Tech & The District » 2.0 Tech the way we see it: insights and musings on technology PR, policy and the District, from H&K’s D.C. Tech Team. Thu, 04 Aug 2011 15:06:44 +0000 en hourly 1 Google Teaches Your Mom How to Use the Internet Wed, 15 Dec 2010 16:08:11 +0000 Ben Breit

Here in the Nation’s Capitol, we tend focus a lot on our differences. Democrat vs. Republican; native vs. transplant, city dweller vs. suburbanite; and of course, Shanahan vs. Haynesworth. Thankfully, our friends at Google have reminded us that there is one quality that unites us: we all have an older relative who is clueless about technology – and counts on us to walk him or her through every nominal task.

I certainly can relate. I’ll never forget the day I taught my uncle that it was indeed possible to email multiple people at once (the poor guy had been forwarding the same message to his friends individually). My roommate figured out a way to access his parents’ computers from afar so he wouldn’t have to walk them through instructions over the phone anymore.

Google’s new Teach Parents Tech operation aims to put an end to this. This creative initiative allows you to send customized videos to your less tech-savvy relatives on subjects ranging from ranging from copying and pasting to unsubscribing to newsletters.

Yes, some of the videos are slightly self-promotional. For example, the “how to shorten a long URL” video utilizes rather than the more widely utilized And if this is meant for tech beginners, they probably don’t need to be taught how to create their own blogs. Still, I found it to be an a unique and effective educational tool – as well as a time saver for people like me.

Has anyone else utilized Teach Parents Tech yet? What are your thoughts?

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Tiger and Twitter: The Road to Redemption? Fri, 19 Nov 2010 22:37:39 +0000 Ben Breit Nine words. That’s all it took to set the Twitter world abuzz with gossip and speculation. No, it had nothing to do with your friend’s ground-breaking tweet about the sandwich he was eating at that particular moment, nor was it related to your cousin posting a twit-pic of her dog dressed in a Halloween costume – though we have no doubt that Jasper made an adorable lobster.

What we learned Wednesday is that a nine-word tweet is all it takes – when your name is Tiger Woods.

11:40 AM EST, @TigerWoods: What’s up everyone. Finally decided to try out twitter!

Within two hours, he had gained 30,000 additional followers.

Before we delve into this, allow us to offer a little background. Tiger Woods – formerly the #1 golfer in the world – joined Twitter on June 26, 2009. That day, he tweeted three times: one referencing his new Twitter page, one referencing his Facebook page, and one referencing his new website. In the 17 months following, Tiger’s Twitter page had not been updated a single time – until Wednesday, that is.

We’ll spare you the soap opera, but suffice to say that the Tiger Woods we knew in June 2009 is a far different person than the Tiger Woods we know now. You might recall how Tiger handled the initial aftermath. A maddeningly vague post on his website after the car crash, followed by weeks of silence as his mistresses grabbed their 15 minutes of fame one by one. Finally, after more than three months, he came forward to admit his wrongdoing in one of the more anticipated and, ultimately, awkward press conferences in recent memory. But, as we all learned in PR 101, a few months of a feeding frenzy feels more like a few years. The damage was inflicted.

All of which brings us to a fascinating hypothetical: what if Tiger Woods had taken to Twitter sooner? Could social media have saved him?

The short answer is no. Tiger’s transgressions were spectacular enough and the circumstances bizarre enough that he was going to take a sizable hit no matter how he handled it. Still, could he have used Twitter to at least soften the blow and shorten his road to recovery? Absolutely.

Like it or not, Twitter has evolved into a critical tool for crisis communications. With Twitter, you don’t need to worry about getting taken out of context by an overly ambitious journalist. It effectively eliminates the middle man and allows celebrity users the opportunity to quickly and efficiently reach their desired audience. Tiger missed out on a golden opportunity to broadcast his perspective directly to his many thousands of followers, most of whom were already pre-disposed to liking and supporting him.

It is certainly true that the nature of his actions dictated that there was only so much he could have done via social media (or any outlet) to stop the bleeding. But perhaps Twitter could have benefitted him by combating elements of the story that weren’t true. Remember, in addition to his later confirmed affairs, wild rumors and innuendo flew regarding alleged drug use and violations of the law – none of which have been substantiated since. Perhaps he could have utilized social media to issue immediate and forceful denials, set the record straight, and possibly nip some of those stories in the bud.

