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Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican

By Andrew Pollack on 01/16/2012 at 12:46 AM EST

After the tweets around the community today, a lot of people have asked me what the story was that led to the almost cancellation of a popular session and the social media comments that followed.

Here’s the information…

The short story is that the IBM lawyers for the Lotus software group – apparently led by Thomas Hagen who is the same person who caused me to decide no longer to do CULT shirts after last year (thagen@us.ibm.com for those who would like to email him with feedback) have been unprofessionally late, arrogant, and overreaching in their reviews of presentations this year. Gab and I found it unacceptable and with the support of our friends in the community, found a way make that clear without compromising our commitments or professionalism.

Many of you in the BP track haven’t been impacted by this only because Susan has been aggressively fighting on your behalf in that track. IBM speakers and BPs in other tracks have had to deal directly with their unprofessional demands.

The longer story

After having only two weeks to produce content, Gab and I turned in our presentation for the two hour security jumpstart on time like everyone else. IBM then had about a month to review it – the internal legal team never got around to doing their job. It’s a bit like last year where the same guy sent me feedback on a presentation that I’d given two days prior. Seriously. If you're going to do your job badly, at least do it on time.

Today, about two hours before we were scheduled to provide our extensive two hour security jumpstart session, Gab & I received an email from Oliver Heinz with copies to Selma Neves and Danielle Baptiste asking if we could show up a little early because IBM legal still hadn’t approved the session and they may want to make last minute changes WHILE WE WERE ABOUT TO PRESENT.

I said no, and I tweeted about saying no. Specifically I said it was too last minute and unreasonable.

Danielle Babtiste got back to us indicating that most of the changes were about removal of images that IBM counsel decided were a possible copyright violation.

Again, I said no. We were now just over 1 hour before the presentation. I indicated that everything in this year’s presentation images was also in last year’s; that removing the images would leave the presentation unacceptable; and that we’d already signed IBM’s outrageous speaker indemnity document removing any risk from IBM -- and thus any legitimate interest for IBM’s lawyer to care about someone else’s content regardless of them being correct or incorrect. I asked if they would like us to cancel instead.

Danielle got back to us with a list of the “REQUIREMENTS” and a copy of the presentation with them already made (which we rejected – No Way are we presenting someone else’s deck in Symphony at the last minute)

Here were their requirements:

1) Remove all cartoon images – this means pretty much all images on all pages. NONE of these were issues with terms or images owned by IBM and thus were totally outside his authority and responsibility. They were also, in my opinion, used in a way consistent with accepted practices of sampling and fair use -- but that's not the point. 2) The lawyer wanted to us to remove the title of our “copyright” slide that said we had been required by a horde of lawyers to copyright all these terms. They had no problem with the content on the slide, just didn’t –LIKE—the title. Since when does this guy have the authority to dictate changes to content because he doesn’t LIKE it? He doesn’t. We don’t work for him. He gets away with it because he’s a bully, and the people who work around him don’t want to cross him in his position as internal counsel. I don’t like bullies and I don’t like this guy at all. 3) The lawyer also suggested a grammatical change on one slide. Again, way outside what he is responsible for. 4) They replaced the name of a character mentioned with a generic name -- again, not anything belonging to IBM.

Again, we said no. It isn’t going to happen with less than an hour before the session. I asked if they needed us to cancel the session.

By this point, Oliver was trying to find a way to give us more time and offered to reschedule for 4pm and I have no doubt that both he and Danielle were looking for ways to resolve the issue reasonably, but “reasonable” isn’t really of any apparent interest to Mr. Hagen or his team. His response was to invite us to cancel. There’s no negative fallout back to a guy like this if the session doesn’t go on. It’s less risk that way. I believe lawyers like this, who forget why they are there, are incredibly damaging to the companies they work for. A lawyer’s job is to say “Yes, and here’s how…” not just “No.” When you have a lawyer who forgets that, or never learned it, or loses track of the fact that ultimately they are there to make things better for the business not just safer – it’s time to look for new talent.

I wrote that I’d discuss it with Gab and we’d decide about cancellation.

By the time I met Gab downstairs to go over what we could do, a few things had happened. Some in the community had picked up my tweets and were in full-on “WTF?” mode. Gab had “redacted” the presentation – not by removing the images, but by COVERING them with big black boxes as if someone had taken a black marker to redact a document. It was brilliant, but she was struggling with how we could still make it a good presentation. I hadn’t thought of the redaction, but when I saw it I flashed on exactly how I wanted to do the presentation. I had to convince Mike more than Gab but all of us were a bit worried that we would push too hard and fail to pull it off with grace, class, and responsibility.

That was when I saw Tom Duff’s tweet calling for others to come and support us by showing up at the Pelican room for the presentation. When I saw his hashtag (#OccupyPelican), my stress level dropped almost to normal and I knew we were all set. I didn’t realize it, but Gab didn’t see the tweet so she didn’t get that relief until later.

When we got to the session, Danielle almost immediately came over to apologize for the difficulty. That was nice, and we don’t hold her or Oliver responsible – we don’t expect them to risk their own necks to argue with a high level lawyer in their organization. They’re doing what they’d been bullied into doing. By then, we had a plan anyway.

We gave the presentation, complete with large black boxes over every single one of the images. When I introduced the session at the beginning, I explained in polite and truthful detail that with less than an hour before the session IBM’s lawyers had required us to remove what would have been fun and well pointed images to help make our point and that while we do apologize for the obvious redaction and lack of images we would relate using not-copyrighted language what would have been in each picture. I also invited anyone with comments to send a note to Thom (yeah, with an h) and gave his email address. After that, the session went very well. We explained what was in the missing pictures and had a bit of fun with it.

My favorite part of the whole debacle, is that around ¾ of the way through the presentation, we’d forgotten what one of the images was. Several people held up iPads and notebooks SHOWING us the presentation with the images to remind us – because it was still published on the Lotusphere site with the images included. This is where my “Outstanding!” quote that Tom tweeted came from.

Will there be follow up?

I’m sure there will be some. I expect to have more trouble from Thomas Hagen any time he has the opportunity. I’ll deal with each as professionally as I can, but I also will publish those interactions where possible because frankly I do not trust him or his way of doing things and I believe sunshine is the best disinfectant. I also plan to look into what formal processes exist under which I can make a complaint within the IBM structure that will be taken seriously. If such a process exists, I will likely make use of it. I don’t believe there will be an issue with future events, but even if I thought there would be, I simply am not someone who can tolerate those who use their small amounts of power to bully others. I get zero percent of my business through the dysfunctional business partner program as it stands, and I’m willing to risk all of that zero if it means not just giving in to people like this.

As to presenting in the future? I will, as always, be happy to stand on my survey results and am sure Gab would be as well. We are both consistently in the very top of the list for feedback scores, and from what I've seen so far, this session was no exception. We get those scores because we work hard on our presentations and have worked hard on our delivery as well. We don't do things at the last minute and just hope for the best, and that was the real problem with these last minute demands. The whole process was arrogant, late, and unprofessional.

Finally, I want to make sure to thank Tom Duff and the rest of those in our community who supported us while we tried to find our way to the right solution here. The community support gave us the strength and direction we needed. THAT, my friends at IBM, is how SOCIAL really works.


There are  - loading -  comments....

re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Peter Hanson on 01/16/2012 at 01:55 AM EST
What is the future of Lotus Notes?
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Rocky Oliver on 01/16/2012 at 05:29 PM EST
Hi Peter - you're not my son-in-law Peter Hanson from Texas, are you? Just
curious (he's a geek too, but I've lost touch with him and he could be into
Notes now). If not, please excuse the intrusion ;)
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Andrew Pollack on 01/23/2012 at 04:07 PM EST
Peter, the future of notes in the near term is about what you see now. It
continues to be improved from a performance and reliability perspective and
expanded with offerings like Traveler that add value.

