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May 6, 2011

Sawing the Web: How the “New Media Revolution” Can Be Derailed the Old-Fashioned Way

Some weeks back, the BBC reported that a 75-year-old woman from Georgia managed to disrupt Internet service in the entire country.  She didn’t do so with a DDoS or an LOIC or any other sophisticated hacking tool, but with a plain old saw.  To supplement her pension, the woman scavenges for copper.  The cable didn’t mean a whole lot of difference for her, but it did mean the temporary paralysis of Internet services in Armenia.

Could it happen here?  Of course it can.  All it took to temporarily shut down the Internet for an entire nation was an old woman with a saw.  What more for an earthquake in Taiwan, or a scavenger in Manila, or someone who trips a wire in the United States?

If there’s anything this story could tell us, all the hype and hoopla about “new media revolutions” seem to be so “up there;” out of the reach of the majority of the world’s population who are not yet “wired.”  It’s often grounded on something abstract, like ideas and conversations, when that entire reality is grounded on a very vulnerable network of wires.

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October 31, 2009

Niche editorial more important than ever to counter information overload

Filed as News with 1 comment

Listening to some people talk, editors are a dying breed because we’re in the age of user-generated, crowdsourced content.

Yet consumers are relying on the human touch to help them find the best information and resources online, according to a number of speakers at the Digital Media Conference in San Francisco earlier this week.

We have access to unprecedented levels of information, but not all of it is useful, and the sheer volume leads to a complete overload of the senses.

What web users increasingly want are specialised sites that either create or aggregate quality content in one place. read more

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August 21, 2009

Why Doesn’t Retweet.com Use Its Own URL Shortener?

retweetcom.jpgEver since digging slightly around the retweet.com debacle I discovered the rt.nu URL Shortener. A great domain and most of all a really short URL. Perfect for Twitter you would think. So why doesn’t Retweet.com use its own shorturl service? Nothing more than a quick look at the service’s popular links is needed to understand why. read more

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August 26, 2008

Help Blog Readers Keep Up With You

I’m a fan of Groklaw, but like any long-running soap opera, I tune out for weeks – okay, months – at a time and then check back in. I love the copyright news and litigation insider bits, but sometimes, unlike an ongoing soap opera, I don’t know what is being talked about. I can’t catch up.

Lately, there have been a lot of coverage dealing with SCO, IBM, and Novell. Two of the three I know, but the fourth I don’t recognize. Even if I knew all three of the acronyms, I don’t know enough of the story to follow the current blog posts.

In the legal world of who did what to whom and why, I’m trying to catch up. Why?

That’s what I keep asking myself.

A blog is a chronological vehicle of expression as well as communication. The most recent post may be the latest in a long back story that can go back for days, weeks, months, even years. However, I just landed here. I need to get caught up fast!

Which begs the question:

Is it my responsibility, as the reader, to keep up with the story, or should the blogger play a role in helping bring me up to speed? read more

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April 21, 2008

Do You Take Links for Granted?

As a blogger, links have been part of my daily blogging rounds. I click links on blogs to check out references and sources. And I use links on my blog posts to provide readers relevant information or alternative sources of information. Links have been so prevalent in the blogging culture that sometimes we tend to take these for granted.

However, not everyone is familiar with links, and the relevance of hyperlinking in blogging and the Web in general.

For instance, consider someone from the traditional media. How would they consider links? Would they think of links as relevant or important, even? Formal studies and print publications would usually include footnotes or even endnotes with references. Or, sources can be referenced in the bibliographies or appendices. But what about links? Well, you can’t hyperlink from paper, can you?

In fact, I have a few colleagues whose background involves traditional media of all kinds (print journalism, radio broadcasting). They’re prolific writers, yes. But in a way, they are still not that familiar with using links when writing blog posts. Or perhaps they are, but they just prefer to stick to their way of citing material. The way they reference sources and related information is a bit different. But that is not to say it’s inadequate. Being from traditional media, they tend to be able to do better research, and to dig deeper into the facts.

Referencing Jonathan Bailey’s recent post about lessons for and from journalism, I would think that effective linking is another lesson that journalists can learn from the bloggers. Having good sources and references is one thing. But giving your readers easier access to these would definitely be better, especially in a more interactive environment.

However, this should be the case for bloggers, too. Effective linking would mean using links more sensibly and reasonably, and thus ensuring the quality of the links. Just like how a journalist wouldn’t cite bogus information, we bloggers should try our best to link only to the good stuff. You wouldn’t link to a scraper site to cite information, would you?

So here’s a challenge I pose to our dear readers. Whenever you see a hyperlink on a blog or a webpage, don’t just click on it blindly. Try to think about the relevance of that link. Why was it there in the first place? What was the intent of the author? Is it relevant at all? Is it even appropriate?

The search engines have been looking into quality of linkages (both inbound and outbound). Shouldn’t we humans start doing the same?

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