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Reading Rainbow Funding

Reading Rainbow is something for kids to combat illiteracy.

Anything that promotes Literacy is a good thing.

Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere.

Kickstarter Link

Reading Rainbow the site.

News is bad for you

News is one of the most consumed categories of information on the web. News is information about events. According to Rolf Dobelli in a post on the Guardian Website, news is bad for you in a number of ways.

News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether

He makes an interesting set of arguments regarding the toxic nature of news.
He says,

“News is irrelevant. Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business.”

Personally I find some news highly relevant and it does directly affect my life.

By his own admission he has been news free for over 4 years, and this article is his latest exposition of his creative thinking. The rest of the article outlines the many ways that reading news makes us passive, wastes our time, causes toxic reactions in our bodies, promotes irrationality and makes us stupid.
Interestingly his website’s front page is a advertisement for his book.
His Media page are links to articles and interviews he has done online. Guess what? The Majority are News Sites

If you replace the word ‘news’ with the word ‘advertising’ this essay reads much better. But then it may just be my muddled thinking.

Notable Sites 12/10/2013

Current Cites
Current Cites has been published continuously since August 1990. It is an Annotated Bibliography of Selected Articles, Books and Digital Documents on Information Technology. “A team of librarians monitors information technology literature, selecting only the best items to annotate for this free publication.”
How we organize what we find and or where to find it will only become more important in the future.
This is the Current Issue Nov 2013

The Internet Scout
Published continuously since 1994 it posts an issue every Friday. It covers Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

The Scout Report is the flagship publication of the Internet Scout Research Group. Published every Friday both on the Web and by email subscription, it provides a fast, convenient way to stay informed of valuable STEM and humanities resources on the Internet. Our team of librarians and subject matter experts selects, researches, and annotates each resource.

This is the Current Issue

Terry Hart and his collaborators review the latest court cases on and about copyright in the US. A lot of the material is sprinkled with Latin lawyer jargon, (although pains are taken to explain the terminology as it appears) it does present a clear look at the current law on copyright. It is also noteworthy in its use of footnotes with links to source materials used in creating their articles.
An excellent example is the recent post:
Righthaven Revisited: What the Ninth Circuit Got Wrong
(News and Media Sites could use more of this type of linking to allow readers to make up their own minds on the articles veracity.)

An Added Bonus is none of these sites use cookies or trackers!

Quote of the day

One of the maxims of a free press is that news is what someone somewhere doesn’t want you to print: everything else is advertising

Without fear or favour: why we broke the spy story

Notables Nov 2013

Noteworthy Web sites
Data is Data until it is transformed. Most data is in the form of spreadsheets which to a large percentage of the population are equivalent to Insomnia Relief. Infographics are visual displays of data that transform it from numbers into visual presentations that make it understandable.

Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards is a site that scours the web for them and has created awards for excellence.
Here are the 2013 winners [NOTE: Image heavy! be advised that it will take a bit to load completely]

Chromeography is a photo site devoted to Emblems on Cars and other things. I spend a lot of time photographing cars, mostly wrecks, I found this interesting. Hat Tip Joe Jennet

Journalism’s Death has been greatly exaggerated

From Wikipedia comes this definition:

Journalism is a method of inquiry and literary style used in social and cultural representation. It serves the purpose of playing the role of a public service machinery in the dissemination and analysis of news and information. Emphasis mine.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalism

Make a note the dissemination and analysis of news and information. You will see this again.

From the Free Dictionary comes this definition of Journalism

1. The collecting, writing, editing, and presenting of news or news articles in newspapers and magazines and in radio and television broadcasts.
2. Material written for publication in a newspaper or magazine or for broadcast.
3. The style of writing characteristic of material in newspapers and magazines, consisting of direct presentation of facts or occurrences with little attempt at analysis or interpretation.
4. Newspapers and magazines.
5. An academic course training students in journalism.
6. Written material of current interest or wide popular appeal.

Some of the most vocal proponents of Journalism’s Demise are Advertisers, PR Firms, and the Social Media Loons.

