” alternative conveniently overlook the  24% annual growth in energy demands from server farms essential to powering the Internet.  Browsing the Internet for just 12 hours a week will require over 300 pounds of coal to fuel the electrical demand.  Who browses only 12 hours a week?  It’s clear we need to be paying closer attention to the impact of our prolific technology usage.

The United States alone dumps 200-300 million electronic items every year. While the Basel Convention bans the export of hazardous waste, US e-recyclers have successfully circumvented the treaty rules resulting in global e-waste dumps around the globe. With only about 14-18% of computers and computer related junk suitable for recycling, the race for the next generation of faster chips or the latest Netbook is really a race to top off landfills. Toss a computer into the landfill and your great, great, great grandchildren will be unearthing the circuitry, along with mercury, cadmium, and other toxins five decades from now. Toss a book or newspaper into the landfill and all of it will be gone by the time your grandchildren head off to school in the spring and probably sooner. That’s something to think about.  E-waste is a big environmental issue and a huge business opportunity for someone with the necessary smarts and funds to create a responsible recycling management system.

While the ‘digital natives’ among us will always sing the siren song of a technology future and the well meaning will believe they are saving trees by not printing e-mail, the paper industry continues to lead the way in recycling nearly 58% of all paper consumed while printers are finding new solutions to complex communication needs.  Printing companies remain among the most resilient, technologically sophisticated and nimble manufacturing enterprises on the planet. Printers bring a unique perspective and deep knowledge to the communications marketplace found nowhere else.  That’s the real story about the future of print and the graphic communications industry today.

LinkedIn. LockedOut.

groucho_marxGroucho Marx was said to have told the Friar’s Club of Beverly Hills, “Please accept my resignation.  I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”  Funny stuff from a very clever guy.  While the heyday of restrictive brick and mortar private clubs may have passed, their brand of exclusivity has migrated pretty effectively to a new locale—the Internet.  A growing chorus of complaints replete with snarky comments and asides about being locked out of groups across the frontier of social media sites are on the rise.

Increasingly the rationale for “exclusivity” is based on whether you paid the requisite freight to attend a conference or participate in a given event.  The rejection comes dressed up in diplomatic business speak…”we are only able to extend invitations to participate to members of our audience, past and present speakers and presenters…”  Entrepreneurs are leveraging a familiar twist to social media groups—membership fees so you may become part of the “in” crowd and finally the ultra, ultra-exclusive, “inclusion in the XYZ Social Media Group is by invitation only.”

Theorems of social stratification are alive and well even as the value of these groups remains unproven.  Sure, we all understand that exclusivity and scarcity for humans are like candlelight to a moth.  Humans are inextricably attracted to that which is beyond their reach.  Yet even those holding the reins of the most exclusive events in technology, education and design, like the TED conferences or All Things Digital Conference-D7 (hosted by the Wall Street Journal and sold out since last fall) understand the value of openness and sharing.  Even as they use a “time-lag” strategy to differentiate participants and the public, the power of engaging an audience that did not or could not attend their events remains a valuable part of their overall marketplace focus. 

Association leaders face the identical “inside/outside” challenge.  While the traditional dues-based model of association membership faces ongoing questions and competition, the use of social media tools to attract attention and build awareness will expand the base of possible participants.  How do you balance the exclusivity and economic value of membership with the broader branding essentials and power of being the most trusted and vital advisor for a given profession, industry or cause?  Are the demands mutually exclusive?  The rise of exclusive and restrictive participation in online groups may actually offer associations some pretense of cover in the near term, but being LinkedIn and LockedOut will undoubtedly backfire.  The bigger question remains—what will the optimum “membership” model be in an increasingly transparent and open universe?

Do You Know Where Your Critical Cyber Assets Are?

darkpurplecloudsThere’s a cautionary tale for association leaders and managers in the Wall Street Journal describing how “spies” have successfully penetrated the US electrical grid and other infrastructure systems in recent years.  Interestingly, many of the penetrations were not uncovered by the companies in charge of the infrastructure, but rather by the U.S. intelligence community.  WSJ writer Siobhan Gorman reports that U.S. National Director of Intelligence Dennis Blair has told Congress “over the past several years we have seen cyber attacks against critical  infrastructures abroad and many of our own infrastructures are as vulnerable as their foreign counterparts.”

Which led me to wondering about how many organizations in the non-profit community have taken the time to identify their own “critical cyber assets”?  And how many have created management structures and protocols to properly protect and test them from time to time?  No, I’m not talking about making sure you have a back-up of your computer database and critical files stored off site (it is stored off-site and tested for functionality time-to-time right?) although that’s important to be sure.  No, I was really pondering the notion of what might comprise the  “critical cyber assets” of your organization?   Perhaps databases, with suspects, prospects, customers and members. Check.  The financial data system, including system backups, accounts receivable, tax filings, and payroll records. Check.  Are the customer database and financial systems segregated by a firewall or other barrier?  If someone hacked your member database could they walk through your financial system too?  How about the inventory of periodicals, publications and articles that comprise the intellectual property of the organization? Check.  Convention, conference and seminar registration data, speaker resources, submissions, contracts, venue agreements, and planning documents?  Check.  Where’s the back-up for governance records of the organization such as Board and committee minutes, bylaws, articles of incorporation, IRS determination letters and related correspondence? Got it. Good. Check.  What’s your plan to assure your organization’s new social media assets such as FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn or Plaxopages could be resurrected were they to be hacked or lost to some sort of cyber-glitch?

I’m sure you and your team can come up with a more comprehensive list than what’s here and that’s exactly my point.  If you haven’t already done so, now is a great time to get started and if you’ve already walked this path, now could be a great time to re-check your steps.  Have you overlooked anything?  Are your firewalls and external and internal intrusion detection systems up to date and secure?  Sure there may be bigger and juicier targets for hackers than your organization, but  the threat can arise from within, too.  The Wall Street Journal story describes an incident in 2000 when a disgruntled employee in Australia rigged a computerized water control system to let loose a stream of 200,000 gallons of sewage flooding parks, rivers and a local hotel.  So, about those critical cyber assets?