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Best practices, training and innovations in Digital Strategy.

Skype Voices The Middle East Spring Protocol

June 1, 2011 – 2:48 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

The newswire has flashed stories of internet communication’s impact on global developments.  Social media has been utilized to create support communities in the light of natural disasters.  These support communities share meeting locations, access to goods, and topics of discussion.  The recent dissident springs in the Middle East have spotlighted the mechanizations of a popular communicative software.  As this story displays, an ecosystem could be developing which affects speech first, then discourse into the present and future. Third-party software developers have created applications in this vein.

A feature in today’s Wall Street Journal talks about how Skype has been utilized as a tool for dissenting parties.  Many citizens know of Skype as the software to execute free and low-cost international calls over a live Internet wire.  Youth groups in Egypt cite its effectiveness in leveraging their movement to topple the Mubarak regime.  Skype was designed with a high level of security encryption, making it a fortuitous dissident tool.  The web application runs multiple calls through one computer. Other nations in the region, however, are making efforts to block certain content with negative sentiment, then store said content in government records.  Smaller technology firms like Gamma and HackingTeam have developed programs to circumvent those firewalls. Law enforcement agencies are sitting back to accept all offers.

The interesting development is where the benchmark lies in future regional conflicts. We are seeing the convergence of public and private elements with interactive marketing, an embryonic, largely public forum.  These energies are testing censorship, especially in the voice communication sector.  Research In Motion has run into conflict with Middle Eastern and Indian government bodies for maintaining proprietary control worldwide of their user storage content, despite being in Canada.  They seem to have the customer’s interest in mind when it comes to protecting intellectual property.  With Microsoft’s purchase of Skype, it will be interesting to see which strategy they pursue when it comes to data storage.  As a leader in business software technology, the private sector would welcome some data storage protection. What are your thoughts?




Yeah, There’s A Privacy Violation For That App

April 5, 2011 – 12:20 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

In a morning headline from the Journal, federal prosecutors in New Jersey are probing about smartphone applications obtaining personal information from users without proper disclosure.  The case bears following for several reasons.  As the investigation draws on, legal experts will wonder if the result brings civil or criminal charges.  The prosecutors are seeking whether application developers violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.  The legislation was designed to protect citizens from unsolicited information gathering.  Marketers should pay close attention to this story for several reasons.

As I’ve reported on this page, the marketplace pits Apple’s proprietary software standards with Android’s open source platform. Web developers have created programs for both companies.  Marketers also are aggressively investigating through industry associations on scaling personal information. Facebook’s spread into a personal hub of digital content factors into the equation.  Certain renowned companies have been subpoenaed, as you will see in a video installation below.  In the same vein, consumers must read firewall disclosures very carefully before accepting allowance of certain applications.  The source should appear credible in your mind before making the decision.  Identity theft is a terrible thing to experience.  I’ve been a victim, and would prefer to not experience it again.


Weekly Blueliner Newsminer

November 5, 2010 – 2:28 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

Good afternoon, everyone. We have another edition of the Weekly Blueliner Newsminer.  Let’s begin.

1.  Microsoft Kinect Launches Nationwide

The Kinect was released yesterday by Microsoft, and it aims to promote a whole new interactive experience where entertainment and communication merge to free consumers from gadgetry.  I spoke yesterday in more detail about the product, which can be found in the title. Microsoft has been aggressive in promoting their new products on several channels, through social media and e-commerce stores such as Amazon.  As the holiday season approaches, we’ll see the effectiveness of their efforts.

2.  Blekko Arrives To Slash

Blekko is a new beta search engine that aims to reduce spam content in your search list by using the slashtag.  I discussed the search engine in greater detail this week, and although the premise is good, I feel like it is more of a specialized engine for digital professionals.  In order to segment your searches properly, one must create their own slashtag by linking it to a specific URL, which seems to counter the current search trends which are running algorithms for consumers to interact less e.g. Google Instant.  I am not sure that the average person is interested in taking those steps to have a deeply personalized search.  One must also be careful of making sure that their slashtag is public or private. After you designate the tag public, it is permanent.  Beta sites always have funky glitches to be mindful, so it will be interesting to see their future development.