What follows is a brief explanation of why folks think Journalism is dying.

Companies desire to sell you stuff from crayons to cars, which created Marketing which begat Ad Agencies aka Advertisers which create and place Ads, which begat PR Firms, to polish awareness and crisis manage companies reputations who step in it, and with the internet, begat Social Media Firms, whose purpose seems to be the bastard children of Advertisers and PR Firms one ‘like’,’tweet’ and ‘post’ at a time.. Biblical for sure.

News Media outlets, Newspapers, Magazines, Radio and Television created their businesses by selling space to Advertisers to place Ads next to their news. This was for the most part a comfortable arrangement as there were circulation audits, to tell Advertisers how many subscriptions, single purchases, and geographical area covered. Newspapers and Magazines never paid the bills with subscription revenue. Advertisements and Classified Ads were what paid the bills and supported Journalists. Craigslist destroyed the Classified Ad business, and the web is gutting the Advertising business. Companies are creating their own websites, to go directly to consumers.

Newspapers, Magazines, Radio and Television have websites now, and are still trying to use Ads to support their businesses. There are online subscriptions but those are failing abysmally as well as they did offline. Despite the fact that auditing circulation on the web(page views) is much more precise and faster. That circulation in some cases amounts to millions of page views per month, and with the exception of Television and some Radio, newspapers and magazines could not support printing and delivering a million copies. CPM or Cost per Thousand is/was the benchmark in determining advertising cost. The internet is driving this into the ground.

The nature of what constitutes publication has changed radically with the rise of the web. Publication on the web is only a few keystrokes away. (hell if you are here without an Ad Blocker you can see the Google Ads in the sidebars. I can say that I am not an Advertiser Supported Publication as the clicks do not cover my hosting or internet connection bills. I do carry the Ads as I am interested in what Google determines is relevant advertising against my postings which is what Google’s primary sales pitch is. I laugh a lot when I see some of the stuff determined to be relevant.) moving on….

And you ask, what does this have to do with Journalism? It is all about money to pay journalists.
There are 3 main causes of the cry of Journalism’s Death. In no particular order;

1) Newspapers were one of the first businesses to network, with the creation of the AP and UPI Wire services. Yes, it was a wire service with dedicated printers called teletypes, that took local news reports and ‘broadcast’ them to the subscribers. This service allowed local news outlets to reprint this information. Made the papers bigger with more space to sell ads. When you surf to various news sites you may notice the same stories. This is know as churnalism.

Churnalism is a form of journalism in which press releases, wire stories and other forms of pre-packaged material are used to create articles in newspapers and other news media in order to meet increasing pressures of time and cost without undertaking further research or checking.[1] The neologism “churnalism” has been credited to BBC journalist Waseem Zakir who coined the term in 2008.

Source: Wikipedia

Same deal, content to place ads against. If you can cut and paste ‘news’ you don’t need a journalist. if your content management system supports it, you can script it, not needing anybody to cut and paste.

2) Employment Prospects From High Talk comes this:

Some of the startling nuggets from the report:

Newsrooms are at their lowest employment levels since 1978 – down 30% from its employment peak in 2000 and the industry as a whole has less than 40,000 jobs. To put that number in perspective that means that in the last 13 years 1 out of every 3 journalists has lost their jobs.

Forty percent of the content on local TV news is now sports, weather and traffic. An indicator of this move away from produced stories is CNN. The cable channel slashed its produced news packages by 50% from 2007 to 2012. Cable news networks as a whole reduced “live” reporting by 30% during the same period. This means fewer “news stories” and more talking heads discussing what used to be light filler news: weather, traffic conditions and sports scores.

TIME magazine remains the only mainstream news magazine left publishing. It was forced to cut its already depleted editorial staff by another 5% earlier this year.

The ratio of public relations professionals to journalists has grown significantly. In 1980, there was 1.2 PR officials for every reporter. In 2008, that ratio had grown to 3.6 to 1 and Pew noted “the gap has likely widened since.”

