Stop #SOPA and #PIPA

Two bills before Congress, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and trample the First Amendment. These bills would impose harmful regulations on American business and would block legitimate uses of the Internet. It’s yet again another power grab by the government against individual liberty.

The Senate will begin voting on January 24th.

Wikipedia has removed its content for a 24-hour period today in protest of censorship. If you try to conduct a search on the site, you’re taken to a page where you can search for your Congress representative by ZIP code.

A number of websites have either blacked themselves out today or have posted other commentary concerning SOPA and PIPA. A number of sites provide petitions to urge Congress members to vote down these bills, including:

Here’s a good story about the issue by the New York Times.


Communications in integrative bargaining

Here’s a quick observation on the role of communications skills in integrative bargaining (using an excerpt from my homework in my negotiations class):

In the integrative road map, the first step – asking open-ended questions – resonates with my communications background. Reporters often ask open-ended questions to get the most information possible; otherwise, we may get a simple yes or no. In negotiations, open-ended questions can allow the other party to define an answer or inform you of something you may not know, thereby placing possible solutions on the table. Communications skills also come into play in integrative negotiations by listening for the unstated – looking at body language. I appreciate the need to be a good listener, to ask for confirmation and to affirm by reframing.

International business presentation

Today several of our team members, including myself, delivered a presentation on international business relations to SAP’s Brno office.

The company was very gracious in allowing our team to visit. I hope they gained at least as much as we did. Discussion topics included business and general culture in the United States and how that compares to the Czech Republic, as well as teleconferences involving workers from multiple cultures.

Yesterday, Josh, Julian and I worked with a non-profit, Majak, to help them find a way to become a sustainable operation operated by local residents versus depending on support from America. Majak (the “j” sounds like a “y”) is operated by missionaries from America and runs a community center for sports, special events, conferences and provides flexible housing options. We provided observations and plan to follow up with the organization soon.

Tomorrow, the three of us will tour a Renault auto dealership and learn about the company’s Central Europe operations.

Mum’s the word

The rise of social networking has led to an explosion of people sharing details from what they had for dinner to grievances at work to spats with lovers.

I cringe when I read some of the postings from my social networking contacts. I have mixed feelings about social networking sites — they are a necessary tool for someone in the news, marketing and other publicity industries because so many people use them. It’s like an arms race to keep up with what the competition is doing online. But I’m a reserved person by nature, and sharing details of my life goes against my inclination.

Sharing certain information on the Internet is not only unsafe but bad professionally. You’re upset over some issue at work? I understand how you feel. I’ve faced my share of frustrating situations at work. But I would urge you to think twice before sharing that information. It’s unprofessional to air your workplace grievances to those outside the company. You can harm both your current job and your ability to find a job in the future. Businesses scan such sites to learn what people are saying about them and to study people who apply for a job. Perhaps restricting who can view your profile will help against a basic search, but what about the people already on your friend list? They can and possibly will talk to other people. It’s like keeping a secret — once you tell one person, it’s no longer a secret.

Venting can be good for a person’s emotional health. If you’re unable to share your frustrations with a friend, I urge you to write your thoughts in a journal (the old-fashion way, in a book) or in a private blog that you allow no one else to view, not even your close friends.

Social networking is a good tool for business promotion and keeping up with the general happenings in your friends’ and relatives’ lives. There are plenty of personal observations that a person can safely share with others. But some issues should be kept to a private discussion with a select group of confidants. Doing this shows you have good emotional intelligence.

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