3.  H&M Launches Lanvin Collection Online

This week, the new collaboration between H&M and the French house Lanvin set the blogosphere on fire.  H&M has done these collaborations the last few Novembers to spur foot traffic and generate visibility for haute couture designers.  For Lanvin, they are using a higher price point for the collection pieces, which will improve profit margins but may decrease unit sales.  If unit sales beat expectations, then a good earnings report should surface come early 2011.  This time, H&M opened the lookbook to its fans with a vivid display of the collection in a dollhouse setting.  The website design is a tour de force of Flash, although the subject headings on the top right and left margins blend in with the color scheme and overlap messily.  H&M does not run an e-commerce store online in the States, but word is that will change in the near future.

4.  Privacy Breach Tops Google Index List

Google is guilty of crossing the line of personal data collection from wireless networks.  The cars that Google uses to catch Street View footage collected data from sources such as emails, usernames, passwords, and the like.  The FTC made a ruling that Google should halt the campaign immediately, but Google has yet to formally comply in public and private.

These incidents are appearing in the headlines constantly as consumers uses several channels to collect information on goods and services.  Technological firms are trying to keep up with one another in this race to tailor their online advertising campaigns, which will increase traffic, reset PPC rates, and so forth. Google may have taken a clandestine methodology in its acquisition of personal data.  Now, the search giant gets subject to further blockage in the European market, which has not been welcoming to the penetration of Google’s local strategy.  Be careful what you type for.

5.  Facebook Deals A Hand to Places

Facebook added further segmentation to its burgeoning application, Places.  The new “Deals” feature looks to align corporate entities with consumers that are purveyors of their products.  Gap started a promotion of giving away 10,000 pairs of free denim for those who check in with their iPhone or Android smartphone.  Currently, the four types of deals include these subjects:  Individual, Friend, Loyalty, and Charity. Facebook executives are seeking future partnerships that will manifest themselves into more chances over time.  At the moment, deals can be found with Chipotle, McDonalds, and 24 Hour Fitness.  For iPhone users, a quick refresh enables you to score by location, location, location.

That’s the Blue news this week.  See you next time.


Weekly Blueliner Newsminer

October 30, 2010 – 6:51 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

Hello, everyone.  My Friday wrapup was delayed due to a staff Halloween party.  Some key events happened that may not immediately affect the digital marketing world, but could be prominent in the future.  Let’s begin.

1.  Microsoft Experiences A Profit Boom

Could the tide be turning for Microsoft?  After recently unveiling their new portfolio of Windows 7 mobile phones, the blue chip posted a raise in profit margins of up to 51%.  The strength of this rise can be marked to an increase in purchases of the new Windows 7 by businesses at all levels.  While Vista was universally panned by everyone, the new operating system’s positive response bodes well for the health of computer sales.  As the WSJ mentions, this long-term growth will be dependent on whether they can enter the mobile market with technology that consumers want, ranging from mobile applications to tablets.

2.  YouTube Hits 1 Billion Subscriptions

Many in the media industry feel that Google has yet to make a statement in social media, with the failures of Buzz and other efforts.  Regardless, its purchase of YouTube remains a seminal moment. YouTube now stands as the pioneer of video sharing, where anyone can upload content from multiple channels.  Performance artists have revolutionized the website’s ability to infiltrate cyberspace without the benefit of professional audial or video equipment.  Thus, the video for music studios was killed and reborn.  Lady Gaga’s video channel reached 1 billion views.  Her abilities are evident, but it is highly doubtful that she becomes an international superstar without YouTube, where corporate management can control content distribution without using a costly production budget. They also are not depending on her videos to elicit optimum record sales.  YouTube has offered a widget for video developers to embed on their sites.  Viewers can subscribe to channels even if outside of the site.  Click here for more details.

3.  MySpace Calls It A Comeback

I wrote a short piece this week on the rebranding of MySpace for the social media market, although it’s unclear how different those changes will be now that Facebook has become the leader.  MySpace plans to further segment themselves as a portal of media distribution for bands and singers on the rise.  As the Mashable piece mentions, MySpace also is developing a new user called the curator.  If a user gains a following in a social trend, you gain access to several tools to unlock exclusive content and engage with true fans.  The concept is similar to the true premise of social media marketing, but for MySpace, it’s all dependent on the execution.  At least they cleaned up the website.

4.  Opposition in Vietnam Silenced By Virus

This story was intriguing to me due to its coverage of a topic not prominent in mainstream media.  Internet security is becoming a task in which governments use web development for manipulate reasons, namely to silence communication. Vietnam long has been a nation of conflict where insurgencies from within and outside have sought control.  The story also mentions that viruses have been used in parts of Russia to counteract insurgencies.  Click fraud is real, people, and it goes beyond consumer products.

