Archive for December, 2008

Neiman Reports – Special edition on the future of digital journalism

In the Winter 2008 issue, Harvard’s Nieman Reports provides special coverage of a hot topic: trends in digital journalism. The issue, entitled The Search for True North: New Directions in a New Territory, features 39 articles by veteran journalists, academics and students, regarding the massive changes and competitive threats the industry is dealing with as it considers its future.  Below are some of the key comments I found as I perused the issue. I have provided links so you can read the entire passage. I highly recommend it.

Katie King in Journalism as a Conversation

  • “Many editors, including me, hesitate to consider a young journalist’s resumé unless they have a blog or some sort of social media site that will demonstrate their ability to report, write, use multimedia, interact appropriately with readers and, most importantly, think.”
  • “There is a human cost to any revolution. The printing press put out of work a lot of monks skilled in the art of lettering exquisite hand-made bibles. A unique skill was lost, or marginalized, but in exchange we gained nothing less than the flowering of knowledge and education of the masses, creating the fertile ground in which democracy has since flourished.”

Ron Yaros in Digital Natives: Following Their Lead on a Path to a New Journalism

  • “PICK defines multimedia as an environment (i.e. a full page or entire Web site) where multiple elements—hypertext, video, slideshows, blogs, forums, graphics and animation—are presented with text and personalized to the user.”  PICK is Personalization (preferred content), involvement (interest and interactivity) and contiguity (coherence of text, graphics, animation, etc). Reduce or avoid “Kick-outs,” things that terminate attention. “The most obvious kick-out is a broken link, but others include too much text, lengthy video, pop-up windows, unfamiliar terms, confusing graphics, or interactive animation that’s too complex.”
  • “A Web page might look appealing, but research in the United Kingdom tells us that users take approximately 50 milliseconds to form an opinion about a page.”

Don Tapscott in Net Geners Relate to News in New Ways

  • “The interactive nature of the digital world influences how Net Geners absorb information, too. They want a two-way conversation, not a lecture—from a teacher, a politician, or a journalist. They like to contribute to the conversation.”
  • “Digital immersion can be good for the brain. To Google effectively, a person has to ask a good question, construct a search, and weed out stuff that’s irrelevant. The next step is to evaluate what’s been found, synthesize it, and form a view. All of this entails constructing one’s own story rather than following the line of thought drawn by someone else.”

Robert Niles  in Passion Replaces the Dullness of an Overused Journalistic Formula

  • “They (students)  wanted me to know that they really, really hated TV news. And what these journalism majors disliked the most was feeling as though they had to follow the formula drafted by local and network television news. Give’em The Onion online, or Jon Stewart on cable. When my students were given free reign to produce their own video news stories, they gleefully churned out YouTube videos filled with sharp, snarky comment.”
  • “When I asked them what they liked about “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” and others like it, several said its “honesty.” They admired its fearlessness in calling out newsmakers as liars and hypocrites.”
  • “Passion makes people work harder. It drives bloggers to post 20 times a day, seven days a week, answering e-mails and IM’ing readers throughout the day and night. Passion drives online community members to read through hundreds of online documents, to interview sources, and to organize rallies to investigate and report issues important to their personal lives and local communities. Passion breeds expertise.”
  • “What they embrace is genuine storytelling, even when such stories are told with less than perfect production values. Indeed, slick production has become so closely associated in their minds with cynical storytelling that they now prefer video reports with a more amateur feel.”

Luke Morris in Accepting the Challenge: Using the Web to Help Newspapers Survive

  • “The newspaper optimists know recent grads are the best equipped to save newspapers, and they’ll be willing to hire those who show the potential to keep newspapers afloat.”
  • “Host of the video blog Wine Library TV and business and social media mogul Gary Vaynerchuk often tells people that every successful Web site excels in what he calls the two “Cs”—content and community. For him, content comes in the form of his video blog about wines. Vaynerchuk capitalizes on the community side by including his followers in a lot of his operation; in fact, he makes his Web site completely open to his viewers.”
  • “Every time someone tells me that wanting to get a job in a newspaper is a dumb idea, it motivates me even more to prove them wrong. And I believe there are plenty of young people like me who want to be part of the reason that newspapers will survive. We’re ready to take what we know from our use of the Internet and apply it to whatever we can do to keep newspapers afloat.”

Steven Smith in Adding Young Voices to the Mix of Newsroom Advisors

  • “Old-think was not helping us to staff our various platforms. Bold new ideas were required, and to get them we’d need to tap the energy and smarts of staffers traditionally left on the sidelines. What little hiring we’d been able to do in the past few years had brought into the newsroom some of the brightest young staff members with whom I’d ever worked.” – plan put in place, but then blown up by corporate mandated layoffs.
  • Ideas about engaging young staffers in the process – http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reportsitem.aspx?id=100684 and Gang of Eight recommendations – http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reportsitem.aspx?id=100685

Mark Briggs in The End of Journalism as Usual

  • “Instead, it’s about creating “social capital” by becoming the “trusted center” within a structure of relationships through digital communication. French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu suggested social capital can be developed through purposeful actions and then transformed into conventional economic gains. This concept very closely aligns to the traditional business model for news of generating revenue based largely on a public service.”
  • “To maximize a news organization’s social capital and marketability, its journalism today must be transparent, authentic and collaborative. This is why blogs and Twitter work for news organizations. Neither will replace traditional journalism, and that shouldn’t be the objective. These new digital tools bring journalists closer to readers and readers closer to journalism by removing barriers to a more networked conversation.”

Kenneth Kosick in The Wikification of Knowledge

  • I liked the heading “An External Hard Drive for the Brain” (it’s consistent with McLuhan’s idea of technology as an “extension of man”)

Persephone Miel  in Media Re:public: My Year in the Church of the Web – “Participatory media is whenever the people formerly known as the audience help shape the media environment, whether by commenting or recommending, sorting or reporting.”

Bill Adee in Digging Into Social Media to Build a Newspaper Audience (reflections on Chicago Tribune’s Colonel Tribune project) –

  • “Roughly 40 percent of the traffic arrives at chicagotribune.com when a user types our URL into a browser or goes to a bookmarked page.The other 60 percent? That traffic comes via search engines, Web sites, and blogs. On a typical day in early 2008, Google was our No. 1 source of outside traffic, followed by Yahoo! (#2), CareerBuilder (#3), Fark (#10), The New York Times (#20), and Facebook (#47). In all, more than 4,000 sites sent users our way—with 350,000 different clicks.”
  • “That question led to our “Project O.” The “O” was for search-engine and social media optimization and for Owen—as in Owen Youngman, the Chicago Tribune vice president who championed and funded the group tasked with spreading our content to the rest of the Web.”
  • “We decided to start by focusing on a few social media sites—Facebook, Twitter, Fark, Reddit and Digg.”
  • “Can a mainstream news site become part of the social media scene? Absolutely, yes. But be warned. To do this requires having the same kind of great team I had: Facebook-savvy youth, an innovative Web staff, and an extremely supportive newsroom.”

Nancy San Martin in Engaging the Public in Asking Why We Do What -“No longer do I enter the newsroom believing that readers have tuned us out. Perhaps it is we who have tuned them out by creating too great a distance between them and us.”

John Byrne in Suggest a Topic – and Content Flows to It

  • “Newspapers die hard—and the obituaries over the next few years are likely to make us think of massive casualties in a war. Strip out the classified business, and you’ll find that magazines face many of the same problems as newspapers: ever rising paper (and for us even worse postage) costs, the swift migration of advertising from print to Web, the inability of online revenues to offset the decline of print ads, and often declining readership. Yet as bad as the newspaper business has fared to date, some observers say magazines are even further behind the transition.”
  • “Context is as important today as content. It may, in fact, be the new king on the throne. That’s because the world is evolving into niche communities, organized around individual interests and passions. Keeping your audience deeply engaged in the journalism you do is necessary to induce loyalty to your brand.”

Tim Kennedy in No Time Left for Reluctant Transformers

  • “Strip away the research jargon, and what that means is that young people around the world today are more likely to connect to the latest news through e-mail, search or text messaging than through old media channels.”
  • “The model that emerged from our anthropology study helped to frame the task ahead by splitting the news into its fundamental ‘atomic’ pieces of Facts, Updates, Back Story, and Future Story. That sets up a mission to create and connect the essential parts of a next-generation news report, much as the old ‘inverted pyramid’ established a framework for newspaper writing.”
  • “Chief among those initiatives is a fundamental new process for newsgathering in the field called ‘1-2-3 filing.’ The name describes a new editorial workflow that requires the first words of a text story to be delivered in a structured alert (headline format) to be followed by a short, present-tense story delivering the vital details in step two. Then, in a final step, a story takes whatever form is appropriate for different platforms and audiences—a longer form story or analysis for print, for example. Other media types are coordinated along the way in similar fashion.”

John Hassel in Live Web Cast – From a Newspaper’s Newsroom

  • “We played around with a TelePrompTer, then realized it was killing the sense of spontaneity.”
  • “Newspapers have the talent to do new and innovative things in the digital sphere, and they still have the reporting resources to deliver a depth of coverage that is unmatched in most markets. The future belongs to those who are willing to experiment, to evolve, to fail quickly when they do fail and to move on, even as disaster waits at the door.”

Michael Rosenblum in Video News: The Videojournalist Comes of Age – “When anyone can pick up a video camera, shoot a story and post it on the Web, then the ‘TV professionals’—an oxymoron, to be sure—are no longer so special. No, they aren’t. If we profess to believe in a free press, then it doesn’t make sense to get freaked out when a free press actually starts to emerge. A.J. Liebling wrote, ‘Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.’ Today, pretty much anyone can own the means to report and produce video news. To which I say, ‘Good.’ It’s going to get very competitive out there, and it’s about time it did.”

I think what I find most enlightening about these reports is that they consistently value the input of young reporters. This shows particular hope for a new generation of reporters to know that their opinions will be respected and that they can be immediately part of a strategy for change. I also like the entrepreneurial spirit and the discussion of news as a conversation. We are really posed for a new era of communication in which broad participation is possible, and that’s an amazing opportunity.

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Saving Newspapers

Merry Christmas everyone. Just getting caught up on some news here. I made a post the other day entitled Trouble in the Newspaper Biz, in which I discussed some proposed business models for the newspaper industry to try. Some other interesting articles have come out in the past few days.  Joel Brinkley in How To Save the Newspaper Industry in the San Francisco Gate proposes that the government consider an antitrust exemption that would allow newspapers in a particular area to “collude” on a pricing structure that will allow them to charge for their Web site content. While I give Brinkley points for creativing, I don’t really think that gets to the heart of the problem.  For general news, people have gotten used to getting their news from a variety of sources, either by visiting many Web sites or by aggregating sources with RSS.  People will be hesitant to commit by locking themselves in to one or two sources.  Not to mention that there would be ways that important news would get out in other free sources, like blogs, the Daily Show or other options. Giving an antitrust exemption is a worse use of our government than a bailout. It sets a bad precedent for other industries that will suddenly want to create oligopolies and collude on pricing. Mark Potts on the Recovering Journalist blog seems to agree with me in his “Grasping at Straws” post. In regard to niche businesses, he thinks: “There are some potentially interesting models for newspapers to create paid premium products around niche verticals like exclusive business information, but those aren’t going to be major businesses.”

