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The X Files
Xavier Hermosillo is the President of, a national Crisis Communications, Marketing, and Management firm he founded 23 years ago. He is a former political chief of staff, an award-winning reporter and photographer, and a former radio talk show host and TV commentator in Los Angeles. He has co-founded two publicly-traded companies where he served as a member of the Board of Directors and as the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications. He has also served as a Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission on police officer discipline cases, and holds degrees in Administration of Justice and Business and Communications. He can be reached at

The timeliness of my columns has suffered the past two or three months because my work has involved a tremendous amount of travel around the globe, but I have been productive in other areas and have seen and learned so much more about our world in the process.

I'm writing this milestone column, my 50th for my pal Hal Eisner, at 40,000 feet on a flight back to Los Angeles from Tampa. Many business folks take advantage of the dead time, and the technology we have in laptops, to work in the air all the time. I don't usually use my airplane time for working, but I am now because I am excited about something I've just done and want to share it with you.

Too often we take the benefits of technology for granted, and although we demand that the technology be used for bettering our lives, it's usually more talk than bark. I hear people say we should help our educational system with all this new technology and yet, we rarely do so in urban areas.

Public schools are usually running behind private schools in implementing the latest in high tech to help our kids learn. I'm trying to do something about that, in some small way, and hope that you'll show an interest in making a difference in how you cover and report education news. Few reporters I know really like to cover education. It can be so boring and doesn't usually provide good footage for TV or sound bites for radio. If it doesn't bleed, it doesn't lead, we always hear, unless, of course, it's a school shooting or gang fight.

As I travel around, I see parts of our country where the education system does not fare well, and it bothers me to think what a terrible foundation is being laid for the lives of so many future Americans.
I'm a businessman, not a bleeding-heart complainer/do-gooder/"government has all the answers" type of guy, but this issue has been gnawing at me for some time. I wanted to do something as a businessman to help education, but it was more of a frustrated dream than something plausible.

Then, this spring, I ran into a couple of Brits at a technology trade show in San Francisco who were promoting a new product in the Internet search engine optimization field. These are the types of people who make it easier for you and me to find what we're looking for when we go to search engines like Google, Yahoo, and the others. But these chaps had a better idea than just what's called "keyword" ranking in the search business, finding info using one or two key words.

They had a much broader concept called "contextual search" where it makes the search engines work smarter, so that when you type in the word "bridge", for example, the "contextual search" capability leads you more directly to what you want to find. I had not previously given this a lot of thought, but let's say you type in the word "bridge" because you want to know more about the game of bridge.

Right now, the search engines will spit out connections not only to info about the game, but also info about dental bridges, bridges that cross rivers, and bridging relationships. The "contextual search" apparatus alerts you up front of the possibilities and allows you to narrow your search and focus ONLY on the type of "bridge" information you want to find.
Well, I have to tell you I thought this was one of the greatest inventions I had seen in a long time, but I was about to find the real diamond in this company named Crystal Semantics. I learned they were based in Wales, just a ferry boat ride from Ireland and down the coast from Liverpool, birthplace of the Beatles. And I learned that their parent company was called Crystal Reference and that "Crystal" was actually Dr. David Crystal, a world authority in linguistics and one of the world's foremost authorities on language.
What self-respecting journalist or communicator can't get excited about meeting or possibly speaking with a guy who has that kind of global glitter? But it gets better. Turns out that Dr. Crystal, who is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and formerly professor of linguistic science at the University of Reading, has written over 100 books on linguistics and English language studies.

Wow, this guy can easily become a worship model for a wordsmith who loves and respects our wonderful robust, but sometimes confusing language, which too many people don't appreciate and butcher in such an awful way. I also learned the good doctor was awarded an Order of the British Empire for services to the English language. And then the real kicker: Dr. David Crystal WROTE both the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (2nd edition 1997) and the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (2nd edition 2003). He WROTE them.

I thought maybe that was a mistake and he just edited them or proofed them or some other cursory role. No, he actually spent five long years writing these two giant bibles of language. NOW I was excited. But it got better. I found out the good doctor and his company co-founder, a delightful chap named Ian Saunders (that name is SO British); were already big players in the U.S. and they had a link to A & E Television, home of the Biography Channel and the History Channel.

As a big Soprano fan, I know my hero Tony Soprano LOVES watching the History Channel, but I never wondered from where all that historical data was stored. Same for the Biography Channel. Then I found out A & E and license the 26,000 or so biographies from my new found friends, Ian and Dr. Crystal. Another WOW! It turns out the Brits are helping us learn how keep a record of our past. But it got better still.

I didn't know that Crystal Reference possesses a substantial portfolio of reference and lexical intellectual property and has provided reference material and online content for many major publishers including Penguin Books, Webster Publishing, several others, and is one of the fastest growing online content publishers in Europe. They also have a site for schools with one of the largest learning data bases in the world.

Aha!! Maybe here was my chance to try and do something to improve the lot of education in America. The dreaded English, whom we fled 229 years ago over taxation issues, now potentially held the answer to my concerns about improving education. Between Crystal Semantics and Crystal Reference, Ian and Dr. Crystal possessed a wealth of technology, information, education content, the whole shebang that I realized I had been looking for without much success.

Now what do I do? They were "across the pond", as the Brits like to say in minimizing the great expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, and here I was in California, which is quickly becoming one of the worst places to get a good education.

So I did what any good business person would do - I convinced them they needed to significantly expand their operations in the U.S. and I made them an offer they couldn't refuse - I began the process of buying them. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do if you're serious about making a difference.

I went to CEO Gerry Jacobs and Chairman Ben Jennings, my partners at Think Partnership, a holding company for top notch Internet companies, and where I am on the Board of Directors, and they were as excited as I was. The hard task of starting the due diligence fell to another partner, President Scott Mitchell, for whom such work should be a breeze. How many guys do you know who dropped out of high school in the ninth grade because they were bored and decided to try college instead? By the time he was 21, Scott had earned two Bachelors degrees and THREE Masters degrees.

The due diligence went well. Jennings, a big bear of a guy who got a perfect score on his SATs, then went from being a star football player at Rice University into investment banking, used his creative financing skills to bridge the gap from the U.K. to the U.S. and voila! - Dr. David Crystal and Ian Saunders now have a family and a home in the U.S. to among other things, help address my concerns about education.

It's an exciting acquisition deal, my first since joining THK. That's what we call Think Partnership - THK - which is the company's stock symbol on the American Stock Exchange. All this traveling I have been doing has paid off in many ways, but now in trying to achieve this dream. I found part of the answer to America's education woes in England, via a technology trade show in San Francisco.

Now, my new commitment is to help my new British pals make their vast educational data base, their patented and proprietary search technology, the brain power of Dr. David Crystal, and the sharp business savvy of Ian Saunders and my U.S. partners, reach every school building in America. Nothing is free and it won't be cheap for the big picture, but I can feel proud that now we have something real, and really good, to offer our children in the world of education that they never previously had.

The best and the brightest in the world of information, technology, and education, is available now and coming to America and it's not just a matter of the twisted semantics we have been getting from our lying, thieving, stalling politicians. This, my friends, is a Crystal clear solution now, and for the future. I like to think of it as a partnership between old friends, coming together across a vast ocean, and giving our kids the seeds of knowledge for a bright and hopeful tomorrow - today!