5. Politics of the Mouse

The midterm elections of 2010 next Tuesday represent another watershed in politics, as disillusioned voters have created online communities that have morphed into Tea Parties, who are stepping up their presence with demonstrations and activism in the public.  Business leaders and voters have foreshadowed the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate changing several seats with some suspecting a Republican sweep.  The results will come in by this time next week, and it speaks to the power of digital media as a force to organize discourse, emotion, and information.  We have seen the Obama administration use social media to incredible effects in the 2008 election. It would be the height of irony if Congress was flipped in the same method.


21st Century Federal Surveillance

September 28, 2010 – 2:42 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

Net neutrality may not become the only subject to infiltrate and suppress the frenetic, open world of internet cyberspace. According to this report from The New York Times, sweeping regulations plan to be pushed through Congress by national security officials allowing surveillance officials to wiretap digital devices or any direct peer messaging services e.g. social media sites, Skype.  The bill has been crafted by the Obama administration and will probably not reach the legislature until early next year, and its chances are truly unknown with the upcoming House and Senate elections in November.

Not unlike the Patriot Act after 9/11, one wonders if this could be another overreach by federal bureaucrats to mindlessly survey the private denizen when the strategy could be used for a grander purpose, such as lessening identity theft cases and measuring the true threat of click fraud measures.  The federal and global governments have taken a long time to craft financial regulations. Banks that misappropriated funds in the open marketplace felt the punch, but the feds really have not taken a stance on the rising security breaches within these systems that are pushing consumers to use online banking management systems.  At the moment, it appears that bureaucrats want to parallel the strategy of traditional telephones, but the hardwire is completely different.

Federal bureaucrats must also be careful of forcing through regulations that will stifle the opportunity for venture capitalists to innovate greater interactive technologies that can manifest our communicative potential.  Currently, we are in an age where mobile devices are changing the pace in which we receive information. Chips soon will process the transmission of those details with fewer codes in warp speed.  Whether that pace is healthy remains up for debate, but the federal system should aim to protect the marketplace’s right to experiment while surveying the hackers. A tough balance, but not impossible.


Craigslist Shuts Down Adult Services Section

September 7, 2010 – 4:11 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

In a late report on Friday, the online classified website Craigslist shut down their adult services section. Many critics, including Craigslist executives, believe that if the section was removed permanently, sex advertisements would gravitate to other parts of the site, undermining their integrity. Currently, the classified executives reserve comment until further notice, which is hardly surprising. According to a report on Information Week, Craigslist gains 30% of their $122 million revenue stream through the adult services section. The emergence of geolocation in social media is also a threat to their viability as a local advertising website. Security measures have become a higher priority for online users, and Craigslist has a shaky history with predators. The issue opens another discussion for this topic: website surveillance.

Craigslist has claimed to employ U.S. lawyers to manually siphon advertisements that promote illegal services. Executives believe this is far more effective than automated surveillance, and even think that overly aggressive content management can enter the domain of censorship. I think that websites, especially classified, have a certain level of responsibility for the content displayed on their website. Surely, Craigslist is doing what they can to ensure the safety of their customers. But it’s a little harder to believe their effort when the issue at hand is a dependable revenue stream and a new market develops which could obliterate their existence with superior technology. They have also done little to upgrade the site for an improved user experience. It still maintains the sophomorific text lines and layout. These developments could signal the end of Craigslist, or just a slow fade into the oblivion.


True Cybercrimes

September 2, 2010 – 3:16 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

As social media gains popularity in our common lives, protection of our identity becomes paramount.  One who is more of a dilettante to viral socializing may just decide to deactivate themselves, which is fine.  Others who value social media as a portal to entertainment and interaction plan to investigate their privacy rights according to the website policy, seeking loopholes in data accessibility in order to close them.  

The advancement of smartphone technology will only intensify the sharing of personal information across hardware and channels, so diligence need apply.  We are already seeing this with the development of geolocation, a practice where one can update their point on Earth in real time.  Security concerns have been shared on this space and the cyberworld, so delving in farther is unnecessary.

