- Instapaper 4.0
- The Guardian
- Flipboard, still
- Tabbed browsing in Safari
- Lugging a 15.4-inch laptop around to meetings
I used to get very excited about flexible displays like this one, regarding the future of newspapers: A Warning to LCDs – Watch Your Back, AMOLEDs are Coming.
A word processor for the iPad from iA. Makes me want an iPad.
Web usability guru Jakob Nielsen thinks your innovative iPad UI is too “weird.” I think he should, just maybe, stop worrying about a “back” button.
This seems important: Audio editing on your iPhone (and presumably, iPad?) for 10 bucks.
Back in the excellent philosophy class I took in high school (Hi Mr. Lutness!), epistemology was simply explained as How You Know What You Know.
And different philosophers said you know what you know for different reasons. George Berkeley, for example, had this whole “seeing is believing” thing, for example. If he didn’t perceive it with his own senses, it might as well not exist.
No retweets for him, I suppose. No newspapers. I seriously doubt he would have trusted cable news had it existed in his day.
(Scholarly friends: I am aware that Berkeley took the above given as step one, and then rambled off into metaphysics, yes. I am not going to go there today.)
And so we come to a few amusing events of the past week or so. I have three in mind.
In all three cases, [GENERALIZATION AHEAD] our desire to believe seems to have been the primary reason we did so.
The Calacanis story took advantage (and indeed, mocked) the breathless pre-announcement hype about the tablet. I probably saw it because someone retweeted one of Jason’s early posts claiming to have been a beta tester, and I have to ask myself why I clicked. The truth is, I was quietly reading everything I could get my hands on about the tablet, building up my own hopes and dreams of a magical and wonderful device.
Multiply me by millions, and you get an idea of what the demand was like for information, rumors, patent translations, and actual leaks about the tablet in the run up to the moment when the little heavy-thing-landing-in-a-pile-of-dust “iPad” text dropped into Steve’s slide on screen in San Francisco.
So Calacanis, just for fun (I think), provided some supply for that demand.
Was he a reliable source? Only if you’d never paid attention to him before, which really works out well for him when you do the math. There were plenty of people who had followed Jason’s work, attitude, and penchant for showmanship long enough to stay skeptical.
Of course, anyone with a search engine could also quickly become a skeptic.
The moral of the story for reporters? Consider your source’s history on the topic and motivation at all times. Then consider it again.
Look, I dropped a philosopher’s name earlier, and I’ve done bits and pieces of reading on postmodern philosophy, and I’m a big fan of Guy Debord and whatnot, but I haven’t studied Jurgen Habermas. But I do know he’s the “public sphere” guy, and when I retweeted @attackerman’s “THAT’S JURGEN HABERMAS” update, I didn’t do a whole lot of investigation. None, actually.
But, of course, someone knew better.
“He added that ‘my email address is not publicly available,’ which suggests that perhaps he didn’t quite understand what I was getting at. In fact, the father of the public sphere doesn’t seem to understand the internet very well at all, judging by his few previous references to the topic.” [The links are in the original.]
Wait, run that back a paragraph. Did you catch that little parenthetical disclaimer I dropped in?
“…someone who (claims to have) tracked down…”
Hedging my bets.
Because I don’t know the person who says they made the call to Habermas, and I didn’t take the time to even check their About page. The author did, however, include a link to an mp3 he says is the recorded conversation between him and Habermas about the Twitter account. That would be easy enough to listen to, and anyone familiar with Habermas’s voice could confirm it’s him.
But I haven’t listened, although I would be amused to hear some sort of creative remix of it if such a thing were to go viral.
Moral? If you don’t know the answer to a key question about your source, someone else probably does. Find them. And ask them.
A man says he’s Stefan de Rothschild, and he’s giving $2.5 million to Haiti.
I’m going to lean heavily on this Valleywag post to explain the sequence of events (I know, consider the source, right? But there’s lots of links in that post, too.) The important part is that the guy was a faker, and although no journalist caught it, he was busted when he caught the attention of Wikipedia reviewers who noticed he kept putting the same fake pages up on the encyclopedia I’ve linked to four times in this post.
