Off the Top: Journalism/News Entries

March 17, 2015

Mobile Apps and Enabling Content Use and Reuse

This morning I read Dave Winer’s “When will the 140-char wall come down” that aside from the focus of the piece is the secondary focus on mobile. The part that caught my attention is the section that mentions Facebook’s discussions with content publishers.

David Carr ran an article in the NY Times last October that previewed the pitch we'll likely hear. They want publishers to post full content to Facebook. In return they are willing to share ad revenue with the publishers.

The reason this is so important? In a mobile environment, clicking on a link to read a story is a very big price. We all know that mobile is where Facebook’s growth is coming from. News reading on mobile can become much more fluid. That's what Facebook wants to do.

This pulling content into large commercial social platform’s mobile apps is also problematic. While I really understand the value of not having the users click out of the service and keeping ad revenues pegged to a higher level, it is this lock-in that creates problems. For those of us who value content and being able to refind content and easily quote it and pull it together in links (as is done in this post) these walled gardens of social platforms have rather overbearing walls that make ease of personal information management a giant chore. Many of the social platforms offer some connection to bookmark, send to a full browser, and / or to other apps on the mobile device. Each service is different, most offer some means of getting the content out to functional tools or providing them within their app, but some (like LinkedIn offer nothing, which is really painful and horribly thought through).

The Value to Publishers of Connecting Content

Why should publishers care about their content in a commercial social platform like Facebook? As Dave Winer points out it is about mobile access and what apps and services to people spend time in. A common adage and mindset is to place your content were people are and can see your content. This makes sense to be in the commercial social platforms. Also people share in these social platforms things they find of interest. But, the downside is the lack of ease for people to share out into other social platforms and hold on to content for greater value add outside one platform.

The ability and ease of getting content out of the social platform’s mobile app and into a browser has value, as the browser often have user’s bookmarklets to tuck things into services to read things later (like Instapaper), bookmark it in services (like Pinboard) or a work service (like KnowledgePlaza), or grab an interesting snippet for later (in something like Evernote). All of these not only add personal value to the reader using these services, but most often this content is easily shared to others who follow the link and go read the publisher’s content. If the content is not linked to the publisher’s site and to the social platform, that often hinders people from going.

As publishers consider going this route they need to understand the referral value from power readers and how social platforms currently add friction to that model of value generation.

December 15, 2014

Newsroom Wraps-up an Evening that Tilted

At 8pm my temp goes up and I start not feeling well. Just after 9pm I start watching Newsroom for the final episode. 9:10 for the next hour I am yelling solids at a small body of water between hitting pause and play. About 10pm tears are rolling thanks to Newsroom it is good deep letting go. The next 20 minutes are tears and feeling a bit better.

Now to sort out if the medication I took to feel better needs to be retaken. Also need to sort out how to monitor keeping my temp low through the night (it is about 100F, thanks for asking).

I think Newsroom may be one of my favorite shows I’ve seen in a long time, as I am a sucker like that and I love banter and considering the difficult things in the world around us, then trying to sort out what to do next to make it better. To make real lasting change.

But, for now that lasting change is a good night sleep and feeling better in the morning. Don Quixote has a very short vision this evening, but also has a long long memory, which likes the visions of much better things in the future as well. (what good is having a good memory if it can’t help you see a better future too?)

December 14, 2014

Link Like Bin 13 December 2014

Another week of cleaning up, organizing, and working out partly broken identity and still working to get that resolved. Just the second time in 14 years with a Mac that I have had something this bothersome, which is much better than the nearly monthly with prior OS and same “corporate” OS when working on client sites.

May 2, 2012

The Data Journalism Handbook is Available

The Data Journalism Handbook is finally available online and soon as the book Data Journalism Handbook - from Amazon or The Data Journalism Handbook - from O’Reilly, which is quite exciting. Why you ask?

