October 2011 Archives
October 31, 2011
October 28, 2011
I am a journalist. I am married to a scientist. You can guess why I enjoyed this so much…
The journalist and the scientist are two species that inhabit the same ecosystem, but have very different behaviors. I have spent many years carefully observing both of these species in their natural habitats, and have compiled this guide for the use of anyone interested in understanding their social structures.
Well worth reading to kill those last few minutes before beer o'clock…
I've seen examples of the beautiful work being done in interactive ebooks for children. They depress me. Kids are in a world of their own and we seek ever more to make concrete things that would have lived in their imagination. Any graphic work is dead on screen compared to how it looks on paper.
This is the first time I've felt like this. I love digital media. They free us from clutter, from waste. But I don't think we have to be beholden to gadget manufacturers on books. I don't think we need to enter the dismal Kindle's annual upgrade curve. Books aren't a delivery medium, they're an art form. We forget that at our peril.
The shift to eBooks seems to have created a stronger nostalgia factor than music or movies did. But then, CDs were never as emotive a medium as LPs were, and the combined efforts of tape, minidisc and CD pretty much prepared the ground for MP3s to take root. And those of us who remember buying TV shows and movies on VHS video cassettes will remember what a dire format that was.
Books, though, shouldn't be entirely an either/or choice. I'm now buying the majority of my reading in digital form, but I still buy, love and enjoy owning well-priduced hardbacks. Digital should kill the paperback. I think great hardbacks, as objects we can enjoy intrinsically linked to their content, should have a great future.
I posted this on Twitter last week, but I think it's worth reposting here. Here's how FlightGlobal moves a whole chunk of its publishing operations to air shows, so they can maximise their coverage:
[via Runway Girl]
Rosie Niven comments on the BBC's attempts to get its staff to mix it up a little:
I’ve been in a few newsrooms now and while I applaud the attempt to get staff out of their fiefdoms and mixing with people on other desks, I can’t see how this heavy-handed policy is going to work.
Oddly enough, the lack of integration between, say, news and features desks is often a problem on print titles, that just gets exaggerated as you move towards digital. The web/print divide is just the latest in a very long line of cultural chasms that have littered our newsrooms. At least that's been my experience over the last couple of decades.
I'd be fascinated to know if anyone has every done any research into the psychology of journalists and why they can be both territorial and suspicious of change.
October 27, 2011
Given the eye-popping sales of the iPad, people are inclined to wonder out loud if tablets will "save" journalism. Wrong question. No platform or technology will "save" anything which depends so completely on the content and how good or bad it is.
- Doing three days of liveblogging and seeing your own site's traffic drop slightly is an odd experience
- Being isolated from the traffic stats of the blog you're writing for feels like blundering around in the dark. I had no idea if my work was having any resonance with the audience whatsoever. This makes me even more determined to make sure our journalists have easy access to blog stats as soon as we can.
- Being an "official" liveblogger as opposed to a guest one changes your mindset. I felt obligated to blog every speaker session that came up, when normally I'd pick and choose to give myself a break. Instead, I ended up skipping an immersive one day and a lunch the next for a little RnR and a battery charge.
- Not having power to the seat for liveblogging is a major handicap
- I was pretty much dead to the world each evening, hiding in the hotel and hitting the sack early to prepare myself for the next day.
- This was my longest continuous period working with WordPress, and I'd nearly convinced myself to switch this blog over when database errors started cropping up intermittently. That scared me off...
- It's interesting to not the differences between what live tweeters pick up, and what my liveblogging tends to emphasise.
October 26, 2011
Ziff Davis Enterprise has launched a new strategy called OmniDigital that will take the company all-digital with emphasis in four keys areas--traditional websites, mobile websites, tablets and digital editions.Revealing, and I think wise, choice of areas.
October 24, 2011
October 20, 2011
- The New Nature of the World - a series of talk about how we can cope and adapt to the changes technology brings.
- Is Every Company a Media Company? - a vigorous discussion on the new role of media, and exactly who counts
- A Mindset of Empowerment - three talks on how changing attitudes can change things in the real world
October 19, 2011
October 18, 2011
October 12, 2011
- Getting "digital first" right in the "newsroom" - a nice, detailed look at why this is a more complex idea than many people realise
- 10 ways journalists can use Twitter before, during and after reporting a story - does what it say on the tin
- Memo to newspaper: let your readers inside the wall - basically, a clarion call to do more reporting in collaboration with our readers, that applies to all forms of journalism just as much as newspapers
- An ex-Googler highlights what she thinks are the most important cultural lessons from the company - I'm midway through In The Plex right now, and am thinking a lot about issues like this...
October 10, 2011
October 9, 2011
October 8, 2011
Now, if I were any one of the major regional newspaper groups, I would be beating a path to the door of Starbucks to offer my, say, TrinityMirror (Cardiff) content for the 'portal' that has just opened up every time I open up my lap-top in a Cardiff Starbucks. It's a whole new way of finding your audience; that doesn't involve them buying a copy of the local newspaper from the grizzled old vendor stood outside.
