Oops! Should have bcc’d that email!

My first email newsletter  .   .  .

Last weekend, I set up the first email update for the members of Olney100, the community website that we run on the Ning platform for the town of Olney in England.

The broadcast facility in Ning doesn’t allow formatting, so I downloaded the membership list into a CSV file and imported it into my email.  After a hard afternoon designing the newsletter and trying to keep it short, useful and readable in 10 seconds, rather tired, I sent it out.  Oops! I put the group name into CC and not Bcc.

Data transmitted in error

Only one person wrote to complained, and one of course, was sufficient to alert me to the error of my ways.   My apologies.

Interestingly, one of the members also made this mistake this week in his business.  In his case, he had received an inquiry and he replied to everyone on his mailing list.  As it happened, the person making the inquiry was a competitor who was delighted to receive a list of qualified leads and promptly wrote to them all offering his services.

My young friend received a lot more complaints than U – 5% of his list.  His customers are generally younger than mine, and a lot more aware of the norms and law of the internet.

Dealing with data misuse

This is the way he responded.

1  He apologized immediately and unreservedly to his customers.

2  He checked the Data Protection Act and copied and pasted relevant portions into a ‘cease and desist’ notice which he sent to his competitor making it clear that is is an offense to make use of electronic data for purposes other than it was intended.

3  Then he thought some more and recalled that the impersonation of a consumer by a business is also an offense.

Internet laws are much stricter than people realize.  And so they should be.  The rules for driving a car are tighter than the rules for walking on the pavement.

How many dodgy firms will be called to account through internet law?

It strikes me that there may be a parallel between internet law and tax law.

Very few people know that crooks are required to pay tax on their ill-gotten gains and that equally, tax officials are bound over not to report our nefarious dealings to the police or any other authority!

Governments are generally quite zealous about collecting taxes and do inventive things, like audit drivers of flashy cars, the keepers of yachts and persons whose conspicuous consumption exceeds their declared income.   This leads to crooks, like Al Capone, being busted not for crookery, but for tax evasion.

It strikes me that firms who sail close to the line and entice people to purchase their services with false claims might similarly find themselves, not being busted for fraud, but being busted for trying same wide-boy behaviour on the internet.

Gen Y know the rules and will enforce them!

Sharp operators need to watch out.  Gen Y are quite savvy and know the rules!

Have you seen any dodgy activity around electronic data recently?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Olney, United Kingdom on the internet

Olney Snow Feb 2 2009 Flower Shop pikniked
Image by joolney via Flickr

Have you built a community site before?

I’m working on a project at the moment building a community site for the town of Olney, in the UK, where I live. I’m building it on Ning, which is a read-write platform, like Facebook.

This platform, like so many others, is basically free to use and can also be make completely private so you can use it like an intranet.

There are three interdependent parts to this project

  • People
  • Site
  • Internet presence

Olney’s intriguing art gallery, IceTwice, championed the site from the outset and have contributed hugely to its vibrancy.  On the day of our Pancake Race, they illustrated the proper use of a social network beautifully by offering a discount on recipe books should a customer bring in a receipt for a pancake.

The site itself can be time consuming to maintain.  There are members to greet.  Warnings that Olney may be flooded by the River Ouse to put up and take down.  And the rich format of Ning to be explored.

And we need to build up our internet presence.  Yesterday, I was disconcerted to see that chatter about our site, Olney100, had displaced the site from the number one position when we search for Olney100.  Obviously something I don’t quite understand about SEO and prompting an important decision. Stick with the Olney100 or try to capture the keyword Olney?

So in a month, I’ve suddenly become pretty efficient about Flickr where I am joolney and in partner YouTube where I use the account name joolneyuk. I’ve linked up a Delicious account for Olney100 to the site.  I’ve learned a fair bit of CSS and HTML.  I read up Traffic Estimations and Analyse Keywords with aplomb.

And I’ve met a lot of people who’ve rapidly made the site their own integrating it with their blogs, their Twitter accounts, fundraising, and inevitably Facebook.

Will the community site help Olney to flourish?

The ultimate question though, is whether the site helps Olney to flourish and prosper.  We should be able to do more, faster, and more profitably.

