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September 05 2012

13:43

Why Fact-Checking Has Taken Root in This Year's Election

We are all fact-checkers now.

For years, Americans' political press has been stuck in a fact-free model of neutrality, often covering even the most obvious lies as "one side" of a dispute. From Swift Boats and global warming to Iraq's nonexistent WMDs, this coverage shrouds even rudimentary empirical claims in a fog of truthiness. But that may be changing.

As this year's presidential campaign enters the homestretch after Labor Day, a new, aggressive model of fact-checking appears to be taking root. It is fast, aggressive and sometimes even outraged about falsehoods on the campaign trail.

Take Paul Ryan's convention address last week. Ryan offered several misleading statements and a few obvious lies -- falsehoods that he had to know were false -- although there's nothing new about politicians lying. Just look at Ryan's fellow running mates: Sarah Palin lied about the Bridge to Nowhere in her convention address, for example, while during a nationally televised debate, Dick Cheney falsely said he had never met John Edwards, and Edwards falsely charged that the Bush administration lobbied to cut combat pay. They faced mild corrections and very little collateral damage for those high-profile statements.

This time, however, reporters did not let Ryan off the hook by noncommittally airing criticism ("opponents disagreed with his claims"), or reducing corrections to one of those stand-alone sidebars evaluating distortions ("three Pinocchios for the deficit commission history"). Instead, several authoritative accounts of Ryan's address decided that his falsehoods were a key part of the news Ryan made, as these headlines show:

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Mr. Ryan's Misleading Speech (Washington Post)
Deficit Vow Lacks Specifics (A.P.)

Paul Ryan Address: Convention Speech Built On Demonstrably Misleading Assertions (Huffington Post)

Opinionated commenters were even harsher, focusing more on factual failure than ideological differences. Taken together, the overwhelming verdict on Ryan's speech was that he should not be believed. (By one online measurement, on the day after the speech, the most widely cited convention articles led with the falsehoods.)

The Ryan-Romney campaign's misleading welfare ads have drawn similar media condemnation. Ditto for the false claims that Obama raised taxes on middle-class Americans and, more darkly, the recurring, false suggestion that he was born abroad.

This newfound vigor for reporting facts over false equivalency -- the very "truth vigilantism" that a New York Times public editor once presented as an optional challenge for today's press -- looks like a mainstay on the campaign trail.

Yet after years of complaints from media critics and ridicule from the media's unofficial ombudsmen on Comedy Central, why is this happening now? A few interlocking trends suggest the reasons are both structural -- campaigning in a digital era -- and parochial, given the strengths of the two nominees.

Fact-Checking Has Gone Viral

This is the first national race in which Twitter is fundamentally altering campaign coverage. The message-sharing platform has upended how most political reporters watch the campaign.

Newt Gingrich used to deride Washington conventional wisdom as the product of what 500 people said to each other over lunch -- nowadays, it's more like what those people retweet. The pack mentality remains, but the backchannel is more visible and more subject to pushback. For reporters, that means fact-checking is not only faster, but it draws from a wider array of sources.

Returning to Ryan's speech, for example, many of the most retweeted items from that night were not jokes or partisan attacks. They were simple messages about fact-checking. "Factory mentioned by Paul Ryan actually announced it's closing before Obama took office," declared a typical example from the Washington Post.

When that kind of information goes viral, it instantly stokes press and public attention on the politician's fibs, and crowdsources part of a reporter's homework. Separating exaggeration from dissembling takes time, but reporters can draw on credible Twitter sources for a head start. That makes it easier to instantly report the "news" of the candidate's statements and a factual counternarrative.

The Press Oligopoly is Ending

While bloggers have been nipping at reporters for several campaign cycles, they have now fully arrived as credentialed colleagues. Some of today's most successful campaign "bloggers," like Nate Silver, promoted to the New York Times from the open-source user diaries of Daily Kos, or Ezra Klein, who joined the Washington Post after an impressive stint blogging for the American Prospect, specialize in providing quantifiable facts at breakneck speed. The interpretative emphasis is on evidence over opinion: Charts rule and canards are usually debunked _ before_ the regurgitation that politicians take for granted. It's a different orientation than conventional campaign coverage, which often celebrates the horse race and prizes direct access to the principals, no matter what they are saying. And as empiricist blogging is integrated into the elite press, it provides credentialed competition that can both impact and supplant the conventional model.

"The fact-checking franchise has grown from a handful of specialists," Jay Rosen, an NYU journalism professor, told MediaShift via email, "to something that every full-service news operation should do." The contribution from sites and bloggers devoted to fact-checking, he said, "probably accounts for some of the intensity" of online fact-checking this cycle.

But still, you can't fact-check much unless the facts are routinely in danger.

