Category Archives: blogs

Nokia Debuts Conversations with the Blogosphere

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Nokia Conversations goes live April 21st, 2008, led by Nokia’s social media expert, Charlie Schick. As a member of the newly minted Social Media Communications group inside Nokia, Charlie has built what he refers to as a “mud hut,” and which he plans to transform into a blogosphere palace.Mark Squires describes the project briefly in my video interview with him at CTIA.

Many people will recall Charlie from his early work with Nokia’s first blogger outreach project promoting the use of Lifeblog. But for those who don’t remember. Lifeblog was a three-way (mobile, PC, Typepad blog) syncing application built in partnership with Six Apart allowing Typepad users to post images, photos, videos and text directly from their Nokia devices. That was over 3 years ago, and many of us have had the privilege of sharing conversations with Charlie since those early days in 2005.

Nokia Conversations highlights the developments inside the world’s largest device manufacturer, and new entrant into mobile content and services that the 60,000 employee company represents. Some of those 60K employees are also introduced along with their accomplishments and new products. Comments are welcomed, and engagement with the blogosphere has already begun as you’ll see. Welcome Nokia and we look forward to the “conversations.”

Congratulations to Charlie and his team for a job well done. If this is the “mud hut,” I can’t wait to witness the path of construction to the palace.

Nokia Conversations Blog

Blognation: The Blogger’s Prelude and Tale

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Canterbury Tales Woodcut 148
To telle yow al the condicioun,
Of ech of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degree,
And eek in what array that they were inne,
And at a knyght than wol I first bigynne.
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – Prelude


It has been said that sunlight is the best disinfectant. For this reason, it’s time to reveal the menacing germ at the center of Blognation, Sam Sethi’s deceptions. Oliver Starr provides the sordid details behind this, The Blogger’s Prelude and Tale, with all the dangers of courtly love, treachery and greed that Chaucer could have imagined. I’d recommend you follow his post for the facts and time lines. Here you will find a short story – my story.

Yes, the story begins with a knight, Sam Sethi, whose noble quest along with fellow bloggers was to create a global perspective on technology news and analysis. This trek was noble though the knight was neither virtuous nor pious as is the recounting of some knight’s tales. Au contraire! This knight is a faker and liar of unbounded proportion. Having been ousted from his realm one year ago, his single-minded desire for vengeful legitimacy and avarice drove him to beguile, tempt and seduce the bloggers to undertake the doomed trek that has been Blognation to date.

A worthy group was assembled and promises of shared success with rewards for hard work and positive attitudes was the motto and standard. There was much excitement and dedication at the trail head. The group’s core produced and shared individual resources in an effort to help build a solid and successful company. One-for-all and all-for-one sort of commitment was the norm.

For my part, I was pleased to be asked to join with a group of professionals providing technology news and analysis with a global perspective. Some of my fellow travelers were already known by me at varying levels. Ewan – I work with at Mobile Messaging 2.0. Oliver – I knew by his success at Mobile Crunch, our meeting in Monte Carlo for Mobile Messaging 2.0 and subsequent communications. Nicole – I had worked with on the early Blogher site and a podcast called Media Slaves. We met in person at the first Los Angeles Bar Camp. Knowing that my colleagues were involved made the trek seem all the more pleasurable in prospect.

The Tale

What none of us were prepared for was the pathological nature of Sam Sethi’s deceit. The transcripts to be revealed by Oliver tell a story that is common to those of us offered contracts by Sam. The many promises to reimburse travel expenses that went unattended. The statements of email-in-progress to address questions or promised phone calls which mostly were simple prevarications by Sam. The two months of declaration that Blognation’s funding was delivered and “in the bank.” It’s difficult to understand such irrational behavior with a rational mind.

As far back as October, we were all told that the money was “in the bank.” No one could imagine that anyone would make such claims were they not true. And then Sam’s delays, stalls and explanations began. Sam continued and continued long past our collective credulity. In the final analysis he is, in fact, not the chivalrous knight, but instead, “the monk,” corrupted by previous good fortune and a smooth flattery.

I’m one of the lucky ones joining the group late on Sam’s reckless trek toward blog stardom. Sam’s debt to me is minor compared to most which is due, in part, to fate. It’s difficult for me to excuse myself from all blame as due diligence is required of us all whether joining a new employer, hiring someone or making decisions about contracts. My hope and redemption is that others will fare better and heed this cautionary tale. I have no expectation that I’ll recover monetary losses at the end of this sordid journey. Could be a moral will present itself through the eventual infamy of Sam Sethi.

