Death in the city of lights/ David King

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Dr Marcel Petiot. Convicted serial killer in 1944 Nazi-occupied Paris.

You’ve got a serial killer. You’ve got WWII. Interesting combo.

50 to 60 victims?

At the time of discovering his misdeeds, he was a married man with a wife and a 16 year-old son.

Like most stories about serial killers, the telling is in the investigation and hunt for the killer, rather than the kills.

It is a story of Nazi occupation of France, as much as a story of a serial killer in war-time Paris. Interwoven to the hunt for Petiot are stories of personalities like Albert Camus, Sartre and Pablo Picasso, who were residents in 1941 Paris. Also the dubious and colourful underworld characters.

Chpt 15 War in the shadows – guerrilla tactics (terrorist tactics if seem from Germany’s eyes) against the Nazi occupational forces in Paris.

Epilogue: author explains that he first started researching on the Marcel Petiot case when he was preparing for one of his lectures on WWII.


10 ways to change the world in your 20s/ libuse binder

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2009 publication. A primer and how-to book on environmental/ social activism. US context, I.e. many organizations and NGOs mentioned exist only in the US. Interspersed with case studies of people in their 20s who are active/ successful environment/ social-related volunteerism/ activism, businesses.

Written primarily for people in their 20s, though it’s equally relevant for anyone interested.

Appeals to those motivated to do something good for people other than themselves. The pointers are pragmatic and grounded, and covers enough ground as an introduction. But may be insufficient for those who are already aware of the broad strokes and require depth. Could also appear as simplistic at first reading for some parts, e.g. “get help from celebrities” but I think as a primer it’s enough.

Ratings on the impact/ expected commitment on time, cost, lifestyle.

Covers areas like material goods, personal hygiene, food, water usage, energy usage, travel, ideas for environmental advocacy.

Green America “21 things you didn’t know you can recycle”.

Most plastics do not biodegrade but photodegrade (need sunlight to do so). And when degraded they only become smaller pieces and may still enter our food and water systems.

On “decoding plastics”: the different grades of plastics, their toxicity to humans, their recyclability. Plastics are numbered:
1-2: recyclable, like PET and HDPE plastics used for bottled drinks, soap bottles. But not for repeated use, as they have been shown to leach chemicals after repeated washing or heating.

3: non-recyclable; vinyl or PVC; potentially hazardous as they leach lead and plasticizers.

4 -5: recyclable; plastics used for food storage and wraps. Safe for repeated use.

6: polystyrene or styrofoam. Potentially recyclable but not yet practical to do so (too light weight). Leaches a carcinogen, styrene, as it breaks down.

7: anything that isn’t graded from 1 to 6 is put under this category. Contains both recyclable (e.g. Plant or Corn-based plastics; polylactide) and non-recyclable/ non-biodegradable plastics (polycarbonate)

On how to launch a campaign on our own:
– research
– Messenging
– partnership
– communications
– build media relations
– help from celebrities

A section on why global warming should matter to you.
Carbon footprint calculator. See EarthLab,
Reducing waterprints (rate of using potable water, and also indirect usage of producing the goods we consume).

Standing ground: an imprisoned couple’s struggle for justice against a communist regime/ Kay Danes

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“‘never give up hope, even when it seems hopeless,’ they said” – chapter 10, ‘Innocence Lost’.

2009 publication.

Engaging read, if you give it a chance beyond the first few pages. It’s in a personal narrative style so there’s no creative hook at the start. But the unfolding series of events was intriguing. In the end, Kay Dane does make a compelling case that they have been wronged, willfully imprisoned and extorted by Laos government officials.

Story of an Australian couple, kerry and kay danes, and their year-long imprisonment in Laos. Written by the wife, Kay (33 at the time of her ordeal). They were embroiled in a power struggle of a sapphire mine in Laos, of which they were made scapegoats.

Husband was ex-SAS. Took up a job managing a security services company in Laos. Family moved to Laos. Wrote that life in Laos was dangerous and yet offered new perspectives to their children.

Description of the ways there was corruption among staff and blatant extortion by Laos government officials.

Expanding their security/ personnel protection business to Thailand.

Corruption and theft by employees, in spite of higher salaries.

Embroiled in a dispute between client company and local dissidents. Hints of criminal associations and potential inside betrayal. Increased tensions and risk to personal safety.

Kerry’s creative and steadfast resolve to overcome problems. But an unappreciative and unsympathetic head office.

Dispute comes to a head; seizure by Laos government of client premises and property. Kerry concludes business/ security services. Death threats. Kay deciding to relocate to Thailand. Reported by government planted spy.

Kerry taken into custody; Kay arrested at the border; unexplained charges.

Sending the children, 11 and 9, back to Australia.

Kay summarily incarcerated in prison. No charges read. Husband whereabouts unknown. Fear, uncertainty and despair. Unsympathetic guards, cruelty. Meeting cell mates. Knowledge that husband was alive. First meeting.

Kindness from fellow prisoners.

*”you do not let them see you are scared, Kay,” she said.*

Showing a guard sincerity and kindness.
Friendships among prisoners.
Death of a fellow foreigner detainee.

“life In Laos is cheap”

Media reports, inaccuracies, lies, family’s attempts at public support. Australian government into the fray.

Unexpected appointment as the prison doctor.

False promises all round.
Laos Vice-minister officially appointed to look into the case.
Settling into a sense of normalcy.
New prisoners.
An unexpected chance to speak to her own children.
International press attention. Foreign investments to Laos somewhat stalled.
Bombings and signs of continued armed confrontation within Laos.
Seemingly unending delays, false claims, stalling for time.

Sixteen weeks since their detention without trial.
Intervention by the Australian prime minister. Diplomatic channels.
Gradual letters from home. Badminton in the prison.
Unexpected treat: ice cream!

Yet another lot of foreign prisoners. Torture.

Catching a bird. Setting it free.

Court date.
A friend risking his safety to testify for them.
Danger in the night.

Outpour of international support. Detractors also.

Showdown in court.
Anger. Despair.


Freedom. Farewell.
Free, but not completely.


Work’s intimacy/ Melissa Greg

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Based on the author’s 3-year Australian-based post doc research.

“This book shows the extent to which new media technology encourages and exacerbates a much olde tendency among salaried professionals to put work at the heart of daily concerns, often at the expense of all other sources of intimacy and fulfillment.” p.xi.

Set in the context of Australia going through the global economic crisis, 2007 – 2009.

Research was based on interviews with 26 people from 4 organizations.

It can be read as a prelude for us to think about how work and life-outside-work has changed, and what employees and employers should be conscious of.

One takeaway was that new media technology does not necessarily reduce the amount of work, if work processes fundamentally do not change.

That one reason for social Media’s attractiveness is that they are viable distractions from the mundane of work.

There is a recurring theme of the interviewees accepting that work crept into their off-work lives, some acknowledging that they border on being obsessed about keeping in touch with work and wanting to be on top of things (in control).

One “mobile worker” recounted how if she was in the office, no one expected her to be constantly checking her email or at her desk. Yet in a home office setting, she was expected to be constantly and instantly contactable.

About contract careers: how the employee on contract essentially gave in more hours than what was contracted, yet without the benefits given to full time employers. Yet this was not a sinister hidden policy by the organization, but something that arose as a choice made by the employee being interviewed. (there is also the implied scarcity of work)

Part II, on “online culture and the rise of social networking”.

A chapter on differing understanding of the function and meaning of CC in emails. One interviewee recounted an informal email guideline on use of CC, I.e. cc means kept in the loop but action not required. If people need to know and need to take action, include in the To field. P79

P85 social bonds at work contributes to making overtime work seem courteous and common sense (or it would be rude to ignore).

Chpt 5 on Facebook Friends. P 87
Likens Facebook to a security blanket for “workers conscious of the need to remain flexible, available, and likable in a dynamic employment market”. I.e. both socialization and self-marketing/ increasing personal employability.

Suggests Facebook friends provided a sense of continuity, in a fast paced higher staff turnover work environment. It helps mobile workers cushion the impact of unfamiliar surroundings. It appeals highest to the “knowledge class”.