Despite all of this emerging concern with the increase of channel platforms to transfer data between your laptop, mobile phone, video game console, and the like, the public remains concerned about traditional cybercrimes such as identity theft.  Banks remain the least trusted business, according to recent survey done by Kindsight.  I have heard stories about security fraud in the past and present, as banks would infiltrate their customers with phishing messages while touting the finest security emblems on their webpage.  Credit histories are at stake when e-commerce transactions go haywire. When it comes to banking, however, many people have lifestyles today that do not permit the time to wait in a teller line for routine transactions. Larger firms, in light of the financial settlement passed by Congress, have taken steps to mitigate this personal service by assessing fees.  It will affect several demographics, namely senior citizens who are not technologically efficient.  This situation deserves monitoring by all, as the restrictive legal elements have yet to make a measurable impact.

Millennial who are savvy with their hardware and software easily make the adjustments necessary to protect their personal identity online.  Others struggle with the societal shift to online distribution of personal data, and whether they become successful remains to be seen.


Need Online Security? Call DoubleVerify

July 28, 2010 – 4:43 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

Online advertising can bring out the best of creativity or the worst of security, known as click fraud.  Facebook is going through this with their privacy issues that surfaced in the spring.  Nobody has really stepped up, but DoubleVerify intends to make an effort.

DoubleVerify assist with online merchants, advertisers, publishers, and the like to ensure online accountability.  They are looking to build an advertising base so that they can establish credibility within the community. The next step would help ensure that advertising campaigns are being run in good faith and transparent with digital consumers.  Digital marketers are still struggling with privacy issues and security breaches online in terms of soliciting relevant data from consumer bases to tailor their campaigns.  With new users logging into social media networks daily, click fraud measures can no longer be taken lightly.

One of the biggest issues in click fraud security has been the stealing of ad tags, which allow those said ads to run illegally on malicious websites.  Many private entities and China do their diligence to expose spyware on the web, but the fight will be long. For those interested, double your verification here.


China Wants Personal Browsers

July 14, 2010 – 5:10 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

With the Google standoff drawing to a halt for now, the Beijing regulators turn towards a different, but possibly more divergent task.  According to a newswire from the Associated Press, China now seeks to reduce anonymity in their cyberspace domain.  One of the steps is to require citizens to give their real name when buying mobile technology or entering a browser.

Clearly, this will affect the celestial exchange of information that Google envisions to procreate between academic professionals and students discussing their scholastic journals combined with the expanding portfolio of media services.  Much of the publicity generated from this standoff can only serve to bring a stronger spotlight to security breaches.  Our federal government has taken steps to provide stronger protocols in the name of ecommerce transactions, but has largely laid off regulating public forums.  The roots of this different viewpoint of cyberspace regulation lie in geographical and cultural differences that have been probed with more depth on other information sources.

I will say that despite China’s antipathy towards viral expression, conversations are still being shared about censorship and geopolitics.  They can’t stop the legion of offshore development that transcends national boundaries, real or imagined.  As a growing economic power, China will be depended on as a conduit of digital development due to the growing educated populance.  Many engineers and software developers need to access information anonymously in order to conduct sensitive research.  They will be better off if they accept this position of responsibility rather than pretend that the secret society is still in play online.  Chairman Mao is not walking through the door.


Your Thoughts Matter Online

July 9, 2010 – 5:10 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

One may think that tooting your own horn online can lead to identity theft or click fraud.  The stance is understandable, but largely jaded.  For others, tooting your own horn can pay large dividends.  The public review website, Yelp, has thousands of reviewers that have reached “elite” status.  Yelp, for the uninitiated, offers locals to discuss the merits and disasters of businesses ranging from pet stores to dentists.  Cynics see that as free advertising or disservice for their establishments.

Online reviewers, however, see it as an opportunity to build a valid marketing foundation, followed by a legitimate business opportunity for online advertisers.  After ‘Yelpers’ establish their profile online, they get invited to networking soirees where the online friends establish a human connection.  The meetings round out the experience for elite reviewers.  Their creative expression blossoms, breeding power for both the merchant and product.

Amazon has also generated reviewer cadres over time, which has brought fractious words from certain groups.  They tend to target authors in which they have a grudge against, devaluing the experience for those involved.  For better or worse, their presence is felt among online communities.  Pioneers of online discussion may stick around because they have competitive juices which are nourished by voicing their opinion, which is held in high regard. Some have moved on to the various social media sites which are abound, while others may have to just go to the local tavern or restaurant, where their names are known by everyone.

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