Interview with Luciano Quarta, Administrative Law Expert in Italy

Luciano Quarta is one of the biggest experts of administrative law in Italy. On 9 January 2012, he was featured in the Italian newspaper, Italia Oggi, as the week’s “Avvocati Oggi” (Lawyers Today). Luciano focuses on governmental topics like public contracts, public network utilities, town and country planning law and especially energy law. He works with private companies and public administration authorities, either as an advisor or a litigator in the Italian Administrative Courts: Tribunale Amministrativo Regionale (TAR), Consiglio di Stato and public Arbitration Courts.

Luciano is a regular contributor to Italy’s specialized reviews on administrative law issues and has spoken at numerous international conferences on public contracts, public network utilities and town planning law. He is also an officer of the Italian Army Reserve. Every year, he dedicates time and expertise towards the NATO Corps and serves as a LEGAD (Legal Advisor). Today, we’re learning more about him.

Luciano, tell me about media when you were a child.

I was not even 10 years old when I learned about the death of Judge Vittorio Occorsio in 1976. I found out through traditional media at that time: TV and newspapers. At that time, any given Western European country had only 2 or 3 national TV channels. Everything was completely different back then — Spain was still led by Dictator Francisco Franco; Germany was split in two and the internet could not even be imagined by common people.

Today, children have plenty of new methods to get information about the world around them, including the internet and social media. I think that having more information sources is always an improvement. However, parents need to take responsibility of guiding their children through the many media options: TV, internet — anything.

Having a very international perspective has always been one of your main goals. In this context, does social media help tremendously in broadening your horizons?

Absolutely, yes. Before social media was commonly diffused and accessible, the only way to widen one’s view of the world was by travelling. Beautiful. Enjoyable. But complicated and expensive. Now, it is much easier and cheaper to embrace international perspectives by sharing someone else’s experience through the web via text, photos and video.

On the job, social networks and discussion forums allow for the exchange of professional ideas with colleagues beyond Italy. Additionally, I am able to find new ways to provide my professional services globally.

What do you see as the main difference in social media use in Italy compared to the United States?

Social media communication in Italy is an important field of expression for political organizations. Italians have tired of seeing the same faces as Ministers, Presidents and members of the Parliament for the past 40 years. They are sick of making heavy sacrifices so that government officials enjoy unlawful and enormous privileges.

Consequently, Italian blogs and other social media have become tools of political aggregation. One of these movements is “5 Stelle,” founded by Beppe Grillo. He started a political campaign based on environmental issues and fought against global market control by financial lobbies worldwide (entities like Goldman Sachs or the rating companies: Standard & Poors, Moody’s, Fitch, etc.). The campaign talked to the people about “conspiracy theory.” However you want to consider it, today, “5 Stelle” is a true political organization present on the board of many local governments, and it gives a voice to underrepresented opinions on “official” public information channels, like major TV stations and newspapers.

Another interesting project was started by Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the CEO of Ferrari. He is also a key player in the FIAT group and within the Italian economy. His foundation is “Italia Futura,” focused on pushing innovation and the replacement of the entire old-school political guard — In Italy, commonly considered dinosaurs. Using social media as a platform, his website attempts to aggregate the youngest and most brilliant minds in any intellectual field to push out outdated politicians. I like this project greatly. I think it has very good vision and intent.

In 2007, you joined Grispini & Partners, Law Firm in Rome, as a partner and chief of the Administrative Law Department. Due to high levels of discretion and confidentiality, not much is known about the firm other than that it was involved in some of the most important real estate operations of the last years: the Enel (the Italian National Energy Company) spin–off, the re-organization of the real estate patrimony of Ferrovie dello Stato (the Italian State Railway company), and the constitution of the Real Estate investment fund of the Autonomic Region of Sicily. Where does social media fit in under such circumstances?

Strict confidentiality makes the situation difficult. It’s quite interesting to observe how big real estate and financial groups manage their public communication. Very often, these companies don’t consider social media communication at all. In my opinion, it’s not wise for them to undervalue this topic as a part of their public information policies.

As a professor, you have taught at the University of Dusseldorf; the University of Malta; and the Scuola Superiore dell’Economia e delle Finanze (the internal Superior School of the Economy Ministry). Do you cover legal issues in the context of social media in any of your courses?

