January 18, 2009

CNN Promotion Risks Clogging Inaugural Cell Phones

Greetings. It's one of the most undeniable examples I've ever seen of one hand seemingly not knowing what the other is doing -- and possibly putting people at risk as a result. CNN has previously urged persons not to use scarce cellular bandwidth at the Obama inauguration to transmit photos or videos -- but now is heavily promoting a plan that asks everyone to do exactly the opposite!

Last week, CNN was airing a well done video report explaining the challenges of providing cellular service to potentially millions of persons attending the inaugural. The piece ended with the wise admonition that persons taking photos and videos with their phones be sure not to transmit them from the phones at the event, but rather wait until they were back at home before e-mailing them to anyone out on the Net. Excellent advice -- we obviously want to keep as much bandwidth as possible available for more critical needs in such situations.

But at about the same time, Turner Broadcasting apparently sent out a press release promoting their "Capturing 'the moment'" project in conjunction with Microsoft.

This plan is now being heavily promoted on the CNN Web site and on CNN's air. It asks inauguration attendees to take photos of the exact moment of the swearing-in and then to "E-mail each photo as soon as possible" to CNN.

We know what potentially very large numbers of persons will do. They'll use camera phones to take the photos (CNN suggests up to three photos per person) and will immediately start trying to e-mail them to CNN from their phones -- exactly what the earlier CNN report told people not to do!

To be clear, I'm generally a fan of CNN. But in this case, by contradicting their own report's sage warning, they're undercutting their own credibility and potentially risking causing exactly the kind of cell phone "traffic jam" that they themselves had reported as being so potentially disruptive.

CNN needs to immediately rethink "Capturing 'the moment'" -- at least in its current form.


Posted by Lauren at January 18, 2009 04:10 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein