On my list of “The Little Things In Life That Make Me Happy As A Clam” is lists. A recent addition to my list of favorite lists has been a Twitter list created by the Craig Kanalley. His selection of ”‘Rising stars’ in social media and journalism” is a well-stocked trove of personalities, ideas, links, and inside-baseball (in this case inside-media) chatter. Already I am finding it to be yet another example of how excellent lists are (more to come on this).
- I met someone who not only is an impressive media professional, but appears to be some sort of baking savant: salted whiskey caramel frosting? No joke folks.
- Practiced international diplomacy while talking to some solid folks. Simon, will be waking up to get the news cycle spinning three hours from when I go to bed. So when I wake up, I know just who to ask “What’s the latest?”
And this is just day one of digging in to Craig’s list. I am eager to see how other’s take advantage of the wealth of knowledge therein.
I am a big fan of Craig’s list, and lists in general. I use them for work, recreation, thinking, creating, and apparently, I use them to make more lists. An obsessive compulsive you ask? Perhaps, save for that my lists don’t always bring order to things. Many are just filing boxes; how I process things. But Craig’s list is a great tool, and indicative of the talent of its creator. If there is evidence that social media is worth all the comical terms, it is in what Craig brings to it. I encourage you to check out Craig’s list, and be sure to thank him for creating it. Also, let me know what use you find with it. Perhaps you will make a new friend, a new discovery, read something good, or find someone to make you baked goods.
I am just realizing now that I have been writing “Craig’s List” over and over without falling into an easy pun. You are welcome.
[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:
I am sure there are more things to consider, but I do believe that for stories that are developing or larger in scope, the slow live-blog is a an exciting and valuable new tool.
[2013/05/ 11:45 p.m. EST] Back from the show, I find my Neighborhood Command Post cool enough to wind down with some reading and updating this here “Slow Live Blog.” While I may be cool, the recent revision to the first update, is a hot mess. Three revisions each bearing a timestamp makes it look like some military communique and immensely unattractive to the reader. See below
What would be the best protocol in this case? Leave all revision notes in the original post? Or only the most recent? This latter would be less of an eyesore, but not as transparent to the evolution of this “living” article.
[2013/05/ 8:02 p.m. EST] A friend and I have decided to beat the heat by paying way too much money to go see a show we are lukewarm on. I will be out $30 dollars for the evening, but will not have resorted to using MY air conditioning unit. Principles intact.
Reflecting on the first update, the lead sentence seems needless, so I have gone and stricken it.
[2013/05/ 7:44 p.m. EST] Dinner is done, cheese playing a critical factor. So the choice to trudge through the market line again was worthwhile. For that saga, see update [2013/05/ 1:23 p.m. EST]. It is still too hot. Too hot to read from my favorite spot: the Neighborhood Command Post.
[2013/05/ 4:58 p.m. EST] It has been far too hot. The heat makes me lethargic, but the heat also prevents me from taking a nap. This must be what hell is like. Hell, made worse because I am sticking to my principle of “NO A/C IN MAY.”
[2013/05/ 3:44 p.m. EST] Realizing now that while this format is convenient to update and makes accessing the latest information (i.e. my Saturday routine and experiment with “Slow Live Blogging”), the reader who starts at the top of the article has no idea what is going on. Thus, the “i.e.” insertion. But how could this be more efficient? Perhaps a nut graf that remains static at the top of the article? Or a table of contents type of deal? Or just leave it up the reader to jump back in time and catch up? If that were the case, say goodbye to that impressively low bounce rate FastCo Labs noted.
[2013/05/ 1:23 p.m. EST] Back from the store and fixin’ to fix some lunch. But first, a grievance with technology. At the checkout counter I found myself having forgotten an item from my list. Not wanting to surrender my hard-earned spot in line for one cheap but necessary item, I asked to ring me up for one. As I had feared, my request was met with an “uhhh…we can’t do that.” And why not? Because the inventory is electronic, and to simply charge me $3.69 for cheese would keep the till straight yes, but which $3.69 block of cheese I had taken would be unknown. Now my plight was getting dire: no cheese or battle through another round of Saturday shoppers. I went for the cheese, and am now late for lunch. Technology, sometimes meh.
[2013/05/ 10:48 a.m. EST] Approaching midday, I have done some chores around the house, woken one of my friend’s up (too early for their liking) and it is getting hot out. But I refuse to use air-conditioning on principle as it is only May. So far, updating this “slow live blog” is painless, but I have yet to backtrack to earlier material to recall in the present, say for instance, the link to the FastCo Labs article that inspired this experiment. Good thing I have it in the first draft of this article so I have to go back and grab it. Here it is:
That wasn’t too painful. But I knew it would be there….hmmm.
[2013/05/ 8:15 a.m. EST] I notice I have two different time zones going here. Story of my life. Now going back to correct. Boy, cramming that timestamp INSIDE A TIMESTAMP doesn’t look hot.
[2013/05/11 8:11 a.m. EST] I took a screen shot of the initial appearance of this “slow live blog” so I could reflect on aesthetics of the structure. Embarassing as it makes me think of marking a child’s height on the wall.
[2013/05/11 07:32 a.m [2013/05/ 8:15 a.m. EST]
PST] [2013/05/ 8:02 p.m. EST] The day begins with reading, ends with reading, and I usually make time for some reading throughout the day as well. I know, I know: this live fast, die young lifestyle will put me in the grave soon. But as my brother has always advised, “Seize the carp.”
Fast.co Labs had an interesting read on their experimentation with a new structure for their online articles, an approach they are calling “slow live blogging.” Here is the nut graf:
We decided to experiment with a new, super-long article format akin to “slow live blogging.”When we looked at the traffic charts below, our jaws dropped. Here’s what we learned about long form stories–and why quality, not velocity, is the future of online news.
The author goes on to describe the article form and the traffic analysis for the tests. As noted, there were some impressive results for bounce rate, time on page, etc. I have seen similar approaches used elsewhere, notably with Reuters live blogs. I have found them quite effective to keep pace with DEVELOPING events or stories needing updates. Boiled down, this is seeing all the guts of an article: the revisions, errors, history, authorship all beneath the most current information (by analogy, the skin). I dig it.
But aside from a purely metric-based analysis, what weaknesses does the approach have? I don’t know! So this is my attempt to experiment with “slow live blogging” and ponder what benefits and inadequacies the form has for information access and retention (without web analytic jargon or numbers, i.e. very un-scientific). Authorship and timestamp will be in [brackets] at the beginning of the update.
I have long had an affinity for quotes, which is an entirely unremarkable quality as is indicated in Geoffrey O’Brien’s “We Are What We Quote.’ Quotes are the bits and pieces that not only inspire and guide us, but are used in the construction of one’s life. I recall scrawling on my school binder quotes from the angsty punk-band du jour during junior high; the feeling of satisfaction and purpose that came with identifying myself as a clueless teenager. Or batting around the same Kevin Smith movie lines with friends. Even my English instructors advised us that our papers should be constructed with quotes as the arguing points: ‘Just pick some good quotes, explain those, slap an ironic title on the essay, hole punch, done.’
These days, I am still drawn to quotes and suspect as I imagine many are. But what of their use and effectiveness in media? I side, shockingly, with my English teachers who said back in 2001 “Quotations make for more poignant Twitter updates than cheap-o headlines.”
In movie trailers, we are served an opaque plot, but the selling points are the quotes (visual or verbal). Jamie Foxx saying something witty as he dodges a flaming car tells us that Jamie Foxx (and this movie) are witty, and that we can expect at least one car on fire. This would be the evidence used in a 7th-grade essay on why this movie is sweet. But is this more effective at enticing and capturing an audience than stating “This movie is about so-and-so who does so-and-so in so-and-so fashion, with the end result of so-and-so, and if you watch it you well feel so-and-so”? I would go with the quote form despite it not laying out the broader, more comprehensive character of the movie. I want proof that this movie is better than the last Jamie Foxx movie I saw with him doing extreme stunts.
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?
‘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.’
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]
Even though we were based on the opposite side of the country, NewsBreaker sought to provide comprehensive coverage of the bombings that struck the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. It was a charged, intense and challenging affair. However, nowhere near as challenging as it must be for the victims and their loved ones.
This entry was written by News and tagged boston, boston marathon, log, marathon, newsbreaker, ora tv, report, reporting, social media, storify, twitter. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
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.
One of my favorite writers, Alexis Madrigal, lamented in a recent post that Twitter is too fast of a medium for producers working with richer, more complex ideas. The type of stuff that is worth throwing the click and eyeball credits we as browsers are allotted to spend. I, like Alexis, love Twitter (and RSS), but they are often too much. Too many updates fishing for clicks or retweets, too many posts that are little more than a ‘hot’ headline. Often, I find myself losing track of my stream of accounts I follow, posts that I save, ideas to mull over. It’s easy to just throw my arms up and dump it all, frustrated by the enormity of scanning it all and the lack of satiety from drab information. Then, I cope with the remorse that follows stemming from the possibility that I missed a great nugget.
tm;gu (too much; gave up)
What a dilemma. Madrigal announces his project to assemble a RSS directory compose of ‘researchers, scholars, and academics who don’t post more than once per day. I don’t care how specific or niche they are, as long as they’re interesting on their own terms.’
I like the idea. While I may have to surrender that I can’t process every bit of information that is passed on topics I am interested in, I can look forward to ideas and experiences to work with at a manageable (READ: human) pace.
So as Madrigal cloud sources his sources, I am going to try trim down my RSS subscriptions. To stick with the ones that have the most bang for their buck. I am hesitant to do it: think of all the stuff I will miss! But the fact is I often end up missing it anyway, force to ‘Mark All As Read’ when the unread count hits 1000+. Hopefully, the satisfaction and stimulation that comes with being able to really sink in with the ideas now coming more sparsely, will quell the concern over not having scanned every single item.
Trimming down my RSS subscriptions is just one step towards enriching my information diet, maybe next I will ask for recommendations like Madrigal. Maybe I will take the scalpel to my Twitter network as well, which may be more difficult because of the ‘relationship’ that comes with a follow or mention. Stay tuned as the experiment develops.
Right now, I feel rather sad as I begin to unsubscribe. I hope that the ‘fear of missing an update’ is filled with knowledge and questions even more satisfying.
This entry was written by News and tagged alexis madrigal, blogging, diet, fomo, information, media, news, rss, twitter. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
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.
This entry was written by Uncategorized and tagged information, internet, media, morning, news, productivity, routine. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
But the zinger of a lede, flashy display and my craving for scoops were all sunk by this: