Skims: 15 April 2014

If Michael Phelps Swims, Subway Sinks (via @BV)

According to Rule 40 of the International Olympic Committee charter, “Except as permitted by the IOC executive board, no competitor, coach, trainer or official who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games.”

Canada’s Climate Warms to Corn as Grain Belt Shifts North (via @BloombergNews)

Growing seasons on the Canadian prairie have lengthened about two weeks in the past half-century. The mean annual temperature is likely to climb by as much as 3 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) in the region by 2050, according to Canadian researchers.

In Canada, that means amber waves of wheat are giving way to green fields of corn. Farmers sowed a record 405,000 acres of corn in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta last year, double the amount two years earlier and almost eight times what it was 20 years ago. That compares with an estimated 95.4 million acres sown in the U.S. last year.

The Rise and Fall of AIM, the Breakthrough AOL Never Wanted (via @mashable)

The administrator had tried to block AIM, but the program had eventually hopped around until it had attached to something the company couldn’t risk interrupting: the port that synchronized time across the entire company’s computer system.

“The admins had no clue how to block us. We were like malware from their point of view.” The program blossomed, drawing as many as 18 million simultaneous users. Professionals flocked to it. ”AIM became how all Wall Street communicated,” Appelman said.

‘Everyone is missing out on something’

My colleague and friend wrote this. It is wonderful.

I Thought The World Would Stop Turning When I Left Home To Go Travel

Skims: 31 March

Activist investors bring the bucks. (bloomberg)

noisy investors such as Carl Icahn, Bill Ackman and Nelson Peltz — who urge corporate heads to rethink their strategies and expedite stock-boosting changes — generated a 48 percent average gain for shareholders of the companies they’ve preyed on in the last five calendar years

California’s drought has create an “arms race” among farmers to shore up water. more water-demanding crops such as the almond which takes a gallon of water to produce one nut. (Mercury News)

The Central Valley’s reserves are shrinking by 800 billion gallons a year — enough to supply every resident of California with water for seven months

It takes slightly more than a gallon of water to produce one almond, three-quarters of a gallon to grow a single pistachio and 4.9 gallons to grow a single walnut.

British Columbia has a really good policy for curbing gas-guzzling. BC’s carbon tax has led to gas use “declining seven times as much as might be expected from an equivalent rise in the market price of gas.” A study found a “17 percent per capita decline in fuel consumption in BC.” Plus, the tax has brought in some $5 billion in revenue so far, which results in tax breaks for consumers. (Mother Jones)

San Francisco’s Los Angeles’ Metro is figuring out how to harness wind power from subway trains as they fly through tunnels and use it for powering electric car charging stations, lights in stations and tunnels, escalators and more. (The Source)

Correction: Previous version of this post named San Francisco’s Metro, while it is Los Angeles’ metro that is exploring energy generated in subway tunnels.

Skims: End of March Weekend

The University of Washington has a guide on how to report on mental health issues.

Notes on the upcoming election for the world’s largest democracy, India. (electionista)

  • Voting takes places over 9 days: on April 7, 9, 10, 12, 17, 24, 30, May 7 and, finally, on May 12
  • 814 million eligible voters, casting ballots at 930,000 polling booths to elect the 543-seat lower house
  • Four million staff will be deployed during the election
  • There are more than 100 million first time voters
  • Turnout in 2009 was 58.7%. The Election Commission expects it to hit an unprecedented 70% this year
  • India’s election campaign spending is expected to hit $5bn – second only to the most expensive U.S. campaign of all time.

Where everyone in the world is migrating. (qz)

  • It’s not the poorest countries sending people to the richest countries, it’s countries in transition—still poor, but with some education and mobility—that are the highest migratory contributors.
  • The largest regional migration is from Southeast Asia to the Middle East.

Good read: The 25-Year-Old at the Helm of Lonely Planet. (Outside)

Last year, a media-shy billionaire bought the flailing Lonely Planet travel-guide empire, then shocked observers by hiring an unknown 24-year-old former wedding photographer to save it. Charles Bethea straps in for a bizarre ride as a kid mogul tries to remake a legendary brand for the digital age.

Venezuela is investigating whether crossword puzzles in a local Venezuelan newspaper are calling readers to violent protests with inciting messages. (Bloomberg)

Skims: 28 March 2014

Tracing Americans’ fear of fat to a Senator in 1976 who was concerned about his colleagues dying off. (NPR)

“If you look at the statistics, members were dying at a rather large rate,” Senate historian Don Ritchie tells us …

Sen. McGovern, a Democrat from South Dakota, called his hearing … he called as a witness a Harvard University professor who pointed to the harms of overconsumption of fat.

The hearing led to the creation of the first set of dietary guidelines for Americans.

“The thinking of the day is that you wanted to reduce fat,” says science writer Gary Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat.

Mudslide buried the love of his life, sitting beside him. (LAT)

“That he was able to survive and dig himself out … I really wish he’d been able to save her too. But at least I still have one parent.”

App signals end of times. (CNET)

A newly published patent application suggests a way to display video on your iPhone that shows the path ahead as you look down.

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of  the ‘Bishop of Bling,’ who spent $43 million renovating this house. (WaPo)

  • Item: hanging an advent wreath. Bill: $25,000. Fun Fact: Workers had to open up the chapel roof — with a crane — to install it.
  • Item: heated stones. Bill: $26,000.Fun Fact: They were used to line outdoor paths for more comfortable walking.
  • Item: Bronze window frames. Bill: $2.38 million. Fun fact: The cost was supposed to be half that. But Tebartz-van Elst, the report shows, really wanted his window frames to be bronze.

Skims

What could have been…

Who turned down the vice presidency twice, only to have both presidents who offered him the spot die while they were in office?

Daniel Webster  (cnn with the tip)

California Gov. Jerry Brown seems pretty cool. (LAT)

“He shuns most trappings of the office. There’s no motorcade, no entourage. The governor showed up at the elections department with a lone campaign advisor and his wife, who snapped a photo using her smart phone.”

“Brown fashions many of his own speeches, veto messages and even press releases. His staff in the governor’s office is about half that of his Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who employed as many as 230. He often goes months without a public appearance, sometimes holed up at his home in the Oakland hills, calling authors, experts and others he wrings for information.”

More reason to be afraid of e-cigs. (NYT)

like e-cigarettes, e-liquids are not regulated by federal authorities. They are mixed on factory floors and in the back rooms of shops, and sold legally in stores and online in small bottles that are kept casually around the house for regular refilling of e-cigarettes.

Evidence of the potential dangers is already emerging. Toxicologists warn that e-liquids pose a significant risk to public health, particularly to children, who may be drawn to their bright colors and fragrant flavorings like cherry, chocolate and bubble gum.

Interesting ideas about what is behind Twitter’s reported use is experimenting with new interaction processes between users. (via qz)

As a public company, the pressure is on Twitter to grow. That means getting people to spend more time on the site, and getting more people to show up in the first place. This is no doubt what’s behind recent rumors that Twitter is eliminating some of its conventions, like @ replies and hashtags, because they’re “arcane.” Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has admitted that Twitter can be confusing and “opaque” for new users.

Taxpayers funding Creationism curriculum. (politico) … But not Fox!

Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies.

Why I Am Not On Instagram

I went on a snowboarding trip to Utah with my brother and good friend. Long days on great mountains. Yet, these are the only photos I turn up:

Adam and Eve (LDS style)The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints’  Visitor’s Center Adam and Eve (A lot of “of” and apostrophes in that title there)

Einstein Bros. Doggie Bagel Treat

Einstein Bros. Doggie Bagel treats, seen while purchasing provisions for a day on the mountain.

Finland vs. SwedenFinland vs. Sweden in the 2014 Winter Olympics, as watched over lunch at ski hill lodge.

Over the trip, my brother landed a backflip, I busted my foot, we saw a moose on a run, and I got to spend time with friends and family I seldom see. These are the photos I come away with.

 

 

Reading For Rain

This week finally brought some precipitation to the Bay Area. Enough to even get my socks wet through my shoes. Loved it. Also love that it creates an atmosphere prime for good reading. Here, some selections on a health theme.

(encountered via @davepell)

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Clusters of Affluence in San Francisco by Chris Walker

My very talented friend Chris Walker has created an interactive visualization that illustrates the socio-economic upheaval that is consuming San Francisco, and reverberating around the country.

The influx of money from technology companies has given rise to gentrification, growing inequality, demarcated neighborhoods, resentment, and GOOGLE BUSES.

Chris’ visualization:

explores the relationship between private shuttle stop locations and indicators of neighborhood affluence. Private commuter shuttles are used by many large tech companies based in the South Bay.

Screenshot 2014-01-28 03.51.18
It has a bunch of bells and whistles to boot. Highly recommend you give it a look.

PandoDaily and Valleywag picked up the piece recently as well.

Discoveries

2014-01-25 17.13.25
My new favorite park.

Movement undertaken by a friend of a friend seeking to overturn the ban on snowboarding at Utah’s Alta ski resort. Alta is one of three ski areas not permitting use by snowboarders. Of the three, Alta is the only one on PUBLIC LANDS, which adds an interesting layer to the matter.

Not a hip hop buff, but I definitely do enjoy the good stuff. There seems to be a lot of good stuff here, passionweiss.com, a site by Jeff Weiss. Weiss wrote this awesome piece on rapper Kendrick Lamar, my jump off point for more of his work.

Interesting, potentially influential case: Supreme Court weighs how much one person should pay pornography victim

the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Paroline v. Unknown Amy, which involves the question of how much child pornography market participants should be individually required to pay for the harm to the subjects of the videos. (via verdict.justia.com

The case could be a game changer. Courts ruled that victims of such crimes deserve restitution, to be paid in this case by the persons who viewed the images. But what if it isn’t known how many viewed the images? How do you divide up the sum of the restitution between an unknown number of perpetrators? The decision the court is weighing is lumping the whole sum on the first perpetrator; let them deal with dividing it up between all other transgressors.

How I Do The Sunday Political Shows

As much as I enjoy political commentary and the Meet The Press theme song, each weekend viewing grinds away my appetite for what is supposed to be the foremost television programs on politics. The staid structure, revolving door of guests, pre-scripted conversations, and cheap plays for “color” have nearly driven me to cutting the cord on them.

Thankfully, working at The Huffington Post introduced me to the work of our political reporter Jason Linkins. One of Jason’s duties is to watch the Sunday political shows, yeoman’s work indeed, and to report on the notable discussions or occurrences. A recent introduction to his column:

Good morning, everyone. Here is an idea I had: I thought I would wake up, watch the Sunday morning blather shows, type stuff as I watched them, put the stuff that I typed on the internet, do this until these shows were over, and then never ever do this ever again. Sound good to everyone? Actually, many of you are probably looking forward to this — the last time I liveblog the Sunday shows. My name is Jason.

Linkins does more than summarize: he distills and refines. He calls out inaccuracies, points to redudancies, provides context not given in the show, and question why the shows select the topics and guests they do.

Today, Sunday shows were all about Chris Christie’s bridge controversy. An important story indeed, but it would be hard to argue the remaining segments were pressing or of public importance. Linkins points out that not discussed was the chemical spill in West Virginia that has left 300,000 people without safe drinking water on the fourth day of the crisis.

As I watch the Sunday shows online or via podcast, I use up Internet juice to do so. It also taxes about 45 minutes of my attention. So now, Linkins column is where I go to first to find out whether any of the Sunday shows are worth the effort. There is yet reason to suspect that the Sunday shows may take a hint and retool their programs.

So thank you Jason. Note that Jason also writes other great stuff.
Another alternative: POLITICO’s Sunday Shows In 90 Seconds.

Me In 3D

My friend Charles has given me a quite remarkable Christmas gift: a 3D print-out of myself.

Me in 3D 1

Closer:

IMG_0127

And here with the fish!
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Many thanks to Charles. I do encourage you to visit his site to see his impressive analysis of social media and cable news.

Day About

Notes from the day:

iOS Maps’ estimate of “time on foot” was accurate for once. A big win for an app I handle with much skepticism. Sure the directions were a bit ridiculous — ping-ponging from east to south at what seemed like each intersection — but the route yielded great views.

The Maps mission was capped off with an arrival at the dentist at the perfect time: no need to even take a seat in the waiting room. I even got an unscheduled cleaning in since the hygenist had a cancellation.

As one should, I sought to test drive the new teeth at a lovely Irish pub in the neighborhood. Great food and company.

My trek back to my neighborhood was a leisurely one, all the while not recognizing where I was but somewhat aware of the “vicinity” I was in. I practiced my new mode of foot travel that consists of trading sides of the street so as to stay on the sunny side of the street.

In Chinatown, I gained another occupant for my apartment.

His or her name is Barbary Coaster, because

Now catching up on the day…

Reading:

A Jobs Agenda for the Right

Getting Excited Helps with Performance Anxiety More Than Trying to Calm Down, Study Finds

There’s no such thing as cruelty-free cocaine, and people in Mexico are tired of footing the bill for US users. (via Quartz)

Americans started recycling back in 1690. With such an early start, you’d think they’d recycle more than 3% of their plastic. But, no. (via Quartz)

How opting out of Medicaid expansion punishes the poor, by Chris Walker

“4.8 million Americans living under the federal poverty line will remain uninsured due to states opting out of the Medicaid expansion.”

