Remember blogging?

Screenshot 2015-08-04 13.50.14

Cracks me up. Every time. Not sure how it started, but my top skill of “Top Skills” on LinkedIn is Blogging.

Remember blogging?

Every now and then someone tells that joke. The one that goes “Remember blogs?” Ha. Ha ha.

It’s funny, because the blogs won, and most of the websites/apps/screenthings we use on a daily basis either *are* blogs or they look like blogs.

But we don’t write personal blogs these days, do we?

(Look, I know this is well-trod territory, but every time I look at this particular personal blog and see the last post was May 2013, I feel silly, so allow me this indulgence.)

The best personal blogs I read these days are email newsletters. And they’re not necessarily published every day, and they’re not necessarily personal. And they’re not blogs, either.

But we blog all day, on Twitter and Facebook (Remember microblogging? Remember linkblogs?) and for a certain demographic, maybe Tumblr or Instagram or S N A P C H A T wait the whole messaging thing turns the idea of “blogs” inside-out and backwards, but still. But. Still.

I kinda miss blogging?

Also, this is the first time I’ve opened up the WordPress “Write” screen (not what it’s called anymore) in ages, and even with almost no fancy plugins left turned on here, it feels a little Enterprisey for me. Too many buttons, too many decisions, all the custom fields and categories and tags and format options and checkboxes — and really, this is pretty stripped down compared to fully outfitted WordPress-as-Content-Management-System systems.

I want a system that intuitively sees me pasting in a big block of text with quotes around it and says “Yo, that’s clearly a blockquote, I’ve got this,” before I can find the right button on a toolbar. I want a system that knows the only thing I’ve dropped into the body is a YouTube link and says “Dude, looks like a video post, no problem.”

You get the idea.

Tagging, of course, should be mostly automated, cleverness economy investments excluded, naturally, while we’re at it, suggest some links when I highlight some text and hmm I bet these are all plugins that someone has built and I’m going to hear from WordPress developer friends that everything I’m describing can be bolted onto my install in no time and…

…yeah, I guess I need something to blog about.

Subscribe to my Tinyletter to help me decide.

May Linkdump

I read a lot of stuff. Or look at it, anyway. I save some of it. I tweet some of it. Not much, really.

Here are some of the most interesting/useful/provocative/linkbaitey things I set aside for repeated/deeper/continued consumption since I last published a Linkdump post on April 10, 2013.

  1. Teacher Testimonial: How Rap Genius Fixed My English Class: If you haven’t been following my interest in emerging annotation platform Rap Genius, you’re missing out. I like it. I like the annotation tools, complete with a simple Redditish flavor of Markdown, I like the casual copyright infringement (so sorry I uploaded your image to Imgur instead of hotlinking to it, but hey, that’s a courtesy, too). Anyway, they’re expanding. Poetry Genius. Rock music. And, inevitably, News Genius, although they don’t quite have the formula quite right there yet, mostly annotating speeches and public records, whereas I’d like to apply these tools to articles. Anyway. In this link, the Rap Genius platform is used by an English teacher to get his students to annotate Siddhartha.
  2. The Guardian launched a UGC photo platform. This is relevant to my work. Read the comment thread on this and other related posts from around the launch to get an idea of some of the issues people enjoy debating on this topic.
  3. Flat design is a trend. It’s OK.
  4. Twitter is hiring someone to lead their News team, which is, more accurately, a News Partnerships team. Even more accurately, it’s a team heavily populated by brilliant and talented people I respect. This is not a job application. But somebody has to manage them, apparently. Much of the conversation around this job listing completely missed the point of the team and their role in driving adoption and increase of use of a product called Twitter at news organizations. It was silly.
  5. What it’s like to be a Jew in a state prison in the United States of America. (Hint: Awkward.)
  6. Propublica open-sourced a tool to search Instagram by time and location, if you’re into that sort of thing. (Again, relevant to my work.)
  7. Relevant to your arguments about building things for an audience that is comprised of a number of people somewhere between one and a number less than everyone, here’s some light film theory discussion about “the public” and Hitchcock’s construction of his audience.
  8. How the Syrian Electronic Army hacked The Onion: Love, love, love this new genre of show-your-work DevOps explainer where we explain how vandals snatched our keys. (Spoiler: Phishing. It’s always phishing. No actual hackery involved, really.)
  9. Speaking of new genres, Mat Honan has the whole “I went to a horrible tech conference so I’m going to write a crazy Gonzo piece about what it felt like and what these guys believe in and it scares me” thing down. I mean, down.
  10. Casual onlookers will have spotted some casual language in the public communication about Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr. I didn’t make the connection at first, but of course, “Fuck Yeah” is part of Tumblr’s history.

 

#sholinonrap on Clayton Christensen

It’s been a good week for guest speakers here at the office. Gary Vaynerchuk was here on Tuesday, and Clayton Christensen spoke yesterday. Pretty much a coincidence, I think, as their talks were part of two different programs here, but I think Christensen would happily cite @garyvee as an example of his theories in action.

So Gary was fun, but I was looking forward to Christensen. There’s a not-too-thin logical chain where I have a job in this industry because of his research getting into the hands of certain early online news adopters.

When Gary spoke, I think I promised Sean Blanda I would give Christensen the #sholinonrap treatment.

I had my dates mixed up, but you get the picture.

For the uninitiated, “#sholinonrap” is how Sean responds on Twitter or Facebook or wherever, whenever I make some sort of hip-hop reference. Last time Sean was here at the office for some sort of panel, I gave him the treatment, tweeting about the panel in the form of rap lyrics.