Long term? I personally have some strong opinions on what needs to happen.
They likely don't agree with those of the IBM product team, and they are
definitely off topic for this post. I'll defer that conversation until later.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Dwight Wilbanks on 01/16/2012 at 02:49 AM EST
Sunlight is the best disinfectant, but, what IBM has is not a simple
infection. IBM has failed to provide some person as an advocate of the notes
community that is capable of a hockey style wall slam that is so much in need.

My guess is that clowns like Thom (tee hee) have always been there trying to
disrupt things, but, have not been allowed to screw things up, because there
has always been someone with more power and authority that sees the value of a
loyal following.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Rocky Oliver on 01/16/2012 at 05:30 PM EST
Yep, there was someone to protect us - or two of them together. Kristine Keene
and Sandra Marcus. KK is now no longer over content for Lotusphere, and I'm not
sure how much Sandra can protect anymore.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Giulio on 01/16/2012 at 04:16 AM EST
hmm... Shame when ppl like that are allowed to run amok in this way. An old
saying here may be applicable "the fish rots from the head down". For someone
like that, to exist in such a high profile positionorganisation, there is a bit
of a problem above him to.

Plenty of sunshine should help, especially where it don't shine normally, which
seems to be the locale of this individual.. Not sure if it will work though....
perhaps a colonic ? ;)
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Gab Davis on 01/16/2012 at 04:29 AM EST
My reaction was slightly different to Andrew's. I'm a frantic, obsessive over
preparer. When I got the emails I pretty much went into a combination of shock
and panic at the thought of losing the entire theme and tone of the
presentation with what was an hour or so to go. Ia ssumed there was a mix
up as we presented the exact same session with almost identical images (but
updated content) at LS11 without ever being contacted by an IBM lawyer. So, I
wish I had the calmness of mind to have a plan but all I could think about was
whether it was worse to give a bad presentation than none at all. I don't
remember much of the presentation so I genuinely thank those that came and sat
through 2 hrs of security anyway. At various points on stage the panic about
the whole situation would takeover and my mind would blank - for the first time
ever I had to remind myself where I was by reading off the slides.

The content team have all been pushed to the limit this year and that I would
end up being any part of making LS worse, not better, is what made me (and
makes me) physically ill.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Turtle on 01/16/2012 at 05:51 AM EST
Gab, neither you nor Andrew are the problem.

Trust me on this.

Turtle
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Rocky Oliver on 01/16/2012 at 05:33 PM EST
Agreed. People like Gab, Paul, and others from our community have definitely
done all they could to make Lotusphere's content the best it could be. I don't
have to actually attend to know this, because I know the content of their
character, and I know how much they love this community.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Harald Gaerttner on 01/16/2012 at 06:14 AM EST
#OccupyPelican ... I absolutely love this! :-)

I'm sure this situation felt as hilarious as it happend but reading that
article made me smile. I think you reacted in the best way.

Hopefuly this get's enough attention that somebody important will ask the
laywer how he was able to create such a mess.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Harald Gaerttner on 01/16/2012 at 06:15 AM EST
...ups meant "not as hilarious"
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Paul Mooney on 01/16/2012 at 06:31 AM EST
The horrible part (to me) is that the IBM staff involved totally agreed that it
was ridiculous. Its "just legal" and they have to deal with it. Just sad
really. And it seems they can continue this method without any worry of
complaint and/or retribution for being a bully.

I have no issue with being asked to make changes for legal reasons. I have
significant issue being asked to alter presentations we work on for weeks (and
rehearse for days) with minutes to go before any session and as a fellow
speaker I completely understand and support both yours and Gab's stance. I
also commend you on professionalism when acting unprofessionally would have
been the easy route.

