The Web’s Baby Babble

Forkly, Mingly and Grovo. Twitter with its tweets and peeps. Digg, reddit, Bebo and Mixi. Tumblr, Flickr and folkd. Oovoo and Zoomr. Prezi and scribd. Badoo, Rapt, Mubi and Wooxie. Spotify, Blippy and Twilio. Zynga, Scribd and Tsy.

Pet names? No, all are real companies, social media and web 2.0 platforms — some better some worse, some useful some mere copycats and others just a waste of time. But they have one thing in common: Their names are pretentious and annoying. Spelled lower case or upper case and backward and what not. I am not really sure anymore. Web 2.0 galore. Well done!

To all you Silicon Valley and Alley cats: Enough already. Give it a rest. Don’t try too hard to be original. All you came up with was yet another syllable in a crowd of too many other similar syllables. But we are able to remember names with more than one syllable, you know. Regardless of what your branding guru says.

Please ditch your babyish sounds. Don’t make us repeat those sounds over and over (and my fellow peeps, let’s stop using them as verbs), as in: “Hey, have you digged (dug?) and pinned my flickr pix, shared them with your Mingly contacts and oovooed about them? xoxo”

Seriously?

Continue reading The Web’s Baby Babble

The Mobile Revolution: Apps for Journalists

Guest Post by Giuliana Lonigro

Gutenberg’s movable type printing press is often cited as the first 15th century mechanism that enabled the mass dissemination of information. But it wasn’t until the 17th century that the first newspapers were mass distributed in Europe. The last two centuries have seen bewildering advances in technology, which have all benefited journalism — from radio correspondents to broadcast television news and news organizations’ websites.

A previous blog post on this blog references a Nieman Journalism Lab article, in which Nicholas Carr postulated that 2012 would see the appification of media. Six months later, Pew’s newly released 2012 report on the state of American Journalism found that close to half of all adults own a smartphone, and the number of tablet owners has risen to nearly 20% of Americans over age 18. Media are increasingly being consumed via mobile devices, and journalists are following suit by creating media and using apps to get their reporting done on their mobile devices.

Apps for journalists fall into several categories, including social media, reporting, workflow, blogging, photography, and video/audio recording, editing and streaming. Many of the most popular apps also seem to be favorites with journalists, with some variations for iPhones or Android phones. Below are some of the apps used most often by journalists. What apps do you use most often? Let us know in the comments section below!

SOCIAL MEDIA

  • Twitter – can be used to track news from AP and other sources and also to tweet URLs to articles once they are posted. Has long been hailed as an extremely well written and user-friendly app.
  • LinkedIn – can be used to find professional sources for quotes, depending on the beat(s) you cover.
  • Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Buffer – help with productivity and time management with dashboards and helping schedule tweets.

REPORTING/WORKFLOW

  • Evernote – This award-winning app lets you take searchable notes, capture photos, create to-do lists and record voice reminders.
  • 5-0 Police Scanner – to listen to radio traffic from police, fire, or ambulances.
  • Skype – offers surprisingly clear connection as compared with regular mobile phone lines for interviews.
  • Merriam-Webster dictionary – Because every good reporter needs to check on a word once in a while! Also features audio recordings of pronunciation.
  • AP Style book ($24.99) – surprisingly pricey, but it’s considered the Bible in many circles, and it’s worth it for the reporter on-the-go.
  • Dropbox – store files in the cloud and access from computer, laptop or portable devices anywhere.
  • Cardmunch – works with LinkedIn by scanning pictures of business cards and automatically adding contacts to your LinkedIn profile.

BLOGGING

  • Tumblr – can post text, video, a URL, audio, photos from a mobile device.
  • WordPress – The platform of choice for many bloggers; the app allows you to create and edit blog posts as needed.

PHOTOGRAPHY/PHOTO EDITING

  • Camera+ ($0.99 for a limited time) – includes a timer, a grid to make sure photos aren’t crooked, settings for exposure and focus, a fill light and digital zoom.
  • Instagram and Hipstamatic – Poynter has reported on the debate about whether these photo filtering and sharing apps are dumbing down and whether news organizations are cheating their audiences by their use of filters.
  • ProCamera ($2.99) – this app is similar to Camera+ but also shoots video.

VIDEO & AUDIO RECORDING/STREAMING/EDITING

  • iTalk Recorder – records from iPhone and emails files.
  • Audioboo – records up to three-minute voice memos; audio files can then be uploaded to the Audioboo website with titles, tags, geolocation information and a photo. “Boos” can then be easily shared to social media channels.
  • Ustream and Ustream Broadcaster – allows live streaming of interactive video. Allows you to poll your audience and follow other broadcasters’ streams.
  • 1st Video Net – Unlike most of the apps in this post, this video editing app is for networked commercial customers of VeriCorder who are professional reporters and other content creators.

REPORTERS WHO TRAVEL

  • JiWire Wi-Fi Finder – Finds Wi-Fi hotspots for public Wi-Fi anywhere in the world; works both online and offline
  • Word Lens – Translates English, French and Spanish in real-time with the phone cam. A network connection is not needed, and language packs are sold separately via in-app purchase.

Giuliana is a writer and social media strategist who lives in Jersey City.

Journalism ca. 1940

Headlines and Deadlines recently posted this wonderfully quaint video about newspaper journalism in the 1940s (“You Life Work Series”), probably taken from the Prelinger Archives. I posted the same video in the past and wrote about women in journalism — now and then but it is worth reposting.

Aside from the fact that the newspaper business was a man’s business, what struck me as the biggest difference between then and now was that the hierarchies were much less defined. In this video, the managing editor sits with his staff in the same newsroom, no special treatment here. I wish today’s executive editors would be less self-centered and as humble.

The video also shows footage of manual typesetting and layout, printing and the process of creating matrix molds for syndication, skills that are all but lost.

As are the jobs for journalists…

 [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHgwFYbSF6E]

New Media’s Lack of Diversity

In “New Media—but Familiar Lack of Diversity” (Fairs EXTRA! June 2012), Janine Jackson writes that women and people of color are still marginalized online.

“Traditional outlets, of course, did not and do not report ‘for everyone,’ but demonstrably exclude and marginalize many people and perspectives, particularly the less politically and economically powerful. Progressive critics and activists, seeing corporate journalism’s ‘crisis’ as an opportunity, hoped that newly emerging outlets would avoid repeating those myopic patterns, forging not just new pay structures, but a new definition of news as something more than what powerful people say and do.”

It seems New Media have failed women miserably.

The Op-Ed Report features on its homepage an interactive count how many women are represented each given month at various new and old media outlets. At last count (May 22-28), 69% of posts in the Huffington Post were written by men and 31% by women. Salon had an even larger gap: 79% of its stories were written by men and only 21% by women.

The Op-Ed Project published a survey in May that states that women tend to write a lot of stories on ‘pink topics’ — food, fashion, family and furniture. Among the new media organizations surveyed, 34 percent of the stories women wrote were on pink topics.

But to be fair, many women writers tend to pitch their editors pink stories that they think other women want to read and they don’t submit enough op-eds on heavier topics. A classic Catch 22 that only we can resolve.

Ladies, get your pens out, err, polish your keyboards and get to work.

Too Old to be Online?

According to a PewResearch study, for the first time, half of seniors over 65 are online.

“As of April, 53% of adults ages 65 and older said they used the internet or email. Though these adults are less likely than all other age groups to use the internet, this represents the first time that half of seniors are going online. After several years of very little growth among this group, these gains are significant. […] One third (34%) of internet users age 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18% do so on a typical day.” 

CISPA = SOPA 2.0?

Remember the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)? This controversial privacy act was up for a vote in the House and the Senate respectively at the beginning of the year and caused a huge uproar, an internet blackout by more than 115,000 websites, an outpour of comments and discussions on social media and more than 3 million e-mails to Congress, urging lawmakers to change their vote. Read my recap here. On January 20, 2012, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Smith postponed plans to draft the bill: “The committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation … The House Judiciary Committee will postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution.”

Now comes CISPA. The so-called Cybersecurity Bill, or by its official name the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act“, was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on April 26 by a vote of 248 to 168. The Senate is due to vote on the bill in the coming weeks. Obama has vowed to veto the bill. (You can follow the voting process of the bill in the House here). While SOPA was about intellectual property, CISPA is about cybersecurity.

Propublica offers this rundown on the debate and explains why you should care:

“CISPA’s liability shield has sparked concern based on the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure. Opponents contend the law would make it too easy for private companies and the intelligence community to spy on users in the name of cyber security.”

Here is another take how CISPA would affect you, via Cnet:

“For all its flaws, SOPA targeted primarily overseas Web sites, not domestic ones. It would have allowed the U.S. attorney general to seek a court order against the targeted offshore Web site that would, in turn, be served on Internet providers in an effort to make the target virtually disappear. It was kind of an Internet death penalty targeting Web sites like ThePirateBay.org, not sites like YouTube.com, which are already subject to U.S. law. CISPA, by contrast, would allow Americans’ personal information to be vacuumed up by government agencies for cyber security and law enforcement purposes, as long as Internet and telecommunications companies agreed. In that respect, at least, its impact is broader.”

More resources: http://www.privacyisawesome.com/

 Feel safer yet?

Toby Young on Journalism

“[The media have] gradually become more respectable, which is a bad thing. Luckily, the Internet is making it less respectable again. To paraphrase Ben Hecht, journalists should occupy a rung on the status ladder somewhere between whores and bartenders.” […]

“I’m sure journalist/activists will become more common. It’s something that goes hand in hand with blogging. It’s a combination of roles that seems to be more and more popular with young journalists just entering the profession.” Read more (via The Browser).

The Joy of Quiet

Quote of the day (from an op-ed by Pico Iyver in the New York Times a while back, but still very much relevant):

“In barely one generation we’ve moved from exulting in the time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them — often in order to make more time. The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug. Like teenagers, we appear to have gone from knowing nothing about the world to knowing too much all but overnight. […] We have more and more ways to communicate, as Thoreau noted, but less and less to say. Partly because we’re so busy communicating. And — as he might also have said — we’re rushing to meet so many deadlines that we hardly register that what we need most are lifelines.” 

The Sins of Our [Web Development] Past

I just came across these pictures (top: homepage; bottom: sub-landing page) of my first, heavily text-based website that I built in 1998 (Hmmm. Where were screenshot options back then?). Here are larger sizes of the top and bottom images. The blue arrow blinked, and the site was entirely built by hand-coding with a strict print-layout style in mind. WYSIWYG editors or blogging platforms back then? Pah!

Notice, my email address was @compuserve.com… I was really into typography.

It is fun looking back. Back then, I experimented with HTML and made many (in hindsight), horrible design choices. But there weren’t that many templates and how-to guidelines to go by.

Now, the same site looks like this, with CSS3 and HTML5 and social media plug ins, Google Analytics and what not.

We’ve come a long way. Here is a stunning infographic about the evolution of the web. Another graphic by Mashable shows the progress in web design over the years. And check out here how Amazon, Google, Apple and Hotmail, among others, looked like just 10 years ago.

On that same note, here is a website dedicated to web designs of the past: “What Was the First Website You Designed.” You can submit your own first designs there. Don’t be shy.

And to all you non-designers or web developers who grew up with the ease of social media and blogging platforms to publish your stuff: Don’t smirk. Not so long ago, we were pretty much left on our own to come up with what you might take for granted now.

UPDATE: Found the amazing Waybackmachine by Internet Archive (http://archive.org/web/web.php) that lets you search screenshots of any site over the years. Check my site going back to 1999 or plug in an URL and go back in time.