30 July, 2009

Has ICANN Gone Too Far?

ICANN was formed in 1998. It is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.
ICANN is pushing to expand the Internet's Top Level Domains (TLD or gTLD) from its current 21 to some staggering, unspecified new number. TLDs are the .COMs, .ORGs, etc at the end of URLs. "The advantage of all this is there will be many more ways for sites to be described. The question is whether it will really help Internet users or confuse them." asks Saul Hansell in a recent NY Times article. But that's just scratching the surface of the issue.

According to CADNA (Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse), companies are already losing over $1 billion annually due to cybersquatters misrepresenting and redirecting traffic on the Internet through taking advantage of URLs not purchased by companies. The proposal being made by ICANN can skyrocket those losses and increase expenses to try and manage the new TLDs. One estimate predicts an additional $1.6 billion in expenses for the top 1500 companies if ICANN goes forward.

That sounds like a lot of money - $1.6 billion. It is! With ICANNS proposal, if you want to get a new TLD for your company, say for example .TODD, it would cost you $185,000. All of a sudden the leveling of the playing field that the Internet has provided has been shaken up, because most business just can't afford $185,000. Mr. Hansell at the NY Times in his article "The Best Internet Addresses Will Cost a Cool .Million" estimates a cool $500K to $1 million for any given company if they want their own TLD.

Clearly this is a big issue that has folks taking sides. CADNA has members from Nike, HP, Dell, and Marriott, to name just a few, who are pushing back on ICANN. The team working with ICANN is "governments, individuals, civil society, business and intellectual property constituencies, and the technology community." The amount of technical in nature paperwork generated on this is too much for the lay person to go through and make sense of. Fortunately, someone with expertise and resources at his disposal has weighed in. Ken Hittel, Vice President of the Corporate Internet Department at New York Life Insurance Company wrote an article, "Just Wait a New York Minute"

Mr. Hittel makes some interesting points. Here are some of what he covers; click-through to read it yourself.
  1. Do we really need new TLDs? ...New York Life has a relatively small portfolio of about 400 names and 90% of these are not and never will be in use...
  2. Have we really run out of .coms?
  3. How much are the new TLDs going to cost us?
  4. How do the new TLDs benefit the consumer?
  5. Who, then, benefits from the new TLDs?
The benefit seems to be for ICANN and/or "The other party that could benefit would be cybersquatters and online criminals" concludes Mr. Hittel. The "gaming" of this new system has already begun and their is fear that ICANN is not prepared to handle it. In a paper released today, "New gTLDs: Let the Gaming Begin, Part I: TLD Front Running," Michael Palage speaks to the problems already starting and what ICANN needs to protect against.

What can we do? I would suggest a few things to begin with:
  1. Let ICANN know how you feel
  2. Join a group such as CADNA
  3. Spread this with others who care about the impact to their organizations
I'm sure there must be more we can do. If you have additional input on this for the Internet community, let me know.

29 July, 2009

You're Only Borrowing That Digital Content

With Amazon's most recent removal of content off of the Kindle, we're reminded that you're only borrowing digital content; not buying it. Farhad Manjoo of Slate wrote a great article, Why 2024 Will Be Like Nineteen Eighty-Four, that reviews the limitations and dangers of having digital content.
Most of the e-books, videos, video games, and mobile apps that we buy these days day aren't really ours. They come to us with digital strings that stretch back to a single decider—Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, or whomever else.
For me, I'm still buying CDs and paperback books because I like the physical item. I also look for low cost and garage sale DVDs. One day I might not have the choice, but while I do, I choose to own over borrow.

27 July, 2009

Browser Wars III - Revenge of the ...?

Since Microsoft killed off Netscape (Browser Wars, the original), most users were not aware of any alternatives until Firefox (FF) came on the scene (Mozilla vs. Godzilla - Browser Wars II). Actually, there was a 3rd browser that was and is quite good, Opera. More recently, Google announce their own web browser, Chrome, while Mozilla had released Firefox 3 (now FF 3.5 is available) and Apple released Safari 4.

Since Microsoft released Internet Explorer 5 (IE5), I've been quite unhappy with the browser. It has suffered from security holes (predominately due to ActiveX), proprietary solutions (ActiveX again raises its ugly head), and slowness. I've also come to really like Firefox due to its extensibility with Add-ons.

With the popularity of Firefox and now the additions of Chrome and Safari, you could say that Netscape is finally getting their revenge, sort of. Since Firefox came out of the aftermath of Nestcape and the additional fire power of Google and Apple, Microsoft is in for a fight like none before (err, except search, but that's another story).

