Using Social Networking to build Corporate Kudos

Many companies hUAL's Twitter person jumps on report of problems...ave leapt on the Social Networking bandwagon as part of their marketing and public relations strategy. They have staff for whom posting on things like Twitter and Facebook is a major part of their day.

Why wouldn’t you? It’s an easier way of getting information out to, and interacting with, your customers (and potential customers).

Airlines have been fairly quick to catch on to this – it’s a great way of rapidly disseminating service info during disruption, and collecting rapid feedback from pax.

One of my industry colleagues recently tweeted at United Airlines because he saw something that he thought UAL HQ should know about. Obviously the stress of the weather-related disruption hitting the area was getting the better of both pax and airline employees alike…

“@UnitedAirlines your ground staff is yelling at an old man since 15 mins airport IAD gate D6 flight UA7599 Time Jan 27, 2011 1439”

UA’s Twitter person was responding within about half-an-hour…

“@mhmtkcn The Dulles manager will follow up. Today. Thanks for the heads up.”

Two things to take away:

1) Speed of contact and response – this was quicker than sending email, or probably trying to phone someone up in UAL to let them know this was happening. Getting the message to the right person isn’t always easy. The Social Media team can act as a rallying point for this info.

2) The positive response from the UA Twitter scribe – “This will be followed up today” – does a lot to show that someone in what could otherwise be percieved as a large, faceless, inaccessible, uncaring corporation, does give a damn, that the user can get their attention, and get something done.

This simple action shows how social networking can bridge the communications gap that often exists between large companies and it’s clients, and does a lot to raise UA’s kudos amongst those who saw the message.

Back at work down the mines for Ethernet Standards Developers…

The ink of the 100GE standard is barely dry, and the first releases of products are only just shipping. “Phew,” thinks the large network operator, “we’re good for another few years.”

Well, among the largest, probably not. They are already faced with needing to aggregate (run in parallel) multiples of 100GE interfaces in their busiest areas. This doesn’t come cheaply, if you consider a single interface – you’re talking about a high five-figure list price minimum for interfaces (Hankins, NANOG 50), potentially more.

Fortunately, having had a little bit of a break, some enlightened folk involved in the 802.3ba standard are getting on the case again.

John D’Ambrosia, who was chair of the 802.3ba Working Group, and whose day job is in the Office of the CTO at Force 10 Networks, is in the process of kicking off a “Ethernet Wireline Bandwidth Needs” assessment activity, under the IEEE Industry Connections banner, to steer the next steps for Ethernet, so it can keep up with what the network is demanding of it.

There’s not much else online about this as yet, the effort is very much new, so I’ll add some links once there’s more information available.

This is a much needed activity, as there were some criticsms during the last iteration of the standards process about whether the faster speed was really needed, and disagreements about how big the market would be, almost conservative, while at the same time others said it would be too little, too late, at too high a price.

Good to see the new approach being taken, laying solid groundwork for the next (Terabit? Petabit? Something more creative?) run at the standard.

Comcast-NBCU Deal Approved

Yesterday, the FCC approved Comcast‘s proposed purchase of the controlling stake in NBC Universal, but with some conditions – such as giving up the Board position (and control) in online video service Hulu, despite still owning a good share of it, along with other regulatory controls – limits on exclusivity of NBCU produced content and how it should operate according to the FCC’s Open Internet Principles – to try and keep a rein on what the merged entity can and cannot do, to try and retain a reasonably level playing field in the market (to the relief of other cable operators, online video distributors).

It looks like quite the regulatory straitjacket, which has no doubt also cost public money to develop, and will cost more to enforce.

Despite this, all I can hear in the back of my mind is the “thud, thud, thud” of the Stay Puft Marshmallow man‘s footsteps, coming to crush anything in it’s way under it’s squishy feet.

Another Conference Season is Upon Us…

So, the grand Internet Travelling Circus, sated by it’s Christmas and New Year libations and relaxations, takes to the skies, rails, roads, seas, etc., and heads off to locations exotic, and less so, for the next round of the conference season…

In the next three weeks, I’ll be attending:

  • UKNOF 18 in London (almost certainly less exotic…), where I’m helping organise the programme and help build the conference connectivity.
  • NZNOG ’11 in Wellington, NZ (more exotic, takes a day on a plane to get there, but likely to rain), where I’m speaking on regional peering initiatives, possible theories why they haven’t worked well in the UK, and how that might be different in NZ.
  • NANOG 51 in Miami, FL (warm, beaches, possible thunderstorms), where I’m going to help newcomers get a handle on the beast that is the NANOG meeting, and get the best out of it… namely: ask questions, drink, be sociable. All of these can be tough for the average introverted geek on the street. 🙂
  • I’ll also be passing through LA on the way to/from NZ and MIA. Long story, but happy to go for lunch/dinner/drinks.

