Public Policy is social agreement written down as a universal guide for social action. We at The Policy ThinkShop share information so others can think and act in the best possible understanding of "The Public Interest."

Are you up on what’s happening with technology? The internet of nothings | The Economist

The internet is nearly a quarter century old.  Really.  What is next?  The conversation on what will follow has started and it is fascinating…  The Policy ThinkShop brings you the following London Economist article from their blog “Babbage.”

It will open your eyes to the possibilities and limitations of how cloud computing, gps, the internet, etc., will shape how the world around us functions.  Let us know what you think.

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“BABBAGE is getting a little tired of all the hype surrounding the “internet of things” IoT. To judge from some of the more breathless claims, the IoT would seem to be just around the corner. The worst offenders, no surprise, are those who expect to profit most from embedding sensors in anything and everything, and connecting them wirelessly to servers in the cloud.The expectations are huge. Gartner, an IT consultancy in Connecticut, reckons some 26 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020. Another consultancy, ABI Research of New York, believes the number will be 30 billion, while Cisco Systems, a network-equipment firm in California, expects there to be no fewer than …”

via Difference Engine: The internet of nothings | The Economist.

Filed under: analytics, Big Data and Big Government, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, MashCrunchWired, News, Technology and You

6 new facts about Facebook | Pew Research Center

Facebook is a part of our lives, one way or another…   Even after the NSA scandal and everyone’s consideration of us having a “BIG BROTHER” problem, today’s youth continue to pour out their (and one might say their family’s) laundry and often their most intimate thoughts and wants onto the public face of the omnipresent computer screen.

The Pew Foundation offers an interesting article delineating 6 important insights we should all be aware of about Facebook and how it is impacting all things social in our lives…

“Facebook turns 10 tomorrow and reaches that milestone as the dominant social networking platform, used by 57% of all American adults and 73% of all those ages 12-17.  Adult Facebook use is intensifying: 64% of Facebook users visit the site on a daily basis, up from 51% of users who were daily users in 2010. Among teens, the total number of users remains high, according to Pew Research Center surveys, and they are not abandoning the site. But focus group interviews suggest that teens’ relationship with Facebook is complicated and may be evolving.”

More via 6 new facts about Facebook | Pew Research Center.

Filed under: analytics, Big Data and Big Government, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, Culture Think, News, Parenting

Internet security: Besieged | The Economist

The Policy ThinkShop:  Research to help you understand internet security and social media privacy.

If you are serious about keeping up with technology and social media you better get up to speed on the current disclosures detailing the lack of security and privacy on the internet…. Not only from BIG BROTHER (government) but from anyone interested in peeking.

“Besides beefing up their internal security, many of America’s big firms have been lobbying Congress to rein the NSA in. But there is reason to think that technological changes could run ahead of legal ones. In some leaked slides, the NSA describes a lot of its programmes as “fragile”, Dr Green notes, suggesting that it worries they can be thwarted without too much trouble. And techno-fixes offer something laws do not. There are dozens of signals-intelligence agencies in the world, some of which serve pretty unsavoury governments. Laws can affect only one agency at a time. Cyber-criminals will, naturally, ignore them entirely. But techno-fixes work against everyone.”

More via Internet security: Besieged | The Economist.

Filed under: analytics, Big Data and Big Government, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, Culture Think, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Social Media

New Media vs. Old Media Choices: Hardware, software and “brainware”


Much of the talent in today’s organizations graduated before the 1995 and the post 90s digital revolution which made the internet all pervasive.  Organizations will have to live with most of this talent for at least another decade and that cohort’s influence over organizational leadership and strategy may last a quarter century.  The internet, big data, cloud computing, and social media, are changing the business environment.  Knowledge management, marketing, and communications will increasingly become critical business strategy factors; but they will require a combination of scarce and specialized talents.

Your career, organization, business or team depend on digital inputs and outputs that increasingly rely on variables driven by the new eCommerce environment.  Traditionally, your principal organizational and budgeting goals and concerns were driven by hardware and software considerations.  We propose that there is a new ingredient needed for success in today’s rapidly changing and increasingly internet driven business environment.  We at the Policy ThinkShop refer to this new ingredient as “brainware” and it can only be harvested in today’s evolving labor market.  Identifying it, recruiting it and retaining it could be the difference between failure and success–whether you are an individual, an organization or a leader–the ability to bridge the gap between established business practice and evolving market opportunities will require seasoned business knowledge and mastery of the new eEconomy.

