Editorials

Editorials and opinion from Bizceos contributors. Comments welcome.

In My Humble Opinion

Communicating by Gadget

October 7, 2011

Did you read recently that computer scientists and “artificial intelligence specialists” (that’s a real profession) are telling us that within the next 10-15 years we will be purchasing gadgets that do not have to be specifically programmed. These coming devices will be able to sense and foresee our expectations and habits as a result of our own ongoing and ultimately predictable routine.  These yet-to-be created machines will regulate and tweak their own activities based on our personal and individual preferences.

To those of you who remember HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” this is eerie and a more than a little unsettling.

But, you know what?  We’re already into it and have been ever since Microsoft created software elements within its popular “Word” program to offer suggested re-structuring of typed sentences, grammar correction, spelling, etc.  And the software has a voice to pronounce a chosen word.

Other “intelligent” gadgets include automatic irrigation systems that shut down whenever it’s raining; “Smart Phones” with apps that seek out and recommend a good book or a nearby special-foods restaurant tailored to our tastes. Some even respond to a verbal question.  The upcoming apps will learn to recognize your voice and even your speech pattern.

Scary?  The age of robots being programmed so thoroughly they begin to anticipate, select, even reason.  Now that last one is really troublesome.  If there’s one dynamic that separates all of us as humans from the rest of the living beings in our universe, it’s our ability to reason and make decisions based on a sense of future; not be influenced only by routine or what we’ve learned from past decisions.

How we learn to actually communicate with our non-human gadgets and devices will be a whole new, and very exciting process.  Staying in control over those devices is the main objective.  HAL showed us all what happens when artificial, computerized intelligence goes a step beyond intention.

So, are you ready to talk to your computer or your phone?  Or do you already? And more than that, be ready for it to react, not just be automatically programmed.  Sounds like fun.  Doesn’t it?

Neil Kuvin

In My Humble Opinion

Journalism and Politics: Bedfellows?

August 11, 2011

A very recent, research project conducted by the trusted national firm, Rasmussen Reports, found that roughly two-thirds of the “likely” American voting population actually felt that reporters assigned to political campaigns have a pre-disposition to help a particular candidate.  Imagine that!  Feigned surprise aside, the result of this national poll is neither startling nor unexpected.

I don’t want to either position my reaction to this poll as being in defense of “leaning” journalism or present a snide, cynical “what do you expect” kind of response.  There is a very pronounced bone in my back that makes me stiffen to this reality and leap to the immediate defense of the Fourth Estate.  After all, the skill and craft of journalism is supposed to be responsible for advocating the needs of the other three estates, the Clergy, Nobility and Commoners.  Journalists pursue their profession mostly out of a sense of service, justice and fairness.  Why else would you take your Journalism degree and write a sports column for the Podunk News for $15k a year for four years or spend every Saturday and Sunday for years reporting for the Smallville, Kansas Fox affiliate’s weekend late news.  OK.  I said I wasn’t going to launch a defense for reporters in general.  I digress.

Really though, what do we expect when our world of news is now second-by-second, instead of the world our Founding Fathers were experiencing when the 1st Amendment was penned.  Today we live in a world of bloggers, Facebookers, LinkedInners, emailers, hourly radio newscasts, seven TV newscasts a day by four TV stations in each city.  A couple of hundred years ago there were a handful of newspapers.  And, by the way, back then papers were very partisan.  Having the opportunity and the freedom to express grievances openly about government or anything else is fundamental to our overall liberty and security.  Bravo Tom Jefferson and our Founders.

Not just this recent Rasmussen report, but poll after poll, for years, reveals that the American public have a skeptical, if not outright cynical view of all media.  Are we surprised?  The rise of MSNBC, Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews on the political-journalistic left is offset by Fox News, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh on the right.  So, what’s wrong with this picture?  Too many people consider these disseminators of information and entertainment (not news) as having the answers to their view of the world’s thorniest problems.  That’s downright scary.

Getting to the heart of the matter, journalists are human beings.  They can be duped; they can be zealous in support of a cause;  they can be wrong.  Kind of like you and me.  But there I go again, in defense of the institution.  It is a noble, honorable and responsible profession.  However, just like any instance of trust, when you exceed the bounds of acceptability, don’t expect the outcome to be anything short of skepticism.  When it’s earned, it’s shameful and unsupportable.  We in the media should not only know better, we should lead by example.

Neil Kuvin

 

In My Humble Opinion
How we communicate can be the window of our mind

August 1, 2011 

How and what we communicate produces the most identifiable pathway to our most tightly held beliefs.  Have you ever noticed facial expressions of people at a distance that you can see but can’t hear?  The most telling of human communication efforts most often is what’s on our face.  The smile, the scowl, the twisted mouth, the flaring nostrils, the wrinkled brow, the squinting eyes, the jutting chin, the pursed lips. The story these expressions tell provides the platform for how they, or we, are communicating our point.  The “what” gets lost in the translation by the receiver of our message due to the tone and environment in which our message is presented.

Watch O’Reilly, Matthews, Beck, Palin, Pelosi, Sharpton, et al, without sound.  Even if you can’t lip-read you can get a sense of what they may be talking about. And no matter what they’re saying, you’re already coming up with a sense of agreement or disagreement. There is little hope they can change your mind since your mind is already made up, based on all previous ideas and beliefs they’ve expressed, you agree or disagree with, and concepts you hold to tightly.  And the enthusiasm shown by people who are passionate is the package in which the message is delivered.

Much of the passion that immediately turns a listener off when we’re attempting to communicate our ideas is the worst example of what we’re learning from those we see night after night on TV.  That example is a lack of civility and patience.  There is a growing tide of rudeness, bluntness and insolence surrounding discussions between people who have different perspectives.  Or the burning needs to put the other person down and then step on him.  The message being communicated is either “I’m smarter and better than you” or “Your ideas are dumb and don’t count.”  That kind of environment doesn’t create communication.  Only hostility.  And distance.

Whether we’re seeking peace in the Middle East, a person to step up and become a candidate for election to the highest position in our country, or using hate-filled speech to denigrate and malign a political opponent, the message gets mired in the mud of what’s being communicated and the “screw you” mentality of the discourse.  How about we try listening more and talking less.

Neil Kuvin

 

In My Humble Opinion

An open letter to Mr. Rupert Murdoch

July 21, 2011

Dear Mr. Murdoch,

Yes sir, you are responsible.

More than responsible – both for the irresponsible activities of your top aides at the “News of the World,” and for the sullying of the entire enterprise of journalism – you sir are ultimately accountable to all of us in the media.

This mess your paper and your executives have gotten all of us in the world of journalism and media into has brought down talented and capable people.  And now, the ugly tentacles have reached even into Parliament and the Prime Minister’s office.

Shame on you.  Your crocodile tears notwithstanding, your individual accountability needs to be addressed by you and your son in a tangible and public manner. The closing of “News of the World” is a defensive maneuver calculated to avoid lawsuits and other direct expenses, including a nose-dive in ad revenue.

Closing the paper is kind of transparent, don’t you think?  Now, what are your plans to accept the fault, let the world know how it’s going to be fixed and take a hike?

Neil Kuvin

 

Editorials and opinion from Bizceos contributors. Comments welcome.

In My Humble Opinion

What’s offensive to you is likely offensive to me

July 5, 2011

The second U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York recently decided, in their infinite wisdom, to deep-six an old, but very important policy that was a standard in broadcasting, especially TV:  what is “patently offensive” language?   The original Federal Communications Commission policy regarding “patently offensive” language was toughened only six years ago.

The idea of broadcasters monitoring the kind of language used on TV and radio is about as old as the technology itself.  But, leave it to a New York group of legal eagles to strike down this valuable protection for children and families.

