Learning About Phoenix Jones, Super Hero

Phoenix JonesI’ll admit, I didn’t expect to like Phoenix Jones. I was excited to attend Sasha Pasulka’s Tech Show on Feb 20, but Jones was not the person I came to see.  I figured at best he’d be kind of uninteresting.  At worst, a complete joker. I was pleasantly surprised.

For example, I did not know that Jones actually wore the same body armor that our troops wear – and that he has been shot twice in that armor.  I also did not know that he works closely with Police, making sure he gathers evidence properly when he is at a crime scene.  Also, whenever a police officer orders him to stand down, he does exactly that.

Jones has an interesting stat in his corner.  Since he and his crew started patrolling, Police response times have improved – possibly to avoid the embarrassment of being beaten to the crime by a guy in a super hero costume.  Response times in Belltown on weekend nights were 29 minutes before Jones started his work.  How they are around 6.

You may not believe in vigilante justice.  But after hearing Phoenix Jones talk for 5 minutes, I believe the streets of Seattle are actually safer with him guarding them.


President Obama Hits Reddit

I’ve blasted the Obama 2012 team in the past for their relentless email spamming. So, I have to give credit to a little piece of brilliance that should go down in the campaign Hall of Fame.

While the Republicans are rallying their base in a conference center in Tampa, President Obama was holding court in the virtual world, hosting an AMA on Reddit. As of 3:00pm PDT the post had 17,378 points (62% like it), with 43,822 up votes 26,444 down votes. There were more than 12,000 comments.

It’s hard not to come away impressed that while the Republicans are involved in the “old way” of engaging people, Obama is leveraging the “new way” of reaching out to his base (and stealing eyeballs from them). The Republicans are kind of left without a way to fight back. If they put Romney on Reddit during the DNC, they’ll look like copy cats. If they don’t have Romney do a AMA, they look scared, like they don’t trust what he would say. That’s check and mate Democrats.

Meanwhile in Tampa, Google is reporting that they have received the most searches ever for the term “Reddit” from a single geographic area. (No, not really.)

The Reach of a Tweet

So I work in social media.  I teach some social media.  I play around in some social media channels.  I own a blog with my own name as its url simply so I show up in Google searches.  Through all these years playing around in social media as a profession, I’ve never really made it a huge focus of my personal life.  Maybe I’ll make a connection here or there.  But nothing substantial.

And yet today, a simple tweet seemed to strike a chord with people.

All day long Occupy Seattle mayhem shut down streets downtown.  People couldn’t get home from work.  Rogue anarchists broke windows.  Children couldn’t be picked up from school.  Store clerks feared for their safety.  Middle class parents – and their bosses – had to figure out what was best for their kids, their businesses and their co-workers.

I was unaffected by the chaos despite being right around the corner from it.  I took my wife home from her surgery but thought to myself, “Thank God this mayhem didn’t affect us getting to the hospital, or home from it.” I tried to rid my mind of thoughts of how angry I would be if I was stuck in traffic due to a protest, while my wife sat groggily in pain in the passenger seat of our car.

I scanned the Twitter stream and noticed that people who supported OWS had lost patience with OccupySeattle.  OccupySeattle wasn’t about a revolution anymore.  What started with good intentions but no real purpose, had transformed into an incubator for people with negative intentions and directed purpose. The movement had created a dark side, or at least allowed the dark side to breed.

And so I said:

Dear #OccupySeattle. The 99% has gotten together & decided we need better representation. Thx for the effort.  Good luck w/ future endeavors.”

It was exactly 140 characters.  My point was pretty clear.  Whatever goodwill the original Occupy movement had generated had been pretty much decimated here in Seattle.  The most liberal town in America was saying, “WTF are you guys doing? You are totally destroying this.”

Meanwhile,  my most nagging thought as I hit “Tweet this” was whether I should be using “has” or “have” for the verb.  I was out of characters, so I went with the former. It was a quick line, and after I sent it, I had all but forgotten about it.

A few hours later, it’s become the most retweeted thing I’ve ever sent out. For the first time ever, I started trending in Seattle.  People we retweeting this because they agreed with the sentiment.  And yet two tweets back at me stand out:

To the 1st repsonse I counter, “I agree. To the normal everyday 99%, the rogue hooligans have nothing to do with OWS.  However, Occupy Seattle has little to do with OWS as well.  Somehow OccupySeattle has developed an identity of its own, and not in a good way.”

The 2nd response made me realize I had struck a nerve with some folks.  I run a small business, invest in a startup and teach at a University.  I enjoy creating commerce and inspiring others to do the same.  More commerce means more transactions.  More transactions means more jobs.  More jobs means more wealth for everyone.  But to this person, I was simply “snarky.”  Trying to build small businesses and encouraging entrepreneurship isn’t enough. I’m evil because I don’t want to join or represent a revolution with no goal or purpose.

It will be interesting to see if this tweet fades away into the night as May Day passes.  Maybe more and more people will agree with the sentiment and retweet it.  Or, will we see more of the negative side of #OccupySeattle come out tomorrow.   Either way, it’s a great social media lesson in progress.

