The Change

During lunch today, I turned on the television (a pretty rare event around here) – and started flipping through the channels, when I caught a broadcast of “The Tim Russert Show” on MSNBC.

I’ve always been impressed with Russert, and I was pretty impressed by Tim’s guests too. And I was fascinated with the topic, Barak Obama vs. Hillary Clinton.

I was absolutely hooked by this segment – it’s highly recommended viewing:


  • About 33 seconds in, Tim reflects on an Obama/Winfrey rally (I think in SC?) about how they asked the audience members, that all had a cell phone, to text 5 of their friends and tell they needed to get out and vote. Tim’s exclamation – “what a way to communicate! what a way to organize!”
  • About 1:03 in, Norah O’Donnell talks about the power of “viral marketing” – which we all know to be true – but how this is really helping to drive the Obama campaign’s success.
  • At 1:20 – O’Donnell says that she is struck about how Hillary is instructing folks in speeches that they can log on to Hillary’s website. And she says “I thought to myself, ‘How 2000 that is’ – because everybody knows if you’re interested in a candidate – how to find their website”
  • And my favorite part – at 1:45 – Eugene Robinson begins talking about the Obama campaign, about how paid staffers, all the way down in the organization, operate with a “sense of agency” that they are a “thinking part of the campaign” – at 2:06 “it doesn’t seem to be strictly hierarchial; it could be a newer, more networked kind of organization” It’s a hypothesis, he says, but that’s the organization’s appearance.

How amazing, a networked organization, staffers that seem to be able to operate with latitude and make decisions, the use of viral marketing and ubiquitous technology, running up against a command-and-control, top-down, “How 2000” type of organization.

Obviously there’s a lot at play here, Obama has a charisma that Hillary doesn’t have. And the same kind of organization doesn’t seem to be doing Ron Paul much good on the Republican side (Ron Paul is certainly no Barak Obama either).

Hillary’s talking points might be right though, speeches without action don’t really work. So who’s action is working the best here?

p.s. Obama has won 10 states in a row. What a way to communicate, this newer, more networked kind of organization.

**[updated to add…] **

I really wanted to find this clip online when I saw it on MSNBC. Did I go to MSNBC or CNBC first? No. I went to YouTube. YouTube went down today, so I had to go to the *NBC sites. Did I find it there? No. “The Tim Russert Show” doesn’t even seem to have a web prescence. Where did I find it? YouTube, courtesy of a French-speaking Canadian Blogger – whose own commentary I eventually read after writing my own. Using Google Translate. What a way to communicate. This newer, more networked, technology. How NOT 2000.

Dear Time Warner Cable,

Dear Time Warner Cable,

So, I went to your corporate site to check out again your Digital Phone service? Just to see the latest pricing and what your service offering is?

Yeah, I was browsing the feature page – and I’m guessing you really could use an update of the way you manage your site:


Wait, let’s look at that title more closely.


That’s probably your corporate favorite title and all. But I’d recommend not putting that on pages where prospective customers are looking at your service offerings.

  • Jay

I for one welcome my health records overlord

So, in the next few days, you’ll have to be under a technical rock to not know that Google has partnered with the Cleveland Clinic on medical records access for patients and care providers.

I imagine that a lot of the reaction that I’ll be seeing in my aggregator will be a lot like Fred Stutzman – because I tend to surround my aggregator with folks that think like Fred. I always respect Fred’s viewpoints and I almost universally agree with Fred on his viewpoints on things.

But not this time.

Now, I really do think that Fred has some very good talking points. And normally, I’d be all up in arms about the privacy implications of this.

But not this time.

(conflict of interest alert – I own a whopping 2 shares of Google stock)

Admittedly, maybe it’s that I’m not passionately concerned about the strict privacy of my medical records themselves. Maybe it’s because I’m southern, and we’ll talk about our ailments with strangers like most of America talks about the weather. I am passionate about protecting privacy though in general, so I don’t think that’s it.

So what I think it is is that the state of the medical records today is garbage and Google getting into this can only make things better.

I know that my dentist makes pretty good use of information technology – in fact, the best I’ve seen. Their patient records system is available from the receptionist’s desk, to the hygienist, to the dentist themselves.

But it’s a vertical, closed system. Running on Windows. I think on XP, but it might have still been Windows 2000. And they were the most advanced I’ve seen.

I’ve got glimpses of the billing records system at my primary care physician. Enough to know how poor it seemed to be. And that’s billing, I think all my patient records are still on paper there. And I think they had to fax it back and forth between them and the specialist I saw early last year. And in theory, a x-ray I had was in electronic form, but that was only shared with them and the primary care physician.

The summary statement – the state of my records is likely incredibly poor. Incomplete items, various paper copies in multiple places. And I have none of them.

With a company like Google getting into this (or even, honestly Microsoft, even though they have yet to show that they have the faintest clue about building an online service for this sort of thing) – it can’t go anywhere but up. While the privacy implications of the text comments and images, and medical terms associated with them being all wrapped up in my gmail, and search history, website analytics is certainly something to watch, at least I have the faintest glimmer of hope of finally having full access to my records, using modern systems and modern architectures, built by developers that have at least shown a far greater clue about systems design and usability than almost all vertical integrators and medical software companies whose software I’ve seen.

I would have a greater hope that I would be able to access my records, to audit their use, and at least figure out what and who is doing with them (outside Google).

This revolution can’t come soon enough.


The quote about the quote of the day from Bob Plankers

How many times a week do you work around shortcuts, where the original person saved a few minutes but cost weeks of time later?

My entire job seems to be centered on predicting and avoiding (or sometimes laying the foundation for) cascade effects.