Brexit, French GIGN and Italian GIS. Are Professional Media Committed to Truth?

One of the more often heard claims against “independent” online information is that “professional” journalist are exactly so, professional, thus giving the reader some sort of “quality assurance” about the news they deliver.

The Internet, nonetheless, has proven this assumption wrong.

Among the multitude of poorly informed articles published by “official” press, one example of this lack of care in reporting a news is a recent article by Repubblica.it about the Bataclan aftermath.

The article reports a quarrel between a group of French GIGN operatives and its commander, accused of having be withheld from intervene during the Bataclan massacre by fault of “jurisdiction” concerns.

Anais Ginori, the Italian journalist that wrote the article, at a certain point writes:

What would have happened should the GIGN were taken into play? Maybe the Gendarmerie’s elite force intervention would have allowed an early neutralization of the terrorists, by way of the high training standard often inspired to the GIS, the Carabinieri special group1

What’s wrong with that?

The sentence “by way of the high training standard often inspired to the GIS, the Carabinieri special group ” is is historically inaccurate. The GIGN has been established by the French Government on 1974, as a consequence of the 1972 Black September’s Munich Olympic Games massacre, while the Italian GIS on 1978 (several years late than the GIGN, the German GSG9, and British SAS’ Special Project Team.)

Sure, one may say that this is only a minor flaw that doesn’t affect the general value of the article: at the end of the day all of this fuss is just about a matter of wrong dates, and nothing more.

But it ain’t so.

By indirectly (and wrongly) establishing some sort of “primacy” of the Italian GIS over the French GIGN, the journalist induces into the reader a false notion. And since a casual reader is not supposed to be learned into the technicalities of – as in this case – the special forces’ maze, the result is the spreading of mistakes and the building of false assumptions.

And Brexit already showed what happens when people take decisions based on false statements.

  1. Cosa sarebbe accaduto se il Gign fosse stato mobilitato? Forse l’intervento dell’unità di élite della gendarmeria avrebbe permesso di neutralizzare prima i terroristi, dato l’elevato standard di addestramento, spesso ispirato a quello del Gis, il nucleo speciale dei carabinieri.

What “Big Brother” and “Orwellian” actually mean

A lot of people – politicians, “gurus” and “activists” use the word “Big Brother” and “Orwellian” without having read even the cover of a George Orwell’s book.

They rather want to have a look at this TED-ed short lesson, to discover what they’re actually talking about.

Apple Update’s Options. Freedom the Apple Way

Whenever Apple releases a software update, a badge like that shows on your desktop

deceivingoptionApple just gives you an alternative with two option (install now – install later), but what if you are content with your current version? No “no” button to push, no “close” cross-hair to click, no “dismiss” gesture to perform. Sure, you can ignore the message and carry on, disable the auto-update feature etc., but the point is that – at a glance – you’re not given a full list of possibility.

This is freedom, the Apple Way: do whatever you want as soon as you pick one of the option we lay down for you.

This is the “Walled Garden” strategy that sound oddly familiar to Noam Chomsky‘s prop-agenda theory…

Kirin’s Gogo Kocha and Glico’s Pocky: A Great Online Marketing Stunt

Two food&beverage Japanese giants, Kirin and Glico, just released a clever comarketing online campaign: each company designed its own package – tea and snack – so that when the boxes are kept mutually close, the portrayed characters look like kiss each other.kiringlicoOf course, there are plenty of characters so that consumers may start a collection or using it in other creative ways. But the genius strike is to release a smartphone app that by recognizing the matched characters tell the customer their love story (the App part starts at 2,10.)

Sir Clive Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum Vega Plus: Are You Ready To Go Back to Skool?

As many (now old) kids of the eighties I was part of the ZX Spectrum tribe (are you still there, Commodore folks???) and if now I do what I do for living, I have to thanks Sir Clive Sinclair‘s genius that through his glorious microcomputer showed me literally a brave new world.

Now he’s back with the ZX Spectrum Vega project: a crowdfunded project to manufacture a console with a thousand of original “old time” games.

I hope that the project will raise enough money to actually release the Vega Plus, but even if it doesn’t, offering support (as I just did) is a way to say “thank you Sir Clive!”

Alitalia’s Marketing Strategy and Cipolla’s Third Law on Stupidity

If you book the Alitalia’s cheapest fare on a flight it might happens (twice in two weeks, to me) that you aren’t entitled to get a decent quantity of miles for the Mille Miglia frequent flyer programme and mandatory given an (often) uncomfortable seat.

This Ryanair-like attitude (everything is an optional) might make sense for long hauls or mid-distance travels, where the passengers are available to pay a surcharge to board first or get some other goodie. But is completely useless for one-hour, taxi-like flights, were people go for the cheapest fare, and either don’t actually care about being good seated or earning a few miles.

