ElectoServices! Unified services are necessary, but they aren’t easy

It’s easy to tell the real HealthCare.GOV website from all the scammers, some wag told me when that site first went up and couldn’t stop crashing.

You can log into the scam sites instantly.

Which leads to the overwhelming question: how could it all have gone so wrong? How hard can it be to build a web site?

It’s easy to build a website, as those scammers have proven.  What’s hard is unified information – the right information to the right people at the right time.

Take HealthCare.Gov and the scammers.  All the scammers have to do is 1). Ask for your personal information and then 2). Save it some place convenient. (For them. Not so convenient for you, if it’s your identity that’s getting stolen…)

So why can’t HealthCare.Gov just work like that? Ummm…because it actually has to work. It has to:

·         Figure out what healthcare plans you are eligible for, and then retrieve them from a plethora of government and insurance company web sites

·         Verify you are you; retrieve your income from the IRS, and determine what subsidies you should receive

·         Route your choices to the correct insurance company while maintaining your security and your privacy

Now take just one simple piece of that information pie: how much money did you make last year? The site could ask the IRS database for your tax records, but…those are for last year. How do we know what you’re making now?

So the system could query for your current employer’s pay stub filings for you, but…that doesn’t include things like your mortgage deduction, other income…

So the only real way to do it is to query the IRS for your tax returns, query it again for your current pay stubs, and then merge the two. And chances are high there will still be errors, and your tax preparer will take umbrage with the results.

Web sites are easy. Data is hard.

Feola Sez…

It’s time to start writing! Though it already seems to be The Year Of Throwbacks. Shot more pix this year than I have in at least 20. Started writing for Pentax Forums a few months ago; took exactly one article to coalesce the usual angry mob with torches and pitchforks. Feola Writing! Bringing People Together In Rage Since 1981!

Meanwhile, things are growing steadily at Business ONETouch, so I have a tiny bit of breathing room. Which I immediately decided to fill by restarting my worthless extremely valuable blog.  The blog will focus exclusively on small business tech; what’s worth the money, what isn’t, and what’s too expensive despite being free.

How often would you like to see something like this? Short items daily? A weekly wrap-up? A choice between the two? Lemme know…

Twitter and Facebook-separated at birth?

Twitter is becoming more Facebooky, and Facebook is becoming more Twittery. At some point they should just buy each other and save all of us the extra login…http://www.informationweek.com/software/social/twitter-redesign-hello-facebook/d/d-id/1204275

Telling Shoppers from Shoplifters

So you get one of those emails that promises to Add 10,000 Followers to your Twitter Account!


Adding 10,000 customers to your marketing would be A Good Thing.

Adding 10,000 people who will soak up your time and energy and money and never buy anything would be A Bad Thing.

A century ago, when big newspapers were brand new and the first mass media, a publisher happened to meet the doyen of that city’s upscale department store. “Madam,” the publisher said, “You will have to advertise in my newspaper now. I now have one million subscribers.”

“Sir,” she replied, “Your subscribers are our shoplifters.”

So how do you tell the shoppers from the shoplifters?

Here’s where to start: Who actually uses each medium? How do the use it? Where? When?

Now how do these answers match up with the customers you are trying to reach?

Who is Feola?

And why should you listen to what I have to say about using social and other new media to promote your business? Or, as I’m sure many of you are thinking, Isn’t Feola that Giant Nerd I Met Somewhere Or Other? Can He Even Spell?!?

Well, to be honest, no. I type like I live: fast, with lots of mistakes. Some of those mistakes include changing careers a time or two. So, before I became a Giant Nerd, I did a few other things that are relevant to this discussion:

  • I was a journalist, spending years as a foreign correspondent
  • I wrote a story that got me banned from the Pacific Rim (OK, that’s not relevant, but it is funny)
  • I taught new media at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism
  • I founded the Media Center at the American Press Institute
  • I was named one of the 50 most important people in New Media

So here’s the thing about new media: Every 10 minutes someone invents something new, and everyone runs around yelling “This changes everything!”

I’m here to tell you one simple thing: No it doesn’t.

At the end of the day, in every medium, for every reader, for every customer, you must answer one simple question:

Why should I care?