I have covered legal issues in some of my courses, especially those which involve students who are military personnel. An inappropriate use of social media can compromise the image of a whole nation or cause a strategic action to fail.

Is social media and law becoming a growing trend in the discussion of law?

Yes, absolutely. There are plenty of discussions about issues related to intellectual property, the protection of the privacy, national defense issues related to military secrets, etc. The list is very long.

Please share your thoughts on freedom of speech on the internet as it pertains to individual rights and professional limitations.

I don’t agree with any limitation to the freedom of speech. However, it’s equally important to balance professional limitations, by which we mean those limitations on the freedom of speech related to occupational roles and duties. Non-disclosure agreements typical for lawyers, advisors and military personnel can be reasonable. Anyone who accepts a commitment, an appointment or a role, ought to be aware of the associated boundaries.

You are interested in freedom versus reputation. Please explain.

It’s quite simple. Anyone’s freedom is limited where another’s freedom begins. Everyone should be free to say whatever they want, but when they use this freedom, they must take responsibility for their actions. Thus, it is important that we be able to authenticate the identity of anyone who publishes information on the web that can affect someone else’s life and reputation. An exception, however, would be for the identity of dissidents in dictatorship countries since anonymity is vital for personal safety and the development of democracy there.

Should companies have the right to control their employee’s online activities regarding personal opinions?

Absolutely not. The only acceptable exception should be military personnel for the reasons we discussed above, and only within the limit of what is strictly necessary. Whenever there isn’t any risk to national security, freedom must be respected, regardless of military status.

What is the best way to distinguish personal versus professional online identity?

If it’s not clear by context, one can declare his/her identity and affiliation. For example, I now state that I am sharing my personal opinions as an individual, unrelated to my law firm or the Army.

 

Lisa Chau has been involved with Web 2.0 since graduate school at Dartmouth College, where she completed an independent study on blogging. She was subsequently highlighted as a woman blogger in Wellesley Magazine, published by her alma mater. Since 2009, Lisa has worked as an Assistant Director at the Tuck School of Business. In 2012, she launched GothamGreen212 to pursue social media strategy projects. You can follow her on twitter.

Social Media and the Presidential Campaigns

As the primaries heat up, the importance of social and digital campaigns is becoming more evident. It’s crucial to fundraising and educating- and influencing- voters. Something that Team Obama discussed this past February.

HowToMBA.com is taking a look at what the candidates are doing. They’ve pulled together an infographic that examines both the general influence of social media and notable social media events during this time. Compare the remaining big four Republican candidates with social campaign veteran President Obama, and tell us who you think is doing it right, is on the right track and needs an intervention.

2012 Presidential Race and Social Media
Brought to you by HowToMBA.com with Online MBA info

An Interview: Amanda McCormick of SocialFlow.com

Amanda McCormick has been published in the Village Voice, the New York Observer, Heeb magazine, and the Bellevue Literary Review. She honed her writing and online media skills working for big brands like Miramax, Bertelsmann and Lifetime Television, but she is driven by a passion for grass-roots initiatives, entrepreneurs and those working on behalf of the public good (she teaches nonprofits how to bootstrap social media-rich websites on onehourwebsite.org).

Amanda McCormick, twitter:@amandamccormick

She’s responsible for the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s first blog, as well as a blog with longer pieces covering social media trends and best practices, Social Media at Work.  She was the architect of the first co-branded web destination for New Directors/New Films, a copresentation of the Museum of Modern Art and The Film Society of Lincoln Center, which yielded the fest’s best-ever online ticket sales. She created the first social media rich website for the New York Film Festival, and has been seen speaking in places like:

  • Social Media Week New York
  • Wordcamp NYC
  • OMMA Social Media Conference/Internet Week New York
  • The Arts, Culture and Technology Meetup
  • The British American Business Association Marketing Roundtable.

Just recently, Amanda teamed up with the startup SocialFlow and focuseson delivering social media optimization technology to publishers and brands.

SocialFlow applies science/math/analytics to drive engagement in social media.  What are some trends you’ve seen working for the company?