Bloggers be aware and as with Chaucer’s The Nun’s Priest Tale:

“truste on flaterye,” ending with an “Amen!” And so it is with Sam Sethi.

Andrew Keen, Attention and Moment of Zen

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Andrew Keen writes Cult of the Amateur, $15.

Andrew Keen speaks at Supernova, $2,000.

Andrew Keen on Politics

Andrew Keen reveals his inner amateur, priceless.

So now that he’s joined The Cult…wonder what his next book will be called?

IRONY ALERT: Didn’t Keen talk specifically about people on the Internet “stealing” from Steven Colbert? He forgot to mention that he was one of those people. Too bad he’s not funny like Steven.

Colbert Report Logo

Return of Oliver Starr

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Oliver Starr, who originated MobileCrunch and The Mobile Weblog before it, has returned to the blogosphere today. Oliver has joined forces with former TechCrunch UK editor and currentBlognation CEO, Sam Sethi both with highly public departures from Mike Arrington’s company.

Blognation’s mission is – wait for it – reporting on startups. Blognation today launched US Tech andMobile blogs led by Oliver. From the site:

Blognation is a network of professional bloggers brought together to report on the latest Web 2.0 technology, mobile and enterprise start-ups from around the world, but only written in English.

The company is VC funded, although the investor isn’t identified. Blognation brings together 20 bloggers and currently features coverage from Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, UK and USA.  Many more countries across Europe and Asia are planned for launch by the end of 2007.
It’s great to see Oliver return to the blogosphere contributing his unique voice and analysis of the startup game for mobile companies. I want to welcome Oliver back with this sentiment, as shared by members of a particular tribe along the Amazon. “I’m very glad to learn that you have not been killed, yet.” Subscribed.

Google Adsense Nonsense Final Chapter?

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The bad check story seems to have struck a chord with lots of people. I’ve enjoyed reading the various posts and comments left here and elsewhere. Thank you to everyone who added to the conversation.

First, the story was picked up by Valleywag and the avalanche began from there. The Huffington Post ran the story from Valleywag and next someone posted it to digg. My traffic exploded thanks to hitting the digg front page. Next, from digg it moved to StumbleUpon and later a number of very high profile news portals and blogs.

Notice that there are zero ads on and that has been the case since I began to write about Adsense. I intentionally and perhaps foolishly didn’t want ads during the story’s life span. The point of posting about this situation was not to serve as link bait and drive traffic for monetization purposes, but to humanize this problem and get Google’s attention. From that perspective I will declare my efforts a success.

Everyone no doubt wants to know if Google made good on the check. The answer is yes. But there’s more to the story and I can’t resist sharing it with you.

July 10th – check bounces and tried to call someone at Google

July 10th – sent an email to Jesus via the generic email address. I had no idea who if anyone might receive that communication. Apparently, no one did.

July 11th AM – phoned Google HQ and left a message with whoever answered the phone for Brian the Adsense payments operations management guy. I was assured that the message would be delivered. The message was to inform him that the check had bounced and I needed further instruction. Basically, a “what now?” plea.

No word. No reply.

July 11th PM – post check bounced article to

No word. No reply.

July 12th – post a comment to Matt Cutts blog which is never published because it posted on an article about Amazon customer service – off topic I presume. Matt did return and comment here on the 13th.

No word. No reply.

July 12th PM – post “by the numbers” article on

July 13th – Google Adsense calls to discuss their findings and recommendations

  • Calling are Suzie and Scott – self described as – in management at Google and covering for Brian who began vacation on July 12th.
  • My message to Brian didn’t get through. There maybe more than one Brian in Adsense payments they tell me.
  • Adsense checks are deposit only (FAQ mentions this for Citibank checks, but mine was from Wells Fargo)

Google would be happy to talk to my bank to ensure the check goes through. (why would that be necessary – and no, don’t want you talking to my bank, thanks) Google already knows everything about me other than the location of the largest birthmark on my body. This idea felt a bit intrusive. Where’s the mystery if you know it all, Google?

Scott the Google management covering for Brian whiles he’s on vacation guy offers to call me back on Monday to ensure all is well, and wants me to know that they want to solve the problem and will stay with the issue until it is resolved.

I tell Scott this. I don’t want to deposit the check. I want to cash it and use the cash for a down payment on a car.

We’re sorry for the inconvenience, Scott tells me.

July 14th – Wells Fargo cashes the check and wants to sign me up for a checking account. I leave the bank happy without a new checking account.

July 16th – at 9AM as scheduled Scott and Suzie call. I inform them that the check is cashed and all is well.

They want me to know that their findings indicate that the problem was a technical one and that the engineers are already tasked with fixing an issue around updates that fall close to the payment cutoff date every month.

Scott and Suzie tell me that my case is being studied to determine how to improve the system. Being a perfect storm, they have learned much from my case.

I ask, “What did you learn? I’d like to hear your takeaways. That’s important to me. I know what I learned.”

Suzie continues to explain the technical issue that they are chasing down and that the engineers are already working on it.

Scott answers with something that I didn’t expect to hear. “We’ve learned that our payment system and what we do has real impact of the lives of our publishers.” Bingo! Empathy is a great teacher.

We discussed what I felt was the more important aspects of creating the perfect storm and that was Google policy and process. Google services accounts with millions of publishers. And like the Wizard of OZ, on our journey we hear about the goodness of the Wizard (Google) and that he can grant our wishes (for revenue) simply by the asking. So when we knock on the door of the Emerald City (Googleplex) only to find a gatekepper who chases us away, it’s not only frustrating but like Dorothy we question the goodness and wisdom of this so called Wizard.

I asked as many others have before me, “What is the revenue split between Google Adsense and we publishers?” Scott explains that this is information Google will not release. I ask him, why, when other ad networks do release this information, would Google want to create a trust issue with it’s publishers rather than be transparent about their take. The only reason I can imagine for not disclosing the details of the revenue split is that it must be unfair to publishers.

What I learned from this experience is that I joined the Adsense network as a publisher/business partner with Google without much thought to the logic and benefits in that partnership. I didn’t give much thought to what I wanted from a partnership with Google or what I wanted from It’s now time to reset and approach my relationship to advertising from a more structured and thoughtful position.

If my experience in this perfect storm of a customer service episode improves things at Google for publishers and front line support staff, then I’ll be very happy with that outcome. Kudos to those I spoke with at Google who worked around a broken system to solve my problem.

I’m closing my account at Adsense until I can see that improvements have been made and until Google discloses their revenue split with publishers. No breath holding on that one.

If anyone out there has ideas for making profitable. I’m all ears.

Goog nite and Goog luck!

Adsense Nonsense – by the numbers

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Two days have passed since I tried to cash my Google Adsense check. Two days ago, I tried to call someone, anyone at Google to find out what to do.

I’ve replied to the email address from which Brian the Adsense payments operations guy wrote to me. Who knows where that thing goes as it’s a generic address, One day has passed since I phoned Google’s main inbound number to leave a message for Brian the Adsense payments operations guy. Twenty-eight total communications between me and someone at Google.

A week has passed since the generous offer from Matt Cutts to help get attention to my plight. Two weeks have passed since I wrote to Google’s email bot for help.

Two months have passed since a technical glitch prevented me from updating my address at Adsense. One month has passed since Adsense actually updated my adress. One week has passed since Brian tried to provide excellent assistance by FedEx’ing a check to me.

Apologies and homage to Jason Shellen

Adsense Nonsense by the numbers

The question that continues to remain unanswered and hangs in the air. “Why has no one from Google responded to my request for help with the NSF check they sent 6 days ago?”

UPDATE: Several bloggers have expressed concern to me privately that they fear blogging about or commenting on this topic would put their participation in the Adsense program in jeopardy. Is ad revenue the price of free speech? Now, that’s scary. This concern is fueled by the numerous reports from bloggers that their Adsense participation has been terminated by Google with little to zero explanation.

Adsense Nonsense 2.0 – Google writes a bad check

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If I tried, I couldn’t make up a story like this. First, there was the problem, then, there was the solution, and now comes the comedy. I hope you’re wearing your laughing pants.

Catching everyone up to date quickly:

  • Google Adsense technical gitch screwed up my address change for a month
  • The check is already six weeks overdue per Google’s schedule
  • I chatted with them via email for a week
  • Result, I must wait until the check is redeposited in my Adsense account and whatever monthly check issuing cycle that hits is when I get a new check sent out (maybe July, maybe August)
  • I blogged about the experience
  • Matt Cutts from Google stopped by, tipped his white hat and passed the case to someone in Adsense management
  • A day later my check was sent via FedEx

So, today I go to cash the check. I’m standing at the teller window, and realize, gee – this is taking a long time. She looks up at me and says, “There aren’t sufficient funds in the account to cover your check.” *stunned silence* I say, “Excuse me, could you repeat that?” She does. My reaction?

<font-style:”small>Historical Reenactment

Google bad check reaction reenactment

First, denial and disbelief. I say, “Are you sure? Do you know who Google is? You’re kidding me, right?” She says she does know who Google is, but that this particular account doesn’t have enough funds to cover my check. I’m too stunned to move. I look down at the check handled back to me and look back up at her confused.

