December 28, 2007

Sneaky ways to start social media at work

Social media certainly is the hot topic and Bloghound: The Foghound Blog takes time to give us 10 ways to persuade the boss to do it.

But that's not going to be my problem, since the days of having a boss are numbered. (I am thinking about how online media sites might use.)

But let's start with a look at those 10 tips.

Here's a summary:
1. Start small, quiet and don’t call what you’re doing social media, Web 2.0 or any of the phrases associated with losing control. Be sneaky: The Foghound suggests doing a podcast, for example, but calling it a series of interviews to start.

2. Host a thought leadership community, with editorially independent bloggers who are influential in your industry.

3. Show the value to search, emphasizing how having valued content helps people find you.

4. Link to the strategic innovation and customer agendas for your company.

5. Watch your competitors, and share what they are doing with executives.

6. Make sure you know how things - visitors, downloads, etc. - are measured.

7. Do a weekly email digest of the most relevant blog posts in your industry for your boss and other execs

8. Create a private online community of customers and prospects.

9. Do a small, 6-month test that is reasonably budgeted and appealing. (Belive the hint of avoiding a company blog as the first effort).

10. Stay grounded and don’t get infatuated.

OK, I really boiled this post down. Go see the original for more explanation.

A tip of the hat for saying thanks

The Social Media Explorer had an up-and-down-and-up experience recently after trying out a social media site centering on travel.

It all started when Jason Falls dropped by to check out a travel site. He wrote a couple of reviews and this week he got an email inviting to him "come" and get a small token of appreciation.

But he got to the designated site and learned he didn't qualify. Oops.

Wait, next up he gets another email apologizing for a glitch that erroneously kept him from the prize. So he tries again. Now, we'll have to wait and see if he gets the hat. Meanwhile, he's happy.

See, Mom was right. It never hurts to say thank you. Only let's make sure you can deliver when you offer.

A word for everything

Direct from a website, a word some of us need to remember ... twurt: A verb (used without object)

Origin: mashup of the words "tweet" and "blurt"

Definition: The act of posting a written statement on Twitter that you wouldn't say outloud or in "present company".

FAQ's: Why twurt and not bleet?

Because a bleet is what a goat does and goats don't use Twitter, silly.

visit the site to see some twurts :)

And I will try to remember there is no reason to share some things, even at 2 a.m.

Actually, today was a good learning day. I learned how to find the permanent address of a Tweet (hint: click on post time. Example Dumped H20 on verified bills. Oops 1 minute ago from web Try it over on

Plus I know why the RSS feed from a news blog to Twitter stopped. Hint: It had nothing to do with a gag order, just another firewall issue with twitterfeed.

(Better hint: Don't create passwords while taking pain pills, 'cause even if you write them down you may not be able to remember/read them later. Ouch.)

My brain freeze lifted on the 140 Club. Silly, that is the exact limit of a Tweet. Some folks want to use all 7 tiles in Scrabble, others want a Tweet exactly 140 characters. (not one of my goals).

Last, but not least, I figured out how to get Tweets as an RSS feed. I have found I like getting Facebook statutes for friends that way. Soon I hope to see if that is a good way to get Tweets.

Now if I could figure out why some folks follow my Twittering and why the iPhone wants it to be twided when I want it to be twitter I could sleep at 2 a.m. (sure).

Wise words stick around

It's always fun to find an old posting that stays relevant for a long time .... say 1997 to today? Doc Searls is one of the folks who has done this repeatedly. He shared some insights over on Jeremiah Owyang's Web Strategy post on Facebook and pointed us to something he wrote in 1997 on Steve
Jobs and Apple.

Take a moment and think about these two phrases:
Necessity is the mother of invention
Inventions mother necessity

and then head over to read both posts.

Meanwhile, I'm going to think about the Five People I Want to Meet in Heaven (to borrow a title.) Or would I know I am in heaven if Doc Searls, Dave Winer, Jeremiah Owyang and Howard Rheingold were together? (Don't worry the lineup will change another day - I'm cleaning an office out and running across lots of memory triggering items.)