In the October of 2010 the Guardian in the UK posted a Data Journalism How To Guide that was fantastic. This was a great resource not only for data journalists, but for anybody who has interest in finding, gathering, assessing, and doing something with the data that is shared found in the world around us. These skill are not the sort of thing that many of us grew up with nor learned in school, nor are taught in most schools today (that is another giant problem). This tutorial taught me a few things that have been of great benefit and filled in gaps I had in my tool bag that was still mostly rusty and built using the tool set I picked up in the mid-90s in grad school in public policy analysis.

In the Fall of 2011 at MozFest in London many data journalist and others of like mind got together to share their knowledge. Out of this gathering was the realization and starting point for the handbook. Journalists are not typically those who have the deep data skills, but if they can learn (not a huge mound to climb) and have it made sensible and relatively easy in bite sized chunk the journalists will be better off.

All of us can benefit from this book in our own hands. Getting to the basics of how gather and think through data and the questions around it, all the way through how to graphically display that data is incredibly beneficial. I know many people who have contributed to this Handbook and think the world of their contributions. Skimming through the version that is one the web I can quickly see this is going to be an essential reference for all, not just journalists, nor bloggers, but for everybody. This could and likely should be the book used in classes in high schools and university information essentials taught first semester first year.

June 4, 2008

Lasting Value of Techmeme?

Tristan Louis has a post looking at Is Techmeme Myopic, which is a good look at the lasting value that Techmeme surfaces. This mirrors my use of Techmeme, which is mostly to have a glance at what is being discussed each day. Techmeme has a very temporal value for me as it is a zeitgeist tool that tracks news and memes as they flow and ebb through the technology news realm of the web.

Personally, I like Techmeme as it aggregates the news and conversations, which makes it really easy to skip the bits I do not care about (this is much of what flows through it), but I can focus on the few things that do resonate with me. I can also see a view of who is providing content and I can select sources of information whose viewpoint I value over perspectives I personally place less respect.

October 21, 2005

Interview regarding Digital Identity and the Personal InfoCloud

Today I appear over on Under the Radar: That cloud kinda looks like you! in an interview by Scott Hirsch who is a partner at MIG5. The interview focusses on digital identity, which is integral to the Personal InfoCloud and interacting with other people and services in the digital world. Increasingly it seems digital identity is tethered to physical world identity for access to buildings, accessing our computers, medical services, etc. This has some problems around privacy that must be addressed and there must be trust in the services that interact with out digital identity.

April 22, 2005

Annotated New York Times

The Annotated New York Times is the best interface for blog coverage out there. Feedster and Technorati are leagues behind in their presentation compared to this. I had not been to BlogRunner in a while, but it has grow-up too. The interface, interaction, and presentation are dead-on for an intuitive tool. Bravo.

I do wish it were easier to find book review annotations more easily, such as by author or book title.

February 21, 2005

HST Gone

Hunter S. Thompson is dead. The man was truly not like any other and he caused many people to consider thoughts beyond the norm. He was like Zorba the Greek, but with an insanely hard edge as he lived for the moment, but in his own way.

February 20, 2005

The Future of Newspapers

A state of the newspaper industry article in today's Washington Post tries to define what people want from newspapers and what people are doing to get information.

Me? I find that newspapers provide decent to great content. Newspapers are losing readers of their print versions, but most people I know are new reading more than one paper, but online. The solutions I see from my vantage are as follows.


The articles rarely have ads that relate to the stories, foolishly missing ad revenues. The ads that are available are distracting and make for an extremely poor experience for the reader. News sites should ban the improperly targeted inducements that rely on distracting from reading the article, which is the reason the person is on that web page. The person has an interest in the topic. There are monetary opportunities to be had if the news outlets were smart and advertisers were smart.

How? If I am reading an article on the San Francisco Giants I would follow and may pay a little something for an ad targeted to this interest of mine. I like to buying Giants tickets, paraphernalia, a downloadable video of the week's highlights, etc. If I am reading about an airline strike a link to train tickets would be a smart option. A news article about problems in the Middle East could have links to books by the journalist on the subject, other background books or papers, links to charitable organizations that provide support in the region. The reader has shown an interest, why not offer something that will also be of interest?

We know that advertisers want placement in what they consider prime territory, the highly trafficked areas of the site. Often this is when the non-targeted ads appear. This is an opportunity to have non-targeted ads pay a premium, say five to 20 times that of targeted ads. The non-targeted ads have to follow the same non-disruptive guidelines that targeted ads follow. This is about keeping the readers around, without readers selling ads does not make any sense.


One area the news site are driving me crazy is access to the archives. The news sites that require payment to view articles in the archives are shooting themselves in the foot with this payment method and amount required to cough up to see an article that may or may not be what the person interested is seeking. The archives have the same opportunity to sell related ads, which in my non-professional view, would seem like they would have more value as the person consuming the information has even more of an interest as they are more than a casual reader. Any payment by the person consuming the information should never be more than the price for the whole print version. The articles cost next to nothing to store and the lower the price the more people will be coming across the associated advertising.

Blogging and personal sites often point to news articles. Many of us choose whom we are going to point to based on our reader's access to that information at any point in the future. We may choose a less well written article, but knowing it will be around with out having to pay extortionist rates to see it is what many of us choose. Yes, we are that smart and we are not as dumb as your advertisers are telling you. We, the personal site writers are driving potential ad revenues to you for free, if you open your articles for consumption.


Loyalty to one paper is dead, particularly when there are many options to choose to get our news from. We can choose any news source anywhere in the world. Why would we choose yours? Easy access, good writing, point of view, segment coverage (special interests - local, niche industries, etc), etc. are what drive our decisions.

I often choose to make my news selections to include sources from outside my region and even outside my country. Why? I like the educated writing style that British sources offer. I like other viewpoints that are not too close to the source to be tainted. I like well researched articles. I like non-pandering viewpoints. This is why I shell out the bucks for the Economist, as it is far better writing than any other news weekly in the U.S. and it pays attention to what is happening around the world, which eventually will have an impact to me personally at some point in the future. I don't have patience for mediocrity in journalism and the standards for many news sources have really slipped over the past few years.

News sources should offer diversity of writing style and opinion of one source will attract attention. The dumbing down of writing in the news has actually driven away many of those that are willing to pay to read the print versions. Under educated readers are not going to pay to read, even if it is dumbed down. Yes, the USA Today succeeded in that, but did you really want those readers at the loss of your loyal revenue streams?

Loyalty also requires making the content available easily across devices. Time and information consumption has changed. We may start reading an article in the print edition (even over somebody's shoulder and want to follow-up with it. We should be able to easily find that article online at our desk or from our mobile device. Integration of access across devices is a need not a nicety and it is not that difficult to provide, if some preparation is done with the systems. Many of us will pull RSS feeds from our favorite news sources and flag things for later consumption, but the news sites have not caught on how to best enable that. We may pull feeds at one location, but may have the time and focus to read them at another location, but we may not have the feeds there. Help those of us that are loyal consume your information in a pan-medium and pan-device world that we live in.

September 29, 2004

A Blimp a Day...

Driving to work this morning (I normally do not drive) I saw a blimp floating over the Mall near the Capitol building. I thought it was an odd place for a blimp. I also realized their is not a sporting event that would cause the blimp to be in town today (a city being awarded a baseball team is not a blimp event). I tried to figure out whose blimp it was, but it was all gray.

My next thought was somebody stole a blimp and is going to fly it into the Capitol. Very quickly that was ruled out as a rational option. I switch my radio from satellite to AM to the news station, which is chatting on about the baseball team and the weather. Nothing about a rogue blimp.

A co-worker at mid-day brings up the odd blimp story in the Washington Post. Yes, the U.S. Army is leasing a blimp to protect the Nation's Capitol. Have we spent so much money on Iraq that all we can afford is a blimp?

September 15, 2004

Breaking News Alert?

I subscribe to the CNN e-mail breaking news alert, mostly because of the times we are in and where I live. Every few days (it can go a week or two) I will get an alert about a disaster, a death of an important figure, violent weather, natural disasters, etc. I have these go directly to my mobile device as it is always with me. Today's breaking news did not need to be that important in the scope of everything going on. Martha choses to go to jail is not worthy of breaking new alert.

