seclogo Yesterday, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved new guidance for publicly-listed companies in using traditional websites and social media channels like blogs to meet the SEC’s public disclosure requirements under Regulation FD.

Regulation FD (‘fair disclosure’) sets out a clear rule relating to the selective disclosure of information, and clarifies some issues under the US law of insider trading.

The SEC’s new guidance on what tools companies can use concerning Reg FD is a huge step forward in opening up the closed world of regulated financial communication, providing companies, investors and anyone with an interest in a US-listed company with better means to more easily find, share and interactively make use of information that’s offered in electronic form.

I first heard about the SEC’s news in a dent from Dominic Jones yesterday. (Btw, you’ve heard of tweets, right? Better get used to hearing about dents now as well.)

It seems to me that the SEC’s announcement vindicates efforts over the years by influential voices such as Sun Microsystems’ CEO Jonathan Schwartz who have called on the SEC to open up the regulatory framework governing financial communication.

So what does the SEC’s liberalization move mean for communication and investor relations?

While I’ve not studied the SEC’s preliminary statement yet in real depth, two immediate thoughts come to my mind:

  1. This could be the moment, the tipping point, when the social media news release really comes into its own, given its purpose of presenting news and information in a format that is designed for online interactivity.
  2. It could well give a kick in the pants to how corporate websites are managed and controlled, opening up the development of those sites into genuinely interactive and useful tools. A bit like how blogs work in many ways.

Others with unquestionably deeper knowledge than me about financial communication have posted some excellent first thoughts.

When visiting websites on your mobile device, there’s nothing more frustrating than waiting for a site to load when that site contains huge numbers of images and other graphical paraphernalia.

It gets downright annoying when you’re on a cellular connection and especially if you’re roaming: all you see are currency symbols flashing in front of your eyes as you think about what it’s costing you to wait for all the content to appear on your device’s screen.

And when a site does eventually come up on screen, it will likely be formatted for viewing on a computer screen, not the small screen of a mobile device.

Other than grin and bear it or move on somewhere else, there’s little you can do if a website publisher doesn’t offer a mobile-friendly version of the website, either a special URL you go to or – best of all – a means by which the site detects the type of browser you’re using and serves up a mobile-friendly version of the site if it’s a browser on a mobile device.

So what does a ‘mobile-friendly’ website look like?

Something like this perhaps – how this blog looks when viewed in, from left to right, Opera Mini and the native phone browser on my Nokia N95 8GB that runs the Symbian operating system:

nhcom-mobile

No graphics, nothing but the text and links, all formatted neatly for the small screen of a mobile device so no horizontal scrolling around to find the content you want to see.

nhcom-winmobile If you visit my blog on a mobile device running the Windows Mobile operating system, this is how it will look when you visit with Internet Explorer Mobile, in this case on an XDA Orbit 2.

It must be difficult to create mobile-friendly versions of traditional websites – otherwise you’d encounter more of them, right? – but for blogs, it’s a piece of cake.

At least, for WordPress blogs which is my experience.

My blog has a nifty plugin installed called WordPress Mobile Edition, created by Alex King.

The blog has no separate URL: when you visit here at nevillehobson.com from a mobile device, the plugin automatically detects the type of browser and serves a nicely-presented version of the site that is designed for those small screens and focuses on text and links not graphics.

So the blog loads rapidly on your mobile device, which is what you want when you’re out and about, whether on wifi or a cellular connection.

What about an iPhone or an iPod Touch? How would a blog like mine appear on one of those devices?

Ah, Apple fans, you’re in for a treat!

speedcamera I’ve been thinking about speeding lately. Rather, the consequences of speeding.

In April, I was snapped by this speed camera in London doing 34mph in a 30mph limit. I didn’t realize it until a notice of intended prosecution arrived in the mail from the Metropolitan Police about a week later.

In the UK, admitting a traffic violation like this attracts a £60 fine plus three penalty points on your driving license. (If you don’t admit it, the police will institute court proceedings: the ‘intended prosecution’ into action, as it were.)

But depending on where you committed the offence, you might be offered an alternative – pay £95 to attend a 2½-hour educational workshop in lieu of the fine and points.

I remember the day and time when it happened: I was on my way to the Social Media Cafe (and running a bit late). So once I’d sent back the acknowledgement of the notice of intended prosecution confirming that, yes, I was the driver at the time, I got that offer as this scheme operates in the Metropolitan Police area.

As I have a wholly clean license – after 30 years of driving, not a single penalty point – I took up the offer.

And so earlier this month, I spent an afternoon in Ealing at a London Speed Awareness Workshop.