Bring up online privacy and censorship around a online native (or journalist) and they will magically turn into a knock-off media critic, citing the U.S. Constitution and the most recent episode of Wired. Bring it up around parents (assumed NOT digital natives), and you get “Kinda scary.” Yet, my experience has been that while they may have their suspicions, non-digital natives are wont to fork over personal information. While it may not be as spill-your-guts as those conducting much of their life online, the implications say a parent responding to an email newsletter are significant, i.e. my inbox ends up with newsletters.
This cannot stand.
Take this example: A hypothetical parent forwards an email to her hypothetical son, saying “I support what [sender.org] is saying but I am not sure if I should respond or give them what they ask. What do you think?”
My advice: advise the hypothetical parent to treat it as they would a door-to-door solicitor. Do you want to talk to them? Do you want them to know when you are home? Do you want them to see what you keep in your cluttered entry-way? Do you want to hear what they say? Do you want their flyers? Do you want to appear to be receptive to solicitors? Do you want them to tell their co-conspirators all this information? Should your answer to any of these be no, I suggest you “don’t answer the metaphorical door.” If you feel like you are up to managing a persistent salesperson regularly, go for it. But also consider that they will try to rope your family & friends into the deal to. What are the chances that someone in your network isn’t keen on the scheme? Pretty high, so when in doubt, keep it out.
This entry was written by Andrew Hart, posted on June 16, 2013 at 10:34 pm.
[UPDATE: 24 May 2013] Unsubscribing to the lion’s share of my lists has enabled me to access them via third-party applications, making my experiment a success. But at the price of easy access to all the lists I had subscribed to.
I gotta have my lists. But Twitter, is making it hard for me to have my lists and access them too. For an unknown reason, I am unable to call up my quiver of lists that from third-party clients, leaving me without a means to organize my sources on the fly. This is the case for most notably, the lists I have created, but also many of those that I have subscribed to. It could be the that I am subscribed to far too many lists (over 150, after unsubscribing to many), as was suggested by a developer at Twitter/Tweetdeck. It could be that life is never easy. But when life gives me apps that cannot access my library of neatly-filed sources, I go for lemonade, which is not as good as my lists but a second to it.
So I am posting the lists that I have subscribed to here, so as to keep track of them and share them should others be curious to follow what for instance, is being talked about by Associated Press political reporters.
Unfortunately, if the creator of any of these lists delete them or alter their URL, say goodbye. So creators included here, don’t amend or destroy, for your lists I do so enjoy!
I plan to unsubscribe to many of these lists (reluctantly) to test whether it is indeed being subscribed to far too many lists that is causing me to render them all inaccessible. This solution is less than ideal, for by unsubscribing they are not associated with my account and not readily accessible through apps. Again, settling for lemonade.
Perhaps one day, the Twitter powers-that-be will address this issue. But getting through to the engineers is more difficult than getting audience with The Wizard of Oz.
On my list of “The Little Things In Life That Make Me Happy As A Clam” is lists. A recent addition to my list of favorite lists has been a Twitter list created by the Craig Kanalley. His selection of ”‘Rising stars’ in social media and journalism” is a well-stocked trove of personalities, ideas, links, and inside-baseball (in this case inside-media) chatter. Already I am finding it to be yet another example of how excellent lists are (more to come on this).
- I met someone who not only is an impressive media professional, but appears to be some sort of baking savant: salted whiskey caramel frosting? No joke folks.
- Practiced international diplomacy while talking to some solid folks. Simon, will be waking up to get the news cycle spinning three hours from when I go to bed. So when I wake up, I know just who to ask “What’s the latest?”
And this is just day one of digging in to Craig’s list. I am eager to see how other’s take advantage of the wealth of knowledge therein.
I am a big fan of Craig’s list, and lists in general. I use them for work, recreation, thinking, creating, and apparently, I use them to make more lists. An obsessive compulsive you ask? Perhaps, save for that my lists don’t always bring order to things. Many are just filing boxes; how I process things. But Craig’s list is a great tool, and indicative of the talent of its creator. If there is evidence that social media is worth all the comical terms, it is in what Craig brings to it. I encourage you to check out Craig’s list, and be sure to thank him for creating it. Also, let me know what use you find with it. Perhaps you will make a new friend, a new discovery, read something good, or find someone to make you baked goods.
I am just realizing now that I have been writing “Craig’s List” over and over without falling into an easy pun. You are welcome.
This entry was written by Andrew Hart, posted on May 19, 2013 at 5:37 am.