This was the third or fourth Martha disaster alert in the past six to nine months. Get over it, she is not worthy of the breaking news alert. Neither is Kobe Bryant showing up in court, nor what ever is going on with Michael Jackson. News that the U.S. funds for reconstructing Iraq are being diverted for security is much larger news. There have been many more life changing stories that have deeper and broader impact.

Is there a former editor of Vanity Fair choosing the breaking news alerts at CNN?

December 9, 2003

NY Times everlink

For those about to blog the NY Times use NY Times ever link. [hat tip Dori

August 21, 2003

Express news for hair trigger attention spans

In this past month the Washington Post has started giving away the Express, which is something like a selection of RSS feeds on newsprint or USA Today for those with short attention spans. I have no idea if these are handed out free anywhere other than Metro station entrances. I see a handful of folks reading these infant-sized newslings then leaving them on the trains. I have picked up a couple, but fond not much that I missed in a half hour read over coffee and nosh at the computer.

August 17, 2003

May 30, 2003

Dad mags

Just in time, Dad mags. Anybody know of U.S. versions (I only look in the tech, design, and cooking mag sections in the stores).

February 1, 2003

August 15, 2002

Found it in the paper

I learned another thing on vacation, The New York Times is a great paper. Yes, the offers great news and all the content, but the actual paper is a great asset. I spent this past week reading the paper version of the Times and found great stories that informed and even entertained in each day's paper. I never see this in the digital version as it is not as easy to flip through the digital pages as it is the paper version. The Web version groups the information by like kind, but finding the nuggets is not as easy. I usually read the highlights using AvantGo, which may limit my closeness ot the nuggets I found I really miss. I subscribed to the paper version for years, but thought I found the digital version more streamlined, but now I realize what would make my morning coffee better.

July 28, 2002

BBC tech

In an examination of the BBC News site I found myself getting lost trying to find the technology section. Technology always was placed as a sub-category of Science and Nature, which was something I learned over time. Now it is its own section on both the UK and World versions of the news site. I like its separate placement, but I also used to find some interesting items in the science/nature/tech melange.

May 30, 2002

May 6, 2002

Fortyun shot dead

The news of the shooting of Dutch politician Fortyun really is bothersome. One it is in the Netherlands, the home of my ancestors. It is also an open and accepting country, which is often thought of as free from the violence that crops up in American culture. It is also 2002 and Western Europe which is democratic and a place usually associated with peace. Adam offered a broad set of links yesterday (still today in the U.S.) that covered the news. Netherlands Radio provides local shooting news. I usually consider the Netherlands the place to escape, clear my mind, and think about the good things in life.

The Economist this week surveys the Netherlands and one of its articles focuses on politics (registration may be needed) and highlights the complexities of the political landscape and Fortyun himself. This was just odd timing.

April 16, 2002

One of my favorite baseball columnists, Rob Neyer has his own home page.

April 12, 2002

I have noticed a favorable change at Wired mag the past two months. The SF Chron get to the top Wired guy to get the real story of change.

April 9, 2002

USC Annenberg School offers a light personal review of the WSJ redesign. Those of us that use the online version of the Journal on a daily basis have noticed a great jump since the redesign began implementation over a month ago. The site is much quicker and the interface is cleaner. The queries now are very quick again and there is a deep pile of data/information to search through.

Snippets: I have noted the redesign more than once... Nihal ElRayess has shared part of the IA perspective on the main WSJ redesign and the WSJ Company Research redesign parts of the project... The Guardian provided its insight in February (a good piece of researched journalism)... It looks like the WSJ redesign began in at least March 2000... The $28 million spent on the Web reworking (hardware, software, visual, and information architecture) is much less than the $232 million spent on a new printer for the WSJ print version or the $21 million for an advertising campaign to tout the new WSJ... The previous version of the WSJ site was a hand rolled CMS and now have been moved into Vignette... Those interested in the overal WSJ plan will like what is inside the presentation of Richard Zannino, Executive Vice President and CFO of Dow Jones & Company.

March 13, 2002

Boxes and Arrows is finally live.

I am sitting in the Austin Airport using an 802.11b wireless connection to collect and read e-mail and to post here. The world of wireless connectivity has been kick ass this trip. The SXSWi guerilla wireless efforts by Cory (boingboing) Doctorow were greatly appreciated and widely used and many of us would offer our first child or at least a beer for his fine efforts.

Another observation of this trip is the insanely wide use of Apple laptops. They were everywhere at the conference, it was almost as if they were in the conference bag of goodies. Those of us on Mac had little problem grabbing wireless connections and were showing our pictures to others we had taken. By the end of the conference many of the Windows folks were cursing their non-compliant and non-easy to adopt laptops. Not only were the graphic folks using Apple, but the tech geeks were too (this is where I fit in, believe me). Even Doc Searls was Mac'n around. In the land of Dell, Apple proved to be king.

I am somewhat saddend to be heading home and leaving old and many new friends behind. SXSW is a place were passion for the Internet rules and sharing our passion, knowledge, and experience is what it is all about. Hair color, age, gender, skin color, or location is not important as the passion binds us together. We are all out to make the Web and Internet a better place to be. To a person we all have become much better people because of the free sharing and passion. Jack Vallenti and his trying to label us terrorists is not only poor sighted but a fat lie. We share to grow and learn. Jack only want to play his Anderson card and shred our reality. (There will be more later to clarify and to help you understand what I mean by these comments.) Liars and fear mongers are trying to steal the truth, but Austin let truth ring out. You bet your sweet bippy, I'll be back.

I love all those I met and whose paths I crossed and wish all safe journies home. Keep the passion alive.

March 7, 2002

The Washington Post writes about the end of free for content. That is of course for the big content producers, but we still have the independents.

February 11, 2002

February 6, 2002

This what I saw yesterday morning. Yellow police tape near the Potomac River and across from the Kenedy Centerand a body lying on the grass. There was no mention of it on the news.

February 5, 2002

David Coursey has been trying an iMac as a change from his devoted PC life and writing about the experience. Coursey has been enjoying his iMac after one week and hints he may not go back.

February 4, 2002

There is a void of technology based television shows these days. I miss seeing and hearing what is new in technology, well maybe not. I have become very addicted to's video snippets. One does need more than a dial-up modem to really love the streaming video. Seeing and hearing discussions, views from the exhibition hall floors (like LinuxWorld tour) and seeing leaders in their field and market discuss the topics of the day (like HP CEO, Carly Fiorina discuss HPs Linux strategy) really bring to life the news.'s news anchors really help get the most out of their guests. The video stream uses Real technology, which has its plusses and minuses, but it provides a great clean stream of the mostly talking heads and techology demonstrations.

January 29, 2002

The Wall Street Journal rolled out a major redesign this today. The site was cleaner and easier to read than the prior version. Most of the remaining graphical buttons have been completely replaced with text hyperlinks in this new version. The switch to text really helps with quick page builds, as it has for every other site that has envoked them over the past two or three years. The WSJ has also made more of its personalization tools more prominant. The personalization tools have been amazing for anybody looking for breadth and depth on business news. A couple years ago I realized I could no long find anything in the print version of the WSJ as it is so easy in the online version. Now that statement will be harder to overcome.

January 27, 2002

I stumbled across Metropole Paris, a weekly 'zine about Paris (in English) in quasi-weblog style. The writing, stories, and photos are enjoyable in a friendly manner.

January 5, 2002

Every now and then and obituary showcases what one can do in life. The death of Alfred Heineken is one of those times. Freddy had reach in that the Nigerian Guardian and South China Post, among others, had enough interest to publish obits. Heineken beer and brand are parts of 170 different countries around the world. Heineken owns 110 different breweries in 50 different countries. Freddy said he was "not selling beer, but warmth".

The Heineken site is providing a Condolence Register for people to leave messages. Many of these speak warmly of the man.

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