Shifting priorities

If posting gets a little light around here, it’s because a few projects are working their way toward completion. One is nearly finished (more on that within the next few weeks) and another I just made a big change to get started on in earnest. There’s a third that’s on hold for a few minutes, but I’m sure I’ll be picking it back up shortly.

Anyway, I’m sending you away so you come back for more, later, when things have settled down a little bit here on my overcrowded desk/desktop/brain/life:

  • The Fresno State Collegian online edition covered an off-campus shooting this week with breaking news updates, slideshows and video. Powered by WordPress.
  • I’m about halfway through News, Improved. If you’re any sort of edito, manager or publisher with any level of seriousness in you about training your employees for the future present, you really need to pick up this quick read. Look for the examples at your circulation level, and have at it.
  • The relaunched-on-the-fly Kiowa County Signal in tornado-ravaged Greenburg, Kansas has a map up where readers can “flag” the places they knew until last weekend.
  • On the mapping note, my colleagues at work have brewed up the beginning of something really cool for local search: Santa Cruz Spots. Maps+Reviews+Ratings = a really handy database. It’s still in beta, so feel free to kick it around and let me know what you think.

That’s it for now. Go away. Come back later.

The creative impulse

I’ve been talking with too many photographers lately, and as expected, they all think I should take more pictures.  Funny how that works.  All I can say is that in 1-5 weeks I will have a very good reason for taking many pictures for a long time.  I’ll try to give the cameras a better workout than I usually do with the cats and the occasional walk on the beach.

I shoot little bits of video for work, but it’s not always the same feeling.  There’s little spontaneity in a well-thought-out two-minute video feature, where walking in with a solid storyboard in my head is an advantage, especially on deadline.  I’m satisfied with the document, but it doesn’t necessarily stick with me in the same way as a still.

But that’s just me.  I was raised by photographers in the wild suburbs, so take this all with a grain of silver halide.

Photographs coming soon.

Five doing something right

After my little dust-up this morning and a busy day at work, I’m in no mood for negativity, or even handwringing, so without further mealymouthedness, here are five doing something right:

  1. Lawrence Journal-World redesigns: From the heartland of Django and grid design comes something clean and bright, as it should be.
  2. All Things D: From the Wall Street Journal comes this news/blog/video site (is there anything it can’t do?) linked to a big conference that all the really really cool kids get to keynote. Matt says it’s running on WordPress MU. Of course. Check out the Brightcove-powered video, in which the reporter reads off his monitor while looking into the conveniently placed webcam. Not so hard, is it?
  3. Chris Amico: Isn’t the first expat/traveler in China I’ve read, but for someone I’ve never met, his writing makes a lot of sense to me. Check out this post on a Three Language Daze. I had a chance to learn some Chinese in elementary school, and you can tell I didn’t take it because I’m clueless enough not to specify which flavor of Chinese Mrs. Hagan was teaching.
  4. Angela Grant: Ditches Blogspot, becomes newsvideographer.com, switches to WordPress, proving that she takes her blog as seriously as her biting critiques of your newspaper video. Keep it up.
  5. You: Yes, you, if you’re a journalism (or computer science) student who takes Rob Curley up on his offer. Here’s a hint: When the Washington Post calls with an internship, you pick up the blog post and send Rob something impressive.

Tell me about someone, somewhere, something else doing it right to finish up the work week. Heck, tell me about five.

Should I tag five bloggers and make this into some sort of positive-thinking meme? Um, no. But feel free.

Imagine I tagged you, and write about five right things you saw this week. Do it now.

Inspiration overload

It’s great that everyone in the online journalism/multimedia/interactivity/data layered network of posses (myself included) shares all the cool stuff they find via blogs and delicious and twitter and podcasts and vlogs and screencasts and tutorials and e-mail and phone calls and all, but wow do I need a break or what.

It is inspiration overload out there, folks, and for those of us still early on that adoption curve, it can be pretty overwhelming, as Daniel said, to look at the great work getting produced at places like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Mercury News, PBS and out there in the wider Web, and think to ourselves, “When do I get to build something like that?”

For a lot of us, the answer is “Soon.” But a quick look at the credits of these projects finds big teams, whole departments devoted to graphics and squadrons of photographers shooting with HD cameras. As I’ve said before, different resources yield different results, and we all need to find the magic formula that works for the team we’re on.

The first step, as a co-worker put it yesterday, is to take one log and saw it all the way through. Then move on to the next log.

I’m working on one log in particular this week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Mad props where mad props are due

Sorry, I don’t hand out ‘kudos’ or ‘credit’ or ‘congrats’ or ‘Pulitzer Prizes,’ I hand out Mad Props, a turn of the phrase which at once reveals the extent of my whiteness and revels in it.