I recently came across the work of data visualization expert Chris Walker, by way of his exploration of the state of Medicaid in America. It is a well-presented and poignant visualization of this important aspect of health care reform.

The health care overhaul expands Medicaid eligibility to those with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The Congressional Budget Office estimates 9 million people would gain coverage in the first year under these new criteria for qualification. The Medicaid expansion is already seeing success, a silver lining of the mired health care reform rollout. However, in 2012 the Supreme Court ruled that states could opt out of expanding Medicaid coverage to more of their poor residents. Thus, only 25 states and the District of Columbia have made Medicaid’s health care more widely available.

For what that means, see Chris Walker’s excellent visualization of what the impact of not expanding Medicaid to millions of Americans that need it.

Friend Script

IMG_0480

#colindsey

Colin Jones and Lindsey Hankes were married on October 19, 2013. I know this because of Twitter. Twitter is also how I know Colin, an online newsman I have great respect for and a kind and supportive friend.

I was not at the wedding, but plenty of people that fall in both Colin and my networks did. Attendees took advantage of an apparent lack of ban on using social media during the proceedings.

Find even more here on the Rebel Mouse page for #COLINDSEY, put together by one of the main muscles at Rebel Mouse, Jake Beckman.

Earlier today I was reading on Sherry Turkle’s argument that real human interaction is being lost due to the false belief digital media can convey it. Her position is well researched and concerning: something that anyone who uses digital media should be aware of.

But I have yet to reach the same conclusion. I think there are plenty of risks in using digital media. But on the other side of the coin is how it has affected my life on numerous occasions. It has connected me to so many new people and ideas. The conversations I have had were rich and valuable. As evidence that an online relationship doesn’t prevent the extension of the relationship to other channels, I have had the great opportunity to meet many who I first came to know through social media.  Indeed, having connected on several levels has made the relationship all the more strong.

And take this weekend’s wedding: a wedding for people and attended by people I have not met in person before. Yet I was able witness (i.e. read) their experience, and to interpret their emotion through powerful updates from the event. I may have been near tears for some of them. All this from using “technologies that allow us to interact while inattentive or absent.”

UPDATE

I may have to abandon my claim that digital media is not going to be the end of humanity. Ha! Go get ‘em @TheStalwart.

No longer breaking

That should probably have been “No longer BREAKING” with the appropriate capitalization. Now free of obligation to pass along “broken” news bits, my aim is to axe the word from my vocabulary. I have used it far too much for professional purposes (admittedly in personal uses as well), and I am not certain it is the best strategy for conveying information. I ask for my friends to keep me accountable on my word ban. I will need the support.

I have gotten so good at typing that word very quickly that I sometimes do it as a nervous tic: B-R-E-A-K-I-N-G; check if I left out the B, as I am wont to to do; hit ENTER. Tapped out on the counter or in my  coat pocket.

In online news, especially the social blend, breaking fires the mega news alarm. It is understood to mean that a story is 1. big 2. a new report and 3. something that everyone is going to want to see. Thus, slap an easily recognizable all-caps word on it, let it fly, and watch the news crowd go bonkers. And it works! Being a breaker of news will make you seem smarter, faster, cooler, and a fast typer: traits sure to make you a big deal online.

But the term has become so overused and abused that it has been stripped of much value. Yet it is still widely used, as it was in my previous employment.

There are many new challenges and competitors for news sources these days. Among those competitors are media entities who pioneered shock and awe information. They have been in the business of luring eyeballs since the days when people still read print! And now news organizations are trying to beat them at their own game? Not a wise move in my view. Everybody is doing it, and everybody will look the same until someone breaks the mold and gets a leg up.

I think this is an opportunity for those in the news biz. Instead of tagging a report with a hot word, why not make the whole report hot? Find new ways to put the story and the medium to work for convincing the audience that your story has much more to offer than a flashy ornament slapped on another.

To hold myself to this experiment, I am going to go to the extent to eliminate the word “breaking” from my online communication, and to replace it with alternate and hopefully more compelling information. To up the ante, I offer anyone who catches me using the word online to a coffee at my expense.

Finally, I must mention that I mean no disrespect to my former employer, nor anyone who deals in breaking news. These folks are remarkably talented, and I respect their commitment to sharing information as soon as they have it. My hat remains off to all those in this boat.

Secret ops in Africa, messy news and angry journalists

Saturday afternoon and all media types across the United States were watching football and Twitter, primed for uproar as soon as the of dual U.S. involved strikes on targets overseas. As the reports streamed out, journalists sniped at conflicting stories, missing details, and revisions made to accounts. The stories were all shaky and mostly different. It resurfaced a question I often encounter with fast-moving and evasive stories: how to choose which story to accept and share?

There was confusion over who was nabbed, almost nabbed, or killed. There was also confusion over who carried out the raids. The matter gets all the more a mess when you try to figure out who is telling who what ( i.e. who are the sources?). As I am not in contact with any of these sources nor do I have the faculties to verify them for myself, I must choose what kind of reports I accept and share.

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Do I need to actually watch the “Major Economic Events To Watch This Week”?

Or are these events only events if I am a Business Insider market nerd? Don’t get me wrong: I love Business Insider. Sharp and fun cast of reporters, prompt and edgy content and an example of a media organization doing a whole lot more than just publishing words.

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 11.12.40 PM

One of their products I appreciate is their email newsletters. They are timely and useful. Such as today’s “Here Are The Major Economic Events To Watch This Week*.” I have a growing interest in economics, but have very little training in the field but much exposure to it in the news. Thus, very little of the mailer registered with me and I suspect that might be the case for others. But I love the BI guys and what they do, and I want to know more about economics, so I am setting to decipher and contextualize “The Major Economic Events To Watch This Week” so I know which ones to actually watch and look for in the future.

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What I learned from someone else’s failure

In Postmortem of a Venture-backed Startup, Brett Martin assesses why his social networking app Sonar failed. It is a nine minute read (thank you Medium) that provides more insight into innovation and small business than anything I have read about the matter in 600-pages from Malcolm Gladwell.

A sample:

  • Growth > engagement for startups.
  • Develop your own audience before trying to ride a collaborator’s coattails to new users.
  • Focus on three priorities, i.e. don’t spread your interests too thin.
  • Don’t fight too hard to save a sinking ship/relationship. Fix the leak or get a new boat.

I wrote more of these down on a notecard, they are that good. Go read.

But what else was learned here? All this wisdom came from Brett’s failure. I have spoken with Brett, and he is a bright guy. But there is no reason to believe that he had all of this knowledge prior to Sonar’s falter. So I would surmise that in failure, there is opportunity to make tremendous gains in terms of insight. No revelation here.

But we must be in a state to notice the factors that contribute to our misstep. What is that state? If one is so focused on how horribly wrong things are going, it is indeed “hard to see the forest for the trees.” For myself, I believe that state is a combination of exploration and seeking to guide others.

  • Exploration, to view a course not as definitive but open to numerous ends and able to accommodate new variables or changes in procedure.
  • Guiding others, even if I fall, I can still feel good at the end of the day by shouting to other’s “Don’t go this way, there is a bunch of sticker bushes!”

I envy Brett. To have found all that wisdom through his startup experience. Perhaps he will find more failures, but will likely be rich failures. I hope that I am fortunate enough to fail with such gains.

Harnessing social media for crisis warning response and intelligence

iRevolution is the online home of a team of scientists and technologist who are exploring the application of technologies for “crisis early warning, humanitarian response and resilience.” I happened upon the remarkable program being conducted by Patrick Meier and his team and have spent the day exploring their work, and discussing it with Mr. Meier over Twitter.

Here is what they are exploring now.

In a crisis, there is need for accounts of damage and conditions but never enough sample points for such an important matter. But in this day and age, many social media “status updates” can become eyewitness reports as users provide their accounts of a crisis.

As Meier illustrates here, The U.N. used social media to characterize Typhoon Pablo by combing geo-specific social media content, cleaning the data, and using it to make estimates on the nature and extent of damage following the typhoon in Asia

typhon-pablo_social_media_mapping-ocha_a4_portrait_6dec2012

(All images via http://irevolution.net/)

With any user-generated content, there will be concerns of the veracity of the intelligence gained, and the process of cleaning it seems arduous. Meier’s team is now working on systems of microtasking, which puts to use digital humanitarian volunteers who describe conditions after a crisis by sending updates via the microtasking app. The app makes possible to with a single click send a social media update carrying key identifiers (e.g. #flooding) built into the application by Meier’s team.

tweetclicker_screenshot2It is another of the iRevolution projects I am intrigued by, and for several reasons. I am curious about how product developers and teams such as Meier’s can (1) depend on the wisdom of the cloud, and (2) what does it take to get people to participate in this kind of a process? The payoff is different than watching a funny video or spying on who your ex is dating.

I encourage you to check out what irevolution.net is doing.

The salvation of breaking news

How can we stay connected to big news events as they happen, without chaining ourselves to Twitter or CNN?

Twitter is fast, but overwhelming, noisy, and full of misinformation.

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 10.34.11 PM

Twitter is great for keeping up with real-time news, but who is actually glued to Twitter or cable news all day? The answer to this is very few, and those that do are journalists and politicians. I would argue that most people prefer to sustain their media addiction for something that is more consistently interesting or entertaining (a la cat videos or what their Facebook friends are doing). So for those not willing to resign themselves to the occasionally “awesome” Twitter and cable news, what options are there for keeping up with important news events in near real-time?

There are certain Twitter accounts that are quite good for breaking news, but they often cover to many stories, and with too fine of detail. It is hard to adjust the filter. Additionally, these are often small operations and cannot be relied on to cover all major stories or be staffed at all times. There are larger media organizations (CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX etc.) but are likely pushing things not all would consider to be “big” stories, as they have their products to sell. But they do have the resources for comprehensive staffing and eyes on different parts of the world.

Are there any services out there that “push” news alerts to subscribers? Alerts that are more prompt than the email and SMS options many news organizations offer? And are they customizable, so that I can choose to just get political  and sports news (as an example). I get news alerts from several publications and mobile apps, but they are often significantly delayed.

Setting notifications for expected events is one strategy. Say on Sunday I hear that the Senate is expected to vote on the continuing resolution at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday. What about a service that makes it easy to add upcoming events to Google Calendar or iCal? CSPAN occasionally does this, and I would love to see it implemented across all of their schedule. But this would likely only appeal to a news junkie, and someone interested enough to see what is forecast to happen.

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 10.33.18 PMThere is a long way to go for delivering important news stories to audiences that don’t wish to be shackled to Twitter. I do not believe that the population has lost an appetite for news, but they are consuming a lot of other really tasty stuff and don’t want to eat their veggies all the time. But they do know that it’s a good idea to work that into a diet, and if it was just the right veggie offered at just the right time, they might go for it.

I would love to hear what other people are using to stay current with news, and their ideas for improving the process.

> @hartpandrew

 

What sectors might actually benefit from social media insights?

Outside of being a channel for promotion of products and services, what good is social media to business? Are there sectors of business that might benefit from analyzing social media “conversations”?

Some potentials:

- Finance: Say a market influencer reveals something about business transaction, organization restructuring, legal development, sentiment towards a company or product, etc. Recently we saw a tweet from billionaire investor Carl Icahn send markets soaring.

- Sports: Could there be something for sports betting from analyzing social media conversations? Perhaps call on the knowledge of the cloud to make prediction on sport outcomes? Anyone doing this out there? Imagine if you could harness the collective intelligence of those in fantasy leagues; many of these accounts are more knowledgable than the teams that they are.

- Weather: More immediate weather reports, and weather characterizations utilizing masses of user generated reports.

- Transportation: Of course, traffic, as many are fond of updating social media while traveling. But also, monitoring delays or issues with mass transit, such as buses, trains, boats, and of course airports. And what about predicting ticket prices?

- Politics: Gauge voter turnout, voting issues or nab people taking instagram shots of their ballot.

- Health: Tracking the spread disease or other medical issues is already being done, and beyond being relevant to epidemiologists, I would imagine that it might be of interest for employers or retailers (i.e. stock up on flu medicine).

- Natural events: If in the case of an earthquake, could social media messages provide a compliment to geological data for the event? Would it give a stronger narrative to an event, something beyond “a magnitude 4.3 hit Los Angeles, but we aren’t really sure if it was significant”? Or what of areas that don’t have comprehensive seismic monitoring?

- Commodity demand: Is the new Xbox going to fly off shelves? Are a lot of people going to be buying pizza on Monday evening?

What else?

Bylines as hooks

In a day and age where the article is a staid, impotent tool for locking in readers, the byline has become a barb for keeping an audience. One paragraph looks like another paragraph. Anyone can embed a photo or video. Lists are made simply being able to segregate ideas and hit enter. But not every online publication can be an address to find the author.

Media consumers, freed from defaulting to the available or conventional publication, are micro-targeting for finding content. Maybe they like lists. Maybe they like videos. But anyone can create these. What cannot be as easily replicated is celebrity. Jack Shafer writes for Reuters on the rise of “Journalism’s new Marquee” personalities, including Nate Silver, Ezra Klein, Bill Simmons etc. These guys are brilliant, and produce a lot of great stuff. Their name becomes “the best burrito” in town, and people will visit the restaurant (i.e. publication, pardon the poor analogy) with gusto. Look at the traffic traffic Five Thirty Eight brought to the New York Times.

Even so, if there is a better content out there, I may skip the reliable brand of the Marquee crew for what is the content du jour. This is certainly aided by our immersion on the social web, where we read what our network reads. But what if the Marquee content producer is a friend? You would surely want to patronize your friend, even if somebody is offering a better product. You would at least stop by his shop, no? Another analogy: suppose you don’t really care who makes it to the playoffs, but your hometown team is hot. You root for the home team, right? You may not paint your face team-colors or visit Five Thirty Eight exclusively, but you definitely check in because it is most likely good, and because “you care.”

Earlier this week, I read a great article on Al Jazeera America earlier this week by Jessica Weisberg. Good piece, but Al Jazeera America and the author are still new to me and I wouldn’t have consider the publication nor the author a staple of my media diet. But Al Jazeera America displayed Ms. Weisberg’s Twitter handle, and I reached out to applaud her piece and ask her some questions about it. She replied. I felt connected. Not only was she a good writer, but she cared. Now I care about her, her work, and where her work lives, at Al Jazeera America, a bit more. I will be following her and Al Jazeera America more closely.

Similarly, David Peisner’s “The Man Behind The Implosion of the Ex-Gay Movement” was an incredible read and I felt like telling somebody about it. Twitter was flooded with praise for it. As my plaudits would surely be lost, I instead tried to find Mr. Peisner to tell him how much I enjoyed it. I found a personal website, a dormant Twitter account and an email. I emailed him. He replied. He cares. So I checked out other stuff he wrote including this story on the music  business in prisons. Wow. Reliably good stuff and we emailed. Relative to most online interactions, this guy is now my local butcher. I will be going back.

Please don’t share

This photo doesn’t need context nor validation to capture attention. But I think it is important that it come with it, and that distributing it without context and accuracy is a disservice to the Egyptians living through such events and for those who want to know what is going on.

The photo would even get my attention were it an advertisement for an upcoming action blockbuster, pure fiction spiced up for short attention spans.

I saw this image on Twitter when it was posted by @Sarahcarr. I do not know if @Sarahcarr was the first to share this photo on Twitter, nor if she (assumed she) took the photo. The same goes for @CFKlebergTT. But media have decided that they are the origins. At least, that is the source that retweets and many large media organizations went with (e.g. Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, The Atlantic).

What became the popular story associated with the images was that pro-Morsi supporters, trapped on a bridge in Cairo, began to throw themselves to the street below as Egyptian security forces opened fire. This very well may be the case, and indeed others have collected reports that corroborate it. But in the frantic, by-the-seat-of-your-pants social media realms, such validation was seldom done. Worse, the images were distorted to tell a different story.

 

 

I do not argue that we should not share such images, I am never one to press ‘MUTE’. But I hate to be misled, and strive to not deceive others. I don’t know the story of what happened here. I need the experience of those who are there. They should be the storytellers. Anything that I assign would be fictional, and laden with my biases on the persons involved and situation they are in.

I commend those who are working so courageously to share the events unfolding in Egypt. Oppression and violence thrive in deception. For the sake of Egyptians searching for a peaceful resolution, and for the global audience who are stakeholders as well,  let us strive for truth even if the story is not primed for our palette.

Off the grid

I have been “off the grid” for the most part of this week, and it has been refreshing, challenging and enlightening.

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Refreshing in that I had lovely beaches, warm waters, tropical forests, good company and a host of new adventures to keep busy with. With my attention freed rom keeping up with a constant stream of news and countless communication lines, I was able to focus on the foreign and spectacular experiences I had the good fortune to be offered. I was able to focus on experiences, sensations and other people that I am not always afforded the opportunity to (or perhaps, do not pursue with the same energy). Reminded that news I regularly consume consists of real places, real people and real experiences, I find a curiosity in the world and its people strengthened.

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Challenging in that going from “all digital news, all the time” to beach mode took more effort than seems necessary. Who wouldn’t lapse on their media diet for a spell in paradise? But in doing my best to do so—no computer, no Twitter, limited access  to my mobile, and  only the purely entertainment television that my party enjoyed—I realize how baked into my lifestyle news and access to news is. Is this healthy? Should I prescribe more media blackouts? Certainly, I would not be alone in doing so. My first thought is that as long as I am to compliment a media-rich diet with the meaty stuff of real-world experiences, I should be okay.

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Enlightening in that I learned so much about how my media regimen affects my lifestyle and psyche. I also learned more about why I am so captivated by news, media and reporting. This is because of its ability to connect me to people, places and experiences that I care so deeply about. The past week brought first-hand experience of what it is like to make these connections, the real-world that digital media compliments. For those people, places and experiences “offline,” I am immensely grateful. I am also grateful for the connections that exist online, that take on a new dimension when they are put on pause. I missed my colleagues and friends that I follow. I miss the conversation that takes place, the shared excitement found in witnessing history develop on our screens. I  miss the unique relationships formed with these people, and if messages from them during my “media blackout” are an indicator, they noticed my absence during it (thanks @miconm, @ClairDogg, @SimonOstler, @passantino, @jblumgart).

To all those people, places, ideas in my digital and physical worlds, mahalo. I cannot tell you how much you all mean to me.

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Patrick deHahn on his reporting on Egypt unrest

Andrew Hart: If I recall, I first contacted you suggesting we chat when “things die down in Egypt.” That hasn’t really happened. Should I have expected that? 

Patrick deHahn: That’s a tough one. Things can calm down, but things haven’t died down. There’s still the sectarian and political differences present in Egypt. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood is now out in the streets; last night (night of July 16, 2013) there were violent clashes and seven died. The anger and differences are still there. Things haven’t died, things haven’t ended.

It’s still polarized and the differences are still present as before the coup. Things haven’t quite been solved just yet.

Surely, you must have found a way to sleep during all of this? What has been balancing time zone differences with work schedule and daily life? What has it been LIKE 

During June 30 and the days after, I didn’t really sleep as much. I kept a five hour sleep schedule for the most part. I stayed up most of all Saturday night before June 30 and didn’t sleep much that Sunday night.

The thing is that with continuing experience covering Egypt, I knew what the culture was like, what the schedule was like there. Sure, there’s a 6 hour difference, but things run late at night there and scheduled things often are delayed. So, things wouldn’t happen until later at night there, which would mean about 12 noon or dinnertime on the east coast here in the U.S. And I’d stay up until 11 or midnight as late night protests or possibly clashes would ensue.

I’d get up early in the morning to be safe, and it’s when some of the political and governmental developments would occur. And I also had work and life to live, so I managed that as well. Take for example, speeches and press conferences at 10PM there, that’s normal. And that’d be 3 or 4 PM here.

Favorite type of coffee? 

Hmmm. Light to medium roast, probably Dunkin’ Donuts. I can do Starbucks Blonde Roast. And my current internship has free coffee!

You said continued experience covering Egypt: when did you first start to follow events in Egypt. 

Hmm, I’m not too sure of a set day or period of time where I started covering it. I followed the 2011 revolution on my own with no reporting, but I dove into it probably sometime before my internship at Voice of America, sometime around the winter of 2011 and 2012 when the parliamentary elecitons came about. I covered that and decided to follow the events in the nation there. I went to VOA and worked live coverage of the presidential elections and protests and such. And I’ve continued on my own since then.

What was it about the country or events that intrigued you? 

It’s a little bit of both. I’d have to say the events first though, and that I learned more about the country and the people from the events I covered. The events of inspiring large masses gathering to protest and air their grievances was something that correlated with my beliefs. It was something that I enjoyed following and wanted to know more about. I’m one to support free speech and assembly and protest, so seeing the large numbers and – sometimes no matter the numbers – the constant protests that were planned. It never ended.

And there’s the politics. It never ends, there’s 10PM pressers, there’s 1AM Twitter speeches from the Presidency. This is something you wouldn’t see in the Western world. The politics so heated and divided that it’s back and forth every day. It’s something interesting to me as a journalist and as a person. The people there are fighting for their beliefs and needs, whether side they’re on.

I also learned a lot about the people and the country. They’re so passionate and strong, in a sense, that they will hit the streets for a better livelihood. Also educated in a sense that they know about the politics in their country and are informed and want changes. And the lives they live, the power outages, the fuel gas shortages and the economy tanking. A beautiful, beautiful country in a crisis. The people so passionate that they’ll do anything and everything to make it better but there’s always that up and down roller coaster that they seem to be stuck on.

I could probably formulate all that better but it’s a lot that I love about the country; it’s a great, great story. I love the story and I can’t let go of it. There’s lots to come, as we said earlier, it hasn’t died down.

As you say, the people are informed, and they want changes. Yet, it seems as if there are other factors that US media & politics fixate on (e.g. the military). Do you think that many in the US “get what is going on in Egypt?” 

That’s because many of the U.S. media and politics fixate on the fact that it may be a “coup,” and many of the Middle East pundits online have been arguing about it, and still are. It was a coup, but then it was people supported. There were 9,500 protests in one year under Morsi’s rule, so the army wanted to move on. And nothing in the political sphere in Egypt was moving along in terms of the opposition, the various political parties, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Presidency, political talks were tough to manage.

From what I understand and have heard from Egyptians, the military doesn’t want to do much in politics after the mess they had in 2011. They don’t want to do anything else but do their job as the army under a Presidency. It just so happened that the Morsi Presidency caused more unrest and a political crisis that didn’t improve the Egyptian society, that they couldn’t work under him if the streets weren’t quiet. Then came the Morsi ouster.

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Are you willing to issue any predictions about what is coming next for Egypt? 

The new interim cabinet was sworn in today [July 17, 2013]. We still have the reworking of the highly controversial Constitution and the parliamentary elections to come. Then there’s the Presidential elections almost a year away. It’s going to be a long process because the Muslim Brotherhood is still fighting the Morsi ouster. The political and sectarian divide is there, but we don’t quite know how far it will go and if anything can settle in the next few months, year or two to come.

Now a bit about your process…How did you prepare for coverage in advance (and during) events as they unfolded on June 30? 

A lot of the events had started the 28th and the 29th, with people preparing for gas shortages and stocking up on food and such. There were protests and clashes before the 30th. I prepared for the day trying to build up my already established Twitter list. I created a second Twitter list just for Egypt breaking news of five local news organizations. I had set up my live blog and had live video running.

The Twitter lists you built were immensely valuable. What is the process for assembling it? 

I have pretty much 80% journalists and freelancers and photogs on my Egypt Twitter list. This way, I could have multiple professional reports and angles on the ground. I started the list a while back, with the basis of getting area journalists and using the sources they sourced out. It was like going from one page to another and vetting them as I went.

I also have hardcore activists, Muslim Brotherhood affiliated users, MB spokespeople, students and just Egyptians. It added life and energy to the list among the reports.

You supplemented the minute-by-minute reporting with a great live-blog. Was that a format you liked? 

It was tough cause I’m a hardcore live-Tweeter, but the live blog helped me stay out of Twitter jail! The format helped my readers I think because with the constant press releases and speeches, I put those up with Arabic and rough English translation (thanks Google Translate!). And with the protests, there were multiple photos, reports, commentary, maybe clashes and in various cities. So, I was able to organize the posts and say, here are some posts and photos from a protest in Alexandria, some reports from clashes on the 6th October bridge. That helped. It helped me and helped my readers – I hope!

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What are the obstacles to covering ongoing developments remotely. 

Everything is better on the ground or in the area. The time difference! Remotely and on social media, it was an avalanche of information (I don’t mind it, but it is much for some). So being on the ground in Egypt, I am not sure if it would have been clearer to understand and process. Though on the ground, you only have one view, one angle and that’s it. You’re missing so much. Online, I can see what’s going on all over Cairo and in various cities across Egypt. Multitasking is fun but can be a hurdle when trying to confirm and report live. Live reporting is my favorite thing to do, really. It’s a lot of work but I love it.

Has your coverage of developments in Egypt created any new relationships for you? 

I’ve formed some friendships and I’d like to continue them. One I’ve met in person in Washington D.C., another great Egypt follow on Twitter. @maie_89. Give her a follow.

Online News Layout Design: Ideas

The Circa news app for mobile has become a favorite for how it presents news in a format that is intuitive, engaging and efficient. Highly recommend you check out what the Circa team (including Anthony De Rosa and David Cohn) are doing to shake up what news can be.

It has me wondering how other media might make their presentation channel more “user friendly.”  Here is a sketch I did on a Sunday afternoon for some possibilities for an online news report, accessed on a desktop, laptop or tablet (i.e. not dependent on how dexterous a user’s thumbs are).

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HEADLINE: Is a headline, but set with a color or icon to distinguish the subject area (politics, economics, environment, etc.).

LATEST: To the top of the page, an easy to find section with just the latest information on the story (reverse chronological, or a logical order of just the latest).

STORY: Comprehensive story, using the inverted pyramid layout (until something better comes along!). Similar to the form of Circa, news stories will be broken up into “chunks,” whether it be a new development in the form of a new fact, photo, video, quote etc. These should also serve as jump-off points when appropriate, allowing the user to access more info on a certain chunk. For some jump-offs, perhaps just a pop-up window to display more info or media.

CHUNKS: Make them big and bold. They are the bones that the story is built on.

TIMELINE: Not sure on this one yet, but a timeline can help a person new to the story visualize the sequencing of “chunks” and also be a map for a user who is looking to access a certain point in the story. This should be clean, not clutter on the page and hyperlinked to the pertinent part of the story or tangential topic. I like how the New York Times employs timelines on their topic pages, as done here for Egypt.

These are some rough, broad and early ideas. It may be missing key elements for an online news story. What are those? It may have too much. What can be trimmed?

Homepages of News Sources in a News Flurry

A lot of headlines came screaming across towards day’s end on Tuesday, 2 July 2013. Snowden, Morsi refusing to heed demands of protestors in Egypt, U.S. healthcare stipulation, Bradley Manning trial, George Zimmerman. All flying over different channels and given different weight by different news sources. Here is a look at some home pages a short while after things started to get hectic.

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CNN: I really hate this photo of Edward Snowden. But CNN loves scandal. Breaking banner atop for healthcare developments. Those breaking banners really seem to get me. I wonder if this is the case just for people who follow news somewhat closely?

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FOX News: Zimmerman. Hard to tell what the actual significance of the story is here, but that is Zimmerman in the photo and his name. If I care, I click.

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NBC News: Say I don’t know who Morsi is. Moving on, there is always crowds gathering for something or other. But that ultimatum word sounds intriguing…nah, onward.

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ABC News: Is this a news site? Or some kind of entertainment site? Great photo, but is it a teaser for a movie or what? (No disrespect to tragedy depicted) I can barely make out the text on the photo, making it all the more difficult to discern why this story is here. Nothing appears to be jumping off the page.

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CBS News: Big portraits beckon, fallen sounds impactful, but what if I don’t know what a “Hotshot” is?  Or if I don’t have many connections to Arizona?

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Huffington Post: Well this looks important. But what if I can’t pin who Morsi is, or if I don’t know why “Digs In” is newsworthy. Still, it  is really big and likely worth looking in to.

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Reuters: Leads with unrest in Egypt, not much on Morsi’s speech. Hard to dig in to any particular item.

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 The New York Times: Leads with Morsi’s speech, but a photo of people watching TV? Contextual, yes. Compelling or informative? Not that much.

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The Washington Post: A quick scan indicates that nothing huge taking place, but who is that guy? Egyptian president? Okay, but he is just talking.

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BBC News: If I am following the Snowden saga, likely going to pursue their lead story. But that photo is pretty intriguing as well, only the accompanying information is a bit of a reach.

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Al Jazeera: Very similar imagery as the Washington Post, but this looks like a bigger deal. The story is an easy pick-up to boot: “Egypt, Morsi, step down.”

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Egypt Independent: There appears to be something about this guy, but it is just a photo of him looking serious and the text by its side is not very catchy.

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Univision: Nothing. That comic is absurd, and it appears to be about Snowden. That might get me to come after it for a laugh.

 

What I Discern: CNN Edition

Another look at what is being offered on the front pages of news organizations and what could be offered. Here, a look at CNN.com (previously, nytimes.com).

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Again, my eyes immediately fall on the banner ad, here for Morgan Spurlock’s show. I attribute this to 1) position, 2) strong contrast in color, 3) big and bold text (i.e. 10 p.m.). Do I care about this? Not really, as I can’t discern what the show is about and I am lukewarm on Morgan Spurlock.

Onward to the leading story package: Spies among us! Simple bold text is easy to pick up and “hot” words (i.e. spying shocks) beckon for further investigation. The image is somewhat compelling at first glance (and rather amateur on second glance). I could go for this, but is that what I am in the mood for?

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There isn’t much else to compel me further, save for a boring ad, but wait: what is this nice little bar above the lead story package? A list of “Trending Topics”: Zimmerman, Alec Baldwin, Heat Wave, Obama in Africa, NSA Leaks etc. Should my attention settle here for a moment, I could almost certainly find something that interests me, or just get an overview of “stuff going on now.” I think this a smart move. I have a choice and it is a manageable: I may not know the latest on the Zimmerman trial is (perhaps manifest in a specific headline, e.g. “Prosecutor presents sweatshirt …etc.), but I know what the general story is and pursuing just “Zimmerman” doesn’t feel like I am getting in over my head.

However, I may not even be at CNN.com this long. I balked on the banner ad and lead story, and may not make it to the bar of “Trending Topics.”

What I Discern: NYTimes.com edition

What should the homepage of a news site be? To what extent does the presentation of content produced by a news organization attract or repel an audience? Is there a certain approach that is both alluring and informative? Is it the duty of a news organization to display content it deems editorially and civically important? Or is it appropriate to present what is likely to be appealing to the widest audience possible?

I don’t know.

Here is what I get out of the landing page of The New York Times.

 

I like the blue, what’s that all about…AH! Ad! Away!

Next, that photo is a stark contrast to the black & white surrounding thus I go there. Very descriptive photo, which is good. It’s clear there is something significant going on here, thus I go to the headline. Ok, so they are gay and being married. But I must dig further, into tiny boring type to figure out why this is news worthy. Am I that committed?

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Well maybe that other headline is juicier…nope (above): “something, something, Obama, something, something.” When is Obama not in a headline. Moving on. What about those little ones on the right?

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The pictures have zero pull. Any words I like? “France, F.D.A., artist, Zimmerman, revolution, a name I don’t recognize.” Unless I am in the medical field, glued to HLN, or some kind of social activist (revolution), I am moving on.

But there is nothing more to move on to. Unless I click around or scroll. Of course, I do all this and more. I do it at a premium level as a paying subscriber. I know my way around the site, how to look for good stories, and how to consume a well-balanced news meal.

I am fortunate. Not all visitors will be.

Is it the duty of the news organization to cater to me? (International news, national, political, business, sports that I care about, technology, media, local, arts, fun stuff.)

Or should it cater to my rich neighbor who loves sports so much he will pay top dollar for it? (Videos, photos, numbers)

Or should the news organization seek to push the most holistic serving of news possible? (Here’s your world, your national, economic etc.)

Or should it try to be avant-garde as a means to stand out? (One big mysterious photo or headline, daring you to go without figuring out what the story is)

Or should it try to capture the largest audience possible? (Kardashians?)

I only have answers for myself, not my neighbor nor a larger audience. But I am going to explore.

[NOTE: I love nytimes.com and don't mean to single them out as a news source that is failing at capturing an audience. After all, they seem to be doing well enough and they have some smart people behind all that reporting.]

Weaning off Google Reader

Not fully realizing how much of my information stream stems from Google Reader, I thought that it’s demise on July 1, 2013 would only be a small hiccup in my daylong news regimen. Now I am not so sure.

Social platforms (in my case, Twitter) are excellent for having your network vet and recommend items, but I cannot be hardwired in to Twitter all day. Thus, I often lose track of some of my preferred sources. Google Reader also enable a quick scan of all headlines to get an overview of stories occurring over a day. In a couple of days, that will be kaput.

I am undecided how to handle this: whether to take it as an opportunity to shake up my information diet, or try to replicate it using other means.

One possible supplement is email newsletters, a number of which I already subscribe to.

  • Of course, POLITICO’s Playbook for insider Washington news.
  • The Washington Post’s Wonkblog with Ezra Klein et al. for market and political news.
  • MSNBC’s Morning Maddow from the Maddow team for political news from a Maddow persepctive.
  • CNN’s Gut Check for a day’s-end overview of political news.
  • POLITICO’s Morning Tech
  • Atlantic Wire’s Five Best Columns
  • Reuters Counterparties with Felix Salmon and Ryan McCarthy for finance news.
  • Media Redefined is heavy load of media and news….news.
  • I WANT MEDIA for about the same as the previous.
  • Evening Edition selects a few international news stories to share each day.

 

 

One issue with these means of keeping up with the news is that they are not as immediately updated as RSS. I might have to wait until the following morning to get another dose of news from a newsletter. They also tend to require more production (than say, a blog post) and the immediacy with which they are obtained is delayed.

Any recommendations for keeping up with news?

This from Lea

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Lovely. [Photo: Lea]

How to talk to parents about email newsletters

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.

Protected: An interview with my grandfather, William Bell

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Twitter List Library

[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.

Please, recommend more lists for me to check out.

(more…)

Lists

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?”

- Was directed to an astounding story I surely would not have encountered without connecting with an accomplished and gregarious New Yorker.

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.

TEST: Saturday structure shakeup

[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:

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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

Picture 7

 

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.

2013-05-11 19.42.05

[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:

http://www.fastcolabs.com/3009577/open-company/this-is-what-happens-when-publishers-invest-in-long-stories

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.

Picture 6

[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.

http://www.fastcolabs.com/3009577/open-company/this-is-what-happens-when-publishers-invest-in-long-stories

Quoted

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?

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?

Should Law Enforcement Scanners Stay Open?

‘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.’

[SOURCE: http://www.ustream.tv/blog/2013/04/20/new-media-vs-old-media-which-side-did-you-partake-in-yesterdays-play-by-play-in-boston/]

Been on my mind, and I am unresolved.

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.

[SOURCE: Washington Post's The Plum Line]

Coverage of blasts at Boston Marathon for @NewsBreaker: 16 April 2013

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.


td;dr (Too digital; didn’t read)

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.

(READ: The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens by Ferris Jabr)

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.

With Access Comes Excess…Then I Get Stressed

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.

Screen Shot 2013-04-13 at 1.47.03 AM
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.

Screen Shot 2013-04-13 at 1.53.00 AM
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.

Waking news regimen

I am sure that I will one day learn that starting one’s day with news briefs, tweets, podcasts and the like is entirely unhealthy, likely causing some form of insanity or depression. But for the time being, I am enjoying my breakfast along with as much information as I can cram into my mug, bowl and toaster oven.

- I am woken by the most pleasant chorus of bells I could find. So pleasant, that I go to bed afraid that I may just sleep through it. Here I see opportunity for innovation: an alarm of news reports, with no need for me to activate it. What better way to get going than learning about something else that is already going on in the world while I have been laying about?

- Until my news alarm is realized, I cue up ‘Winston‘ on my iPhone. An app recommended by my friend @PE_feeds, it presents the latest information—-social updates, weather, headlines, stocks—-in a voice that refined & robotic voice. I would like to see this integrated audio news briefs, as Winston can be a bit too heavy on what my social networks said about something on TV last night.

- As I make my way out of the bedroom and into the kitchen, I am listening to audio news briefs on my mobile via the TuneIn app. I go with Sky News, BBC, CBC & NPR for their hourly (or so) news updates. The app can be slow & unwieldy, but the briefs give me a broader sense of what is out there that does’t require hands or eyes which are needed for breakfast detail. Here, I would love to see the briefs more integrated (less user manipulation) and of course on more reliable connection than my home WiFi or wireless network.

- Over breakfast, I slide into Twitter, first checking a list I have built of news accounts: mostly breaking news sources, a few reporters, and accounts that I am involved with that I need to know what the last thing they covered was. Scroll through this over a couple of sips of milk, and I know what is going on at that moment (at least according to these accounts). I would love suggestions of how to supplement this list, which can be found HERE.

- Setting off, I hope to know what I am heading off to, i.e. the news items of the moment. With this accomplished I set to accounting for incoming messages: emails, pings, texts, voicemail, @ replies and the like. Fire off a quick reply, or mark it for follow up.

- Back to Twitter fishing for more developing stories (via the Tweetbot app). If Tweetbot croaks on us in the coming months (as some Twitter third-party apps are), I do not know what I am going to do to replace it. Suggestions?

- In transit I will visit larger news organizations on my mobile device, often through their app, Twitter account, or RSS feed. For scanning the stories contained here, I go with Tweets or RSS posts as they have a time-stamp easily available so I can know where the story stands in relation to the already fast moving world. Next, the Breaking News app which also presents the headlines in chronological article. I don’t pursue the stories further here, but rather get the target then take my search outside the app. I believe I do this so as to be more immersed in the story as it is originally presented. For digging into articles, I tend to go with the news organization app (if they have one), for example the NYTimes app. In this phase, I am looking for a larger perspective of “what’s going on?” and perhaps some inspiration or food-for-thought in one of the pieces I dig in to.

- At my ‘work station’ (desk), I access email. Messages from people to me, and a couple of newsletters that arrive overnight. I have these mass-mailers filtered to a folder that I scan, and open or delete as I see fit. Most valuable here is POLITICO’s Playbook and Morning Money, along with Newser. Even though this is a more antiquated channel, I find it quite valuable to get a bit more about what is going on, & in the case of POLITICO’s offerings, what is expected.

- Next, RSS feeds via Google Reader. Organized by subject matter and value, I get a look at what happened since I last checked on them, and pick out what to pursue from there on out. Some I visit the actual website to get the full exposure, some I share to Twitter, some I skip, some I save for later reading via Pocket, some I flag for follow up. At this point, I am starting to lose track of items to keep on hand for the immediate, as well as things to visit later (i.e. starred, saved). Would love to hear how others keep inventory of the items to spend more time with!

