Wednesday, May 30, 2007

SNW Leads to NCAA Secondary

Just for those who might try to cut around the new recruiting rules, word out from some highly redacted self-reported NCAA secondary violations that one school has turned itself in for improper booster contact. The booster had gone to a SNW and tried to chat up a recruit about how that person should come to booster's school.

Before anyone gets FOI crazy -- no, I don't know the school name, sport or even which SNW the event happened on. Remember, I said it was highly redacted.

The point is NCAA rules follow you into Second Life -- so, no creating of recruiter avitars either.

You Do WHAT?

OK, the most interesting reaction in the room to all the aggressive SNW related items at the SEC meetings was when I said, why yes, I often post on message boards. Under my name. Representing the University.

I'd say a majority thought it was understandable once I explained our policy -- not to challenge opinion and only to correct obvious factual errors -- but a couple was flabbergasted. I don't think they'll be any dinner invitations from them.

It took a while to remember a good example of when I used these direct posts, then it hit me a little late -- several times there were bogus press conferences supposedly set to deal with various untrue events. I'd help shut down those threads by the simple confirmation that there was no press conference set for X time or X day.

I realize its a bit different, but here's my best analogy. Back in the early 1990s, there was this thing called talk radio. Lots of SIDs would never call in -- don't want to legitimize that medium. Over time that changed, and here was the point. If today you heard something that was clearly in error -- there is no press conference today, the tipoff is 6 p.m., the network for the game is ESPN -- on a talk show, you would pick up the phone and call to get that corrected.

Search and replace the words "talk show" with "message board" -- tell me, what's the difference?

More to come over the next few days as I'll post bits and pieces from my presentation at the SEC SID meeting for those curious.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Public Spokesman Oops

Former President Jimmy Carter breaks one of the great unspoken rules of ex-presidenting -- you don't call out the other members of the club. These days, everyone is welcome to an opinion, but for heaven's sake, man up about it.

For those that missed it, Carter said the current Bush is the worst all-time on foreign policy.

Today, we learn from Mr. Carter that he says his remark was "careless or misinterpreted."

Please. Pick one. Either you were careless -- as in "did I say that out loud in front of a reporter" -- or you were taken out of context and misunderstood.

Let me think for a minute. Reporter. Talking with Ex-POTUS. Tape recorder? Yeah, I'd say legal counsel recommends that -- maybe even on both ends of the conversation.

Gonna have a hard time with the misunderstood option.

Who's Laughing Now?

Another one of those SNW oops -- Dennis Seavers is the executive director of the Arizona state fingerprinting board. He also had -- I'll assume the past tense -- a MySpace page. Got some 'splainin to do today after he said that he was a Big Brother volunteer to expose children to the "splendors of lawlessness." OK, cute joke. Not that different from the current Big Brother/Big Sister national PSA campaign that stresses you don't have to be a saint to be a Big. You've heard them; you're qualified to be a Big if you ever shot a spit ball, every gave someone a noogie, etc.

Regrettably for Mr. Seavers, he works essentially in law enforcement. Famous for not having a sense of humor. Made a comment about kids. Parent groups are equally famous for not having a sense of humor regarding adults interacting with kids.

I did not learn about Mr. Seavers from his MySpace, or some blog. Nope. Ye olde fashioned way from Associated Press and a front page (just below the fold) note listed on today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Reckon that's going to follow around his resume?

Friday, May 18, 2007

You Can't Save Them All

One of the not-so-funny numerous moments from the FEMA public information officer training was the title of this entry. It was the answer given by a flustered PIO in a mock disaster interview. When asked about those people over there who were injured and killed, the PIO shrugged and said, "You can't save them all." Oops.

Why is that in the SNW/SID blog? Learned the other day about one of our former athletes who hasn't exactly had a positive time since she departed UA. Two DUIs among other things. One of the flags here of this future behavior was her Facebook, a classic college party log with the usual entries and images. It wasn't the only indicator she needed some guidance, and it didn't lead to her transfer.

The update on her life reminded me of a few other persons whose dramatic SNW entries were precursors of serious issues or departure from college. More than a few universities legal departments are advising that if the school monitors SNW, they are opening themselves up to tremendous liability for A) spying -- ok, that's not the legalese they'd use; or B) liability for not taking action in each and every case.

As a result, many are now taking an enlightened blind eye toward SNW. They're adults. It's their life. They deserve privacy. When did the college abdicate responsibility for assisting with the mentoring/parenting/raising of our youth? Probably about the same time the high schools stopped.

Before the clucking starts, would you turn a blind eye toward a friend's destructive behavior? Would you ignore your own child's issues? Well, maybe if you were doing drugs with your kids -- but that's another story.

In the end, you really can't save them all. But you can try.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Internet as Media Force Multiplier

One of the fav terms in mil-speak these days is a force multiplier. Roughly speaking, something that adds a dramatic strength to your military combat effectiveness. If your side has an air force and the other side doesn't, it makes it really easy to pick off the tanks and roll through to the objective.

