Friday, November 28, 2008

Those redundancies in context

I covered the newspaper industry for 23 years at Press Gazette and in all that time I don't remember anything remotely as bad as this.

Jon Slattery.

Mumbai: making judgments

It is not that the information sea has failed in its coverage of the Mumbai tragedy, but making judgments of trust about the veracity of the reporting is especially difficult.

Anger at the media for their coverage of the terror attacks in Mumbai is apparent on the blogosphere. For one, the mainstream media appears to have taken the approach of “shock and shake”, as opposed to verifying rumors before reporting them. But the nation appears glued to their television sets, as it is probably the most “live” source of information at this point in time.

Read some of the comments here: this is the democratisation of doubt. Increasingly the fissure between what is happening, and how it is being reported locally, regionally, nationally, globally (and commented upon by experts, locals, and all of us) becomes part of the story.

Not that in war truth is the first casualty, but that in live events such as now, broadcast and posted globally, the foundations of authenticity are visibly shaky. How do we trust in this environment?

Pictures via The Guardian.

Time out

600 jobs to go and the European edition edited from New York.

Time Inc’s statement explaining the changes: “As part of its continuing process of aligning costs and operations to the way people consume news today, Time International is proposing to consolidate some editorial functions in New York, where Michael Elliott, the editor of Time International, has been based since 2006.

More here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Perfect Recession Entertainment: talk

In New York City the trendy club to go to is The Moth where prominent people entertain a roomful of drinkers for fifteen minutes by speaking without notes.

You can see why this would appeal, particularly to middle-aged couples. Any band, other than one you are related to, is a terrible gamble for all but the professionally involved. The cinema seems exclusively aimed at teenagers. The theatre costs a fortune. You don't want to be shouted at by comics. Therefore why not go along to hear someone's interesting opinions or experiences elegantly expressed with the promise of a few jokes on the way? It seems like perfect recession entertainment.

David Hepworth from What's he on about now?.

Slow Blogging Day, Week or Month

So little time and so little to do. Oscar Levant

Slow blogging is something of a philosophical rebuttal to this dynamic. While some bloggers may just be naturally slow — think of the daydreaming schoolmate who used to take forever to get the assignment done — others are more emphatic about the purpose of taking their time.

From the NYT.

Mentioned in the piece, the ultimate answer to Twitter.

Birthday Treat: Laugardalshöll Arena

Last night of world tour 2008: Sigur Ros
November 23
Robin Hunt

US media 2009: balance and context but no jobs?

Newsroom layoffs mount across television, radio and newspapers, and omission has become the greatest threat. There is virtually no in-depth coverage and analysis on television of Iraq and Afghanistan, poverty, the environment and the other critical issues facing working Americans. And despite the explosion of the Internet, 45% of American homes still have no high speed Internet, while some 65% of Americans still cite TV as their primary news source.

Will US media change in Obama's America?

Take a walk through rural Ohio as I did this Election Day, and working-class voters are watching Fox, reading empty newspapers running on a bare-bones staff, and listening to radio's right-wing hate-fest. In today's media environment, we must face the fact that if not for the financial crisis and a disastrous GOP vice-presidential pick, this election might well have been McCain's.

FreePress speculates on the news landscape next year.

Top 12 Media Gardening Tips November '08

1. Dig over any new beds before the winter frosts.

2. Trim back ivy after flowering and fruiting.

3. Reduce ventilation in the greenhouse.

4. Young fruit trees don’t like weeds or grass growing around their stems, so remove them now. Mulching with garden compost or well-rotted manure will keep them protected, as well as feeding the soil around the roots.

5. Once the ground begins to freeze and you have consistent temperatures in the low 20s F, it's time to protect modern hybrid roses from winter's wind and cold.

6. Add to the compost heap but don't disturb if you want to keep your amphibians warm through the winter.

7. Make sure evergreens have a good deep watering before the ground freezes because they continue to transpire, albeit slowly, during the winter.

8. Make preparations for next year by ordering new seeds, repairing and cleaning out sheds and greenhouses.

9. As ground becomes vacant it should be dug over and manure incorporated. Manure incorporated now should be broken down by planting time next spring.

