Editorial: A Chicken Recipe?

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Has Martha Stewart taken over as editorial director at The Industry Standard? In an effort to join Business 2.0, et al., stampeding to distance themselves from the hip, new-economy image that brought so many ad pages last year, the Standard's June 18 issue debuted a more traditional design and a new tag line: "Intelligence for the Information Economy."


Totally understandable. Advisable, in fact. It's just not hip to be hip right now.


But check out page 78. Under the heading Downturn Dining, the Standard offers a People magazine-type lightweight piece with advice from Mark Ladner, the chef at Manhattan's relatively reasonably priced (according to the Standard) Lupa, on how to dine well on a budget. Lupa is about a mile from iMarketing News' editorial offices. And it is reasonably priced -- that is, for those who have lived here long enough to be so numbed by Manhattan's obscene dinner and drink tabs that when they dine in other cities, they're tempted to stand up and yell, "Hey, everybody! Dinner's on me!"


The Standard piece goes on to offer three upscale recipes, beginning with one for pollo alla diavola, or devil's chicken.


One can only imagine business executives' reactions after reading that piece:


"A chicken recipe? I just laid off 15 percent of my staff. I'm trying to figure out a way to avoid another round, and you're offering me a *$*&%ing chicken recipe?!"


Please tell us the Downturn Dining decision was out of editorial's control.


A Peep of Reason


Amid the din of hysterical editorializing and news coverage surrounding privacy comes a levelheaded report from the free market public policy group Competitive Enterprise Institute and the libertarian-leaning privacy organization Privacilla.org called "With a Grain of Salt: What Consumer Privacy Surveys Don't Tell Us."


The most disappointing thing about this report is that smart people had to spend their time chronicling how flawed consumer polling is as a method for determining public policy. In an atmosphere that is even somewhat rational, these folks could simply lay out the free-market side of the privacy debate and have it stand on its merits, or lack thereof.


Nope, with privacy advocates shamelessly relying on flawed consumer polling data to bludgeon their point home, and with so many consumer reporters apparently willing to take their word for it, someone on the business side has to take time to spell out the obvious. And that they did.


In the report, co-authors Solveig Singleton of CEI and Privacilla's Jim Harper point out, for instance, that a BusinessWeek/Harris poll dubbed "A Growing Threat" asked consumers the uselessly loaded question, "How concerned are you [that] ... the company you buy from uses personal information you provide to send you unwanted information?"


Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they were "very" or "somewhat" concerned. What a surprise.


Anyone who has spent 10 minutes studying direct marketing knows the companies they buy from will use the information they provide to send unwanted pitches. That still doesn't outweigh the benefits of the free flow of information.


"With a Grain of Salt" is available at www.cei.org/PDFs/with_a_grain_of_salt.pdf.


See This Flick


Word on the street concerning "Startup.com," the documentary about the rise and fall of electronic government services provider govWorks Inc., is that while you get an inside look at a pair of young guys shooting for the moon and the unraveling of their friendship as things begin to fall apart, there's naturally quite a bit missing.


Not in the documentary, for instance, was the presence of a lot of classic dot-com waste. According to former employees, govWorks had twice-a-week massages, free fruit and sodas, Foosball ... all the usual.


Also telling is that the word "customer" never comes up. These guys were all about cutting deals and getting funding.


At one point, the firm had 200 employees. They must have been doing something. But the day-to-day-operations story is conspicuously absent.


However, go see "Startup.com." For current and former dot-commers, the similarities between govWorks and other start-ups by all accounts are eerie. For non-dot-commers, one heck of a human drama unfolds.


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