California’s “eraser button” law: well-intentioned, short-sighted

eraser

According to Mashable, California has passed a law that puts into effect what’s being called an online “eraser button”:

“It’s hard to erase the stain of embarrassing social media posts once they’ve hit the web. For minors in California, however, the task just became a little bit easier. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law on Monday that requires websites to both remove content and provide notice of the removal when a requested by a minor (under age 18). This includes social media sites.”

That’s nice of you, Governor. I’m sure the kids appreciate it. You know, because they cared enough to not publish the stupidity in the first place.

I know. I know. The remorse sets in later. Great. The “eraser button” law to the rescue, right? Well, Mashable adds (emphasis mine):

“The law does not, however, protect against posts by third parties. This means that if someone else — a friend, enemy or other — posts a compromising picture of a California minor, that minor can’t force the site to remove the photo, even if the minor originally published the content. Since most popular social media sites allow users to delete their own content at will, the “eraser button” provision is little more than an official stamp on something already widely practiced.

So it’s a law that mandates Facebook and its ilk let me do what they already let me do. I have a better idea: How about we outlaw employers who think your unemployable because you did a beer bong during your senior year of high school?

In loosely related news, these kids and their dumbass parents are going to need a giant eraser after this shit-show. Short version: 300 kids break into someone’s uninhabited second home and throw a massive rager. They destroy everything, including a memorial to the homeowners’ stillborn grandchild. They post photos on the Interwebs. Who gets sued? The homeowner who invited the kids to the picnic-and-fixing-my-house party.

[photo courtesy of tonyamaker on sxc.hu]

 

Ship-for-Brains Kmart

For many of us, our biggest strength often also turns out to be our biggest weakness.  For ad agencies, their biggest strengths often are their creativity and sense-of-humor.  Those wacky guys in the skinny jeans and pointy shoes crack me up!  But when not checked by clients and agency grown-ups, that strength can sometimes manifest itself as a weakness.

Witness K-Mart’s ad agency, Draftfcb.   (You can already tell how hip they are just by the funky corporate name.)  This is the assignment Draftfcb was given:  Promote Kmart as an online shopping outlet, something Kmart is lightly associated with.

But, it’s also critically important that any ad agency also be mindful of the overall brand backdrop for their narrow marketing assignment:   Historically, K-mart has had shitty stores, a shitty customer experience, shitty customer service, and shitty products, and, consequently, a shitty brand image.  Kmart desperately needs to change both the reality and perception of its wall-to-wall shitty-ness.

So, Draftfcb created, and Kmart approved, this gut-buster:

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Digital Hipsterism

Blogging is dead.

I know what you’re thinking…and it’s not did he fire six shots or only five. You’re thinking the irony of blogging about the demise of blogging is pretty rich. It is. But bear with me.

The death of blogging has been widely reported in the online world lately, on Twitter and Facebook, and by any number of prominent authorities, not the least of them being Virginia Heffernan, the high priestess of all things digital and lately uber-correspondent for Yahoo! News. In fact, in the wake of the recent calamitous Facebook IPO, Heffernan wondered if social media might also be headed for the dustbin of digital history.

Virginia Heffernan

As welcome as that prospect might be…wouldn’t it be great if we could all get back to doing real work…I suspect most of the social media and even blogging are not dying but are instead evolving. I think all of these forms, as they adapt and refine themselves to the conditions in the digital ecosystem, will not only survive but get better. Let’s face it: How could they not?

They’ll survive by getting smaller and smarter and much, much less democratic. Information does not want to be free and it doesn’t want to come from everywhere all at once. Information wants to have value. What the heap of words reduced to bits and bytes that is the blogosphere needs now is a little natural selection. Let the hacks and the poseurs and the self-indulgent and the wingnuts of every persuasion go extinct.

There is a kind of digital hipsterism in force in the online universe…a constant, lurching, desperate search for a ride on the Next Big Thing. This leaves behind a trail of semi-useful tools that got discovered, over-used, and that are being gradually abandoned by people who no longer find them worthwhile, or who hate the loss of privacy that comes with every new digital identity, or who simply never had anything meaningful to communicate in the first place.

