Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday update

Most of you have been doing a good job of updating your blogs. You should make an extra effort to get people's names spelled properly, and to adhere to the tenets of AP style. Please note that the word "Internet" should begin with a capital "I." You may have noticed that British publications tend to lowercase it.

I've updated our class Web site a bit, building in a link to this blog and adding some of the sites we talked about in our discussion of Web-based computer-assisted reporting. You should give yourself 15 minutes or so to play with, which demonstrates the power of social-network analysis. Imagine what a student newspaper could do if college or university trustees could be analyzed in such a way.

I've also "subscribed" to all of your blogs with an RSS aggregator called NewsFire. It's Mac-only, but there are many similar programs for Windows-based machines. Now, every time you post, I hear a "ding" go off on my iBook and I can instantly read what you've written.

If you're not sure what RSS ("Really Simple Syndication") is all about, I recommend this article, published in Slate. If you'd like to give RSS a whirl, try Bloglines, a free, Web-based aggregator. Updating with Bloglines tends to be slower than it should be, but it's easy to use and reliable, and the price is right.

Please check out what your classmates are doing. Here are a few highlights from my reading today (links to all blogs at right):
  • Adam Marschilok notes that ESPN is giving up on a tech idea it had introduced with great fanfare not too long ago.
  • Blythe Simmons looks at free, online magazines for college students.
  • Celia Soudry has some thoughts on Cardinal Seán O'Malley's blog, and posits a relationship between amateur media and amateur porn.
  • Chelsea Petersen ponders the rise of MySpace and the decline of Friendster.
  • Chris Estrada analyzes several different flavors of citizen journalism.
  • Evan Brunell hails the Web for making pajama-clad sportswriting possible.
  • Glenn Yoder writes about blogging in Africa, and how network television is discovering services such as YouTube.
  • Jane Mackay tracks Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and his growing interest in citizen journalism.
  • Jessica Harding is less than thrilled with a fee-based Web service that will help you find new friends.
  • Lisa Panora is dubious about a prediction that English will become the only language left on the Internet.
  • Mike Naughton wonders whether the explosion of blogs in China can be controlled by that country's repressive government.
  • Rachel Slajda notes that you don't necessarily need the Internet to practice citizen journalism.
  • Rajashree Joshi thinks Google's problems in Belgium raise some troubling issues about content and copyright.
  • Ricky Thompson points to a story on how Newsweek is using the Internet to offer college degrees online.
  • Thomas Chen offers some examples of how sports can ease the pain of a collective tragedy such as 9/11 or the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The roots of digital culture

The connections between digital culture and the counterculture that preceded it have always struck me as pretty obvious. Maybe it's because one of the first computer books I read was "The Whole Earth Software Catalog," which was distinctly countercultural in tone and approach.

So I'm surprised by how surprised Edward Rothstein of the New York Times seems to be in his review of Fred Turner's book "From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism." But never mind. Rothstein gets it right, even if his eyes are a little wider than they ought to be.

Here is an excerpt from Turner's book.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Better than the Web?

Slate's Jack Shafer takes a look at the New York Times Reader, which he thinks might be the first truly readable online newspaper. Why? It resides on your hard drive, not on the Web, and is displayed via new software from Microsoft that providers sharper resolution than what is available on the Web. I'm not going to bother with links; Jack's got them all.

At the moment, the Times Reader is available for Windows only, but is eventually supposed to migrate to the Mac as well. As Shafer describes it, the Times Reader sounds very much like the vision that people such as Roger Fidler had for electronic newspapers pre-Web: You'd download content that you'd already paid for (the Times Reader is currently free, but that will probably change) and then take it with you, with no online connection needed.

Online newspapers are still too difficult to read and use, so this bears watching.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday-night blog roundup

