No Good Deed Goes Unpunished in Tracey

A few years ago I was out doing some errands when I noticed a woman curled up in a ball at the edge of the parking lot. Concerned but unsure what to do, I called 911. A few minutes later, two police officers and an ambulance showed up to check the woman out.

That’s how things should be. But if the trend recently started in Tracey CA continues, would-be helpful bystanders will have something else to think about before they pull out their cellphones — are they willing to not only make a call when they see something wrong, but also pay for the privilege of getting help for someone?

Tracy residents will now have to pay every time they call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency.

But there are a couple of options. Residents can pay a $48 voluntary fee for the year which allows them to call 9-1-1 as many times as necessary.

Or, there’s the option of not signing up for the annual fee. Instead, they will be charged $300 if they make a call for help.

Cities everywhere are struggling to make ends meet, and new fees for services are a logical way to get the needed revenue. But 911 service? Really?

So once they start this new program, when you call 911 in Tracey, will they check your payment status and ask for a credit card number before dispatching help? What if you’re poor and can’t afford to pay?

And how may people will see something bad happen and not call, because they can’t afford to get involved?

Incompetence in the Air

This has got me really steamed — as the news unfolds after this latest air terrorism attempt, it turns out that the guy who is accused of trying to blow up a jet over Detroit was actually ON a US Terrorism Watch List. His own father even contacted authorities with concerns about his son’s activities — and he was still allowed onto an airplane without hassle.

Alrighty them. What exactly is the watch list there for if we don’t use it?!?

Even better, the TSA seems to think that punishing the entire traveling public with laughably stupid yet very annoying in-flight restrictions is the correct response to this massive cock-up.

The solution to this issue is not a mystery. You need to screen people better BEFORE they get on the plane. Yes, it’s hard. But it’s the right thing to do. Telling people they will be safe if they cannot use their iPod for the last hour of a flight is utterly pathetic.

It’s like the guy who, on noticing he’s lost his wallet, starts looking for it under the next streetlamp because that’s where the light is. You need to go where the real problem is, not where the easy fix is.

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Colliding Worlds

Facebook friends photo grid
Image by dan taylor via Flickr

So this morning, up pops in my feed reader a blog post by my friend Jason about a Halloween Bar-B-Q Bar Mitzvah.

OK, nice post about the food at a recent Bar Mitzvah he went to and how much more fun it was than the standard Bar Mitzvah (the menu is definitely much more interesting than the standard Bar Mitzvah!). The brain-twisting part (for me) was that I also knew the mother of the kid involved; Laura and I went to high school together and we recently reconnected on Facebook. She’s been posting updates about the party planning for weeks. I knew that she and Jason knew each other (they’re both NJ-based foodies with an IBM connection) but it didn’t occur to me that he was actually going to the party.

Most of the people who actually read this blog will probably just shrug and say, so what? For the segment of people that have adopted social media tools and integrated them into their lives, this kind of public intersection is pretty much a non-story. Having spent my last weekend back home in NY and talking to a lot of people who are not part of the adoption curve, though, I’m reminded that there are plenty of folks for whom blogging a kid’s Bar Mitzvah or finding intersections between different worlds via Facebook is completely alien territory.

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Two Weeks, Two Conferences

City of Las Vegas
Image via Wikipedia

So last week was Adobe MAX and this week I headed off to Las Vegas for BlogWorld Expo. Talk about a study in contrasts and two very different conference experiences.

One week, I’m working the show and surrounded by so many people I know that I spent the entire conference talking and still managed to miss connecting with some folks. As much as it’s a ton of work and exhausting, it’s also inspiring and just plain fun to spend the week surrounded by a few thousand of your company’s most passionate customers. However, if you’re not mindful and self-aware, all that attention can go to your head.

Then the next week, I’m just an attendee. I knew some of the people at the show and even a couple of the speakers, but by and large I was on my own when it came to finding people to connect with and things to do. If I wanted to enjoy myself and get the most out of this conference, I couldn’t coast; I’d have to work for it.

In a way the relative anonymity was refreshing – for one thing, I actually had the time to have in-depth conversations with people without the pressure of having to constantly run off to say “Hi” to three other people. I could attend sessions other than just the keynotes. I could enjoy relaxed meals with some really cool people like Kyle Flaherty, Aaron Straut, Jennifer Leggio, Stephanie Schwab, and Lindsay Lebresco. As an added bonus, I could do it all without having to spend all day killing my feet on the show floor.

Most important, I got outside of my day-to-day life and got to hear about how other people are addressing some of the same issues we’re grappling with, like: how to connect to always-on, global, engaged and intense communities of customers. Or how to stay on top of the torrent of voices that increasingly defines the Internet today and still have time to get some work done.

The longer I work for Adobe, the more strongly I feel that it’s critical for me to keep a sense of perspective and stay connected to life outside the Adobe bubble for me to be at my most effective. Spending time at events like BlogWorld is one way to do that.

If I’m totally honest with myself, though, I’d have to say I preferred my MAX experience.

PS: I’m testing out a new tool called Zemanta with this post – I got a demo of their stuff at BlogWorld and thought it was worth a try.

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This is Not a Post about Michael Jackson

But it is about music.

One thing that technology has done to music is the decline of shared musical spaces. Years ago, it was habit for me to bring a boom box and a pile of tapes or CDs to the office & play music every day. Music was a shared experience — coworkers would bring in and trade CDs, vote some stuff on or off the playlist, even make office mix tapes. It wasn’t a paradise — especially when your co-workers had very different musical tastes — but it was more social.

Now, each of us sits at our desks plugged into our own private music streams. Nobody has to argue about whether or not [Band X] is good work music, or negotiate a preferred volume level — but also we’re more isolated from each other.

On the whole I’m not sure it’s a step in the right direction.