Archive for June, 2008

Join the Social Media Party

I was impressed by this post on Social Media Today that critiqued the idea that social media is a “conversation.”  You hear that a lot, companies want to start or join the online conversation. But, Ray Augie, in this post, says it would be better to call it a party. And, it’s a party that is already going on.  So, he provides some tips based on helpful party etiquette to explain how one should behave at an online party.

Too many companies think they have some entitlement in these communities, if they merely show up, people will be impressed and shower them with praise. Consider the party guest that shows up late, dominates the conversation, and talks only about themselves.  Imagine being cornered by that goon. You’ll be checking your watch and talking about how you have to go home and walk your dog (whether you have one or not) in no seconds flat. This boorish behavior not ruins it for some, but it can also kill the whole party.   Augie’s best piece of advice is to participate in the conversation, which also includes LISTENING.

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Technology – Where The Jobs Are

At least that’s what Business Week is saying. Their advice, “Study computer science or engineering, and plan to move to a big city. ”  The article lists a number of metropolitan areas as leading in job growth and salary strength.  After Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Oakland, all in CA, Austin came in fourth in terms of salaries.

Now, I know many of you might not think this applies to communication majors. BUT IT DOES.  I’ve said this before, but communication is all about technology, and technology is all about communication.  And, you don’t really need to be a super Web design guru or hot-shot programmer to participate in this tech surge.

Here’s a quote from a recent email from a former student that works at Convio, here in Austin:

“I’ve been talking with some other folks in the internet software world that also do hiring and we all have the same problem which I thought you might find useful to pass on to your students. We are all looking for really good HTML and CSS people for front-end work. However, the people who are good at CSS and HTML are usually not looking for that kind of work and are really wanting to do PHP, javascript, AJAX etc. So there is a gap between the unqualified and the overly qualified if people just focus on getting really good at front-end languages.”

Lots of companies need the basics. They need people who understand the environment. They need people who are flexible and enthusiastic and willing to learn.  And, they need people who can communicate!

So, it’s not all gloom and doom out there.  Seize the day!

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Dan Gillmor Speaks

Here’s a great interview with Dan Gillmor, author of We The Media, about entreprenuerial journalism. In it he says, “The career ladder that people of my generation aspired to is in almost all cases is just not going to be available to them. But that should only be scary to people of my generation. If I were a 20-to-22-year-old right now, and contemplating the future of media, I would be ecstatic at the possibilities.”

So fear not, young journalists.  The future is yours for the taking. Just be willing to try new thing, take risks, and yes, sometimes fail.

Thanks to Robert Niles and his new blog for this interview!

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Free and Easy FTP Tools

I realized that I may not have mentioned these to everyone.  I know many of you use Fetch and are comfortable with it.  Some of you unfortunate PC users have WS-FTP, which has recently become available for free at

But, I also like FireFTP.  It’s an add-on for Firefox.  Go to and download it (it will make you restart Firefox).  Then, when it reopens, look for FireFTP under Tools.  You login by Creating an Account or using QuickConnect.

And, for FTP on the go, there’s  It’s a web-based FTP program.

Many hosts also offer the ability to FTP to your site via the Web, but I don’t think the doteasy accounts do that. So, the options above should help you through any FTP situation.

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A Look at the Future

Poynter has a great video by Brian Storm of MediaStorm about his take on the future of journalism. You might remember us watching the Media Storm video on National Geographic about elephant poaching (Ivory Wars) and Annie, the elephant that they tracked on the graphic. Brian does amazing work, well respected. But, I’m not sure I agree with everything he is saying.  While I agree that collaboration will be necessary to tell extensive stories, the current state of technology makes it pretty simple for journalists to be able to tell stories with a variety of tools.  If a story comes up, and you think it would be greatly enhanced with video, you should be able to handle that.  If it needs an interactive graph, you should at least be fluent enough to understand the potential of the technology, whether you make it in Flash yourself, or if you communicate that to a designer.  And, you need to understand the power of data-driven stories.  Users are enjoying and getting used to interacting with stories.  I do agree that experimentation at this point is very important. He talks about trying out widgets, using Facebook and other social networks, Apple TV, etc.

And, I got a fantastic job description from Aron Pilhofer at the NY Times.  It’s for an Interface Engineer, but don’t let that title scare you. Here are the requirements:

* Advanced Javascript abilities and AJAX experience.
* Expert-level CSS and HTML.
* Thorough understanding of cross-browser, front-end development issues
* Deep understanding of the principles of the concepts of web accessibility and user centered design/development
* Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
* CS degree or equivalent experience
* Ruby on Rails experience a plus

I honestly think this is a reasonable direction for a communication majors.  So, other than that CS degree qualification, these are the areas in which journalism majors should be comfortable. When I replied to Aron’s email and said I would spread the word, here’s what I got back:

“Hey Cindy,

I’d appreciate it if you did. We can go a lot of different directions with this position. We’d consider someone rather junior if that person displayed solid skills and enormous potential. So, please do, spread the word…

Thanks much, and talk to you soon!

Really gives you the idea that they are open to a variety of types of people, and it seems that the journalism/storytelling aspect is of the utmost importance.

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So long, OJR

I’m very sad to report that Online Journalism Review has been disbanded by USC’s Annenberg School.  It was a site that reported on new media, was really one of the first online communities to provide thoughtful coverage on the issues that are dramatically affecting the communications industries.  The editor, Robert Niles, did an amazing job, was always positive and open-minded, a great person to direct a community. Robert will continue blogging at (great name), although not at USC.  As for USC, they have jumped into bed with the Knight Center for its Digital Media Center.  Lots of info out there, blogs and seminars, so hopefully it will be able to adopt the same spirit that was present at OJR.

Archives will remain availabe at There’s lots of good stuff out there. Take a look see.

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McClatchy to slash 1400 jobs

McClatchy Co., the newspaper company that owns the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Miami Herald (and many other dailies), announced today that it will cut 1400 jobs in its organization. The cuts are in response to “today’s more competitive media environment.” I know this scares a lot of communication students and recent grads. But, these companies need to remain competitive. The thing they lack is new media expertise. The people who are performing in that area are bound to be safer than those who have ignored it or who have been slow to adopt. They need new people with fresh ideas. Be that person!

One of our TX State grad students Maira Garcia is interning at FW Star-Telegram this summer. Maybe she can comment on the professional climate up there.

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Old iMovie for New Computers

If you purchased a Mac in the past year or so, and it includes the new iLife ’08 package, you might have noticed that iMovie ’08 looks completely different. It’s really a different program, and a bit difficult to figure out. Maybe you just wish you could go back to the old iMovie HD (’06) version. Well, you can. Apple has a free download of it at:

It’s only for people who have ’08 installed. I guess lots of people were complaining. And, some features were missing, like the ability to speed up or slow down a clip.

I know this now makes my life a lot easier, allowing me to use my new super-fast computer with the old familiar iMovie.

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Rocketboom on Net Neutrality

One more, if you’re still a little unclear.

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Today’s Net Neutrality Lesson

Here’s another educational video on net neutrality:

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