P. 89 “Facebook offers a reliable locus for affection for the growing number of workers for whom traditional forms of community seem lacking.”

P91. The nature and structure of the profile page shows social networking sites’s roles as “markers of class position”. Communicating that users belong to a particular group. Entering tastes, likes, affiliations readily provides a repository available for others to appreciate the user.

One interviewee (academic) remarked that with his global connections, he found Facebook more and more significant as a way to influence others. Slanted towards announcing his serious research on Facebook than publishing it in a journal.

P99. “in the context of office cultures that require conviviality and teamwork in all online dealings, Facebook acts as the necessary safety valve for workers needing a place to vent the many negative affects accompanying office life.

What should I do with the rest of my life? True stories of finding success, passion and new meaning in the second half of life/ Bruce Frankel

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Very readable. I enjoyed this a lot, and inspired too.

2010 publication.

“Profiles of people who have succeeded after sixty”. Ordinary working-class/ homemakers who, still living at the time of writing, achieved significant success only after turning 60.

Observes they also tend to maintain healthy diets, exercise regularly, challenge themselves, try new things and experiences, and have varied social connections. Tend to be more spiritual than religious.

“goal setting, challenge, and follow-through are fundamental to well-being and success”.

Author’s mother also had a story to tell.

Quotes Henry David Thoreau: “I have learned that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success in an uncommon hour.”

Margie Stoll, 68; took up competitive running at 60 and wins regularly at Senior Games. Breast cancer survivor. Competitive streak; had talent but never developed when young. Enlisted a coach 10 years her junior; trained hard.

Harry Bernstein, 93; faced decades of rejections for his writings. 80 years between his first publication and his first financially successful novel, The Invisible Wall. He worked in some writing-related job and pursuing writing interests in his spare time. decided to take up writing again at age 93 after his wife died (his daughter urged him to do something to get out of the depression). he wrote what he knew, which was his childhood and life in poverty through the depression. Found he was good at fictionalising from his own experiences. Finally found acclaim for his prestigious awards. Credits his late wife for her unstinting support. Harry said it took him a long time to realise what it means to “write what he knows”; (I thought it’s also time and timing).
Christopher Award; Christopher Credo: “Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”.

Dana Dakin; investment analysis. As she turned 60 she starting a micro finance scheme in a village in Ghana. “I became determined to greet the youth of old age by giving back”.

Robert Iadeluca; 89. Lost his PR comms job in 1972, at age 52, during economic crisis. Enrolled in grad sch; obtained PhD at 59, began new career as a research psychologist. At 69 he volunteered to be a hospital intern; obtained certification to treat alcoholism and substance abuse; full-time therapist at age 72. Computer-literate. Manages an online group at His philosophy is that he expects to live to 100 so he treats his body accordingly. Suggests therapeutic talk and learning stimulates and influences brain chemistry. (reading his story, I realised his various learning and career decisions had a certain logical and circumstantial flow to it. While he may not have predicted his future, he had a knack of sticking to a decision and seeing it through).

Linda Brown/ Alidra Solday. Psychotherapist turned filmmaker. Sat in film classes while working full time; progressed to short courses on related activities. Finally inspired by Stephen Levon’s book “A year to live: how to live this year as if it were your last”. Near 60′ she decided to embark on making a documentary about Doris Hadock, “Granny D goes to Washington”, which won awards and acclaim, after much personal risks and tribulations (this account would be a great discussion piece).

Thomas Dwyer. Sought something to do after his retirement. Was about to start a private investigation business when he was inspired, thanks to his elder brother of 62, to join a dance troop for seniors (Dancers of the Third Age). No dance background but worked hard enough to be accepted into a modern dance troop.

Lorette Thayer, 76. Wife of a diary farmer. At nearly 70, she decided to risk her savings and started a neighbourhood diner to sell homemade pies. Sustained for years and doing well by her standards in spite of the depressed economy.

Naomi Wilzig. Wife of a banker. Started a museum of erotic art at 70, after spending 15 years collecting them. Managed to establish herself as authority on sexual art.

Theodore Ludwiczak. Retired contact lens grinder. Started rock carving by chance, at 61. Still at it at 82. Has a reputation as a folk artist. He decided to crave another after the first one because the single one looked “lonely”. Which led to one more, and yet one more. People stopped to ask and were genuinely curious. He was encouraged by their positive reception that he continued and became better at it. He lived through the Nazi invasion ofPoland in his childhood.

Nancy Gagliano, 68. Her dream was to teach. But wasn’t able to attend college as her parents thought it unnecessary then. She married; had kids, took on jobs. She went back to college at age 45. Suffered chronic fatigue at one point; terminated from her job because of it. Eventually obtained a degree at 50. Finally, when opportunity presented itself, she took on substitute teaching roles. Partly due to financial circumstances, she decided to ask for a permanent teaching position at age 66. She knew it would take her another few more years to obtain full accreditation.

Myrna Hoffman. Single mom. Struggled to put her creatIve toy-idea to market (took 20 plus years eventually). Award winning toy (anamorphic) but stymied by a licensee. Then at 58, with her daughter an adult, she sought help and learned at a women’s business centre (business planning, using Excel, figuring the sums). Entered a business plan contest organized by Oprah Oxygen Network; selected as one of the winners. Acknowledges she may not be successful, by relative standards yet, but is upbeat of the journey. She says has a viable business rather than worrying about market forces (financial crisis) that she cannot control.

Ira & Barbara Smith, 79. Ira retired at 60 (suffered work-related depression for years). They first allowed their garage to be used as a distribution point for used furniture and household appliances, to be picked up by new immigrants/ recovering addicts/ homeless. Later they took initiative to collect and deliver used items for free, with only the two of them — at 60 plus — doing the moving. They were able to move heavy items by thinking rather than just brute strength. They reached a stage that they decided to start a fund raising organization.

Betty Reid Soskin, 87, social activist.Spoke up against racial segregation in her younger years. Series of activist roles to improve welfare of neighbourhood. Hired as a political aide when she was 78. Blogs at

What the dog saw, and other adventures/ Malcolm Gladwell

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A collection of feature articles, written by Gladwell, that were first published in The New Yorker.

I would call this a book that has “stories of insights”. It attempts to bring the reader to discover facts and thoughts behind the person/ situation being written. Very “blog-like” in terms of the perspectives it offers. Very human-viewpoint.

The way Gladwell writes are examples of impactful writing; sustains interest by shifting ground before you get bored. And snappy endings that leave you thinking.

Part 1: obsessives and minor geniuses
Part 2: theories and ways of organizing experiences
Part 3: predictions we make of people

Preface: he shares how he comes up with story ideas (he makes connectiomswith what people tell him, is what I think). Suggests it’s about being convinced that everyone has a story to tell, even the dog (hence partly the title).

What makes people tick; what’s going on in their minds.

Part 1
Ron Popeil, pitchman, salesman, kitchen product inventor/ developer/ salesman extraordinaire. Story of Ron Popeil reminded me of the medicated ointment performers/ salesman that was frequently at the night market. They make you go in awe, then sell you the product. In between, you’ve made the connection between “awe” and product. The affordable price (which was likely marked up high) seemed like a bargain. His story was about risk-taking, understand consumer psychology, and appreciating design.

On ketchup, benzoate vs those made without it, henry .j. Heinz, Howard moscowitz and his findings that there are subjective versions of the perfect food/ drink (which is why subsequently food manufacturers create different versions to cater to different segments, to maximize total returns; one-taste don’t fit all).15-point scale for rating fruits.

Options trading, story of two options futures traders, each with opposing strategies. One bets on the large probability of small gains and low probability of immense losses; the other on the large possibility of small losses and low probability of immense losses. Interesting story of why they might have chosen those strategies. The former has always achieved what he wants to do and losses are low probabilities for him. The latter had experienced black swan moments (loss of his country and stricken with throat cancer as a non-smoker). The former loss badly during the ’97 crash and sept ’11, where unexpected events happened. Also a slight moralistic twist: live well but prepare for the worse.