Of course, Alitalia must justify the different fares for exactly the same thing (moving people from A to B), but this should be done by adding something more to the standard, and not by lowering the quality of the service first, and ask for more money to get something that was always been taken for granted until yesterday.

To put it short, letting a few “privileges” for the short-distance travelers wouldn’t have done any harm to Alitalia’s pocket, while it would have made people’s day better. Instead, the company chose to worsen its customers’ travel experience, without getting an actual benefit. This affects the passengers’ loyalty to such a company, and as soon as people is offered alternatives, they will surely catch it.

A classical application of Carlo Cipolla’s Third Law of Human Stupidity.

 

Blogging vs Social Networking: different tools for different goals

Blog and Social Networks are very different tools of expression (and, for what it worth, online marketing.)

A blog gives you absolute freedom and exposes your thoughts to potentially a huge quantity of people. People, on the other end, can enjoy the things you do without necessarily disclose their identity, unless they actually want to do.

A Social Network page/profile, instead, implies that the majority of your audience is made by those you already know or, at least, you are acquainted with. Yes, I either know about the existence of “public” pages or the possibility of “following” somebody else, but this doesn’t change the point.

To blog is more like living into the wild, where you can meet other peers, predators or none at all (and in this case ask yourself why are you still blogging if nobody cares.) While “living” in a social network is fairly safer but actually less challenging because of its “Walled Garden” design.

While is obviously possible to use a blog to stay in touch with people and a social network to publish contents aimed at a (personally) unknown audience, it would be more efficient to use the proper tool designed for the specific task.

Unless you are left without options, why should you use a hammer to cut a wire and a screwdriver to hammer in a nail?

Become an IT security guru in 10 steps

Become a legal IT security expert doesn’t need a lot of effort and, with the due care, you can build your legend in a short time-frame following ten easy steps:

  1. learn the lingo (security is a process, not a product; don’t use simply-to-guess password, is your company ISO-27000-1 compliant? and so on),
  2. give yourself an “authoritative” demeanor and look (always talk in a “visionary” way, making people feel like they still live in the stone age) and dress accordingly,
  3. Talk legalese with techies, technical with lawyers,
  4. attend (possibly) international IT technical, legal/management conferences and try to get as much pictures as possible  of you with reputable people although they don’t know you, and regularly update your facebook/google+/blog with those pictures,
  5. try to give a speech at some university students association, so you can claim to be an “invited speaker” at the university (without mentioning the name, of course),
  6. create your own “digital-something organization”, become its chairman (and sole member, BTW) and champion for digital human rights,
  7. flood the newspapers with press-releases that will be regularly ignored until some journalist that is out of time to finish an article stumbles upon your statement, thus promoting you at the level of “source”
  8. try to catch-up with some low-level civil servant involved in trivial stuff related to the trade, give him some vapourware hint that makes him look smart at work, and use him as a source of petty-information that let you look like you’re part of the “inner circle”,
  9. try to have as much as possible Linkedin connection,
  10. get the European Computer Driving License (at least, you must know how to switch on a computer to work in this field, don’t you?)

By following these steps you start a loop where your legend become more and more solid up to a moment when you will be considered a “guru” and nobody will ever check your actual background.

And don’t worry, if you ever get a client, as soon as you stay stick to these ten commandments you’re safe: nobody will ever challenge the outcome (if any) of your work, because nobody will ever admit to having being fooled into hiring a fake…

Mocking All Blacks’ Haka to sell a toothpaste. Does it worth it?

Strictly speaking, the boaring mock of the New Zealand’s and world’s most famous rugby team All Blacks and of its “war chant”, the Haka made by an Italian toothpaste manufacturer works. In fact, as much as I dislike it, here I am talking about it and sharing the link to the ad.

True, this is not the first questionable advertising campaign, and we all have seen fairly worst examples of exploitation out in the (media)wild.

I just wonder what could happens if one day either the toothpaste maker or its advertising agency should meet somebody from the Team…

They Never Said It

Fake quotes, misquotes and misleading attributions (Italian version here) is a short essay that made me stop and think about the role of quotes into the politics and business arena. As the author writes:

Wrong attributions may seem just silly. But they aren’t irrelevant – even if they are not deliberate cheats. There is a change in perspective when a thought or an opinion is perceived as coming from a different source.
It can be interesting to find that something sounding “modern” was said or written, with the same meaning, three hundred or three thousand years ago – or something that seems traditional is actually quite recent.
Or to notice the differences, or similarities, in sayings originated in other, close or remote, environments. Or to discover that ancient (or recent) nonsense (or lies) are being broadly and endlessly repeated without ever checking if they make any sense.
A dirty trick, when there is a disagreement, is to attribute to opponents something they never said – placing them in the uncomfortable position of having to deny it. Historians are busy trying to sort out problems of this kind.

A rather ample source is They Never Said It, by Paul Boller and John George, published in 1989 by Oxford University Press. A bit old, but still deserving a read.