Last week, I came across a news story that made me think, and got me talking with a colleague or two. You probably saw or read it: a woman sued Google when the directions she got from Google Maps put her in the wrong place at the wrong time at she was struck by a moving vehicle.

It made me smile and angry all at the same time and think about how we’ll sue anyone for anything at any time in this country. Remember the woman who sued McDonald’s because her hot coffee was so hot that when she spilled it she burned herself—and the crux of the lawsuit being not that the coffee was too hot but that McDonald’s hadn’t warned her that coffee was hot?

Responsibility, anyone?

It seems that the story about the bad directions was first put on the Internet by a blogger. And not surprisingly, it got huge, and was picked up by media outlets all over the world, including “the big guys”.

And many of them failed to give credit to their original source.

I don’t know the guy who broke the story. I don’t know how real a journalist he is, or whether he has aspirations to work for a newspaper, wire service or some other traditional media outlet and so really could have used the credibility that credit would have given him. But I do know two things:

  • If you steal a story from one of the big guys they send their attorneys after you
  • The little guy is being pushed farther and farther back down the Internet food chain

I’ve told the story about how the managing editor at C|Net had the nerve to ask me to post comments on their web site but not to take credit. I’ve weighed in on how bad the NoFollow attribute is for the exchange of free ideas.

I’ve even pointed out how difficult it is to get attention even if you write a great blog.

But when big news outlets steal . . . when they ignore their own rules . . . and when they do that to the little guys but not to each other . . .  the little guy has to fight back.


First, ignore how difficult it is to get attention. Whether you’re trying to be an important media source or you’re selling goods and services, you must get serious about your Internet presence. Ignore that business change and you will soon have no business.

Second, if you aren’t quite sure how to “get into social media”, ask for help. Yes, I’d like you to ask us, but if not, ask someone.

Third: recognize that as important as social networking is, you also have to start doing Search Engine Optimization. It’s not hard, by the way; you could do it yourself if you learned just a few things and had the time.

Most important, though: understand that the Internet is not just a place to read and consume; it’s a place to speak. Find your voice. Craft it. And Use it. I promise; this is the most important business change you’ll ever make.

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