Organizational Needs and Labor Market Potential: Talent, cultural and technological change

Organizational development and business strategy can be significantly more challenging in today’s rapidly evolving business climate. Today, building success increasingly means having the right leadership and the right team. Internally, having the right machines and software has been difficult enough; but the false dichotomy between people and information, the internal and external environments is now increasingly apparent.  Organizational success, top talent and knowledge of the new eEconomy are now an important business Gestalt.  Internet and social media savvy are not just more but may now be essential.  This is because of the current gap between traditional organizational culture and new recruited talent.  The Googles and the Facebooks have built radically different business models and organizational environments for their talent.  How will your organization recruit and retain new and “different” talent to drive growing and increasingly more internet relevant organizational strategy, planning and work?  For enlightened organizations who understand change and can transform to meet the needs of that change, this may now be the new human resource imperative.

The relationship between organizational development needs, market opportunities and technological change is rapidly changing. Gone are the days when organizations could monopolize information, keep it secret and use it as a long term advantage. The information revolution is here. Information is no longer a static internal product but the internal and external organizational environment itself, all pervasive, increasingly symbiotic and constantly evolving. Talent in the areas of information management, marketing and communications is increasingly digital, web and cloud based. Although hardware decision can be expensive and risky, “brainware” decisions may be most critical to the success of your business and perhaps your career. By “brainware” we mean the fine mix between perspective, technological savvy and business acumen.

The traditional market strategies of face to face contact, television, radio, print media and billboards are changing. This change has increased more rapidly than the slow pace of organizational development, staff development and entrenched leadership succession. Organizational development has always required talent. Today defining, recruiting and retaining talent may be the most important decision you make as an organizational leader and the greatest opportunity for those who possess the unique ingredients of seasoned knowhow and acumen and state of the art geek passion, skills and vision.

Again,  a rapidly changing market requires new talent. Where do you find that talent and what does it look like? Whether you need that talent or you are talented in search of an organization where you can thrive, the relationship between technological change, organizational needs and implementing talent is increasingly becoming a critical success factor. Enterprises are made up of people, ideas, culture, communication, capital, customers, relationships, and many other moving parts–none move faster than technology and the ideas that drive it. Technology, especially its ability to drive commerce via the internet, is both a knowledge management and a people management challenge—but first we have to have the right people on our team to manage–finding them is not easy and may require significant tradeoffs.
Operationalizing ideas requires specialized skills and we assume that the talent we hire today, will deliver and sustain the actionable strategies that will deliver outcomes, ROI and ultimately organizational progress tomorrow.

A new economy is being born

The use of the internet by millions of people is forming a new type of market and, perhaps, even a new economy.  It is all new because it is a different kind of communication with its own dynamics, purposes and rationale–it is increasingly driving commerce.  Because it is understood to be “economic behavior” that is driven by keyboards, symbols and input that can be decoded, saved, quantified and analyzed, it has become a resource that is being studied in relation to buying and selling products, making reputations and promoting every manner of resource and idea.  Public relations and marketing are two key fields that are likely to be transformed by the web and will in turn shape how public relations, marketing and the web are used to buy and sell, influence and promote.  Social media is an ongoing conversation that increasingly interests those who seek to communicate a socially relevant message and promote ideas and products.  Public relations and marketing experts now face the added burden of becoming technological geeks as the search for the holy grail of forming and communicating “message” is driven by computer and internet based business intelligence.

The web is constantly changing

The web and the tools and gadgets that feed the data lifecycle that perpetuate it are in constant change.  Like teenagers who clamor to be at the local busy hangout with their friends, today’s public relations and marketing social media hopefuls find much to be anxious about.  The social web has become more ubiquitous, instantaneous and seemingly personal; yet mining it or analyzing it can leave you with a pile of barely useful statistics.  The web and its ever evolving social media platforms are here to stay and everyone knows that it is the new game in town.  In theory, the worldwide web is all embracing and global–a seemingly limitless resource.  Perhaps deceptively so, it is instant communion between individuals reaching out into the abyss and marketeers who are trying to listen to and understand the  noise.  Often it seems a cacophony of interactions barely intelligible to the statistician and only relevant to those who understand its analytic trends within a multilayered context of products, customers and local business strategies.

