Friday, October 30, 2009

"Americans Spend the Most on Saturdays" - Economix Blog -

Newspapers ought to focus on ways they can make the most of this. What could be added to the Saturday paper that would really make a difference?

"Offers for Travel Channel May Approach $1 Billion" - DealBook Blog -

The Weather Channel and the Travel Channel each began at a newspaper company.

"Calorie Count - Reach the People Who Count"

I think it is great that this is being done by a newspaper company - The New York Times Co. - but it is such a shame that what is described here is not linked in any meaningful way with any of the sites or content of The New York Times.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Mon journal offert: un abonnement gratuit pour les jeunes de 18-24 ans"

This is pretty discouraging when you think about it. France offers to underwrite a year's subscription to any one of 59 daily newspaper (one day/week). It is free to anyone 18-24 who signs up. They expect 200,000 will take advantage of the offer and in fact, that's the cut off point; 4,800,000 who are also eligible will not. That's really startling.

In order to sign up, you go to this incredibly-slow-to-load site!

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Editorial - The Cover-Up Continues" -

I share the huge disappointment in the Obama Administration on these matters and hope that they will understand why they are simply taking the wrong position on these matters. It is not too late to change. If they wait much longer, little will be accomplished in doing so other than doing the right thing. Acting now opens up so many other positive opportunities.

"BeMoved Coffee Machine makes you work for it" -

Another great fusion of coffee and news! (Note that while you are jumping up and down to get your coffee, that you can also get some "news".)

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Can a Customized Newspaper Survive the Demise of Print?" - TIME

This is really not a very new idea, but to their credit, these entreprneurs are putting it into action. Like so many experiments, the real value to the rest of us is watching someone else try and learning from their success or....

Computers v. cars

I saw a piece the other day in The New York Times saying that Americans no longer have much brand loyalty when it comes to cars.

That got me thinking about computers which I think have become the new cars.

Each of us feels compelled to consider getting a new one regularly because the technology changes and the featuers are supposed to improve. That's the pitch that historically has been made for buying a new car.

And, I think we have an alliance divide as we used to have with foreign/domestic when it came to cars. Now it is Mac/PC.

And within whichever group one falls, I sense that people are a lot more attached to their computer brand than to their car make!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Lighter, cheaper, LED light bulbs are starting to enter the marketplace" - Home/Garden - News & Observer

I added this comment to this story, but since the newspaper will not let me change my Member ID nor will it allow me to edit, the text below included two typo corrections:

"This is a good story, and there is no reason that the N&O should not be carrying good journalism from another newspaper. That makes perfect sense.What is hard to understand - given all of the money and smart thinking that has been spent on newspaper websites, why it is that the web page on which this article appears makes not a mention of a) any other coverage of LED issues by the N&O and/or b) the local company, Cree, one of the leaders in this field - It just seems intuitive to do that, but in the world of automated websites, intuition may lose.(I have no connection whatsoever to Cree.)"

How do we wind up in 2009 with newspapers still looking as though they are doing web experiments on the weekends in somebody's garage instead of the thoroughly professional and flawless operations that they should be?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why is searching for what you want to find so hard?

With all of the millions of bits and bytes that have been spent on discussing search and search engines, the Google and Yahoo! phenomena, etc., why is it so hard to find what you want on most newspaper sites and, really, most sites of any kind? Is it because the people who organize them don't think like the rest of us? Is it becasue they or others don't care or are lazy? I don't know.

On The New York Times website, I am repeatedly stymied when I see something in print that I want to access on the site and cannot find through search. It appears that the searchable words from articles are somebody's (or som computer's) choices and they don't start from the premisu of someone with a piece of newsprint in her or his hand and wanting to find the same online. Try it a few times and you will see what I mean.

Much more important on so many levels is the inabilty to pursue any print advertising online or to find online advertising after you have left a pages. I am not saying something as dumb as a searchable file of PDFs of print ads; no, something more creative than that. Where is the place in the NYT site where I can go to pursue the interest inthe advertiser that was prompted by its print ad? I don't know of any such place. And for online ads, I twice saw a banner this morning with this in it "see how easy online printing really is", but I did not catch the advertiser and I did not click. How do I find what that was?? I know of no way to do this and it's as though the people organizing this at the Times and beyond never expect someone to see the ad and actually be interested in it, but maybe a few seconds after seeing it. Astounding notion!

Monday, October 19, 2009

"How to Hype Your Tiny Social Network in the New York Times" - Foursquare - Gawker

There may be something to this critique of The New York Times story, but take a look at the people who have commented. At least, I think they are people. They all seem to belong to a Posters Anonymous cell that chooses really weird names and icons to represent its members. What happened to the idea of posting a comment and putting your real name on it? Perhaps that, too, will come again. I hope so and soon.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"India Education - Plagiarism"

Given the ease with which most things in the web can be copied and pasted, it is a wonder that we are not talking much more about plagiarism everywhere. Perhaps we should be.

You have to wonder how many things we read today had their origins not primarily in the mind of the alleged writer but rather in some words that she or he found somewhere, edited just enough to make it look semi-orginal. Imagine what a lot of writing today would look like if there were a color code for pasted words from the web and we could see them if we chose to do so.

"Digital Domain - Broadband Access, Yes, but Some Don’t Subscribe" -

This piece makes a good point that deserves a lot more study. I would add to it another missing piece of analysis -- for all those who have a broadband connection in place, what, exactly, have they used it to has it improved their lives or the lives of their communities?

"Rebranding America" -

My fellow Irishman, Bono, has said all of this so well. I could not agree more, and commend his words to your eyes.

"Held by the Taliban - A Times Reporter’s Account. A Five-Part Series by David Rohde" - Series -

I just posted this comment on The New York Times website. It should appear here:

"In the midst of all of the discussions underway about the future of newspapers, one might be expected to say that David's (yes, I do know him) reporting is one of the reasons why newspapers like the Times are so important. I do say that. He has risked much on many occasions to bring home to each of us the \"story\". That is critically important and we should all be appreciative of what he has done and what the Times and the Christian Science Monitor have allowed him to do in the past.
There is another aspect to this, moreover, that I think is worth mentioning. In this interconnected and always \"on\" world in which we seem to live, I think we need to have more discussions about what information we would like to have and then what we do with what we get, and what the differences are among the various places from which we might get stories.
This is not to say that we need to value the Times above all others, although it deserves to be above most for many reasons. What is important is that we use something like this magnificent reporting of David's experience to better put in perspective the information needs not just of us personally, but of the people around us at any moment... and how, having gotten information we value, what we do with what we have received and learned.
How, in the end, do we use the stupendous tools at our disposal - ranging from David ROHDE through computers and satellites, etc. to the internet and all manner of consumption devices from newsprint to implants - to better understand ourselves and the lives around us?
David's series is a wonderful starting place for that discussion."

In so doing, I was reminded how few people comment on stories even in the Times. Most people who do wind up there for their own benefit and I suspect readership of these comments is quite low. Just like most blogs.

Is there not a neef for the Times to boost this some? A guide to being published on the NYT website, for example? If you register for TimesPeople, that helps, it seems. Do a search on my name, for example, and you will see the couple of comments that I have posted. Perhaps I will post more there.


I think it may be time to put away words like privacy and talk more about how we all just get along.

Today's The New York Times carries a discussion of some sort - I have not read it yet - about electronic records and whether there are adequate privacy "safeguards", another word I think deserves some sleep.

I am reminded of learning a long time ago about how juries worked at the beginning here and elsewhere. Jurors were picked not because they knew nothing about the accused or the parties in the case, but rather were picked because they were ordinary citizens of the community who may very well know much about the case, about the parties, etc. That was the idea behind a jury of ones "peers".

Now, we try to seal ourselves into artificial and pretty uncomfortable cocoons with layers of HIPAA (or whatever the initials are), yelling and screaming about our rights to privacy, and just fear of the people around us.

Well, I think it is time to recognize that we are all probably better off if we know a lot more about one another and are ready to help us all deal with our many problems.

We are better off knowing that a neighbor takes a special medicine in case an emergency arises.

We are better off knowing that someone is buying too much alcohol and that maybe someone ought to ask why.

We are better off knowing that the kid down the street has been arrested twice for speeding.

We are better off knowing that the person three streets over was convicted of a crime 5 years ago.

Sure, there are "privacy" arguments to the contrary, but they are arguments of principle for the most part and largely knee-jerk in their articulation.

The arguments in favor of all living better together are, in my mind, so much stronger. I think we should respect someone's wishes not to be bothered, but I'd rather have the facts about why we want might want to bother someone than to have it happen on fear and speculation as is usually the case today.

Let's substitute family for privacy and try to live like one.

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Love him, hate him: Your reaction?" --

This is very well stated. We all - especially those of us who never do - ought to watch Glen BECK once in a while so we see and hear what he is saying. Then, if we disagree, we ought to say something about to anyone who will listen.