News organizations are losing the fight for digital advertising to technology companies like Google and Facebook. An irony that must be a bitter pill for news organizations to swallow in that both Google and Facebook produced nearly zero-content and sell advertising around the content produced by others.
Source High Talk
Bonus Link: Pew Research Center Report
Disclosure: the above was a cut and paste job

3)Folks are spending less time reading news. From Pew Research comes this:

Notably, a 2012 Pew Research national poll found members of the Silent generation (67-84 years old) spending 84 minutes watching, reading or listening to the news the day before the survey interview. Boomers (48-66 years old), did not lag far behind (77 minutes), but Xers and Millennials spent much less time: 66 minutes and 46 minutes, respectively.

The truly troubling trend for the media is that Pew Research surveys give little indication that news consumption increases among members of the younger age groups as they get older. For example, in 2004 Xers reported following the news about as often as they did in 2012 (63 minutes versus 66 minutes). The eight-year trend for Millennials was equally flat (43 minutes versus 46 minutes).
Source Pew surveys of audience habits suggest perilous future for news

Newspapers no longer run their own advertising departments as management is preferring to out source it to third party ad serving networks whose reputations for fraud and abuse is just beginning to come to light. This will require another third party firm to audit these figures lowering revenue to the sites. Let alone the privacy implications by third parties. For those of you who think that out sourcing is a good idea just google Call Center Hell

Media Ownership Conglomerates further reduce the need for journalists as reporters working for them share news like the wire services, but without the subscription costs.

The Social Media Marketeers/PR Flacks/Ad Men insist on turning journalists into brand stenographers, with Native Advertising(which are basically press releases to look like news)

Despite the drop in viewership, cut and paste news, privacy violations, the ad dollars keep flowing.

I mentioned that you would see this phrase again: the dissemination and analysis of news and information.
The dissemination is not a problem, with cut and paste and push button publishing. The analysis of news and information, requires thought and boots on the ground.

Where newspapers could shine is in the area of context. Who What and When can be blurted out in 140 characters, but Why requires much more work. Newspapers and other other News outlets have a vast institutional memory in their archives which can be leveraged to provide the Why, but that would require a commitment to News in service to the community regardless of size.

Journalism is not dead.It is in danger, as employment figures show. You are just not going to see it from Major Media sites. What we could use is an Andrew Carnegie for digital journalism.

What we do have is a direction as posted by Katharine Viner, deputy editor of the Guardian.
The rise of the reader: journalism in the age of the open web
P.S. This is so good I think I want to bear her children.

NOTE: This posting was written in response to a Posting by my buddy George over at High Talk. Yeah he is a PR guy, but he is not just a PR guy.

The Amazon Washington Post

The news that Jeff Bezos whose Amazon.com has changed the face of retail marketing with books, music,DVD’s and now just about everything else including kitchen sinks,has bought the Washington Post has the Internet in an uproar.

My friend George Snell over at Hightalk.net made these observations:

Here are some facts about the news business that ALL of us are going to have to come to grips with:

Consumers, especially those under the age of 30, will no longer pay for news. Not in print, not even online. For them, news has always been free – a simple search and click on Google or a link embedded in their Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Consumers no longer care where their news comes from. They use search engines and social media channels to find and discover information. Fewer people are going directly to news destinations. This is why news sites that specialize in SEO – The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed – are soaring to the top while newspapers (which continue to put content behind firewalls) continue to lose.

Fewer consumers understand (or even care) about the difference between “reporting” and “journalism.” Or, in fact, between propaganda and news.

Brand marketing is how news is now delivered as the rise of talk radio, FOX News, MSNBC and blogging attest. Many consumers see little to no difference between getting “news” from Rush Limbaugh or getting it from the New York Times.

Nobody – not Google, not Amazon.com, not anybody – has figured out a successful and profitable business model for selling news and journalism in the age of the Internet. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but right now there isn’t one (unless you count subsidized journalism like PBS and NPR).
Source: Hightalk.net

While George’s points are all valid, (considering I haven’t bought a newspaper in over 10 years,and unless it is online or in the real world, and the closest I get to newsprint for news are grocery circulars addressed to resident, which find themselves in the recycle bin, and I am light years past 30) I think that JB is looking at a different game.