As for wording changes in the deck that they wanted? What an asshole.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Charles Robinson on 01/16/2012 at 08:36 AM EST
I'm speechless. I absolutely could not have been that professional. I know IBM
left you with next to no time to prepare, but then for them to come back two
hours before you're going on stage with a list of draconian demands is utterly
ridiculous. Hopefully this comes back to bite Thom. (Really? That's so
pretentious and obnoxious.) Karma is only a bitch if you are, and I think she's
going to make Mr. Hagen hers.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Craig Wiseman on 01/16/2012 at 10:40 AM EST
This is so sad.

It's very easy for lawyers (and IT people) to forget ...or never learnu2026
that just because you're critical to a process, it doesn't mean you are key or
significant. If a process can't flow without you, it's easy to let that inflate
your opinion of your own importance, and clearly Thomas Hagen has let this
happen to him.

I would think that not worshiping the ground he slithers over last year put you
on his hit list... because that's how tyrants/bullies work. The only way they
keep their power over people is to make sure they squash anyone who crosses
them. I'm sure this is especially true within large corporations like IBM. The
key to success in IBM is working well with everyone, and parasites like this
take advantage of that. "Not working well with legal" is a deathmark for an
IBMer.

Thank you both for keeping focus on the purpose of your presentation and of
Lotusphere - getting expert information into the hands of the attendees. And
for not letting bullies set you off course.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By John Turnbow on 01/16/2012 at 11:13 AM EST
IIBM owes you a big apology and something for the extra work of putting up with
this %$%$... Also, someone from IBM needs to move him from this job because he
apparently can't handle it.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Julian Woodward on 01/16/2012 at 01:11 PM EST
Well said.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Steve McDonagh on 01/16/2012 at 01:17 PM EST
Andrew / Gab

Appauled simply appauled ... :(

If you need someone do to cartoons / daft clip art etc I will get glad to help
with designing and creating the same to your spefications AND i will supply a
text assigning copyrite, future use and sole ownership to yourselves in what
ever form the evil gnomes require

Steve
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Andrew Pollack on 01/16/2012 at 01:29 PM EST
I know your work is awesome, too. The thing is, some people will never be
satisfied with the cooking until they can piss all over the recipe.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Rocky Oliver on 01/16/2012 at 05:27 PM EST
NOTE: I am writing this without reading the responses - I wanted to reply
without being influenced by the other responses.

Andrew and Gab, you may not remember this (because I tried to keep the BP
speakers from this type of crap) but we had a similar problem a few years ago
(in addition to my own struggles with this same person) from a lawyer named
Louise Kennedy. In fact, she's the one responsible for the addition of the HUGE
blob of disclaimer and copyright text, in 2pt font (only a slight
over-exaggeration) at the end of the slide decks.

The first year she tried to impose her will on our content she stormed into the
Content Team and told us that no sessions, internal or external, could have any
graphics from a real company, a name of a real company, a name of a real
person, or the name of any product that wasn't the entire name, every time,
with TM at the end (e.g. IBM Lotus Notes could not be abbreviated to just
Notes, or even Lotus Notes - it had to be IBM Lotus Notes. Every. Single.
Time.). The kicker is that she informed us of this about a month AFTER the
deadline and we had received all sessions. Luckly KK (i.e. Kristin Keene, the
Goddess-of-All-Content back then) had our backs and pushed it up to the VP
level where this was quickly squashed.

I believe that this guy and L. Kennedy are of the same cloth. They are both
corporate lawyers that LOVE the minutiae of every corporate regulation, coupled
with the minutiae of every law. They love to flaunt their encyclopedic
knowledge of all of this, and like some power-hungry hall monitor they love to
use these regs and laws to bludgeon people and impose their will upon the
masses. I despise people like this, and especially despised L. Kennedy and her
repeated efforts to flaunt her supposed power. Back then I was usually able to
win my case (pun intended) against her by reminding the execs that our (i.e.
IBM) lawyers should be there to help us increase or success and profitability.
This includes protection of the corporate assets, of course; but their actions
should not impede our ability to be successful, be profitable, and above all
they should not impede our efforts to best serve our customers (which is the
cornerstone to success and profitability).