Rather than at least trying to get out in front of the story and define it on his terms, Tiger let the story define him. In turn, he got swept up in a feeding frenzy for the ages and played a starring role in the most epic fall from grace in decades.  Can Tiger get back to top form personally and athletically. As a Ryder Cup fan, we hope the answer is yes! Only time will tell.

Tiger – welcome to Twitter. If only you had taken to it in November 2009 rather than November 2010…

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AOL is the Proud New Owner of TechCrunch Tue, 28 Sep 2010 18:45:30 +0000 Vanessa Truskey You may have seen the news today that AOL purchased TechCrunch; the deal was announced onstage at TC’s Disrupt conference in San Francisco.  Interestingly, CNN Money is reporting that when Michael Arrington polled the crowd to see whether or not they thought he should sell, a majority of the crowd voted no (though obviously he sold anyway).  It will be interesting to see how Arrington’s blogger colleagues respond to the news – perhaps they’ll agree with the crowd.  What do you think?  Is this trend – the acquisition of a widely-read, reputable tech blog network by a content-hungry company – going to continue and who will be next? 

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“Tech In 5″ – Peter Cherukuri, VP and General Manager of Huffington Post Thu, 23 Sep 2010 21:49:38 +0000 Lauren Wilson Did you know that in the month of June, the Huffington Post received about 24 million unique visitors?

Hill & Knowlton had the opportunity to sit down with Peter Cherukuri, Vice President and General Manager of the Huffington Post.  Peter shares with us how the Huffington Post differentiates itself from other outlets and the people who make the organization a success. He also gives us a sneak peek on where we can catch him for lunch.  Start adding the Bombay Club and BLT Steak to your list!

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Americans Spend More Time On Social Networks Than Checking Email Wed, 11 Aug 2010 20:11:54 +0000 Lauren Wilson A recent Nielson study, What Americans Do Online: Social Media And Games Dominate Activity, found some interesting statistics on Americans’ Internet usage. The percentage of time the average person in the U.S. spends on social networking Web sites has increased by 43 percent, while the time spent checking email decreased by 28 percent. Playing games online and watching videos or movies are the only other areas of Internet usage with significant increases.

When looking at mobile Internet usage, the scene is a little different. Email accounts for 41.6 percent of time mobile phones are online. My guess is that some of this difference has to do with screen size. I find it a lot easier to read an email on my mobile phone than to surf a social networking site.

How does your Internet use compare, both on your personal computer and on your mobile device? Do you find these statistics a little bit of a surprise as I did? This study has been popular on a variety of blogs this week, so check out what Mashable and GigaOM have to say as well.

By Sara Hiller (Tech Intern)

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British Generally Pretty Accessible Election 2010 Fri, 07 May 2010 19:31:01 +0000 duncanburns

As I watch from afar the events in Britain, as our party leaders try and settle on a workable coalition, it’s been fascinating in the last month to see how much more accessible politics has become. Not a particularly bold observation (or new), but from thousands of miles away I’ve been able to vote, follow the developments of the campaign, watch the debates (thank you CSPAN 3), find out the fate of friends standing for election (Congratulations Jo Johnson MP!), enjoy the legendary swingometer and enjoy an election party that took place a pleasant 5 hours behind, so no need for a ridiculously late night.

The analysis and insights from news organizations, colleagues and others I trust has brought me into a race that in previous generations I might have had to wait a month or two to know who won. Now it’s just a day or two till the musical chairs is over.

One last thought for our US readers… UK elections last a month from start to finish. That’s it. If one adjusted that by population for the US, a crude adjustment for sure, imagine US elections that ran for “just” five months. Unrealistic, but perhaps something to ponder on a Friday.

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Privacy and the Terminator Wed, 17 Mar 2010 21:58:42 +0000 duncanburns

Great piece today by Steve Lohr in the NY Times (A1, above the fold) on How Privacy Vanishes online. Though the concept of digital litter and eroding privacy expectations have been around for a while, and are perhaps fodder for some of our more technology-phobic friends, family and colleagues, the story points to what I think is likely to be a big new battleground in DC. At what point should the government step in online and protect us from ourselves?

They already do to some extent with other forms of content/communication like films and games with rating systems and phone lines with do not call registries, but in some ways these are incoming rather than outgoing communications where we are voluntarily (phishing aside) for the most part divulging what used to be considered personal and private.

Where should the FTC, Congress or states draw the line on what’s acceptable – balancing individual freedom to share with protecting those individuals in spite of themselves? Having been a victim of banking fraud, I personally don’t want anyone guessing my social security number, but perhaps I’m already at risk given what I’ve put out there.

It’s going to be interesting to see how new tech dynamos work with government to find that balance. I’m sure it’ll be a full and frank discussion to borrow some diplomatic speak, but perhaps the discussion in itself will help educate a broader swath of people about the risks of some of what they’re putting online.

For companies in this space, start communicating your point of view now if you aren’t already, and talk about the options you’re giving your customers, and the ways you’re protecting them. Given the Whac-A-Mole style of politics at time, I’m not sure how much longer online companies are going to be able to get away with an approach of “ask for forgiveness not permission” when it comes to privacy. Though Google and Facebook are two prominent examples of firms dealing with these issues, they won’t be the last and at least they’ve built up enough trust, brand recognition and goodwill to make adjustments without too much damage. Can we say that about most companies grappling with these issues?

Perhaps we all just need to go off the grid like John Connor…? 

Is this what we can expect if we share too much online?

Is this what we can expect if we share too much online?

]]> 1 On the Agenda Tue, 29 Sep 2009 20:59:22 +0000 Lindsay Campbell September 29, 2009 – PRSA Webinar – Digital Marketing: The Shift of Advertising and the Creative Renaissance

September 29, 2009 – Health 2.0 – Discussing the use of Web 2.0 at the FDA and in local Healthcare

September 29, 2009 – GrowSmartBiz Conference with Wired’s Chris Anderson

September 30, 2009 – DC Media Makers Meetup

September 30, 2009 – Climate Legislation in the U.S. Senate: Will there Be a Bill this Year?  What Will it Look Like?

October 1, 2009 – ZapForum DC: SOA & EA Networking Event

October 8, 2009 – Energy and Natural Resources Hearing

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Antitrust in a Web 2.0 World Thu, 30 Jul 2009 20:17:01 +0000 Vanessa Truskey Here is a follow up post on antitrust from our guest blogger Mitchell Derman, vice president in H&K’s Corporate Practice.  If you need a refresher, you can read Mitch’s original blog post by clicking here.


Antitrust in a Web 2.0 World

This past June, I posted a blog entry about antitrust and its relationship with the technology sector.  I had raised the question about whether or not the current antitrust laws could meet the dynamic challenges of a Web 2.0 world.  Well, the legal and policy pundits now have their first real opportunity with Microsoft’s and Yahoo’s announcement yesterday about a shared search deal.

Needless to say, but a truly interesting development with Yahoo fending off Microsoft’s acquisition attempts last year.  Now, Yahoo – an Internet pioneer – essentially is getting out of the search business and focusing more on content – a risky, yet bold move.  And, Microsoft, after years of attempts to counter Google’s market leadership in search appears to have a winner with Bing.

From an antitrust perspective, the central issue is: Can two companies partner to create more competition in search advertising.  Google really needs to be careful in how it positions itself; how it shapes a pro-competitive message when it is the dominant player in search advertising is indeed a challenge.  Only time will tell.

For more insights on the Yahoo/Microsoft deal, read Rob Pegoraro’s piece in today’s Washington Post.

Note: H&K does work for Yahoo! and Microsoft in various locations around the world.

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Breaking News – RCR Wireless News Returns! Thu, 16 Jul 2009 21:55:16 +0000 Lindsay Campbell

A colleague held on to her renewal notice that she received shortly before the publication closed... Perhaps she can still send it in?

A colleague held on to her renewal notice that she received shortly before the publication closed... Perhaps she can still send it in?

Arden Media announced today that


RCR Wireless News will be re-launched on September 1st.

After the sad closing which occurred in March of 2009, Arden Media is gearing it up to go again with full excitement powering the re-launch. They have called in experts Editors Dan Meyers and Tracy Ford to lead the charge.

CEO of Arden Media and co-publisher of RCR Wireless News, Jeff Mucci, expressed his excitement about the re-launch.”We are thrilled to re-establish connection with our readers and advertisers as we carry out our mission to connect technology companies with industry, customers and talent.”

Here at H&K, we are just as thrilled as Arden Media! Welcome back Dan, Tracy and RCR!

Feeling the same out there?

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