Thanks Barry


Runyon·esque — (rny-nsk) adj.

Reminiscent of Damon Runyon (1880–1946), the American newspaperman and writer known for his stylized, idiomatic stories about Broadway and the New York underworld, such as “Guys and Dolls” (1931).

August 2014

The debtor’s prison effect on Ferguson, Missouri.

Ferguson is a city located in northern St. Louis County with 21,203 residents living in 8,192 households. The majority (67%) of residents are African-American of residents live below the poverty level.
Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants,and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.

Tabarrok: You don’t get $321 in fines and fees and 3 warrants per household from an about-average crime rate. You get numbers like this from bullshit arrests for jaywalking and constant,low level harassment involving traffic stops, court appearances, high fines, and the threat of jail for failure to pay.

visualizations of how our world’s changed, by @maxcroser 

Yobeat gold

Screenshot 2014-06-26 03.07.36

Hats off to my friends Jesse and Andy,

who along with the crew of Ora.TV have produced a fine program featuring Mr. William Shatner. The first episode just went live, and I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. Introducing Brown Bag Wine Tasting.

Good ones

Congrats to my friend Shanan and his associates on this incredible project just completed.

A machine-compiled macroevolutionary history of Phanerozoic life
This is my unscientific understanding of what they did: Much about the world and the life that inhabits it comes from paleontological data collected by guys like Shanan. But this data is locked away in different scientific reports, tables, graphs, and whatever else researchers can pack it into. In order develop well-founded theories about our world, it is critical to compare as much relevant data as possible. Shanan and his team made a super computer thing that spotlights data locked away in various sources and synthesizes it with other relevant data. AMAZING.

June 11

Opium tragedy hits children. In Afghanistan’s mountainous Badakhshan region, 5,000 children are addicted to opiates because their mothers give them the drug to treat them when they are sick or to help them get to sleep.
Real estate pushes out the dead. The last traditional graveyard of the Hakka people in Singapore, Yin Foh Kuan Cemetery, is to be dug up to make way for urban and commercial development.
A government ban has forced the Ol Pejeta conservancy, one of Kenya’s largest game reserves, to halt its plans to use drones to monitor its seven northern white rhinos – the last in the world.
Rage Against FIFA. “FIFA is the 1% of the global 1%, the apple of Thomas Piketty’s ire. And for a non-profit organization, it sure is a profitable one: the Zurich-based group stands to rake in $4.5bnfrom this World Cup alone, far above its initial expectations. And with Brazil preparing to host the 2016 Olympic Games, we can’t let FIFA set an example for sports extravaganzas turned into loathsome economic and social disasters.”
Cheat like a pro. In light of the upcoming Gaokao, China’s notoriously difficult college entrance exam, pics have surfaced of confiscated Chinese test-cheating equipment that looks like it was taken straight from the KGB.
Asian slave labour producing prawns for supermarkets in US, UK
How to drive through all 48 of the contiguous United States in 113 hours.
California teacher tenure and seniority system is struck down.


SF art

May 28

“According to Uber, the median wage for an UberX driver working at least 40 hours a week in New York City is $90,766 a year. In San Francisco, the median wage for an UberX driver working at least 40 hours a week is $74,191.”
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has signed a new educational reform that may close up to 70% of private schools
Incredible profile of Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest national park ranger in the United States. “When I was 85, I became a full-time ranger.”
The suburbs were white only, but we didn’t accept that. We thought we had a perfect right to live where we wanted to. We got an architect who saw no reason why he shouldn’t design a house for us and a white person purchased the lot for us, believing that once we got the house built it would be all right. We soon began receiving threats.
[The firm] agreed to pay one of the highest amounts ever to rent San Francisco office space. Norwest is paying an average rent of about $117 a square foot over its five-year term, according to people familiar with the matter. That is just shy of the record $117.50 a square foot set in 2001 when Lehman Brothers leased 30,000 square feet in the Bank of America Center tower, according to brokerage Cushman & Wakefield.
Standing in front of a profane backdrop created by her own campaign, an emotional Annette Bosworth condemned criticism of her, blasted the media, addressed her alleged scandals and even issued a book recommendation in a free-wheeling news conference Tuesday.
The stated purpose of the event was to condemn “hateful” and “hurtful” abuse Bosworth said she has suffered as a U.S. Senate candidate, primarily in the comment sections of blogs and media outlets.
Her campaign staff papered the room with dozens of large Bosworth campaign signs spraypainted with slurs she said had been aimed at her. The obscenities surrounding Bosworth during her announcement led her to warn that minors wouldn’t be allowed into the event.
“Right to care does not mean access to treatment,” he says. “Tens of millions of people who did not have insurance coverage may now be prompted to seek mental health treatment. And the capacity just isn’t there to treat them. … There really is no mental health system in the US.”

May 26

A mysterious liquid is seeping from a crypt in Cullman, causing concerns for residents and those who keep the cemetery grounds.
In 1976, then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was a comic book villain … Kissinger was featured in a Fantastic Four comic that year — and he sided with the bad guys.
It won’t solve all of our problems with violence, not by a long shot. But it’s a start: Shut down the pump. (Hullaballoo)
they didn’t need to cure the disease to end the epidemic. What ended it was shutting down the pump. … The lesson is this: End the epidemic and then we can — and must — talk about root causes and mental health facilities and our violent culture. But first things first — shut down the damned pump.
[Chilean] Artist named Fried Potatoes removed tuition contracts he says were worth up to $500m from private university and burned them. (Guardian)
For a whole year, a Chilean artist using the name Fried Potatoes (Papas Fritas) planned his revenge. Saying he was collecting material for an art project, the 31-year-old visual artist sneaked into a vault at a notorious private, run-for-profit university and quietly removed tuition contracts.
Fried Potatoes – whose real name is Francisco Tapia – then burned the documents, rendering it nearly impossible for the Universidad del Mar to call in its debt – which he claimed was worth as much as $500m (£297m). “It’s over. You are all free of debt,” he said in a five-minute video released earlier this month. Speaking to former students, he added: “You don’t have to pay a penny.”
At the outset of the midterm-election season, McConnell vowed to oppose all tea-party candidates, telling the New York Times in March that “we are going to crush them everywhere”; now, McConnell will attend a Washington, D.C., fundraiser for the Nebraska nominee.
“Sensing trouble ahead for Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban,” Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) “took the unusual step Friday of asking a federal judge to immediately block her own decision if she does strike down the ban. Also Friday,” Gov. Scott Walker (R) “backed away from his previous support for the state ban on gay marriage passed in 2006, saying he didn’t know if it violated the U.S. Constitution, would still be approved by voters today or would amount to a big change for the state’s values and economy if overturned.”
The number of teachers living in San Francisco is down almost 75-percent from a year ago, according to Teacher’s Union Chief Dennis Kelley.

May 21

Chinese billionaire launches electric car company competing w/ Tesla “I’ll burn as much cash as it takes to succeed.” (
FBI reverses no-recording policy for interrogations (HuffPost)
“Let’s, like, demolish laundry” (NY Mag)
Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that President Barack Obama’s move to designate nearly 500,000 acres of land in New Mexico as a national monument could undermine security along the southern border – an argument disputed by the agency that oversees border security. (Politico)
How bakery chains Cinnabon and Panera Bread and cosmetics retailer Lush regulate smells in stores to get customers to spend more. (WSJ)
Two years ago, during tests of the “Pizzabon,” Cinnabon experienced “the most dramatic, worst-case scenario” of what happens when scents compete, says Jennifer Holwill, director of research and development for the company.

