Tim Longhurst's Blog

Naming and Shaming – 2UE interview

January 6th, 2009 · 1 Comment

I’ve just jumped off the phone from an interview with Ben Fordham on Sydney radio, 2UE. We discussed the future trend of transparency – how technologies are merging to enable people to make more informed choices.

Two examples were discussed –

Naming and shaming restaurants – I’ve blogged about that before. And –

Naming and shaming ex-partners – Ben mentioned a website that allows jilted lovers to ward future women away from men they feel weren’t up to par.

Whilst a lot of useful information exists today, and can be found on search engines such as Google, you still have to “PULL” the information toward you by searching for it – you have to know to look for the list of cockroach-infested restaurants or bad ex-boyfriends…

In the near future, relevent information will be identified, filtered and PUSHED toward you at appropriate times… As you step into a restaurant, your phone might vibrate to warn you about eating from that kitchen… A new person in a bar may be cause for your phone to send you a warning text message!

In any case, we seem to be heading toward a future where information will be presented to us in context-relevent ways… But what are the useful applications for this? I’d be interested in your ideas.

And welcome to any 2UE listeners who may have heard me named (but not shamed) at the end of our interview!

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Category: Communication and connection

Naming and shaming restaurants – online penalty registers

July 23rd, 2008 · 1 Comment

Food inspectors don’t just hand out fines to dirty restaurants in NSW Australia, they name and shame the offenders online (read about it, see it). Far more sophisticated is the New York equivalent: it’s a searchable database that offers the ‘stick’ of shame and the ‘carrot’ of an award: “Golden Apples” are awarded to restaurants that pass food inspections with flying colours.

Going a step further: Publish the results where people will actually see them.

ONLINE: Still, there are some obvious enhancements for such systems. With so many restaurant listings guides (Time Out, Eatability etc.), it would be great for food authorities to link such guides to the complete food inspection database: why not have the last 5 food inspection scores alongside customer reviews? It wouldn’t be technically difficult to implement and would provide a REAL incentive for keeping your business spotless – online restaurant guides are being used more and more to help organise busy social lives…

OFFLINE: You could also oblige restaurateurs to publish their results in the windows of their businesses, along with the menu. Man, that’s an incentive to keep things spotless.

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Category: Communication and connection

Election Cheat Sheet – Possible ways to pull this together

October 18th, 2007 · No Comments

The idea of an election cheat sheet is to get a broad overview of the various political parties (both major and minor) on a comparison table.

Ideally the cheat sheet will be together at least two weeks out from the election. The information required could be sourced from:

  • hansard
  • official party documents and announcements
  • quotes in the media, and
  • responses to questions in correspondence (letters / email)

The information could be gathered via:

  • an intranet
  • a forum
  • a wiki
  • a Facebook group

So what have I missed and what is the best way forward?

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Category: election07

Political donations in Australia to become even less transparent

June 20th, 2006 · 1 Comment

suitcasePoliticians are influenced by their political donors and that is why Australia’s citizens deserve to know what organisations and individuals are funding political candidates.

I read the below editorial in today’s Crikey newsletter and decided I wanted more information. A search of Google News finds almost nothing. Is this a ‘fringe issue’ that doesn’t rate a mention? You decide:

The Senate has just passed the biggest attack on Australia’s system of campaign finance since the Hawke Government first mandated disclosure of donations to political parties more than 20 years ago. Despite vigorous opposition from Labor and all the minor parties, individual donations of up to $10,000 can now lawfully remain secret. This gives Australia arguably the weakest system of political disclosure in the developed world.

In the US, all donations above $US200 must be disclosed, and during election campaigns any contribution above $1,000 must be revealed within 48 hours. Contrast that with Australia, where the Russian Mafia could have donated $9,999 to the eight different Liberal Party branches on July 1 last year and at least we would have been told about it (although not for 19 months until February 1 2007). Under the new laws, such donations from international mobsters would permanently remain secret.

In the UK, political leaders even have to reveal how much they spend getting their hair done, whereas an Australian political party could pay $5 million to Mick Gatto and no-one would be any the wiser.

What we now have is a recipe for corruption. In a world where political and business accountability and transparency is on the rise, the Howard Government has taken a retrograde step and abused its Senate majority like never before. It’s a sad day for democracy.

To get a sense of why some politicians want to keep their funding a secret, check out democracy4sale.

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Category: Corporate craziness

Intel-Quickflix unite to launch bogus website… Here we go again…

May 17th, 2006 · No Comments

intelquickflixIt seems like only yesterday Coca-Cola had the wind taken out of their sails for using false and misleading techniques in their “Zero Movement” campaign. A whole bunch of people weighed in and Coke changed their game-plan significantly within a matter of days.

So how quickly will Quickflix change its latest campaign? I checked it out and it appears, at least to me, that there are a litany of false and misleading statements on this site, purportedly written by two guys called ‘Mike’ and ‘Mal’ (remember ‘Carl’ from Coke?).

What the site claims:
If you believe the site, two guys called Mike and Mal set it up in early February 2006 and in Early May, “Quickflix, a DVD rental company, and Intel have sponsored our hosting! How cool is that!!1!” the page is “copyright 2006 Mike and Mal”.

So Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker (at least for now) has joined with a DVD rental company to endorse one of the crappiest looking pages on the internet. What’s going on?

The reality:
Quickflix registered mikeandmal.com.au in late April 2006 (source: whois record):

Domain Name: mikeandmal.com.au
Last Modified: 24-Apr-2006 06:12:02 UTC
Registrar ID: R00012-AR
Registrar Name: TPP Internet
Status: OK

Registrant: Quickflix Ltd
Registrant ID: ABN 62102459352

Registrant ROID: C3691100-AR
Registrant Contact Name: Paul Wroth

So the site doesn’t appear to be owned by ‘Mike and Mal’, but Quickflix. It wasn’t set up in February, but April and it’s almost certainly not copyright 2006 Mike and Mal, but instead copyright 2006 Quickflix and/or Intel.

So why would two companies (Intel and Quickflix) mislead their audience with fake dates and fake copyright?
I don’t know. But what I do know is that Intel and Quickflix had originally planned a much slicker website than this, but decided to go for the “I’m making this website on my ‘486″ look.

They are obviously making an attempt at ‘viral marketing’, but as this article indicates, that’s a risky game to play – especially if you start making stuff up and assuming no one will notice.

Asking to talk to “Mike” or “Mal”
I called Quickflix and asked to speak to Mike or Mal, they weren’t around, and I doubt they’ll call me back. In any case, Quickflix’s corporate office have my contact details, so
if they or Intel would like to comment on this article, I’ll post additional comments here.

Quickflix fesses up

In a brief note that read more like a piece of sales copy than an email, on Friday Quickflix acknowledged that the above post is accurate.

So despite the site claiming to be made in February, nah, it was launched in May. Despite the site claiming to be “Copyright 2006 Mike and Mal”, nah, it’s copyright Quickflix. The boys are just actors. Pretty much everything on that site is B.S.

So what does that say about Quickflicks’ ethics or integrity? Are customer complaints that Quickflix DVDs are often scratched and greasy accurate? Are positive online reviews for Quickflix services simply more fake posts from a company that makes up the rules as they go along? Where does the crap end?

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Category: Corporate craziness