December 27, 2007

What every good journalist needs to do, but won't

The folks who need to read Howard Owens' survival tips most probably don't know how to find his blog. But I really like his suggestions. Of course, Howard put the suggestions in business language, calling them objectives for today's non-wired journalists. (Even offers a prize, so tell your non-wired friends.)

I like this approach as it is faster then my 'educate gently' philosophy. Or is it called teachable moment? Either way, it takes a lot longer to encourage folks to use Yahoo alerts and Google search announcements if you just show them when they have an immediate need, or how to use Twitter when they want to follow Black Friday sales ,or use Bloglines or Google Reader to track experts for a developing story or expertise.

I know I have encouraged at least three top editors to get Myspace pages, have at least one editor with a FaceBook account, and another spending his vacation creating his very first web page.

Of course, a CEO's challenge to have newspaper folks befriend him seemed to inspire a rash of friending but I have backed off on that. (Who would believe that two more people on FaceBook would have the same name, and some didn't like the requests from strangers.) It has been fun to watch the pokings, pages, and other networking spread through FaceBook.

But if you toss in $$ like Owens or even follow his suggestion to make them steps your Manage By Objectives in 2008, I can see where progress would come along faster.

Mindy Adam's likes most of Howard Owens's recommendations:
Journalists everywhere need to quit whining and go into action. Howard Owens has issued a challenge for all your non-networked friends — you know, the ones who never read any blogs except Romenesko or Shop Talk. The ones who don't know how to work their digital cameras — or worse, don't even own one. Yeah, you know who these people are. They're all over your newsroom.

She suggests we "Print it out for them if you have to!" and tells us why:
  • They could save your friend's career.
  • They could open new doors.
  • They could make your friends love
    journalism again, the way they used to.

She's not crazy about "messing around with Facebook andMySpace." (My suggestion is she needs to use them more and she'll understand why journalists need to know their way around.)

But Adams does say she hopes that everyone gets into blogs and RSS feeds, "essential components of my daily work."
"I am continually shocked when I meet journalists who say they don't readblogs. It's inconceivable."

Read the rest of her reasons over on her blog.

Unfortunatley, I think Owens and Adams are preaching to the converted. It will be hard to get some folks ever interested.

Need more convincing. Amy Grahan wraps everything nicely online. Her biggest gripe is that the challenge should be available to those not working for news organizations because:
"Personally, I don't see the point of that, since so many of us are independent -- and more will become independent (by choice or not) as the traditional news business continues to erode. We may end up working alone, or in co-ops, or for whatever replaces Google, who knows? I think an important part of this process is envisioning the role of journalism and journalists not only separately from news organizations but in developing a contingency plan for continuing journalism in an increasingly likely future where news orgs have largely ceased to exist."

I also like the link to Digital Native 'cause that's a whole another post someday.

(PS: Over on at least one Michigan newspaper is quite honest in a description for a multimedia specialist, reminding you that the person will work with techies to non-believers.)

December 26, 2007

Three outcomes for investigative reporting?

You still can comment on a draft chapter on blogs and investigative reporting over on the Online Journalism blog. The blog - and post - is written by Paul Bradshaw. He suggests three paths for the future of investigative journalism.

Bradshaw suggests these ways:
1) Mainstream media can use investigative journalism to provide a distinctive product and prevent the readership migrating elsewhere online.
2) News organizations with declining budgets but a commitment to public service may outsource part of their investigative work to take advantage of their brands and experiences. One possible outsourcing would be to use "crowds," ie. the public and/or experts in the community to help look at something.
3) Foundations and reader donations will increasingly support investigative journalism as an important contribution to society.

Bradshaw says, for now, he expects the third solution to be the most popular and most likely.

Foundations and private support for investigations (as well as local journalism) is exactly what Dan Gillmor proposed in September in this piece.

