30 September 2008

Manic Monday's "Day After" - Who Drives the Discussion?

I've followed two very distinct discussions online regarding the Wall Street bailout bill. One financial, one political.

An observation - the discussions are remarkably isolated from one another.

There's a small but substantial community of traders on Twitter (you can find a chunk of them at Soren Macbeth's StockTwits) that are really focused on the market, and not surprisingly, they're looking for opportunities to make money (or stem their losses). A big topic of discussion: the recently-imposed rules that curb short-selling. They're highlighting individual stocks and looking for value. Of course, talk about filing for cloture on the motion to proceed in the Senate or the debate of an open or closed rule in the House, and you can hear crickets chirp in this community.

There's obviously a huge pool of political bloggers, doing what they do best - blaming the other party for what's wrong. Hugh Hewitt is ranting about "Pelosivilles" and "Destructocrats" and how the Democratic Party is almost singlehandedly responsible for the next Great Depression. Todd Beeton at MyDD blames the vote on "John McCain's Impotence in Washington." But these political bloggers don't have the chops to know the ins and outs of Wall Street. I've also had some friendly political banter with two of my favorite GOP tweeters, Chip Griffin and Jim Durbin.

So who makes up the very small handful of online opinion leaders who can drive discussions on financial policy? Regardless of ideology, I'm looking at the following.
  • Paul Kedrosky has had a really impressive run of it lately, providing analysis and a bit of commentary while not going over the top.
  • Brad DeLong is talking a lot more about politics than finance lately, but he clearly knows his stuff in both areas.
  • Greg Mankiw is a smart deregulator who knows politics - his arguments are clearly market-focused and his background in the Bush White House serves him well.
  • Larry Kudlow is a passionate conservative and obviously has been following this closely, both on CNBC and his blog.
  • Mark Thoma takes a more liberal perspective, but he's every bit as smart and has done an impressive job talking about political proposals.

29 September 2008

It's Just Another Manic Monday

Following up from last week's Manic Monday post, I'm really struck how well journalists, academics, and even activists are leveraging social media tools to provide consumers with a wealth of information to understand just how the credit crisis started and how we might dig ourselves out of it. I wish I had these resources when I was working on financial services issues for the Senator.

I found it very interesting that a group of conservative political activists has turned to YouTube to lay the blame for the current crisis at the feet of the Community Reinvestment Act, and that video has been viewed more than 700,000 times. (Sorry guys, but as Chairman Frank explains, your argument is flawed.)

Via Open Culture, I've found two excellent podcasts from NPR's Fresh Air - one with Michael Greenberger (A University of Maryland Law Professor and former official at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission), the other with the New York Times' Gretchen Morgenson. The interview with Greenberger is the best description I've heard yet about the $62 trillion worth of exposure finanical companies and investors have taken on in the form of unregulated credit default swaps since the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. Morgenson talks about the prospects of a web of conflicts of interest as the pending bailout package is implemented. Terry Gross has done an admirable job finding people who can translate finance to English.

Twitter has been a decent source of information. Paul Kedrosky has been pushing out insightful commentary and links. I like his twitter feed even more than his blog. I first got a link to the 110-page discussion draft currently working its way through Congress from someone calling herself Miss Trade.

I'd be remiss if I didn't link to some of the better "bubble blogs" out there that have been warning people about this crisis for years now - Calculated Risk, Bubble Meter, and Professor Pigginton's Econo-Almanac for the Landed Poor are three of my favorites.

(and you guys thought I'd be writing about the debates. The pundits were wrong, the people were right. So there.)

24 September 2008

Seems Journalists Like Blogs Just Fine

Beltway and national journalists covering the presidential campaigns have had a lot to say lately about the access to the candidates afforded them by campaign staff. With a few notable exceptions, those journalists have voiced their opinions about access (and other issues) on blogs (such as here, here and here) and not in mainstream articles, op-eds or broadcast spots. The journalists are also watching full-time bloggers amplify their voices by running with the "access" story.

I note that this comes about the same time reputable traditional news organizations like McClatchy are cutting even more staff. It's just the latest example of how the media is moving away from print and to online, and how journalists are getting more social in their communication.