Occupy Seattle Described as a Poker Game

You won’t see this analysis written anywhere else – this content comes from part of an email chain where a bunch of people were discussing the differences between the original Occupy Wall Street and the local spin-off versions such as Occupy LA and Occupy Seattle.  It all stemmed from an LA Times article that explained it would cost Los Angeles $2.3 Million to clean up the park which had been Occupied.  I’ll keep the whole email from this anonymous person for context, but the paragraph with the poker analogy is the one I found most compelling.

Note: At this point the discussion had moved to talk about whether the movement, or the offshoots of the movement, would be successful on getting student-debts absolved.  (And no offense to puppetry and history majors.)

People take risks and develop new and improved goods and services because they believe that they will profit from it. That is at the root of our free market economic system. That is exactly what Adam Smith wrote about all those years ago. Plus, where do you think all that money comes from to pay off people’s debts (whether student loans or mortgages or bank bail outs or whatever)? Government takes in revenue through taxes. The inhabitants of a country pay the taxes. So, if one group of people want money from the government (and that is exactly what asking to have your debts payed off is- getting money from the government), in essence those people are asking other people to pay for their choices. Why should I have to pay for the choices that another person made (that is the root of the whole social contract and the obligations of citizenship)?

For example, I am OK with helping to pay for education in general- most people are. That is why we have free public K-12 education. It is an investment in the future. I am also OK with student grants for college kids who can not afford college. That also helps society and is an investment in the future. But if some guy takes out a massive loan from a private business (i.e. a bank) to fund his two years in college to get a masters degree in literature or history or puppetry or what have you, and then the guy can’t get a job with his worthless degree, why should I have to pay to get his loan written off? That guy is in essence begging money from me. He better be able to explain why and persuade me to pay off his loan, or I will not want to pay it off for him. And if his first attempt to persuade me to pay off his loan is to “occupy” the park down the street from my house and threaten to stay there until I pay for his loan, then frankly he has failed at making his case from the get go.

To put it in poker terms,  imagine if some guy at the table made big risky bets over and over, chasing long odds on flush draws hand after hand, borrowed money repeatedly from other players to buy in on more hands, and when he finally craps out and has no more money, he demands that everybody else pony up money to pay off his debts. How would you feel about that? How would you react to that? How would the other players react to that? Now imagine if that guy- rather than to try to logically explain why you should pay off his debt- decides to go sit in the bathroom and “occupy” it for several weeks. He messes the place up, refuses to clean it up, disturbs other people who are just trying to use the bathroom, refuses to leave even though he is on private property and the owners ask him nicely to leave, and becomes belligerent when the police to evict him. How would you react to that?



Guest Post: GoDaddy Domains Threatened Because of SOPA Support

Michael Neu posted this article on our company blog.  I think it’s a good summary and am re-posting it here.


Techcrunch posted an article today called “Cheezburger’s Ben Huh: If GoDaddy Supports SOPA, We’re Taking Our 1000+ Domains Elsewhere”. The story is in reference to GoDaddy’s support of SOPA the (Stop-Online-Piracy-Act). Although the bill sounds like a good thing many people are worried that the bill goes WAY too far. If SOPA passes it would makes it really easy for copyright holders to censor content and shut sites down that they think are offensive. The censorship issues go far beyond that as well.

Ben Huh, The CEO of The Cheezburger Network, has decided to pull his names from GoDaddy because of their support of the bill. Many other big media companies support the passing of the bill as well.

This is very hot topic right now #SOPA and many sites have spoken out against the bill including Google, Yahoo and others.

I completely agree with Ben’s stance and think he is giving GoDaddy a chance to make it right before he moves his domains. However, as the article stated it GoDaddy is used to taking some heat, and it will probably take a lot more for them to change. There seems to be a push to transfer domains away from GoDaddy because of their support of this bill so we will how GoDaddy reacts if that trends gains any more momentum.

People need to familiarize themselves with what is happening with the SOPA bill, and how poorly it was written. It truly is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and needs to be stopped before it passes by a completely technologically uneducated group of political representatives.

I strongly urge you to familiarize yourself with what is going on and take action like Ben did.

What are you doing to stop this bill from passing?

Incumbent Invisibility

I’m not a big fan of paper.  I don’t like direct mail, flyers, and god forbid a company puts something on my windshield.

So, as I walked to my front door the other day, I was startled to see the 3 – count ’em 3 – flyers placed at eye level, shoved into the crack of my front door.  Was it from another overzealous landscaper? Perhaps a local neighborhood insurance guy?

No, I was blessed with three new pieces of literature from Patty Murray.

Now, I’m no Patty Murray hater.  And I know it’s election season and the “book” says to canvas liberal neighborhoods like Wallingford and make sure each one of the residents has talking points and material to share in the office.  I get the whole thing.  And there’s nothing wrong with candidates employing 1984 marketing tactics.  Most of these folks, including Murray, are politicians not business majors.

From the headline of the collateral, which was the only thing I read, I learned that these flyers were going to tell me about all of the reasons to vote for Murray.  But something suddenly sprang to mind in my head.  

After 18 years in the Senate, shouldn’t everyone in Washington be able to name 18 things Patty Murray has done?  Heck, let’s say she accomplished ONE thing every TWO years.  Shouldn’t I be able to name 9 things?  5? I’m pretty well educated, I listen to KIRO 97.3 and both the right wing and left wing AM stations.  I should be able to rattle off a litany of things she’s done, right? After all, I can tell you 10 things Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln have done, so why not Murray? 

It suddenly made the idea of Incumbent Marketing so ludicrous.  Think about other product purchases you might make every 2-6 years: cars, vacations, furniture, computers, etc… Each time, you can explain in pretty uncertain terms the benefits and weaknesses of the product you chose.  Shouldn’t it be the same with politicians?  Isn’t an incumbent’s NEED to market with door spam a pretty telling story about how much she grabbed my attention the other 17.9 years she’s been in business?  It just made me wonder.

Seattle City Council Oversteps Its Bounds With Arizona Boycott Resolution

It’s been a long time since I got on a political soapbox, but I need to vent a little about the Seattle City Council.

I’m not going to stand up and advocate that Arizona was right or wrong for passing their controversial Immigration law.  Like the U.S. Attorney General and most people with an opinion on the matter, I have not read the whole law from cover to cover.  However, unlike most others, I will refuse to pass judgement on a law that I have not read.

But that being said, I can’t even fathom how the Seattle City Council would have the hubris to pass a resolution which “urges Seattle city government to refrain from sending employees to Arizona and from entering into new contracts with businesses headquartered there –when legal and practicable.”

It’s one thing to manage and mismanage your own city.  But you cross a line when you tell another state that you could do their job better than them.  And you cross another line entirely when you actively and willfully go out of your way to harm individuals and businesses in that state.

Furthermore, the Council shows its complete hypocrisy, making sure the resolution does not interfere with the city’s biggest contract with an Arizona company: the red-light camera agreement with American Traffic Solutions.  This borders on the insane.  The Council is so upset about the potential civil liberty infringement upon the legal and illegal residents of Arizona caused by asking potential illegals for paperwork, that it is boycotting doing business with the state.  EXCEPT – it is fine with crossing the fuzzy line of infringing on the civil liberties and privacy of Seattleites with their profit generating “Gotcha” Red light cam program. You have to re-read the last sentence several times to let it sink it.  The Council is incensed at Arizona for allowing their State Police, when there is probable cause, to ask someone for proof of legal identification papers; BUT the Council is fabulously in love with its contracted army of 29 Orwellian traffic cameras that take pictures and send tickets to our own citizens.

Federalism works because people can move from state to state if they have objections to the laws their government implements.  It becomes an inherently flawed system when the state government cannot make decisions on behalf of its citizens, due to the fear that another state will punish it.  If this practice took hold, California, New York and Texas could pretty much dictate the laws of every city and state in the U.S.  

Furthermore, Seattle has our own issues that have gone unsolved for far too long, without wasting time debating how other states are handling theirs.  

Finally, the fact that the resolution passed 7-0 should scare everyone in Seattle into actually paying attention in 2011 to the next election cycle.  Not one person on the Council found it shortsighted or hypocritical to threaten an entire state based on their reaction to a law they had no influence on drafting.  What’s next?  Will we boycott buying products from any state that bans gay marriage or abortion?  How about we boycott doing business with any state where a Senator votes for sending more troops to Iraq?  Where does our Nanny-state City Council want to draw the line when telling other states how to run their business?

If I were Arizona, I’d respond by issuing a $1 million tax on every flight that lands in Sky Harbor Airport from a company based in Seattle.  Or put a $1 million per location franchise fee on every coffee company based in Seattle.

Disagree with me.  Am I way off base here?

SonicsCentral.com Reviews Candidates

SonicsCentral.com has done a good job of keeping us up to date on Seattle candidates’ views on the NBA returning to Seattle.  

Props to David Nelson of the P-I for asking these questions:


Joe Mallahan:

I think we have to work very hard to attract an NBA team back to Seattle. That particular proposal I haven’t examined closely. The NBA’s not coming back if we don’t provide an arena that’s at NBA standards, the NBA’s come a long way. We have to figure a way for private and public dollars to partner to make that happen but it has to be done in a way where it’s not on the backs of the taxpayer. I am committed to working fervently to get a team back. The NBA is a huge part of our culture.

…With the tax payers paying their fair share. That’s a complex formula that we’re going to have to work on and partner with the private interests that are interested in owning an NBA team. As a community we blew it and we have to recover, it’s a big part of our history and culture and I would be very proud if I could help bring a team back.

Mike McGinn:

I need to know more about the proposal before committing to supporting it. My key issue here is ensuring that we’re making a wise investment of public resources into the arena and not finding our self in a position where the city ends up on the hook, these are pretty serious budget times. I’m open to a renovation of Key Arena, but I have to see what the payoff is.

We have to be careful with taxpayers and we have to make sure we’re doing the right thing for the surrounding business district, the arena, and Seattle Center. But I’m certainly open to people making the case.