This is not madness. This is … THE INTERNET!

sparta

The Portuguese government sometimes comes up with some harebrained ideas. The latest is a project to tax devices where I might wish to make a copy of copyrighted work that I have already paid for.

In simple terms I am paying for it twice, or three times. Once directly to the content producer and then once more for every hard disk, computer or smart phone I buy. They promise that the extra tax is going back to the author, somehow.  There is a great FAQ on this subject written by Jonasnuts. You should check it out.

Keeping up the good work, she wrote a post called “Instruction manual to stop the private copy law #pl118

This is where the madness starts

As if it had not already started, I know …

The idea is to reach out to deputies in government to persuade them to fight the implementation of this tax. So far so good. How can we reach out?

The Parliament’s website has a form you can fill out. Yes, a form. No, you can’t even send yourself a copy of the email you are sending. It’s not like when you go to www.parliament.uk and get to see the email, website and even phone number of public officials. Hell, some of them even share their twitter handle.

After a few outbursts of indignation and tweets to go along, it was time to ask “Do you think they have heard about this thing called the Internet ?”.

I bet this is going to get me into trouble

Scratch that. I HOPE this gets me into trouble.

I set up a simple google spreadsheet that in less than a few hours collected most of the twitter handles of deputies. So far, what we found out is that in 231 people, only 27 are on twitter. I am not even going to mention Facebook. By design, Facebook does not allow for the transparency I advocate for the public sector.

If you want to take a look or contribute with information, please feel free. The link to the spreadsheet is below.

https://docs.google.com/a/brunoamaral.com/spreadsheets/d/1-JarcrMyqf77ZdW1ldEUfz_kziFCKkAemjsdK6Nhey0/edit#gid=0

Does the madness stop here?

Hell no. There are 27 people you and me can reach out to on twitter to let them know what we think about being taxed twice for buying copyrighted material. Lets do that. We can even invite them for a cup of coffee and a chat. They are human beings like you and me, this sort of direct dialogue should not be started by filling out a black-hole form in the parliament’s website.

Should you learn to code?

coding

If you’re in marketing or public relations, do you need to code and program software?

The answer is no. Yet, in this day and age it is best if you do know these things. I am not saying you should know how to design a full featured software or build a website from scratch (but if you can I am very happy to meet you and please leave a comment below so I can say hi!).

Knowing how the web works can help you find new opportunities to integrate content and social media, to think up new and exciting strategies for clients or your own brand. It can even be a way for you to save valuable time and resources in order to get an interesting project off the ground or deploy a decent campaign for your small business.

This is not about knowing how to setup IFTTT or Buffer. It’s about being able to build your own site, fix occasional glitches on a blog’s html (even if just in the article) or figure out ways to get the computer to do the work for you.

For example, when I teach about social media and crisis communication I always mention how being able to start a blog at a moment’s notice can be a great asset. Do you want to depend on your development team for that on a saturday night when the client is on the other end of the line?

I know a bit about programming and it is useful every day. It can be about building a webpage or code a newsletter. It can also be something like building a small script to collect data for me and save it as an excel spreadsheet. Skills that I picked up mostly from reading Lifehacker and specially the articles written by Gina Trapani.

Knowing about new technology and open source software helps me suggest campaigns or alternative routes. There are a few examples of this at The Labs.

Stepping up a level

What I don’t know very well is how to design a piece of software. Sure, I have made things that work. What I want to know now is how to plan features and how those features should work together, how to do something from scratch if I have to. This means taking a few steps back and learning the basics.

I asked Bruno Abrantes and he suggested a few online courses and tools:

Recommended by João Neves:

If you want something fun and easy to try out, I suggest Codecadamy. There is also a nice introduction to Ruby and the Ruby on Rails framework called Rails for Zombies that is worth checking out.

A small update

João Mamede pointed out to me this article at Coding Horror – Please don’t learn to code. Feels too extremist but I empathise and agree with some of his arguments. Especially:

Please don’t advocate learning to code just for the sake of learning how to code. Or worse, because of the fat paychecks. Instead, I humbly suggest that we spend our time learning how to …

  • Research voraciously, and understand how the things around us work at a basic level.
  • Communicate effectively with other human beings.

Day one at Webnographer

webnographer_officebanner_cropped

This year kicked off pretty fast. In fact, more than half of my life changed in 45 days and I am still trying to figure out what stayed the same.

I was working with Fullsix for over 2 and a half years as a social media consultant. And during the time I stayed there I learned quite a lot. Yet there is always that time when you need new challenges and to move away from your comfort zone.

So when the opportunity came up to work with Webnographer, it was pretty hard to resist. Webnographer helps companies understand online user behaviour with a solid scientific method and a set of User Experience and Usability tools. And being a small team means I will work in UX projects and also have the opportunity to use my skills as a communication consultant from within the organisation.

This is going to be an amazing adventure and I am sure I will have much more to share in the coming days. Stay tuned.

:)

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