[2013/05/ 11:49 p.m. EST] Granted, the nature of this “dummy” article doesn’t provide all the rigors that should be used to sufficiently determine whether this “slow live blog” is worth its salt, but there are certainly some takeaways to be had:
Having most recent updates at the top makes it easy to find the latest information.
The evolution of the piece is clear, and not only is that interesting, but it is transparent.
Easy for author to update.
Reverse chronological can catch a reader off-guard.
Navigation is less intuitive, as the standard article structure is thrown out.
Revisions can become messy.
I am sure there are more things to consider, but I do believe that for stories that are developing or larger in scope, the slow live-blog is a an exciting and valuable new tool.
[2013/05/ 11:45 p.m. EST] Back from the show, I find my Neighborhood Command Post cool enough to wind down with some reading and updating this here “Slow Live Blog.” While I may be cool, the recent revision to the first update, is a hot mess. Three revisions each bearing a timestamp makes it look like some military communique and immensely unattractive to the reader. See below
What would be the best protocol in this case? Leave all revision notes in the original post? Or only the most recent? This latter would be less of an eyesore, but not as transparent to the evolution of this “living” article.
[2013/05/ 8:02 p.m. EST] A friend and I have decided to beat the heat by paying way too much money to go see a show we are lukewarm on. I will be out $30 dollars for the evening, but will not have resorted to using MY air conditioning unit. Principles intact.
Reflecting on the first update, the lead sentence seems needless, so I have gone and stricken it.
[2013/05/ 7:44 p.m. EST] Dinner is done, cheese playing a critical factor. So the choice to trudge through the market line again was worthwhile. For that saga, see update [2013/05/ 1:23 p.m. EST]. It is still too hot. Too hot to read from my favorite spot: the Neighborhood Command Post.
[2013/05/ 4:58 p.m. EST] It has been far too hot. The heat makes me lethargic, but the heat also prevents me from taking a nap. This must be what hell is like. Hell, made worse because I am sticking to my principle of “NO A/C IN MAY.”
[2013/05/ 3:44 p.m. EST] Realizing now that while this format is convenient to update and makes accessing the latest information (i.e. my Saturday routine and experiment with “Slow Live Blogging”), the reader who starts at the top of the article has no idea what is going on. Thus, the “i.e.” insertion. But how could this be more efficient? Perhaps a nut graf that remains static at the top of the article? Or a table of contents type of deal? Or just leave it up the reader to jump back in time and catch up? If that were the case, say goodbye to that impressively low bounce rate FastCo Labs noted.
[2013/05/ 1:23 p.m. EST] Back from the store and fixin’ to fix some lunch. But first, a grievance with technology. At the checkout counter I found myself having forgotten an item from my list. Not wanting to surrender my hard-earned spot in line for one cheap but necessary item, I asked to ring me up for one. As I had feared, my request was met with an “uhhh…we can’t do that.” And why not? Because the inventory is electronic, and to simply charge me $3.69 for cheese would keep the till straight yes, but which $3.69 block of cheese I had taken would be unknown. Now my plight was getting dire: no cheese or battle through another round of Saturday shoppers. I went for the cheese, and am now late for lunch. Technology, sometimes meh.
[2013/05/ 10:48 a.m. EST] Approaching midday, I have done some chores around the house, woken one of my friend’s up (too early for their liking) and it is getting hot out. But I refuse to use air-conditioning on principle as it is only May. So far, updating this “slow live blog” is painless, but I have yet to backtrack to earlier material to recall in the present, say for instance, the link to the FastCo Labs article that inspired this experiment. Good thing I have it in the first draft of this article so I have to go back and grab it. Here it is:
That wasn’t too painful. But I knew it would be there….hmmm.
[2013/05/ 8:15 a.m. EST] I notice I have two different time zones going here. Story of my life. Now going back to correct. Boy, cramming that timestamp INSIDE A TIMESTAMP doesn’t look hot.
[2013/05/11 8:11 a.m. EST] I took a screen shot of the initial appearance of this “slow live blog” so I could reflect on aesthetics of the structure. Embarassing as it makes me think of marking a child’s height on the wall.
[2013/05/11 07:32 a.m [2013/05/ 8:15 a.m. EST]PST] [2013/05/ 8:02 p.m. EST] The day begins with reading, ends with reading, and I usually make time for some reading throughout the day as well. I know, I know: this live fast, die young lifestyle will put me in the grave soon. But as my brother has always advised, “Seize the carp.”
Fast.co Labs had an interesting read on their experimentation with a new structure for their online articles, an approach they are calling “slow live blogging.” Here is the nut graf:
We decided to experiment with a new, super-long article format akin to “slow live blogging.”When we looked at the traffic charts below, our jaws dropped. Here’s what we learned about long form stories–and why quality, not velocity, is the future of online news.