What do you think? Will we see more groups like the nonprofit group Pro Publica forming? (That link takes you to a New York Times article about the group.) Can Pro Publica, now found at, succeed?

December 25, 2007

Andy Carver back, more on blog anniversary

Sometimes, it is fun to look back at the old days. I enjoyed reading Andy Carvin's nostalgic look; partially because I remember those edweb days. He calls the entry "Learning to Embrace My Inner Blogger," partially because of all the attention being paid to blogs in honor of the 10th anniversary of the word "blog.

I never thought of him as a young kid just out of college. I always pictured him as a wizened man, a professor type who got the job of his dreams through public radio. I was sad that I lost track of him for a few years, but the circle isn't broken and all of a sudden I was running into him everywhere. Now, a senior strategist for online communities at NPR I still think he has a dream job.

By the way, NPR celebrates the 10th anniversary of the naming of blogs with a timeline and a week-long series, on the evolution of the blogosphere, the language and culture of blogs, and out how blogs are changing our lives.

December 23, 2007

Blogger: "I'm feeling a little dirty"

Blogger Tara Hunt effectively expresses one of the problems I've had with crowdsourcing when she asks "Please Stop Crowdsourcing Me" in a recent post.

Hunt says:
"I started to feel a little dirty…a little used…a little like cheap labor, replacing people you probably laid off or decided to save money on not hiring because you were getting so much great value out of my time."

I'm not sure exactly what started the rant on (I love the URL), but it is worth a visit to her blog. She leads us to a few more sites and shares her insights on why good crowdsourcing requires reciprocity.

Her feelings are similar to something that perplexes me about volunteers. Are people giving service and time for free what a company should pay for?

(I am thinking about this more and more as non-profits hear I'll soon have "lots of extra time" on my hands as I leave the newspaper/online venture I've worked with for 29 years. Oh, the dreams dancing in their heads as they seek to make sure I have lots to do, a web site here, a contest there, a class over there.)

Do volunteers give a nonprofit an advantage for success that "regular" companies can never achieve?

Will crowdsourcing or sites using only content generated by users help to eliminate more paying jobs for those with journalism or media degrees?

I see big advantages in involving communities in generating content about so many subjects. I just worry about the long-term effects and wonder if we have thought this all the way through.

December 19, 2007

More on Tina Brown

Just to keep you up-to-date (courtesy of the SPJ PressNotes*):
Here's the hot skinny on the queen of buzz. The amazing Tina Brown is in a newly struck, first-look deal to bring projects and story ideas to HBO, the TV network that also seems to understand "buzz" and great storytelling versus the hackneyed stuff that is on the networks. That's according to Liz Smith of the New York Post

*SPJ PressNotes is an e-mail newsletter produced every business day by the Society of Professional Journalists. It is made possible through a grant from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation. Send subscription requests to

December 17, 2007

Jan Schaffer: Use Big J-ournalists wisely

I first posted this back on Nov. 23, but I am moving it into this blog.

Jan Schaffer: "Use your Big-J journalists where they can really add value. Professional journalists should focus their expertise and skills on doing investigations, identifying trends, building databases, holding public officials accountable and articulating the master narratives in their communities."

But news orgs need to think beyond employing journalists, too. Here are some of the roles Schaffer sees expanding:
  • Can do-ers "instead of those who whine about what they can't do."
  • Computer programmers to build searchable databases or news games. (Which goes great with the new program at Northwestern University to get computer folks interested in Journalism as well as the Gotham Gazette, which got a Knight News Challenge to develop games.)
  • Collaborators with "the sensibility to see the possibilities of working together instead of moving into kneejerk competitor mode."
  • News analysts to "trawl incoming information looking for Big-J opportunities."
  • Tribe expanders: "Journalism in the future will come from many places. We should contribute to the momentum of the best and most responsible efforts and recruit them for the info-structure."
I have really taken a very small part of the post by Jan, so I urge you to consult the original called Construct Your Community's Info-Structure.

December 15, 2007

Tina Brown: Media challenge, no blog for her

Shoma Chadhury caught up with Harold Evans and Tina Brown in Delhi where they spoke to about the challenge of journalism in the world today

I pulled out a few things that I was most interested in, starting with this question:
What is the biggest challenge facing media in America today? And India?
Corporatisation. The sophistry of the big conglomerate guys is to say there’s never been more plurality of outlet.
Here's the rest of her reply.

Sure. We have a thousand and one outlets now, but their circulation is zip.

There isn’t a place to have any meaningful public discourse. You’re just talking to yourself. Most publications and networks don’t have the critical mass.
And the major networks and newspapers don’t want to do the work.

... Journalists have to become entrepreneurs. The search for the billionaire with a conscience is a dead end.

... But though media is almost more important than politics at this point, the trouble is American newspapers where my heart lies are really a dying thing and you can’t persuade people to invest in them.

It has to be online. I’ve been working on a website.

I’m determined to make global journalism sexy.

But the web is a capricious thing. No one has figured the economic model. It will get resolved. We are in the in-between stage.

It’s like being in the middle of the Industrial Revolution.

Until we figure the online model, we’re stuck with old models with the corporations killing everything. There isn’t a serious journalist who doesn’t feel this. This is not just about professional dissatisfaction. It’s— as Al Gore says in his book — really affecting the marketplace of ideas.
She also shared why you shouldn't expect a blog from her anytime soon.

What do you think the trick on the web will be? I find blogs totally overrated. No rigour.

That’s what the DNA of my website will be. Rigour. I don’t want any more spouting of sloppy opinions. I don’t have the time. ABC just fired 75 TV journalists and hired 75 bloggers instead, responsible only to themselves. It’s insane to do that to your brand. This is just the exuberance of a new medium. No one wants to look uncool, but who’s reading it? People keep asking me to blog, but I’m not going to lower my standards, and why would I write for nothing? Haven’t done that since childhood.
Interested? Then read the rest online

Hurry! It's time for Fantasy Congress

Now, my husband will tell you that this former political science student doesn't get excited about politics much anymore.

And there are a ton of friends and colleagues who will tell you I am not a fan of rotball and other fantasy sports games. But this looks interesting: Fantasy Congress.

Gee, if only I could influence the way Medicare Part D is administered. To start, I would make sure that each company that puts approved drugs on the their list HAVE to keep the drugs on the list all year.

Wonder if they have a California game. Imagine the time I could save each year with some changes in the Medicaid program there. I would no longer have to prove:

  • He still has Alzehimers
  • His military discharge hasn't changed,
  • He still is an American citizen and
  • Yes, he is still broke.
Want to play? You have until Jan. 4.

December 12, 2007

So, don't I know you?

As I spend more and more time on Linked-In, Facebook and other social networking sites, I am learning about how many people I have forgotten and how many have forgotten me.

In fact, this whole networking thing is becoming one of my regrets of life. How come I was so busy with work and family that I "forgot" to keep up with the people I met at conferences, through blogs and listservs, via places like downtown Flint, Lansing, East Lansing and Michigan State University, or through events like Wheatland Music Festival, Walnut Valley Festival, and the Flint Bluegrass Festival.

(OK, my family might argue about me keeping up with the family. After all, they laughed when they read on Facebook that I was a recovering workaholic and perfectionist.)

I recently had a Facebook outrage when an innocent question from a colleague about something in my status uncovered a range of emotions and feelings I didn't realize I had.

The statement that started the whole discussion revolved around being tired of institutions claiming they were only doing what their constituents wanted, ignoring the flaw in the way the "wants" were collected.

Before the discussion ended, I dumped on the colleague for forgetting our past. Yeah, I couldn't believe this person could forget that I interviewed him about 11 years earlier and written countless comments on his blogs over the years. Or that he didn't know me from other times our paths had crossed.