Next, shock and awe. I say to the teller, “How does a gazillionaire company like Google have a bank account with so little money in it?” She laughs. I laugh. What else is there to do?

Finally, the teller suggests I call someone. I stare at my mobile phone realizing I don’t have any numbers for any of the people I’ve spoken to at Google. She says, “Call the number on the check.” Great idea! So, I do.

It’s the main inbound number at Google. The Voicemail Lady and I have an exchange. You all know her voice.

Voicemail Lady: If you know the extension of the person you’d like to reach, dial it now followed by the pound sign.

Me: Nope, I don’t know any extension numbers.

Voicemail Lady: Press 8 to dial by name.

Me: Great! Pressing 8. *whistling to myself a bit*

Voicemail Lady: Please enter the first few letters of the last name.

Me: Hmmmmm, Brian the payments operations guy probably won’t work as a name in this system. That’s the result of Google’s employee privacy policy. I don’t know the guy’s last name. I know, Matt Cutts! Surely, Matt can get me transfered to Brian the payments operations guy or someone else. I type in Cutts.

Voicemail Lady: Please enter more characters.

Me: More characters for his last name? Or should I start on his first name, now? I’ll do both alternatively until some combo works.

Voicemail Lady: Please enter more characters.

Me: Entering Cutts, Matt.

Voicemail Lady: That userid is not valid. Goodbye.

So, finally I get over the enter more characters hurdle and hear what I believe was Matt’s voice – sternly.

Matt: This voicemail box is not active. It is not checked on a regular basis. Do not leave messages in this voicemail box. Beep.

So, I call back having heard an option given by the Voicemail Lady for customer service.

Voicemail Lady: For customer service/technical help press 5.

Me: I’m so there!

Voicemail Lady: (gives options 1 & 2) Press 3 for all other questions.

Me: Done.

Voicemail Lady: As Google does not currently authorize customer support, please see our website.

Me: Doh!

Google sent me a bad check! Now what?

I’m sure this is a result of someone trying to do something outside the normal and timed operations of this huge monolithic organization, but still…. WTF?

Adsense Nonsense or Dell Hell 2.0

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I’ve been interacting with Adsense customer service for a week now, and I empathize with Jeff Jarvis’ Dell Hell saga and the resulting frustration that he must have felt. I know I’m frustrated. After a full week of email exchanges (there is no other method provided to contact Adsense), I’m turning to my blog in the hopes that someone at Google might be listening just as Jarvis did with Dell two years ago.

Guy Kawasaki wrote a post analyzing the performance of his blog over its first year called, A Review of My First Year of Blogging. One of the measures Kawasaki examined was his Adsense performance. What was significant in that bullet was not his reported low CPM, but this aside:

(This assumes that I can get Google to pay me. I’ve tried several times during the year to get my snail mail PIN so that I can get paid, but I’ve never received it. I don’t mind Google getting the float…)

There was an update which stated that the Adsense Product Manager, Rob Kniaz had read the post and Kawasaki’s problem was resolved fourteen hours following his post about it. I’m no Guy Kawasaki, and I don’t have his audience reach, but with that sort of responsiveness can you blame me for trying after a full week of Adsense Nonsense?

I’ve used Adsense on almost from its beginning. Many bloggers, myself included, thought if we receive a bit of revenue for something that we were doing anyway, all the better. I never went into the Adsense relationship thinking that it would provide me a living, but heck, something is better than nothing. I allowed my tiny ad revenue to collect at Google, and finally when I had a purpose for it, on May 15th 2007, I requested my first check to be mailed and simultaneously changed my address to ensure the check would arrive at my current residence. That’s where the trouble started.

I read all of Adsense’s FAQ docs and even watched a video on the payment process and checked my account which showed my first Adsense check was processed on May 25th and should be on its way. Two weeks later, I checked in with Adsense and noticed that the address my check was mailed to was the old address I had updated on May 15th. I checked my Adsense account information and the new address was displayed. The problem must be simple to resolve, I thought, afterall, this was an error by Google. I thought wrong.

According to the Adsense help files, if you must request a reissue of a check, you must wait until one month following the release date of the check, request the reissue, and wait for the next month’s check cycle for payment to be made. Some quick math in my head and I realized that my check wouldn’t be released to the correct address until July 25th. More than two months from the time I requested it. That’s bureaucracy that would make the government blush. (okay, maybe not)

Of course, since the problem in my case was created by Google there must be an expedited process. Wrong, again. My email exchanges with Adsense customer service were professional and pleasant on their side, but my ability to gain the attention of anyone other than anonymous emailers felt like insult to injury.