Romney, Obama and the Truth War

Finally, beyond any structural shifts, this year's campaign also features two nominees with message strategies that have now been specifically honed to address today's fact-checkers.

Romney is icing them out while Obama is cultivating them.

Faced with nearly unanimous rebukes for its welfare attack, the Romney campaign doubled down, making several more ads with the same claim. Then, its pollster flatly told the press that the campaign would not have its strategy "dictated by fact checkers." That gambit -- call it honesty about dishonesty or "cynical postmodernism" -- may have taunted some reporters into even more assertive truth-squading. According to one source familiar with the White House's thinking, Team Romney's strategic mistake was not the lying, but offending the press.

For its part, the Obama campaign is now invested in veracity as a core attack. The president has plenty of impact over what issues are newsworthy, and his campaign is arguing that spin, lies and exaggerations show that the Romney-Ryan ticket can't be trusted. As Buzzfeed's Ben Smith recently argued, this "pants on fire politics" aims to bend the premium on accuracy into a political advantage. Smith said reporters should be wary of attempts to referee larger policy disagreements as if they were mere factual disputes. That's not going to be easy.

Ari Melber is an attorney, correspondent for The Nation magazine, and contributing columnist to Politico. During the 2008 presidential election, Melber traveled with the Obama Campaign on special assignment for The Washington Independent. In 2010, he authored a 74-page special report for techPresident analyzing the first year of Organizing for America, the 13-million person network that grew out of the 2008 presidential campaign, which Northwestern political scientist Daniel Galvin called "the most comprehensive and insightful account of Obama's 'Organizing for America' to date." Melber has contributed chapters to the books "America Now," (St. Martins, 2009) and "At Issue: Affirmative Action," (Cengage, 2009), and has been a featured speaker at Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Columbia and NYU, among other institutions. Melber has also served as a Legislative Aide in the U.S. Senate and as a national staff member of the 2004 John Kerry Presidential Campaign. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a J.D. from Cornell Law School, where he was an editor of the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. (Contact via www.arimelber.com).

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August 24 2012

14:00

Mediatwits #53: We're Back! Video Special: HuffPost Live; YouTube Elections Hub

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Welcome to the 53nd episode of the Mediatwits podcast, with Mark Glaser and Rafat Ali as co-hosts. We were off on hiatus the past few months while Mark was getting a kidney transplant and Rafat was launching his new travel startup, Skift.

This week we are looking at a couple big online video intiatives: the new HuffPost Live video channel that will stream 12 hours per day 5 days per week; and the new YouTube Elections Hub that includes video content from eight editorial partners and will live-stream the upcoming political conventions and debates. We were joined by HuffPost's Roy Sekoff, YouTube's Olivia Ma and GigaOm columnist Liz Shannon Miller.

Guest Bios

Roy Sekoff is the founding editor of the Huffington Post, and is president and co-creator of HuffPost Live. Before helping launch the Huffington Post, he was a writer, producer, and on-air correspondent for Michael Moore's "TV Nation" show, and served as Communications Director for Arianna Huffington's 2003 gubernatorial campaign.

Liz Shannon Miller currently works as a staff writer on G4's "Attack of the Show" and writes a regular column for the tech site GigaOM about online video.

Olivia Ma is YouTube's News and Politics Manager. She oversees YouTube's news programming strategy, working closely with both news organizations and citizen reporters using the site to share news video around the world. Olivia has produced three YouTube Interviews with President Obama and last fall's Fox News/Google GOP Primary Debate.

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Subscribe to the podcast here

Subscribe to Mediatwits via iTunes

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Our show is now on Stitcher! Listen to us on your iPhone, Android Phone, Kindle Fire and other devices with Stitcher. Find Stitcher in your app store or at stitcher.com.

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

Intro

0:30: Mark recovers from his kidney transplant

1:30: Rafat launches Skift.com

4:45: Rundown of topics on our show

HuffPost Live

6:00: Special guests Roy Sekoff and Liz Shannon Miller

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8:45: Sekoff: We wanted to bring comments front and center on HuffPost Live

12:00: Sekoff: The focus is on great conversations and not commercial breaks

14:20: HuffPost Live will change with feedback as they go

16:41: Miller: I could enjoy HuffPost Live passively or actively

19:45: Sekoff: We're not about breaking news but we want tohave conversations about the news

YouTube Elections Hub

22:10: Special guest Olivia Ma

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25:00: Ma: Storyful will help curate the best political videos on YouTube

26:45: Ma: Popular political videos are coming from users, candidates and news orgs

28:30: Sekoff: HuffPost was launched around the same time as YouTube in 2005

More Reading (and Watching)

HuffPost Live

Arianna Huffington launches HuffPost Live with combination of new and old at Guardian

HuffPost Live: a terrible debut, but don't rule out online video at Guardian

Overdosing on HuffPost Live at Adweek

HuffPost Live launches at CJR

YouTube Elections Hub

Political junkies take note: YouTube launches new Elections Hub at L.A. Times

YouTube Launches 2012 Elections Hub at FoxNews.com

PEJ Study on Master Narratives in Campaign at Project for Excellence in Journalism

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about how you'll be following the political conventions:


How will you follow the U.S. political conventions?