As users and businesses, why do we care what browse I use or my customers use? I already mentioned my reasons for not liking IE and liking FF, but it doesn't end there. Google and Apple have seemed to pass everyone with the fastest browsers, using the WebKit guts and their own JavaScript engines. Opera is still in the game with their new Opera Unite product. And then there are many sites that require IE, too.
It's all about the experience!
As a user, I am impatient, so I get annoyed when a site is slow. This has led me to avoid IE (and also why I use FoxIt to read PDFs). Some companies that I deal with have forced me to use IE, and therefore have led me to also dislike them too. I don't want to have to run more than one web browser; at work I have to run Internet Explorer, so I have two going at a minimum and 3, 4, or 5, when testing our website.

As a web developer for my organization, I need to decide what browsers I will test for, and what browsers I'll support. My engineering team who develops our products has the same challenges. If we leave out a browse, our customers will blame us. To add a browser, will increase our development costs.

Let me close by saying, I love the new browsers; I love the pressure it has put on Microsoft to either fix IE or get out of the game. What I don't like is having to run multiple browser to get the full web experience I want. Currently Google and Mozilla seem content on co-existing, but how long can it really last? Opera Unite is offering some compelling options not seen in any other browser, but how much longer can they survive? Five years from now... I think we'll have 3 players: Microsoft, Google, and Apple. Until then, Browser Wars III is on, and it promises to have a lot of carnage.

24 July, 2009

Internet Strategy Forum Summit 2009

This is not my typical post, but interesting for many of us all the same...
I had the opportunity to attend the Internet Strategy Forum Summit on Thursday July 23rd, 2009, and these are from my notes and some relevant and related links. Don't take the gaps in my notes as a sign of unimportant content -- rather I volunteered at the event, which distracted me some times, and of course I networked with friends and colleagues, which created other distractions. For only $200, this is an event was and has always been well worth the cost.

(Speaker list: http://www.internetstrategyforum.org/events/Internet_Strategy_Forum_Summit_2009_Agenda_as_of_07-14-09.pdf.)

Katherine Durham, HP, VP of Marketing, Imaging & Printing Group

Shifting the Digital Marketing Mindset to Harness the power of an Integrated Approach

"Flat is the new up."

"If content is king, context is queen"

Marketing Mix by Stage in Funnel: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremiah_owyang/3749801824/.

See notes at from Sarena Regazzoni: http://ow.ly/15ICLg.

And notes from Jeremiah Owyang, Forrester, who spoke later: http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2009/07/23/how-hp-integrates-digital-and-social-kathy-durham-vp-marketing/.

Sheila Tolle, Intuit

Combining eCommerce and Community: It’s a new normal and there is no going back.

People have always talked, now it's just quicker and permanent

B2B is still B2C, i.e. person-to-person

In their QuickBooks client, they have integrated their community. Looks similar to the Help window that emerges on the right next to MS Office products -- easy to open/close; right next to the product you're working with. [Seems like something we should add to our product roadmap.]

5 Recommendations for Social Media

  1. Listen
  2. Become part of the community
  3. Live your higher purpose, i.e. see your mission statement -- its not just about selling widgets
  4. Create amazing experiences
  5. Embraces the chaos

Social Media. Start listening and have a response strategy -- be there ahead of time, so if you need to respond (to something negative that has gone viral), you're prepared. See this for an example: http://www.businessinsider.com/henry-blodget-dominos-2009-4. In this case, Dominos was ready.

Social is an opportunity to hear from your customers and it's so much cheaper than bringing in a bunch of customers for testing.

Also see notes from Sarena Regazzoni at: http://ow.ly/15ICLg.

Lisa Welchman, Founding Partner, WelchmanPierpoint

A Gossamer Ceiling for Corporate Internet Executives?

[I used to listen to a podcast she produced on content management. I think she's very competent and knowledgeable in her field.]

Lisa discussed some of the findings from the ISF annual survey on Internet Strategists -- her company sponsored the research.

And back to basics: Be systematic about your web / digital work

  1. Develop a strategy
  2. Must have web governance. It's what makes thinks like Wikipedia work.
  3. Success requires (execution)
    1. Product Manager
    2. Program Management
  4. Measure

Jeremiah Owyang, Sr. Analyst Social Media, Forrester

Between these two posts, it seems to cover what he covered in his presentation.

