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.

$100 million for e-paper firm – maybe you should start thinking about the future

Red Herring reports a British e-paper company locked up $100 million in venture capital.

“The company plans to build the plant, with an initial capacity of a million displays a year, in the eastern Germany city of Dresden and start production in 2008. The company said demand for electronic readers is expected to climb to 41.6 million units in 2010.”

E-paper is real, and its coming. The best thing for newspapers to do is to keep moving their online presences forward.

There are three key elements to this technology you’re going to want to start developing now, if you haven’t already:

  1. RSS feeds. I’m embarrassed that the paper I work at doesn’t have news feeds yet, and I’ve been there almost three months now. At the Spartan Daily, implementing feeds was my point of entry for working on the site. I’ll work on that… RSS is going to be your delivery system.
  2. Mobile usability. Have you tried to load your paper’s site on a mobile phone browser lately? How much navigation and advertising do your readers need to scroll through before they get to a clean list of headlines? What will Web design for a flexible semiconducting-polymer screen look like?
  3. Search. Think Google News more than Google here. You’re going to want readers to see your headlines in their topic-based RSS feeds, and the only way to do that — other than by frequently updating high-quality content that draws lots of inbound links — is to develop and design in a way that plays nice with search engines. Brush up on some basic SEO, like matching title tags to h1 tags, and start making the little fixes like this on your news site now.

Why should you bother with all this now? Because the future doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a slow process. You’re not going to get surprised by a new technology — your old technology is just going to slowly become obsolete.