They're still not doing the back-and-forth of real conversation in reporting, and they seem stuck on the lecture format, but I think we're inching closer to "acceptance" in the corporate media's five stages of grief.

23 September 2008

Best Practices

I got tagged by Kim Woodbridge to discuss best practices in social media marketing. (Thanks, Kim.) I'm excited to participate and I hope I do this justice.

I've said it before - I don't consider myself a "marketing" person. I'm not a PR person. I'm not even an online person. I don't like labels because they confine what we do. I don't adhere to dogma. I don't have a style. I know it's not about me. But best practices is something I take seriously - every other week I hold a virtual meeting with my social media team and we discuss a best practices case study. It's one of the most important things I do.

I've written about the Three R's of Blogger Relations and I've tried to engage communities directly on a number of issues. But the common thread that runs through every social media project I've worked on is this: identify the people who shape opinion in their online communities, build relationships with them, and help them drive the discussion. This isn't an online media relations exercise. This is a process that takes a long time - it's not something that you can easily switch on the day a client hires you. So that's why I spend my time diving into online communities, identifying leaders and quietly building relationships, before I'm ever hired.

The most recent example of this, I hope, is the work we did with Families for Depression Awareness and Parent Bloggers Network. We noticed that moms talk quite a bit about the stresses of everyday life, so we asked them a few questions and we let them drive the discussion. Then we added experts and advocates from FFDA to the discussion - giving moms more information and resources while strengthening the organization's credibility and reach. Now if you look at Motherhood Uncensored you'll see a badge in the sidebar that says "learn more about how depression affects you and your family." This happened really for two reasons - Kristen Chase (along with her colleague, Julie Marsh) showed some leadership took some initiative, and FFDA was willing to get to know her.

None of this outreach was especially high-tech, and it didn't make the New York Times, but I'd like to think it was effective because there are now a dozen more opinion-leading moms who had the gumption to tackle a tough issue and help spread the word to other moms that help is available.

So there ya go, Six Pixels. (nice idea to get link love, btw.) Personally I'd love to know what Mark Story has to say about all this.

22 September 2008

The Interview: Amira Al Hussaini

This week's Business Lexington features excerpts from an email interview I got with Amira Al Hussaini, the editor of one of my favorite websites, Voices without Votes. She (along with many of her colleagues at Global Voices Online) represents the kind of global citizen and next-generation journalist the Internet has helped create. To me she also represents a sort of global counterpart to Jacki Schechner, the journalist-turned-activist I interviewed a few months back.

Voices without Votes is, to me, one of the most important collaborative projects on the 'net.

As always, the newspaper column format allows for some of my opinions but doesn't really allow for the whole discussion. So I'll let Amira explain her perspective on this outstanding project in her own words. She was very generous with her time.

Q: First, can you explain to my readers the history and mission of Voices without Votes and perhaps some of the numbers behind it? How many bloggers from how many countries? I've listened to the Open Source podcast that features Christopher Lydon, Ethan Zuckerman and Solana Larsen a few times but I'm wondering if there's anything else we should know.

A: Launched on Super Tuesday, Voices without Votes is a Global Voices Online project, commissioned by Reuters, which is a huge Global Voices Online fan and backer. The idea came to life at a time when interest around the world was picking up about the US elections, and as Global Voices Online focuses on non-US material, we decided it was time to set up a separate project, which will enable us to track and report on what the world is saying about US elections and US foreign policy.

Our mission statement is: "Voices without Votes opens a window on what non-Americans are saying in blogs and citizen media about US foreign policy and the 2008 presidential elections."

It continues: "Americans are the only ones who can elect the United States president, but the 2008 election offers a unique opportunity to harvest global commentary on America's politics and foreign policy and how it affects the rest of the world."

Voices Without Votes highlights conversations in non-American blogs and citizen media, with emphasis on the regions covered by Global Voices: Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, and the Middle East.

The site is really the fruit of cooperation between GVO's volunteers and a few interested bloggers from around the world, who continue to monitor the online conversations in their countries, or the countries they cover, and produce features on what they read. We have volunteers working on the site from practically every corner of the world, from Iraq to Madagascar, and Fiji to Canada, as well as translators who are active in bringing us voices in other languages, such as Farsi, Arabic, French, Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese, to name a few. As the countdown to the elections continue, we are discovering new blogs and websites to add to our coverage, and more people are joining our team of volunteers.