I will cut off my morning information regimen here. The rest of the day consists of iterating between these different channels, turning them on and off and working with the contents.

Where am I vulnerable? Is this too much? Too narrow of scope? Feedback is essential to my growth and I hope the discussion could help both of us.

Involuntary Mobile Blackout

Earlier this week, my mobile went kaput. Despite the many reasons for it ceasing to work (e.g. dropping, soaking, heating, cooling, fumbling), it was a coffee break that did it in. I left the device at my desk, hunted down some joe, and returned to a screen that no longer registered.

I took it to the manufacturer outpost (guesses at which one?) and they swapped me out a new mobile, but then we were stuck. The device could not be activated. The representative went through their inventory of quick-fixes none of which worked. Same story with the wireless provider. The two parties responsible for making my mobile existence exist had no idea what to do about it. So I have been radio-silence: no phone, no text, no mobile Internet.

I notice:
- Nagging anxiety at time that I may be missing something important.
- Reoccurring sensation that I have left something behind, as my pocket is empty.
- Confusion over what time it is.
- Concern that I might be offending those seeking to contact me.
- Increased ability to focus on task at hand, not alternatives tasks on my mobile.
- Freedom. While I am sure that the news updates continue to stream, emails run amok, important calls unheard, it is liberating to know there isn’t too much I can do about it.

And finally, I seem to have defeated the treacherous built-in obsolescence of the technology industry, the means such companies use to keep us on-line with technical support, renewing contracts, seeking out the newer model. It is taking coffee breaks.

Sabotage in Breaking News

Gjven the pace of news media, more news organizations are empahasizing or incorporating “Breaking News” in their programming and strategy. Good for them. The immediacy and intensity can encourage civic engagement. But challenges remain in the news, and indeed new ones arise with affinity for speed and immediacy.

For example…

I was reading a USA Today article, something I rarely do, and rather enjoying their new page layout. A aptly-sized red alert banner popped up over the top of the page, informing me of a red-hot breaking news story.

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 7.26.40 PM [Click]

But the zinger of a lede, flashy display and my craving for scoops were all sunk by this:

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 7.27.06 PMA screen-consuming ad for LOL videos. Not the best way to keep a news-junkie strung on. I ended up reading nothing and watching no LOL videos.

 

Shark Tracker Makes The Internet So Much More Wonderful

The problem with following journalists on Twitter is that they post a lot of junk (not excluding myself). Wait, that is just a problem with media. But I was assured today that buried beneath all the mud, there be treasure. Treasure of undeniable value. Think Shark Week, all the time.

 

This is what I saw. Be it real or not, I enjoy sharks. In this case, Mr. Alex Burns was sharing this incredible specimen being tracked on a slick new site, Shark Tracker, “where you can observe the navigational pattern of sharks that have been tagged with satellite tracking technology all for the purpose of shark conservation.” Among the beauties they are tracking now is Mary Lee, the shark that came across my Timeline.

The fine people at OCEARCH (the non-profit behind Shark Tracker) have nice profile (16 ft., 3456 lbs., eyes of steel) of Mary Lee. Mary Lee’s vanity shots are wonderful. I would love to post them, but OCEARCH has staked their copyright claim, so instead I will urge you to go visit their site, and meet Mary Lee: http://bit.ly/N4w5QW  http://www.OCEARCH.org

An Interview with Tom Brokaw

Last one here for this University of Chicago forum on gun control politics in America, and it’s a must watch. My friend had an incredibly rare opportunity to turn the tables on Mr. Tom Brokaw, to slang some poignant questions at the legendary newsman.

Hmm…Can’t tell which is the better reporter here.

Politics of Guns in America at the Institute of Politics

As mentioned in the previous post, a good friend of mine was involved in a fascinating panel on the politics of “Guns in America” at the University of Chicago, presented by the Institute of Politics.

The panel featured

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, City of Chicago
Rep. Steve Latourette, R-Ohio, Retired
Jens Ludwig, Director, UChicago Crime Lab
Steve Chapman, Columnist and Editorial Writer, Chicago Tribune

Moderated by: Tom Brokaw

The video from the panel is online, and well worth watching. This endorsement of a 80-minute video comes from a guy who seldom has the patience to even click on a link to a video. I also applaud the panel for by-and-large avoiding the cliche “serious debate.”

 

 

University of Chicago panel on gun politics

A good friend of mine was involved in the production of panel on gun politics at the University of Chicago. The panel was world class: Tom Brokaw, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette, columnist Steve Chapman, and University of Chicago Crime Lab Director Jens Ludwig. I cannot wait to hear the discussion, which should come out next week. For more info, visit the U of Chicago news site.

@uchipolitics_seangraf_tombrokaw

Your email is not yours

With social networks and cloud storage abundant, email often gets overlooked as a vulnerability to user privacy. Sadly, not even a tool as widespread as email (I have an email address of a bird) is exclusive to the user.

For this, we can credit The Stored Communications Act. The Act, originally written in 1986 (yes, the eighties), makes it legal for law enforcement to access data stored on servers longer than 180 days. Back in 1986, it was reasoned that most data would have been removed from servers by this point, but that is certainly not the case today. While you may have difficulty tracking down that email from a special someone from years ago, I am sure there are legions of goverment data sleuths who could do so.

Sen. Patrick Leahy attempted to pass a bill  that would have made a warrant necessary to access emails from any date, BUT that didn’t pan out.

If you would like to verify that email is being accessed or need some interactive-map fun, Google has a Transparency Report where  you can track attempts of government bodies to access user data and other neat Internet things. google.com/transparencyreport.

Saturday

And this page is boring. Consider this a place holder.

Citebite

Citebite is a new tool to me, and it has quickly made it into my bookmarks toolbar. Citebite generates a link directly to selected text within a website. I have found it useful for sharing targeted content with others, as well as a means to highlight something I would like to recall.

The simple interface takes a chunk of text and the URL of the page containing the text and in return get a link that opens directly to your selection and highlights it.

Give it a go. Send poignant quotes to your colleagues, friends and yourself.

 

Another word for Wordnik

Recently came across Wordnik, and have been growing more fond of it each day. Initially, it was a utility: looking up words, finding synonyms and the like. I discounted the romantic claim from Wordnik’s “About” page: “Wordnik is a new way to discover meaning.” I can now appreciate this.

Give Wordnik a word, and it will return definitions, examples, related words, lists, comments, images and audio. There is also a community (meh), a Word of the Day and random words. To boot, the site is well designed, making it enjoyable to browse. Thus, my brief synonym consult turns into a deep-dive exploration of language.

Kudos to you Wordnik, you have been bookmarked.

Twitter Search Operators

I highly recommend exploring Twitter’s advanced search capability. Doing so can help turn your overwhelming and sometimes nonsensical streams into manageable and strategic discovery tools. Explore the capabilities of Twitter’s interface, and for those seeking to strengthen their command of the feature, familiarize yourself with the syntax used. This guide from  Twinitor shares a substantial list.

TEXT

  • twitter search : containing both “twitter” and “search”. This is the default operator.
  • “happy hour” containing the exact phrase “happy hour”.
  • love OR hate containing either “love” or “hate” (or both).
  • beer -root containing “beer” but not “root”.
  • #haiku containing the hashtag “haiku”.
  • from:alexiskold sent from person “alexiskold”.
  • to:techcrunch sent to person “techcrunch”.
  • @mashable referencing person “mashable”.
  • “happy hour” near:”san francisco” containing the exact phrase “happy hour” and sent near “san francisco”.
  • near:NYC within:15mi sent within 15 miles of “NYC”.
  • superhero since:2010-12-27 containings

[SOURCE: Twinitor]

Twitter needs third-party developers

Many of the features and characteristics of Twitter as we know it are the result of contributions from third-party developers.

Yet on Thursday, Twitter announced new restrictions in its API policy, limiting the scale and function of third-party applications. From the ReadWriteWeb:

Twitter has today announced user caps for third-party Twitter clients, effectively limiting the maximum number of users any outside client can ever have. [More on ReadWriteWeb]

Twitterific was one of the early Twitter clients, released on Jan. 15 2007, less than a year after Twitter was launched. Before Twitterific, this is what Twitter looked like.

A scan of Twitterific’s history reveals the pronounced influence a third-party app had on what we know as Twitter today:

A warning was added when tweets exceed 140 characters

First use of a bird icon.
First use of “tweet” to describe an update (see page 86 of Dom Sagolla’s book.)
View conversations
First native client on Macintosh.
First character counter as you type.
First native client on iPhone.
And more.

[SOURCE]

Media smitten with VP pick secrecy

A survey of political media on Sunday suggests that the real story around Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate was the clandestine orchestration to keep the news under embargo.

Baseball Caps And Rented Cars: How Romney’s Team Kept VP Pick A Secret - NPR

When Mitt Romney settled on Paul Ryan and how he kept it a secret - Washington Post

Efforts to keep Ryan choice secret worthy of spy novel - CNN

How Romney Kept Paul Ryan’s Pick for VP a Secret - ABC

Paul Ryan selection shrouded in secrecy - Fox News

Cloak-and-dagger tactics helped Romney keep Ryan a secret - Los Angeles Times

Ryan Disguise and Woods Detour Keep Romney No. 2 Pick Secret - Businessweek

Inside the VP Pick: How Romney Decided On Ryan – and Kept the Secret - TIME (blog)

Paul Ryan, Vice President Pick, Disguises And Hikes Through The Woods - Huffington Post

Ryan’s clandestine journey to Romney’s ticket went from ‘surreal to real’ - CNN

Really? The Republican ticket adds a daring, young knight of the conservative party and talk is about the paparazzi-like coverage of the vetting process? Romney’s campaign ties itself to a host of divisive issues, namely Ryan’s budget-reducing overhaul of the federal government, and the press still goes for campaign-trail buzz?

“Have a serious debate” has long been a cliche among press and pols alike, but there is little to show for investing in more substance. In this case, perhaps the topic should be what the Romney campaign aims to do should they secure the White House, rather than what kind of french fries they prefer to stop the bus for.
Howard Kurtz’ “Reliable Sources” had a relevant discussion of the matter. Some excerpts:
DEBRA SAUNDERS: “[Journalists are] understaffed and we’re overworked…we can just write a really quick easy story…it’s like a re-write job. Editors are asking for more and more stuff from us.”
BILL PRESS: “There is a laziness than a part of the press corps…”

Google Search Insights: Paul Ryan

 

Much of my news diet, Twitter stream, and cocktail chatter among friends is rife with talk of the just-announced Republican VP candidate, Paul Ryan. So amplified has been the subject that earlier this week Wikipedia froze editing on the pages of possible VPs.

Given the cacophonous levels of conversation, I thought I would examine the Google Search Insights for “Paul Ryan.”

Search interest over time:


Regional Interest:

1. United States
100
2. Ireland
80
3. Australia
18
4. Canada
15
5. United Kingdom
10
6. Netherlands
6
7. Germany
3

Here, I am struck by the amount of searches for Paul Ryan in Ireland. Could it have something to do with Ryan’s statements on the economic turmoil in Europe? From a quote in the New York Times on 28 Jan. 2011,

“Just take a look at what’s happening to Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom and other nations in Europe. They didn’t act soon enough; and now their governments have been forced to impose painful austerity measures: large benefit cuts to seniors and huge tax increases on everybody.”

But were that many people in Ireland paying attention to what a Republican congressman from Wisconsin has to say? Also worth noting is the great amount of searches for Paul Ryan from 2006 to 2007, during the time of an Irish rugby player name Paul Ryan.


Categorical breakdown: Law & Government (25-50%)News (10-25%)Arts & Entertainment (0-10%) ,  People & Society (0-10%),Business & Industrial (0-10%)Beauty & Fitness (0-10%)

Top searches

 

Notes from the selection of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate

Following the national news of the day, some of the interesting items said and learned about Paul Ryan and the state of the election.

“If the ticket was a new home, envision Governor Romney painting the outside of the house and Paul Ryan painting all the rooms, inside, which are the details that the new buyers fall in love with.”
- Brad Dayspring, former top aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), as told to BuzzFeed.

Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900. He is also more conservative than any Democratic nominee was liberal, meaning that he is the furthest from the center. (The statistic does not provide scores for governors and other vice-presidential nominees who never served in Congress.)”
- FiveThirtyEight

Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate EPA Limits On Greenhouse Pollution.

Paul Ryan Voted To Block The USDA From Preparing For Climate Change.

Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate White House Climate Advisers.
Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate ARPA-E.
- ThinkProgress

— Rupert Murdoch(@rupertmurdoch) August 11, 2012

“The choice is a sort of highly leveraged credit-default swap between the Romney campaign and the party base. Romney’s whole campaign might be an impenetrable framework of lies and fraud, but if it goes bust he just bought a AAA-rated security with the base. Like a prudent manager of a global fortune, he’s covered his worst case scenario and provided an out in case of non-performance.”

