The most popular show on ABC was canceled last week because the star of the show, Roseanne Barr -- known for saying and writing stuff that would get most of us fired -- did exactly what she was known for doing and got fired. ABC now looks like it is run by idiots because, really, who didn"t see this coming?
The network now has to explain to its licensees, which deliver shows to you and me, why they no longer will be able to get the ad revenue that otherwise would have been coming to them.
This outcome is one that could have been prevented relatively easily, yet there was no apparent effort made to prevent it, and now a multimillion-dollar, extremely successful show is dead -- and a ton of people who did nothing wrong are without jobs. I"m seriously wondering if ABC and by connection Disney are run by idiots.
I"ll share my thoughts on how to prevent this kind of problem in the future, in the hope some of these mentally challenged executives get a clue. I"ll close with my product of the week: a new platform from Qualcomm that could open up the mixed-reality market by year end.
There are a lot of people in surprisingly powerful positions who have impulse control issues. Our president comes to mind. The end result is that on social media, they are their own worst enemies and invariably will get themselves or their companies in trouble.
In some cases, if they work as comedians, singers or songwriters, they often get away with this behavior on stage and then think they can get away with pretty much anything. That may have been true in the past, but currently the level of sensitivity to some of the topics these people abuse is through the roof, and the ability to boycott advertisers has advanced significantly as well.
This means that what once was allowed, or at least ignored, is not anymore -- and this suggests that a lot more brands that use these powerful celebrities as stars or advocates should be far more cautious.
Part of the contract to employ or use folks with poor impulse control and a history of saying things that are racially, sexually or religiously insensitive (or just flat-out unacceptable) should be that they stay the hell off social media.
A physical person working for the firm -- not the celebrity -- should be placed between the social media service(s) and the individual. It should be established that going around that person would result not only in being fired, but also incurring huge financially penalties -- exceeding the value of the contract by some magnitude, if possible. This penalty should be shared by the celebrity"s agent to make sure everyone is on board with the requirement to stay the hell off social media.
To make this work, it would be necessary to provide active advocacy for the celebrity in the form of an expert specialist to mount a defense against trolling or other attacks. Otherwise, the temptation to speak out might be too great to ensure compliance with the contract.
A lot of celebrity Twitter accounts are managed by professionals. This contract provision would be similar, but resourced at a level that would allow the celebrity to feel well-protected. Eventually, most might favor this kind of protection.Active Monitoring and General Contract Protection
Individuals who don"t seem to have this tendency also may act out on occasion and create similar problems with a poorly worded, poorly thought through, or anger-driven post. For key players who are critical to a show, providing what basically would be an editing service interface between them and social media would reduce substantially the probability that a career-killing post would make it to the outside world.
This service also could deal with trolls and shield the celebrity from the kind of emotional impact that insensitive remarks typically have on people. It also could help prevent a flame war that could damage the brand of the celebrity, show or product.
This would include similar provisions in their employment contract with similar huge penalties for any post that didn"t go through the service, and the understanding that if the post did go through the service the firm would have the celebrity"s back.
Think of this as insurance. For a small fraction of the cost of the damage from an unfortunate tweet or other social media post, it would be possible to create a buffer between the celebrity and the social media network, heading off the next show-ending, brand-damaging, career-killing post.Existing Services
Two services I"ve seen are RightNowMarketing and FingerMarketing. Both of these are focused on driving interest in a social media account and don" t seem to offer the service I"m suggesting. However, I expect that given their experience, either of these firms could, for a price, offer something like it. The value could be far higher, given the level of protection they would provide, than their current services.
I"d be tempted to call the service the "Idiocy Protection Service" but "image protection" or "job protection" likely would be far more politically correct.Wrapping Up
Boards and media companies need to start taking this crap seriously. When one tweet can destroy a multimillion-dollar property, it is way past time for preventive measures. This isn"t rocket science. If it isn"t handled maturely, social media can be a company and career killer. Just because the president of the United States gets away with this behavior -- for now -- that isn"t an excuse for failure to guard against it.
Separate those who have poor impulse control from Twitter, and remove their need to post by protecting them better than they could protect themselves. For those who have better control, provide a fast, well-staffed service that reviews posts before they"re published.
In both cases, provide protection for those who adhere to the terms of their agreements and impose massive penalties on those who do not. This approach should prevent the next multimillion-dollar social media mistake.
I"ll bet we have several more catastrophic mistakes before anyone does anything, because these big companies apparently are run by idiots. Seriously folks, a 3-year-old could have seen this coming...
There are two big problems with augmented and virtual reality at the moment. One is that there still is a lack of truly compelling content, and the other is that good hardware still is too expensive.
The Qualcomm XR1 platform is designed to fix the latter problem. It is a specialized part that is designed to create affordable mixed reality (AR and VR) headsets, and it is a performance powerhouse.
For instance, it supports UltraHD 4K at 30 frames a second, which is critical. The first-generation products struggled with 1080 HD, which wasn"t nearly enough resolution.
It has specialized technology called "Spectra ISP" that takes the noise out of the solution, cleaning up the picture -- especially critical at 4K resolutions, which are really unforgiving because you see everything.
It has an integrated display processor that helps keep the cost down while ensuring high performance. It has enhanced vision processing, which helps with movement around the physical and virtual worlds. It has enhanced audio system components, called "Aqstic" and "aptX," which position the user inside an acoustically accurate 2D audio field.
Finally, it has three to six degrees of freedom and a host of sensors that also help maintain and reposition the image in concert with the user"s movements.
The end result is that this should enable a new class of mixed reality headsets that are substantially better and cheaper then the last set of high-end mixed reality products. This should help open the market up substantially if there is compelling content to go with the product.
Because the Qualcomm XR1 could revolutionize mixed reality, it is my product of the week.
Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a consultancy that serves the technology industry. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester.