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September 02, 2008

Google's Browser: Chrome

Launching today...at least they're saying today...is 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...

July 31, 2008

Another 2D Barcode Scanner for the iPhone

Another new 2D barcode scanner has been released for the iPhone, and this one is robust! 2D Sense allows you to scan in several different kinds of codes - works pretty well so far.

Want to know more about 2D barcodes? Read here and here. Ooh - read here, too.

Check back later today for a real example of 2D barcodes in a well-known magazine. Stay tuned...

July 30, 2008

Fun With LexisNexis: DOJ aide breaks the law using Nexis.com

I'm not going to comment on politics here or what I think about former Atty General Alberto Gonzales. A few days back, the Justice Department released a new report saying that some folks illegally influenced which judges and lawyers got hired.

The report is long, but there's a nugget detailing how the search darling of every reporter, LexisNexis, helped implicate the folks who are now in big trouble. It appears as though they used a standard search string for every candidate that went something a little like this:

[first name of a candidate] and pre/2 [last name of a candidate] w/7 bush or gore or republican! or democrat! or charg! or accus! or criticiz! or blam! or defend! or iran contra or clinton or spotted owl or florida recount or sex! or controvers! or racis! or fraud! or investigat! or bankrupt! or layoff! or downsiz! or PNTR or NAFTA or outsourc! or indict! or enron or kerry or iraq or wmd! or arrest! or intox! or fired or sex! or racis! or intox! or slur! or arrest! or fired or controvers! or abortion! or gay! or homosexual! or gun! or firearm!

Yeah, you guessed it. No gay, intoxicated racists with a tie to Kerry or Enron who also had an abortion and owned a gun made it to the first round of interviews. See starting p. 26 of the Justice Dept. report here for all the gory details. My favorite part? The aides spent a bunch of time inventing search strings to dig up dirt on themselves. Reads like an afternoon soap opera!

(Via Dr. Brian, husband.)

April 02, 2008

The Semantic Web: What's in it for journalists?

While you're sitting at your desk, trying to out-think Google by inserting tags and keywords into your news story, a handful of smart companies are reorganizing the web as we know it. They're working on something called the semantic web - and it'll forever change how we publish journalism online.

While the semantic web isn't an entirely new concept, it is finally starting to materialize. Last August, I posted a short entry about semantic web developments and a video with a pretty good explanation of just what the thing is.

Since then, there have been some significant developments. For one, Radar Networks has recently launched Twine (currently in private beta only). Speaking of radar, just slightly under it is Yahoo, which is expected to quietly launch a semantic search beta in a matter of weeks.

What is it?
What we have right now are some darn good algorithms that search and rank information based on a number of things - how many times we search on a specific term and select a webpage based on its description, relevance of content within a site, etc. But as the web grows, and as we continue to add content, it's becoming more difficult to seek and actually find what we're looking for.

More importantly, search technology is developing into a more sophisticated form of what we know now. The semantic web searches and learns information as we use it. It processes the intended meaning of our words and phrases and pieces different strings together.

To wit: let's say that I was headed to Sweden (I am, for a presentation this June) and wanted to learn both information about the region and simultaneously coordinate with other folks who are going to be there. Via the semantic web, I could search through maps, restaurant reviews, museums - your standard stuff. Using Radar Network's Twine, all of this information would be automatically tagged and indexed for that trip. Then, it might also look through my contacts' stored information - calendars, for example - and connect me with people who will be in or near the region at the same time as I've designated on my own stored calendar At the end, I'll have created a pretty thorough dossier with everything I'll need - even dinner companions - for my trip.

In a sense, having access to the semantic web is like have access to a hyper-organized, blazing fast secretary who also happens to be the best research librarian on the planet.

How does the semantic web impact journalism?
One thing online publishers have wrestled with for years is how to get content seen. That's only getting more difficult, as more people add content via blogs, personal sites, etc. And since wire copy is also being indexed separately from traditional newspapers or magazines, it's not always easy to get people from a search engine to your particular website.

At journalism and other conferences, there always seems to be a panel on metrics. Search Engine Optimization 101. Drive Traffic Using Search.

But pretty soon, we're going to see a paradigm shift. Those great SEO tricks you paid to learn aren't necessarily going to work. And at some point in the future, Google may not be the big kahuna of search anymore.

I think that people will start to think in specifics but aggregate by topic area. They'll want some assistance as they search the web, and they'll learn to love being fed suggested content based on what they preference. This means that news publishers ought to start thinking more about their core competencies...local news, sports, regional politics...and devote resources to building up their newsrooms again so that they'll be armed with high-quality reporting and contextual information on their sites. Online publishers will have to start thinking about how a story's content relates to other content, to people, to ideas in what will become Web 3.0.

And it'd be a good idea to get someone on your staff soon who understands all this stuff.

More s semantic web resources: Blue Organizer, Freebase, Hakia.

 

January 16, 2008

GahooYoogle...Now PolyCola

We're not sure what happened, beyond what appears to be a cease-and-desist letter sent by Yahoo to Arbel Hakopian and crew, but GahooYoogle is now down permanently. If you're a reporter and are trying to access the URL, it's down and doesn't redirect.

Never fear - access their other site, PolyCola instead.

 

September 19, 2007

Search the Social Web...

I've updated my tipsheet on searching through and using the social web. Download your copy here.

August 22, 2007

PolyCola: Split-screen searching

From Arbel Hakopian, the maker of GahooYoogle, comes PolyCola - a super-charged dual search engine interface.

The name is bizarre, but the site works beautifully. Mix and match Google, Yahoo, Windows Live, Ask, Dogpile, Altavista and (inexplicably) AOL Search. You can even narrow results further by searching only news, video, web, images, etc. Standard Boolean definitions work, too. Oh, and there's a Firefox extension to boot.

August 09, 2007

Who Owns What: Media v2.0

Think Murdoch's acquisition of the Dow Jones properties is scary? Then you haven't taken a look at Google's scorecard lately.

In the past year, Google has been hunting prospects and nabbing some of the most innovative communications tools out there. Among the group: GrandCentral, Feedburner, Panoramio, Tonic Systems, Adscape Media...the list goes on.

A few weeks back, I started compiling lists of major media companies and their acquisitions. I'm usually not surprised to hear that a deal's gone through...the DoubleClick announcement didn't rock the digital media world. But when I look at the companies in aggregate form, that gives me pause.

We're so darn concerned about what Rupert will do to the Journal, what will happened to Times Select next, whether or not reporters should be allowed to blog that we're losing sight of the bigger picture.

The central figure in that picture is Google, which by the way is hedging $4 billion to gain open access to the wireless spectrum.

The future of media isn't only about content, it's about delivery. While jurnos are busy bickering about whether or not to allow visitor comments on their websites, other companies are moving full-speed ahead with radically different business models. They're thinking broadly: aggregator + search + content + mobile + gaming = sustainability.

So strike that paragraph above. It is about content, and content will ultimately save journalism. It seems to me that the smartest thing for us to do is to develop alternative ways to communicate news to consumers - and to think about convergence in terms of broad media consumption, rather than paper-broadcast partnerships.

The Who Owns What v2.0 chart is downloadable here. Pin it to your cubicle wall...then take a few aspirin. It's going to be an interesting few years ahead.

(And if you notice a correction, please let me know. The chart doesn't have every acquisition - there wasn't enough space.)

 

June 28, 2007

Thoof...Now In Public Beta

Thoof, the Digg-like automated news service, is now in public beta. Have a look at what I said about the service a few weeks back. Give it a trial run here.

Listen to this article Listen to this article

May 31, 2007

Mobile Search - "Will Sing" Part II

Not too long ago, I extolled the virtues of Midomi, the incredibly smart voice-activated search engine:

...by audio, I mean you can literally hum a few bars of a song into it and it'll return likely results.

Why is this important? In another life I was a musician, classically trained in piano. I don't play anymore. I do have a great appreciation for music, but I have a horrible time remembering the names of songs. I used to hear something playing in the background or at a party and then would have to call my sister, a professional opera singer, hum a few bars and then beg for info as she berated me, American Idol-style.

So far, Midomi has found Alcohol (Barenaked Ladies) and Let Go (Frou Frou). I tried singing in some Japanese songs I know well but they didn't pop up.

Then I found a press release in my inbox from Verizon. They've launched V CAST Song ID, which essentially mimics the same kind of search:

With Verizon Wireless' exclusive new V CAST Song ID, you can now hear a song, hold the phone toward the music, watch it capture
a sample of what you're listening to and within seconds V CAST Song ID will identify the music, and allow you to purchase a matching full-track song, Ringtone or Ringback tone -- all right over-the-air from your phone.

Verizon has supposedly indexed 4 million songs and a quick search should produce a display with the name of artist, song title and, because this is a commercial enterprise, a note about how to download the track as an mp3, a ringtone or a ringback tone.

ed

Midomi, and now Verizon...

Our industry should, in the very near future, capitalize on what we do best. We aggregate (reporting). We sort, verify and analyze (writing and editing). And ultimately we make content available to the masses (publishing).

I know that citizen journalism is the latest, hottest trend now, but I wish that we could branch off into the direction of smarter aggregating and publishing. We should be in the business of innovating tools like Midomi.

Listen to this article Listen to this article

May 09, 2007

Bookmark Spring Cleaning...

Not Journalism, But Cool...

I've been cleaning out bookmarks and found a few that I'd forgotten about. I'll reintroduce them to you here:

From Monash University: Jim Breen's WWWJDIC Japanese-English Dictionary Server

This is, quite possibly, the single most amazing site on the Internet. Now before you get too excited, this is mainly going to come in handy when translating or looking up kanji or vocabulary words. But here's why I think it's fantastic: you can literally copy and paste kanji characters into an image recognition database and it'll spit out the reading in kana, the pronunciation and a definition. It should impress you even if you don't know Japanese: spend a few minutes on the site and you'll marvel at how well all Breen's data is aggregated, sorted and made available via a very simple user interface.

 

Compete!

snapshot.compete.com is an ambitious site, encouraging people to compare searches and other data between multiple sites. It's not search, it's searching to find meaning in metrics. It's a fast-action crowd sourcing exercise, and while it only tracks data on those registered or actively using the site, it's still an interesting look at how we're using the Internet.

 

Dial A Human Shortcuts...

The Seattle Times published this over a year ago, but I've kept it bookmarked because it's so handy. Reporters on the business desk compiled a list to help you navigate automated phone systems and get to an actual human. It works...though some of the information might now be out of date. Examples include Amtrak (I have it on speed dial), Starbucks, Cosco, AOL, etc.

 

StumbleUpon

If you haven't downloaded the toolbar yet, do it today! StumbleUpon is by far my most favorite Web 2.0 innovation. You select a group of interesting subjects and then click on the toolbar icon to stumble. I've hooked most of my family members, friends, students and clients on it - if anything, people complain that I've given them another way to procrastinate...

May 03, 2007

Obsessed With Google Web History!

I've discovered Google Web History, a new tracking service that keeps tabs on every single page of every single site you visit online. It's a sort of reverse stat counter - metrics for yourself.

I visit hundreds of web pages every day - and now I find myself coming back to Web History to see where I've been.

The service raises obvious concerns. It's a bit like engaging a stalker to deliver reports of what he's seen you doing all day long... On the other hand, smart web publishers are keeping tabs on you already.

Google has just enabled you to stalk yourself.

More f rom: Google, Search Engine Watch

April 13, 2007

Yahoo/ Newspaper Partnership Expands...

From today's LATimes: A dozen companies that own about 250 daily newspapers are preparing to expand a ground-breaking partnership with Yahoo Inc. to share advertising and editorial content. The companies are working with Yahoo to give wider Internet play to their news reports, draw users to their Web pages and offer national advertisers a one-stop solution for multiple newspaper Web sites, executives said....

...The Yahoo-newspaper partnership began last November when seven news companies teamed up to sell employment ads through Yahoo's classified job site, HotJobs. The consortium has been growing since and will be strengthened considerably by the addition of McClatchy Co., the nation's second-largest publisher by circulation, the executives said.

 

March 26, 2007

Launched: The MyDigimedia Toolbar

I've cobbled together a digital journalism toolbar that you can install right into your browser (Firefox recommended, though IE 6 or above should also work).

The toolbar will give you access to digital journalism resources, such as professional organizations, how to's, downloadable tipsheets and RSS (blog and podcast) feeds about/ for digital journalism. Just for kicks, you'll also get your local weather. You can customize it to some extent as well...

Once you've installed it, all of the links will be automatically refreshed when you launch your browser. I'll be adding more resources in the coming weeks. Speaking of new resources, give me a shout if you think something should be added!

Seed Newsvine

March 23, 2007

Whoisn't: Blocking identities on the Whois database

This past week, a Whois task force met to discuss whether or not to keep registration information private. The current system started back in the 1980s when the Internet was used primarily by a small group academics and government researchers who already knew each others' personal information. (You've likely used Network Solutions, which maintains a slick interface to the Whois database, to search for registrants in the past.)

An international task force is now lobbying for a substantial change that would completely hide registrants' information. Blocking personal information would obviously make it much more difficult for journalists -- not to mention police officers and lawyers -- to contact web site owners.

Hearings are scheduled next week in Lisbon before the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which is the international organization that oversees Internet addresses.

Resources:
ICANN's most recent announcement on the proposed changes
Summary of previous Whois announcements made by ICANN

Seed Newsvine

February 19, 2007

Found: New social bookmark search at Infopirate

Just stumbled upon this bookmark search engine today at infopirate.org. A very Web 2.0 way for journalists to dig deeper for information.

February 15, 2007

How to use YahooPipes...

Franticindustries just posted five intriguing ways to use YahooPipes. (HT: Lifehacker)

For example, number three:

News in English

What is it and how it’s done? Reddit, Netscape, and Digg are not enough for you? Aching to read what the Europeans are voting on, but you just don’t have the language skills? No worries. In this pipe, I’ve taken the top 10 items from Spanish site Meneame.net, as well as German and French versions of Wikio, and created a single feed in English.

How useful is it? Well, it’s not bad. I’ve taken a silly example, but being able to take feeds in many different languages and turn them into one feed in a language of your choice will surely be very useful for many users.

Link: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/2E8akQO62xGrchCW0kqv4w
RSS: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/2E8akQO62xGrchCW0kqv4w/run?_render=rss

I'd love to see newspapers harness a technology like this so that their online readers can have access to rich context surrounding a single subject. Here's one user-generated pipe aggregating blogs relating to 2008 presidential candidates. (You'll have to login with a Yahoo password to get access to YahooPipes.)

One problem would be that newspapers would have to allow multiple inbound strings of information outside of their own brand, wire service or media partnership...

...course, I don't see that as an impediment.

(Also see related Yahoo story in MyDigimedia)