I speak from decades of experience as a broadcaster.  I served in major program decision-making management positions in some of America’s largest TV markets.  While I revere and defend the 1st amendment as the Holy Grail of broadcasting, I also can easily see through those who claim you can’t define what’s “offensive” to you.  So by holding to the 2004 FCC policy, we’re somehow squelching somebody’s opportunity to speak freely?

Come on.  We really don’t know what’s offensive and what’s not?  Give me a break.  It’s bad enough that network TV writers and producers keep finding new walls to crumble when it comes to script content.  And little concern we all have over the real fact that one or more of the major networks is likely to crumble soon.  But to not have any decency guidelines in place that prevent the kind of patently offensive Howard Stern conditions from becoming acceptable without broadcasters fear of fines or other disciplinary action, is, make that should be, unacceptable.

Remember the “family hour?”  Of course, even the definition of “family” is a moving target these days anyway.

Neil Kuvin

 

In My Humble Opinion:

Advertising Games

June 27, 2011

Let’s play an advertising/PR game.  We are an Advertising/PR firm under contract to a small retailer who is highly dependent on walk-in customers.  His out-of-the-way shop requires solid advertising visibility and his PR campaign relies on major community event sponsorship.  We know this client trusts us and depends on us 100%.  So, we’ll use (or mis-use) that dependence to experiment a little.  What the heck.  It’s his money!  We tell this client we’re going to put half his budget into flying banners, 25% into sponsorship of a youngster’s T-Ball team and 25% into a logo on coffee cups at a local youth soccer field.  Like I said, what the heck.  It’s his money.

Switch gears.  We’re in the U. S. State Department and we’re giving $21 billion dollars (with a “b”) in aid to Afghanistan next year.  They don’t like us.  But since they have a contract with us, they say, “what the heck.  It’s their money.  But now it’s ours.”

U. S. military casualties continue to mount.  The $21 billion is a real figure that will be given to Afghanistan in 2012.  And we’re actually considering cutting $500 million from Medicare in order to help balance the U. S. budget?  And reduce needed assistance for childhood education across all fifty states.  Hello!  Did I hear all that right?

Back to the game.  Our client trusts us with his budget.  He expects we’ll find the most logical, solid, maximized ROI by putting his money in the absolute best media and event sponsorship areas to embellish and increase customer traffic to his store. And we shrug our shoulders and waste every penny given to us in trust and dependence.

Why are we giving Afghanistan $21 billion dollars in aid when we have so much to gain by spending at least that much on getting our own debt paid down and much needed programs for children and the elderly in better shape?

You get it?  We U. S. taxpayers are getting mad as hell and… we don’t have much we can do about it.  Oh.  I almost forgot.  There are voting booths.

N. Neil Kuvin

 

In My Humble Opinion:

GETTING WHAT YOU VOTE FOR

June 20, 2011

As Alan Jackson sang in a song that honored 9/11 — “I don’t know the difference in Iraq and Iran,” I am sorely lacking in my knowledge of our country’s foreign relations activities.  But I do know that my word is my bond. And my actions will always speak volumes more than my words.

So, what’s with our “partner,” Pakistan?  The world’s most notorious terrorist since Hitler is found and killed by brave, heroic American military.  And Pakistan officials capture and detain their own countrymen for working with US intelligence in providing information that led to bin Laden’s hideaway?  Some “partner.” With partners like them we don’t need etc., etc., etc.

We listen and react to Pakistan’s pleas for tens of billions annually in aid, yet the gift we give brings no sense of honor, respect or appreciation. While at this same time we look for tidbits and giant bites to remove from our own country’s national budget billions that would continue to assist in paying for our own nation’s children’s education or our own elderly citizen’s failing health.

Will we ever learn?  Pakistan and many other nations receiving our tax dollars don’t give a rat’s a__ about us. They whisper sweet nothings in our elected officials’ ears and then stab us in the back when we turn away.  What’s that communicate?

The message we’re getting is not the message we’re reacting to at all. If this were a PR or ad campaign we would have kicked this client to the curb long ago. Politics will never change. You get what you vote for, not what you pay for.

N. Neil Kuvin

 

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