Thinking about the internet and scouting out areas for discussion at the upcoming SEC meetings, it occurs to me that the real impact of this second generation of internet is to act as the media's greatest force multiplier. A lot of times we think in terms of what the media knows and how it comes to know it. Great focus has gone toward finding websites (Deadspin or BadJocks, for example) or SNW tools (Facebook or MySpace). This is a mistake.

Two fronts here. First, not unlike the internet itself, there's no way you can keep a handle on every corner of the web. You'll always miss something, some new site, some updated tool -- it's a losing battle.

The second front is more significant. Time is a commodity for the media -- always has been, always will be. The fixed points are the most obvious. The looming line for some media, something that becomes more artificial as the days pass and the media morphs. The for information that is fresh to fill the 24/7/365 void of news-tainment. How can media people solve those problems in the days in which budgets are dropping, staff is falling, costs are rising but the demand for more -- and different -- information grows?

Google. Message boards. Bloggers.

More and more sports stories include quotes from people that were considered "off-limits" in the past. Recent examples? The sudden departure of the Georgia women's golf coach -- no quotes in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from official University sources, nothing from the coach, nothing from the players. But AJC did have quote from a player's father. At LSU, in the days immediately after the Chatman resignation we saw quotes from her coffee shop owner, friends and family. In Arkansas' own men's basketball coach departure-hire-departure-hire, one player mother became a fav quote.

How did they find them? Google up their names, addresses and phone numbers in five minutes, something that would have required hours or days in the past and perhaps considerable cost. How did they know where to look? A run through the message boards, which despite everyone's attempt at pooh-poohing away are as full gold nuggets as Sutter's stream. Sit on-line and sift the silt from the ore. Want to get the flavor of the event? Find the blogger who's already done some of your background work.

Are any of these things new? Not no, but hell no. It just took lots and lots of time and usually the event passed without the ability to dig in. Find the parent? Had to hope you already had the name and hometown, and the local library had the phone book. Get the ors? Took a lot of folks in a lot of donut shops and barber's chairs.

Given a new road map courtesy of the net, the reporter can now try to sort out the true and false by peppering the source with items that might start the process closer to the target than the wide-open and vague, so what happened?

I run through this to bring out a couple of points. Don't believe you can control the message completely. There will always be a counter, or someone off the campus. You can navigate and try to maintain a message, but be ready for the rough spots. The other is both simple and sinister: you better know the truth and rely on it. Sometimes knowing what really happened isn't possible, particularly to the spokesperson. This is dangerous for all parties, but a reality because the individuals involved for their own agendas will not be forthcoming.

There is the possibility -- not very viable, but possible -- that Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi Minister of Information did not know that the U.S. troops were at the Baghdad airport. His own people just might have been not forthcoming with the intelligence. More likely is the sad SOB was sent out to try and mislead. As Dr. Phil would say, how did that work out for you, Muhammed?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

SNW is Out for NCAA Recruiting Process

For all those following the NCAA text messaging ban to recruits, notice this interesting twist in the language passed. It detailed what was permissible, not what was impermissible. In the NCAA world, that means you may only do what's listed -- no creativity allowed.

Why is that important? Because the only allowed communication with recruits are phone calls and emails. All other electronic means are out. So much for that Facebook page.

Monday, May 07, 2007

More on the UWD SNW ban for athletes

Media accounts you might be interested in. This link is from the Univ. of Minnesota student newspaper, who has some a few stories about SNW over the past year.

UMD athletes won't be "poking" anymore

You might recognize one of the commentators' names.

Can You Write Shoot in a Crowded Campus?

Here's the latest in students and SNW -- student at small Iowa college gets expelled for writing that he wanted to shoot some folks on campus. Of course, he did it on facebook. It will eventually become the next first amendment case.

More important, in the coverage of this event bubbled up this very useful fourth amendment related legal citation. It comes from Matthew Hodge at the Friends: Social Networking Sites for Engaged Library Services blog, complete with links to the full opinions. The quick gist is there may be some issues regarding fourth amendment privacy and how it is or is not enabled on a particular SNW.

Friends:Social Networking Sites for Engaged Library Services: The Fourth Amendment and Facebook Privacy

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Are You Sure That's a Ban?

Over the past couple of weeks, my inbox and voice mail has been peppered by media from the Minnesota area about a ban on SNW for University of Minnesota-Duluth athletes. Granted, I'm working off internet postings, but from one quote I've read of the UMD code of conduct, that's not a ban. Is it limiting the free speech of the athletes? Well, if having full license to rip your teammates on-line or posting photos of your beer-bong parties with underage teammates is limiting free speech -- yes.

As I've said repeatedly, student-athletes are public figures within their communities, and now with broader access to the world via the internet, at least minor public figures on the grand scale. College athletics is not a right; it's a privilege. A university has the right to defend it's good name and public image when those representing the university injure it.

Help me out here Corporate America -- what happens to the employee who blogs negatively about the company? It's a hard lesson learned, and better learned in school.

You might have a bumper sticker on your car that says something lewd. Doesn't mean it won't get you in trouble with the boss when you drive it to work. At the end of the day, remember you own the car -- and the right to free expression on it -- but your boss owns your job.

At the risk of sounding drudgish -- developing.