I got an email yesterday from my old pal and colleague Eric Riess, a talented coach and someone I am obliged to say nice things about because he was witness (accomplice?) to many incidents from my youth that I do not wish to gain wide circulation.
Eric remembered a post from my blog wherein I wrote about the multi-player online game World Of Warcraft. Here is his email:
Mark, in light of your recent mention of how far online gaming has crept into popular culture. I thought you’d be interested to know that it has now become an on-line training tool for leadership, at least according to these three ‘experts’ from Harvard Business Review.
Abstract: "Multi-player online role-playing games are sprawling cyber-communities that offer a sneak preview of tomorrow’s business environment. Players who lead teams in these online worlds hone the skills that they will need as business leaders in the future. Games also provide an environment that makes being an effective leader easier and that today’s businesses might try to replicate selectively in their own organizations. Those are the principal findings by Reeves, of Stanford University; Malone, of MIT’s Sloan School; and O’Driscoll, of North Carolina State. As part of an analysis conducted by Seriosity, a company that develops game-inspired enterprise software, the authors studied people who headed up teams in online games.
Pity poor Mark Britton. He thought he had a pretty good idea and would help the public out as well. His idea was a public website where users could find information about attorneys, express their opinions about the attorneys, and even rate the attorneys. The ratings would include information that was publicly available, input from consumers, from the lawyers themselves, and from their peers. "I thought there should be someplace for people to go and get consumer-friendly advice about choosing a lawyer," said Britton, when I interviewed him recently. "I thought there had to be a better resource than the Yellow Pages." So Britton created something called Avvo, to meet the need he saw in the market. Many lawyers however, rather than greeting Avvo as a great marketing opportunity, immediately screamed in outrage. Their main complaint seemed to be a lack of objectivity in the standards of why an attorney was rated highly, or not. In fact, two Washington lawyers filed a class action suit against Avvo in June of last year. The class action complaint was dismissed in December. The key passage in the Court’s decision, upheld Avvo’s contention that the opinions expressed on the website were protected by the First Amendment:
"Defendants assert that the opinions expressed through the rating system, (i.e., that attorney X is a 3.5 and/or that an attorney with a higher rating is better able to handle a particular case than an attorney with a lower rating), are absolutely protected by the First Amendment and cannot serve as the basis for liability under state law. The Court agrees."
Some of you may remember my previous rant about Comcast, the company that charges you two dollars to stop sending you junk mail (a "change of service fee"). I didn’t think I’d be able to top that anytime soon, but here comes AT&T, my wireless cell phone service provider, to tell me that if I want to walk into their store and pay my bill in cash, it will cost extra. Probably you don’t believe me. Read all about it.
It’s that time of year again. Time for proms and pranks, caps and gowns, and boring speeches at graduation ceremonies. I thought many of you, particularly Boomers, might enjoy P.J. O’Rourke’s version of a commencement address, in which he says "I’m not going to ‘pass the wisdom of one generation down to the next.’ I’m a member of the 1960s generation. We didn’t have any wisdom." You can read it here.