It didn't take long for me to understand what I was criticizing him for was the exact same thing I was doing to others. (Not a new "revelation", even making Anil Dash's blog way back in 1999, which yes, I forgot I used to read religiously.)

Why in just one week, I heard from three "strangers."

The first was a man whose book I helped edit. A book!

Then I started having e-talks with a man who got me into IRC years ago so we could chat about community computer networks in real time instead of through the use-net group. (Long before AIM)

Then I heard from this guy who wanted to know if I still collected recordings of "Jerusalem's Ridge" because he'd found a version he knew he hadn't given me in the years I did a radio show called Just Country.

I didn't remember any of them until they reminded me.


Wish I had been smart like Robb Montgomery, who uses several social networks to keep in touch with the colleagues he has met over the last 20 years.

"I have a photographic memory - I have to take photos to remember things. I can connect photos and contacts and remember people and events better."

Heck, right now I wish I had been smart enough to not wipe out all of my contacts on the Iphone this week. Or knew how to easily get them back (and, no my backup was useless.)

More on data as journalism

Looking over some of my past Tweets reminded me about this whole issues of data as journalism, and journalism as data.

At The Flint Journal, I recently helped reporter Ron Fonger use Google maps to discover patterns in where the City of Flint was demolishing houses. The maps let you zoom in and out so that readers could get as close to the data as they wanted.

Whenever I think of this subject, I think of the presentations that Adrian Holovaty gives where he shows how easily we could take some "common everyday journalism" stories and present them in a more usable way with databases. Say crime stories or even weddings.

I also have to remember the outrage the Lansing (MI) State Journal faced when it published all of the salaries of state government employees in the state. (And, of course, I have to laugh at how much traffic dropped at the end of the work day.)

The Readership Institute in November explored the whole "data as journalism, journalism as data" thread in this post.
Rich Gordon sums up why Gannet has pushed the Information Center idea online:
  • Data is "evergreen" content.
  • Data can be personal.
  • Data can best be delivered in a medium without space constraints.
  • Data takes advantage of the way people actually use the Web
  • Data, once gathered, can be excerpted in print.
He also talks with folks at the Indianopolis Star, highlighting some of the newspaper's sucessful databases and telling how they were done. (He includes links to their Siren Calls work as well as how Colts player Peynton Manning does

He follows with suggestions of what every online news center should do, again with lots of ideas and examples. You really need to read the original post.

(As an aside, I loved how he pointed out how many of the people involved with "computer-assisted journalism" - a phrase I hated and shared in a Nov. 2 1991, piece for Editor & Publisher - are often the ones leading the databases online approach.)

December 10, 2007

State schools sue to stop sale of photographs

Scary stuff for newspapers counting on revenue from photo sales. This
battle in Illinois, where the Illinois High School Association is suing newspapers, is one newspapers should follow closely

December 9, 2007

Graphing Social Patterns: The Business

Twitter summaries of a recent conference helped me understand some of Twitter's appeal and started me thinking of new ways to use some of the technology that springs up so. This site gave more background and insight as it explained Graphic Social Patterns and an upcoming conference.

So let's see if I have it right: First, there was the Internet, the linking of computers. This allowed basic document sharing and simple email as long as you were geeky enough to learn a little code and satisfied with text only. (brief text in the days of slow modems.)

Then, the world wide web brought images to the Internet. That act opened the Internet to many more.

Now, a third wave is here/coming. It is connections, reaching out to all we know -or want to know - in social networks. The growing pains now center around open ID, sharing of profiles across platforms.

In a way Facebook and the whole social network movement reminds me of the angst of mailing lists. After managing a listservs for so many years, I can predict some of the squabbles that will arise by the time of year.

Are the Facebook growing pains unlike the struggles free-nets experieced?

How could you have townhall-organization of information without allowing businesses online?