May 20

The Wolf of Wall Street just had his best year ever… Jordan Belfort will repay the victims of his securities fraud with proceeds from his book and speaking tour.
Google decided that MeFi is a spam farm, and now they have to lay off three moderators, traffic is tanking, throwing the future of the whole site is in grave doubt.
Donna J. Wan is a Bay Area photographer whose “Death Wooed Us” project catalogues places where people have taken their own lives and the views that may have been the last things these people saw (thebolditalic)
“My Gold” (Esquire)
And, when I’m down there, and I uncover and I see the gold, I do a second look, and I always turn around like, ‘Did you see this???’ And there’s never anybody there.
What if you could read the notes of your therapist? (WaPo)
The North Carolina GOP wants to jail anyone who discloses fracking chemicals (@motherjones)

May 19

Study Links Growth in Student Debt to Pay for University Presidents (NYT)
In other words, for everyone who says we need to run higher education like a corporation, that’s exactly what’s happening. (Loomis)
Income inequality on par with developing nations (SF Chronicle)
The middle class – or those earning between 50 and 150 percent of the city’s median household income of $72,500 – has shrunk from 45 percent of the city’s population in 1990 to 34 percent in 2012. Both ends of the spectrum have grown.
Canines’ Cancer-Sniffing Snouts Showing 90%-Plus Accuracy (Bloomberg)
Actor Makes a Living Getting Killed by Samurai (WSJ)

[Mr. Fukumoto] … said dying dramatically doesn’t require daily workout routines or grueling practice sessions, just careful attention to the craft of the kirareyaku, which literally means “the role of being slashed.”
In early days, he studied the falling techniques of Charlie Chaplin in films and used them as an inspiration for his moves. Over the years he discovered a variety of ways to get killed; in some scenes he would roll his eyes, fall on his knees and go quietly. In another, he would opt to release a screech as blood gushes out of his wounds.
Industry lore holds that Mr. Fukumoto has been killed 50,000 times on screen, a figure he said was probably an exaggeration.

Bay To Breakers 2014: Naked Man Reportedly Hops Fence, Taunts Bison In Golden Gate Park (SFist)
In attendance at B2B, but I cannot verify that this happened.
Who Gets to Graduate? (NYT)
About a quarter of college freshmen born into the bottom half of the income distribution will manage to collect a bachelor’s degree by age 24, while almost 90 percent of freshmen born into families in the top income quartile will go on to finish their degree.
Mysterious elephant appears on Pinellas beach (Pinellas)
Billionaire is known for his disruptive philosophy (SFGate)
Khosla is an environmentalist who hates the Prius, a venture capitalist who hates venture capitalists, a political donor who in 2012 gave to both Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama.

Unearthed: May 18

California politics…
For someone who cried — relative — poverty when he talked about entering the race for governor last year, Republican Neel Kashkari must be digging deep under the seat cushions to find money for his campaign.
The former Treasury official dropped another $1 million into his campaign Friday, bringing his total to a cool $2 million in the past week or so. And there’s still time to write more checks before the June 3 primary.
In a November interview with The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci, Kashkari waved aside any suggestion that he would self finance his run for governor, saying he just didn’t have the resources to follow the my-own-cash-on-the-barrelhead example of fellow Republicans Meg Whitman and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The biggest bucks are currently earned not through the delivery of care, but from overseeing the business of medicine. (NYT)
The base pay of insurance executives, hospital executives and even hospital administrators often far outstrips doctors’ salaries, according to an analysis performed for The New York Times by Compdata Surveys: $584,000 on average for an insurance chief executive officer, $386,000 for a hospital C.E.O. and $237,000 for a hospital administrator, compared with $306,000 for a surgeon and $185,000 for a general doctor.
For some surfers and SUPers, hanging ten is the holy goal—toes on the nose, nothing in front of you but pure green wave. With a nerve disorder threatening to destroy his balance, longtime kook Erik Hedegaard asked a waveriding genius to train him for one last shot. (Outside)

Unearthed: May 18

California politics…
For someone who cried — relative — poverty when he talked about entering the race for governor last year, Republican Neel Kashkari must be digging deep under the seat cushions to find money for his campaign.
The former Treasury official dropped another $1 million into his campaign Friday, bringing his total to a cool $2 million in the past week or so. And there’s still time to write more checks before the June 3 primary.
In a November interview with The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci, Kashkari waved aside any suggestion that he would self finance his run for governor, saying he just didn’t have the resources to follow the my-own-cash-on-the-barrelhead example of fellow Republicans Meg Whitman and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The biggest bucks are currently earned not through the delivery of care, but from overseeing the business of medicine. (NYT)
The base pay of insurance executives, hospital executives and even hospital administrators often far outstrips doctors’ salaries, according to an analysis performed for The New York Times by Compdata Surveys: $584,000 on average for an insurance chief executive officer, $386,000 for a hospital C.E.O. and $237,000 for a hospital administrator, compared with $306,000 for a surgeon and $185,000 for a general doctor.
For some surfers and SUPers, hanging ten is the holy goal—toes on the nose, nothing in front of you but pure green wave. With a nerve disorder threatening to destroy his balance, longtime kook Erik Hedegaard asked a waveriding genius to train him for one last shot. (Outside)

Unearthed: May 18

California politics…

For someone who cried — relative — poverty when he talked about entering the race for governor last year, Republican Neel Kashkari must be digging deep under the seat cushions to find money for his campaign.
The former Treasury official dropped another $1 million into his campaign Friday, bringing his total to a cool $2 million in the past week or so. And there’s still time to write more checks before the June 3 primary.
In a November interview with The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci, Kashkari waved aside any suggestion that he would self finance his run for governor, saying he just didn’t have the resources to follow the my-own-cash-on-the-barrelhead example of fellow Republicans Meg Whitman and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The biggest bucks are currently earned not through the delivery of care, but from overseeing the business of medicine. (NYT)

The base pay of insurance executives, hospital executives and even hospital administrators often far outstrips doctors’ salaries, according to an analysis performed for The New York Times by Compdata Surveys: $584,000 on average for an insurance chief executive officer, $386,000 for a hospital C.E.O. and $237,000 for a hospital administrator, compared with $306,000 for a surgeon and $185,000 for a general doctor.

For some surfers and SUPers, hanging ten is the holy goal—toes on the nose, nothing in front of you but pure green wave. With a nerve disorder threatening to destroy his balance, longtime kook Erik Hedegaard asked a waveriding genius to train him for one last shot. (Outside)

Unearthed: May 16, 2014

Grey wolf appears in Iowa for first time in 89 years – and is shot dead
@CityLab: All things urban, from The Atlantic.
New, stunning photos of the Mount St. Helens eruption along with a great story.
The Revival of Camden, New Jersey Through Little League Baseball
Hikers Spread Democracy in India
Some great work by friends of mine:
How Technology Could Threaten Deaf Identity: When cochlear implants are no longer visible, the solidarity of a deaf community may be lost. – Patrick deHahn – The Atlantic
European Union 2014: Another Chapter in the “Dis-integration” of the EU? – John Sydney Hopkins in the HuffPost @theworldpost
5 Things I Learned From Jill Abramson Getting Fired From the New York Times – Holly Epstein Ojalvo for @HuffPostMedia



Well played. LOL

Skims: 22 April 2014

The United States has the third lowest effective tax rate in the developed world.

About Obama as “deporter in chief.” (WaPo)

Compared to his predecessors, Obama has deemphasized removals and concentrated on returns. His numbers reflect a deliberate shift in strategy to exercise prosecutorial discretion to aid longtime immigrant residents who have family ties and no criminal backgrounds besides the immigration law violation.

A 1989 interview with Bill Watterson, creator of “Calivn and Hobbes.” (TCJ via Gerry Canavan)

I just draw it for myself. I guess I have a gift for expressing pedestrian tastes. In a way, it’s kind of depressing.

How Earbuds Have Changed The Sound (And Business) Of Pop  (Forbes)

While earbuds cannot accurately represent lower frequencies, they are, if anything, over representative of mid-range frequencies.

So what producers and engineers have done, over the years, is to use all sorts of audio-chicanery to trick your ears into hearing a bass sound that’s fundamentally missing from your earbuds.

Instead of expounding on the woes of the world, a political columnist discusses Herbert the Raccoon, who has taken up residence near his home. (NRO)

I have reviewed what other columnists and bloggers have written in the last few days on more frequent current political and economic personalities and subjects, and Henrietta and her cub are more interesting and more admirable. We would rather have them sheltering in or near our house than almost any contemporary political leader I can think of.