- Anonymous comment

— Andrea Saul (@andreamsaul) August 11, 2012

Paul Ryan Reading Guide: The Best Reporting on the VP Candidate

[UPDATE 11 August 2012, 15:16 p.m. PST]

News of presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s (@MittRomney) selection of Paul Ryan (@PaulRyanVP) as his running mate spread quickly on Twitter. The conversation peaked at 3,749 Tweets per minute at 9:29 am EDT this morning as Ryan took the stage at a rally in Norfolk, Virginia.

Both Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) tend to perform better in the Index than the candidates at the top of the ticket. But while President Obama (@BarackObama) has generally scored more positively than Governor Romney over the past six weeks, Ryan has most recently generated more positive sentiment than Biden.

- Twitter

“Now would be a good time for that app to go off,” tweeted Ethan Klapper, social media editor at Huffington Post.

- IB Times

The overnight vetting of Paul Ryan.From August, 2010, the Times’ “A Young Republican With a Sweeping Agenda”

From August of this year, Ryan Lizza’s “Fussbudget”

Lizza also shares this photo from Ryan’s high school yearbook, in which Ryan was named “biggest brown-noser.”

Paul Ryan’s classmates vote him “Biggest ‘Brown-Noser.’”twitter.com/RyanLizza/stat…

— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) August 11, 2012

Here’s Ryan on C-SPAN in 1998, when he first joined Congress.

Here’s his big ol’ house in Janesville, Wisconsin.

Paul Ryan has a nice house here in Janesville instagr.am/p/OL5-WLi-xR/

— John Dickerson (@jdickerson) August 11, 2012

Some other notes:

First prez election with no military vet on either ticket since 1932.

— daveweigel (@daveweigel) August 11, 2012

Last year we found Florida voters opposed Ryan plan by 16 points, North Carolina voters opposed it by 23

— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) August 11, 2012

Some early analysis of the pick from Lizza and The Atlantic’s James Fallows (who is not a fan).

The best early analysis is Ezra Klein’s “Seven Thoughts on Ryan”.

But if you’re looking for detail, here is a 290-page opposition research book on Ryan, released by a Super PAC.

Undoubtedly, more to come.

@pbump

Paul Ryan VP selection: How it played

Mitt Romney announced his selection of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate for the White House on Saturday, a move that has charged both parties. In front of the USS Wisconsin docked in Norfolk, Va. Romney introduced the 42-year-old congressman as a person who will help lead the country “to widespread and shared prosperity.”

Leading up to Saturday’s announcement there was increasing conversation among press and pundits over Ryan’s potential for the Romney ticket.

On Friday at 11:06 p.m., Romney communications director Gail Gitcho tweeted, “.@MittRomney will announce his VP pick tomorrow in Norfolk. Download the VP app to be the first to know. http://mi.tt/Mitt-VP  #Mitt2012.” Shortly thereafter, an press release to reporters trumpeting: “MITT ROMNEY ANNOUNCES VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE IN NORFOLK SATURDAY.” ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported that other frontrunners – Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Pawlenty and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio – had been told they were not the pick. Near early dawn, the Romney app officially announced Ryan as the running mate.

More on the announcement and the Romney campaign at Reuters.

#storify by @PE_Feeds: Social Media 101

My friend @PE_Feeds collected a great discussion on social media practice and put together a @storify. It was prompted by a piece by the New York Time’s Nick Bilton & ensuing discussion by Bloomberg’s Jared Keller.


@MarsCuriosity just landed on Mars

A lot of people watched @NASA’s livestream, over 225K by my watch. Many followed along on Twitter.

Mentions of “mars OR curiosity or NASA or MSL” on 5 July 2012, per Topsy.

The first images from Mars.

@ReutersTech hacked

Reuters reported that the Reuters technology Twitter feed, @ReutersTech, was compromised in the early hours of Sunday.

The account username was changed to @ReutersME (link now dead), Reuters Middle East, and began posting false reports regarding the Middle East, Syria, Al Qaeda and the Obama administration. Prior to the bogus tweets that began at 01:24:17 a.m. EST, posts were of technology news. The New York Times Lede Blog has moreReuters statement.

The tweets scrolling through my stream were met with surprise, that I had either missed such developments (i.e. the first tweet was claiming the Syrian regime had apprehended a spy network in Aleppo), or that Reuters was breaking so much news at such an hour (it would have been in the 08:24 a.m. in Aleppo).

Reuters has not provided information on who was behind the hack but is currently investigating. The Times article suggests  supporters of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad could be behind the attack, as well as the hacking of Reuters’ blogging platform on Friday. The article also notes one of the rogue messages linked to InfoWars.com, “which is run by a libertarian radio host in Texas who promotes the conspiracy theory that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were carried out by the United States government.”

Below, a screenshot I took of the commandeered @ReutersME (formerly @ReutersTech) account.

Here, one of the tweets isolated. Note the amount of retweets, 19 a short time after posting.

I collected most of the tweets here on Storify.

I am interested to see what further information comes out from Reuters. I have the utmost respect for their digital team, and I must admit that they would are by no means easy prey for hackers.

July 2012 Email Stats

I feel like I did a lot of email this month, likely more than the previous. Let’s have a look.

 

Over July 2012, I was involved in 936 email conversations, 211 less than June. These conversations consisted of 1293 emails received (+6 from June) from 186 people and 464 emails sent to 132 people. The average emails exchanged per day in July was 30.2 (-8.1).

My prediction was incorrect, by a great margin.

Monthly Traffic – Note the lack of email on the 21 July, when I was at remote resort for a friend’s wedding. Good for me!

Email by day of week: Mayhem on Monday.

Email by hour of day: People are still getting a jump on me in the morning.

Time before first response: Still room for improvement, but I am taking care of a lion’s share of my email the day of.

Word Count: I am attributing the skew in long emails to all of the Obama For America and Joe Biden mailers I have been receiving. Under 30 is my strike zone it appears.

I started 22.65% of email exchanges.

Perhaps my misperception of the quantity of email I sent is due to my email correspondences being of greater consequence.

Watching #NBCfail On Twitter

The missteps of NBC, the network with exclusive rights to airing the 2012 London Olympics, has caused an uproar on social media channels. There is ample targets for disconcerted viewers:

Discontented viewers have taken to tagging criticism on social channels with #NBCfail, prominently on Twitter.

Above, a graph of Twitter updates containing “nbcfail” according to Topsy.

According to NBC’s PR department, they have been nailing it.

 

 

Cleaning Out My Spam Filter

I used to neglect my spam folder in Gmail, but after missing some important incoming, I make a habit of checking periodically. Occasionally I will find something that should not be there, but most falling in the hidden folder are indeed spam. I open some of the most ridiculous sounding ones just to see what crazy stuff is being cooked up on the Internet.

Tonight, I found something that piqued my interest not in one of the quarantined emails, but in the Google ad placed above.

It is an advertisement for Spam Swiss Pie. So, apparently that exists.

How I spent “Twitter Is Down”

I spent six minutes drawing my finger down my mobile screen to refresh Tapbot, only to receive a red notification that Twitter was not responding.

Text message from my friend Simmone informs “It’s down.”

Wrote emails.

Called insurance provider to see if they covered Twitter being down. They don’t.

Read this, this and this via Pocket.

Received an email from a friend in Wisconsin that Twitter is down, and the end of the world was surely following soon after.

Experimented with what the amount of play now-crippled Twitter clients had (e.g. Tweetbot, Twitter, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck)

Realized that I can’t transfer pictures taken on my mobile to my laptop. Not without some muscle at least.

Went for a coffee.

Enjoyed coffee outside.

Went to the fridge, found a snack. Cherries are in season.

Back to the command center, where Twitter is still down for me, but some witty tweets were percolating in from those who had found access points.

Discovered that Hydrox, often thought to be Oreo knock-offs, debuted in 1908. Oreos, 1912.

More to come…

UPDATE 11:21 a.m. PST: Many systems back on, no Tweetdeck though.

2009: @ckanal envisions social journalism of 2012

Craig Kanalley, Huffington Post’s senior editor, uploaded his first appearance on television, dating to 2009. On Fox Business’ special “Media Industry: Where We’re Headed” Craig discusses a Twitter journalism class he was teaching at DePaul University.

Twitter invented in 2006, didn’t take off until 2007. It is now 2012, and how Twitter has grown and evolved is astounding. Somehow, Craig knew in 2009 where Twitter could take journalism and information sharing. Some poignant soundbites:

TV host: Twittering; bazillion people tweeting; don’t underestimate the value of a good back-hand; you might be onto something here; I don’t know Craig, I’m still on the fence.

Craig Kanalley:

  • Social media journalism requires a lot of traditional journalism principles.
  • We will see news organizations that center around Twitter.
  • You can build credibility through tweets.

.@mirandamilligan on digital journalism at @poynter

Miranda Mulligan, the new executive director of theKnight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University, was the keynote in a Poynter chat addressing how journalists can develop digital storytelling skills and be more innovative online.

While none of my questions were selected, there were some constructive points shared.

@mirandamulligan:

Advice to student journalists:

My advice for students is the same as my advice for professionals: Stop trying to learn from other journalists! …we have to get out of this rut of advising each other and expand our horizons a bit by being influenced by other industries. Journalists need technology, technology does NOT need us…So those of you lucky enough to have an engineering school, with computer science courses … GO MAKE NEW FRIENDS!!

Acquiring new skills:

The time is now. Everyone is busy. No one has time. So here’s the trICk: MAKE TIME. Like any good exercise routine, treat your lessons like doctor’s appts and stick to a schedule.

If you haven’t already seen DontFearTheInternet.com … check it out! … Easy to consume videos that help you get a bird’s eye view of how to make the internet….Also, Mandy Brown curated these tweets on HTML/CSS resources into a storify about a year ago: http://storify.com/aworkinglibrary/best-beginner-resources-on-html-css FANTASTIC.

BTW – forget Flash. Learn javascript. AND MOBILE. MOBILE. MOBILE. MOBILE.

Go to conferences where you learn from non-journalists. Read blogs, articles, manifestos, by non-journalists. READ: A list Apart and A Book Apart. Go to An Event Apart. Read anything that Mandy Brown publishes. Read Contents magazine. Watch for Mozilla’s evolving project Source and OpenNews from the awesome minds of Dan Sinker and Erin Kissane (+more).

Truth:

Coffee is a MUST

[Source]

Authorized Access to your Google Account

Wait, someone else has access to my Google account?

In my case, not one, but many services, apps, and sites have access to my Google account. I will occasionally check in on social accounts (e.g. Review  Twitter’s authorized applications) and kick out those I rarely use, feeling skeptical about, or can’t remember what they do. But I forget that despite how much of my life I entrust to Google, it is very much a social service.

Thankfully, I was reminded that we can view and manage who has access to our Google account by @Zee.

Review authorized access to your Google account.

I did it, and I recommend that you do as well. I am now concerned with how liberally I grant access to services with terrible names ending in “…bly.”

Aurora, Colorado Theater Shooting via @hartpandrew

In the early morning of Friday, July 20, a gunman opened fire in a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colo for the premiere of the new Batman movie. The Denver Post reports that about 50 were wounded, 12 killed. I recommend their coverage of the event.

This is how the event has played out for me in Seattle, as seen through various media.

Currently, I am watching Twitter and the Reuters live stream. Reuters does live coverage exceptionally well, and with Matthew Keys now on the team, there is nowhere else I turn in such times. Keys is the touchstone for breaking news through social channels. He recently took a hiatus from Twitter, but today’s event called for his expertise and return to the stream.

I first saw the shooting just after midnight PST. Jon Passantino, an editor for AOL and a mentor of mine, was the first with the news among those I follow on Twitter. His updates, along with those from Aurora, kept me up all night.

I pulled @passantino‘s tweets here.

Poynter pulled tweets of those near the shooting and share them here.

A young journalist was among those killed.

Reddit was once again a source of impressive citizen journalism.

The National Rifle Association tweeted something dumb.

Listed: Columbia Journalism Review’s “20 women to watch”

The Columbia Journalism Review compiled a list of women shaping the future of the media industry. I created a Twitter list of the nominees that maintained an account.

Follow along here.

 

Philadelphia police officers are victims of multiple vehicular incidents

On Tuesday evening, I shared a tweet from ABC Philadelphia affiliate KPVI that a Philadelphia police officer had been struck by a car.

One of my Philadelphia contacts, Annie Heckenberger, replied that this was the second incident in a week involving police officers. Annie notified me of the week’s earlier story where Officer Marc Brady’s bicycle was struck by the car driven by Kareem Alleyne. The incident occurred Sunday, and on Monday he was charged with homicide by vehicle and manslaughter.

Tuesday’s incident involved a 26-year-old police officer, who was hit and dragged by a truck that officer’s had stopped. He was taken to the hospital to treat non-life threatening injuries.

Concerning developments, hopefully not a trend. I share because it speaks to the power of social media in reporting. It would be very unlikely that I would have come across this story had I not established social media contacts in Philadelphia after my recent trip there. Through our congenial relationship, we have established trust and intuition into one another’s interests. Thus, we are able to act as an affiliate news source in a city across the country, a pair of eyes and ears we can depend on.

Best News Website Design: 2007

My how things have changed, or have they? Looking for different takes at designing a news website, I came across what was considered a well designed site in years past.