10. Before lighting your bonfire, remember the hedgehog who thinks that the pile of brushwood is his ideal hibernation spot.

11. Check that young trees are well supported with stakes and ties.

12. Clean and put away tools and machinery.

Hither with crystal phials, lovers, come,
And take my tears, which are love's wine,
And try your mistress' tears at home,
For all are false, that taste not just like mine.
Alas ! hearts do not in eyes shine,
Nor can you more judge women's thoughts by tears,
Than by her shadow what she wears.
O perverse sex, where none is true but she,
Who's therefore true, because her truth kills me.

Twickenham Garden
John Donne

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

P.J O'Rourke Calls for Bailout for Journalists

Nice piece.

Moreover, rescuing print journalism is a "two-fer." Not only will America's principal source of Sudoku puzzles and Doonesbury be preserved but so will an endangered species - the hard-bitten, cynical, heavy-drinking news hound with a press card in his hatband, a cigarette stub dangling from his lip, and free ringside prize fight tickets tucked into his vest pocket. These guys don't reproduce in captivity. And there are hardly any of them left in the wild. I checked the bar.

Late News: the bar has now banned smoking P.J. More mythology here.

For a more accurate vision of this world try here.

P.J. O'Rourke is 61.

Reportage & Journalism, make the case through trust says Times International Editor

But then the bloggers appear, writers of no training but natural talent, positioned by chance to see events and parts of the world which the news machines cannot reach. Fox never asks the question raised by his huge box of witnesses: were the professionals any better than the amateurs? The answer matters for the future as well as for the past. With the spread of digital technology, anyone can now be their own publisher. In these new circumstances, what defines journalism? What are journalists for? Many bloggers and operators in new media have already answered the question by declaring the “mainstream media” redundant.

George Brock, International Editor of the Times, reviews Robert Fox's Folio Society 2000-page reportage anthology, Eyewitness to History. Nice review; balanced. Here's Brock on "journalism".

But journalists could think more clearly than they do about how to improve the level of trust in their work. The case for the professionals needs making all over again.

With humility. The term “journalism” has been in use for less than 200 years, but over the past century the word has suffered from mission creep on a grand scale

I think we've all worked with that mission creep.

Consumer Watchdog: The Algorithm

The rankings are based on what the company calls the TrustScore, weighted for relevance so for example, older ratings count for less, while ratings from trusted sources count for more. The rating is calculated on a scale from 0 to 100. The higher the score, the happier consumers are about the company being rated.

The viability of TrustPilot’s offering is based on the fact that customer service levels across the board are pretty inconsistent. Online purchases especially are influenced in part by appearances, with many e-shoppers still determining the trustworthiness of a company based on design and branding, or who appears first in Google.

TrustPilot is a Danish start-up. More here from Techcrunch.


So no Kindle Christmas then?

Paid Content is reporting that Amazon has sold out of Kindles: so no big Christmas push.

“Due to heavy customer demand, Kindle is sold out. Please ORDER KINDLE NOW to reserve your place in line. We prioritize orders on a first come, first served basis. This item will arrive after December 24.”

A little more here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Looking to Sea: November 23

Watch the manoeuvres of the week-end hikers
Massed on parade with Kodaks or with Leicas

November, 2008
Robin Hunt

Search Engine Number 2: My Favorite Things

In a couple of years, a lot of web content is going to evolve from text to video, making YouTube a much bigger asset for Google. Even today, YouTube is already the second-largest search engine on the web.

In the toughness to come some ReadWriteWeb tips...

Two Old Friends

YouTube: now in widescreen.

The thought of writing came to me to-day
(I like to give these facts of time and space);
The bus was in the desert on its way
From Mothrudslur to some other place:
The tears were streaming down my burning face;
I'd caught a heavy cold in Akureyri,
And lunch was late and life looked very dreary

Letter to Lord Byron
Part One

Predictive Texts: the future of information management

Prediction number 2: the battle of the identifiers or the age of pointing at things

In the world of the Semantic Web, until you have named something you cannot do much useful with it.

