You know, you wouldn’t think it would cost that much to hire an editor or a proofreader — my 16 year old son. True, son, and if we’re spreading truths then the fact is your old man can use one almost every day.  I’m not quite the King of Typos, but I am the Emperor of Dropped or Wrong Words.  Then again, I write a blog for Silver Beacon Marketing’s clients and the people who pass by, not as the representative of a major market television affiliate.

There were big doings here in the DC area yesterday.  You see, it snowed three inches at Dulles Airport, just a few miles from my house.  Had this been a Monday rather than a Saturday, the federal government would have invoked its liberal leave policy, and hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren would have joined my son in sleeping late. But it was a Saturday, which meant those same people who watched the monster three inches bear down on Dulles also braved the storm to go to the B.J.’s Wholesale Club that’s certainly within sled dog distance to see Sarah Palin.

Our nation’s culture of celebrity meant that the district that overwhelmingly rejected Ms. Palin and Senator McCain’s candidacy showed up in the snow with copies of a book for her to sign. (The greedy opportunists probably have it on eBay now, and had I not been doing an SEO audit yesterday, I think I may have done the same.)

But my son Jared nailed the real issue behind today’s headlines and he even spotted why an editor was needed.  You see, editors are filters.  I deliberately wrote this blog with a heavily slanted voice, allowing more of my own voice to creep in to the writing than any professional journalist should allow. When I asked Jared why he thought the headline and lead on the WJLA-TV site was inconsistent, he said, “I’m guessing someone doesn’t like her very much.” Then he pointed a typo in the last sentence’s introductory clause.  He certainly has Mom’s proofreading skills. But if all of this nitpicking on the local ABC affiliate (story below) is a lighthearted Sunday rant,  the fact is that as newsroom budgets get cut and mainstream media resources are stretched, you’ll see more of “hundreds” in the headlines and “thousands” in the text as a writer talks about braving what was then a solid inch of snow. As my son says, the least you could expect from an ABC affiliate is that they had enough money to hire an editor.  You see, editors are filters, and we need more of them everywhere.

WJLA online article about Sarah Palin book signing
WJLA online article about Sarah Palin book signing

No Famous Marketers section would be complete without mentioning Steve Case. A traditional marketer who cut his teeth at Pizza Hut and P&G, Case was born in that perfect swirl of time pointed out in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.  A late Boomer, born in 1958, Case is 3 years younger than Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.  As his career reached a point where he had authority, Case plunged forward as his contemporaries did and disrupted an entire industry.

Steve Case testifying before a Senate Health Committee in 2008

There can be arguments forever about who invented the Internet, but few can argue about the identity of the person who brought widespread Internet access to the American consumer.  Case’s innovations at the nascent Quantum Computer Services are legendary.

Riding herd over a network of dedicated hobbyists using Commodore computers in the mid 1980s, Case’s pushed online chats, streaming music (albeit 3 voice music more rudimentary than greeting cards sold today) and the concept of consumers paying extra for premium content. Quantum, known to devotees as Q-Link, quickly blossomed into Apple and PC specific platforms.  (Disclosure:  I was an early contractor at Quantum and later received a job offer to manage a segment of the Apple platform).

Tying the brands together into a single entity, Case created America Online, a behemoth that was serving 25 million subscribers by the new century’s celebration.  The company’s ubiquitous trial CDs become late night comedian fodder and filled many trash bins. Having conquered online access, Case took on Wall Street and created a massive entertainment and information company when AOL merged with Time Warner.

The vision was simplicity:  the content from Time Warner’s vast collection of movies, music, news and television would flow across the growing Internet to AOL subscribers.  Through financial engineering, Case’s AOL managed to own more of the much larger Time Warner. Unfortunately for Case and the new company’s shareholders, AOL was one of the poster children of the Internet bubble, and the balance sheets soon took a write-off approaching $100 billion.  Case was ousted from his role, and in 2009, AOL was finally poised to break free and spin off as its own organization once again.

But Case had a third act up his sleeve — one that was revolutionary.  Using his own funds as seed money,  Casey founded an incubator that created offerings in health, finance and invested in prominent social media companies.    From an initial investment of $100 million in personal funds, Case began rolling up small companies into something larger, much like the $160 plus billion dollar deal he once made for Time Warner. The result, as he turned 50 years old in late 2009?   Seeing AOL leave the Time Warner fold with a capitalization expected to be several billion and the announcement in November of 2009 that American Express would buy Revolution Money, the company’s finance offering, for $300 million

That seemingly safe PDF you receive may not be as innocuous as it looks, warns Washington Post security guru Brian Krebs. Writing in today’s online edition, Krebs reports that PDF-format owner Adobe is warning of security vulnerabilities.  According to Krebs, the company plans to release a fix Tuesday so that its software updates at the same time that Microsoft sends its weekly operating system update. Put a note in your calendar now to have your company’s computers updated Tuesday.  Meanwhile, be on the lookout for a blizzard of PDFs even from addresses that you know.   A good rule of thumb:  if you’re not expecting a file from someone and the tone of the email doesn’t sound like your acquaintance, send a short note and ask them to confirm they sent you a file.