Reviews please!

Would love any comments.  You can read the site and if you want to leave a comment, you can login into the guest account using the email olney100 at gmail dot com with password olney100!

Love to see you there.

Enhanced by Zemanta

A plan big enough to include now!

Feb 8 2009 High Street South & Steeple snow pi...
Image by joolney via Flickr

Will your degree really take you where you want to be?

I’ve just read story in the TimesOnline about a mature student who returned to university and read psychology, very successfully, only to find that there are insufficient places for students to complete their professional qualifications.

I am sorry to hear this story. There is a breach-of-confidence here that shames us all.   When students go to university, they accept in good faith our implied promises of progression within their degree and access to their chosen profession.

Very sadly, these promises are often made lightly.  And quite often universities deliberately conceal the facts, if not by commission, then by omission.  They quite consciously don’t collect information on student destinations, and they just as consciously don’t make these facts available.  It is certainly time for regulators to insist that these facts are published on University websites and kept up-to-date!

Not only do I think publishing student pass rates and destinations should be mandatory.  I think universities should loan fees to students and recover the loans themselves!

Caveat emptor

Until the day that regulations are tightened up, then I afraid it is a matter of caveat emptor, buyer beware.  Students need to be wary of making large investments in services that have no warranty!  Should they discover that the university’s promises are inflated, they will be able to recover neither their money nor, more importantly, their time.

Craft a life plan that is far bigger than uni and the professions

So what can students do to avoid this trap?

The advice from contemporary positive psychologists is this.  Don’t plan your university studies around a specific job and employment route! Neither is guaranteed.  Indeed, we have seen from the banking crisis that nothing in this world is guaranteed.

Rather, see your university education as a supplement to your life plan.  Let me give you this example.

Young Nick Cochiarella from my village of Olney has already launched his first social network, SpeakLife while he is at college.  He’s a hardworking guy and he also has a job at the local Coop.  He is taking a slightly circuituous route doing technical training before he goes to university.  But he is not waiting for anyone.  It is true that his hard work still guarantees him nothing.  But he is not deferring his dreams, and his university training supports, rather than defines, his life’s purpose.

But I need a job now!

It can be tough to start living our dreams.  We often get into an enormous tangle.

The biggest distractor is the desperate belief that we will somehow be safe when we follow a road carved out by others.  But it is not safe, as we have seen.

And even if it were safe, why do we think that other people’s dreams will be enough for us?

Wouldn’t it be better to have our own dreams and to work with others to find where we can temporarily work together to make the path easier and broader for both of us?

A plan big enough to include now

Ned Lawrence has been challenging me to refocus this site on the needs of the ordinary person – the person who lives these dilemmas.

What do you think?

Is it possible to make a plan that is big enough to include now?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Life on Market Day in Olney!

Life on Market Day in Olney

I had another delightful day in the village of Olney in Buckinghamshire or Bucks in England, UK.  That’s a long address, isn’t it?

Social Media

Hero of the hour, GarethLRoberts, tweeted well before morning tea that he was back from the markets in London.  A quick look at the blog of MuchAdo deli persuaded me that I was not going to eat noodles this week.  I am going to eat a fresh green salad with tropical fruit and to accompany this extravaganza, I am going to grill mackerel (for the first time in my life).  UPDATE: Catch MuchAdo on Facebook and see the ceiling mural by Lee Farmer unfold.

Market Day

Thursday is market day in Olney.  Market Place thronged with the regular array of butchers and greengrocers, haberdashers, cobblers, and gardeners.  The Coffee Cavern joined Olney100 today bringing their range of exotic teas and coffee.  The Happy Carrot, who are the most-glass-half-full people I know, were the ONLY stall to appear during our heavy snow.  I wish they would blog.  They have a philosophical turn of mind, a ready camera, and extensive knowledge of the whole Bucks area.  This is when I regret using Ning.  People can’t comment without logging in.

Housing Market

After the market, I headed for the eastern corner of Market Place and went to congratulate Taylor’s, the estate agent, for selling a house around the corner from me.  Did you hear that folks?  The market for housing in sought-after Olney ain’t dead.  Poke it with a stick!