‘We will not be able to work with concepts until we have pointed at each new thing (and like Adam in the Bible I guess) give it a unique identity. This is an age of naming, it is an age of pointing at things.’
Tom Coates

From: How the Semantic Web Will Change Information Management: Three Predictions by Silver Oliver.

Geo-Thermal's the Word and Graphical Image

Hellisheiði Power Plant
November, 2008
Robin Hunt

The touch screen graphics here are fantastic. They are by Gagarin, a digital design company from Reykjavík. More power plant. The effect of the uber modern plant and the multimedia graphics, including an earthquake simulator, is very "solace" Bond of '08. The imaginative impact of the plant - a cutting edge geo-thermal processing facility that makes around 20% of Iceland's energy - is something else: a genuinely hopeful sign for our energy future.

Bringing the Bruises Back to Gaming: They Call it Augmented Reality

An interesting moment: the gaming mash begins.

While the iPhone looks like a solid portable gaming console, technologies like Android and the Nintendo Wii and DS could become the bat and ball of the future.

From Reto Meier in Google Blogoscoped.

Promiscuity is the New Social Networking

And the old suck it and see.

Back in the earliest days of planning The Washington Post's online strategy, 15-plus years ago, we talked a lot about our intentions to "be promiscuous"–placing as many bets as possible on as many different technologies and strategies as we could.

That philosophy kind of went by the wayside over the years at The Post and other publishers as they put almost all of their chips on building up their Web sites. But as it turned out, the audience was promiscuous, adopting all sorts of online media and devices that publishers never fully appreciated.

Sometimes the old ones are the best. From Recovering Journalist.

Don't Let We Be Misunderstood

“It might surprise parents to learn that it is not a waste of time for their teens to hang out online,” said Mizuko Ito, University of California, Irvine researcher and the report’s lead author. “There are myths about kids spending time online – that it is dangerous or making them lazy. But we found that spending time online is essential for young people to pick up the social and technical skills they need to be competent citizens in the digital age.”

From the MacArthur Foundation.


Even Microsoft wants the Geo-Thermal

November, 2008
Robin Hunt

From Free to Paid newspaper, bucking the trend or what?

So now we’re going to ask you to reach into your pockets. We hate to do it, but at the same time we think this paper is worth it, thanks to you. We have afascinating, rewarding conversation going on in these pages. Sure, the Vox can become tedious, and we’ve heard from some mighty cranky readers over the past few years, but the fact is Blufftonians are talking to and helping each other thanks to this remarkable experiment called Bluffton Today.

December 1 is D-Day. Let's see...

Facebook .IS

November, 2008
Robin Hunt

Africa & Google

In East Africa in particular, people are bracing themselves for the broadband revolution. Within 12 months, initiatives like Seacom and EasyCom are likely to be active in the region and will connect people in completely new ways. What will happen when the super-highways open their gates? Will traffic flow in one direction or two? Will East Africans become net consumers or producers of information?

From the Google Africa blog.

Yesterday already being rewritten: Saving Private Bush

"24" Redemption I can take...

Then you wonder — fear, might be the better word — if this is but the vanguard of a new wave of revisionism, a pre-emptive strike against history, if you will, to impose a sunnier, more forgiving view on the past eight years than the facts will support. If so, we should gird for a very long rest of our lives.

The Seattle Times: Historical Revisionism comes Early this Transition.

The Krypton Crunch

Superman's future?

As a two-reporter family, almost certainly screwed, that’s where. You think tenure counts for something? Alas, it does not. Lois might get to keep her job, for a time at least, but Clark? Clark Kent? The guy who disappears as soon as anything interesting starts to happen? Sure, he types fast, and his copy is clean, but editors will have to make choices, hard choices, and Perry White will be looking for any excuse he can find.

Bloggasm on newspapers and superheroes.

Television on Facebook - app heaven?

For the first time, I found myself watching more shows through Facebook than on my own TV.

These applications make it easy, not only to watch shows, but also to discuss them, share bloopers, challenge friends' knowledge of TV trivia, connect with other fans, and see how many of your friends are watching each week. TV on Facebook means that you can share and engage with friends through videos and comments.

From the Facebook blog.

November 22

Mayor's Office
November, 2008
Robin Hunt