A fishing tradition keelhauled in Chatham

A fishing tradition keelhauled in Chatham – The Boston Globe

Dinghy Wars erupt in Chatham. We have a problem here in Cotuit – but it’s not dinghies per se — we’ve got knuckleheads parking full boats in the grass.

“Locals say it is about Chatham’s soul being eroded by newcomers with thick wallets, newcomers whom they refer to as “wash-ashores.””The problem that I have with it is, these people come down here and say, ‘Oh, look. Isn’t it cute? Isn’t it wonderful? Look at that cute little fisherman out there working hard,’ ” said Sean Summers, a Chatham native and local selectman. “Then they buy in and say: ‘We’re going to do things my way now.’ “

Comes down to one flaw in the Commonwealth’s laws. Property owners own their beach all way way down to the water. Most states they own to the high tide mark. This makes for a massive pain in the neck and constant battle over rights. I predict — in my lifetime — a repeal of the low water ownership and a rollback to the highwater mark. Until then, watch the washashores break out the bolt cutters and start putting the dinghies on their beach some place else.

Me? I chain mine to a chainlink fence on a public beach and get there in the middle of March to stake out my spot. Sooner or later I guess I’ll have to get a permit for that too.

Corporate Blogging :The Risks of NQA Blog Service

I just took Jeremiah Owyang to task for publishing thumbsucking advice on corporate blogging — “Ask for feedback!” “Admit it when you are wrong!” — and challenged the growing legions of social media pundits to kick it up a notch with some news I could use. (and my apologies to Jeremiah for ambushing him like the asshat I am)
So, henceforth, with no book in the works on the next evolution in the Super Transparent Corporate Social Conversational Marketing Revolution, I can declare I have no commercial ax to grind and simply want to charitably share the wealth from someone who walks the walk of corporate blogging day in and day out.

If the books are publishing “101” level advice, let this be the first in a “201” series – the next level in the curriculum, the class you take your sophomore year. Jeremiah posted this post on his site – Web Strategy by Jeremiah. And being the thrifty Yankee I am, I figured I’d recycle the words here as well. Please comment over there and not here. (And no comments about my ongoing life a typographical error. I am petitioning the court to change my name is DahChuck Charbuck)

In partly pedantic jest, I suggested to Jeremiah that the type of topic I’d like to discuss is: contravening corporate policy by privately resolving a blogged customer support issue and having the blogger publically state the solution and thereby set a precedent for all future complaints

Let’s look at the scenario in less pedantic terms. The risk of a no-questions-asked (NQA) blogger appeasement policy.

Let’s say you are the corporate blogger at Newco and among your responsibilities is monitoring the blogosphere for expressions of customer joy and unhappiness. You hire a service, or you do it yourself, but eventually you are going to find a person who writes something like this:

“I just bought a new widget from Newco and it has three dead dingbats. I am a graphic designer and I must have a flawless product to do my job. I called Newco and they said their policy is only to replace widgets with five contiguous dead dingbats. This is bullshit. I am going to write a letter to the Better Business Bureau and Jeff Jarvis.”

You, the corporate blog person, check on the corporate website, and yep, there is the dead dingbat policy plain as day. This policy is essentially the same one that everyone else in the industry follows. Do you:

  • Acknowledge the unhappy dingbat person with a comment? (Thank you for writing about Newco. I’m sorry you aren’t happy. Have a nice day.)
  • Debate the blogger and cite the fact that Newco is following the rest of the industry with its dead dingbat policy (Sorry; suck it up)?
  • Invite the blogger to talk about it privately? (Hey, give me a call or drop me a line.)
  • Ignore the blogger?
  • Do you let customer service know that you have found a complaint about the dead dingbat policy in the expectation they will communicate with the blogger? Do you let PR know?
  • Do you arrange to have a widget with a pristine display over-nighted to the blogger in the hope it will shut him up?
  • Do you propose a new strategy to the business unit where users can pay more for a zero-defect widget?

Let’s say the blogger gets really upset and continues to post about the dead dingbats. Let’s say the blogger takes the case to The Consumerist or the Ripoff Report and the forums, and tells people to join him in a campaign against your company’s dumb policy. The comments on the post begin to fill with other people who hate dead dingbats. The noise level is rising. Someone in PR notices it in a Google news alert. You get an email asking if you know about this. The blogger posts your CEO’s home phone number. And calls it.

As you look for a way to make the blogger happy, you discuss the policy internally and learn that dead dingbats are a fact of life, and that due to the vagaries of manufacturing there is no such thing as a flawless, dingbat-free widget, and to identify one means hours and hours of combing through thousand of widgets to find a clean one. The bottom line is this: making flawless widgets would destroy the bottom line which is why no one in the industry guarantees it.

But the blogger doesn’t care about that. The blogger is mad and nothing is going to make him happy other than a pristine system. So you find one. You arrange to have it hand delivered by your regional manager. With a Tickler Bouquet and a box of chocolates.

And you ask the blogger to please keep the new machine to himself, this is a one-time special exception, so please don’t blog about it. Okay?

Ha. The blogger declares victory, tells the world that the campaign has paid off, that Newco has caved, and indeed you just insured that every person who Googles: “Newco Dead Dingbat Policy” is going to hear the story of how you made an exception.

Except now that exception is now the rule, in public, for everyone to see.

So, fellow corporate bloggers and customer service professionals. This is a question of pure situation ethics. When do you make an extraordinary gesture of customer satisfaction and when do you stick to your guns?

  • Have you ever stuck to your guns and regretted it (if only we had given the customer their money back ….)?
  • Have you ever made a concession and kept it secret?
  • Have you ever made a concession and changed your organization’s policy in the process?
  • Is No Questions Asked customer service (the kind that LL Bean and Craftsmen Tools and Nordstrom practice) a figment of some marketing consultant’s imagination?
  • When do you tell a blogger to pound sand?

Please comment over at Jeremiah’s blog.

William F. Buckley Jr. 1925-2008

Author, conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. dies at 82 – Local News Updates – The Boston Globe


A moment of silence for the king of sesquipedalians everywhere.
Bill Buckley has passed away, ending a marvelous career as pundit and author.

I learned celestrial navigation from Bill’s account of sailing, Airborne, in 1980, the year I decided to deliver a 60-foot plywood catamaran from Cape Cod to Florida. I sank the catamaran in Georgia, and horrified the crew when I plotted our first position somewhere west of Troy, New York when in fact we were 50 miles southeast of Manhattan. Guess Bill’s claim he could teach a caveman to use a sextant in two pages didn’t quite work in my case.
I interviewed Bill in 1988 when I was a cub reporter at Forbes. I forget the topic of the story, but I think it was about his early use of word processing technology. One thing Bill B. was — he was a PC geek from the very beginning. He also used the word “retromingent” in my interview with him, which remains one of the best words in the English language.
I worked with his son Chris at Forbes, putting Forbes FYI online in the mid-90s. Chris turned me onto pink argyle socks and is one of the best humorists writing today (Thank You For Smoking).

My sympathies to the Buckley family, conservatives, Yalies, and word freaks everywhere.
William F. Buckley Jr., who as author, journalist, and polysyllabic television personality did more to popularize conservatism in post-New Deal America than anyone other than Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan, died early today at his home in Stamford, Conn. He was 82 and had been ill with emphysema, said his assistant, Linda Bridges.

Stating the obvious

Jeremiah Owyang is a smart guy at a smart company (Forrester), and he posts a lot about social media and marketing and fun stuff like that. He’s not in the trenches, but I guess he talks to people in the trenches, and he just posted three of the most fundamentally annoying provocations that I’ve read in a long time … I need to either shut up and un-sub from his RSS, or take the time to act all annoyed about it. The fact that he is riffing off of Shel Israel is proof of further distance from the trenches and reality of social media management. Shel is a smart guy and he wrote the book, but guys, let’s step up the analysis and look at the hard questions, not the thumbsuckers.
He provoked me by saying the following three actions are “impossible conversations for corporations.”

#1: Asking for Feedback
#2: Saying positive things about your competitors
#3: Admitting you were wrong

Let’s start with the first. Feedback. Any company that posts a phone number, heck, even a street address is asking for feedback. What Jeremiah says is “how many `corporate’ blogs ask for raw, unfiltered product feedback?”

Ask? C’mon. Opening a corporate blog is, unto itself, a request for feedback. Some Pollyanna statement: “We’d love to know what you think …” isn’t what is needed. What is needed is a commitment to act and respond to feedback. Asking is easy. Acknowledging is hard.

Second, say positive things about the competition. I am very proud that Matt Kohut, one of Lenovo’s bloggers, did just that a year ago coming out of CES. He praised Toshiba for their tablet hinge. There were some people inside the company who couldn’t believe that. Then the press noticed and praised Matt: “A lot of vendor blogs are just marketing with an ersatz dear reader veneer so credit to Lenovo for making its site a useful read.

Third. Admitting you were wrong. I get the provocation school of blogging, and the Kawasakian list model. Make a list, provoke some dummy like me to react, and voila, instant audience. Anyway, I fell for it. It so easy to make this all a black and white polarized view of the world and throw corporate blogmeisters to the wolves for being insincere, comments-disabled, PR flaks who whitewash the company and do the see-no-evil thing. I know a couple companies that went that route. But when was the last time you read a dumbass corporate blog that did the ostrich move? Cmon. And don’t say, “well Dave, you and Dell and HP and the rest of the tech bloggers are ahead of the curve.” I don’t believe it. This corporate blogging stuff isn’t a two headed chicken in the freak tent anymore. This is mainstream baby. Anyone writing posts about “impossible” corporate conversations has to step it up – talk about the serious stuff, like – contravening corporate policy by privately resolving a blogged customer support issue and having the blogger publically state the solution and thereby set a precedent for all future complaints. Let’s get into that one and you’ll earn my respect.


Pier ban redux

Two-year pier ban proposed – News – The Barnstable Patriot – Cape Cod & Islands
David Still at the Barnstable Patriot reports the Barnstable Association of Recreational Shellfishermen and Cotuit town councilor Rick Barry are trying again on the pier ban that was defeated by a minority vote of the town council in January.

“A more limited pier and dock ban with a two-year sunset provision will be considered as a compromise to a more extensive proposal that failed to gain the support of the town council last month.

Under the latest proposal, a two-year ban on new docks would cover portions of the three bays area only. The idea is to would allow time to develop a harbor management plan for the area.”

FlipCam won’t light up in USB port

Life’s little annoyances — two hours invested in understanding why my FlipCam isn’t recognized by my X61’s USB ports. Have tried uninstalling the driver in device manager, get recognition –audible — that the thing is connected. The screen on the camera says it is connected, but it doesn’t show up in the file manager and doesn’t autoplay to display the driver installation.