Coffee Shops and Youthful Enterprise

A lively young man reminded me of how much fun it is to work with Gen Y – on-the-ball, optimisitic and conecting-connecting-connecting.  Next door at the coffee shop, Beans, young Charlie Ray (17) seized the opportunity to raise the profile of his business Mute . . . Anything but Quiet! – an online store for tie-and-dye shirts.  Charlie and his team will teach us a thing or two about websites and social media with connections to Facebook and Myspace.  He intends to go up to university in a few months to read broadcast journalism – mental note to myself – ask Euan Semple at Amplified09 if he knows any mentors around here.

Hair Salons

Energy levels continued to throb in the next store.  Well, it is a store within a store.  Olney is an old lace-making town and shops are tucked away romantically down alleys and warrens.  To reach Olney’s newest of five hair salons, we weave our way through a baby clothes store.  Secluded, airy, fresh, At the Salon is run by engaging proprietor, Rebecca Green, who also teaches hairdressing in Milton Keynes.

Phonebox

My rounds ended with a visit to the Phonebox – an extraordinary institution.  Ron, or Gandalf, got to the social media business model long before Google.  Funded entirely by advertisements, Phonebox prints and distributes around 50 000 copies of the must thumbed and read periodical in the Bedford – Milton Leynes – Northampton triangle.  Quick remarkable!

And amazingly, we aren’t tourists! We live here!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Surprised and delighted by Britain

Today’s hero!

I have to be honest.  My favorite people have verve, drive, audacity, panache and plain zest for life.

Today, I met GarethLRoberts for about half-an-hour in Olney‘s delicious coffee shop, MuchAdo.

Today’s project

Gareth and I had a quick chat about a tantalizing mixture of IT networks and the hidden highways and byways of rural England: cereal farmers (not serial, cereal!), millers, bakers and eaters.

GarethLRoberts bakes a mean cherry focaccio. Quite scrumptious and delectably breakfast, lunch or supper.  Gareth also does the buying for MuchAdo at London markets.  Every Wednesday night, he drives down and buys our vegetables from Covent Garden and our fish from Billingsgate.

Within hours of our brief chat together using the WiFi provided by MuchAdo, Gareth had his new blog up and running: Connecting with Bread!  Congratulations!

Watch his space!

I hope you will all go over, welcome him to the blogosphere, and bookmark him.  He writes well and he is going to make you feel so well acquainted with rural England, you’ll think your mouse is scurrying across a corn field!

An example of social media helping us be surprised and delighted by Britain!

PS

I’ll pick up some SEO issues later.  For other blogs of Olney, check our blogroll on Olney100.   I am cataloguing the online activity of Olney in Buckinghamshire, England in the UK (or Bucks to the natives).

Flowing motion!   Oh, I do love it when a plan comes together!

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 recession speeds!

The snow brought the people out .  .  . to talk

Today it snowed in the UK – a lot for us.  When I drew the curtains, I thought for a moment my car had been stolen.  It was just buried!

Later on in the morning, I walked down to the shopping centre to see if some of the members of Olney100, a community social network for the town of Olney, England, needed my help.  A suprising number of people had driven.  Others, like me, walked and there was an unusual number of people dallying in the supermarket and in the coffee shop.  Unsurprisingly, given the economic circumstances and my interest in promoting Olney100, we began talking about how we should arrange our affairs in what is a downturn of unknown magnitude and unknown duration.

So what is your view?  What is your recession speed?

  1. I am lucky. My business is OK.  People need us no matter what.
  2. This crisis is outrageous and I take every opportunity to tell decision-makers.
  3. I have cut out all luxuries and I will see this through by keeping my head down.
  4. I am going to wait and see.  I choose to be optimistic that everything will work out all right.
  5. I am systematically reviewing my business looking for new opportunities and new alliances.

I suspect, well I know, that there will be very many more people rating themselves 1-4 than 5.

If we differ in our response, are we wrong?  Should we converge?  Or can we benefit from the variation in our opinions?

Can I ask you this?

Who are three people who give you the most support?  And what is their recession speed?

Does their recession speed help you and does your recession speed help them?

I’d be interested to know.

Enhanced by Zemanta