For more about our team of volunteers, please check this page: http://voiceswithoutvotes.org/authors/

Q: Second, could you give me a little information about you and your professional background? I know you're the Middle East & North Africa Editor for GVO - how did you get involved in GVO and Voices without Votes?

A: I am a Bahraini journalist and the former news editor of the Gulf Daily News (GDN) in Bahrain. I started work as a trainee reporter in the GDN in 1991, while I was at my first year in university. By the time I graduated with a BA English (Honours), I swear I must have clocked more hours in the newsroom than the classroom. My career goal was set by then, I caught the bug and wanted to be a journalist for life. I continued working at the GDN, where I was promoted first to assistant news editor and then to become the first Bahraini news editor of an English language daily, until I left Bahrain to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, to join my husband who is working towards his PhD, in October 2005. In my career as a journalist, I can claim to have covered every type of story, from business and economics, to human interest and politics. In 1996, I also won the coveted Dag Hammarskjold Scholarship, http://www.unjournalismfellowship.org/node/230, which offered me a three-month fellowship to cover the United Nations in New York. I have since been a frequent visitor to the UN's headquarters, where I covered the General Assembly and Security Council, whenever my travels brought me to the US.

In 2004, I ventured into blogging and embraced online media with the same intensity I fell for mainstream media at a young age. My involvement with GVO started after I came to Canada, as I really needed to maintain my work ethics and continue writing. I consider myself really lucky and have found my match in GVO, as I truly believe in its cause. According to its mission statement:

"Global Voices seeks to aggregate, curate, and amplify the global conversation online - shining light on places and people other media often ignore. We work to develop tools, institutions and relationships that will help all voices, everywhere, to be heard."

At GVO, I am the Middle East and North Africa, Arabic Language Editor and Voices without Votes editor. I am also a Board Member.

Not only am I gaining hands on experience in evolving online citizen journalism, learning skills I wouldn't have grasped had I continued in the newsroom, but I am applying my skills and expertise to help bridge understandings, mend fences, and show that it is a small world - and we are all the same in our hopes, aspirations, fears and dreams for tomorrow.

Q: I'd love to know if you've seen any trends from foreign writers. In the Open Source podcast, Ethan Zuckerman made some interesting general statements (I'm paraphrasing here) like "Jamaicans are upset at how Barack Obama is being treated" and "In Israel they're scared of what an Obama presidency might mean for them." What stands out to you about how people outside the US view this election? Do you feel that one candidate is getting more support than the other? Are there particular attributes being ascribed to one candidate or another?

A: I personally am amused at the way the US elections are closely being monitored by bloggers from all corners of the globe and how passionate people are over its developments, especially that they can't vote. Bloggers are actually commenting on developments as the stories break in the US, with commentary coming out as if in competition with mainstream media - and they are really passionate about it. Remember that those are citizen journalists - and are not paid for what they write. What really stands out though is the Obamamania which has taken the blogosphere by storm - making my job as editor and that of my colleagues a difficult balancing act. While it is easy to find international blogs supporting Obama, I literally have to appeal to my volunteer authors to look closely for and report on McCain stories! All the volunteers working on VwV, understand the nature of the project and are trying to portray all reactions as our goal is to rise above the political divisions, evident in US blogs, and reflect what is being said in a timely manner, without taking sides. Our aim is to bring all voices we have access to under one umbrella - and so far we feel we have had a lot of success, in such a short time - thanks to volunteers who have kept the site updated on a daily basis since its inception and voices we wouldn't have had access to otherwise translated and heard. Also, from my observations, people really are looking up to the US as the beacon of democracy and want to see a change - and a different policy from Washington DC which has succeeded in dividing up the world into those who are with us and those who are against us. People all around the world, like some in the US, are tired of instability, wars, and destruction at this day and age and are really rooting for an administration which will correct what they perceive as the mistakes of the current US administration.

Q: Why is Voices without Votes so important? Why should people in Kentucky pay attention to the opinions of people outside our borders on our internal politics?

A: At this time and juncture in history, I feel that VwV is a witness to history in the making where you can find international reactions to a breaking news story under one roof, offering us an insight to how the world feels, thinks and reacts to the most fascinating race to the White House ever. Why should anyone in Kentucky or the US for that matter care about what the world thinks? My question would be why shouldn't they? The US doesn't exist in a vacuum and as the world's only superpower, decisions taken in Washington DC impact not only the people of Kentucky, but those in South America, the Middle East, Asia and the rest of the world. And why shouldn't we all listen to each other? Why can't we open our ears to what people in the Caribbean, Iraq and the Far East, to name a few, have to say? They are just talking but you will be casting the ballot come November 4. The power is in your hands and the least you can do is listen to what they have to say.

Q: Turning the tables a bit, should people in Kentucky be paying closer attention to elections taking place in, say, Ghana or Morocco? Why or why not?

A: Why shouldn't they? The idea abroad is that the US is insular and cocooned on itself and that is not right or fair - not for a country people travel across the world to study in its institutes of higher education. While almost any student from any Third World country knows the world map and can pinpoint at least which continent any country you throw at him is on it, I can't say that is true of many people in the US - even the officers guarding the country's very own borders. In my travels to the US, I have had officers asking me: "Bahrain? Is that in the Bahamas?" - and Bahrain is only the naval headquarters of their Fifth Fleet. http://www.cusnc.navy.mil/history/index.html

Why should the US be the butt of jokes - when it comes to geography and general information about the rest of the world?

Yes, while I don't expect all Americans to be well versed in every aspect of foreign policy, a little understand and knowledge of the world around us is essential. With access to information being easier than ever, thanks to the Internet, what has anyone of us got to lose?

Q: Has the growth of communications technology, and specifically the growth of the blogosphere, changed the way you think about global politics? If so, how?

A: Of course it has. It is so easy to remain abreast with the latest developments by programming your computer to pull the latest headlines and compile them in a neat basket for you.

We also learn new things everyday, about ourselves and the way we interact with the world and reflect on global politics. The biggest lesson I have personally learned is to listen. Yes, I have my ideas and opinions, but I need to also listen to and understand what others think and feel.

Q: Finally, I'm also very curious about your visit to Kentucky and the Idea Festival. (The 2007 archive for the IF website appears to be down.) What did you speak about? Did you have any time to look around Kentucky or meet anyone from here? Any reactions or thoughts? It's always nice to endear the source to the readers by including a quote that says something nice about the Bluegrass... ;)

A: I was invited to the Idea Festival, in Louisville, Kentucky, last year, where I witnessed the Southern charm and hospitality for the first time in my life. The idea behind the festival itself blew me away - and I was touched by the compassion, understanding and brilliance of everyone involved with IF, starting from organiser Kris Kimel and including all the friendly faces I saw there, whether organisers or panelists or attendees. At IF, I was on two panels - one discussing world peace and the other shedding light on the work we do at Global Voices Online. Being involved in IF was both exciting and enriching to me - both as a journalist and a human being. IF provides a truly stellar line up of speakers and Louisville acts as charming, warm and friendly backdrop to this explosion of ideas. I have made many friends who I am in touch with over the Internet and would have loved to have spent more time exploring the place and interacting more with the people there. Perhaps some other time, when I travel wearing my tourist hat!


Here are some of our photos from the Idea Festival, taken by my colleague Georgia Popplewell, who is the Managing Editor of GVO.

15 September 2008

Managing Information on the Markets' Manic Monday

Today would be a very busy day if I were still working for the Senator. Global capital markets have been in a frenzy all weekend, and my old boss would want to know about the macro-economic impacts of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the Bank of America takeover of Merrill Lynch, and the AIG restructuring. He'd want to know the political implications of an amazingly activist Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Board. Most importantly, he'd want some bottom-line facts on how all this is affecting everyday folks back home.

Congressional staffers are going to be hard pressed to keep up with everything today. I'd probably be asked to check in with the boss at noon and just before the markets close with updates.

Of course, the staffers of today are more fortunate when it comes to information access than I was a few years back, thanks to an explosion of financial and economic news available through social media channels. In addition to the typical sources you'd expect, and the list of "econo-blogs" from the left and the right I put together last September, Here's some of what the smart and social media savvy staffers will be looking at today:

12 September 2008

I Learned Social Media From a Kung Fu Master

I've seen a lot of discussion from smart people lately over the definition of Public Relations in the social media age, over which corporate department the "social media function" should reside, and even the very definition of social media.

With due respect to everyone, I think these discussions unnecessarily limit our profession. As social media professionals, our job is to go where the discussion is, whatever form it takes, and contribute to it in whatever manner serves it. Our job (or at least my job) is to become a part of the community we wish to influence on behalf of clients, and build relationships in whatever way works best.

I don't care what people call it. I don't care what department or division it's in. I don't care what people think is or isn't "appropriate" for social media. I don't care if it's online or off. All I care about is engaging in meaningful discussions and building relationships with opinion leaders on behalf of clients, and nurturing those relationships so they bear fruit. Every client is different, every challenge is different, every community is different.

My "style" of public relations, of social media, is to have no style. In social media, my teacher is Bruce Lee.

To reach the masses, some sort of big organization (whether) domestic and foreign branch affiliation, is not necessary. To reach the growing number of students, some sort of pre-conformed set must be established as standards for the branch to follow. As a result all members will be conditioned according to the prescribed system. Many will probably end up as a prisoner of a systematized drill.

Styles tend to not only separate men - because they have their own doctrines and then the doctrine became the gospel truth that you cannot change. But if you do not have a style, if you just say: Well, here I am as a human being, how can I express myself totally and completely? Now, that way you won't create a style, because style is a crystallization. That way, it's a process of continuing growth.

To me totality is very important in sparring. Many styles claim this totality. They say that they can cope with all types of attacks; that their structures cover all the possible lines and angles, and are capable of retaliation from all angles and lines. If this is true, then how did all the different styles come about? If they are in totality, why do some use only the straight lines, others the round lines, some only kicks, and why do still others who want to be different just flap and flick their hands? To me a system that clings to one small aspect of combat is actually in bondage.

This statement expresses my feelings perfectly: 'In memory of a once fluid man, crammed and distorted by the classical mess.'
I do not have an off-the-shelf solution for your social media challenge. I do not sell tools. I do not call what I do "PR" or "marketing" or anything else. It is what it is.

In the course of my career in social media I've been called "the mommyblog whisperer." I've been called a "green tweeter." I've been called a "citizen journalist." While these may be indications that I've joined a community in some way, and they make me smile, none of these labels define my work. I adapt to the situation at hand, and do what I must. Again, I quote the master:
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.

09 September 2008

Recessions Demand Better Metrics

UPDATE: I just saw this piece by Jen Zingsheim via Kami Huyse. Both are insightful pieces, and I think they remain consistent with my overall point. "Pitching" is not the way to succeed in social media. Building relationships is. Yes, you can only have so many quality relationships - but I'm not building relationships for myself, in many cases I'm brokering them for my clients. If 150 is the "max" for relationships - and I don't doubt that number - the key is to have the most strategic relationships. I also submit that relationships are fluid. But that's a post for another day...

As I've mentioned before on this blog, years ago as a Senate staffer I would send my boss a brief note every Friday I called the "weekly economic update." It was typically a one-pager that highlighted the latest data from federal agencies or other organizations that tracked the economy, plus information and analysis on what these numbers meant to "regular folks" back home. Along with the weekly jobless claims I'd include things like the retail cost of a gallon of milk, a gallon of gas, and so on. Of all the things I sent my boss, this weekly memo always produced the most questions from him.

If I were in that job today, I'd tell my boss to forget about the popular but false definition commonly used to determine if we're in a "recession" - i.e., two consecutive quarters of decline in the Gross Domestic Product. I'd tell him to look at the entire jobs situation - not just the unemployment rate - and the business pipeline, as well as the cost of certain things like fuel (it affects virtually everything) and how consumers are spending money. And right now, I'd tell him that people are hurting out there, and for the most part businesses continue to brace for hard times. It doesn't matter what you call it - when the economy is wrong, nothing else is right.

In the PR industry, it means we're more pressed than ever to convince businesses that we add value. For a few of us, it's a new and critical opportunity to demonstrate the value of social media - in many ways a less expensive alternative to a massive PR blitz or a huge advertising campaign. But there's a trap here as well.