Here’s a quote from Valleywag’s story:
“What brought Roberts down was one of the tools he used to hoist himself up, Wikipedia, on which he posted no fewer than five fake entries: for himself, for his fake line of Rothschild family members and for one of his fake companies, Rothschild Estates. His antics caught the attention of the Wikipedia Review after editors kept deleting the fake entries and Roberts kept trying to resurrect them.”
Moral: Give a small number of editors a reliable system for tracking down claims of truth, and it gets easier to spot falsehoods, whether the editors have expertise on the topic or not.
[UPDATE: So there’s a comment below that points out an important factual error I made in the Rothschild bit. In fact, it’s an error that makes this “moral” have no backup in the actual narrative of the fraud and its discovery. I’ll explore it further and report back here, or in the comments, about what I figure out.]
I like tools and systems and truth, so I’m going to repeat variations of the aforementioned morals-of-the-story in a real general way for a moment. Bear with me.
Did I mention I like tools? And truth? And also, links. Feel free to suggest a few more in the comments of this post, or wherever fine links are shared.
Mario Garcia probably believes the lifespan (halflife?) of print newspapers will stretch out ever so slightly longer than I believe, but I’m constantly inspired by his original thought about the problems associated with sustaining any version of the existing structure of journalism, assuming for the moment that it’s a good idea.
And of course, he’s thinking about the Tablet. (I’m going to try to avoid focusing on any single product here, instead using the word “Tablet” as code for: multitouch slab of glass with applications and payment systems built in. Maybe there will be more than one entry in that genre.)
Here’s Mario on something he calls a street sales app:
“Based on this, I can imagine that the iPad could lure the undecided (or reluctant) newspaper reader by offering a menu of headlines from various sections of a newspaper—-or from various newspapers, of course, and make it so interesting, that I may click to read that story, and pay for that one-time user experience.”
Let’s take that a big step beyond a list of headlines.
We’re talking about a physical, visual device that allows the user to move things around with their hands. OK, their fingers. Fine. But that allows us to present the user with — instead of a list of headlines — a stack of newspapers.
Yes, yes, I know, I know, you don’t want to read a giant PDF on a Tablet, you want the Web. You want the full browsing experience, or if you’re thinking is slightly more advanced, you want a completely new sort of interface that’s more Minority Report than Washington Post.
I’m right there with you.
But there’s something that a “Washington Post” app for the Tablet removes from the equation, even if you’re smart enough to build it with in-app purchases of feature/exclusive/enterprise stories, puzzles, and databases.
It removes choice from the equation.
A choice that we do have when we open up an RSS reader and look at a list of 100 headlines in the morning.
A choice that we do have when we walk by a newsstand on the way to the subway station.
Now, truth be told, when I walked by the newsstand on the way to the subway station, I was already in a silo, with steadfast plans to purchase a New York Times and do the crossword on the way to the office. But at least I’d see the other papers, the other headlines.
So maybe a real live Tablet Newsstand is a good idea. If I’m not going to purchase a subscription to the New York Times, maybe I’ll glance at the headlines and buy a copy on my way to the office now and then. Maybe I’ll want to do the crossword. Or maybe I’ll see a great headline in the San Francisco Chronicle and buy that instead.
After all, the interfaces for a bookstore and library that Steve Jobs showed off the other day didn’t offer one chapter at a time, or one story at a time, they offered a book, sitting on a shelf.
(Yes, I’ve heard of Delicious Library.)
Of course, things brings up all sorts of interesting questions about which newspaper and magazine publishers would be willing to go in together on this sort of thing. They’d have to build the app themselves, decide how to split up the revenue, who to feature on which pages — this is all the sort of thing they might have preferred Apple take care of, eh?
So I’m interested. I’m interested in a newsstand that provides some opportunity for serendipity and revenue, not based on subscription models or paywalls, but based on the idea that I might pay something like 99 cents for a Tablet version of the New York Times when I’m in the mood to interact with it and, most likely, fiddle with the crossword on the way to work.