What are Journalism of the Web students blogging about this week? Check it out:
  • Evan Brunell has been following the latest about two Web celebrities: Jay Rosen and lonelygirl15.
  • Thomas Chen tried a podcast of the Boston Globe's front-page stories and decides he'd rather read the paper online. (Is that old-fashioned or new-fashioned?)
  • Chris Estrada observes that, in sports media, podcasting is giving a louder voice to the ordinary fan.
  • Rajashree Joshi points to an article at and asks whether the proliferation of blogs will bring us any closer to the truth.
  • Jane Mackay offers some thoughts on Jay Rosen's celebrated new pro-am journalism project, NewAssignment.Net.
  • Mike Naughton tells us that the Globe is starting to emulate its corporate cousin the New York Times by offering some of tomorrow's stories (well, at least a few paragraphs) tonight.
  • Lisa Panora says that the media aren't the only institutions moving online -- so are J-schools.
  • Chelsea Petersen offers evidence that U.K. newsrooms are moving ahead of their American counterparts when it comes to technology.
  • Donna Roberson ponders Google's new for-profit venture into philanthropy.
  • Blythe Simmons tracks teen magazines that are moving from print to the Web.
  • Rachel Slajda wonders if newspapers could fight back against Craigslist by giving away their classified ads, and selling display ads on each screen of classifieds.
  • Celia Soudry looks at the Facebook stalker controversy and finds the company's now-dropped plans to be "downright creepy."
  • Glenn Yoder notes that the Web enabled Bruce Springsteen to respond to the gossip-mongerers unfiltered.
And, finally, one from the editor's desk. Mark Glaser reports that will drop its reliance on Microsoft's Windows Media Player/Internet Explorer platform and move to Flash, which has been embraced by sites ranging from YouTube to the New York Times.

In fact, the rollout seems to be taking place even faster than Glaser was told. I was watching Brian Williams on my iBook with Firefox and Flash just a little while ago. It's about time. And it's one less reason for us loyal Mac users to consider switching to Windows.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A long wait to watch a movie

The media today are abuzz over an announcement by Apple's Steve Jobs that the company will soon start selling full-length movies through its iTunes Music Store. John Markoff and Laura M. Holson of the Times write:
Film executives have long been skeptical of Mr. Jobs’s move into the entertainment business, although music and TV executives have embraced the idea. The music industry was in the doldrums when Apple’s store was introduced in 2003, and executives saw it as an answer to the problems it faced with online piracy.
That sounds all well and good, but how long are people supposed to sit around waiting for the latest movie to download to their hard drives? Get this: "The movies ... will take several hours to download at standard broadband data rates."

Sounds like you could make five trips to Blockbuster during the time it takes you to buy one movie from Apple.

Apple's official announcement is posted on its "Hot News" page.

New York Times parties like it's 1994

This is the kind of electronic newspaper that smart people were talking about in the early 1990s -- a downloadable analogue of the print product that you would load onto a portable digital tablet and take with you. Now, according to Wired News, the New York Times and Microsoft have teamed up to create the finest e-paper that 1994 has to offer. But will anyone want it?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

HTML-toting journalists

Scott LaPierre and T.S. Amarasiriwardena are journalists, but their tools are very different from those of notebook-toting reporters or even high-tech TV crews. LaPierre and Amarasiriwardena are producers for, and what they've done with Charles Sennott's reporting from Pakistan and Afghanistan has to be seen.

Using Sennott's narration, sound from the field, and still photos, LaPierre and Amarasiriwardena have put together a multimedia sidebar to Sennott's story that stands in its own right.

Does Facebook now equal MySpace?

This past May, the New Yorker published a story on Facebook, the burgeoning social-networking site that was originally just for college students. Among other things, reporter John Cassidy observed that the college crowd was mighty unhappy when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg invited high-school kids to join in.

Well, now that Zuckerman is opening Facebook to everyone, how, exactly, is it going to be any different from MySpace?

Here is my Facebook profile (log-in req.). Sorry there's not much to look at.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pro-am journalism

One of the more interesting journalism-of-the-Web projects now under way is NewAssignment.Net, the brainchild of New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen. Rosen, who's the author of the weblog Press Think, envisions professional journalists -- editors and reporters -- working with citizen journalists to engage in the kind of investigative reporting that not even the largest newsrooms can undertake.

Rosen talked about his idea last week with NPR's "On the Media." You can listen to the clip or, after tomorrow, read the transcript. His introductory essay is here. And checking out the "Exposing Earmarks" project for an idea of how a collaboration between professional and amateur journalists can work in the real world.

Welcome to Journalism of the Web

Welcome to Beat Reporting: Journalism of the Web, a class at Northeastern University's School of Journalism that will explore the intersection of traditional news organizations and new media. Our students are setting up blogs, and you will find links to them in the very near future. Thank you for stopping by.

In this photo, you can see some of our students setting up their blogs.