Lots of really interesting ones — as we have a top-notch data and research team who harness the full Twitter firehose as well as a number of other rich data sources to generate incredible studies. A few of the lessons that have made the strongest impression on me: we increasingly use social media to break and talk about news. We did two rather extraordinary stories–one about the way the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death filtered out via the well-timed Tweet of a gentlemen that you may not have pegged as an “influencer,” as well as an interesting data visualization of the spread of news about the East Coast earthquake in the late summer.

One trend that’s been particularly fascinating is how important language is in defining who a person is and how they will engage (or not engage) on the social graph. The old holy grail of marketers–demographics–really only skims the surface. When you are capable of looking at the language people use to talk about themselves and what they care about, you have an incredible edge on predicting their behavior and likeliness to engage. That’s something we are able to do at the massive scale of the social networks and in real time at SocialFlow.

What were specific strategies you used when you created the New York Film Festival‘s website?

When I arrived at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which produces the New York Film Festival each year, I knew there were tons of people, especially young people, who were out there who had heard of us and were highly receptive to our mission to present and preserve interesting world and art cinema, we just weren’t providing the tools that would make that happen. In my two and a half years at the Film Society, I developed their first blog and integrated presence across social networks, but when it came to marquee events like the New York Film Festival, I really wanted to do more, despite not really having any budget to work with.

In 2010, as we planned to world premiere David Fincher’s The Social Network at the festival, and I seized the opportunity to integrate cutting edge social tools on the web to create a new experience for festival-goers. In WordPress I found a framework that I could rapidly develop a flexible platform for our programming that easily integrated Facebook and Twitter in-page. While Facebook Open Graph was relatively new, and most film festivals were slow to adopt it, we were able to offer our audience easy, seamless sign-in and live updates from our events. It helped us capture and connect to a tremendous amount of dynamic discussion among our audience — for the first time, for web visitors, the New York Film Festival encompassed conversation through the web.

You are driven by a passion for grass-roots initiatives, entrepreneurs and those working on behalf of the public good.  Can you share some success stories? 

I really love the challenge of building something from nothing — and finding creativity within limitation. When you’re talking about grass-roots cause marketing and nonprofits, often you’re dealing with organizations that have a wealth of what most brands would kill for — genuine affinity in spades. Social media has leveled the playing field in a lot of ways for causes that have vocal and passionate audiences, so part of what I do through my blog and speaking engagements is to help people leverage that passion.

By that token, small businesses and nonprofits would do well to look within and really mine internal resources. When I worked at the British Tourist Authority, I formed and led a social media “working group” that brought together employees to brainstorm tactics for using social media to market British Tourism to Americans. The working group was egalitarian in natureand included members from all departments and seniority levels, from senior management to customer service reps in the call center. The tactic we came up with, a Facebook fan page about British Film and Television, is still going strong four years later with lots of daily engagement and over 55,000 enthusiastic fans. I think all it took to get there was a little collaborative ingenuity that was able to piggy-back on affinity that was already out there.

Your blog Jellybean Boom shows nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs, artist, and writers how to harness digital and social technology to amplify their message on a low budget. How do you do that?

Here’s the unifying quality of the people that I meet who are in nonprofits, working in small business, or doing their own thing in the arts — none of them are “phoning it in” or punching a clock. They all radiate passion, so the thing that I aim to do with what I blog about is to help to capture that passion in the service of raising awareness around whatever they are trying to raise awareness around. Not everyone’s a writer, but I think everyone can be coached to help translate that passion into communication tools, whether it’s a presentation, a video, or a Tweet.

On onehourwebsite.org, you advise nonprofits AGAINST blogging. What is the difference between a blog and a website?

Blogs completely democratized the process of getting a presence out there on the web — but the wonderful thing about platforms like WordPress is that they have grown and developed so much in terms of their complexity and capability they are incredible platforms on which the budget-strapped or budget-conscious can build a fully fledged website. I tell people to “make it not a blog” so that they take away the most obvious parts (comments, list of posts) that might signal to the visitor “this is a blog.” However I am a big advocate of having a blog be a part of the effort as well. 

What’s your advice for people just stepping into the ever-changing social media landscape?  