Me In 3D

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

Me in 3D 1



And here with the fish!

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…


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)

Friend Script



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.”


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

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.


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.

This from Lea


Lovely. [Photo: Lea]

Protected: An interview with my grandfather, William Bell

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

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.

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:

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.


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.


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


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.

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.)”

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.

— 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.


“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.’”…

— 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

— 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.  #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, “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.


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 … 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: 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).


Coffee is a MUST


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.


Protected: Anonymity

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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


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.

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.


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.

— 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.


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.


@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 “,” 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:

@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.

Overall, as noted in the companion report, the survey confirms that Facebook and Twitter are now pathways to news, but their role may not be as large as some have suggested. The population that uses these networks for news at all is still relatively small, especially the part that does so very often. Moreover, these social media news consumers have not given up other methods of getting news, such going directly to websites, using apps or through search. In other words, social media are additional paths to news, not replacements for more traditional ones. The survey also finds that Twitter and Facebook function differently from each other, both in terms of where the news links come from and the degree to which people believe they are encountering different news than they would have encountered elsewhere.  Each also draws a different population of users, with Twitter users standing out most. Facebook news users get more news from friends and family and see it as news they might well have gotten someplace else if Facebook did not exist. For Twitter users, though, the news links come from a more even mix of family and friends and news organizations. Most of these users also feel that without Twitter, they would have missed this kind of news.

What Facebook and Twitter Mean for News | State of the Media

I came across this incredible photograph of John F. Kennedy campaigning at the UW-Madison Field House on the 


HuffPo won a Pulitzer! And so did Politico! 2011 may become a watershed year for online journalism, as for-profit online news organizations finally took a bite out of the news industry’s most prestigious prize. The Huffington Post, known as the kings of aggregation, won for a fairly traditional piece for them — reporter David Wood’s ten-part story discussing the struggles of returning veterans. (Wood is shown above, trying to open up a Nattie Light, which clearly is the only beer HuffPo had on hand to celebrate his feat.) Politico, on the other hand, won for Matt Wuerker’s mad editorial cartooning skillz. The wins tell the journalism world what many already knew — the folks on the Web are at the same level as traditional newspapers. Anyway, here’s a round-up of a few newspaper winners of note:

  • one At age 24 and just out of college, the Harrisburg Patriot-News’ Sara Ganim won a Pulitzer for local reporting — she was the first to report details on the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State.
  • two The Stranger, a snarky Seattle weekly known for advice columnist Dan Savage, won a Pulitzer for Eli Sanders’ story about a woman who survived a brutal rape.
  • three Despite a tough time for the paper, the Philadelphia Inquirer won a public service Pulitzer for its “Assault on Learning” series, which tackled school violence.
  • four The Tuscaloosa News kept readers informed online, despite a tornado which stopped their presses and destroyed homes. For that, they won a Breaking News Pulitzer. source

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#ACES2012 Headline Contest Winners, distilled

The American Copy Editors Society announced the winners of its 2011 national headline contest on April 12, 2012, at the organization’s 16th national conference in New Orleans.

To download Thursday’s presentation with headlines and more as a PDF, click here. Below I have posted a smattering of my favorites, with the Nirvana reference on top.

  • “Spells like team spirit.” Becca Clemons
  • “Bridge over tribal water.” Damen Clow.
  • “Maybe he should have gone with a driver: Lawyer, disoriented after drinking, says he broke into the pro shop to warm up.” Rich Mills
  • “What’s their age again? After 8-year-hiatus, Blink-182’s stab at more mature, experimental sound backfires.” Daily Orange
  • “World doesn’t end.” Omaha-World Herald
  • “If you’re happy and you know it, must I too?” New York Times

[Source: ACES]

@PewInternet releases “Digital Differences”

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has released it’s “Digital Differences” report examining digital differences among income groups, age groups, racial and ethic groups, and educational attainment. It covers internet, broadband, mobile, and social networks. tracking survey. Since the survey was first conducted in 2000, differences in internet access persist among different demographic groups, especially when it comes to access to high-speed broadband at home.

The whole report can be downloaded at the Pew Internet website.