Mercury News, 2007

Houston Chronicle, 2007

Chicago Tribune, 2008

News website design sure has come a long way…

 

 

 

Twitter Search Tools

Steve Buttry, the Director of Community Engagement & Social Media for Digital First Media andJournal Register Co., recently shared a great explainer of how to use Twitter’s new advanced search. I recommend the article for anyone interested in how to use Twitter for research, or for a perspective on the dynamic applications of Twitter.

In addition to the strategies shared in Steve’s post, I have posted some additional notes and resources, many spurred by Steve’s post.

(more…)

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June 2012 Email Stats

The first of the month fell on a Sunday, a slow and rainy Sunday. Even my inbox was slow to start, something I have come to anticipate on Sundays which remained my slowest day of the week for email.

Email by day of week

(more…)

Social Survey of the SCOTUS Ruling On ACA

On Thursday, June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) held that the Affordable Care Act had jurisdiction and upheld the individual mandate.

[Source: SCOTUSBlog]

Cue media frenzy. Here is some notable aspects of the conversation that took place on Twitter.
A look at the mentions of “SCOTUS” on Twitter over the week leading up to the June 28 decision on ACA.
[Source]
(more…)

Weekly Forecast

I used to loathe Sunday nights. Technically still the weekend, but never host to continuing diversions, save for a family dinner. The demands of the exacting week ahead begin to eclipse at about 3 p.m. Sunday. Logistical, mental and physical preparations must be made for a Monday wake up that will be all too early.

Now, Sunday nights are tinged with excitement over the weeks’ prospects and unknowns. On Monday, there is a meeting (known) that will result in (unknown). The Supreme Court will discuss (known) and rule (unknown). My favorite team (known) will play (known) and the score will be (unknown). The jobs report to be released (known) will be (unknown).  These known-unknown couples propel me into the week ahead with like a well-written script. Something will happen, perhaps as it has in the past, but perhaps in a completely foreign fashion.

Much like serial entertainment, the end of one week hooks me with excitement for another. Seeking teases for what is known about the week ahead, I asked my friend @seangraf for sources mapping out things of note. From his recommendation and my own research, I am building a directory of things known and unknown about the week ahead.

Politico: Playbook

The Economist: The Week Ahead (podcast)

Financial Times: Week Ahead

I’m sure there are plenty more, what did I miss?

Highfalutin Filter and “Call Me Maybe”

Some of the web pieces that I most enjoy are the “Media Diets” of media professionals, politicians, celebrities and other notable persons. I believe the exchange and consumption of information says much about an individual, technology, marketplace and social norms. By exploring others’ diets, I have constructed my own and continue to revise it each day.

In refining my media diet, immersing myself in journalism, identifying media role models and establishing what constitutes “good information,” I have also made myself averse to certain information genres. When traveling in South America, my nutritional diet consisted of very little dairy. When dairy products became available agian, I found that they didn’t sit right. So I continued to avoid dairy, despite it’s importance to my health.

Call Me Maybe“—the song, the meme, the global indulgence—is not novel, but it was not until today that I actually saw it. My late introduction is not for having missed it the past few months. I made a great effort to avoid it. I may have seen the “Call Me Maybe” in one of my information streams when it first arrived. I certainly know that I noticed how it grew and grew to a viral level, and has remained prominent in media for an impressive duration. Something kept me from exploring, just like something has kept me from being able to identify a Justin Bieber song. Certainly, I know of icons like “Call Me Maybe,” Bieber, but I actively block them from my information diet. How would I choose to do this from something I don’t have any prior knowledgeThe context, syntax, and source likely told me something about the content before I could pursue it. What I assumed told me that it was some pop culture product, it was being talked about on sites that aggregate content that gets clicks with sensational headlines, lists and celebrities. I decided it was not information of value to me, someone who spends his time exploring current affairs, politics, media and feigning to understand global markets.

It strikes me that I am much more permissible of this type of bias than I am when I evaluate information on other criteria: politics, race, corporate affiliation etc.. How could something that incubates in the Facebook feeds of teens be of any interest to me or relevancy to “the real world”? Fast forward and not only is it in elite media, and Best Songs of the Year lists, but onto Sunday news shows, and (somewhat) into President Obama’s lighter talking points. It has become that my deliberate ignorance of “Call Me Maybe” is impeding my understanding of things I deem of greater social value. In hopes of optimizing my diet, I have restricted important context and ended up malnourished.

So, for the past hour I have been indulging in “Call Me Maybe” and its tangents. It is a catchy song, and I am enjoying it still. I will be revising my media diet to incorporate more junk food (read: media). The extra information will help me balance my diet and utilize other items, and as is made evident by the playlist I now have on repeat, I may enjoy it.

News thinkers

Following up an earlier post prompted by Liz Heron’s question “Who is your favorite future of news thinker?”

The proposed thinkers-on-the-future-of-news is a collection of veritable scholars, proven professionals, up-coming entrepreneurs and some curve balls. On the whole, a group that is offering up some interesting insight in their work, websites and on their Twitter streams (some more than others).

I wrote a little script to collect the nominated thinkers and have created a Twitter list, casually called “New Newsers.”

Follow if you dare. Below the jump are the list members, links and bios.

(more…)

Collected Tools

The hurried pace that new technology is introduced can be overwhelming. So many bright people are creating slick tools that I am constantly tagging and bookmarking things to come back and tinker with. For fear of losing those things that come across my radar, I will post some of them here. I encourage you to take them for a spin and let me know if they are worth the ride.

— From Any Page on the Web, See the Reddit, Twitter, and Hacker News Conversations With One Click (Sometimes Two) on The Atlantic 

— Bootstrap is Twitter’s toolkit for creating rich and more consistent web interfaces across browsers and devices. 

— Public Insight Network is a network of sources for journalists as well as a collaboration tool for news organizations.

— Blottr, a UK-based “people-powered news service.”

— How to Find Anything in Your Gmail

— Herdict lets you see – in real time – if others are reporting a site inaccessible, giving you a better sense of potential reasons of why it is so.

— Datavisualization.ch shares a selection of tools that will make your life easier creating meaningful and beautiful data visualizations.

@lheron asks “Who is your favorite future of news thinker? Why?”

Note: I did not take pain to reverse the order of the collected tweets, so earliest fall at the bottom of the string.

Seattle among metropolitan divisions with largest employment increase

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics has released its analysis of employment among Americas’ major metropolitan areas. Seattle was among the metropolitan divisions with the largest over-the-year percentage increase in employment. 

Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich. (+2.8 percent), followed by San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. (+2.7 percent), Peabody, Mass. (+2.4 percent), Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (+2.2 percent), and Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (+1.9 percent). The largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment occurred in Nashua, N.H.-Mass. (-2.2 percent).

While not all surveyed Washington state areas saw gains, Olympia and Bellingham joined Seattle in increases in employment. The BLS report pins the percent change in employment on non-farm payrolls for Bellingham at 3.1 percent. The Washington State Employment Security Department found that unemployment in Whatcom County—in which Bellingham lies—decreased 0.8 percent from April 2011 to April 2012. “The growth of nonfarm private payroll jobs in Whatcom County in April was 5.0 percent over the year (3,200 jobs).  This growth rate is 2 ½ times the national and state growth rates.” 

Bellingham does not have the large technology job market that Seattle does, so where are these jobs coming from? Up to 500 jobs have come from manufacturing with another 1,100 in trade, transportation and utilities. Bellingham is home to several refineries, including the BP Cherry Point refinery that caught fire February 17, 2012. At the time, the refinery was amidst turnaround work, which requires extra personnel to be hired. Cleanup after the fire required even more hiring to conduct the cleanup at Cherry Point.

Additional job creation has been in retail, due to the strong Canadian dollar.

Below, a chart showing the employees on non-farm payrolls in Washington state metropolitan areas created from the BLS report.

May 2012 Email Stats

If there is anything more mundane than wading through email, it is my email statistics. 

Over the month of May, I was involved in 1147 email conversations. 1220 emails received from 179 people, and 450 sent to 97 people.  This averages to 37 email exchanges per day.

I have thought of myself as being attentive to email and returning messages. It would appear that this is not so. As I do value reciprocal communication, I hope to see the ratio of received to sent improve. (Ed. Note: On principle, I will not reply to forwarded emails from family members who are bored at work. I would be interested to see what percentage of my received emails fall into this category.)

No discernible trends in monthly traffic, save for a quiet Memorial Day weekend.

Monthly Traffic

Peak email activity appears to be at around 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Hourly Traffic

Email exchanges climax at the beginning of the work week, an expected trend.

Weekly Traffic

I am rather pleased with the promptness with which I reply to a considerable amount of email.

Time Before First Response

@SeaTimesPhoto’s @ErikaJSchultz in NPPA Awards

Seattle Times staff reporter Erika Schultz has been recognized by the National Press Photographers Association for her extraordinary project covering coffee farmers in Costa Rica.

[NPPA]

The Winner of SPJ’s Weekly Quiz

Each week, the Society of Professional Journalists sends out a member email detailing upcoming events, industry news, and calls to action. It is one of the form email newsletters that I read to completion, because at the end of each one there is a question. Concerning some current issue in the field, recipients are asked to submit their answer to the SPJ’s communications coordinator Abby Henkel.

Screen capture of email newsletter header.

After weeks of failure, victory has come for Andrew Hart. I am the winner of the SPJ Weekly  Email Newsletter Quiz for 23 May 2012.

The question that I fielded was, “Who announced this week that he will step down as editor-in-chief of a national non-profit news outlet?”

My answer: Paul Steiger will step down as editor of ProPublica.

Quiz section of SPJ weekly newsletter

And the winner is… Andrew Hart, a post-grad member and recent graduate of the University of Washington. Congratulations, Andrew! The fabulous SPJ Leads Quiz Prize™ is finally yours! (Oh, and Andrew: Go Cougs!)

There I am, sitting pretty at the tail end of a email newsletter. On the up and up!

Surveying the Inquirers of the #WHChat

On Thursday, President Barack Obama hosted a discussion covering his “Congressional To-Do List” on Twitter, using the #WHchat hashtag.

Over 21 minutes, President Obama fielded questions covering energy policy to student loan rates. Ethan Klapper has full coverage of the event at the Huffington Post.

The response was large, but only seven questions were answered by President Obama.  Worth noting is that Thursday’s event was a much more open forum than the Twitter Town Hall Obama hosted last July. Selected questions were topical and appropriate. Further examination of the inquirers reveals them to have diverse persuasions not evident in their submitted question. Despite fears over the reinforcement of views and the “silo effect” that can occur through social media, President Obama and his digital team seem to have resisted the tendency by extending across the digital aisle.

Below are characterizations of several inquirers. 

@asturtz asked, “What are we doing to curb, better yet avoid, dependency on oil? #WHChat.” Her Twitter activity indicates that she is not a heavy user. At the time of writing she had 1,154 tweets, following 118 and 98 followers.

Similarly, @augustmuster is a private account, 28 tweets (none visible), following 68 with 6 followers. @augustmuster asked Obama “@whitehouse #WHChat what about mortgage re-finance options for homeowners trapped by underwater home prices?”

@mixnmunch of Pasadena bills itself as “the world’s first Cereal Bar & Grilled Cheese Cafe.”  @mixnmunch’s 978 tweets seem to largely be self-promotional, save for its submitted question, “@whitehouse #whchat We <3 bein a #smallbiz & employing the peeps in R community. What plans do u have to keep us & our fellow smlbiz afloat?”  The account follows 60 and has 192 followers.

@tkeel identifies as a “Lifelong educator and active conservative. #LNYHBT Army #teaparty #tcot.” Many of her 2,612 tweets are right-leaning, and in criticism of President Obama. A recent tweet read, “@Spectricide @mrscorie If they go over seas, it’s because @BarackObama wants to tax them to death here. He hates successful capitalists!” Her question selected for President Obama was “#WHChat What will you deregulate to make owning a #smallbiz easier? #LNYHBT.” #LNYHBT meaning “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled,” the Twitter hash tag of Sean Hannity’s following.

Similar sentiments are found in ‏@jwarner180’s activity (4,637 tweets, 236 following, 141 followers). His question to the president was “#WHChat Fossil fuels are much much much cheaper and our economy is based on cheap energy. Why push Algae?” Earlier tweets are less congenial: “@BarackObama ‘Game’ Really, Barack is now defining investing as a game? Like when he ‘invested’ in Solyndra?”

For all the submitted questions and answers during #WHChat, see Ethan Klapper’s coverage at the Huffington Post

[UPDATED: 19:46 PST 27 May 2012]

Left, Right, & Center on Social Media

Facebook and social media was the topic of discussion on KCRW’s Left, Right and Center. Robert Scheer, a journalist with Truthdig, expressed concern over the rise of social media, asking “What happens to journalism?” Scheer suggested social media is barring advertising revenue from sustaining legacy media, threatening his livelihood and that of other journalists.

Let’s be clear, journalism is not a substitute for journalism. It is a tool for communication, thus an asset to journalism. I believe Scheer is vexed by a changing media market, not kids sharing his article over Faceplace or whatever.