One of the other things so many of the internuts and webheads either never learned, forgot, or ignore is the physicality and permanence of the printed word. Every word that you are reading is because someone put a book in your face and trained you to make connections between the characters to the thoughts you have. The next time you pick up that book it is the same. It hasn’t been edited, overwritten or deleted. Even today with the changing consumption of news, the printed document regardless of format, is still gold. Check your desk and tell me there is no paper.

The theories abound. All of the lunatic ravings that Bezos is gonna have a bully pulpit for some crypto liberal disgorgement of views opposed to reality is so much bullshit. That JB will drive the final stake into the heart of print journalism, which has with the help of the internet put newspapers on the endangered media list.

Newspapers have done it to themselves. Journalism especially in print has shot itself in the foot maintaining their ex catherdra pronouncements and writings with “we have seen the source, trust us”. We all know that we can fact check their ass six ways from Sunday. Guys like Jason Blair don’t help either.
As for journalists they are a glut on the market. content is not a problem. As for having journalists running the paper, having the inmates running the asylum comes to mind.

Bezos is a businessman. He wants to be in every home.
He started with tangible products, books, cd’s, dvd’s. yeah it killed the big bookstores, but outlet and remainder stores are moving right along. Hell you can even buy a kitchen sink at amazon.
He has already reduced the cost of delivery for amazon products to almost zip.

Will he kill the physical paper? Depends. Newspapers have just begun linking and presenting source materials to validate their stories. they ripped that off from us old linker’s and hippies:) The Post could become an Kindle Exclusive. Probably the worst outcome.

Newspapers have had an intimate relationship with the areas they have served.
The most valuable thing is the subscription data. Present and especially the past.
Names and addresses of everyone who ever ordered the paper.

The second most valuable thing is the physical distribution data. From press to doorstep. Like every other newspaper, the classifieds cash cow all went to craigslist. What does it really cost to print. What does it cost to get from the end of the press into your hand. vehicles, distributors, paperboys.

One of the things that newspapers have is their archives. stories, pieces that printed, spiked stories, notes, photos, and work products that did not make it to the front page. This is worth the purchase price alone.

No what I think he is gonna do is look at getting subscription numbers up and offering discounts at amazon for subscribers and expanding the delivery role to include your purchases with your news.
He doesn’t have square miles of fulfillment centers to house products.

Buying the Washington post is a brilliant move, on a number of fronts. He now has access to the highest level of political power in this country as well as their spouses, and every federal dept, staff and aides, pages, and friends.
He can also expand the Arts and Entertainment Sections with robot puke QR squares for books music videos and so on from the print editions. Hell the WaPo can become an Amazon Affiliate and make some money for itself.

If he can do this in Washington, when these folks go back home they will remember and probably scream for it in their home towns.

I can see the Amazon Post Trucks(like the ice cream trucks do now) cruising neighborhoods selling papers and delivering products. In the afternoon for evening delivery.
If you want to see if this will work, watch for bezos ordering a 1000 vehicles for delivery. Manufacturers will be screaming for the business. An example is uhaul and ryder rental vehicles. They look like their civilian counterparts but are built differently. something i picked up in my wrecking yard days.

When amazon buys fedex, ups or privatizes the us postal service, remember you heard it here first.

RSS Feed Reader

inoreaderIf you are looking for a feed reader that does the job like google used to, Try inoreader.

Works Great, no bullshit ads, and has addons, and mobile apps for the desktop challenged.
highly recommended


WordPress is a great tool for creating blogs, especially for housebloggers who have a desire for show and tell like me.  There is a vibrant community that supports WordPress and there are also assholes. Free is not necessarily without cost.

A great but technical article on the hidden dangers of using “free” WordPress themes.


customer service and the web

Probably the best post describing what the web is and does.
The Web Is a Customer Service Medium