I think that newspapers need to get comfortable with “free” business models. It’s not like they haven’t been using one as a primary revenue source all along. Advertising is a model in which the people who read the paper don’t pay (or they pay a small amount for a subscription) while others subsidize by placing ads in order to get the attention of the readership. It’s worked for newspapers, TV and other media for decades (centuries).  But, newspapers are crying that the ad model isn’t the same on the Web, that they can’t generate the same amount of income that way.  I don’t believe it. There are two elements to this. The first is that there is no single ad model online, but many, many creative strategies for advertising in niches. Newspapers just haven’t done a good enough  job of that yet. And, then the second is all the efficiency available in the Web delivery model. You can’t tell me that you can’t make money in a system in which you severely reduce (or completely eliminate) expensive costs such as printing, paper, distribution and home delivery.  We just happen to be at a point where newspapers have not completely achieved those efficiencies yet, so profit is lagging.

The Media Futurist blog gives 10 Quick Ways to Reinvent Print Media. I agree. I think it is much more productive to think in terms of decentralizing assets, encouraging participation, aggregate content, engage mobile, and the other strategies in this article, than it is to encourage the industry to hang on to an antiquated business model with an antitrust exemption. The most interesting of the items in the Media Futurist post is #10. “Dive into Freemium models. Give me something for free that represents real value to me, but costs you very little. And please, upsell me from there – to all the other good stuff you have to offer.” Freemium was one of the models that Chris Anderson mentions. Storage is so cheap, you can afford to give some things away, while developing a community around other things you can sell.

Jeff Jarvis, on his Buzz Machine Blog, has been dealing with these issues. In a recent post entitled “Downbeat,” he reveals the dark inevitability of these changes, the out of work journalists that it is creating.  It is always sad when people lose their jobs, particularly those who seem to sacrifice for the greater good. But, newspapers are a business, and they must be run as such. Any business that meets with competitive threat or changing technologies is expected to adapt or die. As an instructor of budding journalists, I continue to convey to students the value of being a strong communicator, and that their journalism degrees will be highly valued, but probably not in the ways they traditionally think. They might not be a newspaper reporter, but there will be a lot of opportunity for people who understand technology and associated business models AND know how to communicate. You might not work for the NY Times or the Washington Post (or you might), but someone will value these skills and pay you for them. They will be particularly interested in your ability to be flexible and adapt. Jarvis, in his “Hope” post, also offers some suggestions from Edward Roussel for improving the business model: narrowing the focus, approaching news from a variety of angles including multimedia and audience engagement, outsource non-editorial expenses (like ad sales to Google), and above all, experiment.  That’s great advice, try new things and don’t be afraid to fail. Most of these things are free or cheap to try out, starting Twitter accounts, engaging comments on blogs, etc.

On another series of posts, Jarvis talks about a highlight of recent news, that the LA Times has been able to generate fairly substantial online revenue. In LA Times followup, Jarvis posts comments from editor Russ Stanton regarding the secrets to their success, including hiring Web resources, focusing on blogging, and most importantly, providing education to the staff, things like how to post to the Web, how to shoot and edit video, and how to write headlines that work for SEO.

The bottom line, is that newspaper companies need to stop worrying about saving newspapers and start thinking about reinventing themselves as media companies, regardless of the medium of delivery. Focus on providing good content wherever it is needed and use paper when it is appropriate, not just because that’s always been your business.

Some important research came out this week. A Pew Study indicates that more people get their news from the Internet than newspapers (Internet Overtakes Newspapers as News Source). Television, however, is still cited by 70% as their primary source, but for younger people, is being rivaled by the Internet as well. HubSpot.com did a State of the Twittersphere report, indicating strong growth in users and follower trends (Most, 24%, have between 11 and 25 followers). A presentation is embedded at the end of the TechCrunch post.