Striking data:

  • One in five American adults does not use the internetThe main reason given for not going online is because respondents don’t think the internet is relevant to them.
  • 88% of American adults have a cell phone, 57% have a laptop, 19% own an e-book reader, and 19% have a tablet computer; about six in ten adults (63%) go online wirelessly with one of those devices. 
  • Both African Americans and English-speaking Latinos are as likely as whites to own any sort of mobile phone.
  • Notable correlation between education attainment and internet use: in 2011, 71% of high school grads use the internet, while 94% of those with beyond college education.
  • In 2000, 47% of adults (age 18 and up) used the Internet. In 2011, 78%.
  • 87% of internet users under 30 use social networking sites, compared with less than a third (29%) of those 65 and older.
  • Access to internet improving? In 2000, 16% of those with less than a high school diploma used the internet. In 2011, this group has increased to 43%

[Source: Digital Differences”, The Pew Internet & American Life Project]

@ReutersPR: “How Reuters Journalists Use Social Media to Uncover Today’s Stories”

Earlier today I attended (i.e. streamed) a webinar exploring how journalists are using social media to identify stories, research, build audience, and distribute their reporting. Hosted by Reuters PR, the “How Reuters Journalists Use Social Media to Uncover Today’s Stories” featured an impressive panel: Anthony De Rosa, Social Media Editor at Reuters; Lauren Young, Wealth Editor at Thomson Reuters; and Corey Fiedler, VP of Product Management at Thomson Reuters.

I will admit that I was already a huge fan of Mr. De Rosa, but found all contributors to be informative and generous with their offerings.

WEBINAR: How Reuters Journalists Use Social Media to Uncover Today’s Stories


Below are some of the more potent appreciations I gained.

Social media and journalists

Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa), states his responsibility at Reuters is to train journalists to effectively use social media for reporting and broadcasting. Given the nature of the technology and field, this means continuous innovation and skill development. He orchestrates semi-monthly workshops, along with “show and tell” sessions for journalists to share tools and strategies. As the 

Lauren Young (@LaurenYoung), Confessed that being amongst young and forward thinking professionals helps to keep abreast of new media developments.

@LaurenYoung: Social media has changed the pace, tenor, and veracity of journalism.

@antderosa likes the pace of real-time news. There is more emphasis on getting it right. In the fight to be first, some sacrifice validity. But he strives to maintain the balance between timeliness and veracity.

Social media as a reporting tool

To manage the fire-hose effect of Twitter, @AntDeRosa curates lists for beats, contacts, and competitors. I highly recommend following his lists, as they are among the most comprehensive and useful I have encountered.

@AntDeRosa mentioned that he used Geofeeder (I have yet to track this down, perhaps it is related to this research?), which permits you to spotlight social media activity for geographic locations. Muckrack was recommended as another tool to make sense of the  flood of journalistic activity on Twitter.

@AntDeRosa shared that he was particularly fond of using Twitter to monitor events inaccessible to reporters (e.g. civilian videos in Syria).

Social media best practices

@LaurenYoung argued that the most well received tweets are those that contain salient data points. Twitter’s 140 character format is perfect for that succinct powerful facts.
Ms. Young holds different social media platforms to be for different types of interaction. Twitter is well suited for, monitoring information. Facebook, she asserted, is better for conversation. On this subject, @antderosa added that Facebook (and potentially Google+) can be used to crowdsource. Accommodating more robust conversation, these environments encourage audiences to interact with journalists, and for journalists to get to know who it is they serve.

@LaurenYoung sees Twitter as a channel for community building, not story ideas. She finds out what the competition is up to, and what her audience is talking about. Good old fashioned reporting is still the best way to find a story, and that involves talking to a person. Big stories comes from being on the front lines, not Twitter streams. Social media is another place to spread the gospel, but a reporter can not solely work in that arena.

@AntDeRosa said he does not focus too much on generating traffic with his social media activity. He instead strives to provide valuable information as it reported and verified. Strategic timing of posts distracts from the content being useful and informative. Developing audience trust that information is timely and valuable will be traffic.

