Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

George is wondering if the anaemic fellow playing the Tory candidate in The 39 Steps was meant to be him

Sir David has joined the group So The British Aristocracy Has Not Declined And Fallen After All

Tripp has posted a new picture

Bristol commented on Tripp's new picture

Gordon is now friends with Dunkirk

Barack is now friends with Carla, via the People You May Know tool

Butch wants to know "Who are those guys?"

Guido is writing a list

Kevin is no longer friends with Bernard

Stevie G is Offline

Ulrika is feeling shy

Uma is no longer friends with Bernard

Sundance is in Bolivia

Andy is now on Twitter

Jacqui is about to start watching YOU

Kate is now reading The Reader

Sam posted a new picture

Rachel is feeling catty

David became a fan of Running

Santa is considering suing NASA

Baz can hear the sound of money

Pericles, Prince of Tyre is 400

Sarah is now friends with Katie

Big Brother is bored

Jack is getting ready for post-Bush-Doctrine shoot-outs

Roger, Simon & John have joined the group We Hate Paper

Evan wonders how long it will be before Facebook is the New Christian Science Monitor?

JLo is single

Nigella is now friends with Jose

Zavvi is now offline

Emmanuelle is now in Prequel

Eartha and Harold are now offline

Steve says that nobody will read books with E-Readers

Techcrunch has posted a new link: "Netbooks from Apple"

Bill is still a PC

Tim is still Semantic

Dick liked his Darth Vader mask

Arianna and Jon have joined the group What Do We Do Now?

Derek is now Online

Derek is now friends with Peter and Gordon

Tristram is angry about the Library

Tina is now a blogger

2008 is now 2009

Robin is Offline

History needs a regulator? Like the Web?

David Cannadine is now Sir David. But what about "history" in the era of "zeitgeist history".

...Professor Cannadine has just published a book in which he maintains that the morale of professional historians (whose collective name in AL Rowse’s time was reputedly “a poison”, and is now supposedly “a malice”) is at an all-time low. Andrew Roberts, another Downing Street invitee, agrees. He has called for a regulatory authority for historians and suggests it could be called Ofhist. Its task would be to protect what he designates “proper historians” from incursions by “amateurs” into writing history books, and to restrain literary editors from commissioning “Clist celebs” and the writers of “chick lit” to review such historians’ work.

So, where does the truth lie? Are historians the repository of the nation’s past wisdom, essential policy wonks’ adjuncts? Or an endangered species in need of protection from today’s nasty, dumbed-down world? Let’s attempt a historian’s answer: it depends where you stand. Certainly, if that’s in most parts of Europe, the answer would be that the reputation of British historians has never been higher.

From The Times earlier this year.

A must read on reading

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

- Steve Jobs on eBook readers and the Amazon Kindle

Steve Jobs frequently makes disparaging remarks about markets that Apple later enters (MP3 players, mobile phones, games, etc), so there’s little reason to believe that we won’t all have ‘iBooks’ in three years time. Still, the numbers don’t lie - 40% of people in the US (and 34% in the UK) do not read books any more. They may surf the web, or the read the occasional newspaper, but they do not read more than one book (fiction or non-fiction) in a year.

The closer you look at the statistics, the more depressing it gets. In the US, only 47% of adults read a work of literature - and I don’t mean Shakespeare, I mean any novel, short story, play or poem - in 2006. If that doesn’t sound too bad, consider that it’s declined by 7% in only ten years. It doesn’t matter whether you look at men or women, kids, teenagers, young adults or the middle-aged; everyone is reading less literature, and fewer books.*

Adrian Hon on The Long Decline in Reading.

John Bracken's Reading List

is here.

Logic unbundled: not better but more

News is part of the atmosphere now, as pervasive—and in some ways as invasive—as advertising. It finds us in airport lounges and taxicabs, on our smart phones and PDAs, through e-mail providers and Internet search engines. Much of the time, it arrives unpackaged: headlines, updates, and articles are snatched from their original sources—often as soon as they’re published—and excerpted or aggregated on blogs, portals, social-networking sites, rss readers, and customizable homepages like My MSN, My Yahoo, myAOL, and iGoogle. These days, news comes at us in a flood of unrelated snippets. As Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations, explains, “The economic logic of the age is unbundling.” But information without context is meaningless. It is incapable of informing and can make consumers feel lost. As the AP noted in its research report, “The irony in news fatigue is that these consumers felt helpless to change their news consumption at a time when they have more control and choice than ever before. When the news wore them down, participants in the study showed a tendency to passively receive versus actively seek news.”

From "Overload" - a long article in last month's Columbia Journalism Review by Bree Nordenson.

And the trust headline of the day is...

...As Another Memoir Is Faked, Trust Suffers.

“You’d think somebody would say, ‘Hmm, that’s amazing, let’s just spend an hour or a day seeing how plausible that is,’ ” said Kurt Andersen, the novelist and host of the public radio program “Studio 360.”

Mr. Andersen compared Mr. Rosenblat to Bernard L. Madoff, the money manager who is accused of defrauding investors of $50 billion.

“The will to believe something that is convenient to believe is strong in all realms,” he said.

The remake can only be moments away

Butch Cassidy: What happened to the old bank? It was beautiful.
Guard: People kept robbing it.
Butch Cassidy: Small price to pay for beauty.

40 years old tomorrow. Still fantastic.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Jeb's the way: new news

Bush doctrine to work?

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had a good approach to challenging or controversial issues. He would gather the experts and vested parties from both sides of the issue around the table and basically shut the door, telling the group to figure out a workable solution.

If the group came to a stalemate, he’d let them know he had his own ideas on what should be done, and if they didn’t resolve it, he’d make the decision, adding they probably wouldn’t be happy with the outcome. The opposing sides would scurry back to the table and eventually negotiate a compatible solution for most of the parties.

From the Collier Citizen. Here's how.

That is a new path we are going to try to follow at the Collier Citizen in the coming year. We will begin with one community topic at a time and find experts to help initiate the discussion, then watch as community journalists (you and other experts) direct the dialogue with comments, suggestions and solutions.

Think of the possibilities. We can tackle school budgets, county government budgets, fire consolidation, or EMS/Fire consolidation. Of course, those could be just the start. How about if the community were to adopt a school such as Golden Gate High School and create a forum where the community works together to bring that school back from its poor grade showing last year. The possibilities are endless.

More here.

Twitter, YouTube & Gaza

From Wired, but I was alerted via Twitter.

...the Israeli military has started its own YouTube channel to distribute footage of precision airstrikes. And as I type, the Israeli consulate in New York is hosting a press conference on microblogging site Twitter. It's pretty interesting to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reduced to tweets of 140 characters or less ("We hav 2 prtct R ctzens 2, only way fwd through neogtiations, & left Gaza in 05. y Hamas launch missiles not peace?"; "we're not at war with the PAL people. we're at war with a group declared by the EU& US a terrorist org").

By Nathan Hodge.

21st Century starts soon says Washington Post

Barack Obama will have as free a hand as history ever allows to chart a new course and to define a new era. He may or may not succeed, but the country was right to seize the opportunity he offered to put the previous century and its assumptions behind us.

All is explained by E. J. Dionne Jr.

Once in a Media Lifetime

“This was what I say: sui generis,” Zelnick said. “It made its own precedent. It never happened before. It hasn’t happened since, and it probably won’t happen for another hundred or 200 years.”

From the Boston Herald.

Robert Zelnick has enjoyed what many would call a storied career. He’s logged more than 20 years with ABC News, written four books, worked as the Supreme Court reporter for National Public Radio and been portrayed onstage in a hit Broadway play.

The real Frost-Nixon thing.

...sometimes you're saying things that are really in your heart...

Up the Research Budget, now

The most memorable crucible in modern history is, of course, the Great Depression. During that era, several firms made huge bets that changed their fortunes and those of the country: Du Pont told one of its star scientists, Wallace Carothers, to set aside basic research and pursue potentially profitable innovation. What he came up with was nylon, the first synthetic fabric, revolutionizing the way Americans parachuted, carpeted, and panty-hosed. As IBM's rivals cut R&D, founder Thomas Watson built a new research center. Douglas Aircraft debuted the DC-3, which within four years was carrying 90 percent of commercial airline passengers. A slew of competing inventors created television.

"The wonderful growth of the post-World War II period was due largely to the tremendous backlog of innovation developed in the late years of the Great Depression," says Rick Szostak, an economics and technology historian at the University of Alberta.

From Wired.

Evolution in the digital era and beyond...

We tend to think of evolution as something involving structural modification, yet it can and does affect things invisible from the outside—behavior. Many people carry the genes making them susceptible to alcoholism, drug addiction and other problems. Most do not succumb, because genes are not destiny; their effect depends on our environment. But others do succumb, and their problems may affect whether they survive and how many children they have. These changes in fertility are enough for natural selection to act on. Much of humanity’s future evolution may involve new sets of behaviors that spread in response to changing social and environmental conditions. Of course, humans differ from other species in that we do not have to accept this Darwinian logic passively.

What does this mean for us the digital consumer in the information sea?

Quote from a long piece in Scientific American.

Titled: The Future of Man.

What else are people doing when online?

From e-marketer , via OUseful.Info, the blog

The Twitter Mug... self explanatory.

An Excellent Defence of "women's magazines"

But does the economics work? I hope so.

In fact, saying "women's magazines" with an implicit eye-roll is, these days, like calling Brooklyn a hip residential "frontier" or using a VCR: transparently passe. As the earnest compliance with the requests for sit-downs with as many women's magazine EICs who requested them by McCain and Obama made clear, "politicians understand that they can't get elected without women," says Cindi Leive. "So they give us access they never would have two decades ago. Anyone who doesn't get that is sort of trailing the boat, anyway."

Sheila Weller in the Huff Po.

Let's Talk, a plea for Common Sense

The balanced BBC view on Andy Burham's Telegraph interview. Rory Cellan-Jones invites the culture minister to talk.

...yes, Andy Burnham's suggestion that Britain and the US could get together and impose some sort of web code does beg all sorts of questions. Who would decide what was permissible? How would trillions of constantly changing websites be policed? How would it work with existing ratings schemes such as PICS, set up by the W3C consortium? And isn't it up to parents, not the state, to watch over the way their children use the web?

Then again perhaps the blogosphere is underestimating the subtlety of Mr Burnham's approach. After all, it was unlikely to have been the primary audience he had in mind when he made his remarks to the Telegraph. He may be betting that millions of parents share his concerns, and sense of helplessness about the web. He is also probably correct in thinking that governments are more able these days to apply pressure on both ISPs and on major web international brands than web libertarians would like to think.

Tolerance and the web, and transparency

The fields of news and knowledge are foundational to vital democratic society. People who enjoy access to free, fair, and high-quality news media per se become more effective citizens: they understand more about how their community works, and they’re more likely to participate in making the decisions that shape their lives.

Confronted by that sort of transparency, government, business, and other institutions necessarily become more accountable for what they do. The free flow of knowledge makes possible other forms of social change—advances in health care, wealth distribution, environmental policy. The upside is incredible.

Keith Hammonds is a member of Ashoka's new Social Entrepreneurs in Journalism program. More of the interview here.

I found this via an excellent piece that interrogates the Pew Internet 2020 scenarios. It includes the following:

Perhaps the new office of the CIO in the Obama administration may influence the development of the Internet in a manner more conducive to better race relations in the US. The technologies used could well be adapted and adopted in other countries and regions. Citizen themselves can inspire and engender political will, holding rulers accountable for their actions in ways, enabled by new media and the Internet, that hark back to the tenets of direct democracy.

Is this possible, I wonder?

Better Knowledge, three

From the last "world views" column in the SFGate by Edward M. Gomez.

News flash: There is no such thing as objectivity in American journalism. Instead, in large part as a result of the formulaic practices that are taught in U.S. journalism schools, what most mass-media news organizations pursue is what might be described as merely the presentation of the appearance of objectivity (or "objectivity") in their reporting about any particular subject. Thus, on television, the same talking heads from the so-called left and the so-called right (American media incorrectly use the terms "liberal" and "conservative" all the time, but that's the subject of another discussion) routinely appear, simplistically representing their host programs' dutiful attempts to appear "objective."

Here's why this is the last "world views" column:

As this long, memorable and costly - in so many ways, to so many people - year winds down, so, too, is this regular, daily feature of S.F. Gate, the website and related, online edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, coming to a close after a run of several years. Numerous other, familiar features of this website will also be disappearing, and a notable number of employees from the S.F.Gate/San Francisco Chronicle editorial team will be leaving the print/electronic newspaper as its editorial-production staff is dramatically downsized.

Edward Gomez will be launching his own site next month. I wonder how long before coalitions of writers/columnists/journalists begin to publish collectively. And if we can find an economic model - and perhaps more importantly - an influencing model that will nourish our information sea. In the coming weeks I'm going to try and concentrate on the positive aspects of the web, its amazing resources, its power of communication, and, not least, the upbeat values of the "democratisation of doubt". Healthy skepticism, enlightened skepticism if you will, allows for informed debate around the issue of "objectivity", let's go back to first principles, as they say.

Better Knowledge, two

NPR marketplace reporter Sean Cole on coming clean with the personal pronoun.

We all have little “shock of recognition” moments when a world of possibility reveals itself. Sandy Tolan asking, “can you believe me?” on the radio was one of mine. I didn’t know you could refer to yourself in a radio news story. I didn’t know you could “break down the fourth wall” like that, that you could be so direct and frank with your listeners; that you could suggest that you were anything but an incorporeal voice. But listen to that moment again. It’s not about Sandy. It’s acknowledging a question that every listener, right then, was surely asking. It’s a crucial point about the inherent dangers of reporting on oneself. He could have said something more benign like, “There are inherent dangers in reporting on oneself,” and the most interesting thing that happened to me that day would have been my sandwich. His choice was so much more elegant, intimate and, above all, arresting. Paradoxically, Sandy asking, “can you believe me?” is what made me believe him. (Plus, he went on to explain the editorial process for the series.) His “me” did that work for him.

Go Sean. Happy hols!

WOW! Windows on the World for All

This is number one in The Times Tech stories of the year.

The Billion-pixel panorama.


Better Knowledge, first of a long series

The challenge I see for openDemocracy, in our goal to make better knowledge, is that we need to bring argument and content that comes from the domains that carry their own signals of credibility - activism (including corporate and political action), academia, "people like you and me" - while combining them with the virtues of the best outreach and journalism: accuracy, relevance, and narrative. If we succeed, we will create a space in which analysis that is credible, engaged and accessible can be made. This will not be exactly "citizen journalism", with its connotations of the celebration of the amateur and of the undifferentiated citoyen. Instead, in the economy of knowledge, we will seek contributions from each according to their best abilities, balancing the virtues of the insider, of commitment, with the critical qualities of the outsider, of detachment.

Making up minds by
Tony Curzon Price @ openDemocracy.

Happy christmas, war is (almost) over...

Quietly, as the United States presidential election and its aftermath have dominated the news, America’s three broadcast network news divisions have stopped sending full-time correspondents to Iraq.

“The war has gone on longer than a lot of news organizations’ ability or appetite to cover it,” said Jane Arraf, a former Baghdad bureau chief for CNN who has remained in Iraq as a contract reporter for The Christian Science Monitor.

From the NYT.

Monday, December 29, 2008

More Memoir Doubt: Angel at the Fence

This is part of a long New Republic post on December 25.

The battle over Angel at the Fence is part of a larger struggle for control over the Holocaust narrative. Scholars like Waltzer and Lipstadt are disturbed by the media blitz pushing Herman's story to the masses. "My hair is standing on edge," Lipstadt told me. "He has instrumentalized the Holocaust. This is the worst possible thing you can do on so many levels." To them, selling the Holocaust as Hollywood kitsch sanitizes its horrors. "It makes it nice," Lipstadt says. "I just wait to hear in the movie for the violins."

Salomon, the movie producer, disagrees. He believes that the mass appeal of Herman's story is precisely what makes it so important to be told. "The strength of Herman's story is in Middle America," Salomon said. "Because of the candy-coated message of this story, it has picked up resonance all over. Herman's story can do more to teach people about the Jewish experience during the Holocaust in a way nothing before has done."

From the New Republic. On Saturday, December 27, Berkley Books announced that it is canceling publication of Angel at the Fence.

And here's today's NYT update:

This latest literary hoax is likely to trigger yet more questions as to why the publishing industry has such a poor track record of fact-checking.

In the latest instance, no one at Berkley questioned the central truth of Mr. Rosenblat’s story until last week, said Andrea Hurst, his agent. Neither Leslie Gelbman, president and publisher of Berkley, nor Natalee Rosenstein, Mr. Rosenblat’s editor at Berkley, returned calls or e-mail messages seeking comment. Craig Burke, director of publicity for Berkley, declined to elaborate beyond the company’s brief statement announcing the cancellation of the book. In an e-mail message, a spokesman for Ms. Winfrey also declined to comment.

One of the many reasons for the problems in Financial Reporting: conflicts of legal interest

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger in the New York Review of Books. He's writing about a legal case between The Guardian and Tesco, but the wider implications are there for all, bloggers, lawyers and financial reporters. This is a lot closer to a journalistic reality than much of this year's "missed the credit crunch" hand-wringing.

This sort of financial journalism is notoriously difficult, expensive, and time-consuming. Few reporters have the training to disentangle and make coherent sense of the information publicly available from company accounts, annual reports, statutory filings, and corporate structures. The vast majority of reporters and editors—even those who specialize in business—would not know how to begin to unravel extremely complex corporate structures, which rely for their success on tax havens, partnerships, and tiers of associated financing and holding companies. A financial expert may understand public accounts, but be weak on corporate accounting. A corporate accounting specialist may know little or nothing about taxes. Effective analysis is complicated by the apparent legal impossibility—recognized by both academics and judges—of defining in a precise way the difference between tax avoidance and tax planning.

As we were to discover—if belatedly—the only route to total prepublication self-protection in these matters is to spend tens of thousands of dollars on tax, accountancy, and legal advice. Essentially, the only people qualified to produce wholly authoritative libel-proof assurance are the very people involved in constructing the strategies under scrutiny. They do not come cheap—and many of them have conflicts of interest. Some would give advice in private, but would not speak in public or in court.

And look, here's the Ghost of Christmas Future responding without an answer:

In my various scenarios for the future of news that relies more heavily on independent practitioners and networks, libel suits remain a huge question for which I can’t find an answer.

Says Ebenezer Jarvis.

Hopeful update from John Naughton.

There is, however, a chink of light in the gathering darkness. Rusbridger spells out in great detail the huge cost of retaining the specialist accounting and legal expertise needed to understand the Tesco transactions. But one rule of the new ecology is that there is wonderful expertise out there on the Net, and there might be ways of harnessing all that collective knowledge — rather as Linux harnessed the distributed skills of great programmers across the world to build a ferociously complex operating system; or as Larry Lessig and Charlie Nesson have crowdsourced the task of preparing legal briefs for pro bono cases.

Reason not the need: authority v. celebrity on Twitter

... 'authority' relative to a topic - being knowledgeable about chess, the Napoleonic Wars, or nuclear physics - is not the same as celebrity.

More here by Stowe Boyd at /Message.

One person's decline in "belief in the message" is another's "democratisation of doubt"

The new nihilism? Or something more Promethian?

Thanks to Tony Curzon Price for this by Geert Lovink.

We're operating in a post-deconstruction world in which blogs offer a never-ending stream of confessions, a cosmos of micro-opinions attempting to interpret events beyond the well-known twentieth-century categories. The nihilist impulse emerges as a response to the increasing levels of complexity within interconnected topics. There is little to say if all occurrences can be explained through post-colonialism, class analysis, and gender perspectives. However, blogging arises against this kind of political analysis, through which a lot can no longer be said.

Blogs express personal fear, insecurity, and disillusionment, anxieties looking for partners in crime. We seldom find passion (except for the act of blogging itself). Often blogs unveil doubt and insecurity about what to feel, what to think, believe, and like. They carefully compare magazines, and review traffic signs, nightclubs, and t-shirts. This stylized uncertainty circles around the general assumption that blogs ought to be biographical while simultaneously reporting about the world outside. Their emotional scope is much wider than other media due to the informal atmosphere of blogs. Mixing public and private is essential here. What blogs play with is the emotional register, varying from hate to boredom, passionate engagement, sexual outrage, and back to everyday boredom.

There's much here to consider.

So how do blogs relate to independent investigative journalism? At first glance, they look like oppositional, or potentially supplementary practices. Whereas the investigative journalist works months, if not years, to uncover a story, bloggers look more like an army of ants contributing to the great hive called "public opinion". Bloggers rarely add new facts to a news story. They find bugs in products and news reports but rarely "unmask" spin, let alone come up with well-researched reports.

WalMart: real time retailisation

From O'Reilly.

WalMart is a better example of Enterprise 2.0 than any of these more trendy examples of user contribution systems. If Google's key innovation with PageRank was to recognize that a link was a vote, which could be counted and measured to get better search results, so too, WalMart recognized early on that a purchase was a vote. Each company built real-time information systems to capture and respond to that vote. WalMart built a supply chain in which goods are automatically re-ordered as they go out the door, with algorithms based on rate of sale controlling the reorders. Google built a better search engine, in which pages that were "better linked" were given priority over the ones produced by pure keyword matches. They went on to build real-time systems to measure what John Battelle called the database of intentions, as expressed by people's queries and subsequent clickstream data, as well as an ad auction system that prices ads in real-time based on the predicted likelihood of the ad being clicked on.


Kidnapped: the Twitter account & the Culture secretary

This one has traction? Call for Derek Draper, surely?

Mike Butcher, who blogs about technology and start-up businesses at Techcrunch, has claimed the username “andyburnham” at Twitter, the short-form blogging service, in an attempt to educate him about some “essential truths” of the internet.

Mr Butcher said Mr Burnham’s interview with the Sunday Telegraph this weekend “betrayed the simple fact that he knows nothing at all about the internet”. He argued that the sheer volume of websites, the difficulty in regulating content hosted abroad and the internet’s constantly changing nature makes it near-impossible to impose a rating system, which Mr Burnham said was one option under consideration in his oft-repeated ambition to apply traditional media’s standards of decency to the web.

From the FT.

Here's Mike's take.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Music is the food of marketing, so play on

And as music becomes a means to an end — pushing a separate product, whether it’s a concert ticket or a clothing line, a movie scene or a Web ad — a tectonic shift is under way. Record sales channeled the taste of the broad, volatile public into a performer’s paycheck. As music sales dwindle, licensers become a far more influential target audience. Unlike nonprofessional music fans who might immerse themselves in a song or album they love, music licensers want a track that’s attractive but not too distracting — just a tease, not a revelation.

But does this model work for any other creative content? I fear this is going to be a bad year for books. From the NYT.

Robin’s, which says it is the oldest bookstore in Philadelphia, will close next month.

More book horror here. In the new year I'm looking for the positives: E-books in particular.

...and it's called "Strictly Come"?

Even the adult films business has suffered, exacerbated by illegal online file-sharing of clips. The Emmanuelle series is being revived with a $50m prequel, partly funded by an X Factor-style international reality show to find the lead actor. Hunting for Emmanuelle might just buck the downward trend.

From today's Observer. So that's the Great Gatsby & Emmanuelle. How about a new version of Chinatown, or a Doobie Brothers revival?

"Mister Gittes, have we ever met?"

Terence Davies to remake "Wall Street"?

No, worse still.

"People will need an explanation of where we are and where we've been, and The Great Gatsby can provide that," he told the Hollywood Reporter. "If you wanted to show a mirror to people that says, 'You've been drunk on money', they're not going to want to see it. But if you reflected that mirror on another time, they'd be willing to."

Baz Luhrmann to remake The Great Gatsby.

"It takes two to make an accident."
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 3

Friday, December 26, 2008

Media-Sport-Cookery-Advertising Quote of the Year

Not Gordon either.

"Charles dreamt I had an affair with Steve Coppell. I said to him, 'Thanks a lot! You might have made it Mourinho!'"

Cooking goddess Nigella Lawson reveals who hubby Charles Saatchi thinks is the man of her dreams.

From the BBC.


Monday, December 22, 2008

When the Trust Fund runs out...


From The Feinline, the blog of Sempre Management cofounder Michael Feinstein. On that Madoff Madness. (Financial Cliche Warning: there is that Ronald Reagan quote: otherwise it's a balanced account, as they used to say in Q1 2008.)

* Don't just trust your VCs reputation. Verify it through your own diligence, including blind reference checks and discussions with executives of companies that didn't work out.

* Don't trust your VC when she agrees to some additional terms that aren't on the term sheet or promises to 'take care of you' if you are let go. Verify every deal and agreement with terms in writing. You never know if the person you make the agreement with will be the one you have to enforce it with. If the deal is really a deal, no one should object to putting it in writing.

* Don't trust that your VCs will fund your company if you can't raise money elsewhere. VCs will always promise support for your company, but that isn't the same as wiring funds into your account. If the VCs are promising to backstop your company with a bridge financing in the event that you can't raise money, get that agreement in writing, including the terms. Once your company is actually on the brink, the terms may change. But, if you have a prior agreement, hopefully it will be honored.

* Don't trust the commitments that are promised by customers and partners. Follow-up with emails confirming, or formal contracts if appropriate. It may seem overly formal during more friendly relations, but the actual commitment may give you some moral high ground if the going gets tough.

Derek Draper and the Labour new media blitz - minus women

There was an interesting post on Guido Fawkes last week about a new media breakfast being hosted by Derek Draper at which Blue State digital presented how Labour can use the internet to win the next British election. PR Week reported, after the event:

PR Week has learned that [Philip] Gould was present at a ‘new media breakfast’ meeting which took place in London this morning.

Also present was David Lammy, the Labour MP with the best connections to US president-elect Barack Obama.

The meeting was convened by Derek Draper, who is overseeing the party’s blogging initiative. It was attended by an assortment of Labour-supporting bloggers, PR professionals and political campaigners....

PR Week added:

A handpicked selection of 77 individuals were invited to attend the meeting and around 60 are thought to have attended.

Those who were invited but could not make it included Weber Shandwick European CEO Colin Byrne and Google European comms director D-J Collins, but both are understood to be fully behind of the initiative.

Guido kindly added the names of those who were invited:

Tom Watson, Colin Byrne, Sadie Smith, Mark Hanson, Simon Buckby, David Clark, Charlie Whelan, Chuka Umunna, Sue Macmillan, DJ Collins, Sarah Mulholland, Richard Angell, Ed Owen, Simon Alcock, Douglas Alexander, Patrick Diamond, Sunder Katwala, Gavin Hayes, Jessica Asato, Robert Philpot, Richard Huntington, Tristram Hunt, Ben Wegg-Prosser, Damian McBride, Andrew Dodgshon, Theo Blackwell, Tom Miller, Tim Allan, David Bradshaw, Stuart Bruce , Jag Singh, Matt Strong, Paul Simpson, Spencer Livermore, Ed Owen, Chris McShane, Matthew Taylor, Alex Finnegan, John Miles, Adam Dustagheer, Dan Thain, Mark Lucas, Luke Pollard, James Crabtree, Tim Shand, Alex Hilton, Simon Redfern, William Davies, Howard Dawber, Nick Anstead, Richard Lane, Jon Steinberg, Pete Bowyer, Steve Cowan, Hopi Sen, Luke Bozier, Andy Regan, Toby Flux, David Taylor, Chris McShane, Matthew McGregor, Noel Hatch, Sunny Hundal, Greg Jackson, Dave Prescott, Luke Akehurst, Phil Dilks, Jonathan Upton, Simon Fletcher, Tom Price, John Stolliday, Adrian McMenamin, Paul Hilder, Paul Miller, Ben Brandzel, Anthony Painter, Ravi Gurumurthy.

Now I have no idea if this list is accurate, but notice only one fact: there are - I think - four women's names. Perhaps Guido was misinformed about the composition of the Labour leaning digerati?

Or perhaps Muscular technocracy is now the engine of British politics as well?

Those Big Beasts.

UK Parliament and Bloggers: a change is gonna come?

After initial scepticism at Westminster, the view now seems to be that e-journalism is here to stay and these bloggers should have passes, even though the print journalists take a broadly sniffy attitude to the likes of the Mole, while being happy enough to follow his lead.

Back to the green paper. It is likely it will make it easier for people to sue for libel by slashing the disproportionate costs of legal action, possibly by establishing a small claims court for libel.

More on small claims libel cases and a possible "blogger clamp down" here. From The Mole.

Database Hugging Disorder (Google & Africa)

From the blog.

Why is so much “public” information not accessible (i.e. government budgets, service level indicators, population data) and sitting on servers in London, New York, and Geneva but not accessible to citizens, media, and even planners in Africa countries? This clearly needs to change.

What is less intuitive, however, is that there is so much information, knowledge, and wisdom within Africa that is not making its way to politicians, planners, and policy makers who make decisions about Africa. We often hear that teachers, nurses, and civil servants do not show-up for work across the continent and this is a primary contributor to the poor quality of public services. Do we bother asking why absenteeism is such a problem? Ask teachers, nurses, or administrators and they will tell you.

More here.

Try telling this in print: Iranian 'metal'

From Iran Inside Out.

Forget newspapers, what about magazines? Twitter weekly?

If 2008 was the year that newspapers learnt that the diagnosis is fatal, they are going to die in print - maybe not today, or tomorrow: but someday - then 2009 must be about magazines...and books...sitting in that same doctor's waiting room. Here's John A. Byrne, executive editor of Business Week in the US, and editor in chief of

When we talk about other new ways to compete, most magazines don’t seem to know where to start. Aggregation? Forget it. Few editors want to link to other stories that send people away from their own sites. Curation? Writers don’t “curate” journalism or discussions. They report and file stories and move on. Verticals? Editors want content that appeals to the broadest swath of people and gets massive traffic. User generated content? Most editors still turn up their collective noses at stuff created by their audience. Computer algorithms that replace news judgment for the prominence you give a story? You’ve got to be kidding. And Twitter? What’s that?

Writing in the Nieman Reports Byrne describes how his title has morphed from:

...a brand that produces a weekly magazine to one that is pretty much a 24/7 multiplatform organization

Much more that's interesting beyond newspapers here.

US online newspapers - what's new in '08

Survival strategies here, everyone. My first is in Social but not in Print. My second is in Online but not in Ink...

Thanks to News After Newspapers - and ultimately the Bivings Group.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Big Beasts Return pt 1 - silent film

As if by whim of the gods.

Karl Lagerfeld premiered “Paris-Moscou,” a silent film about the early life of Coco Chanel recently. The Daily Beast mentioned it today.

Lagerfeld thought his silent film for Chanel was an appropriate format for a contemporary audience, likening the experience of watching a silent film to surfing the Internet. “Today, people are ready for silent movies again, as they spend time—hours, I would say—looking at text messages and e-mails,” he told WWD.

Here's a link to the film - it may well be very slow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Public Domain

A website that will allow publishers to generate a notice of copyright infringement with a few clicks of the mouse is due to launch in January. The Publishers Association said that its portal, unveiled yesterday at its International conference, would make reporting copyright infringement straight forward and save time. But it added that the website also had the added benefit of allowing publishers to pool information and identify repeat infringers.

From the Bookseller.

As is this:
Glamour model Katie Price will be honoured as a "Reading Hero" at a Downing Street reception hosted by Sarah Brown, wife of the prime minister.

Price, who has autobiographies, novels and children’s books to her name, was chosen as the celebrity who has done the most to encourage children or adults to get reading this year in a public vote held on the National Year of Reading (NYR) website. She will join 33 other Reading Heroes nominated by an NYR panel at the Downing Street event next February.

Just one of those trends...

...Ann Mack, director of trendspotting at JWT talks to Media Life.

Why will authenticity be so crucial for brands in 2009?

In the wake of a financial crisis that has seen established institutions topple overnight and many others teeter on the brink, authenticity will become paramount for brands as they look to regain credibility and trust. While this trend will be most apparent in the financial sector, it will surface across a range of categories.

With ongoing revelations of corporate greed and misdeeds in the media, people are growing increasingly skeptical of any brand’s claims, whether it peddles shampoo or retirement packages. People are seeking—and demanding—reliability and accountability. Marketers will need to work even harder to prove their brand is the authentic one above all, especially given that “authentic” has become such a misused and overused label.

Kiosks are back - with semantics (in Germany)

The idea is that their system can be used for quick and precise interaction with any rich semantic content. Real-world settings might include heavily trafficked places like airports or train stations, where they envision their kiosk ending up in the future. (They don't actually like the word "kiosk" -- they prefer "shared interaction space.")

From CNN.

A pair of German researchers have created an experimental kiosk that lets you easily use semantic Web capabilities - even if you have no idea what they are. All that is needed is an iPhone and a finger with which to drag icons around on the kiosk's touch screen.

From the Advanced Tangible Interface lab.

The Return of the Big Beasts: plumbers too

Bagehot in last weeks' Economist ran a piece about the return of the big beasts. Here's what Bagehot means:

Now, almost as a herd, these resting big beasts, the formidable and the chimerical, seem to be moving back to the front-line of politics. It is a telling migration.

The most exotic specimen to be unleashed is, of course, Lord Mandelson, resurrected as business secretary in October. Gordon Brown also brought Margaret Beckett and Nick Brown, two other veteran ministers, back into government. Less conspicuously, he has been taking advice from Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s hatchet-man. Rumours that Alan Milburn, a former health secretary, is set for a role in policy formulation may be unfounded. But David Blunkett—who, like Lord Mandelson, twice resigned from the cabinet—may re-surface. Peter Hain—forced out by a funding scandal in January, but now partially rehabilitated—retains Mr Brown’s esteem. On the Tory side, there is persistent talk of using Ken Clarke, a former chancellor, home secretary, health secretary (and so on) for more than the odd policy commission. Mr Cameron has already offered him a job once, and the two are on good terms. Michael Howard, Mr Cameron’s predecessor as leader, is increasingly conspicuous on television.

Meanwhile Jack Shafer, pimping his Slate death watch on newspapers (Shafer plays Pythia to Jeff Jarvis's Apollo these days), comes up with a list of jobs lost because of the digital:

• Bank tellers
• Typewriters
• Typesetting
• Carburetors
• Vacuum tubes
• Slide rules
• Disc jockeys
• Stockbrokers
• Telephone operators
• Yellow pages
• Repair guys
• Bookbinders
• Pimps (displaced by the cell phone and the Web)
• Cassette and reel-to-reel recorders
• VCRs
• Turntables
• Video stores
• Record stores
• Bookstores
• Recording industry
• Courier/messenger services
• Travel agencies
• Print and cinematic porn
• Porn actors
• Stenographers
• Wired telcos
• Drummers
• Toll collectors (slayed by the E-ZPass)
• Book publishing (especially reference works)
• Conventional-watch makers
• "Browse" shopping
• U.S. Postal Service
• Printing-press makers
• Film cameras
• Kodak (and other film-stock makers)

Reading the list I'm wondering whether any of these Big Beasts will make a come-back in 2009. I think some will. Call it the new arts and craft movement: a reverence for well made books, hand made limited editions, film rather than pixels; vinyl has already made its case, and drummers won't ever go away, not in the AC/DC mode, anyway. Print porn seems to still be Belle de Jouring, and book & record stores need only the V&A "nice cafe" moment to become nodal meeting points (they can become flaneur HQs, of course: social networks with great coffee). And "repair guys"? Surely they are the most likely Big Beast revivals: currently a television repair man call out is £150 minimum. (Well, that's how far my online research took me.) What other kinds of battle hardened, experienced, Beasts are due a revival? Keynes? (See below). Local news (see whichever Big Beast makes the jump to own more than EC1)?

Trust...well, there's the big thing.

Who would, after all, have predicted "Light Entertainment" as the Big Beast cultural capital of the virtual decade? John Seargeant, anyone?

The Democratisation of Doubt '08

Keynes via Robert Skidelsky.

The basic question Keynes asked was: How do rational people behave under conditions of uncertainty? The answer he gave was profound and extends far beyond economics. People fall back on “conventions,” which give them the assurance that they are doing the right thing. The chief of these are the assumptions that the future will be like the past (witness all the financial models that assumed housing prices wouldn’t fall) and that current prices correctly sum up “future prospects.” Above all, we run with the crowd. A master of aphorism, Keynes wrote that a “sound banker” is one who, “when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way.” (Today, you might add a further convention — the belief that mathematics can conjure certainty out of uncertainty.)

But any view of the future based on what Keynes called “so flimsy a foundation” is liable to “sudden and violent changes” when the news changes. Investors do not process new information efficiently because they don’t know which information is relevant. Conventional behavior easily turns into herd behavior. Financial markets are punctuated by alternating currents of euphoria and panic.

From the NYT.

Nostalgia: it's delicate, but potent

A thought for the new year.

RIP: Trust

Trust goes from bad to mad.

Madoff mess slays trust

From Newsday

Looks like another one bit the dust:

And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.

Luke 4:23 (King James Version):

News Update: the cartoon business model

From Geek and Poke

More here.

Why Travel?

CUPERTINO, California—December 16, 2008—Apple® today announced that this year is the last year the company will exhibit at Macworld Expo. Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening keynote for this year’s Macworld Conference & Expo, and it will be Apple’s last keynote at the show. The keynote address will be held at Moscone West on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. Macworld will be held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center January 5-9, 2009.

From the Apple site.

And then there's the Scobleizer:

So, what should we expect over the next year? A lot of bad news for big trade shows.
What’s killing them? The Internet. You can launch a product live now from a living room. Thanks to Stickam, Ustream, Qik, Kyte, YouTube, Flixwagon, Viddler, Vimeo, SmugMug, etc and blogs.

Just give the people on Facebook something to pass along and talk about and your product is out there, big time.

End of year there's a list for everything:here's Trust USA

Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Verizon and FedEx for the first time have made an annual ranking of the top 20 most trusted companies in the United States.

From SF Gate.

Google, however, dropped off the list, released today by the Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe in San Francisco, as did Countrywide Financial, Bank of America (which acquired Countrywide) and Weight Watchers.

Meanwhile Yahoo goes into trust overdrive:

“In our world of customized online services, responsible use of data is critical to establishing and maintaining user trust,” said Anne Toth, Yahoo!’s Vice President of Policy and Head of Privacy. “We know that our users expect relevant and compelling content and advertising when they visit Yahoo!, but they also want assurances that we are focused on protecting their privacy.”

From Yahoo! Finance.

We have been here before, but that doesn't mean we won't be here again: printcasting

Daily Me gets update. Personalised printed newspapers? Printcasting.

To paraphrase a character in the recent remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, history shows that humanity doesn't evolve until it's standing at the brink. Right now that's exactly where newspapers are. Next year, expect to see smart newspapers moving quickly away from the status quo -- huge overhead, one size fits all, poorly targeted ads -- and toward a new model that is more efficient, community-driven and personalized than ever before. And expect advertising to be more highly-targeted, measurable, and self-serve.

From the MediaShift Ideas lab.

Printcasting Prototype Demo from Dan Pacheco on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

American Society of Newspaper Editors to drop "paper"?

“It is time for ASNE to recognize in its name and its membership that we are way beyond print-only newspapers,” Hall said. “All journalists are now digital news producers, and while print remains an important delivery mode, more and more news is being produced only for the Web.”

The change will be discussed in April 2009. If there are any newspapers left in America by then.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Year in Ideas

Bubblewrap DNA.

From the NYT's Year in Ideas.

Too Busy even for E-Books?

Then read these:

Dreaming of Moscow
Makes life pass by unnoticed.
Did you hear the gun?

Haiku book service online. Above is...

WOW: no job for you

On a gamer forum, a vigorous discussion about whether it's fair for employers to discriminate against World of Warcraft players when hiring, on the grounds that WoW players are never fully out of the game.

Cory Doctorow gets us started on the subject of World of Warcraft and employment prospects (few). Via Boing Boing.

On the Literary Scent

Then Warhol had a brain wave. Get every writer subject to mention which scent they wore - this would appeal to the perfume houses. I don't know if Bob bought the idea but I think it's an excellent one. Perhaps Roger Alton of the Indy and other editors might like to think about it - I have often wondered whether VS Naipaul wears a cologne and would love to know whether Doris Lessing likes a squirt of Caron's Poivre - a lively blend of red and black pepper, cloves and other spices. The bottle comes in a limited-edition Baccarat crystal.

From today's Madame Arcati.

Some Random Nerd: is interesting on Web 3.0

The more I think about it, the more I think that it's the move away from the PC that will mark the next stage of the evolution of the internet; the idea of the internet was of connected and networked computers. The idea of the Web is all about interconnected and networked documents. The move away from the PC and towards other devices— a "Web of Things"— seems to me to be the next logical step.

The idea of the PC as the "hub" of your information is starting to feel a bit dated; as the number of devices that we are using regularly increases (mobile phones, laptops, netbooks, work PC, home PC), the idea of a central device that everything else revolves around seems to me to be an increasingly outdated way of organising your technology; it's too much to rely on. I know 2 iPhone owners who illustrate this point perfectly; one doesn't own a computer, so her iPhone is tied to a friends' PC (and iTunes account), so much of what I would call the important functionality (the ability to transfer files, download software, back up contacts lists, install updates etc.) is lost to her. The other owned a laptop until it recently got stolen, so there's no way for him to upgrade the software on his phone without first completely wiping it (and in the process, losing the music, photos etc. that he now has on his phone, but with no other copies.

More here with background from Some Random Nerd, via Krista Thomas and Reuters.

It's Christmas 2008: time for those New Year's Revolutions 2020

In the year 2020 it is predicted this year that...
The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020.

The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness.

Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the internet will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020.

Those working to enforce intellectual property law and copyright protection will remain in a continuing "arms race," with the "crackers" who will find ways to copy and share content without payment.

The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations.

"Next-generation" engineering of the network to improve the current internet architecture is more likely than an effort to rebuild the architecture from scratch.

Pew in 2020.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Libraries: it's getting tougher still

Dave Prentis said: "The library service is nearing a crisis point after suffering years of funding cuts, deskilling of the workforce and recent threats of outsourcing.