And, the Nieman Reports from Harvard has 30 articles in its Winter 2008 edition that cover various aspects of digital journalism. I plan to read all of them, just not today…

Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be having this conversation about the magazine industry in the near future. On the New York Observer,  John Koblin explains, “At Newspapers, It’s 2.0 Steps Forward, 1.0 Steps Back.” Many magazines are ignoring the Web. Magazines think they’re immune, but some of the most forward thinking are making Web changes. Many are going to Web only, and using print to make special, annual issues.  I agree, use print to make something beautiful, a collectors’s item, not something meant to be disposable.  Look at where No Depression is going, publishing a “bookazine” once per year. It’ll be a beautiful coffee-table piece. Or, the Christian Science Monitor, which is going completely on the Web, except for its Sunday edition, when readers can mull over the paper and take it in at their leisure.  This is in sync with the way I read newspapers. The only subscription I have is for the Sunday NY Times. Everything else I get online. But, I do look forward to Sunday morning, when I can go out and pick up the Times, dive in and percolate in it for a while. It feels very luxurious, like going to a spa. But, who has time for that on a daily basis? And, honestly, I think the reduced frequency increases my fascination with it. It is something to which I look forward, a part of my weekend routine that definitely relaxes me and improves my well-being.

And, just some food for thought. Sometimes it’s good to look to other industries for ideas.  MediaPost has “IPG: Digital Will Impact 5 Key Areas Next Year.”IPG Emerging Media Labs identifies five trend areas to watch next year related to browsers, conversation, transmission, retail and consumer tech.” I liked this line: “The new ROI is Return on Involvement.”

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Converting Defeatist Students to Passionate Users

In the fall 2008 edition of the AEJMC Communication Technology newsletter, Jacob Groshek, Teaching Chair, wrote a very thought-provoking piece entitled “Hands On, Minds Off: Engaging Defeatist Students in Learning Technology.” In it, he described the challenges of teaching technology skills labs, when one or more students seemed to be paralyzed by the material.  He said, “It happens every semester. During a technical skills lab, a student will raise his hand, ask for help on his project and then remark, ‘I can’t do it.'” He asked for feedback on the AEJMC blog site, so I will cross post, both there and here. I can definitely relate. I have taught Web design since 2001 (first at The University of Texas and now at Texas State University), and every semester, there are always a few students for whom I have to engage with some extra effort and encouragement. And, honestly, all students, at many points in the semester, need a little nudge with troubleshooting a particular problem. I spend a good deal of time on this activity. And, over the years, I have developed several strategies to assist students in overcoming their technology paralysis.

1. Groshek mentioned that even after providing step-by-step handouts, some students are hesitant to even try Step 1. I have seen this.  I teach, like many others,  in a classroom in which students are assembled around a central table with computers around the periphery. My procedure in skills training is to have everyone’s attention while I go over a portion of the exercise. The students are not following along on the computer, they are watching.  I find that this provides a better perspective of the entire lesson than having the students follow along step-by-step. This also allows me to cover the section and then let the students tackle the skill at their own speed.  I can walk around the room and assist those that need help, while students who catch on quickly can try the skill at different levels. I encourage them try things once, then to continue experimenting, i.e. in working with Flash, upon accomplishing a single tween (moving objects across the screen), trying it again with different effects on multiple objects in different layers. I emphasize experimentation, repeating throughout the semester that they should try new things and not be afraid to break anything.

2. On my course Web sites, in addition to the handouts, I provide video tutorials that go over step-by-step, exactly what the student is expected to cover in the lesson (I use SnapZPro to make the tutorials, very easy).  When a student is struggling with a topic, I will often suggest watching the videos, starting, stopping, and replaying as need be, before I will sit down with them for a marathon review. That is always a last resort.

3. I am also very explicit in the project assignments, detailing exactly the things that students must accomplish. The grade sheet for each project reflects these details.  This sets proper expectations and rewards for a particular assignment, so there is no confusion or ambiguity.

4. Absences are killers in a technical lab class. Many of my strategies have been developed to provide self-directed resources for students who miss class to be able to catch up on their own. I have specific policies in the syllabus that state that neither I nor any teaching assistants (if I have them) will go over an entire lesson. The student is to download handouts and watch any video tutorials before coming to the next class period. Granted, they almost never do that, but when they do show up after an absence and have that sad, lost look on their faces, the first thing I do is direct them to those resources.