This is then followed by Apricot in Hong Kong at the end of Feb, but I suspect I’m not going to that, instead choosing to stay at home in the UK and indulge myself playing with steam trains…

Huggers Leaves BBC FM&T

It’s reported that Erik Huggers is on the move from Auntie to Intel

I’d linked to a rather good article he’d penned in a post I’d made a couple of months ago on Net Neutrality.

Maybe Ed Vaizey’s opinions on Net Neutrality and the advent of BT Content Connect have made Erik think now is not the time to be in the content business?

Now, being a CTO-type currently at a loose end, running BBC FM&T might be just my bag, however a) Auntie, in her wisdom has seperated the “product side” (i.e. public facing content such as iPlayer) from the “technology side” (possibly a sensible decision as long as they don’t turn it all into an unmanageable hydra), meaning they don’t need a new boss of FM&T, and b) I don’t think I look anywhere near enough like Hugh Grant to pull it off.

World IPv6 Day

ISOC have announced the date for World IPv6 Day – mark it in your calendars now – 8th June 2011.

This will be the day that you will need extra support resources available to deal with the potential for brokenness which will ensue from folks with poor v6 implementations or incomplete v6 connectivity.

It may look a bit drastic to submit the Internet at large to this “experiment”, but I think this is an important and sensible move.

Folks such as Marco Hogewoning and Martin Levy (among many, many others, these are the first two which spring to mind if you mention IPv6 to me) have been demonstrating the various gotchas or downright brokenness which exists out there for some time now. Sadly, while the enlightened have no problem listening, some have been sat with their heads in the sand. The bad thing is that these are often the people we need to listen most – software and system vendors.

So, get the popcorn ready, be ready for the unexpected, and watch what happens.

In the meantime, you might want to check how IPv6-ready your network is… not just how much it claims to be.

Best of all, N(ew/A)NOG 52 meeting will be happening in Denver the following week, so we get to have a discussion of the aftermath in near real time. I’d love to link to it, but there’s nowhere to go.

At least it’s a Wednesday – no-one’s Friday is being ruined. 🙂

Auntie Beeb on Net Neutrality

Earlier this week Andy D suggested that I might be listening to too much Radio 4.

I don’t necessarily think that’s been a bad thing, as that means I caught a couple of items on Net Neutrality. Indeed, the Beeb seems to be showing increasing interest in this area, and wouldn’t you, if there was something which threatened your editorial freedom?

Imagine for a minute that Sky Broadband subscribers got ultra fast access to Sky News (and other News Corp) content, while poor old Auntie (among other content providers) got packet-shaped, throttled and capped to a crawl? Now you’ll see what the fuss is about.

Anyway, Radio 4 has recently discussed Net Neutrality on two occasions in the past few weeks.

Firstly during the long-running consumer affairs programme “You and Yours“, on the 7th October, there was a brief discussion (will open a link to BBC iPlayer) which included comments from ISOC’s Leslie Daigle.

This week, on Monday 17th October, there was a further segment on the subject (iPlayer link) in the “Click On” programme – fast forward to around the 17 minute mark – which contains the fantastic quote of “Put three geeks together in a room and you’ll get four definitions of Net Neutrality”.

I’m not sure if that says more about the issue, or more about the geeks. 🙂

There’s also a rather nice BBC blog article from Erik Huggers (Director, BBC FM&T) which incorporates and sums up nicely elements from both the above articles, including that despite the appearance of freedom of choice and competition in the UK consumer broadband market, it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, due to triple-play lock-ins or the sheer aggro factor.

The closing paragraph talks about “thin-end-of-the-wedge” concerns about this gradually creeping in through the backdoor if the regulators don’t use tools in their power to manage this contentious issue.

While the BBC, as a major content player, do have a vested interest in preserving their editorial freedom and equal opportunity to distribute their content, there’s a lot of sense behind it too.