@LaurenYoung does believe in strategic posting.

On veracity in social media

@AntDeRosa argues that digital footprints do much to verify sources. Who a source is following, who they are followed by, where they are, how old the account is, etc. all can be telling. But he does not see this as a replacement for in person exchanges, which will remain an integral component to reporting.

On the future of social media and journalism

@AntDeRosa: “More passive customization of news.” 

@AntDeRosa predicts more passive customization, or news that is tailored to the audience. Facebook’s social graph knows a lot about us, and pushes specific information to us. News will likely go the same way. However, people often don’t know what they should do. Audience must be open to new stuff. Passive customization should not usurp editorial direction.

@LaurenYoung emphasized that her goal is to beat the competition. And when she can’t beat the competition, she insists on being a part of the conversation. Her work should be as newsworthy and timely as possible, “News you can use.”

Also, Collen Maleski created a Storify chronicle of the discussion.

“How to Ask a Question” takeaways

I have taken to slamming my phone down as a way to announce an Instapaper “Like” in real life. Today, this happened during lunch, and now I am sitting alone. I was reading “How to Ask a Question” by Peter Wood of The Chronicle of Higher Education. After attending a college debate, the author remarks that “college campuses present some of the worst spectacles of faux-questioning prolixity and inconsequence.”

I agree. Many college students have no idea how to ask questions, the value of doing so, nor do they care to. I have my suspicions why this is the case: when mom and dad are financially backing, there is no need to know what kind of oil your car takes.

But Mr. Wood shares some very useful guidelines for asking questions, in any situation.

  • The best reason to ask a question is to contribute to the quality of the discussion that has already begun. 
  • The best questions are poised between attentiveness to what the speaker has already said and the chance to deepen the discussion. 
  • You have not been invited to give a speech. 
  • Weigh the usual interrogatory words in English: who, what, where, why, when. If you can begin your sentence with one of these you are more than half-way to a good question. 
  • Don’t engage in meta-speech. 
  • Keep your autobiography to yourself.

[“How to Ask a Question” by Peter Wood of The Chronicle of Higher Education}

#longreads laudits

If you are not yet deeply addicted to longreads, then you are missing out and likely much more productive than I. I axed my Facebook account just so I could rationalize the insane amount of time I spend diving into longreads selections, barely remembering to come up for air.

Given my appreciation of longreads, I was beside myself to be named “Featured Longreader” on April 02, 2012. While my accomplishment is undeniably noteworthy, even more momentous were the articles that I submitted, and of course the treasure trove that is longreads.


Stop everything you’re doing. Fill this out. This is the only bracket that matters this year. Basketball is so 1987. Diplomacy is where it’s at, brah. When you’re done, paste your link here. Here’s some of the SFB staff’s picks: Ernie Smith, Seth Millstein. What are you waiting for?

Jackpot here. God bless PBS. The first episode of the second season of PBS Arts web-original series Off Book is Animated GIFs: The Birth of a Medium (mini-documentary, ~7 min). “OFF BOOK explores cutting edge arts and the artists that make it. Breaking the mold of the definition of art, OFF BOOK explores the avant-garde, the experimental and the underground artforms that are supported by online communities.”press release: PBS announced… the premiere of “Off Book,” a new web series focused on experimental and non-traditional art forms on … This 13-part, bi-weekly series explores the ever-changing definition of art in the hands of the next generation of artists taking creative reigns and melding art with new media.OFF BOOK videos: all full episodesPBS Arts: Off Book home pagePBS Arts: Off Book tumblrSeason 1 episodes:Episode 1: Light PaintingEpisode 2: TypographyEpisode 3: Visual Culture OnlineEpisode 4: SteampunkEpisode 5: Hacking Art & Culture with F.A.T. LabEpisode 6: Street ArtEpisode 7: EtsyEpisode 8: Video GamesEpisode 9: The Fashion of ArtistsEpisode 10: Generative Art – Computers, Data, and HumanityEpisode 11: Product DesignEpisode 12: Book ArtEpisode 13: The Evolution of Music Online

PBS Launches Art Series “OFF BOOK” : PBS



Possible roads to the GOP nomination.