5. I am very explicit about what kinds of questions I will address. “I’m lost” is not a question, and “Did I miss anything yesterday?” is always replied to with a “yes, of course you did,” then they are directed to the class site to catch up with handouts and tutorials.  Students are instructed to ask specific questions, and if they cannot, they need to spend some time considering exactly what they are trying to do, so they can articulate a question. I mention this throughout the semester. I will respond to things like, “I tried to insert a link on the page, and I don’t know why it is not working” or “Which tool is the best to use to select the background on this image?” I also have no problem (and enjoy very much) helping a student strategize about design and functionality decisions.

6. Many times a student’s problems are due to a lack of vision for a project. I encourage students (and often provide class time) to sketch their ideas on paper before embarking on the computer. That way, they can visualize what they are trying to accomplish and break things down into the separate elements that they need to do to complete the project: create a logo, design buttons, modify a stylesheet, etc. This also allows me to better help them by understanding exactly where they want to go.

7. Finally, and this is probably the best strategy, I encourage students to help one another. I try to create an open lab environment that makes students comfortable in asking questions and seeking help. Sometimes that help comes best from the person sitting right next to you. Just watching them do a particular skill or asking them a quick question is often more efficient than waiting for the instructor to make her way over. I try to be aware of situations in which a student may be monopolizing too much of a charitable student’s time, as well, to make sure that their projects are not suffering by helping another.

I continue to set higher expectations throughout the course of the semester that students should do their own troubleshooting. I tell them that I will often answer a question with a question. For example, “Can you help me figure out why this link doesn’t work?” would be responded to with, “What happens when you click on the link?” or “Did you check the code and make sure you have all the proper syntax, including lowercase file names and opening and closing quotation marks?” By letting them know that I will be responding to them as such, they are prepared for these responses and know that I am not just trying to be short or smart with them.

Another thing that I reinforce throughout the semester is that these are not easy skills to learn, that they are learning a lot of material, and that they should be proud of all they have accomplished.  I repeat that these are critical skills that will be highly valued in the workplace. I try to make the environment as much fun and creative as possible, and I seek, above all, stealing a phrase from the inspiring technologist Kathy Sierra, to create “passionate users.” There is nothing I enjoy more than hearing the squeals of delight from around the room as students get things to work and gain confidence in their usage of technology. This, of course, applies to all students, but is particularly relevant for female students, who often have trouble envisioning themselves being creative with technology or seeking technology careers.

You can visit my course sites to get an idea of the types of resources I provide to students. Visit my Web Design course site at www.cindyroyal.com/webdesign.  I’d love to hear others’ ideas on this subject. Granted, these strategies have not completely eliminated my need to assist some students more than others, but they do provide a framework from which students can move from screen paralysis to passionate user. There is nothing more rewarding than to be a part of that process.

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Trouble in the Newspaper Biz

The semester is finally over, and there are a slew of articles that I wanted to comment on. We all know that the news business is in trouble, trying to remake itself in this online world (welcome to 1996, news business) and figuring out ways it can stay profitable with new business models.  Mark Glaser of Media Shift presented a comprehensive article entitled “Your Guide to Alternative Business Models for Newspapers,” including some models that are “borrowed from other types of media.” I think that’s key. It’s important to get ideas from innovators in other fields. He also states that there won’t be a “silver bullet,” another thing that I think is important, because there will be many ways to make money online, not just one recipe for success. Here are the models he discussed: blog networks – aggregate blogs of staffers and generate more page views and run targeted ads that are focused on particular topics; classified networks – need to offer more services, super-charge listings and add extras galore to entice people back to pay; crowdfunding – have audience make payments to support a particular beat or project, the way bloggers get support from their audience; customized papers – lots of organizations do custom publishing of print products, use print for what it is good for, making beautiful specialized publications (I like the idea of making a platform for users to make their own ad-based publications); hyperlocal ads – must put staffers in neighborhoods and encourage conversation to be successful; local portal – newspapers create local portals for info and entertainment (“need to become the trusted source of listings in a community”);  multimedia ads – run ads on audio and video content;  niche sites – create sites for moms, etc. can bring new audiences online, advertise in these niches; non-profit – support local journalism with grants, donations and sponsorships, Poynter has done this with the St. Petersburg Times, NPR, PBS; paid content – charge for premium, very specialized content, let a few pay for the many.

