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A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

It’s awards time. No, not those ones. These ones:

Yup, Blogosphere magazine is launching some blogger awards:

There are ten categories in the awards, including the eight different sections we have within the magazine, a community award and… drumroll please… the Blogosphere blogger of the year award. The winners of each category will be featured in issue 14 of the magazine, with the Blogosphere blogger of the year winner taking the FRONT COVER. Yes, you heard us right, if you win blogger of the year, you’ll be our September issue cover star.

Nominations kick off on March 1, so if you’re in the fashion/beauty/lifestyle/food/cooking blogging axis, prepare to start motivating your audience…

Me? I’ll sit it out until business bloggers get added. 😉

MG Siegler on almost being able to switch full-time to his iPad – but not quite:

This is especially frustrating to me because I see glimpses of the computing future I could have. Tonight, for example, I brought only my iPad to a cafe to write this. I didn’t have to bring a big bag to lug my laptop. I just grabbed the iPad and walked out the door. The writing experience with the external keyboard cover for the iPad Pro is fantastic. No distractions.

But when I publish this post, I’ll still do so when I get home. From my laptop.

His argument is that the iPad is 90% of the way to being a laptop replacement – but that last 10% matters. I suspect there are a lot of people, myself included, in his position. We’d like to go iPad first (and maybe only) – but it’s not there yet.

As trailed a while back, Instagram has now added the ability to upload multiple images or videos to a single post:

It’s an interesting move, as it shifts the service even further from her it started. In the beginning it was an image sharing app, that tended to focus on people creating “arty” effects via the inbuilt filters. That faded somewhat as the filters were toned down, but it still remained a crafted photo-centric service. But the net effect of this and the rapid growth of Instagram Stories has turned it into a general purpose visual communication and relationship maintenance tool.

Still, might make some verification work easier. One image is much easier to fake than 10.

The lovely, lovely First Draft Coalition has been doing some excellent work in unpicking the roots of the real “Fake News”, before that phrase got co-opted. In particular, research director Claire Wardle has expended on work by Elliot Higgins to define the reasons why people create misinformation and disinformation, taking his “4 Ps” up to “8 Ps”:

  • Poor Journalism
  • Parody
  • to Provoke or ‘Punk’
  • Passion
  • Partisanship
  • Profit
  • Political Influence or Power
  • Propaganda.

Our consistent vulnerability

Misinformation and Disinformation

Why is this so important? Readers of this blog are surely intelligent, critical thinking people of the world, not prone to being influenced. Well, you more be more vulnerable than you think, as Claire points out:

When messaging is coordinated and consistent, it easily fools our brains, already exhausted and increasingly reliant on heuristics (simple psychological shortcuts) due to the overwhelming amount of information flashing before our eyes every day. When we see multiple messages about the same topic, our brains use that as a short-cut to credibility. It must be true we say — I’ve seen that same claim several times today.

Any student who has had the misfortune to come in my orbit for the last couple of years has had verification as a critical skill drummed into them, and journalists are a key part of that. But we need a more sceptical, more critically thinking populace, too:

We all play a crucial part in this ecosystem. Every time we passively accept information without double-checking, or share a post, image or video before we’ve verified it, we’re adding to the noise and confusion. The ecosystem is now so polluted, we have to take responsibility for independently checking what we see online.

And the work First Draft are doing to understand and unpick the ecosystem are a useful weapon in this fight.

Dale Beran has written a fascinating and compelling long read, drawing a direct line from 4chan springing to life from Something Awful’s forums, to the rise of Trump.

And the bridging factor? Milo. He took the GamerGate movement and connected it up with the burgeoning alt-right via Breitbart, effectively giving Trump another demographic in his electoral coalition. And he did it by battening onto what the Anons were most ashamed of, and making them proud of it:

Here Yiannopoulos has inverted what has actually happened to make his audience feel good. Men who have retreated to video games and internet porn can now characterize their helpless flight as an empowered conscious choice to reject women for something else. In other words, it justifies a lifestyle which in their hearts they previously regarded helplessly as a mark of shame.

It leads to the fascinating conclusion that this part of Trump’s base know that he wasn’t deliver for them – but that’s OK, that’s what they expect. They’re just in it for the lulz.

4chan’s value system, like Trump’s ideology, is obsessed with masculine competition (and the subsequent humiliation when the competition is lost). Note the terms 4chan invented, now so popular among grade schoolers everywhere: “fail” and “win”, “alpha” males and “beta cucks”. This system is defined by its childlike innocence, that is to say, the inventor’s inexperience with any sort of “IRL” romantic interaction. And like Trump, since these men wear their insecurities on their sleeve, they fling these insults in wild rabid bursts at everyone else.

I was familiar with many elements of this story – but I’ve not seen them so well connected before.

Sad news:

Steve Buttry, a journalist for more than 45 years, died February 19 at age 62 of pancreatic cancer, his third major cancer.

If you’re not familiar with Steve, he was one of the most prominent voices exploring the role of digital in reshaping newsrooms, through both his work for the last decade or so and through his blog, The Buttry Diary. I can’t claim to have known Steve (the Venn diagrams of our worlds clearly overlapped, but we were never really in each other’s orbit), but I am deeply familiar with his work.

Unlike too many other of the main voices in that conversation, Steve was deeply embedded in working newsrooms until relatively recently:

Buttry visited the newsrooms of all DFM daily newspapers, visiting some of them in multiple locations as newsrooms moved as well as some weekly newsrooms. In all, he visited 84 DFM newsrooms, leading workshops for staffs as well as coaching editors and other staff members. Two primary focuses of his work at DFM were training new editors in leading Digital First newsrooms and “unbolting” newsroom culture from the newspaper factory model.

The DFM experience ended when the hedge fund that controlled DFM, Alden Global, changed its strategy. Buttry’s job was cut April 2, 2014, along with other members of the company’s Thunderdome newsroom. Brady and Paton eventually left DFM as well.

For the last few years, Steve taught at Louisiana State University. Friends and colleagues are building a scholarship fund in his name. When he announced he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I couldn’t help but shudder. I know from my own Dad’s death from it back in 2001 that, for most people, it’s a short-term death sentence. He did well to delay his passing for seven months.

With Steve’s passing, it feels like another of the elder statesmen of the online journalism discussion has been silenced. Romenesko has retired, Buttry has passed. But, true to his vision, Buttry has left behind his wisdom in digital form, even blogging his own obituary, creating that rarest of things, a blog that ends, rather than peters out.

Thank you, Steve.

I’ve been a Fellow of the RSA for about six years now, invited to join the fellowship because of my “expertise in digital media” – something they were apparently short of at the time. I’ve enjoyed being a fellow, often use the RSA House as a meeting space or a London office, and attend events there. But the annual Fellowship card has always annoyed me – it’s a fragile coated paper thing that barely survives a year of use:

the old RSA Fellowship Card

That’s all gone, replaced with a nicely designed plastic one:

The RSA provides a powerful global platform for independent debate and research, creating a foundation to encourage innovative thinking, which often grows into pioneering action. We wanted to take this concept to bring to life the Fellowship network through illustration.

And this is the result:

Final card image

It’s rather nice – and feels a heck of a lot less fragile in my wallet.

I suspect it also has RFID or similar in it, because apparently we can use it to “touch in” to the RSA House now. I’m look forward to trying that out soon…

A prominent YouTuber has lost a lucrative contract:

Since August, PewDiePie has posted nine videos that include anti-Semitic jokes or Nazi imagery, according to a review of his channel by The Wall Street Journal.

On Monday after the Journal contacted Disney about the videos, the entertainment giant said it was severing ties with Mr. Kjellberg, who as PewDiePie rose to prominence via clips of himself playing videogames or performing skits and making crude jokes.

What’s interesting about this is that a single YouTuber has reached enough prominence that their deals with major corporations warrant the attention of the Wall Street Journal.

Significant enough, in fact, that they pushed out out as a notification:

PewDiePie WSJ push notification

YouTubers are still a massively under-discussed part of the modern media business landscape.

Ah, Media Twitter is all aflutter with this news from the New York Times:

The Gateway Pundit, a provocative conservative blog, gained notice last year for its fervent pro-Trump coverage and its penchant for promoting false rumors about voter fraud and Hillary Clinton’s health that rocketed around right-wing websites.

Now the site will report on politics from a prominent perch: the White House.

And they certainly seem pleased about it:

Heavens-to-Betsy, a blogger in the press room? There will be a predictable backlash from journalists (in fact there probably already is one), who will do some eye-rolling at the infiltration of the true journalists’ space. And they will all have forgotten this:

Bloggers and pundits have been granted access to White House briefings in previous administrations

The use of the word “blog” here is pretty arbitrary. The definition of “blog” and “website” are pretty hazy at the best of times and the past five years have only blurred that. (Remember when people were calling Buzzfeed and Huffington Post blogs?)

Gateway Pudit itself has a little fun with that distinction:

The New York Times, a provocative liberal blog

The concern here isn’t that the White House has granted press credentials to a Pro-Trump Blog, but that it has granted them to a Pro-Trump blog. But even that shouldn’t necessarily be of deep concern, because we have so much partisan press already (especially in the UK).

The pundit/propagandist boundary

When should we worry? Well, look at the outlet’s record for truth – if it’s so pro-Trump that it lies for the president, than it’s crossed that hazy line from partisan journalism to straight-up propaganda. And on that charge, they have some form:

The Gateway Pundit did not see protesters getting on or off the bus, and they offered no proof that any protesters had been paid (by George Soros or anyone else). The web site published three pictures of buses and then fabricated a story about paid protesters based on the mistaken observations of a sole Twitter user.

The Washington Post, a blog owned by tech mogul Jeff Bezos, has many more examples for you:

Just last week, the Gateway Pundit published the absurd, social media-generated claim that the Washington Post’s Doris Truong had sneakily snapped cellphone photos of notes belonging to secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, during his confirmation hearing. Truong was not at the hearing; it made no sense to think she would have been at the hearing, since she is an editor of The Post’s website.