The purpose of this Disclosure Statement is to explain and give you some context for what you might find on my blog. This is heavily cribbed from Danah Boyd who heavily cribbed hers from David Weinberger.
First things first, on this blog I am not speaking on behalf of my current employer (IDC or IDG) or any past employers, and what I say on my blog may not reflect the beliefs or interests of my employer, any of my clients, or any of the people I interview. This is a personal blog. I say what I want and no one pays me to write this blog or say particular things in it. I am not compensated for my blog – I do not run ads, no one pays me under the table, and I don’t sell t-shirts or coffee mugs or anything else for that matter. I don’t do favors or blog about people because they’re nice to me or say that I’m brilliant; I may blog about other people when I think their work is interesting or when I’m working with them but I also might not.
I am currently employed by IDC as a Research Director on the Government Insights team. In the past, I have been a partner or an employee of: Altimeter Group, Forrester Research, the US Department of the Interior, SRA, National Science Foundation, and other firms. I still have friends in my previous employers.
I am also currently a lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA where I get to speak to senior Navy leaders about technology. In doing so, I am also a part-time, non-benefitted Federal employee of the U.S. Department of the Navy. What this means is I only get paid as a Federal employee when I teach a course which is generally one or two days long, and between six and eight times per year (unless Congress is in a disagreement with the President and we are under sequestration, then it quickly drops to zero).
I currently, and in the past, have advised numerous companies and government agencies for pay and sometimes because they’re friends of mine. Right now, all consulting and advisory relationships are with clients of IDC. Most of these relationships are between me, IDC, and them but I will disclose the relationship if I talk about them on my blog. I tend not to talk about them or their products because of conflict of interest issues.
Objects of Study
In my research, I typically study the intersection of culture, technology, and government. As an analyst and a researcher the primary purpose of my research is to provide an objective analysis of the positives and negatives of different technologies for end users while also providing an objective perspective on the market for vendors. It is a difficult tightrope to walk. Different companies, government agencies, and organizations feel differently about my research in this area and my findings about their technology, practices, and policies. For example, the management of a government systems integrator despised my work and refused to speak with me because their marketing didn’t agree with my findings. Other vendors have been supportive of my work and have provided me with extremely helpful briefings and data. The attitude of each company does not affect my decisions of what to research or my findings. I never reveal data or information provided to me in confidence or under NDA.
I did my undergraduate degree in Political Science at Colorado State University, my first Master’s in Public Policy and another Master’s in Natural Resource Management again at Colorado State University, and my PhD course work in Technology Policy at The George Washington University. I may someday put together a committee that stays together and I may actually write that damn dissertation…Then again, I may not. I regularly visit and interact with academics from numerous universities. I’m sure that these affiliations color my judgment on some issues, especially when it comes to the CSU v CU football game.
I probably go to more conferences than I should, and for an analyst cutting back is like being in a twelve-step program. When I’m speaking at professional conferences or events, I don’t pay conference fees and IDC is often compensated for my appearance. Those vendor conferences, events, and analysts days that I do attend but don’t speak at usually include travel, food, and hotel stay paid for by the vendor. For those professional conferences that I still pay travel fees to attend, I do so because I genuinely believe in the conference.
Companies sometimes send me free gadgets and technologies to evaluate, and authors or publishers sometimes send me free copies of their books. Often, explicitly or implicitly, they are looking for a mention (essentially almost free marketing). If I like the book or object, I may indeed mention it, but I often don’t. And unless I write about it, I’m probably not going to tell you that I got a free copy. Why? Because it doesn’t matter and because it makes me feel like I’m boasting. When I do receive promotional gadgets or books, after the evaluation is over I will either return them or give them away. If I really like it, I will buy one on my own.
Every day, I receive a number of requests to link to someone’s project or website. Sometimes these come in the form of PR announcement; sometimes it’s a begging request from a friend. I ignore almost all of these requests because I refuse to be advertising vehicle. I only link to projects that I’m involved in or things that I think are really cool, and not because I was asked to promote something; outside pressure to link to something tends to devalue it in my mind. When I post a link, it’s because I can personally vouch for it.
When I mention a book, I try to include a link to the book on Amazon. These are not affiliate links and I earn no money from them. I simply do it as a service to my readers.
Politics and Activism
One of my primary areas of research interest is government, and you can’t look at government without looking at politics. I am passionate about many professional issues that involve government and politics, including technology adoption, technology policy and regulation, future of technology and society, entrepreneurship, economics, environmental sustainability, social business, triple bottom line, government workforce issues, surveillance, the use of big data, and privacy. I strive hard to keep my personal politics out of anything I publish. That being said, being a taxpayer and former government employee I am highly critical of government waste and questionable practices, and will call them out if I see them. I can or will post on these topics (and others) and leave room for disagreement but don’t get into heated debates on my blog about these positions – I don’t think that it’s the appropriate place to do so. I am happy to have commenters who disagree with me, but if you aim to increase the flame don’t be upset when I cut you off.
I donate 10% or more of my income to the church and charities that I believe are doing good work. I encourage everyone else to do this as well.
Many people take issue with the fact that I work for an analyst firm like IDC and think that this biases my judgment. Working for a company like IDC allows me to continue to develop my understandings of technology, society, and government while helping both vendors and government agencies get to a point that eventually benefits the citizen because that is what it is really all about. Let’s face it, there are big issues in the world, and neither the government or the private sector can fix them on their own. I get paid to do my research and publish it for the benefit of IDC clients, though some may trickle in here. I may discuss the publication of my research on my blog or post presentations on SlideShare, but I will not use my blog to directly market my published research. I am deeply grateful to my boss at IDC for allowing me to continue to blog.
Inevitably, when it comes to my blog, I use my judgment. I am more likely to not mention a company that I am affiliated with than to promote their products. I do this out of fairness and because most of my blog is dedicated to my insights, observations, and opinions, not those of my employer or my clients. Sometimes, my opinions are aligned with the espoused positions of these companies and agencies; at other times, they are not. This is just the way it goes.
All I can promise is that I will be honest with you and never write something I don’t believe in because someone is paying me as part of a relationship you don’t know about. I may be silent because of my relationships, so please don’t take silence as either approval or dissent. But I will never make shit up (Thanks Randy Heffner!) just to maintain good face with a company, organization, or person.