To put this simply, the odds are looking better for Mitt than anyone else at this point, but it’s not over yet.

“Any nation, at any time, has the capacity to create a hero.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson Testifies Before Senate Science Committee, March 7, 2012 (by SpaceKSCBlog)

iTunes pricing: A model for journalism? – Felix Salmon (by ReutersTV)

 ”You can follow someone on Twitter, friend them on Facebook, quote or be quoted by them in a newspaper article, but until you taste their bread, you don’t really know them.”

My Dinner With Clay Shirky, and What It Means to ‘Friend’ Someone –

Image via timoni From the New York Times:
This is the University of Washington’s new math: 18 percent of its freshmen come from abroad, most from China. Each pays tuition of $28,059, about three times as much as students from Washington State. And that, according to the dean of admissions, is how low-income Washingtonians — more than a quarter of the class — get a free ride.
I did not get a free ride. I had to ride my bicycle to the University of Washington. It had three gears, none of them well suited for the hills of Seattle. My bike lacked fenders, so when it rained—as it does often in Seattle—I would show up to class soaking wet. Then I had to pay the price of a new bicycle for a textbook. I did not get a free ride. I got a ride on a bicycle.
“When I saw all the stories about U.W. taking more international students, I thought, ‘Damn, I’m a minority now for being in-state.’ ”
The future is yours. I have my lousy bicycle.

Who paid my tuition?

Seattle gets SXSW’d

My friend and former professor Kathy Gill is among the many Seattleites pitchiing show concepts for SXSW 2011.

Digital Voices, Meet Media Consolidation – Journalism (solo)
Kathy Gill @kegill, University of Washington.

Also tossing their hat in the ring is my amigo

Crowdsourcing innovation at a big company – Journalism (solo)
@MarkBriggs, KING 5

as well as my colleagues:

How To Break Through The Noise With Great Events – Branding / Marketing / Advertising (solo)
Jason Preston @jasonp, The Parnassus Group

Social PR Campaigns: The Government is Watching – Branding / Marketing / Advertising (duo)
Steve Broback, @sbroback , The Parnassus Group

Voting for the final panels is open untilDeadline for voting is 9.59 pm Pacific on Monday Sept 5, 2011. Register to Vote!

Breathing Uneasy

Last month I had the privelege to work on the multimedia report “Breathing Uneasy” for InvestigateWest. The project is the result of a collaboration between InvestigateWest and KCTS 9. Veteran environmental reporters Robert McClure of InvestigateWest and Jenny Cunningham of KCTS 9 spent six months examining the impact of truck traffic on the communities that border the Port of Seattle, an area that new studies say has some of the worst air in the state. Their stories detail how toxic emissions from diesel trucks endanger residents of some of Seattle’s poorest communities, but also contain lessons and implications for any area dealing with major roadway traffic near schools and residential neighborhoods.

In addition, McClure and Cunningham examine how Port of Seattle Chief Executive Officer Tay Yoshitani helped oppose changes in legislation that would have made trucks cleaner, despite his promise to make Seattle the “cleanest, greenest, most energy-efficient port in the U.S.”

The report aired on KCTS Connects Friday, June 17 at 7 p.m. Click here to view the video.

To read the stories on Crosscut, click here.

It was an exciting and educating project for me. Thanks to all who were involved.

A Chat With Meghann Farnsworth

At InvestigateWest I have the opportunity to work alongside a wealth of incredibly talented individuals. Meghann Farnsworth, the Online Community Manager at the Center For Investigative Reporting and California Watch, is someone who I look to for how to perform my job proficiently. She generously granted me the opportunity to discuss the role of social media in investigative reporting organizations. I found the chat to be very interesting and useful for the work I do at InvestigateWest.

Read a summary of my discussion with her here.

I highly recommend you spend some time looking at the work of Farnsworth and CIR, especially the “On Shaky Ground“ project. I am incredibly grateful to Farnsworth for sharing her knowledge and time with me. 

Etta Place: Do you know what you’re doing?

Butch Cassidy: Theoretically.