Boost, call me “Amanda”

Boost Juice Bars annoy me. It’s not the product — that’s just fruit juice. It’s not the loud music — that’s just a futile attempt to drown out the machines. No, it’s because they always want to know my name, when all I want is juice.

For Boost, this is part of “Our Guarantee”. I can’t link to it, they’ve got one of those stupid Flash websites. But it includes:

Be polite enough to call you by your first name.

Dodgy grammar aside, this assumes everyone wants to be called by name in a juice bar. I don’t. Apart from having an unusual name and not wanting to draw attention to it, like many people who grew up in the country I find it rude when a stranger demands my name. And I find it uncomfortable when some teenager calls out my name in a busy shop.

As Allan and Barbara Pease write in The Definitive Book of Body Language:

People raised in sparsely populated rural areas… need more Personal Space than those raised in densely populated cities.

This applies to psychological space as well as physical. I won’t tell a stranger my name until I know them a bit better. If I’m just buying juice, I’ll probably never see them again. So I’ll be polite, but I won’t want them to know anything personal. And I won’t be so rude as to ask them either.

Boost does this with best intentions. “Our Guarantee” also says:

Make you feel great, give you something to smile about and always give you a reason to choose BOOST!

But once I’ve placed my order, handed over cash and received change, that’s the end of the transaction. Psychologically I’ve moved into that state called “staring aimlessly at random objects while waiting”. A personal question at this point is unsettling.

So Janine Allis, founder of Boost, I’ll continue to tell your staff my name is Amanda Vanstone and let them suffer a little discomfort too. Unless , of course, there’s another juice bar nearby where I can remain comfortably anonymous.

33 Days of Wiki Inspiration

A wiki is a website which allows anyone to add, remove, or otherwise edit content, quickly and easily. The best-known wiki is Wikipedia, an open encyclopedia which anyone can contribute to.

But wikis are also good in a business context for maintaining documentation — because anyone can update the documentation immediately.

To show you what’s possible, Eastwikkers series has just started a series called “33 Wikis,” featuring best practices in wiki-based collaboration.

Each day — for 33 days — we will focus on one wiki, and we will briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and we can all learn from it.

I’ll be following it myself, and reporting back at the end.

[Update 16 January 2008: This page is still getting hundreds of visitors a month. I’m curious. How did you get to this page? What brought you here? And while you’re here, do feel free to look around and maybe even post a few comments.]

Wrapping up the takedown

Melbourne IT now admits its takedown of satirical website was “badly handled”. In an interview on ABC Radio National, Bruce Tonkin, CTO of Melbourne IT, also indicated that it may have been a mistake to take the Prime Minister’s office at their word.

As I write this, is back online, redirected to Richard Neville’s main website.

Tim Longhurst has already written an excellent factual summary, including links to source material. So I’ll just look at three questions…

1. What crime, exactly?

The PM’s office involved the Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC). Their website describes “high tech crimes” as including:

  • computer intrusions (e.g. malicious hacking)
  • unauthorised modification of data, including destruction of data
  • denial-of-service (DoS) attacks
  • and the creation and distribution of malicious software (e.g. viruses, worms, trojans)

I don’t see how Richard Neville’s spoof fits any of those.

2. Isn’t it “Fair Usage”?

Neville’s one error may have been using elements from the real John Howard website. Despite what many people believe, Australian law does not recognise copying for satirical purposes as “fair dealing” — only for serious criticism and review.

The most recent case was TCN Channel 9 Pty Ltd sueing Ten network program The Panel over their use of Nine footage. The Melbourne University Law Review has written a detailed analysis of The Panel case, calling it “a real pea souper”. [Thanks to Jan Whitaker for the pointer.]

3. Were “favours owed”?

After all, ABC TV’s Four Corners questioned the allocation of shares in Melbourne IT’s lucrative float. Given that Melbourne IT was spun out of the University of Melbourne, a Liberal stronghold that’s not too long a stretch.

Was some Liberal conspiracy at play?

I doubt it. This was the first time Melbourne IT had shut down a satirical website in ten years of operations. They probably didn’t have a procedure, and were spooked by the call from the AHTCC.

Swedish Foreign Minister resigns over web censorship

In stark contrast to John Howard’s closure of and Melbourne IT’s subsequent silence, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Lalla Freivalds has resigned over allegations that she pressured a private Internet hosting company to close a website — something which is illegal in Sweden.

She becomes the fourth government minister around the world to lose a job over the anti-Muslin cartoons which originated in Denmark.

Yes, it looks like tabloid meth

So did Four Corners go all tabloid over methamphetamine last night? I don’t know yet, I’m catching the repeat on Wednesday. But a friend certainly found it “really disappointing”.

“The Ice Age was ‘the usual deal’,” he says, showing the extreme cases and linking it with heroin. It left his questions unanswered.

I was really hoping for an investigation of the weekend recreational culture, which so many people seem to be able to sustain…

I don’t know many that can afford 3 grams a day…

Well, no, given that 3 grams would cost about $2000. [OK, that’s retail, but even as a low-end dealer buying wholesale that’s still a very expensive habit.]

If there are 73,000 addicts as claimed, a lot caused by no heroin, how many recreational users are there? What is the damage? How do people juggle it and what [do you] do if you’re falling?

Predictable Response

The ABC program guestbook is mostly predictable.

There’s the usual bleating from the talkback radio herd who can’t stand their hard-earned tax dollars supporting these blah blah blah kill them like Singapore why when I was a lad my dad used to whack sense into me by golly jingo. Yeah, them.

There’s the usual stream of “shocked” and “horrified” townsfolk, for whom the freak show achieved its shock-horror aim.

But occasionally, though, there is clarity.

Linthi: There is an underbelly of society that exists to which we only pay cursory attention. If these advanced addicts were offered a choice of immediately going clean or a lifetime supply of Ice, I know which they would choose. As mad as it sounds, some people like this life, it’s a culture in which they are comfortable.

This “underbelly” has always been with us, of course, and always will be. There will never be a Utopia. Some will never fit in — because they’ve slipped and fallen, or were pushed, or were defective or were damaged.

Drug Porn Exploitation

Barbara Farrelly was “disturbed” by the program’s approach.

Barbara Farrelly: struck me that you offered no hope to addicts. The rooms of Narcotics Anonymous are full of people who have overcome addictions.

I feel you also exploited people who could hardly give informed consent to being exposed in their degradation. They seemed happy enough to clown for the cameras on their highway to hell. Touting this as “rare footage” is ingenuous. Taking pictures of these guys was like taking candy from a baby…

I felt like I’d been subject to drug porn…

And while you are talking up ice as a major problem, it is estimated that every year 70,000 Australians die as a result of alcohol abuse and a further 20,000 from the effect of smoking.

You failed to present both sides of the story: Addiction isn’t pretty but recovery is beautiful.

Billing the program as showing us how the drug is affecting Australian society, but only showing those enduring the worst addictions, is like promising us a documentary on the wine industry and only talking to sherry-soaked derelicts. For shame.

That said, the special broadband edition of the program has an excellent timeline documenting the drug’s heritage and what apppear to be longer versions of the interviews. Why wait until the repeat?