On the most basic level social should feel fun or connected to something that you or your organization feels passionately about. I always advise people to “dive in” and learn from the process. Rome wasn’t built in a day and many of us are better and more conversant on one social network than another. The trick is to start somewhere and find your niche.

You’ve co-organized the “Literature Unbound” panel discussion as part of Social Media Week NYC 2012. What was your inspiration?

I come from a background in both both film (I graduated from NYU film school and worked in production and development for many years) and fiction writing (I did an MFA in the subject at Columbia and worked as a reader for both the New Yorker and the Paris Review). At the same time, I am a lover of technology and felt a bit of frustration with the pace of innovation in both environments as digital and social media have transformed the audience’s relationship to interacting with stories in all media. Thispanel was a chance to bring together people I knew were working at and testing the boundaries of what storytelling and literature can be in the social age. We have innovators, entrepreneurs, founders, developers and academics on the panel — I can’t wait to hear what they come up with in regards to where “social literature” is going!

What do you hope to gain from Social Media Week NYC 2012?

I’ve been a part of Social Media Week as either a panelist or attendee since 2009. I’m just excited to see new types of organizations get involved and see what they are doing in the social space. I plan to attend as many events as possible.

 

Lisa Chau has been involved with Web 2.0 since graduate school at Dartmouth College, where she completed an independent study on blogging. She was subsequently highlighted as a woman blogger in Wellesley Magazine, published by her alma mater. Since 2009, Lisa has worked as an Assistant Director at the Tuck School of Business. In 2012, she launched GothamGreen212 to pursue social media strategy projects. You can follow her on twitter.

How Young is Too Young? Exploring children’s use of social media: An Interview with Andy Affleck

Andy Affleck is an alum of Dartmouth College. He is leading the development of an iOS/Android application for a startup called Ozmott and is also the author of Take Control of Podcasting on the Mac. He’s written numerous articles for TidBITS and is the proud father of an 11 year old.

Andy Affleck, twitter: @aaffleck

Your son attended the Waldorf School where modern technology and media – TVs, computers, mobile phones, video games, and so on – are severely restricted. Did you adhere to the same policy at home? 

We did adhere to the policy. Our son attended the Waldorf School during the 2nd and 3rd grades and, at those ages, I felt there was little value in technology as anything other than casual entertainment. The school policy was no media during the week (TV, computers, etc.) and limited use on the weekends. So, he got to play on a few websites he liked (Webkinz, mostly) on the weekend. Now that he is older, there is more value to be had, and he is at a school that makes good use of technology both at school and at home.

You left the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Technology in Education program with the firm belief that computers in education make more sense at older ages than at younger ages. What other ideas did you take away from the program?

At younger ages, children need concrete experiences. They will get a lot more out of working with physical objects than they will virtual ones. At a younger age, I just don’t think children are that great at making the translation from the virtual to the real, at least not consistently, so I don’t really think there’s much point in using a computer as an educational tool. It is just entertainment at that age and should be treated the same way TV is. As they get older, their ability to conceptualize grows and they can start to make that translation.

If there was an online course for parents to teach that transition for children into social media, what topics would be necessary?

First and foremost, parents need to understand the mechanics of how these systems work. They need to be able to see who is speaking to their child in the various possible ways (Facebook comments, instant messaging, text messaging, etc.); they need to understand how to properly set privacy settings to protect them; and they need to understand how these systems can be used for both good and for bad so they are prepared to deal with any situations that come up. All too often, parents know too little about the way these systems work (and Facebook seems to go out of its way to make it difficult to understand, and then change it often enough so you never can stay caught up) and so let their kids use them without any proper supervision or ability to help them out when they need help. If kids sense that their parents have no clue, they won’t even go to them for help, so the parents may not even realize there is a problem.

The analogy I like to use is a parent taking a child into a big city for the first time. They hold their hand. They explain the cross walks. They warn them about the scary yellow cars. They explain about keeping themselves safe and what to do if they get separated from their parents, and so on. In the same way, parents should be working with their children to understand this new world of social media, how to safely navigate the streets and crosswalks of Facebook and such and stay safe. They would never let their child go into the city alone by themselves on their first visit and they shouldn’t do that with social media either.

What are the biggest dangers of introducing children to social media?