The idea of so many people being so ignorant is really scary. There are huge numbers of people in the US whose views would frighten us, and we usually don't want to realize this, and we certainly don't want to be with them. But if we fail to listen, and answer bad speech with good, or at least inaccurate with truthful, I think more people win than if we pretend these people don't exist. They do.

"Big surprise: Tabloids will publish anything, don't fact-check" - Editors Weblog

Alas, I think many people will see this and say, "that's right, and it's true of "my" newspaper as well". We see too many mistakes today in traditional newspapers - things that we know to be errors - to be able to dismiss this as a tabloid-only phenomenon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Emerging media not replacing e-mail" - Shaping the Future of the Newspaper Blog

Why this has been so hard to realize escapes me. Maybe it will change, but the idea of one person sending one message to another person or maybe a couple, is so simple and effective that I doubt we will see use diminish any time soon, absent some piece of technology that we have not yet seen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"New Italian task force will bombard the foreign press with good news about Italy" - Editors Weblog

I don't have any big problem with the idea that if someone, including a government, does not like what others are saying, the best response is to disagree and to say so by whatever media means are available. Those who see this as simply a propaganda ploy, which it may be, fail to appreciate that their response should be more "speech" of their own and less effort directed at restricting the voices of others. In other words, if Italy implements this and attempts to "correct" the Italian image with content that is not truthful or honest, or even where there is just another point of view, critics of BERLUSCONI and others should be organizing themselves to respond thoughtfully, accurately, and to build credibility and support along the way.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"The End of the Email Era" -

I am not at all convinced that the thesis of this story is correct. In fact, the write undermines the initial theory in fleshing out the story. Yes, all of the arguable alternatives to e-mail are growing, but the fundamentals of important messages remain the same and even the alternatives increasingly develop ways to do what e-mail traditionally has done. No doubt the process will evolve, but I believe for business and personal reasons, the strongest area will remain important communication between one person and another person, or maybe several. The rest is mostly show and entertainment, and that will be important in those fields, but will not affect our core communication needs, now well-served by e-mail and to be served in the future by various e-mail-type applications, I think.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

""Sell The Vatican Save The World": Sarah Silverman's Campaign To End Hunger"

As they say, this may offend some viewers, so be forewarned! But if you stop only at the headline, imagine how much more could be accomplished if "we" sold Israel as well, and put all of that money to work to cure the ills of the world! It this turned out to be a two-fer, imagine how much conflict in the world would likely go with the sale as well.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

"War on Terry" - Schott’s Vocab Blog -

Well, I guess it is good to know that I have a name that " simply a common or garden"!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Missed newspaper opportunities

I am going to give two examples of big missed opportunities at newspapers. Both examples are in French, from the Nice Matin newspaper serving Southeastern France. I don't mean to pick on them as the same applies to every newspaper I know.

The first is the story of a young Italian woman who was attacked in a local train restroom. She opened the door when she was inside because she thought it was the conductor. The assailant entered instead. It's a good story as far as it goes. What's missing, tho, is perhaps most important - what advice does the train operator, or others, give to people, mostly women, who are in a train restroom and someone knocks on the door? What could be more important than that and it is nowhere to be found?

The other is a story of a sewer backing up at a local school, something that happens regularly. Once again, a good story with some candid commentary by one mother. What's missing tho, again, is the most important - having reported on a stinky, messy, unhealthy problem, how do we the readers followup to know whether the problem got addressed and resolved?

I do not understand why there is such continued resistance to such service to customers.

Monday, October 05, 2009

"Still Fragile, Haiti Makes Sales Pitch" -

Why is is so hard for the US and its people to figure out a way to work with Haiti to improve everyone's lot in the process? Surely, if we had a state or a city in the US that looked like Haiti we would try to do something to help them as we did in New Orleans, for example. The situation in Haiti is far worse but that makes the need far greater and how can we turn a blind eye to the desperate plight of the people there?

Imagine if we aggressively chose to solve the twin challenges of the Caribbean - Cuba and Haiti. Imagine the accomplishment for the OBAMA Administration if that were to happen! If we worked on both together, and put our best creative minds to work on the problem, we surely can improve so many lives and end so much misery, can't we?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Driven to Distraction - At 60 M.P.H., Office Work Is a High-Risk Job - Series -

The only way that anyone should be using electronic devices while in a vehicle is when someone else is driving. The risk to the driver is for her or him to assume; if they do and are injured, they have contributed immensely and almost certainly to whatever they suffer. But it is unconscionable for public policy to allow them to conduct business and injure other people in the process.