Mad Props to:

  • Roanoke.com for multimedia coverage of the school shootings in their backyard today. The first time I checked their site this morning, there was already audio, video, photo, and text live, and the story had been packaged to dominate the featured and breaking news areas of the home page.
  • Virginia Tech’s student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, for finding a way to get updates up on a different site after their own server got toasted with traffic after the news of the shootings broke.
  • Shaminder Dulai for busting his ass at his internship and putting up with all the public critique – constructive or not – that comes with putting your images on the page with words someone else wrote.
  • Yvonne Pingue, former Spartan Daily page designer, for landing one of 30 Gannett Information Center internships.
  • Kurt Vonnegut, for everything. I’m still waiting for a presidential candidate who has the balls to say: “Go take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut. Go take a flying fuck at the mooooooon!”
  • Yelp.com posters who pointed me to a great and tiny Salvadoran place for dinner near Maggie Mudd’s in San Francisco. Pupusas appear to be the Salvadoran equivalent of Venezuelan arepas, and this pleases me to no end.
  • My fellow graduate students who are presenting their work at school tonight and tomorrow. I know “work” isn’t a good enough excuse to skip it, but I’m going to take a pass this semester. I hope to see you all soon.

That’s all for now. Feel free to hand out mad props of your own.

After New York, every other American city is just an empty shell

I’m going to do something karmically dangerous here.  This will surely ruin the rest of my day, get me stuck on the BART, make me step in dog crap, who knows what, but I just can’t hold back any longer.

Every time I walk around in San Francisco — mind you, I’m usually either in the pretty blank area south of Market or with visiting family near the Fisherman’s Wharf/Embarcadero tourist trap zone — I miss New York.

Yes, my seven years living in Manhattan appear to have ruined me for other American cities.  I like Paris, and Rome is amazing, but San Francisco? Los Angeles? Denver? Boston? Not so much.

Okay, I’ll give Boston some credit for having some history and character and making me feel like I was on the East Coast, and I still love Albuquerque, but at that point, we’re talking about a smaller city with a lot of intangibles going for it. (Read as: green chile.)

I’ll leave it at that, before I end up driving the wrong way down a one-way street nose to nose with a trolley car, or one of those weird buses they have here, but seriously, I’m representing for NYC.

212.  The F-Train.  Nights at the bars on 5th St.  Days hanging out in Tompkins Square Park, free jazz all summer in places like Central Park and Columbia University.  All-day free Miles Davis tribute concerts.  Car services.  Friends in Greenpoint and Williamsburg and the L-Train and cheering for my train line at Yankee Stadium in between innings.

Sixteen daily newspapers, each with a different market segment to serve, plus the Sunday-paper sized Village Voice every week, for free.  Back in the pre-Craig days, people lined up at the Astor Place newsstand to pay their dollar for the Voice and its apartment listings.  Yeah, I’m nostalgiac for the 1990s, which makes me feel young, and that’s a good thing.

All-night delis with random gourmet vegan items, so when I stumbled out of a cab coming home from work, dirty and carrying all my tools at 3:45 a.m., I could get a pair of bagels with unturkey salad and a cold Brooklyn IPA.  Kate’s Joint.  VP2.

Damn, all right, that’s enough.  If I start thinking about the food, this is going to go downhill fast.

I’m just sayin’, New York is the greatest.  I miss you all.

Keep your code of conduct out of my communication medium, thank you kindly

Let’s be clear, here: There are trolls everywhere.

On the letters to the editor pages of our newspapers, on every daytime television talk show, not to mention most hours of cable news, at the table next to us at the coffee shop, the halls of Congress, and yes, in the blogosphere.

These trolls are people who want our attention, and will say nasty things to get it, even if it is negative attention.

This is not breaking news.

And yet, after an episode of what I will only describe as an online display of malice beyond what many people say they find acceptable, regardless of what they watch on television, there is an outcry for a “Blogger’s Code of Conduct.”

To which I say, thank you kindly for thinking of all us little folk out here in the wilderness living nasty brutish lives in an online state of nature, but we can figure out for ourselves how to be nice to one another. The marketplace of ideas on the Web is vast enough that anyone looking for malice can find it if they choose to, and anyone looking to avoid it can do the same.

So take your code of conduct, your rules for civility, your attitude, and your badges, and politely shove them back in the regulatory cave of conduct.

I’ll be out here in the real world, without a badge or a license or a rulebook, communicating freely.

Pleasure reading, fiction and otherwise

In an effort to take a break from instructional books of all species for at least a portion of the day, I’ve picked up a couple lighter reads this week.

First, there’s Pete Dexter’s Paper Trails. This just barely counts as ‘not work’ since he’s a newspaper columnist and I heard about the book at work, but his non-fiction is written with the rich narrative detail of New Journalism without stepping off the stage of reality into the Sidd Finch zone.

Last night, I picked up Steinbeck’s Cannery Row for the first time, a good solid 10+ years after watching Grapes of Wrath (haven’t read it, but I’m as much a fan of John Ford as I am of Steinbeck) and upwards of 15 years after reading Of Mice and Men for a junior high English class. Again, even though I seem to be learning about California Central Coast history while I’m reading, I’ll classify it as ‘not work’ to give myself the benefit of the doubt. In this one, too, it’s the detail that hooks me.

Show me a newspaper story that makes me understand the quality of light on a quiet street and I’ll be happy.

Irresistable breakfast links

Because I couldn’t stop myself from clicking:

Enjoy your breakfast.