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February 16, 2009

Gwen Ifill at the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy Summit


Sorry for the absence here. I must tell someone once a day that in order to build a blog's traffic and an audience content must be updated regularly - and it needs to be good. Excellent example I'm setting here...

My excuse? I've been hopping around various cities working...and we have a project over at MyDigiMediaGroup cooking in the background that's been taking up a lot of my time. Look for an April launch!

One other thing we've been working on is translating our knowledge base - dozens and dozens of guides, how-to tipsheets, self-guided lessons and more - into multiple languages. Pretty soon, we'll have glossaries and tipsheets written for anyone working in communications translated into Russian, Arabic, Hindi and, of course, Spanish. (As an aside, we're still trying to find a French translator - pls email me if that's you!) Some of the work is currently available in the Public Research Center on the MyDigiMediasite.

Since we're in the process of putting together all of these resources, I'd love your feedback! Are there specific how-to guides or tipsheets you wish you had? Please let us know via email (info at mydigimedia dot com) or Twitter!


January 22, 2009

Layoffs and a Laugh...

With Microsoft's announcement of fresh layoffs this morning and stories of financial markets tumblimng even further, I thought I'd offer a laugh and some help:


(Can't find where these originated, and I'd like to include a link to the artists.)

We're making the self-assessment worksheet and other materials from our "Now What?!" webinars available for everyone to use. Click here to see a list and download.




January 20, 2009

New President - New Site! With Flash!

Within minutes of President Obama's official swearing in, the new White House site launched. I'm exceedingly happy to announce it has a number of news tools, easy and direct links to various government offices, video, a blog and a sleek design we've got used to seeing during his campaign. Hell, the damn thing even has Flash!

It's a great day indeed!



January 16, 2009

Socialitics 101

It’s not enough these days to simply count the number of Twitter followers or Facebook friends you have. Most people who use a social network have at some point connected with someone else once, and then never visited their Facebook page or paid attention to their Twitter posts again. Lots of people may hundreds, if not thousands, of connections on a social network. But does quantity trump quality?

The answer is no. There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence showing that true social mavens are not those with massive networks, but are instead the folks who actively produce great content that is forwarded and reposted via their connections (and their connections) across other networks. S/he may not have thousands of followers, but it doesn’t matter. A person in this position is eventually seen as a digital sage. Posts and updates will spread virally throughout global social networks even if 10,000 people aren’t connected to him/her.

At MyDigiMediaGroup, we define socialitics as the the act of analyzing a person’s or message’s scope throughout social networks, in an attempt to discover its true reach and impact. To be sure, many people use the term “engagement” to describe in general how engaged your site’s visitors are with your content. (Are they clicking on your links? Are they staying on your site to read?). Socialitics is instead a measurement of what’s happening throughout the vast number of social networks on the web.

What is your company website/ mobile tool’s socialitics?
It’s important to monitor traffic, to determine how and where visitors are finding your content, how much time they spend with it, and what they’re clicking on. You advertisers (or funders/ investors) will want this data - and you’ll need to know about how you fare within your own competitive landscape.

But standard analytic tools, such as Omniture SiteCatalyst, Tacoda and Google Analytics, aren’t able to capture data on the discussion about your site (or you, personally), references to content that’s been posted or even instances of your content that has been reposted elsewhere.

What’s your personal social network’s socialitic score?
Let’s say that you now have 27,000 Twitter followers and that you typically post 20 tweets on an average day. Doing simple math, that means your message is heard 540,000 times every single day - and that would just be within your own personal network.

The problem is that the numbers don’t really add up quite so nicely. While there is no concrete, official data released from any of the social networks, those who study them agree that only 20-40% of uses participate - that means post and read posts - with any regularity.

A recent study by Bernardo Huberman, Daniel Romero and Fang Wu, researchers at Hewlett-Packard’s Social Computing Lab, looked at 309,740 Twitter users who had an average of 255 posts (in total), 85 followers and followed 80 other users. Of the 309,740 users, 32% posted only one time and then didn’t use the service again.

Rather than counting friends or followers, a more accurate representation of reach is to follow reposts, retweets and mentions of your content across other social networks.

Your socialitic score, therefore, measures how effective you are at contributing to conversations and compelled others to share your wisdom/ questions/ content.

We have just createad a new tipsheet to help you determine how powerful you/ your message/ your company is online. We offer a checklist and lots of websites to get you started. Download the tipsheet here.

January 14, 2009

Dear New Yorker/ Condé Nast Advertising Team

Dear New Yorker/ Condé Nast Advertising Team:

Got your email (again) today. Sorry, I was in meetings with some of our clients - just getting to your message now.

I'm starting to question our relationship. Yesterday, you insisted that I purchase a BlackBerry Storm when you know I have a relatively new iPhone 3G. I thought we were on the same page. I mean, you seemed to think it was pretty neat when Lizzie Widdicombe talked to that guy who tried to publish a magazine using his iPhone. I thought the iPhone was "cool." But I guess you've moved on.

Today in your message, I think you're accusing me of being, well, a little fashion-backward. You urged me to "be a well-dressed rebel with GQ rules." But have you seen my hair?! It just doesn't get more rebellious than this. In fact, I already use a cocktail of four products in the morning to tame my curls and frizz. That's after shampooing and conditioning with this really fancy stuff I import from France. (And we all know that they're rebellious!)

Quite frankly, I'm a bit concerned about what you might suggest I do next. I mean, what else is wrong with me? Do you think I made the wrong computer purchase? Am I looking fat? Do I need certain...enhancements?

I'm starting to question our relationship. I used to look forward to your once-a-week wit and charm. Now, it just feels like you're harassing me day in, day out.

Anyhoo - I guess I'll look forward to hearing back from you tomorrow afternoon sometime. Unless we're fighting or something. Is it the way I dress? I feel like you want me to leave the "in" group. Are you mad at me? I'm really worried.



January 13, 2009

WTF, New Yorker and Condé Nast?!

A question for the good people of Condé Nast Publications/ New Yorker Magazine: Why have you made absolutely no good use of digital media for your content, and yet you’re willing to flog BlackBerry’s wares via mass email? I got the above message yesterday from you. Please help me understand how you, the smartest minds in publishing, could be this far behind in electronic media?

January 10, 2009

The New Palm Pre Cannot Compete

My husband and I are always on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to new mobile technology. For reasons that absolutely escape me, he's wedded to his Palm. I'm a prefectly happy iPhone user. So when the new Palm Pre was unveiled at CES this week, I prepared for battle.

Yes, the new Pre looks sleek. Yes, it has a slide-out full keyboard. Yes, it will use their new webOS platform. Yes, it promises to bring "you the information you want without having to search for it."

But the Pre doesn't have an iTunes Store. And that's why it won't be a game changer.

Since the iPhone's launch, we've seen a handful of phones that look and feel like copies. The Android. BlackBerry's Storm. And now the Pre.

What makes the iPhone special isn't the flat touch screen or the ability to play music. It's the content users have access to via the iTunes Store. It's the sheer number of available applications, the relative low cost to buy them, and the ability of anyone to develop and deploy creative new games, productivity tools, and more. As a former BlackBerry and Palm user, I can tell you that there's just no comparison. BlackBerry applications tend to be wickedly expensive. As for the Palm, there just aren't chic, exciting apps for it.

Apple wins because it continues to control the means to fantastic content distribution. The only way to play is to visit the iTunes Store. And to do that, you gotta have an Apple product.

Stay with me, now, because I'm about to veer off into business models for news... It used to be that news orgs controlled the distribution. Not just anyone could easily publish a big newspaper or command the airwaves. The web forever altered the distribution channels. Is there something to be learned from Apple's approach?

In one sense, Apple is essentially a distribution company that also controls the means of collecting that content. The iPod and iPhone wouldn't have reached critical mass without the iTunes Store and vice versa. Here's a newer example: Amazon was smart launching the Kindle as a means for distributing books, magazines and newspapers.

Maybe it's unrealistic to imagine a news org launching a competing piece of hardware, especially this late in the game. But why aren't more newsrooms seeing opportunities to partner with mobile companies in a more meaningful way? Most of you are still using SMS in America rather than developing across mobile platforms. I can only think of one, maybe two, mobile applications from traditional media outlets that work correctly. The rest are promising something they're not ("breaking news where you are" means using location-aware services, duh!) or the app just wasn't executed well.

The new Pre doesn't launch in the U.S. for another six months, according to Sprint. Mobile is the next shift, folks. Get ready, or get ready to face another round of dramatic, uncomfortable change within your organizations.

January 02, 2009

New Platform for 2009?

We were grocery shopping last week at Giant, and we were asked if we wanted to try a new scanner as soon as we entered the store. The basic idea is that we'd scan our own merchandise, then bag it and then place it into our cart. At the end, we'd scan a final barcode at the register and swipe our credit card. Given what lines are like in this area - I've been known to ditch my cart after waiting on the line for 20 minutes or longer - it seemed like a fantastic idea. Plus, a new toy!

As we were moving though the store, the scanner (Motorola) began suggesting items we might want based on where we were standing and the items we'd already scanned. It also offered up coupons.

Is there a way to integrate news content here? Absolutely - and that's all we talked about as we shopped. What about news alerts that were location aware? Sports scores, breaking news, weather... It'd also be a possible platform to carry video ads, since our scanner had sound and speakers. What about streamed content, like what's available in New York City cabs?

This may seem far-fetched to you, but I talk often about multi-screen content and how that applies to journalism. I don't just get content on my office computer. I have a few laptops. Two mobile phones. TiVo. A GPS system in each of our cars. Is your news organization in a position to deliver your content across multiple screens? Can I start following your coverage of, say, the Hamas/ Israel conflict on my television in the morning, then continue with your brand while I'm on the train and then later at work in my office? If not, what's your plan for the next six months to correct that?

front of store scanning center

my other half scanning butter

coupon notification alert

checkout center

December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays - and a freenalce project for grabs

Happy holidays to you and yours! Here's to a healthy, joyful 2009!

How about this to start off the new year? My company, MyDigiMediaGroup, has a short-term PR consulting project that we need some help with right away. We need someone seasoned, with a great source list, is based in the States and who has some time right after the first of the year. If that's you, please shoot me an email...

December 23, 2008

Digital Shuns Newspaper, and Thrives

NOTE: I've updated this post. Jay Rosen rightfully points out that Carr's piece was part of the Biz section, and not part of Op-Ed.


The New York Times published an op-ed piece by David Carr yesterday that's snaked its way through all of my social networks (and then some). Carr is a GA for the paper's Culture section and also writes a weekly column in the Business section.

This particular story, "Newspaper Shuns Web, and Thrives," uses Dan Jacobson, publisher/ owner of the New Jersey paper TriCityNews, as a case study to argue that the Internet is destroying the newspaper. Apparently, online advertising will experience a sharp decline over the next few quarters (quoting Gawker's Nick Denton - his predictions are now good enough source material for the NYT?!).

"There is no doubt that readers benefit in all sorts of ways from digitized journalism and searchable listings online, but that ease of use has not been accruing to the benefit of the publications that provide that information, or very often, their advertisers," Carr writes.

According to the IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers, which peddle in actual data (neat!), we've really seen an 11% increase in Internet ad revenue since 2007. The rate of increase may be slowing compared to several years ago, but it's still on the rise. I'd also point to, and hell, even Carr's own, whose parent companies may have undergone organizational change in the past 12 months but are proving that digital growth is the only way up and out for troubled media conglomerates. Just last week, we learned that site revenue has surpassed the LAT editorial payroll costs...

But here's the rub. Carr's analysis isn't particularly strong - turns out that TriCityNews is a 3.5-person shop with a 10k circ - and it's not even a new perspective. The Times chose to print it anyway, ostensibly inviting commentary on a topic that's very much in the spotlight. (Because, why else recycle an old, tired opinion piece?) You're supposed to want to forward it to a friend. To send it to a colleague. To share it elsewhere. To discuss it. To venerate it. To chastise it.

But you can't.

Editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal just told E&P that "our Op-Ed now is very rapid response, but it is at the most the next day. We are looking at a way to take advantage of the expandability of the Internet, the back and forth of it and the instantaneous nature of the Internet."

Rosenthal is, well, wrong. The Times may well start posting opinions on breaking news beginning next month, but what it's doing now isn't exactly..."rapid."

And it certainly doesn't conform to what the rest of the world is doing online. The Carr story offers three external links, and "Gawker" simply redirects to a Gawker Media topics page on the Times' website and doesn't mention anything about Denton or his ad apocalypse premonition. It is possible, though not immediately clear how, to share that story with someone else. But all of the discussion I've seen has been way off of the site. It's been via Twitter. Facebook. And now, my blog.

It makes me think that the editorial dept. doesn't really get the digital world. Maybe they don't want to?

I know incredibly smart, talented people working on the Times' website. They know a hell of a lot about how and why the Internet works. The print-side Times' folks would do themselves well to sit down with digital and learn a little. At least learn the lexicon and the players, for goodness sake. </rant>


December 17, 2008

Our Newly Favorite Twitter Apps...

For those of you who have attended one of MyDigiMediaGroup's training sessions, you'll have already received a version of what's below. We just finished testing some newer tools, and we've reorganized our Twitter hit-list below. You can obviously use this as a reference, but also feel free to download a copy for yourself or for your organization. It's available at our Research Center. As always, we've noted how these tools can be used for journalism.

TwitterFeed - Got a blog? This will automatically updated your posts to your Twitter account. If you're not sure how to effectively Twitter at your news organization, create a basic Twitter account - like BaltimoreNews. Then, you can automatically send out announcements of your new blog entries to everyone who's following you.

Autopostr - You can use Autopostr to post Flickr photos to Twitter and also send a tweet to your followers.

Mobypicture - Shares photos via Twitter, enables you to post directly to Flickr and your blog.

Twadget - If you're a (blech) Vista user, this is a gadget that will track and send all new tweets from your account.

Twitzer - Want more than 140 characters? Twitzer works with Firefox and will allow you to type in longer posts. Be warned, though. Twittering is meant to be is micro-sized, and some of your followers may not want long, rambling posts from you.

TwitterGram - Tired of just sending out 140 characters? Use TwitterGram to send mp3s tweets. Use it for journalism: This could be a fantastic way to share breaking news audio reports. You might also consider using it to send out quick advertisements every X# tweets.

Twhirl - This is a nice desktop application that allows you to update and read your Twitter account. This application really functions more like an instant message client. Still, it can help reporters stay on top of breaking news.

Snitter - This is a popular desktop client, but it requires Adobe Air to run.

Twitteroo - Desktop client, works best on PC.

Twitterrific - Desktop client for mobile or desktop.

Twitbar - For our Linux friends, a Twitter client for Gnome users to post from the Deskbar.

Trends and Analysis
Twitt(url)y - A popular service to track the most buzzed-about URLs people are sharing. This could be a useful tool for reporters during breaking news events.

SocialToo - Includes a host of Twitter applications, including SocialSurveys, which enables users to easily create polls. You can also auto-follow, blacklist and DM followers after setting up an automated system.

TweetPad - Enables you to visualize Twitter stats.

Favrd - Aggregates the most favorited tweets, which can help journalists to identify upcoming news stories and events or even search by topic on previously popular stories.

TweetDeck - A must for tracking Twitter trends and conversations, though you’ll need to install and run Adobe Air to make it work.

Peoplebrowsr - A comparative Twitter search tool, aggregator, connector and messaging system. It’s incredibly helpful, though the amount of information it produces can at time be overwhelming.

Monitter - The interface looks suspiciously like PeopleBrowsr, but that doesn’t make it work any less efficiently. You can search keywords at once and compare results.

Twellow - This is a search engine that you can use to browse people and other topics, uses Twitter and other social networking tools.

Twitter Answers - Ask Twitter a question, find an answer.

Summize - Twitter’s own search engine.

TwitterTroll - Yet another search engine, TwitterTroll also shows the most popular searches at any given time. Can be useful to search the zeitgeist.

Tweet Scan - This is another search engine for tweets. Again, you're not quoting directly from folks - just looking for leads and additional context to aid in the reporting process.

Mobile/ Geolocation
PocketTweets - This tool enables you to post and read tweets via your iPhone.

TwitterLocal - Filter out tweets from just a certain area. Reporters can use this as source material to find out what's happening within a certain range of miles, postal code, state, city, etc.

BrightKite enables you to share your location and find people based on where you are.

Loopt helps you to find friends and track them using Twitter and your mobile phone’s data connection. (Also available on the iPhone without using Twitter.)

TwitterLit - This application will send out the first line of a book and a link to Amazon. It's part trivia - can you guess the author and title? - but mostly a marketing ploy to get Twitter users to buy more stuff on Amazon. But it's effective - and lots of people are using it. Mimic this application for use in your own newsroom. Tease new stories. Use quick-hit trivia to drive traffic to your site. What about promotions? Selling photos or archived video?

Twitter Tube Tracker - Track the status of London's Tube trains and get delays sent to Twitter.

Twittervision - We wrote about this last year... Twittervision displays random updates from people around the world. It's a bit like watching an aquarium, and it's addictive. Want to get included? Add TwitterWhere, which will automatically post your tweet location.

Tweetbeep - Google News Alerts for Twitter.

People/ Relationship Management
Twubble - Want to follow more people but not sure where to start? Twubble will make recommendations based on who you currently follow and your geographic location. This is a good way for jurnos to get started using Twitter, especially if they're not sure who to start following just yet. Note: In order for Twubble to make suggestions, you need to be following a handful (10 or more) of Twitter accounts.

FriendOrFollow - May make you feel worse about yourself, so be warned. This service will show you who you’re following that isn’t following you back.

Follow Cost - Will forecast the amount of time you’ll need to spend following a given person or account on Twitter.

TwitterSnooze - Gives you the ability to temporarily stop receiving a specified person’s tweets - without letting them know or without having to unsubscribe entirely.

Basic Communications
GroupTweet - Will enable you to use Twitter within groups, which you cannot do with the current platform on its own.

TwitThis - Allows you to tweet anything you see online, directly from the page you’re visiting. If it launches for iPhone, this would solve the headache caused for folks wanting to retweet but can’t because of the missing cut and paste function.

Twitter Ad Networks

<Some Twitter Basics>

# Use a hashtag in front of a keyword to make it more easily searchable. People decide on a keyword and then tweet conferences, breaking news events and more. For past examples, search #griots, #web20summit and #mumbai.

@ Use the @ symbol in front of a Twitter user’s name to reference them in your post or to respond to them publicly.

Sending a direct, private message varies depending on the Twitter client or site you use. It may be the letter “d” in front of the username, or you may need to select “direct message” from a drop-down window. Be careful when sending content that you intend to be private - one click could make your message available to all of your followers.

December 12, 2008

Registration is Full

We're going to have to close registration for the free training sessions (see entry below) early, because we're full. If you are still interested and weren't able to register in time, please let us know - we may add a third session late January. I don't want to turn anyone away, especially with all of the new layoffs announced last week.

December 02, 2008

Free Training for Our Gannett Friends...

The news this week has been grim. Three thousand layoffs at Gannett. The News Journal in Wilmington is cutting 44 jobs. More at the Tennessean, the Asbury Park Press, the Tallahassee Democrat...

And now here's what I know you don't want to hear: Many of you probably won't land back on your feet as a working journalist at an American newspaper. The economy is in the shitter, news orgs are still using tired business models and old fashioned newsroom jobs just aren't in demand. Not when the Huffington Post pulls in more traffic on an average day than many newspaper websites do in an entire month.

I want to make things better. About half of what my company (MyDigiMediaGroup) does is training. We train reporters, editors, producers, developers, teachers...hell, we even train lots of trainers...on how to adapt technology for journalism. (The other half is strategic planning and innovation. Like, which content management system should you use and how can you best implement it to accommodate mobile, the geospatial web, etc?)

So, to the recently laid-off journalists, here's an early holiday gift. We're offering two free live online training sessions focusing on emerging technology and post-mainstream journalism careers. We'll show you some new tech trends, explain how you can combine them with what you already know, and then show you how to apply your skillset to either land a new gig or even start your own site. We might point you in the direction of a new project or introduce you to a different kind of digital journalism entirely. This won't be an hour of learning code - it'll be instruction on how to think and understand differently. Why should you go away quietly and take a random PR job or somesuch, when you can instead harness the technology that's causing much of the heated competition facing newspapers?

Again, these sessions are free. You'll also get access to tipsheets and other information. Criteria are below:

WHO: We'd prefer that you're a Gannett refugee, but we won't turn away working journalists. Sorry - this time, we will not take technologists, consultants, academics or students. We're going to check, so don't try to pull a fast one on us...

WHEN: Two sessions - they'll be repeats with the exact same information. Tuesday, Dec. 23rd at 4pm Eastern and Wednesday, Jan. 7th at 1pm Eastern. The training session will last 75 minutes.

HOW/ WHERE: We'll give registrants a call-in number and passcode the day before. You also must be calling in from the U.S. and not from an international number. You'll need a computer (one that's online, of course) and a phone line to call into. After the session, we'll give you access to tipsheets and other information to help you continue learning on your own.

HOW TO REGISTER: Send an email message with your full name, your email address and where you're currently (or were recently) employed. Also tell us what kind of job you had (multimedia producer, city hall reporter for the paper, etc). For those of you who have previously participated in one of our training sessions, you'll already know that we never do the same thing twice and that all of our sessions are completely personalized. To the extent we can, we're going to try and do the same thing this time around - so share whatever information you'd like. The more we get, the more meaningful we can make the information for you. DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION IS DECEMBER 15th. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Because of the software we're using, we're capped at 100 participants per session. This means that we can only take 200 people - first come, first served. Since we're not charging anything, please only sign up if you can definitely make the session. We don't want to take away spots from others who'd like to attend.

There are no strings attached, folks. We're just trying to help out. Consider it an early 8th night Hanukkah present from MyDigiMediaGroup & company.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that we also have an upcoming training session that's being held in conjunction with the Columbia J-School. It's a four-hour, hands-on, intensive class on how to dig really deep through the dark web, social platforms and more to enhance your reporting. We're also going to detail some nifty Google tricks/ hacks. This one isn't free - and they may or may not have seats still left. But details are HERE .


November 26, 2008

Reshaping the Conversation

Warning: The following is a bunch of inside baseball talk about some recent online chatter about new business models for journalism.

For the past few weeks, those following the news industry have been treated to a slew of arguments regarding the future of journalism. At least that's what folks passing around the links to said arguments would have you think. But actual discussion about technology, business models and saving (or throwing out) the business hasn't exactly been the main dish. It hasn't even been the cranberries or the little pickles that my mother used to throw on our Thanksgiving table as a filler.

Jeff Jarvis posted his thoughts on why newsrooms are failing and what he thinks should be done about it. Slate's Ron Rosenbaum "ripped Jeff Jarvis" a "new one" shortly after. Jarvis hit back. Journalists, pundits and many of my friends weighed in on Team Jarvis or Team Rosenbaum. I suddenly found twice as many tweets to read.

Today, the conversation spread, and I was emailed/ tweeted yet more links to follow another minute thread of this asinine discussion.

It amazes me that while the digital landscape is changing - changing every damn day - so much of the industry's limited attention span is focused on semantics. Who's saying what? So-and-so argues such-and-such about whom? Who has a new retort? It's that juicy??

I asked a few hundred people this morning (see my tweet) why they're focused incessantly on this ongoing debate about, at this point, who has a bigger pair.

Whoever's twittering for the Huffingtonpost (tweet: huffpost) repeated what Jay Rosen put to me earlier:

I agree: a snarkfest adds little. But why can't we argue out the ideas AND run good experiments?

Followed by this, from Rosen:

The notion that Jarvis is an ideologue about journalism, but Jon Landman of the New York Time is not... that's hilarious.

I'll tell you why. Because while we're all waiting for the titillating next details about JarvisBaum, we're not discussing the technology that's forcing such disruptive change. I'd be a multimillionaire if I had a nickel for every journalist - and that includes publishers and general mangers - who complained to me that they don't have any extra time. They're so busy. No time to learn about technology. And yet we seem to have ample time to argue about arguing.

Raise your hands: Who's got an hour today to learn about the geospatial web? What about reality mining using cellular data? What about semantic tagging? 2d barcodes? Mobile frameworks using advanced SMS?

That's what I thought.

Here's the real problem facing our newsrooms. Most people are out there playing checkers while companies like Google and Adobe are playing chess. NOTHING WILL CHANGE in journalism unless the conversation is refocused on what matters most: How can the ever-hastening disruptive change be either met or overcome by adapting technology and creative business models?

Want to fix that? Here are the first three things you do:

  • You start looking beyond the immediate technology challenges you think you're facing. I promise, what you perceive to be a problem now won't begin to compare what I know you're going to face within the next 12 months.
  • You start researching and reading the work of real technologists and successful businesses working within the web/ mobile space. That includes smart retailers like Tony Hsieh and entrepreneurs like Young Joon Hyung.
  • You set aside time to understand the real problems facing the industry. It's not just budgetary. There must be shifts in your culture, in your expectations and in your investment in both training and R&D.

I'm done reading the back-and-forth. Semantics interest me, but only when in reference to tagging and code.


November 21, 2008

Google's New SearchWiki

What the heck is Google up to now?

Google has added a SearchWiki feature for registered users. It's a way of customizing your search, keeping notes on what you find and re-tooling the results to save you time the next time you're looking for something. Think of it as a social search tool, except that - so far - other users can't see your comments or preferences. (Which means that you can feel free to search under "George Michael" and note how amazing he is. What, you didn't do that first, too?)

Watch the Google video on how the search wiki works:



Now, the obvious question: How might this impact journalism?

I don't know that the average user is going to immediately start re-ranking her results and keeping notes. But the possibility certainly exists for many of our SEO practices to be thrown straight out the window. How much time and energy has your copy desk devoted to crafting catchy headlines that are most likely to be listed first by Google? Maybe you've been sneaking in extra meta tags to get your story about a local politician positioned near the recent presidential candidates. And what might this mean for the folks who, at one point, catapulted above the real White House website?

Search has become complicated because of so much new information readily available. We're also running out of address space...but that's a whole separate story saved for a morning when I've had more coffee first. (To get a primer, see info on IPv6.) Is Google's SearchWiki one way of adding a human layer to search, to help refine results? Is the next phase real personalization? Is this a signal that at some point relatively soon, search focus on the content I want, regardless of source?

I'm starting to think that can't be a good thing for our beleaguered newspapers.

What to do? Every journalist should sign on, play with search wiki and start to understand how and why it works. Don't do it once. Engage with it throughout the day. And start to think about how this might impact your reporting, your publishing and the community around you...


November 14, 2008

Journalism 007

I'm headed to see the newest Bond movie tonight, and I've been thinking all week about how many of 007's gadgets can be used for journalism. While some of his equipment may seem far-fetched, there are a number of "spy" products that are actually on the market and might help improve your reporting capabilities.

An important caveat: Please check with your state/ province/ country's laws as well as the guidelines in your newsroom before using any of what I describe below. For example, in some U.S. states it's okay to surreptitiously record someone without getting their permission. In some other states, it's illegal to record someone without their prior knowledge and consent. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press website keeps a database with information on laws both in the U.S. and abroad.


Yes, we live in a digital world, one full of very smart computers and phones. So a smart...pen? Consider the Voice Recording Pen, which is doubles as a highly-sensitive voice recorder. It records up to seven hours, and it also includes a remote controller - you could leave the pen on a desk and start recording a conversation from across the room. The Pulse, by Livescribe, is a great tool for anyone who takes handwritten notes during a speech or interview. It records the penstrokes that you're writing on paper while simultaneously recording the audio. The audio is automatically linked to what you write. You can tap a place in your notes to hear an audio playback of what was being said, and later you can transfer all the files to your computer for further use.

The DocuPen is an incredibly cool scanner shaped like, what else?, a high-quality pen. It'll store up to 100 pages of scanned text that can be viewed on a computer via USB hookup. I could have used this when I was still reporting... there were many times that I was allowed in to an office to review documents, but I wasn't allowed to remove them or make copies.

Wiretap Tapping

So you're using a proxy search engine, instant messaging on a private network under and assumed name and you've password-protected all of your sensitive documents and social networking sites. Think you're safe? Think again! With the Keywatcher, you can record all keystrokes that are made - which means later decoding passwords or other sensitive information that's been typed. It plugs in to both the keyboard and computer and, for most people, is indistinguishable from other cables.

Tiny Cameras

The Flip may be growing in popularity, but many people still don't realize it's a lightweight video camera. It records between 30-60 minutes of video on two AA batteries, and when you're finished you can plug it directly into your computer using its enclosed USB drive. And if you cover over the tiny red light that appears when you turn the Flip on, many folks won't realize they're being recorded. The Flip not small enough for you? Check out the ThumbCam, a video recording device that is literally the size of your thumb. It records color video with voice and uses a microSD card to store up to 2GB of data, which means that you can play back what you've recorded on a computer or your cell phone. There are tiny cameras available now in a variety of places including belt buckles (see: Buckle DVR) and sunglasses (see: Sunglasses DVR).

iPhone Tricks

I've been using Evernote lately, and it's a fantastic way of turning everyday items into searchable data. For example, I can take a picture of a document, record someone's conversation and a lot more... Evernote synchs that content to my account and enables me to search, categorize and send that information whenever I want. I also use SplashID to safeguard my contacts and other critical information. It came highly recommended to me by a close friend, who's also talented hacker. It's the system he uses - and it works on a PC or Mac. And in a pinch, you can use FakeCalls to simulate a phone call from the person of your choice. I had president-elect Barack Obama "call" me during dinner last week...I still haven't told one of the folks there that I'd actually FakeCalled myself.

As for my favorite Bond gadget? I thought that the Ericsson JB988, from Tomorrow Never Dies, was a killer mobile device. It was a remote control for Bond's BMW, had a finger print reader, a camera, a stun gun and made fantastic international calls without dropping them! Ah, a girl can always dream...

November 07, 2008

Web 2.0 Thursday Insight...

But first...Tweeps can follow the back channel at #web2summit. How might one do that, if one doesn't know how to find the "back channel," you ask? Head over to and enter #web2summit. You can actually do that whenever someone announces a hashtag entry...lots of conferences use it. Folks pick a keyword, and the write a Twitter entry using it as part of the post. We used #ona during our Online News Association conference this past fall, and there were lots of options during the debates (see #vpdebate).

And now, here's what we learned today (roundup):

Zuckerberg on Facebook: CNET, Brian Solis, BusinessWeek (they're here?!). My take: he said a lot without really saying anything. John Battelle continues to inspire and impress me... he's doing a hell of a job conducting the conversations.

Lots of Green everywhere, especially at the Launch Pad. See here for details on the companies representing. I was especially impressed with GoodGuide,who also announced a new iPhone app. I plan to corner them tomorrow to talk 2d barcodes... Also impressed with EveryScape, though I wonder how it will eventually scale and update without intense human involvement.

More talk about the cloud tomorrow, which I'm eager to hear. And of course, an appearance by Mr. Gore, who started using Twitter yesterday and seems to have two accounts (al_gore and TheRealAlGore)? One of them started following me earlier today... hoping it was, indeed, The Real Al Gore.

November 06, 2008

Web 2.0 Summit Updates...

First, I hope that Apple devotes some R&D resources to improving its batteries. I opted to take my spare travel computer (MacBook Air) rather than one of my other more powerful machines, and the damn thing runs out of juice entirely too fast. Same for my iPhone, which even running Edge or wireless rather than 3G still has 5-6 hours of battery life before conking out.

Here's a roundup of posts and thoughts from yesterday's sessions:

Reactions to Jerry Yang's talk: Mike Arrington, Besty Schiffman via Wired,

Reactions to Rajesh Jain's talk: See Emergic - presentation is also here

Reactions to Mary Meeker's talk about the Internet economy: ReadWriteWeb

Reactions to John Doerr's talk: VentureBeat

Reactions to Larry Brilliant's talk: CNET

General reactions from, InformationWeek, ZDNet, JD Lasica, 海洋之心 (that's in Chinese, in case the characters don't appear correctly), trendbird, Rashmi's blog.

Watch the action on blip

Headed to a breakfast meeting and then a demo, then back to the conference for sessions today...

November 04, 2008

Mr. President-Elect, My Technology Expectations...

We have a new president. But more than that, we have a new precedent. No election in our history has been as networked, as social or as communal - at least when it comes to technology. Just take a look back 18 months, when Obama's team released what was then a stunning first round of social digital tools:

My expectations for Obama are very high. Since the start of his campaign, Team Obama has employed blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, text messages, widgets and a massive social network site/ dashboard called They built an embedded BarackTV player using Brightcove and flooded YouTube with campaign ads and position statements.

Obama has made promises on key technology issues. He supports more broadband Internet access and technology in our schools, and he says he'll strive to bring next-gen broadband to every community. He'll keep the Internet open and tax free. He'll appoint a national Chief Technology Officer to "ensure that our government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century." There will be reforms to the patent system, extended R&D tax credits and restored scientific integrity in the White House.

I don't expect major legislative change immediately. But in the near term, I hope to see tech savvy cabinet members and others appointed to positions of power. I expect that they'll understand the current and emerging digital ecology - that they'll at least have heard about Twitter and know the difference between an iPhone app and the iTunes store. I want to see executive offices opened and made transparent. I hope to see continued use of crowdsourcing through the use of blogs and social networks. I wouldn't even remind gentle reminders via text message or email to pay attention to a new bill as it goes before Congress. And it'd be a nice touch to bring the various governmental agencies' recordkeeping and document storage current, so that hard-working journalists can spend less time schooling public information officers in the finer points of Excel and email (hear me knocking, EPA?).

I'm eager to see how long the blogging and Twittering will last. Don't let us down, president-elect. Many of us are looking forward to a faster, more connected future...


AT&T: iFriend or iFoe?

It started with a text message I received from AT&T last week. "Your Apple iPhone now has free AT&T Wi-Fi access at thousands of hotspots nationwide, including Starbucks."

The move seemed odd to me. How does AT&T benefit from giving away free data (off the 3G grid) at all of its hotspots, which not only include Starbucks, but a significant number of McDonalds, airports and hotels?

I put the question to my folks on Twitter and to some more via email. A few of you argued that AT&T had a longstanding deal with Starbucks and Apple to at some point allow free use at the coffee shops, in an effort to drum up new iTunes store downloads. (That turned out to be a rumor.) Others thought it had something to do with all the dropped calls on AT&T's 3G network. (Yes, calls drop all the time, but that doesn't have to do with the data network.)

Since that announcement, another piece of the data puzzle was leaked in the past few days: AT&T, like Comcast, may start to charge based on data use.

Here's what I've decided - and I'll ask for your thoughts, of course. It seems like data demands are taxing AT&T's infrastructure, and with so much usage, they just can't service the growing mobile data user base. It's not just iPhones on that network - AT&T offers a whole range of data-enabled phones. AT&T didn't plan far enough ahead. Or it did, and that plan included unhappy iPhone customers.

I've definitely had problems with slow data connectivity, even when I have full bars and am using 3G. Data works much better in my office, using our wireless network. But I didn't get the phone to use it in my office. I want high speed when I'm out, when I'm on the train commuting, when I'm roaming around other countries, when I'm working with our clients.

It's disheartening to know that our technology is being hampered by infrastructure that isn't growing as fast as demand. Especially with the launch of the Google Earth, urbanspoon and Where applications for the iPhone... We're in the thick of innovation and development. C'mon, AT&T. Don't let us down.

October 21, 2008

Mobile TV, Image Recognition and Plants That Blog...

Still on the road - currently en route to Hong Kong. Just spent a week reviewing all kinds of new technologies coming out of Tokyo. Highlights include mobile TV, image recognition and - I'm not making this up - a plant that blogs. Will flesh out details more when I'm back in the office. But I have a list of cameras for mobile journalists to keep on the lookout for - and a longer of mobiles that made my iPhone drool.

October 14, 2008

XOHM Launches!

I'm in Baltimore for a grand total of 48 hours in between business trips... Just long enough to see the launch of XOHM, Sprint's new WiMAX network. (I was in Kyiv last week - the ad below was on the front page of the WSJE.)

Call it 4G or "mobile broadband" (I've been pushing for "MoBro," but so far, no takers...), this new digital ecosystem is promising lots. It's up, it's working, and it'll hopefully be the beginning of WiMAX expansion around the U.S.

Why does WiMAX matter? For one, it'll mean that I'm connected without interruption - and that in theory, I won't have to hop around networks to stay online. I can start reading a website on my mobile phone while I'm at home, keep reading while I'm on Amtrak headed to a meeting, then switch to YouTube once I get there to show a client a video, then click over to Pandora to listen to music on the way back... And WiMAX promises very fast speeds.

For journalists, WiMAX means ubiquitous reporting and multimedia production possibilities. For consumers, WiMAX enables continual viewing of multiple websites, downloading all sorts of content, and really exploiting GPS services.

To be fair, you need a device that has the right gear in it to hop on the network. We've had minivans plastered with Intel advertisements driving around the city for weeks - and of course, the new Intel notebooks are already WiMAX/ Wi-Fi enabled. You also have to buy the XOHM modem or one of the wireless notebook cards.

Now as stoked as I am about our local network and about XOHM's possibilities, I've not yet had the chance to try it. I'd hoped to get into a small group of testers - but I apparently didn't pass muster with Sprint's crack marketing team...

Read the press release here. More general info about XOHM here. And here's an interview with some local folks via NPR affiliate WAMU.



October 03, 2008


It's been a busy fall. With the ONA conference wrapped, I'm now headed to Kyiv, Hong Kong and Tokyo - with pit stops in Macau and Iwate - to work with some of our international clients. Part of the Japan trip will include 2D barcode and mobile market research.

We plan to offer a few new tipsheets and a report on emerging mobile technology as it applies to journalism when I'm back in a few weeks.

Meantime, if you happen to be reading this from any of the above areas and want to get together to demo what you're developing, show me any new products your company is offering or just socially for drinks, please be in touch. I purposefully booked in some free time around my work schedules...

Oh - and does anyone remember Mystery Science Theater 3000, one of my favorite old TV shows? I had Twitter going during the VP debates last night. And since I follow some of the cleverest, snarkiest people out there, Twitter brought back excellent memories. HT to stevefox, tiffanyshack, enriquez, etanowitz and the great hatchjt!

September 18, 2008

Google Defines Its "Cloud"

For those of you who heard me about talk "cloud computing" in the past week, you may want to know more. Here's Google's explanation of its cloud and how you'll use it.
As we're already seeing, people will interact with the cloud using a plethora of devices: PCs, mobile phones and PDAs, and games. But we'll also see a rush of new devices customized to particular applications, and more environmental sensors and actuators, all sending and receiving data via the cloud. The increasing number and diversity of interactions will not only direct more information to the cloud, they will also provide valuable information on how people and systems think and react...

10 Tech Trends... Links from ONA

First, for those of you who powered through my session - some of you even had the unfortunate luck of having to stare at my rear end for all of my talk - THANK YOU! I expect to see those T-shirts on your backs!

I'm not making my presentation available, but we can certainly talk about creating one specifically for your company/ newsroom. Give my office a call and we can talk more about working together.

All of the links and handouts are available for mass consumption, though. All of the links go in chronological order and are separated by topic here. Click here for most of our free tipsheets and explainers. The one about 2D barcodes and about our favorite Twitter apps is on the second link.

Meantime, Yahoo! As in today Yahoo! announced a revamped home page with new personalization. It was only a matter of time. If you want to grab people and keep them on your site, offer your own aggregator tool. Make certain content you own mandatory, offer your own ads, and then allow people to personalize their own version of your site. MyTimes launched something like this, which I thought worked very well.

Why let Yahoo! have all the fun? I'd like to see newspapers - especially newspapers - offer personalized versions of their websites. You'd capture someone like me, who prefers to read full RSS feeds in a reader that fits my tech (read: mobile) needs.


September 08, 2008

See You @ ONA!

I'm off to ONA, a conference we've been working on for about a year now. Can't wait - I think this year is going to be spectacular. More on the conference here. Registration is completely sold out, but I believe that ONA members will get web video access to many of the sessions. We'll be liveblogging, twittering and discussing the sessions, classes and keynotes - so stay tuned to the conference site for information on how to follow us and for full coverage.

If you are coming in for the conference, give me a shout. And if you want to learn more about emerging technology and journalism, stop by my session (Saturday, 10:45-11:45 a.m. in Federal A). I'm giving away QR code T-shirts for answers to geek trivia questions...


September 04, 2008

WTF? Tribune's Re-org

I'm all for reorganization. God knows, many of our larger news companies are excessively top-heavy with talented journalists left to multitask and multiplatform content.

I'll also say for the record that sometimes it takes a great disruption to make effective, positive change. The best thing for a company bereft of funds or lacking in innovation is to sweep out the decisionmakers and bring in a bright new team.

That brings us to Tribune Interactive. You've no doubt heard about the shakeup... I'm so far counting six new vice presidents of various interactivity. For example, Tom Davidson, formerly GM Hampton Roads, is the new guy in Baltimore. More specifically, he's "Vice President, Content for TI's Baltimore, Hartford, Allentown and Hampton Roads Markets."

This morning, I sent out a tweet about TI's move and immediately got eight direct messages, all from former Tribune employees, all questioning the staffing changes. One said, "there are now 12 former ClearChannel folks in the company. So much for diversity of background." Another started listing the various GMs who were let go last week.

One of those people was Tim Windsor, who had been VP and GM, Interactive at the Baltimore Sun. Say what you will about the paper... (Hell, I'll just say it here. We're down to 2.5 sections, and the front page now says something like "over a million Maryland residents served." Reminds me of McDonald's, which most people I know try to avoid.) But at one point, had a robust website.

I met with Tim a few years ago, just before Tribune was set to streamline their cms and web properties. Tim had worked with his team to do what they could with the cms they had, and they'd done a pretty darn good job. The site was robust, had lots of extra components, the ability to expand... There weren't yet the numerous inane "blogs" (read: print column republished to the website) or copius "local fashion" (read: posed magazine-style shoots) photo galleries.

But because of a new streamlined approach, Tim had to scale way back on interactive elements. It seemed like any innovation that might have been brewing was about to be lost at a news organization that was in desperate need of platform diversity.

Sam Zell's making headlines for bringing in non-newspaper people to run his newsrooms, and I don't necessarily disagree with that approach. What I don't get is all this reorganization, all these new titles. The effect that I'm seeing so far - which, by the way is what the consumer sees - is a dumbed-down version of Trib's websites and many of its newspaper properties. This doesn't make me rush to buy the Sun paper or to visit It doesn't seem to be engendering an innovative sprit among staff. It's not making talented journalists clamor to get in the door at Trib-owned properties. (In fact, one person I know, who's spent the bulk of his career just trying to get into the Sun's newsroom, just left for a job at USA Today.)

I'm waiting for some mega-powerful, tricked out, interactive phoenix to rise from Trib's ashes. From my vantage point, I'm just watching the fire spread.

September 02, 2008

Google's Browser: Chrome

Launching least they're saying Google's foray into the browser wars. It's called Chrome, and as of 11am PST today, it'll be available in 100 countries for free - but only supported by Windows. (Apple and Linux versions are forthcoming.)

Chrome debuts just a week after the release of Microsoft's IE8. Google is promising lots of bells and whistles, an open platform and, somewhat importantly, a neat way to deliver advertising.

Read the comic-book version of what Chrome promises to offer on the official Google blog here. (This may change as Chrome sets to launch in a few hours.)

Chrome, if it integrates all of Google's other office products and communications tools - including the new video for business offering also announced today - brings us one step closer Webtop computing. Forget your desktop, where you're tethered to your local hard drives and clunky software apps that must be stored and run from a computer in your office. Soon, you'll control your content - but it'll live up in the cloud, be accessed on multiple platforms and available via WiMax at all times and at super-fast speeds.

If you do download the Chrome beta today, play with it and let me know what you think. I'll offer my review at the end of the week here...

August 29, 2008

Search the Pundits!

Next time there's news about the industry, why not use a custom-built search engine to search the most vocal media bloggers/ commentators/ pundits?

We just launched PunditPosse, a customized Google search engine that will crawl thorough 20 well-known blog sites to get their opinions on the latest happenings in journalism. Except for the hideously long URL, which we're working to fix, PunditPosse works pretty damn well!

We did a random search on Twitter to see what the pundits had to say, and here's what we got:

Have a look-see and tell me what you think! Also let me know if we should include additional bloggers...

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For my full schedule, click here. Below is a small sample of recent/ upcoming engagements.

Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, exploiting new web technologies for reporting and editing, Dec. 13, 2008 in New York City.

Global Forum for Media Development, emerging technologies and journalism, Dec. 6-10, 2008 in Athens, Greece.

National Endowment for Democracy, mobile technologies and journalism, Nov. 12, 2008 in Washington, D.C.

Reynolds Institute, content management systems and third party applications, Oct. 29, 2008 in Columbia, Missouri.

Digital Future of Journalism Meeting in Kiev, Ukraine. (Closed to the public.) Oct. 6-10, 2008.

Knight Board of Trustees Meeting. Sept. 28-29, Washington D.C. (Closed to the public.)

Online News Association, Ten Tech Trends presentation for journalists, Sept. 13, 2008 in Washington, D.C.

UNITY, emerging technology and journalism presentation, July 25, 2008 in Chicago.

Knight Foundation Meeting, emerging technology presentation, July 22, 2008 in Chicago.

IRE Conference, digital media presentation. June 5-8, 2008 in Miami, Florida.

World Newspaper Congress, digital media presentation. June 1-4 in Goteborg, Sweden.

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Amy in the News

I've appeared on many radio and television shows as well as on Vod- and Podcasts. Here are a few samples:

Radio: What's lost when you skip traditional media?, Talk of the Nation on NPR, Aug. 21, 2006

Video:Coverage from the norgs unconference in Philadelphia about mistakes newspapers are making.

Podcast: Citizen journalism, blogging and living digitally on CompuSchmooz, Nov. 7, 2006.

The state of international news and digital reporting, Larry Kane's Voice of Reason on CN8, Oct. 23, 2006

What's lost when you skip traditional media?, Talk of the Nation on NPR, Aug. 21, 2006

The Digital Diet, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug. 20, 2006

View from the cheap seats, blinq (Philadelphia Inquirer), May 25, 2006

Best of the Web, blinq (Philadelphia Inquirer), April 11, 2006

Saving Journalism,, March 26, 2006

Dragonfire brings a new approach to news, Online Journalism Review, Sept. 27, 2005

A New Player, The Tyee, July 5, 2005