The author goes on to describe the article form and the traffic analysis for the tests. As noted, there were some impressive results for bounce rate, time on page, etc. I have seen similar approaches used elsewhere, notably with Reuters live blogs. I have found them quite effective to keep pace with DEVELOPING events or stories needing updates. Boiled down, this is seeing all the guts of an article: the revisions, errors, history, authorship all beneath the most current information (by analogy, the skin). I dig it.
But aside from a purely metric-based analysis, what weaknesses does the approach have? I don’t know! So this is my attempt to experiment with “slow live blogging” and ponder what benefits and inadequacies the form has for information access and retention (without web analytic jargon or numbers, i.e. very un-scientific). Authorship and timestamp will be in [brackets] at the beginning of the update.
I have long had an affinity for quotes, which is an entirely unremarkable quality as is indicated in Geoffrey O’Brien’s “We Are What We Quote.’ Quotes are the bits and pieces that not only inspire and guide us, but are used in the construction of one’s life. I recall scrawling on my school binder quotes from the angsty punk-band du jour during junior high; the feeling of satisfaction and purpose that came with identifying myself as a clueless teenager. Or batting around the same Kevin Smith movie lines with friends. Even my English instructors advised us that our papers should be constructed with quotes as the arguing points: ‘Just pick some good quotes, explain those, slap an ironic title on the essay, hole punch, done.’
These days, I am still drawn to quotes and suspect as I imagine many are. But what of their use and effectiveness in media? I side, shockingly, with my English teachers who said back in 2001 “Quotations make for more poignant Twitter updates than cheap-o headlines.”
In movie trailers, we are served an opaque plot, but the selling points are the quotes (visual or verbal). Jamie Foxx saying something witty as he dodges a flaming car tells us that Jamie Foxx (and this movie) are witty, and that we can expect at least one car on fire. This would be the evidence used in a 7th-grade essay on why this movie is sweet. But is this more effective at enticing and capturing an audience than stating “This movie is about so-and-so who does so-and-so in so-and-so fashion, with the end result of so-and-so, and if you watch it you well feel so-and-so”? I would go with the quote form despite it not laying out the broader, more comprehensive character of the movie. I want proof that this movie is better than the last Jamie Foxx movie I saw with him doing extreme stunts.
Where is the good stuff?
And what of Tweets?* Which form garners more interest amidst streams of updates each fighting to make the jump to a browser window against cluttered Tweetdeck walls? I go again with quotes.
Not only does a quotation give a concrete example of the nature, content and character of an item, it carries the touch of human. Some savvy social media person came across this bit of knowledge, was taken by it, and was compelled to share. It says “There is something in here”: Some meaning to get an emotion or action, and that makes it worth it. Even if the limited text-space leaves the excerpt without any sort of context, a good quote can pack a punch, or pique the imagination to get the reader wondering “What’s that all about?”
Of course, the savvy social media person could be pulling quotes from complete rubbish, taking advantage of my belief in the power of quotes. To this person I say, “You are ruining the internet. Still, I find that the quote to be the most compelling element to present, more so than a headline or comprehensive nut graph (i.e. element that presents the general idea of a piece).
This is a contrast to some approaches to presenting material on social media channels, for example BuzzFeed or Huffington Post headlines. Not to say that they are wrong in their approach (Clearly they are achieving sufficient traffic), but would their content be more compelling when presented with the parts that we might want to write on our sneakers or recite to ourselves when we are nervous about talking to a pretty girl?
*Writing about “tweets” is so gross. Can there be a new word for update to Twitter or “like” on Facebook?
This entry was written by Andrew Hart, posted on May 5, 2013 at 11:30 pm.
‘as the second suspect of the Boston Marathon was captured…we saw heightened engagement from a scanner that surfaced on Ustream (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ma-rt-9-window-cam), which enabled nearly 2.5 million people to share this live experience. At its peak around 8:15/8:30pm Eastern, over 265k viewers were watching/listening concurrently. Even more eye-opening was that nearly half the viewers were tuning in via mobile devices.’
Should law enforcement scanner feeds be unencrypted? Open to anyone with an Internet connection? The events of the past week saw those with Internet access joining the handful of scanner-devotees in following the play-by-play of law enforcement as they conducted their investigation, made their movements, even throwing flashbangs inside the boat where suspect two hid. I am all for open-access to information and applaud efforts of public offices (including law enforcement) to be moe transparent. But knowing where a SWAT team is taking up position on a suspect seems a bit too far. Especially given the fact that many accessing such channels are republishing them on social media. I could follow every movement of tactical teams as they made their move on the suspect through my Twitter feed.
As a citizen, and associate of a law enforcement official, I appreciate the consideration.
[UPDATE: 17:14 EST, 21 April 2013]
I posited this situation to a forum, where I was rewarded with this reply from ‘shrink2′ of his take on the matter along with an explanation of why the feeds are open in the first place. Thank shrink2!
No, they should be encrypted. If they could figure out how to do that and still have all these different people from different agencies (who are normal folks, not techies) talk to each other, they would have. But the consequences of the system crashing when it is most needed is the problem. Same with air traffic control. It’s not like giving orders to submarines, or spies under cover. This requires the ability to chatter back and forth and have everyone who needs to hear the message hear it, think of friendly fire problems.
Even though we were based on the opposite side of the country, NewsBreaker sought to provide comprehensive coverage of the bombings that struck the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. It was a charged, intense and challenging affair. However, nowhere near as challenging as it must be for the victims and their loved ones.
This entry was written by Andrew Hart, posted on April 18, 2013 at 5:19 am.
An interesting piece by Ferris Jabr in the Scientific American exploring the differences between reading text on screen and on paper, and what it can tell us about how the mind processes. Jabr calls on numerous studies (surprisingly, from a widespread of dates, not just the modern era) as characteristics that make the two forms distinct:
- The ‘topography’ or layout of text/ideas on a page helps us establish a timeline and navigate between story elements.
- The ability to manipulate (mark-up, highlight, etc.) a paper page. Doesn’t work so well on a digital screen.
- The physical strain of staring at LCD vs. paper & ink.
Studies evaluate subjects to deem what has been gained or lost as more and more of our reading is done online, and taking them together, the verdict on which medium is best is uncertain. The author concludes, “When it comes to intensively reading long pieces of plain text, paper and ink may still have the advantage.” This was the assumption that I shared as well, but my reading habits don’t seem to be guided by this principle: I still read a lot on screens! But why when I assume it is a weaker means to do so? This has set me thinking. I am not sure of the answer yet, but I suspect it ties to the nature or intent of the reading I am to do.
On a digital platform, I may be putting up with more distraction, a lesser degree of control, and at times can be disoriented. But I also have access to other operations: check email, set a date, goof around on Twitter. These things may not help me be fully immersed in the reading selection, but I might coordinate something else. I suspect that this is why I read so much on screens, even when I assume that I would retain more in print.
Given that, I really hope that all the tinkering around online I do while reading on a screen is actually worthwhile.
This entry was written by Andrew Hart, posted on April 14, 2013 at 6:26 am.
One of my favorite writers, Alexis Madrigal, lamented in a recent post that Twitter is too fast of a medium for producers working with richer, more complex ideas. The type of stuff that is worth throwing the click and eyeball credits we as browsers are allotted to spend. I, like Alexis, love Twitter (and RSS), but they are often too much. Too many updates fishing for clicks or retweets, too many posts that are little more than a ‘hot’ headline. Often, I find myself losing track of my stream of accounts I follow, posts that I save, ideas to mull over. It’s easy to just throw my arms up and dump it all, frustrated by the enormity of scanning it all and the lack of satiety from drab information. Then, I cope with the remorse that follows stemming from the possibility that I missed a great nugget.
tm;gu (too much; gave up)
What a dilemma. Madrigal announces his project to assemble a RSS directory compose of ‘researchers, scholars, and academics who don’t post more than once per day. I don’t care how specific or niche they are, as long as they’re interesting on their own terms.’
I like the idea. While I may have to surrender that I can’t process every bit of information that is passed on topics I am interested in, I can look forward to ideas and experiences to work with at a manageable (READ: human) pace.
So as Madrigal cloud sources his sources, I am going to try trim down my RSS subscriptions. To stick with the ones that have the most bang for their buck. I am hesitant to do it: think of all the stuff I will miss! But the fact is I often end up missing it anyway, force to ‘Mark All As Read’ when the unread count hits 1000+. Hopefully, the satisfaction and stimulation that comes with being able to really sink in with the ideas now coming more sparsely, will quell the concern over not having scanned every single item.
Hadn’t seen this before.
Trimming down my RSS subscriptions is just one step towards enriching my information diet, maybe next I will ask for recommendations like Madrigal. Maybe I will take the scalpel to my Twitter network as well, which may be more difficult because of the ‘relationship’ that comes with a follow or mention. Stay tuned as the experiment develops.
Right now, I feel rather sad as I begin to unsubscribe. I hope that the ‘fear of missing an update’ is filled with knowledge and questions even more satisfying.
This entry was written by Andrew Hart, posted on April 13, 2013 at 5:55 am.