Two worlds with two divergent skill sets

The worlds of traditional consumption and private internet use are quite distant from one another.  Finding a professional comfortable and able in these two worlds of face to face business and online, often anonymous, social media is uncommon.  Mastering web analytics and business knowhow is not an easy task for the technologically savvy or the business expert. The knowledge areas that are needed to sustain a sophisticated web business strategy require unique and expensive human resources–when they exist.

Mining the web: The production of internet data and finding ways and people that can turn it into actionable business strategy

Turning computer use and web surfing information into useful knowledge is beyond most enterprises as they do not have the appropriate team in place.  Even when you develop the appropriate web analytics dashboard the information collected must be interpreted and understood by yet another layer of professionals implementing cyber knowledge to drive local business strategy.  Engaging online users and promoting your  brand or a desired relationship requires followup and follow through which can be expensive–requiring appropriate data collection, business strategy development and evaluation.  As people surf and connect millions of times very little really happens that is reliable, measurable and impactful. The internet economic actor’s behavior is little more than linear choices on a keyboard reacting to menu like choices.  It is mostly anonymous and does not have the same import that traditional hand to hand communication did in the golden years of marketing and public relations.  In fact, quick and perpetual access may not yield constants that can easily be measured to justify your ROI.  Yet ignoring today’s social media trends and their growing role could spell disaster.

Activity in cyber may not be relevant, impactful or measurable in the local market

If you do not have a web presence you may risk being seen as out of touch and irrelevant.  If you attempt to have a web presence it may be difficult to justify the investment.  Given today’s challenged budgets and competition for new talent, using the web as a serious corporate strategy is still as new as it is uncertain.  To be sure, the benefits of BIG DATA and analytics have made fortunes and built giants–for the average organization and corporation though, the economies of scale or ROI may not yet be possible.  To be sure, relating to the public has become increasingly easy and constant and yet it has also become increasingly trepidatious.   Navigating the worldwide web with the intention of having an impact, making an impression, perhaps changing minds and/or behavior, is akin to navigating limitless and uncertain waters.  Like a menacing conundrum framed in a Joharian Window, you don’t know what you don’t know, you don’t know what others know about you, and so on.  The internet is a new form of social relation and its role in interpersonal, organizational and group communication is still evolving.  Managing your web relationship is mainly a knowledge management exercise.  Web analytics and matrices can only go so far.  There may be intangibles involved in the psychology and social relations aspects defining the role that the web is playing in your customer’s lives.  These are not yet well understood or even useful.  What you know, though, matters–that is for sure.  What you are able to do with what you think you know is a function of your organization’s business intelligence–not just amount of information but the actual talent you have onboard.

Knowing what you don’t Know?

Knowledge management is one of today’s leadership mantras.  Who knows?  Perhaps more importantly, who’s talking?  Similarly, who is talking about who?  The web is all about getting attention and being heard.  Measuring it and strategizing can be like blowing more sand into a desert wind.  Just because it blows back at you in analytical ways does not necessarily mean you have achieved anything of import. Perhaps the most worthwhile public relations aspect to the web is relationship building, continuity and conversation.   Like a dynamic and evolving focus group, the web can deliver deeper meaning, if impersonal and unreliable.  If we don’t manage information we will not be part of the conversation though–so diving into the web  and tracking our corporate experience may eventually yield public relations and marketing successes. Today it is no longer so much being at the table as it is being part of the conversation as subject and object.  As a company, as an organizational leader, or as a marketing and/or public relations professional, you want to be talked about and you want to be “the commodity” that drives public relations and marketing value.

Business day to day pressures and costs may be out of sink with rapidly changing cyber realities

Business conversation is increasingly taking place in cyber space, webinars and online networks that meet up with you at breakfast and lay you to bed with a gentle tweet or the tone of an arriving email.  From sun up to sun down the internet is the new dimension of life that never sleeps–but “Can you make it there?” Because communication is increasingly web relevant and dependent, most serious public relations and marketing leaders have their heads in the clouds, as the communication revolution takes yet another turn and moves away from the ether promising new efficacy in data management and access by giving us “a cloud cover.”   It seems that gadget platforms, ways of networking and data mining change again before we can fully integrate new talent into our business model or organizational plan.  Perhaps most importantly, and in these times of austerity and economic uncertainty, it is not a cheap game.  The person you interviewed yesterday impressed you with that days flavor of technology and skills, by the time they are integrated into your team and really demonstrate potential, the platforms and social media areas they impressed you with may be passé.   You are left with whatever real brains, work ethic, or talent they may have underneath the shiny latest internet wizardry that blinded your hopes and assured your now not so relevant business strategy which prompted you to hire them in the first place.