"Although more people visited their local library last year than went to the cinema or a football match, the numbers are declining and so we also need to concentrate on attracting new readers.

From today's Telegraph.

Twitter: finding the trusted circles...

From the Local Democracy blog, via Beth Kanter's blog about how "non-profits can use social media".

We only develop deeper relationships with a subset of our contacts on Twitter, according to Beth - who has picked it up from here.

Here is the original research.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jules Verne discovers solution to book crisis: bottling

“I don’t have time to write, so I write books with fragrance,” said Ghislaine. “Fragrance is my ink.”

From Fashion Wire Daily.

Me and My Moleskine

“The democratisation of the BlackBerry (and the even earlier adoption of the all-tech iPod by the masses and not just the elite) leaves the posing class with nowhere to go except ‘by hand’. I travelled across Europe with Moleskines because sometimes sitting at a café, even with a shiny silver Mac, isn’t enough; you still look like an accountant. Also, writing by hand makes for such concentration of thought.”

Kate Muir quoting some blogger bloke.

London Today

Friday, December 12, 2008

...yer Dead, Pt 2 (ft Books)

The value of books sold on the high street fell 12.7pc in the week to December 6 against the same period a year earlier. That compared to a 6.9pc decline in the UK market as a whole, according to figures from Nielsen, the research company.

From the Telegraph.

On the other hand...

For any reader left feeling they didn't do enough shopping before Christmas, help is at hand from Nintendo, which is preparing to launch a library of 100 classic books for its handheld games console on Boxing Day.

From the Guardian. Or there is:

Bring Out Your Dead pt 1

With Jeff Jarvis as Scrooge...

But print weeklies are looking doomed without my hex. Newsweek is cutting staff and circulation. I got a Time this week and it was so thin I could have used its spine as a razor. U.S. News is essentially no longer. Business Week is struggling. TV Guide is walking dead. Even mighty People was down last year. Weekly is weakly.

From Buzz Machine.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No, blog will after all eat itself and then repurpose the results

I just found...
...A site dedicated to the spam and scams sent to Madame Arcati (and everyone else) - no matter how ridiculous, fraudulent or outrageous the claims on Arcati's sympathy or greed, all spam received will be showcased here.


Word shout outs: hey misogyny, precipice & turmoil come on down

The most looked-up words in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2008 ...

...Seven of the ten – bailout, vet, socialism, maverick, rogue, misogyny, and bipartisan – have political associations.
The other three - turmoil, trepidation, and precipice –have appreared frequently this year in discussions of the stock market and the economy.

From Daily Writing Tips.

Shakespeare nudges DARPA and Al Gore out the way to invent digital modernity

Something like that.

Now Ms. Garber singles out a new aspect of Shakespeare’s versatility. As her latest title indicates, she is out to assert that “Shakespeare makes modern culture, and modern culture makes Shakespeare.” In true academic fashion Ms. Garber loves that kind of commutative construction, the chiasmus. Shakespeare loved this too, and Ms. Garber has the chiasmi to prove it, straight from the source. (“What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba?,” “Fair is foul and foul is fair,” etc.) She is happy to compound her book’s facile inversions by calling her method, at one point, “as much pedagogical as heuristic (and as much heuristic as pedagogical.)”

Janet Maslin in the NYT on Marjorie Garber's “Shakespeare and Modern Culture”.

Ok Harvey, it's like Bonfire of the Vanities meets, ah, Hackers

Love World of Warcraft? And Hubris? Read this Wired piece now.

...And he played the game. You could call it solace: a way to fill the emptiness of failure with the curiously convincing sense of purpose that comes from steadily amassing a make-believe digital fortune in magic staves and platinum coins. But in time it would be more than that. Much more. Soon enough, amid the daily grind of his obsession, he would see in the game itself a way out of the bleak hole he had fallen into. He would take a clear-eyed, calculating look at what he and his fellow players had been doing all those months—at the countless hours they'd given over to the pursuit of purely virtual but implacably scarce commodities—and he would recognize it not just for the underexploited form of productivity it was but for the highly profitable commercial enterprise it might sustain. He would spend the next half decade bringing that business to life. And though some people would hate what he was building, and others would want to take it all away from him, there would come a day when Pierce, eight years older, could look back on an accomplishment that was bigger than he had ever envisioned—and stranger than he would ever comprehend.

Blog will not eat itself, just go on a diet: the micro blog


Tumblr is exactly the kind of startup that’s supposed to be gasping for air in today’s dismal economy: A trendy but niche Web service with a prominent founder and exactly zero revenue.

Instead, the New York-based company has just raised a $4.5 million Series B round that its CEO, 22-year-old David Karp, says will fund it for two and a half years.

From the Wall Street Journal today.

Here's my Tumbir. I use it as a post-modern news in brief, or NIB as I believe they used to say.

TV Guide

Jon Stewart for news; Newsnight for comedy.

All I want for Christmas is a transparent system of politics, and perhaps technology can help

Is it the case that government - and democracy - suffers because it it described by bureaucrats rather than it’s users? Is there a case that ‘Open Government’ would be better served by employing a trusted third-party mediator (with a ‘public service’ remit) and asking them to describe government for the rest of us?

From Local Democracy. Maybe technology can do it?

GuidoFish, anyone?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Iplayer: search loves it

Now how to build that social network around Iplayer

Fastest Rising Searches on UK Google 2008

yahoo mail
large hadron collider

Tons Google more data.

Corporate Blogs aren't trusted...

...stunning news, of course.
...the report points out, "companies that selfishly blog about their products [are reinforcing] the idea that blogs can't be trusted." In other words, 84% of corporate blogs today probably suck.

What's driving this prevailing consumer distrust? It can be many things, from pressure within an organization to make sure that a blog is "branded" enough in what it talks about, to inexperience of a random member of the marketing team charged with launching a blog but without a strategy in mind for how to make it something compelling. Usually, the deficiency comes down to content. Launching a blog with nothing to say is like paying for a blank magazine ad ... sure you own the space, but you've done nothing with it.

The self named Influential Marketing Blog reworks Forrester.

Trust and newspapers: rule 1 don't put the inconsistency on the front page

The science of selling newspapers is clearly Quantum and Stringy right now, but surely we can do a little better than this?

In the crowded Babel of the “information-rich” society, the key is the building and preservation of trust. That point is hardly original. But I’d like to underline the connection between plurality and trust. It’s good to go back to first principles and one of the best questions being asked and answered here was: what value does journalism add? The common denominator in the answers was that reliable information helps voters.

If a society is open and free, there will be no Great Editor in the Sky to settle the question of what or who does that best. A truly plural society will see a competition to establish trust. Someone spoke of the need for a gold standard. In an open society, the gold may mix with dross and people will argue about which is which. Journalism will be an alloy.

George Brock, Times International Editor, and conference chair of the journalism and democracy closed get together at Ditchley Park this week, in part of his summing up of the proceedings.

As Polis Director, Charlie Beckett, explains on his blog:

The thoughts of the various international editors, journalists, academics, experts and officials from government and other organisations were expressed under Chatham House rules.

Read both Beckett & Brock here.

And then see if you can join the dots between "the building and preservation of trust" and "Chatham House rules."

It can't be that hard. But just one question: what is there to be so secret about?

Nobody Knows

People don't really know how this is going to work," says Nicholas Economides, a professor of economics at New York University's Stern School of Business. Companies are trying many different approaches, but he says that a solid business model for social networking has yet to emerge. "There's no formula for success," he says. Even Twitter, for all its notoriety, has virtually no revenues.

From MIT's Technology Review.

The Past of writing - writers on writing

What are some of your writing habits? Do you use a desk? Do you write on a machine?

I am a completely horizontal author. I can't think unless I'm lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I've got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don't use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand. Essentially I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semicolon. Obsessions of this sort, and the time I take over them, irritate me beyond endurance.

The Paris Review, Issue 16, 1957

"Honestly, I still can't wait to get my pants on in the morning," Friedman said. He wakes early, then exercises on a stationary bike, and if he has a column in the paper that day he'll read it through online two or three times, asking himself, "Did I get it right?" On weekdays, he'll head into D.C. for a seven-thirty breakfast meeting, which is sometimes followed by an eight-thirty breakfast meeting. The Times has a floor and a half of a building a few blocks north of the White House, and three of the four Op-Ed columnists who are based in Washington--Friedman, David Brooks, and Maureen Dowd, whom Friedman calls his closest friend on the paper--have offices at one end of an open-plan news floor. "I see him every few weeks or months, passing through on his way to Fez," Dowd recently said. Friedman's large corner office has windows that are oddly small and high, leaving wide areas of wall space. He has hung a poster of a three-masted sailing ship tipping off the edge of a flat world, which he bought long before he wrote "The World Is Flat"--attracted, in part, by the title, which is "I Told You So."

The New Yorker, November 10, 2008

More here at Daily Routines.

Another Way of Telling the Tech Story

From Stuff That Happens.

Typography Top 20 - '08

Lists, always lists at Christmas. So why not typefaces? Here's one of the top 20:

The rest here.

Journalism & Poignancy - one result of the democratisation of doubt

More sense from Terry Heaton’s PoMo Blog.

Chris Satullo, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote a poignant farewell column this weekend. He’s leaving the paper to work for the public station, WHYY.
I leave a business that seems to have lost both the will and the way to support the craft of journalism it once burnished to a fine sheen.

It’s a business that, in its pig-headed insularity, authored some of its own woes - but now is being swept helplessly along by the cascading changes of a Gutenberg moment. The Internet is changing our world as definitively as the printing press changed Europe - and more rapidly.

In my time, newspapers - and the journalists who worked for them - have made some mistakes. We embraced a priestly elitism, failing to explain ourselves clearly to readers or to confess frankly our mistakes of judgment. We were slow to respond when people, money and power flowed to the suburbs, slow to grasp the game-changing implications of the Web (though catching up now).

We screwed up plenty. At the same time, though, we did some splendid, useful things for the Republic.

That’s the pesky paradox of it: While we could at times be as arrogant as our critics claimed, we were more ethical and adept than they would ever admit.

Here's the thing about so much of the hand-wringing despair of journalists: how few times do the readers and audiences of "news" get a shout? How often does the behaviour of readers get noticed, or noted? And, if you know any print journalists, how many times have you heard them say: "I don't care about what our readers think?"

The democratisation of doubt extends to doubting the word of journalists - of course: it's out there, one contrarian click away.

More specifically British gloom here:

In 2002, 12.8m national newspapers were sold daily on average in the UK. This year it was fewer than 11m and in 2013 it will be slightly above 9m, according to Enders Analysis, the media research specialist.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

MIT & Storytelling

The Center for Future Storytelling will be co-directed by three Media Lab principal investigators: V. Michael Bove Jr., an expert in object-based media and interactive television; LG Associate Professor Cynthia Breazeal, a leader in the field of personal robots and human-robot interaction; and Associate Professor Ramesh Raskar, a pioneer in the development of new imaging, display and performance-capture technologies.

Kept forgetting to post this.

Newspapers on Facebook important updates 1

The Chicago Tribune is now reading Chapter Eleven

Jeff thinks he knows everything, but Roy knows better

Roger believes that bloggers should always be topless

Paul is happy to be reciting that monologue again

Ian is wondering if he will always be known for Wallcharts

Stephen has started the hat diet

Guido thinks he might be going soft

Sir Michael has been soft for a long time

Charles has commented on Jonathan and Russell again

Charles is now a fan of YouTube

Sam is now writing The Forty Six Steps

Charles has removed television from his list of interests

Roger Commented on Marina's new photo

Catherine joined the group I'm Feeling Hateful Again

Simon cannot believe that Franz Ferdinand has been shot

Roger and John and Simon are now friends with Paul, but Paul thinks they're all monologues

Henry has re-joined MI6

Nick is wondering why the world is so flat and has concluded that it is all the fault of PR

Robert is still a fan of his friend's books

Rod is thanking his lucky stars that despite the credit crunch there still is money to be made from fraying Victorian hemp

Richard is in Florida

Richard has added England to places he'd like to visit

Michael commented on David's new play

David is now online

David is now writing a play about the failure of the internet to bring about democracy

David is looking forward to the first night of his new play, Only Connect

Michael commented on David's new new play

Dylan is worried about the credit crunch

Robert is blogging

Roland is now friends with Robert

Peter is now friends with Robert and Roland and George

The Indy has joined the group Save the Chicago Tribune

Jeremy is still offline

Simon added Lohengrin to his Music I Like

Mark has joined the group I Love I-Player

Piers poked Simon

Simon poked Piers

Lionel is now friends with James and Rupert

Marjorie is frankly confused

The London Newspaper is thinking WHAT ON EARTH ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT?

The Guardian has moved

Home Thoughts From Rose Tinted Spex

The national flow of news is vital but on this blog I just want to concentrate for a moment on the horror of a local life without a decent paper. A good local paper should be one where you can find the second hand pram, see a pic of your grandparents celebrating their golden wedding, find out why Bank St has been shut by road works for a millenium, read about councillors’ expenses and find out who’s campaigning on what. You should be able to get good information about the council’s programmes, police activity, local schools and local characters.

From Lindsay Mackie in the nef triple crunch blog.

Outside in? The future of local news?

Closing Down ISPs, some thoughts

From Techdirt.

Lynch mob justice, even when well meaning, can inflict collateral damage and occasionally pick the wrong targets leading to significant damage with little recourse.

Some have equated these types of actions with a Neighborhood Watch program - good intentioned folks driving off negative influences. But the key difference is the lack of legal authority and due process.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Green Font: uses 20 per cent less ink and is free to download

A good idea is always simple: how much of a letter can be removed while maintaining the readability? After extensive testing with all kinds of shapes the best results were achieved by using small circles. Lots of late hours (and coffee) later have resulted in a font that uses up to 20% less ink. Free to download, free to use.


The play's the thing: Hamlet on Facebook

The king thinks Hamlet's annoying.

Laertes thinks Ophelia can do better.

Hamlet's father is now a zombie.

- - - -

The king poked the queen.

The queen poked the king back.

Hamlet and the queen are no longer friends.

Marcellus is pretty sure something's rotten around here.

Hamlet became a fan of daggers.

More here from McSweeney's.

And here's a Jane Austen one.