In tough times companies insist on rock-solid numbers for "return on investment" in communications plans. Since it's PR, companies will quickly ask for "hits" or "placements" and want to know how many eyeballs saw their "messaging" and compare it to the cash they're shelling out.

This is a common mistake - confusing "social media" with "online media relations." If you simply want your messaging in front of blog readers, the best possible thing you can do is buy an ad on that blog. Just make sure the ad is compelling and engaging. Frankly, there's nothing wrong with that, and I'm just as happy to build a blog advertising strategy for a client as I am anything else.

"Social media," at least the way I practice it, is about building relationships with opinion leaders. That's really it - the rest is just technology-based details. I do what most health care companies do with top physicians and other health care leaders. I go out and find the smartest, most influential people in a given community and I build relationships and loyalty.

Health care companies have historically invested millions in this type of activity. And while the metrics have never been as cut-and-dry as they are in media relations or advertising, these companies have never questioned the value of having strong relationships with opinion leaders. The metrics they use are simple - here are the people we know well, and here's who they reach. Those companies don't typically expect a "Key Opinion Leader" to send a direct mail or a press release to peers, or publish a book extolling the virtues of the company's brand. Companies expect that person to provide thoughtful and candid input; to maybe speak with their peers about the issues the company (and the community) finds most important, and generally to be available for comment if there is a larger mainstream communications campaign in place.

Of course, companies have a right to ask about the value of such relationships. I've been asked, "what's the point in knowing a blogger if he or she won't write about you?" Again, I think this question misses the point a bit, but if I'm providing information and experiences that blogger finds relevant and interesting, chances are you'll see a blog post eventually. Or something in Facebook or Twitter. Or a mention at a conference or in a conversation. The important (and measurable) thing is having someone with credibility and influence talk about you, your issues, or your brand in a meaningful and positive way. In social media, this isn't a transactional process. It's a community discussion driven by relationships.

The PR industry as a whole has, in my opinion, led many companies to ask these questions. We've all written posts about "blogger relations" and "how to pitch bloggers." The more I think about it, the more I think this sets PR pro's up to fail. Perhaps someone has mastered the art of "pitching" a wide swath of online writers, but I suspect not.

We need to reframe the discussion to apply the right metrics, and we need to make the case that this adds value to existing communications efforts - especially in the current economy.

05 September 2008

"Community Organizers" Use Social Media; Raise $10 Million In One Day

Mercifully, the political conventions have now ended. We can finally return to our steady diet of inaccurate attack ads and the media's endless parsing of things that have absolutely no relevance to the lives of everyday Americans.

Now is also the time where the investments in social media tools and in building online communities will start to pay dividends to those who made them. We're at the point in the election season where those who "maxed out" their campaign contribution to the Obama campaign can do so again - we're in the general election, not the primary. The McCain campaign, because it opted for public funding, will get $84 million and no more. (Of course, both the DNC and RNC, as well as state parties, can continue to raise and spend in a way that benefits their candidates.)

The Obama campaign reports receiving $10 million from 130,000 donors the day after Governor Palin made her convention speech, and took a shot at the Senator for being a "community organizer." To me at least, Governor Palin's rhetorical swipe represented the biggest mistake of either convention.

These numbers are amazing not simply in their headline sense. Think about it: that's an average donation of $76.90 - In June, the Obama campaign said the average donation that month was about $68.00. In one day, 130,000 people kicked in seventy or eighty bucks, and brought in about 10 times the amount a fundraising email from Governor Palin to Republicans did. Many of those donations were more than $70, but many were probably much less.

True to the candidate's roots, the Obama campaign has invested time and resources cultivating a nationwide community of supporters, and they've used social media tools along with old-fashioned door-knocking and traditional tactics to do it. They placed a high priority on convincing people that a seventy-dollar donation will make an enormous difference. And it got them $10 million in a day.

THAT'S what community organizers do, at least in the age of social media.

And now, thanks to Governor Palin, those community organizers are a bit more motivated.

04 September 2008

I'm still here...

yes, there's plenty to discuss about all things social media - I've been jamming on the work part of my job lately and digging out after a few days away.

I will be back soon... a couple of ideas (plus a bizlex column) in the pipeline...

Meantime, go read the International Herald Tribune's enviro-blog and take a look at what Whole Foods is doing on Twitter.