Contextual Ads Blog post: http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2009/06/18/contextual-ads-based-off-social-network-profile-twitter-and-facebook/

Emerging Social Eras (read blog post on this at: http://blogs.forrester.com/marketing/2009/04/the-future-of-the-social-web-in-five-eras.html)

  1. [missed it]
  2. Social application framework
    1. B2B on LinkedIn
    2. Go to where your customers are
    3. Corporate websites fragment to communities
  3. Social colonization: your friends go with you
    1. You use Facebook Connect or OpenID instead of your own sign-on solution / How you get Leads will be different, but the accurracy will be much better
    2. Whether you want it or not, your site will have a community around it; when a user visits, they can see/get feedback about it from their network
    3. See Yahoo!s new home page (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremiah_owyang/3743073022/in/photostream/ - and old: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremiah_owyang/3743073244/in/photostream/) that just launched as an early example -- Portals are embedded within the Yahoo! Portal.
  4. Social Context
    1. Social contracts - user opts in for exchange of something else
  5. Social Commerce: comunities define furuter products

Johan Jervoe, VP of Creative & Digital Marketing, Intel

Consumers will/are deciding how they want to consume information

Differentiation is as much about doing things differently as it is about doing different things.

Vendor ROI Panel

Craig Macdonald, Covario
Phil Lodico, FairWinds Partners
Justin Kistner, WebTrends
Eric Atkisson, FatWire
Jeff Cram, iSite Design

Craig Macdonald got the conversation really going over how businesses waste so much time of their own and vendors with long RFPs. They have gotten so bad that he no longer responds. This led to a lot of good conversation, which brought out important points about knowing your use cases before shopping for a vendor. Made me think about how bad most organizations are with requirements gathering.

Some advise / lessons did emerge (which weren't new to me), including:

  1. Start small (but with the end in mind).
  2. Don't over buy technology.

    1. Save some fo the money to help you install, configure, operationalize.
    2. Don't buy features and functions that you wont use for another 2 or 3 years. Priorities will change, and what you thought you would need, many never come.

  3. Everyone thinks they're different, so they think they need a custom solution, which increases cost, but typically has low return. Our brand, our product, our message may be different, but the systems and how we manage our business is the same.

Phil Lodico, Managing Partner, FairWinds Partners and VP, CADNA - The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse

[Phil was a sponsor, and had a short 3 minute spot. I also spoke with him later.]

ICANN is pushing to open the TLD (top-level domain, such as .com and .org) space to a virtually unlimited number. They want to sell these to the top bidder. For example, Chase could buy .bank and therefore have a URL of http://chase.bank. The question is, what happens to BoA, Citi, and other banks? If this goes forward, the likely scenario to play out would cost companies billions of dollars. It is the belief of CADNA that the only winners are ICANN and cyber squatters.

[This reminds me a lot of the net neutrality issues, and I expect that I'll be doing some more research and discovering around this. Watch for a potential post in the future on this subject.]

Duane Schultz, VP of Interactive Marketing, Xerox

  1. Web experience must cover the entire integrated experience before its put on the website. i.e. just a web page without the strategy and supporting processes will not get on the site.
  2. Build standards. Takes labor and time.
    (see Lisa Welchman: #2 Web Governance -- #1 and #2 seem to be talking at that point.)
  3. Measure the results end-to-end.

Chris Dill, CIO, Portland Trailblazers

Lots of technology happening. Current project will use CMS to run menu screens in Rose Garden. Provides flexibility to do more than menus. e.g.

  1. Brand menu for event
  2. Remove beer off of menu after 3rd quarter, since that is when they quit selling
  3. After the game, replace with arrows to exit and promos for upcoming events

CRM is a new and important technology for sports teams

Have moved Courtside Monday night to be delivered over the Internet. Cost reduction and wider reach for Blazers. I like because I can see the video version without having Comcast.


Needless to say, there was a wealth of information and networking. This is a Twitter stream graph for the #isf09 tag: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/3750563314/sizes/o/. You get an idea of the popular topics and speakers.

08 July, 2009

Online Discounts with Coupons

Here's a little tip to save a bit.

When you purchase online, and you see the box for "coupon" or "coupon (if available)", this is your clue to search for a coupon and get yourself a discount. In most cases you can enter "[company name] coupon code" into Google, and you will find a site with a coupon code.

A coupon code for my most recent online purchase saved me 6% off the total price.

06 July, 2009

Adobe Photoshop CS Hangs on Load

One day when I tried to load Photoshop CS on my Windows XP box, it hung. I don't recall having it crashed on my prior usage. I tried killing the app, closing my other apps, and loading again. Still no help. I next tried rebooting; again no help.

After searching a bit, I found a solution within a thread on Photoshop 911. I removed all ".psp" files from the "Adobe Photoshop CS Settings" folder -- I just moved the files into a temporary folder. Photoshop recreate 3 files when I launched it:
  1. Adobe Photoshop CS Prefs.psp
  2. Favorites.psp
  3. PluginCache.psp
Depending on your specific XP installation, you may or may not find the "Adobe Photoshop CS Settings" folder in this location:
C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Adobe\Photoshop\8.0\Adobe Photoshop CS Settings
Where [username] is your login username.