Where it once seemed that someday everyone would have a blog that nobody read, it now appears that just the opposite may come to pass: We have begun to look for voices that matter, prose that tracks, judgments that are more than the idle head-scratching of the uninformed. The blogosphere isn’t dying…it’s just ready for a heavy winnowing out. In the future, not everyone will blog. Those who remain will be those are read.

The same thing is happening with self-published books. Until recently, it appeared that ebooks had thrown open the door to anyone wanting to call himself or herself an author. The reality is that the odds of success with a self-published book are vanishingly small and are a function not only of the vastness of the competition but also the fact that most of the people who give this a try are, however earnest, simply not any good. The door may be open, but rarely does the real thing walk through it.

For those of us suffering in the transition from the analogue past to the digital future…the very subject of Virginia Heffernan’s forthcoming book Magic and Loss…that new sound that can now be heard faintly amid the din on the Internet is the the sound of our analogue hearts still beating.

Facebook? Make that a Google, Please.

Only two out of five Americans are not on Facebook. I’m one of the lonely who stay out of the joint by choice. Although I’m darn social-media-savvy (proud to say I was an early adopter on Twitter, beginning in fall 2007. Compare that to the guy on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” this morning – I don’t know his name – who conquered Twitter in March. Piker.)

However, when students ask why I’m not on Facebook, I tell them it’s because I don’t want any more friends. They usually laugh..even though within seconds their eyes begin sneaking peeks at their friends’ updates and I can tell that I have once again successfully managed to avoid drilling deep into any relationship with them.

Yesterday Facebook launched its IPO, the third largest in history. Creator Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire times twenty. The link that best summarizes what happened within the next 24 hours was from the WSJ.com’s Follow Mark Zuckerberg’s Worth in Real Time During Facebook IPO Day. Take a sec right now to check it out but then please come back.

You see, it’s the peaks and the valleys of the day that interest me most. We can’t tell how much MZ was up or down at any given moment – the stock ran from $38 to $41 as best as I can tell, then finished flat. So, give or take one billion, or 500-million or whatever, you’re talking about big numbers that the average person might want to be a part of.

But what would you really be buying if you purchased even one share of Facebook stock? Yes, you’d be part owner of a company that has 900 million followers, is the largest time suck of all the social media sites and even had a movie made summarizing its start.

But that would be about it.

Apart from MZ and all of the people lucky enough to have owned stock before the IPO, {NB: The price of a starter home in Palo Alto is now $2 million. Damn Gen Y.} it’s hard to see where there’s any “worth” in it. I don’t care what anybody says: No body is going to look at your stupid ad on Facebook. And if you can’t “sell” those eyeballs, you’re not selling anything.

Look at this fantastic interactive from the nytimes.com The Facebook Offering: How it Compares. (I love online news sites that do cool stuff such as this.) Tech stocks launch with great fanfare..but then go flat or even bust.

Except for Google. Now Google is probably not the sainted company it proclaims to aim to be with its motto: “Don’t be Evil.” Google is too damn big, too intrusive. But it is so darn good at what it does. That’s why Google is still the king, as far as I’m concerned.

Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Forms, OH! and don’t forget good old Google search. Where would we be without them? But be aware, be very aware, that Google has been using its secret sauce algorithms to collect oodles (a techie term) of data bits on you, your life, your wife, your need for a plumber, your location. Remember when you wrote a gmail telling your sister that you probably needed to re-shingle your mom’s house and the next time you opened gmail a list of roofers in your area opened up on the right? Spooky, man.

And I pray it never comes down to The New York Times v. Googlezon, I shared with you in 2008.

But for now, for me, please wrap up one share of Google stock and send it along.

Don’t have my address? Just Google it.

(This post in no way is meant to be interpreted as an offer to buy or sell any security or to make claims as to any stock’s future performance. Individual stocks can vary widely in price and you certainly should not put all of your 401-K eggs into any one basket. Please, consult your physician before purchasing these or any other securities, bonds, notes or other assets. Also, TSRC is not responsible for the views of this Ellen person.)