I'm not going to lie, and I've remained quiet about this - but I have not doubt
that the Lotusphere we've known and loved is gone. I am surprised it took this
long to remove the old-school Lotus influence of that conference, and I knew it
was inevitable; I was just hoping it would take a really long time for it to
happen. But as soon as I heard that KK was no longer involved with Lotusphere I
knew the Lotus days were gone and it was now just another one of the IBM
conferences.

I fully believe that Lotusphere will be gone altogether soon, and the path of
its demise will be the same as Lotus Devcon. I remember the last Lotus Devcon
in Las Vegas, and finding out there that it was the last one. The next year IBM
tried to keep the remnants of Devcon together by making it a "track" of the
large IBM Websphere conference held in San Fran Cisco at the Moscone Center (I
can't remember the name of it off the top of my head). I helped KK with the
content for that "track", and I spoke there - and we had about 10-20 people at
any of those sessions. It disappeared completely after that. I imagine that IBM
will soon say that "due to increasing costs and diminishing attendance,
Lotusphere will be a subconference under the IBM _______ conference (fill in
the blank)." Of course the Lotus diehards will not attend that, and it will
disappear completely at some point thereafter.

I'm sorry to be such a downer, but I wanted to present my observations without
any sugar coating. I hope someone out there can refute my comments, but I fear
there will be more people supporting my effort than refuting them.

--Rock
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Andrew Pollack on 01/16/2012 at 06:10 PM EST
To be honest, Rock - other than my least favorite lawyer, it's been a very good
Lotusphere -- if anything its been closer to a classically good one.

The OGS was outstanding. It was well paced, had good content, and gave good
respect to the core products while showing off new things.

The technical sessions around developing with DDE have been packed fully and
overflowing, and there are new features across the board - including in the LS
objects.

It's true that development is all xpages looking forward, and its true that
sametime and connections are pushed hard by IBM -- but both are doing quite
well at major sites so that makes sense even if I don't care for them.

Other that the issue discussed above -- I'm not aware of any complaints at
all...well, the wifi is way overloaded, but that's it.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Rocky Oliver on 01/18/2012 at 02:59 PM EST
Then that is fantastic news - and it gives me hope. Maybe I'll make a concerted
effort to go next year... ;)

I trust you and Gab's opinions of the show, and if you two say it's still a
great show, then I believe it. I'm also glad to hear it, for the other
attendee's sake. I've always thought Lotusphere was a great place to recharge
the batteries of the old timers, and get the new timers excited about what this
product and community has to offer.

Thanks for renewing my faith.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Mike on 01/17/2012 at 02:47 PM EST
Sonny was right... Thom Hagen is not a wartime consigliere.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Nathan T. Freeman on 01/19/2012 at 12:04 PM EST
Exactly the sort of behavior on the part of IBM that caused me not to submit an
abstract at all this year.
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Richard Schwartz on 01/20/2012 at 01:56 AM EST
In the battle of wits, you are the victor.

I see you've spent the last few years developing immunity to lawyercaine
powder. :-)
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Ian Scott on 01/20/2012 at 08:26 AM EST
To be fair, I guess it has to be Thom with an 'h' otherwise he would Tom Hagen
and could be confused with the lawyer and consigliere to the Corleone family in
'The Godfather'.

Bu maybe that's got something to do with where the bullying arrogance comes
from.........
re: Some people know all about RIGHTS and nothing about WHAT IS RIGHT. Here is the story behind #OccupyPelican By Andr Hbert on 01/20/2012 at 11:31 AM EST
I realize I'm a bit late to the party -- but I must say, your security
presentation was a highlight of Lotusphere for me. Your handling of the legal
issues was nothing short of first-rate, and in my opinion greatly enhanced the
presentation, possibly more than the original images would have. Thank you for
your fantastic handling of the situation, and your contributions to making
Lotusphere, in my opinion, a smashing success!


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