Beneath the shiny surface of today’s exciting trends lie time proven values and constants

Public Relations is experiencing a boom and a crisis today. The seemingly unlimited universe being created today by a burgeoning online community is astonishing, seductive and daunting to many business and organizational leaders who have a nagging notion that they must personally and organizationally keep up or be shoved out of the game. There is no shortage of will to understand and keep pace, but is there time and opportunity to learn and think in order to amass perspective and knowhow for getting what you and your organization need to stay relevant and compete?  On the other hand, keeping up requires talent and knowhow. The kind of talent and knowhow needed is not often understood by business and organizational leaders who struggle to strike an optimal balance between recruiting, hiring and retaining a social media savvy 20 something or a seasoned professional who speaks the social media lexicon yet lacks the stamina that comes from endless late hours of surfing while looking for the next seahorse ride on the latest social media platform.  To be sure, technological prowess is nothing without brains and work ethic, perspective and intellectual wherewithal.  The kind of  je ne sais quoi  that comes with midnight oil burning and liberal arts.

When it comes to recruiting and purchasing new media talent, buyer beware…

“Social channels and new technology have placed considerable evolutionary pressure on the PR industry, but developing content doesn’t mean disregarding traditional media. It is about getting contemporary platforms to work in harmony with …”

via Traditional and new media can be happy bedfellows – Brand Republic News.

Filed under: analytics, Big Data and Big Government, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, Culture Think, News, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Public Relations, Social Media, Using Social Media

Policy ThinkShop Research to Light Your Way! Who’s Not Online and Why | Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

The Pew Foundation has an impressive network of websites promoting socially relevant and timely research that looks at emerging social trends and challenges in the areas of technology, social media, religion, politics, and others…  The most recent issue addressing internet use, one of the main areas that Pew supports, includes a survey on internet use.  The survey is important because we know, for obvious reasons, much about people using the internet but not so much about those absent from cyberspace.  The report gives us interesting data and analysis on the nearly fifth of persons 18 years or older who by choice or constraint are not going online.  This trend is interesting given the current explosion of handheld devises that make the internet ubiquitous and internet able gadgets an increasingly unavoidable necessity.

As you have become accustomed, The Policy ThinkShop does the research for you and provides a friendly place where you can come back and discuss what you found useful and relevant in your daily musings and/or work.

Be sure to come back and comment as your participation here will promote The Policy ThinkShop blog and keep our team working for you…

The full report is being provide here by The Policy ThinkShop.  Enjoy:



“As of May 2013, 15% of American adults ages 18 and older do not use the internet or email.

Asked why they do not use the internet:

34% of non-internet users think the internet is just not relevant to them, saying they are not interested, do not want to use it, or have no need for it.

32% of non-internet users cite reasons tied to their sense that the internet is not very easy to use. These non-users say it is difficult or frustrating to go online, they are physically unable, or they are worried about other issues such as spam, spyware, and hackers. This figure is considerably higher than in earlier surveys.

19% of non-internet users cite the expense of owning a computer or paying for an internet connection.

7% of non-users cited a physical lack of availability or access to the internet.

Even among the 85% of adults who do go online, experiences connecting to the internet may vary widely. For instance, even though 76% of adults use the internet at home, 9% of adults use the internet but lack home access. These internet users cite many reasons for not having internet connections at home, most often relating to issues of affordability—some 42% mention financial issues such as not having a computer, or having a cheaper option outside the home.”

via Who’s Not Online and Why | Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

Filed under: access to education, analytics, Big Data and Big Government, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, MashCrunchWired, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Paper Media, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Public Relations, Social Media, Technology and You, Technology Trends,

Let’s Shoot for the Moon! Mashable has a “Smashing” article on the technological imagination… 10 ‘Star Trek’ Technologies That Actually Exist

Human potential is forged in the imagination.   The relationship between Hollywood and American popular culture is the nexus where American ingenuity and chutzpah (audacity) come together to nurture possibilities.