Shirley Polykoff, 1956. Ilon Specht, 1973. On Hair-colouring, shift from unacceptable practice to respectable, L’O’real, slogan, Tinker Group, motivational research (why do people buy what they do).

John Rock, catholic, inventor of the Birth Control Pill (1960), in-vitro fertilization, freezing of sperm cells. Leading to the Pope and the catholic church outlawing oral and any artificial contraceptives in 1968. Strassmann’s research on the Dogon women in Mali; suggests the “natural” menstrual cycle is much fewer than modern times. Breast cancer research.

Cesar Millan, his own Nat Geo show, Dog Whisperer. His background, no formal training. Gladwell aptly states that Millan has Presence. Cites anthropologist Brian Hare; “The other end of the leash” by Patricia McConnell. Decoding Millan’s body movements; Phrasing; describes him as “dancing”. How dogs get signals from humans’ body movements and gestures. Movement analysis. Origin story of Millian; crossed into US illegally. While undergoing marriage counseling, he realised the way to treat dogs was also to be able to understand the psychology of people.

Part 2
Enron. Mystery Vs Puzzle (the former requires less info; the latter has missing info). Solving puzzles require drive and persistence; mysteries require experience and insights (not necessarily more info). 1943 debunking Nazi propaganda; intelligence & counter-intelligence; Screwball Division. Enron’s case highlighted the fact that greater disclosure of information, without the people to understand and make sense of it, was inadequate. Concludes with an implied suggestion Enron CEO may not have deserved the harsh jail term; suggests Enron may have stretched its accounting practices but it provided the necessary financial disclosure, just that few bothered to analyze it deep enough; students were able to draw a conclusion about the company’s lack of profitability from available data released by the company.

Homelessness; power law distribution rather than a normal distribution curve. Controversial program of ending homelessness (rather than managing) by taking the worse cases and giving them a rented apartment, subject to some rules. Controversial because it seems to go out of the way to help those who don’t see to want to help themselves (justified by overall lower costs) while those who try harder, e.g. Mothers on welfare, are not necessarily given the same leeway or perks (as they are not chronic cases).

Our reliance and faith on pictures and images for information. How mammograms is still an imprecise way to screen for breast cancer because Xray images still don,t give precise info & doctors still need to make inferences. Concludes with a short snippet (snipe?) at claims, using satellite images alone, by US department of defense that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

On copyright and IP. Dorothy Lewis (author of Guilty by Reason of Insanity) and her plagiarism lawsuit against Byrony Lavery. Copyright briefly explained (sharp too; copyright infringement is not just whether a work was copied but how much and which part). Lawrence Lessig (but did not cite creative commons; Gladwell wrote his piece in 2004).

On national security intelligence. Makes the point things are always clear upon hindsight. Cites the start of the 7-day war with Israel; how Israel’s intelligence agency didn’t think an attack was eminent in spite of evidence of its neighbours mobilizing their armies; put in context, there were many other false alarms in preceding months/ years with similar evidence. “Creeping Determinism”. Amazing side story of a psychological experiment in 1970s; David L. Rosenhan; sent normal people to check themselves citing they heard voices & 3 keywords hallow, thud, empty and then responding truthfully, they were still warded (over- diagnosed). After he shared his findings and said he would continue to send “fake” test subjects –but never did–the mental hospitals started to identify “sane” ones; under-diagnosed. On claims of sept 11 intelligence failure, Gladwell suggests competing agencies ultimately help make better outcomes than a small/ cohesive unit (groupthink; bay of pigs).

On panicking (reversion to human instinct; not thought) and ‘choking’ (thinking too much).

The space shuttle Challenger disaster. “risk homeostasis” (morale hazard).

Part 3
Late bloomers Vs early successes. Examples of late bloomers (who worked hard to refine their craft), author Ben Fountain, artist Cezanne; their patrons/ supporters.

On the question of assessing the job candidate’s suitability for the job, before they actually start work. On picking a NFL Quarterback, selecting teachers. (Seems to me it’s about the person’s adaptability and ability to read a situation), financial advisers. Points out the US system seem to emphasize more on the careful selection of financial advisers (who manage money) than teachers (who manage children).

On Criminal profiling (to be accurate, more like dispelling the efficacy of criminal profiling); James Brussel. Case of the 1940 – 56 Mad Bomber, George Metesky. Likens the methods established by the FBI to what psychics employ in order to be general and yet sound like specific predictions. Says Brussel cleaned up the facts and left put the predictions he made that were wild goose chases.

McKinsey; talent pool (individual stars) as a factor of a company’s success. Asks the question “what if Enron failed not in spite of its talent-mindset but because of it?” what if smart people are overrated? (I think it depends on how we define smart of talented; qualifications or some other qualities?) Apparently, Enron felt a person’s potential was more valuable than actual results. Those who continued to show “potential” were constantly moved up, in spite of actual results. Gladwell then cites the US Navy in WWII. Seems to suggests talent and (organisational) systems are both required. Gladwell suggests it’s more likely that “organizations make people smart” rather than the other way around. The article seems as much a criticism about McKinsey’s conclusions about talent management as well as Enron’s personnel management policy.

On the interview process, gut-feel, snap judgements, self-fulfilling assessments, structured interviews (industrial psychology; standardised questions foe all candidates; ratings of responses: said to be the best predictor of job fit).

On stereotypes. How do we know the right generalization has been made. Starts with a “hook” about a Pitbulls attack; ban. Then leads you back into a study about how pitbulls were assessed to be more suitable to be around humans; that it’s aggressiveness had to be deliberately trained. Basically concludes that generalizations are inevitably wrong if based on incorrect dimensions/ factors/ causes (e.g. dog and owner’s behaviour & treatment of the dog were stronger links, rather than the breed of hedof per se).

Twitterville: how businesses can thrive in the new global neighborhoods/ shel israel

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eISBN: 9781101136348

The alternative title could have been, “the twitter story”.

“this book chiefly focuses on how people use twitter to get connected to customers and constituents.” interview notes at shel’s blog. Crowdsourced for twitter stories via twitter.

To me, this was also a book about Social Media’s value to organizations, by allowing it to be public yet come across as human, implies “someone cares”. It also illustrated to me whether social media tools work or not largely depends on (1) the product/ service in the first place, (2) whether they give a hoot about what customers are saying, I.e. Willingness (3) whether organization can do something if they want to, I.e. Capability.

If people don’t have a media budget and only time, they tend to turn to social media. I’m thinking: “In social media, Time and Passion is one’s capital”.

This seems to be the recurrent thread: tweeting as a broadcast tool (less effective), then changed approach to listening, and engaging in conversations. From “talking at to talking with” the community.

Author explains how a single tweet from James buck made him see twitter differently.

To the author , Twitter is like the telephone. a communications tool. Author suggests businesses should allow employees to tweet on company time for the same reasons why the company install telephones, or use email and faxes, at work. The topic is up to the company/ employee.

It is also about using a set of tools rather than just one particular tool. Shel uses the “building a house with a hammer” analogy.

Twitter hashtags and twitter search as the tools in twitterville. (aside: library of congress must have viewed twitter significant enough to consider archiving tweets)

The references to Cluetrain Manifesto keep popping up, and for good reason too, IMO.

Cites Twitter founder, Ev Williams, on what he learned at Google (after his 2nd startup, Pyra, was acquired by Google): (1) get the product right and make users happy before worrying about making money, (2) focus is everything. Every company has to choose between what it can do and what it should do.

Founding story of Twitter, which i thought was amazing. The concept of twitter came from Jack Dorsey, who was working with Biz Stone and Ev Williams on the start up, Odeo. They wanted a way for their team members (who worked their own hours) to know what each was doing (thus the twitter tagline “what are you doing?”

Subsequently, team members used it to post updates on their work status, follow conversations between members, or private messages (like an internal sms system) but also off work topics (e.g. Questions on restaurants to recommend). They liked it enough and started sharing this platform with friends. Twitter was born.

What started as an internal communications tool became a global social media tool.