The biggest danger is a parent who doesn’t understand anything an let their children go without supervision before the child is ready to be alone. I believe parents have a responsibility to teach their children to be good, decent people. They teach their children how to be polite, how not to say mean or hurtful things, how to be a friend to people and how to be kind to strangers. By the same token, they need to do this with social media. We do not need another generation of people who all post the kinds of horrible things you see on any given YouTube comment thread. And we need to teach children that the only person in history who had the right to shout “First!” was Neil Armstrong.

How much of a responsibility should schools take in guiding students towards using social media in smart, effective and ethical ways?

I go back and forth on this one. Schools are involved with socializing children. If your child is bullying another, the school will ask you to come in and talk to them and work with them on a way to address the issue. By the same token, that should extend to social media. Of course, most — if not all! — of what happens on a site like Facebook is not on school property and outside of their jurisdiction. So it is not clear that schools have any business saying anything about behavior online. That said, I think it would be a wise thing for schools to do some work with kids on good online behavior in general the same way they do anti-bullying presentations. I don’t know how effective these things are, but it’s a start.

Some adults have decided that to remove social media from their lives because they feel it’s completely unnecessary. Are there benefits to introducing social media into a child’s life?

I am a firm believer that no child should be allowed a Facebook account until they are 13, as that is the official policy of Facebook. Even when they are 13, it is the parent’s job to determine if their child is emotionally mature enough to handle social media and be a good online citizen. That said, I see a few advantages:

1) It is a great way to stay connected after a move. My son has a number of friends he still talks about that he hasn’t seen in a few years. I imagine him getting reconnected through Facebook in a few years.

2) Often times, kids aren’t going to school in their local community. My son goes to school that’s at least 10 miles away. His best friends outside of the city on the opposite side from us. Getting the kids together requires a lot of driving so after school meet-ups are not common. Right now, they use the phone a lot, but I can see social media taking the place when they are old enough to get online in that way.

3) LOLCATS. Ok, maybe not.

Can we live without social media?

Sure. We can live without all technology. But life would be a little more boring, at least for me. I enjoy my interactions online and have caught up with friends I haven’t spoken to in years who live far, far away. Would I die if my Facebook account went away tomorrow? No. But I would be sad. It enriches my life and I like having it there.

 

Lisa Chau has been involved with Web 2.0 since graduate school at Dartmouth College, where she completed an independent study on blogging. She was subsequently highlighted as a woman blogger in Wellesley Magazine, published by her alma mater. Since 2009, Lisa has worked as an Assistant Director at the Tuck School of Business. In 2012, she launched GothamGreen212 to pursue social media strategy projects. You can follow her on twitter

An Interview with Susan Halligan, SMW12 Moderator

Susan Halligan, the former Marketing Director of The New York Public Library (NYPL), established the first-ever marketing department for the 100-year-old institution, transitioning the library from traditional communication platforms to new media platforms.  The library’s “Don’t Close the Book” advocacy campaign was named by MarketingSherpa to the 2010 Viral and Social Media Hall of Fame.  Today, she is a Social Media Consultant based in New York working with cultural organizations such as The American Museum of Natural History, various non-profits, startups, and authors on social media strategies spanning channel selection, content marketing, employee activation, stream management, listening and measurement. As a multidisciplinary marketer, her specialty is integrating social media into traditional marketing and communications channels.

Susan Halligan, twitter: @srhalligan

A familiar face at Social Media Week, Susan moderated 2011 panel, “The Inner Workings: Social Media Success Through Coordinated Staffing,” and co-keynoted “The Connected Network” at the Arts Marketing Association’s Digital Marketing Day in London in November 2011. On February 14, she will moderate Literature Unbound: Radical Strategies for Social Literature at NYU during Social Media Week New York 2012. I spoke with Susan to learn more about her work and experiences.

You have quite an impressive biography.  How did you become involved in social media?

Thank you, Lisa. I began to explore Facebook and Twitter in the early fall of 2008. Honestly, I originally started playing around with the platforms, because I had a very small marketing budget and was lured by the fact that the platforms were free. It was very much a “let me see what we can do with this” undertaking. I had no idea, actually, what I was doing, but spent a lot of time exploring and learning, and began to see that social could be integrated into traditional communication channels and that it was an opportunity to take the library’s brand and initiatives to entirely new audiences in a very powerful way. I became very passionate about social and remain so. While paid media remains an important component in any marketing campaign, the trend for marketers is to spend more resources on social and less on paid.