Indeed, readers are getting journalism content through their social networks, which means that they do not have to buy a paper or view the banner ads on a news site. This creates a challenge, but one that journalists should be excited to take on: how to present critical news in a format that motivates further pursuit? Can’t journalists construct a lede that will draw readers deeper than their busy social feeds? Can’t journalists learn much of their audience through their social activity? Doesn’t the reciprocal relationship readers have with content and content creators inspire them to pursue and support journalism that matters?

As an aside, you can follow Scheer’s Truthdig on Twitter.

[UPDATED: 19:56 PST, 27 May 2012]

Collected Thoughts

Rather than hunt for free parking, I paid for an on-campus space, thus putting bounds on the time I spent at my alma mater. Wandering amongst classically-styled halls and weathered cherry trees doesn’t prompt a magical feeling of youth and excitement like I think it should. The courtyards contain regret, hallways misdirection, and classrooms hold impatience. This is not a salvo against higher ed, just my experience today, and most times I visit campus.

Exploring the new business school, I made small chat with some MBA students who were having a brunch social. I wanted a free coffee, but was also curious to see whether interaction would recall my time in college. Remarking on  the day’s big event, Facebook’s IPO, I had to assure myself that it had indeed happened earlier that morning. It had, and these students had no idea what I was talking about.

Of course, my sample size was just four MBA students. But I will add them to the growing sentiment that my generation, the Millennials, are strikingly blind to the world around them. I will not claim dispensation from this generalization, but I am certainly not thrilled about my membership.

What can be done? How can we encourage younger generations to be more aware of current affairs, the world around them and their fellow man? Give them newspapers? Pipe cable news into classrooms? Required curriculum? All have been attempted, and nothing sticks.

I am not sure that we can change the motivation or interests of a society. But as long as they care, there is potential for connection and for reaction.

What do people care about?

At I Want Media’s “Future of Media” forum, Greg Clayman—a forum panelist and publisher of The Daily—spoke on this subject. A selection from the article follows.

Clayman argued that important news wasn’t unshareable, just that the focus had to be tweaked. “You’re writing for an emotional response versus writing for a robot,” he said. Peretti offered one example: given two stories, identical in conceit, except that one is about the rising price of oil and other about the rising price of gas, the gas story will be stickier, because readers identify with it, he said.

[SOURCE: CJR]

@elanazak asks, “What’s your preferred way of interviewing, voice or email?”

LOLcats and Journalists

Ben Huh, the CEO of Cheezburger and meme maestro, spoke at the ROFL Conference on his experience and perspectives on internet culture. Speaking to Nieman Lab at the event, Huh expressed opinions on the state of journalism—in which he holds a degree—stating “This thing called objectivity is B.S.”

His comments were met with digital nods and arms thrown in the air. Below the jump, some thoughts from journalists that I respect curated with Storify.

More on @BarackObama, #SSM, and Twitter @gov

Twitter’s political division, Twitter Government (@gov), has provided a graph illustrating the media hysteria that ensued after President Obama endorsed same-sex marriage on Wednesday, May 9th.

[SOURCE: @gov]

Close up of the graph. Note @ProducerMatthew’s position on the timeline just before the surge in conversation.

Obama and #SSM, @ProducerMatthew scoops, and Twitter goes nuts

What a day. I heard about ABC’s exclusive interview with President Obama through Twitter mid-morning (PST).

Predictions bounced from mediaite to mediaite, most suspecting the POTUS to discuss same-sex marriage. In a moving interview, President Obama expressed his support for same-sex marriages. This move, while divisive, is seen as a gesture for the issue to be handed back to the states.

Unfortunately, the ABC clips were to go live at 3 p.m. EST, during which I had a lunch engagement. I am ashamed of checking my phone incessantly during the meal, but I feel fortunate to have witnessed such a historic event.

From ABC’s Rick Klein:

President Obama today announced that he now supports same-sex marriage, reversing his longstanding opposition amid growing pressure from the Democratic base and even his own vice president.

In an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, the president described his thought process as an “evolution” that led him to this decision, based on conversations with his staff members, openly gay and lesbian service members, and his wife and daughters.

Around the momentous interview, there were some exciting corollaries. ABC’s monopoly on the event—a rare opportunity for a network in such a frantic media ecosystem—was scooped by Matthew Keys (@ProducerMatthew), Reuters Deputy Social Media Editor.

AdWeek reports:

Keys noticed a At 2:50 p.m. EST, roughly eight minutes before ABC was to break into daytime programming with a special report, Reuters deputy social media editor Matthew Keys noticed and tweeted a URL slug essentially leaking the Obama announcement.

So how does one catch this kind of thing? Keys responded to Adweek just after he broke the news via direct message on Twitter: “I was filtering Google results by date for site “abcnews.go.com,” came across that, noticed the URL structure was the same to what we used at KGO, which is an ABC owned-and-operated station [in San Francisco]. I put two and two together.”

This is why this guy is my hero. He puts two and two together, very well.

Also worth noting is the ensuing Twitter noise from the event. The following graph shows mentions of “Obama” on May 9, 2012.

[SOURCE: Topsy]

@TPM axes anonymity. Discuss.

At 4:22 p.m. EST, Talking Points Memo announced that they will begin using Facebook as their core commenting system. TPM’s presents two reasons behind the switch: First, it is easier to have Facebook manage the commenting system than build and maintain one in house; second, eliminating anonymity will hopefully encourage accountability from their community.

Response was immediate and fervent, as indicated by Jared Keller, Mathew Ingram, and Matthew Keys.

@mathewi: Faustian bargain — MT @cschweitz: @TPM is moving entirely to Facebook comments. @joshtpm’s explanation here: http://bit.ly/Kv9sRg

@jaredbkeller: @mathewi @joshtpm its not about anonymity, its about real world consequences. People beat each other up in bars, too lazy to stalk offline.

@jaredbkeller: Repeat after me: real-name commenting does not a good comments section make. Actual consequences do.

@ProducerMatthew: RT @jaredbkeller: Repeat after me: real-name commenting does not a good comments section make. Actual consequences do.

@jaredbkeller: @ProducerMatthew I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s a good start, but not a silver bullet.

@mathewi:@jaredbkeller @joshtpm: agreed — it isn’t about which system you use, it’s about how much time you take to moderate.

@jaredbkeller: @mathewi @joshtpm incentives help, but why use carrots when you’ve got a banhammer?

@ProducerMatthew: @jaredbkeller @mathewi @joshtpm Essentially, what’s being said here is “Comments are not worth taking the time to focus on.”

@jaredbkeller: @ProducerMatthew @mathewi @joshtpm more like “technology can fix what is inherently a people problem. “

@mathewi: @jaredbkeller @ProducerMatthew: I think it says both — the sad reality is that algorithms and real names can’t fix human behavior

@ProducerMatthew: @jaredbkeller @mathewi @joshtpm We’re really dissecting something that hasn’t happened yet. Will be interesting to see what happens.

@jaredbkeller: @mathewi @ProducerMatthew Nailed it. Giving people an incentive to change their behavior can help, but not if that incentive is, er, dumb.

@ProducerMatthew: @jaredbkeller @mathewi Thinking Reddit as an example?

@jaredbkeller: @ProducerMatthew @mathewi Don’t tell me what I can’t do! Didn’t you hear? Social media can predict the future!

@jaredbkeller: @ProducerMatthew @mathewi Reddit works because people care about the community and the reddiquette that comes with it.

Many solid points: tangible consequences for dishonoring community expectations, community management being about people not algorithms, and the time and effort it takes to cultivate a rich and responsible community.

Is excluding anonymous rogues the solution to a healthy community? Can you bar these antagonists without killing the community? I am not so sure.

As was said by @mathewi, community management takes time. Not just in wielding the “banhammer,” but in creating excellent content. Let’s look at some examples around the web. As @jaredbkeller stated, the Reddit community cares about the content and network that Reddit provides. You practically have to audition and continually offer supreme stuff to make it in MetaFilter. If you are posting junk on Facebook or Twitter, I won’t even take the time to ask you to clean it up; I will simply turn you off. Create content that people care deeply about, and the community will fight for the sanctity of the conversation around it.

Our country, if you read the Federalist Papers, is about disagreement. It’s about pitting faction against faction, divided government, checks and balances. The hero in the American political tradition is the man who stands up to the mob — not the mob itself.” [SOURCE: Jonah Goldberg on NPR]

@SocialMia Facebook Subscribe Suggestions, on Twitter

Mia Aquino (Twitter or Facebook) recently posted a gallery of 50 people in the media worth subscribing to on Facebook. The new subscribe feature allows one to follow another’s public posts without friend status. Aquino’s list includes journalists, hosts, and thought leaders.

Facebook Subscribe Suggestions: 50 People In Media To Follow via @HuffPostMedia

I am currently amidst a Facebook fast, and cannot enjoy the well curated list. But I have come up with a work around, something like allowing myself to break from my fast if it is a birthday.

I took the Facebook recommendations, found their corresponding Twitter accounts and added them to a public Twitter list. The only person I could not find to have a Twitter account was Don Graham, Chairman of the board and CEO of The Washington Post.

View the list and subscribe here. Profiles and bios (in no particular order) below the jump. Thank you to Ms. Aquino for the inspiration and resource.

@Memeorandum on @BarackObama’s new “Forward” campaign video

I finally got around to experimenting with Memeorandum, a web extension that aggregates popular news items and contextualize their bias. Created by Andy Baio and Delicious/Tasty Labs founder Joshua Schachter, Memeorandum uses singular value decomposition to graph the web of blogger-to-article relationships on a single spectrum.

The idea is to see how conservative or liberal a blog is without clicking through to every article. The colors (red for conservative, blue for liberal) don’t necessarily represent each blogger’s bias, but instead a representation of their linking activity. “The algorithm looks at the stories that bloggers linked to before, relative to all other bloggers, and groups them accordingly.”

For a simple demo, consider President Obama’s newly released “Forward” campaign slogan and video. (For more on the campaign see The New York Times article)

For this story, most of the bloggers linking to the Washington Times “New Obama slogan has long ties to Marxism, socialism” are deemed conservative based on the history and nature of their linking.

Certainly not the best means of determining bias, but an interesting tool. Kudos to Andy and Joshua.

For more on Memeorandum, one, two.

@ProducerMatthew #FF

Matthew Keys (@ProducerMatthew), Deputy Social Media Editor at @Reuters, exemplifies reciprocity in social media. In addition to his tireless and timely news updates, he is a Rolodex for valuable media sources

On Friday, he shared a torrent of first-rate accounts in his Follow Friday (#FF) digest. Following are selections covering topics covering a range of topics. Get after it. Thanks @ProducerMatthew for the referrals.

Ethan Klapper (@EthanKlapper), social media editor at @HuffPostPol,for politics.

Jake Beckman (@jakebeckman), assignment editor at BloombergTV, for business.

Ryan Broderick (@ryanhatesthis), community moderator at Buzzfeed, for awesomeness.

Ernie Smith (@ShortFormErnie), the news editor of @ShortFormBlog for quick news.

Alex Ogle (@Alex_Ogle), for great photos, press  a journalist with AFP. 

Mike Hayes (@_mikehayes), the social media editor at @Buzzfeed.

Colin Jones (@colin_jones), associate media producer at @NYDailyNews.

Paul Balcerak (@PaulBalcerak) whose station @KIRO7Seattle broke big news this week, expanding the Secret Service scandal to El Salvador.

Of course, you are already following @ProducerMatthew.

Klouchebag Conditioning

As of 7:15 a.m., my Klouchebag rating was an embarrassing 40 – “Quite Noisy” on the service that assesses social media asshatery.

Klouchebag uses the ARSE rating system. Anger: profanity and rage. Retweets: “please RT”s, no or constant retweeting, and old-style. Social Apps: every useless checkin on foursquare or its horrible brethren. And English Usage: if you use EXCLAMATION MARKS OMG!!! or no capitals at all, this’ll be quite high.

I posted high on RTs and English Usage. This stung, like a friend criticizing your fashion choice. I didn’t know. I thought it was okay. Is it that bad? Does my mom know about my poor command of english on social media platforms?

As an aside, I scored a 49 on Klout, the service that inspired Klouchebag. According to this metric of online influence, “[I] may not be a celebrity, but within your area of expertise your opinion is second to none. Your content is likely focused around a specific topic or industry with a focused, highly-engaged audience.”

Whatever. Klouchebag has dealt the blow, making “second to none” dubious. Klouchebag’s cold truth is the kind of feedback I need. There is a lot of rubbish out there, and I certainly don’t want to be contributing to the dump. So rather than wallow in my online redundancy, I take it as a call for self improvement. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style is on my desk, right next to my cup of coffee. I will pump up my keystrokes, put in the time and thought, to break free of the tempting RT button. The gauntlet has hit the ground, and I will not shy from the challenge. I will reduce my Klouchebaggery.

Africa Comes Online


There over 500 million mobile phone subscribers in Africa. In 2008, there were 246 million, over a 100 percent increase. But only 3 percent of those are smartphones. [Afrographique]

There is a wealth of fascinating data on Afrographique, covering subjects from telecommunications to GDP growth rates.

Sub-Saharan Africa now accounts for 12 percent of the world’s population, and is projected to account for more than a third by 2100. [New York Times]

A mushrooming continent with an appetite for development and technology. It is difficult to fathom what the next century will bring for Africa and the world.

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