About Twitter’s debut at SXSW 2007, and ‘live’ twitting.

twitter as a lower-cost customer support tool.

Dell and twitter. The first “twitterville retail outlet” by @delloutlet, June 07. How Twitter accelerated comments and blog post links more than the D2D blog itself.

Twitter being more of a listening tool rather than a broadcast tool. Dell’s strategy of listening and identifying the conversations worth joining/ customers worth converting (side quote: convert the agnostics, rather than the atheists), then joining and acting on the resulting dialogue. This allowed them to save from conducting focus groups.

Adopting a “@atDell” format for Dell staff who tweet for Dell (rather than a generic company brand-name).

Comcast turning their bad reputation around using twitter (@comcastcares). Started by a midlevel employee, Frank Eliason. (I thought it was really Eliason’s commitment to helping customers via twitter, which was a big part in helping turn the reputation around). Each comcastcares rep can cover as many customers as traditional call centre, but the help they provide is public.

American Airlines Portland flight fiasco, relayed via twitter and passed on (by a friend of the tweeter) to tv stations.

U-haul’s failure to respond over a frustrated customer’s tweet, and that sparked off other sharing of the company lack of service.

(at this point I wondered if it was also about customers who tweet, companies o bother to monitor or don’t, and whether the company cared to, I.e. if it were a monopoly, would it matter?)

Motrin Moms ad campaign mistake; @JessicaGottlieb tweets as the catalyst. One observation from author: bad press/ vibes gets quelled if the company responds to the conversation; perception that someone from the company was listening and felt bad about the incident. It’s the silence that tends to make matters worse.

Suggested the pepsi max suicide ad fiasco didn’t get as much attention as motrin bec pepsi social media director jumped into the conversation and had social media creds.

Ford motor company, a ford ranger fan site (, ford social media officer Scott Monty. Example: tuned to social media, “SM creds”, being genuine, personal responses & plea on behalf of company, legitimate company case, posting facts. Author shel makes the case that it’s important for the company to have ppl actively in social media before any crisis occurs (reminded me of the DBS outage & new twitter account incident)

Shel describes his childhood experience of his family’s first tv set, and compares it with advent of social media.

Zappos ( the online shoes retailer and why it has such a huge fan base. They liken themselves as the service company that happen to sell shoes. After a 4-week customer service course, they offer new trainees a $2000 incentive to quit and never return. Says 90% don’t take up the offer.

Zappos employees on twitter don’t talk shop, don’t hard-sell pdts. They engage in everyday conversations. But they do answer questions about their products from tweeters. Shel suggests that’s what successful sales ppl do; start a conversation with potential customers about the weather. Also allow potential customers to observe company twitter culture in deciding if they should engage in business with the company. Zappos feel twitter allows them to expose their company culture to the world.

H&R Block, a tax filing/ preparation company. Started tweeting as a broadcast tool, then changed approach to listening, and engaging in conversations. Their view was twitter was not a mass marketing broadcast tool like tv (won’t give you the dame reach) but more of understanding how some people perceive your brand.

Henry Ford hospital ‘live’ tweeting a surgical procedure, as part of educating other doctors attending a medical conference, and anyone who cared to listen in. Says the event humanized surgery.

Eden medical hospital (@sutterEdenMed) hired PR agencies to tweet, among other social media engagement activities. The PR staff identified themselves as being paid to do so (self-disclosure). Author suggested that because the PR staff engaged in sustained conversations, there was no opposition to the new hospital being built (reasons were understood by community).

Rubbermaid’s strategy is to make known the person behind the tweets. “… Currently tweeted by Jim Deitzel…” as a way to reveal the person yet allow others to take over in future, without losing the company tweeter handle.

Molsen Canada (brewery). Generosity as a branding strategy. Their 2 key employees were tweeters who voluntarily participated in a fundraiser to feed the homeless. Then company got roped into top off the funds as an afterthought. Molsen kept up their foodbank donations and usually communicated this via twitter (consistency seems the key, IMO) Author calls it “lethal generosity”.

Logo tweets (company tweeting). Author argues its easier to speak to a person than a company. Starbucks tweeter explains the Starbucks brand is easier to find than his name (seems to me rubbermaid’s approach to tweeting is a good compromise)

Evernote. Doesn’t attempt to engage in twitter conversations, only as broadcast tool. Only tweet company related info. Shel says their twitter strategy irrefutable works because the company has grown (My conclusion is the same as Shel’s: it’s because they have a great product more than their tweets).

Mayo Clinic. Started a twitter account to prevent identity hijack, but adopted twitter after a while.

IBM. Organic adoption of twitter. No guidelines on twitter use. Says they are happy that employees are using twitter to connect to customers.

United Linen. The CEO views twitter as a way to learn (by following relevant tweeters and their tweets). E.g. They learned how to market on twitter, by following other marketeers.

RedMonk, an analyst company that consults on business models using open source tech. Their office is virtual, in twitter. Gives 3 reasons why they rely more on twitter search than google search.

Sodexo; Using twitter for hiring staff.

Seesmic, “twitter for video”.

StockTwits, a twitter community for stock pickers. Crowd-source company whose product is information. Openly tweet about stocks. Gain trust and credibility points, gain followers (i’m not clear as yet how it works. the community chooses the expert?)

crowdSPRING, a “eBay” for graphic design work.

Coffee Groundz. Accepts online drive-through orders via twitter. Tweetups (meetups arranged via twitter).

Plumbers who tweet. In short, the tweets are public records of the way the person does business. Allows potential customers to make their assessment.

Shel observes a common thread that no clear business model of using twitter exists. Yet it is about using social media, fueled by passion, to form communities. Then reaching a tipping point leading to monetization.

About ppl building up their personal online brands, as a strategy of increasing their employability.

“In social media, people who are the most generous to their communities almost invariably acquire the most influence”.

Quotes Jeremy Owyang on his approach to personal online brand:
– an objective. First, define a very clear career mission. “What is it that you are trying to solve for your client or employer? Don’t focus on the minutiae of tools; instead think of the greater problem and solution you’ll provide.”
– stick to the plan; be consistent
– be ready for the long haul (takes years)
– study others
– integrate social media tools; use in tandem

Shel shares his own journalism background and gives his perspective of the evolution of the mass print media industry (shrinking began in the 70s due to cost pressures).

Section on his perspective on the PRC social media scene; censorship and bragging rights; relatively few censors compared to the content being generated.

How traditional media is finding twitter to be a good source of news; tweeters become their leads. Examples of traditional media picking up tweets (Szechuan quake, Mumbai attacks, US Airways crash in the Hudson) and reporting as mainstream news; tweeters unintentionally becoming citizen journalists. How false info is subsequently squelched (I think one has to be consistent in following, or else will only retain inaccurate info). Raises the issue of whether traditional media should pay for such content as they use it.

On Obama and the twitter campaign.

Twitter and govt; Shel observes 3 trends/ areas: transportation, law enforcement, disaster response.

2008, Israel consulate using twitter to take questions from the world about the bombings in Gaza.

Chapter on case studies of fundraising efforts (for causes or individuals) on twitter. Twestival. How P&G’s effort to rope in tweeters with large followers to tweet its fundraiser failed because perception was that it was about branding rather than real social motivation; large twitter follower base does not guarantee success.

Darker side of twitter: spammers (tips on spotting spammers – gibberish twitter handle, new account follows many, few followers; sexy profile pic). Phishing via shortened urls, and tweets appearing from friends.

Shel’s 8 twitter tips: use personal avatar rather than a cartoon or brand; read first talk later; follow after you’ve posted your own tweets; choose friends over stars; avoid spammer-like stats where you follow far more than the number who follow you; have favourites (which gives context/ info to your potential followers); take your time to chat/ get to know others (no one likes an obnoxious newcomer); orientate yourself in twitter like how you might check out a new neighbourhood.

Advises against trying to achieve numbers (followers) but focusing on the quality of conversations.

Discusses whether to write/ tweet for an audience or for oneself.

End chapter is like a how-to guide to twitter; twitter conventions.

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