Take, for example, those moments when we experience a seemingly mysterious event, apparently made possible by technology but not obviously understood.  Think about the first time you saw an automatic door open, without having to step on a black rubber mat to obviously trigger the favor.  Hard to believe that invisible waves can cause so physical and timely an action–but today  they do and we take it for granted.  Similarly, there are hundreds of actions and activities that are nearly invisible and unintelligible to many of us…. We use them without even really choosing to and we benefit without paying a price or even understanding.  Automatic seems to be the trend as the life around us, since the first automatic transmission to todays photocell driven seamless interactions…  

Today, technology is all around us and our sense of control, choice and volition seems to be increasingly replaced by consequences to our mundane actions—not the least of which is our social media communications and Google, Facebook and Big Government taking notes and saving data that can further impact what we do next or not do.

So, what is driving all this technological change and why is it here?  The answer is quite surprising and less sinister than one might think–we simply imagine it.  Yes, technological change and possibilities are not only driven by mathematicians and engineers.  They are born in the imagination of a restless writer or a curious George ….  

The Policy ThinkShop recommends:  Mashable has a nice homage to the role that creativity and pining for a better world present when interesting ideas become popular and society creates the necessary conditions to support a crazy idea like: Let’s build a rocket and shoot for the moon!

“Whether it\’s deep space or the deepest depths of the ocean, truly brilliant machines can operate in all sorts of extreme conditions. While the U.S.S. Enterprise doesn\’t exist (yet!), there are other technologies out there that …”

via 10 ‘Star Trek’ Technologies That Actually Exist.

Filed under: analytics, Big Data and Big Government, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, Culture Think, News, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, , , ,

Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data –

Communication and information have been important drivers of civil society, as groups, individuals and even nation states are able to use what they know and what they share with others to improve important aspects of social relationships in areas like public relations, collaboration, mutual understanding, trust building and the ability of individuals to express and assert their social needs and civil rights.  As more and more information is being collected on all aspects of our daily lives and that information is accessed by third parties for purposes not necessarily related to the initial rationale for which the information was gathered in the first place, issues arise regarding the use of that information and how that use impacts an individual’s freedoms and rights; such as:

  • Privacy
  • Ownership of personal information
  • Access to information
  • Ability to explain and defend ones rights or needs with your own information that reflects your ability to determine and express yourself.

Information that is collected on us increasingly impacts our health, privacy, political freedom and economic opportunities as various parties know more about us than we often know about ourselves and/or interpret information about us that is collected, understood and explained by others.

Our optimism regarding technological progress in the area of information technology, knowledge management and the social narrative others have about our identity is increasingly being questioned.  The NYTs has a provocative article on how information impacts the educational system which is so often decisive in the lives of our children, friends and family members.

“WHEN Cynthia Stevenson, the superintendent of Jefferson County, Colo., public schools, heard about a data repository called inBloom, she thought it sounded like a technological fix for one of her bigger headaches. Over the years, the Jeffco school system, as it is known, which lies west of Denver, had invested in a couple of dozen student data systems, many of which were …”

More via Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data –

Filed under: access to education, analytics, Big Data and Big Government, Blogosphere, consumers, Education Policy, Education Reform, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, News, Parenting, Public Policy, Technology and You, Technology Trends

Big Data and Big Government …. Breaking the Rules Thousands of Times at the N.S.A. : The New Yorker

When it comes to government having access to “Big Data” the mistakes, however small or innocent, can be quite large.

Perhaps we are a bit naive as Americans when we assume that government is not watching a great deal of what we do or say over “public” airways, etc.   It just stands to reason that if it is going out over “the air” that somehow, interested parties are going to be able to get their hands on it,  That may include foreign governments spying on us, local rebels like Anonymous, and, perhaps more thoroughly and often, our government’s amazing information gathering apparatus linked to places like the NSA.

But as Americans, naive or cynical, we should be able to question and contemplate the possibilities of Big Data in the hands of Big Government.

“What does the National Security Agency consider a small or a big number? The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman has a report based on documents the paper got from Edward Snowden about an N.S.A. audit that found two thousand seven hundred and seventy-six “incidents” in 2012 in which it broke its own rules about spying on Americans, either accidentally or on purpose. That is seven times a day, which sounds less like a slip than a ritual. But to call those violations frequent, according to the agency, would be to misunderstand the scale of its operations: “You can look at it as a percentage of our total activity that occurs each day,” a senior N.S.A. official told the paper. “You look at a number in absolute terms that looks big, and when you look at it in relative terms, it looks a little different.” We spy so much that the math gets hard; even thousands of privacy and legal violations can’t really be held against us.”

via Breaking the Rules Thousands of Times at the N.S.A. : The New Yorker.

Filed under: analytics, Big Data and Big Government, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Culture Think, News, symbolic uses of politics, , , , ,

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