This all reminds me of Chris Anderson’s Free article in Wired earlier this year (March 08), working on an upcoming book. Check out  his blog at www.thelongtail.com (his earlier ground-breaking book is The Long Tail).  The Web provides a unique scale that allows organizations to give certain things away for free, build a community around that, and then charge for other things.  In a recent issue of Wired, Clive Thompson in “How T-Shirts Keep Online Content Free” mentioned local (right here in Austin) Burnie Burns of Red vs. Blue fame and how they were able to give away their hilarious Halo-based Webisodes and support themselves by selling T-shirts with the funny quotes on them. Burnie got the idea of community, create a fanatical one and then sell them things.

Very related to this, the Bivings Group came out with a report entitled “The Use of the Internet by America’s Largest Newspapers.” The study shows that many newspapers are experimenting with user-generated content (58% up from 24% in 2007) mostly photos and about 10% were providing social networking tools (only 5% in 2007).  Seventy-six percent are offering Digg-like popularity views of content. Most are using contextual ads and many (43%) are using interstitial ads (ads displayed before you can get content).  All newspapers sites surveyed offered RSS feeds of their content. The number of sites requiring registration decreased. Not surprised.  I also go somewhere else if I have to register for any basic content. Tech Crunch provides a synopsis with graphs.

Was following, with great interest,  on Twitter (search #kdmc) the work at the Knight Center for Digital Media this week. They were having their Technology Tools workshop, and it sounded like they crammed some good info into those journalists’ heads. I was stealing ideas right and left, Widgetbox,(any widget you’d want for just about any platform)  ZeeMaps (turn a spreadsheet into a map), and all the Knight Tutorials (mashups, Google Maps, Flash Templates, Audio Recorders and more). I hope to be able to attend this workshop sometime in the future.

And, while I was on Twitter, one of the people I follow @annatauzin (former student) sought ideas for the J-Lab’s Cool Stuff page. I didn’t know about it. It’s a great page for finding examples of maps and interactives, lots on the 2008 election. It’s a great resource for class examples. Thanks Anna!

While we’re talking about Twitter, I liked Omar Gallaga’s (@omarg) post on Austin360.com about “What Not to Tweet.” As more people use Twitter, more offenses emerge.  I particularly dislike the rapid-fire tweets that Omar mentions and all the pimpin’ things that people do to promote themselves.  I had to lol when I read that Omar also dislikes anyone that has the word “maven” in their bio. Ha! I also dislike the use of private Twitter accounts, no profile, no bio, no link to personal site. Like Omar, it gives me no way to know if I should follow you.  He’s also got Twitter pet peeves that were contributed from readers.  It’s a good read.

In other online news, I thought it was interesting reading “Music Industry to Abandon Mass Suits.” Are they finally getting it that suing their customers is bad? That suing people who love their products so much that they can’t wait to get their hands on it (even illegally) was a terrible idea? The article says the industry “is searching for more effective ways to combat online music piracy.” Again, I have to say “Welcome to 1996.” It’s new approach: get ISPs to cooperate, get them to be part of the process of serving the offending customer, ask them to stop first.  The customer can get slower service or ultimately have access cut off. The music industry is like the news business. Figure out a way to create a community, which might include free music, then sell them something else, t-shirts, concert tix, exclusive content, fan club privileges … be creative. It’s a creative industry, isn’t it?

Sorry for the long post. I had a lot building up in my cue. Glad to get that off my chest. Most of these links can also be found at www.delicious.com/clroyal. Happy Holidays all!

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