And not only was it fun, but it was also a disciplined approach to note-taking that forced me to do three things:

  1. Pay attention.
  2. Boil down complex topics into simple, 140-character-or-less approximations of lines of verse, complete with rhymes and flow where possible. (I am not an expert at this, kids.)
  3. Show my work by tweeting it.

In other words, an efficient and entertaining (for me, anyway) bit of exercise for my brain.

So yesterday during Christensen’s talk, I found a nondescript spot in the audience between a VP of News and a Social Media Editor and did my thing. It went okay.

Many, many thanks to Chris Amico for whipping up a Storify of #christensenonrap before I even had a chance to get back to my desk to prep for my next meeting. Here it is:

[rawr]
[/rawr]

###

I had a couple interesting conversations later in the day about why Christensen might not have been too excited about answering direct questions about how this applies to the news business.

One reason might be that the American Press Institute (hi y’all!) spent a few years of research on how Christensen’s theories about disruptive innovation fit into the news business. Newspaper Next. You might have heard of it. Maybe not. Here are a few useful links. (Some of these are remarkably useful.)

Plenty to peruse there over your holiday weekend, eh? Anyway, hope you enjoyed this episode of #sholinonrap. Beast!

 

This is a linkdump

At the risk of doing what I’m best at — overstating the obvious — you might have noticed that I don’t use this blog much anymore.

Actually, I do use it, maybe once a year or so, to communicate the fact that I don’t write many blog posts these days, and you should just follow me on Twitter or somewhere else if you’re interested.

But that’s barely true. I don’t “talk” about “media” stuff much on Twitter, although I sort of do, depending on how you feel about reading between the lines, but sometimes a GIF is just a GIF.

That’s the end of the preamble.

This is a linkdump.

I’ve been using Pinboard (again) for a couple months now to “save” links to “read” later. (Is there an Emoji for air quotes? Wait, I’m going to tweet that, brb.)

The air quotes are because I haven’t really used these tools for anything other than reducing the amount of guilt I have over not reading the entire Internet.

Really, who reads everything they save to “read later?” Nobody. It just sits there, festering. I used to share first, read later, but in modern times, it often feels silly to re-share something everyone has already shared, so I’ll just “like” or “favorite” and let that be a passive form of sharing, rather than crafting a shiny new headline and point of view around some interesting article, where “interesting” equals “this caught my eye and it seems important.”

So, instead, I present this unscheduled, imperiodic link dump of a bunch of stuff I’ve saved. Maybe I’ve read it, maybe not. Maybe it’s useful, maybe not.

You be the judge. An ordered list in no particular order follows, although it might end up in chronological order, we’ll see.

  1. Matt Waite for Source on the hey-wasn’t-this-hotly-debated ethics of a mugshot news app.
  2. 10 years of NFL play-by-play data, in CSV form.
  3. A List Apart article on small-screen (iPhone, for example) navigation patterns.
  4. Software to help humans figure out if that pic was ‘shopped, marketed to insurance companies.
  5. “Don’t learn how to code; learn to make things.”
  6. A painfully basic lesson for product managers and entrepreneurs: Solve Existing Problems
  7. If you’re going to have meetings, Always Be Capturing, so you don’t have to have more meetings to review what you decided in the previous meeting.
  8. On the perils of including edge case legacy functionality in your application to satisfy power users: Checkboxes That Kill Your Product
  9. Hey guys, remember when Netflix was a useful social network?
  10. Solid notes on *how* to measure audience engagement in news apps, although I would argue that *what* to measure is critical.
  11. For the completely uninitiated, a perfect explanation of the (current) state of open graph tags and making content shareable.
  12. Lorem Ipsum for avatars.
  13. The accidental limerick detector.
  14. The year-old Zeldman-approved recommended replacement for the ol’ -9999px trick.
  15. “Could you make a list of cute animals that gets 5 million views?”

 

 

11 websites that should never, ever have a Facebook open graph read action that tells my friends what I am looking at on the Internet

  1. Gawker
  2. Deadspin
  3. Most other Gawker sites, really.
  4. Reddit
  5. TMZ
  6. Amazon
  7. Any website mentioning the name “Hunter Moore”
  8. Every alternative weekly ever.
  9. Yahoo News Slideshows
  10. YouTube
  11. Anything still hosted at a blogspot.com domain

 

Link: How to Use the “Network Density” Formula to Measure the Health of a Community

I’m a sucker for engagement formulas, especially when they help provide a means to quantitatively track something that sounds as fluffy and qualitative as “the health of a community.”

Great ideas here for community managers and related parties: How to Use the “Network Density” Formula to Measure the Health of a Community

 

Current obsessions

In no particular order…

  • Men In Blazers, a soccer podcast by Brits of some vintage, in New York City, mostly, for ESPN’s Grantland. Funny.
  • Roadrunner, by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers.
  • Hay Day, an iPhone farm game. Or as we call it in my household (all members of the household, cats excluded) “the farm game” or even just “the farm.”
  • Trying to get sort of OK at, well, Rubik’s Cube.
  • Reddit.
  • Alt Latino, from NPR, because, seriously, where else are you going to hear interesting new (and old) Latin music?

Why Italy?

On Sunday, after bearing the brunt of an excited explanation of Italy’s glorious victory over England via penalties, including a stunning Panenka from Pirlo, my own wife turned around and asked me why I was rooting for the Azzurri.

This was weird, because it’s her fault.

(Hey, this is a blog post about soccer. If you’re not interested, feel free to stop reading here.)

Continue reading Why Italy?