You established the first-ever marketing department for The New York Public Library.  What changed?

Most of the library’s outreach efforts prior to my hire were concentrated on print advertising. I was hired to create and implement an integrated marketing effort across multiple channels.

In 2010, you helped The New York Public Library win the PR News Non-Profit PR Award: “Use of Twitter, Success through a Coordinated Staffing Model.”  What went into this work?

I built a teamapproach to content marketing at the library. Non-profits have limited resources (i.e., people) to push messaging. But a big organization like the library has multiple message points: programming, customer service, circulation, collections, to cite just a few. It’s a matter of coordinating outreach. Though internal education and training, a regular working group of key stakeholders, the creation and implementation of polices, including a Crisis Plan, Best Practices and an Editorial Calendar, we were able to dedicate staff throughout the organization to message on a daily basis using team tools like HootSuite and Socialflow.

What kind of metrics were used to determine that The New York Public Library is #1 public library in the world on Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare?

Community growth, brand mentions, interactions and referrals. We published a monthly Metrics Dashboard using Facebook Insights, the HootSuite and Socialflow Twitter clients, Twitter Counter, Radian6, AddThis and Google Analytics. We shared the data with key stakeholders and examined it closely for insights about messaging, engagement and content.

How does social media for a library differ from social media from other companies?

It doesn’t. Like any business engaged in social, we had a long-term customer-centric vision. One of our major goals was discoverability. We wanted social users to be to be surprised and delighted to find us online (and to discover online and offline resources, like free databases and thousands of programs) and to think “Wow, I didn’t know you could do that at The New York Public Library.”

Have your ideas ever been challenged?  Which ones and how did you overcome resistance from others?

If an idea isn’t challenged, it may not be that good.  The first step in social media iteration is to identify the organizational challenges: internal resistance (turf, legal, security), lack of resources, lack of skills, an ever-changing technology space and the ongoing challenge of measuring ROI.

Alignment is key: the ability to rally internal resources and stakeholders is the #1 skill in successful social media integration. Evangelizers must be able to maneuver adeptly within an organization and rally the “deciders” for support.

Does Foursquare have any real purpose in relatively remote towns with a maximum of 30 retail businesses?

As part of its 2011 Centennial, NYPL was the first in the world to secure a Foursquare badge. The badge was yet one more way to introduce the library to new audiences and it proved a very successful partnership in terms of unique users, check ins and check outs.

AdAge recently did a post about Foursquare’s connection to “mainstream” retailers. Chris Copeland wrote: “Foursquare is a regional play that masks what it is not – a middle America, mainstream tool.” He suggested that Foursquare needs to continue to educate businesses about the benefits of its platform.

What do you think is Foursquare’s future?

Mobile location-based social networking will continue to be adopted.

Of all the campaigns you’ve led, which was your favorite?

The Centennial of NYPL’s flagship Fifth Avenue building in 2011. It was a perfect storm of owned, earned and paid media: there was an exhibit; a microsite; multiple programs; an advertising campaign that included print, radio, outdoor, transport and online; publications; signage; ecommunications; and a deeply integrated robust social effort across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube. I secured VIK sponsorships from The Wall Street Journal, Titan Outdoor and the MTA to support the efforts. One interesting metric from the campaign was the incredibly high level of engagement with the library’s social content.

What is the most innovative use of social media that you’ve seen?

I am a big fan of Coke’s social strategy and tactics. I love that their Facebook Page is governed by regular fans, not “experts.” At the library, much of its social success is owed to the contributions of its staff. Power to the people!

Lisa Chau has been involved with Web 2.0 since graduate school at Dartmouth College, where she completed an independent study on blogging. She was subsequently highlighted as a woman blogger in Wellesley Magazine, published by her alma mater. Since 2009, Lisa has worked as an Assistant Director at the Tuck School of Business. In 2012, she launched GothamGreen212 to pursue social media strategy projects. View her online portfolio or follow her on Twitter.