I assured that my “feedback” would be shared with the “appropriate people.” Hello! This is a problem created by the company not feedback, and if you can share my email with the appropriate people, then why not share me with the appropriate people and give me a way to contact them. I was told the following:

I understand that you would like to be able to contact a particular AdSense specialist directly. In order to protect the privacy of our employees, Google’s policy doesn’t allow the release of contact or personal information for any of our specialists.

I appreciate your understanding.

To which I replied:

No, Suzie. I don’t want to talk to Adsense specialists. I want to talk to their managers, directors or VPs. I do believe that Adsense owes me this much after destroying our business relationship. Can you do that? Or does policy require that you blow off (ignore the requests from) a customer who is so clearly mistreated and unhappy?

And received this reply from payment specialist Suzie:

This privacy policy applies to other Google employees as well but please be assured that I will take the appropriate escalation measures.

Privacy? Isn’t Google a public company doing business with the public? What sort of escalation measures are involved here, given that I’ve been told there is nothing that can be done other than I wait another month for a payment requested and processed on May 15th? Suzie had instructed me that there were no expediting processes available to her, so what is there to escalate? From Suzie on July 2nd:

Thanks for your reply. While reviewing our system, I have confirmed that your address was changed on May 15th but was not properly updated in our system until June 15th due to a technical delay. I apologize for this inconvenience.

Please be assured that the process to have your payment credited back to your account and issued again has been started. Although I would like to expedite this process for you, we only issue payments on a monthly basis. I appreciate your patience.

Why should I have patience? And 2 1/2 month’s worth of it? So let’s rewind.

  1. You’ve told me that the error was an Adsense technical problem.
  2. You’ve told me that there is no expedited process for correcting the problem. I must wait until Adsense reaches its check issuing cycle.
  3. You’ve told me that I can’t communicate with anyone else or anyone higher up at Google, because it’s a privacy issue for Google employees.

So, what is there to escalate? Suzie did have some advice for me, though. Her recommendation:

One way that we’re improving our payments system is offering the Electronic Funds Transfer payment option (EFT) to more publishers. EFT is a payment option that allows you to have your AdSense payments deposited directly into your bank account at no additional cost. With EFT, there’s no risk of having a check lost in the mail and you don’t have to wait for a check to clear. Within about 10 days after a “Payment in Progress” line appears in your AdSense account, you should see your earnings credited to your bank account.

Okay, so I’ve let my Adsense account accumulate at Google for a year. The first time I request payment, Adsense has a technical problem and doesn’t recover from the system fault for a full month. My address change was processed on June 15th although it was submitted on May 15th. And now, I’m suppose to give Adsense access to my bank account? You can’t be serious!


Thanks for your note, but I, now, have no confidence in Adsense and, therefore, wouldn’t let the system near my checking acct…. There’s no reason to expect that some technical glitch from Adsense wouldn’t screw up my bank acct., if it can’t recover from an address change. I find that prospect too frightening to consider.

My first communication with Suzie following her admission that indeed the error was created by an Adsense technical error provides the best summary of how I continue to view this situation.

Thank you for your diligence and honest reply. However, a system that can’t recover from faults isn’t a working system. What if Google’s search engine experienced a fault and couldn’t recover for a month or two? How many customers could Google retain with that sort of performance?

I find you’re inability to expedite my payment not as your fault, but a systemic fault which renders Adsense unreliable. What a shame that this is my first and last experience with Adsense [payments]. Customer service that is incapable of dealing with corner cases (especially those it creates) is no service at all. It is my view that you should be empowered and should have the ability to run this issue up the chain and get it resolved. You are, afterall, the face of Google to me and other customers. tsk, tsk, on Google.

Darren Rowse, author of the excellent Problogger blog, responded to Kawasaki’s conclusion that Adsense wasn’t a good solution for bloggers with a post prophetically titled, Does Adsense Suck for Bloggers? Well, Darren, for this blogger…it does suck. Not because of the low income involved, but because getting service including the service of getting payment is just not reliable.

As I explained to the first customer service person to email me from Adsense, I finally requested payment from Google because I had a use for the money. I need to buy a car. I planned to use my little Adsense check to add to a down payment for a car. No Adsense check, incomplete down payment, equals no car. The impact for me in this event is real and significant. Google…are you listening?

UPDATE:  Today from, If Trust is Lost, Google Will Crumble.   Money quote:

Google’s business model is built on trust. If users’ perception of the company changes, its business perspectives and profits will come under threat.