Now, it seems silly to keep businesses offline as many wanted in the early 1990s.

Someday perhaps the issue of ads on social networks will seem the same. (No. I am not in favor of the Beacon system that didn't allow choice).

Interesting twist:: Staten Island Ferry inspires blog

I like how someone noticed activity in a forum and decided to create a blog on the same topic, 
Ahoy all Staten Island Ferry riders ... I hope this Weblog will be a place that you will call home every day. I want to hear your ferry stories, gripes, questions and see your photos.

Now I want to know how many are reading blog about riding the Staten Island ferry.. How does that compare to the forum traffic?

It hadn't occurred to me to create a forum or blog on a community gathering place. Of course, as blogs tend to do, the ferry one led me to Overheard in New York. So now I want to combine Twitter feeds into a place blog that includes longer posts.

Next up - which Flint places? Downtown? Coney islands? Auto City Speedway? Or...

All of that gives me one more argument for site software that lets users create own topics, blogs as the new MovableType community piece. If only it wasn't so pricey. I like it, but can't justify cost for groups I can see using it.

Update: The blog changed addresses in July 2008.

New J-school requirement?

After reading "Entrepreneurial Journalism in the Facebook Age" online in the Bits Technology - New York Times Blog, I have to ask:
Will we need to insist that running your own business classes become part of the curriculm for j schools?

Or perhaps the training is needed only for those of us born after 1980? Read the original post on new ways to be a journalist for yourself to see what today's journalism students are thinking about for careers.

When I think about all the laid-off and boughtout journalists, I realize there is a lot of power capable of changing communities if the skills of that group were tapped. Money wasn't the motivator when they pursued that career choice. Figure out what was and change could happen. (does that sound too '60ish?)

November 18, 2007

Need for a new Trash 80

Jack Lail talks about the search for a new Trash 80. I liked the test for a computer's strength:
The "Trash 80" or as Tandy labeled it, the TRS-80 Model 100, 102 or 200, was completely able to survive the dreaded "sports reporter" treatment, which should be de rigueur testing for all laptops billed as durable.
I'm assuming that would be drop, kick and ....

Some would rather die then change

"Postmodernism is a change-or-be-changed world. The word is out: Reinvent
yourself for the 21st century or die! Some would rather die than change."

Leonard Sweet, cultural historian.

Food for thought on downsizing

One of the unintended consequences of downsizing is that we're sending capable people into the world to compete against us on the Web rather than creating new media options for them from which we also benefit. In this sense, traditional media companies may be supplying a two-by-four that will  one day be smacking them over the head.

Terry Heaton shares examples and says "So now these former employees are competing with their former employer as freelancers for a start-up". Do you see a pattern developing here?

Heaton points to Glenn Reynolds who in his book, An Army of Davids talks about “the triumph of personal technology of mass technology.” Despite this new reality, mainstream media companies continue to lay people off instead of exploiting the tools and energy of the personal media revolution to better serve their communities.

(This trip started for me through Jack Lail's Downsizing Old Media)

random thoughts to start on computers

TRS 80 - first computer used after leaving Michigan State; late 1970s
At Michigan stae - Cobol! Fortran! Crashing system at Lyman Briggs, mainframe 1972 - 73

Before that - IBM cards turned into wreaths

one of the first "home computers" for me was in 1983 - PFS file to do bluegrass festival; larry used for classwork; we dialed into university.

The Commodore 64 is an 8-bit home computer released by Commodore International in August, 1982, at a price of US$595. Preceded by the Commodore VIC-20 and Commodore MAX Machine, the C64 features 64 kilobytes (64×210 bytes) of RAM with sound and graphics performance that were superior to IBM-compatible computers of that time.[citation needed

At work, I used the "Trash 80" or as Tandy labeled it, the TRS-80 Model 100, 102 or 200. It was completely able to survive the dreaded "sports reporter" treatment, which should be de rigueur testing for all laptops billed as durable (Jack Lail).