Top traffic referrers include Techmeme, Twitter, and Daring Fireball. I'll probably write about this in more depth someday, but it's amazing how much Twitter influences how someone like me or Michael Arrington or Brian Lam can start a new site and immediately have thousands of readers. This sort of endeavor would be much harder without Twitter. (Obviously, most of it has to do with the work we did before our new sites. But Twitter is the glue that connects us with our readers, and that's really cool, and something that didn't used to exist. It's obvious why Facebook and Google are trying to get a piece of that.)
October 7, 2011
We still are moving through the early days of this revolution, but Steve Jobs saw it coming more than a quarter of a century ago, when he was only 29-years-old. He didn't make it to see another 29 years.And it's worth noting that the first web browser was created on a Steve Jobs created machine: the NeXT cube.
The use of that last phrase, "style over substance" has always been, as Oscar Wilde observed, a marvellous and instant indicator of a fool. For those who perceive a separation between the two have either not lived, thought, read or experienced the world with any degree of insight, imagination or connective intelligence. It may have been Leclerc Buffon who first said "le style c'est l'homme - the style is the man" but it is an observation that anyone with sense had understood centuries before, Only dullards crippled into cretinism by a fear of being thought pretentious could be so dumb as to believe that there is a distinction between design and use, between form and function, between style and substance.(Although some are just baffled by the whole fuss around Apple)
I remember seeing him for the first time that summer and looking upon him with the same sense of wonder that only exists when looking at a celebrity: staring, unable to look away until you realize his gaze might be turning towards yours and then quickly turning your head as to not give the impression you were staring. For the first couple days I did that, joking with others that he literally wore the same outfit everyday: black mock turtleneck and blue jeans. I imagined him getting dressed in the morning and opening up a huge closet with rows and rows of blue jeans and black shirts hanging before him, with him carefully choosing what he would wear that day as if each shirt and pair of jeans had a special meaning to him, even though they all looked the same.
In the summer of 2010, Max was in hell. Everything was right there and now, the noises that were too scary, the smells that were too much, the lights that were overpowering. He had no way of being able to tell us, so he screamed. And screamed... and screamed. In a moment of desperation, out came Mummy's iPhone, with a Cbeebies video on of Razzle Dazzle. He instantly focussed all his attentions on that, and the meltdown just disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.Life goes on.
October 6, 2011
I remember my first encounter with a Mac vividly. I was still in my teens - just - and in my first year of an English Literature degree. I'd been persuaded by a friend - whose name I'm embarrassed to admit I've long forgotten - to see what I could do to get the college magazine back on its feet after a disastrous year. There, sat in the cubbyhole that masqueraded as the magazine office, was a Mac. No hard drive, tiny greyscale screen. That tiny little box changed my life. We wrote in Word and laid out in Aldus Pagemaker on that little box. It did what we had several expensive typesetting machines and a handfuls of PCs to do back at Felix, Imperial College's student magazine. I had the power to publish on a desk, in one box. I was hooked.
When the news came, years ago now, that Steve Jobs had pancreatic cancer, I felt a chill. The last time I heard that diagnosis, it was applied to my Dad. The oncologist had looked each of us in the eye, and then handed me a piece of paper with the number 3 written on it. "Years?" I asked. "Months," he replied. Dad beat the odds. He made it to 9 months.
Within weeks of that horrible day, I had bought myself my first Mac of Jobs' second era at Apple: one of those much-mocked clamshell iBooks, in graphite. I bought it so I could work from Suffolk when I needed to, and my brother bought a digital video camera so we could capture some of those last, happy days. And so I discovered iMovie, and a new set of opportunities for creation, for recording and sharing opened up. Within a few months of my Dad's death, I was blogging, and using that to post the first pictures from my very first digital camera. 2001 changed my life in many ways, but many of those changes were mediated through that toilet-seat iBook.
I'm sat on a train somewhere between West Sussex and London, typing these words on an iPad. (You know that whole "iPad is for consumption not creation meme"? I never got the memo.) It's given to very few to change the lives of millions in a positive way. It's given to even fewer to provide the world with beautiful, functional tools that change our relationship to both our own creativity and the creativity of others. Jobs looked at the digital revolution and dreamed of using it to do things better, to live better, to make things better. And he did that. What a life.
Thank you, Steve. I can honestly say that your work made my life a better place, and continues to do so every single day.
October 5, 2011
- Better camera - the iPhone 4 was already capable of producing print-quality photos. This only improves that
- Faster camera - an underreported but significant update. Just over a second to camera readiness? Half a second until you can take a second photo? Great for fast-moving events.
- Gyroscope-based stabilisation for HD video - another improvement that makes this a great field multi-media tool