PR Agency Deems My Article Cynical: Internal OGF Communication Leaked via Google Cache

I’m a huge fan of WordPress and Google .

While perusing my blog’s WordPress stats recently, I noticed that my opinion piece on the creation of the Open Grid Forum (OGF) was receiving interest.

On Googling “open grid forum”, my GRIDtoday article rated as the number three result. In first place was the OGF’s Web site itself, and in second place a breaking news article on the OGF in GRIDtoday. Not bad, given that Google reports some 17.7 million results (!) for that combination.

This prompted me to Google “open grid forum lumb”. Not surprisingly, my GRIDtoday article rated first out of some 822 results. Following four results pointing to my blog, and one more to a Tabor Communications’ teaser, is the seventh result:

[gfac] FW: Final OGF Coverage Report
Harris also discusses a cynical article contributed by Ian Lumb of York University (formerly of Platform Computing Inc.), “Open Grid Forum: Necessary…but

http://www.ogf.org/pipermail/gfac/2006-July/000171.html – 12k – CachedSimilar pagesNote this

Somewhere between “… cynical article …”, and a subject line that belies an internal communication, my attention was grabbed!

So I clicked on the link and received back: “The requested URL /pipermail/gfac/2006-July/000171.html was not found on this server.” Darn!

Then I clicked on “Cached” … and:

This is G o o g l e‘s cache of http://www.ogf.org/pipermail/gfac/2006-July/000171.html as retrieved on 30 Sep 2006 05:14:59 GMT.
G o o g l e‘s cache is the snapshot that we took of the page as we crawled the web.

Excellent!

Below is an extract from the cached version of the page:

[gfac] FW: Final OGF Coverage Report

Linesch, Mark mark.linesch at hp.com
Thu Jul 6 16:15:25 CDT 2006

fyi mark
—–Original Message—–
From: Hatch, Marcie [mailto:Marcie.Hatch at zenogroup.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 06, 2006 1:08 PM
To: Linesch, Mark; Steve Crumb; tony.dicenzo at oracle.com; John Ehrig; Don Deutsch; Toshihiro Suzuki; robert.fogel at intel.com
Cc: Maloney, Nicole
Subject: Final OGF Coverage Report

Hi Team,

There have been nine pieces of total coverage resulting from the EGA/GGF merger announcement. The coverage has remained informative and continues to reiterate the key messages that were discussed during the press conference. Please note, the expected pieces by Patrick Thibodeau of Computerworld and Elliot King of Database Trends and Applications have not appeared, to date.

GRIDToday has featured four different pieces as a result of the announcement. Editor Derrick Harris summarized the various stories in an overview, providing the details of the announcement and points to the overall importance of grid computing. Harris also discusses his Q&A with Mark regarding the next steps for the OGF, the pace of standards adoption and how the OGF plans to balance the concerns of the commercial community with those of the research community.

Harris also discusses a cynical article contributed by Ian Lumb of York University (formerly of Platform Computing Inc.), “Open Grid Forum: Necessary…but Sufficient?” Lumb uses his experience working for Platform as a basis for his pessimistic outlook on grid computing. Hestates, “I remain a grid computing enthusiast, but as a realistic enthusiast, I believe that grid computing sorely needs to deliver definitive outcomes that really matter.”

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

Marcie Hatch

According to their Web site: “ZENO is a new-style communications company.” (Indeed!) And presumably, Marcie Hatch is one of their representatives. In this internal communication of the OGF’s Grid Forum Advisory Committee (GFAC), Ms. Hatch relays to OGF president and CEO Mark Linesch and colleagues her assessment of the coverage on the Enterprise Grid Alliance / Global Grid Forum merger announcement.

In the first paragraph of Ms. Hatch’s message, it is revealed that there have been nine items on the merger, although at least two more items were anticipated. The second paragraph introduces the coverage in GRIDtoday, and in the third paragraph, explicit reference to my GRIDtoday article is made. Before commenting on Ms. Hatch’s assessment of my article, let’s review how GRIDtoday editor Derrick Harris contextualized it originally:

However, not everyone is wholly optimistic about this new organization. Ian Lumb, former Grid solutions manager at Platform Computing, contributed an opinion piece questioning whether the OGF will be able to overcome the obstacles faced by the Grid market. While most in the Grid community are singing the praises of the OGF — and for good reason — it is nice to have a little balance, and to be reminded, quite honestly, that it will take a lot of work to get Grid computing to the place where many believe it should be.

Even with the benefit of hindsight, and Ms. Hatch’s assessment, I remain very comfortable with Harris’ contextualization of my article. And because it’s difficult to take the cynical spin from his words, I must assume that the cynical assessment derives from Ms. Hatch herself. For a variety of reasons, it’s very difficult for me to get through Ms. Hatch’s next sentence, “Lumb uses his experience working for Platform as a basis for his pessimistic outlook on grid computing.”, without laughing hysterically. I’m not sure how Ms. Hatch arrived at this assessment, as I appended to my GRIDtoday article the following in my bio:

Over the past eight years, Ian Lumb had the good fortune to engage with customers and partners at the forefront of Grid computing. For all but one of those eight years, Lumb was employed by Platform Computing Inc.

Now that’s a fairly positive spin for a cynic, and one that can be attested to by the Platform colleagues, customers and partners I interacted with. In re-reading my article, and indeed the earlier allusion to Platform in it, I believe it’s fairly clear that Ms. Hatch was unable to appreciate the Platform context. To re-iterate, I needed to step away from the community, so that I could appreciate the broader business and technical landscape. Ironicaly, even the OGF has acknowledged this broader landscape directly through the first of their two strategic goals. Ms. Hatch concludes her paragraph on my GRIDtoday article by quoting me directly. Not only is the quote not entirely a cynical one, it expresses sentiment that was conveyed by numerous others around the recent GridWorld event.

Not too surprisingly, I suppose, my GRIDtoday article did not make the “OGF News” page. Ironically, however, Globus Consortium president Greg Nawrocki’s blog post did:

July 2006 InfoWorld.com Blog, “A Broader Scope Needed for Grid Standards Bodie”
http://weblog.infoworld.com/gridmeter/archives/2006/07/a_broader_scope.html

Greg’s blog entry starts off: “There is a great article in a recent GRIDtoday from Ian Lumb detailing the Open Grid Forum’s necessity but questioning its sufficiency.
For those of you who’ve read this far, I feel I owe you some lessons learned in closing, so here goes:

  • PR companies may position what they think you want to hear, but not necessarily what you need to hear – Engage in your own due dilligence to ensure that their assessment matches your assessment, especially on matters that have any technical content.
  • OGF’s tagline is “Open Forum, Open Standards” – Hm?
  • Google results may inflate perspective, but Google cache delivers the goods – Semantics aside, is there any credibility in 17.7 million results for an entity created this past July? (I just re-ran the query and we’re up to 19.1 million results. Not bad for a few hours!) Google cache allowed me to view a mailing-list archive that, I expect, should’ve been off limits.

Cynically yours, Ian.

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2 responses to “PR Agency Deems My Article Cynical: Internal OGF Communication Leaked via Google Cache”

  1. John Stodder says :

    I’m curious how an internal media coverage report became publicly available. PR people send reports like this all the time. She probably spent 11 seconds on it, and in context, the word “cynical” is probably meant as a synonym for “skeptical.” Consider who she’s probably writing this for — her clients. It’s not always a fair assessment, but many PR people assume if their client isn’t being flattered, they’ll consider the story a hit piece. So it goes.

    Anyway, Marcie Hatch worked for me many years ago, she is a great person with a lot of talent — and hardly a generic PR type. So I thought I’d give her a little endorsement here, FWIW.

  2. Ian Lumb says :

    There’s a huge difference between “cynical” and “skeptical”, John. Nonetheless, thank you for providing additional context on the PR process and Marcy Hatch.

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