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian and fiancee Renee. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+

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August 23 2012

14:00

A Bold Experiment: Sending Citizen Reporters to Cover National Conventions

For two weeks every four years, the media and the politicos gather for the insider's ritual of selecting a presidential candidate. Really, it's an opportunity for them to party, schmooze and show the special interests, who support their cause, a good time. The role of the citizen in these pageants is, at best, as passive consumer.

So, what happens when you toss in a pair of citizen reporters, and put them on national television asking the one question that conventioneers don't want to answer: What are you doing to get money out of politics?

We launched the Digital Citizen experiment in July 2012 to find out. The big idea is to find citizen journalists to cover the 2012 elections from a citizen's point of view, with a focus on an issue we know Americans care about: the corrupting influence of money in politics. A Reuters/Ipsos poll from May found that "most Americans [75%], no matter what their political party, believe there is too much money in politics ..." The poll showed that 76 percent "feel that the amount of money in elections has given rich people more influence than other Americans."

The first experiment will be a series of reports from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., August 27-30 and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., September 3-6. The past months have been spent locating partners and finding potential reporters. We are creating a process that will reveal whether the citizens' voice can make a difference in the national dialogue, even -- especially -- when the political and media powers want to ignore what the people have to say.

But first, we had to find and train the reporters.

HOW TO FIND CITIZEN REPORTERS

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We realized early on that only by combining outreach to a significant number of people with the leveraging power of national television broadcasting could we hope to find our citizen reporters. First, Link TV, the national non-commercial television channel committed to informing Americans about the world, was willing to take the chance of putting real citizens on TV. In many ways this is the boldest move of all, and it had to be a small, independent and feisty channel like Link that would be willing to run with it. Next, United Republic, whose mission is to address the corrupting political influence of money and has more than 250,000 subscribers, jumped on board. We used an app adapted from the Personal Democracy Forum's 10questions.com that allows people to post, rate and share videos. The app was embedded on a United Republic page, and scores of aspiring citizen reporters posted and promoted videos of themselves, telling us why we should send them to the 2012 Conventions.

But trying to find citizen TV reporters posed serious unknowns. We don't know of any previous attempt to use social networking to surface potential citizen journalists for a national broadcasting outfit. Would anybody show up to post videos? Would those who did post videos "work" on TV? And, could citizen journalism go big time?

Answers: Yes, yes, and stay tuned ...

CITIZEN VS. REPORTER

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71,000 page views, 2200 votes, plus thousands of Tweets and Facebook "likes" later, we have found our reporters: Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, Neb., blogs at riseofthecenter.com, and WNYC's It's A Free Country. He tells us, "I am an avowed Centrist, because both parties have sold out to special interests, rather than listening to the will of the American people." Jessica Eise, a globe-trotting videographer and sometimes travel reporter, who is paying off the debt for her NYU master's degree, hails from Kansas City, Mo. She says, "Like many Americans, I'm struggling to find employment. We need to battle against corruption and fight for what is right for our country."

A key part of the deal is that they will be trained by our staff, led by radio and TV producer Shia Levitt. Her goal is to help them walk the razor's edge between legitimate citizen outrage and productive reporting.

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They are studying up on the issues for the 3-hour training, which will range from practicing stand-ups to the art of asking civil questions to the secrets of follow-ups. Levitt will only know if her tutelage worked when we get to the convention floor.

FULFILLING THE ENGAGEMENT PROMISE

In fact, for all the ballyhoo about "citizen journalism" and "engagement" over the last few years, there's precious little to show for it, on the page or on the screen. Some bloggers have risen to prominence as journalists, and all bloggers are in one sense crowd-sourced, becoming representative voices for a point of view shared by many. People do vote with their clicks, alerting journalists to what the crowd finds of interest at any given moment. But the very nature of this process ensures that fleeting interest is made much of, while enduring interest -- the many clicks scattered among cat video likes and satirical tweet shares -- is lost even to the most attentive observers. No wonder media coverage has degenerated into flashes of scandal and outrage at the expense of the larger issues people insist they care most about.

The 'Elephant' in the Election Booth

Nonetheless, we are very clear that the mission of Digital Citizen -- to expand the voice of the citizen in policy dialogue for the digital age -- is more than fulfilled by the issue of the corrupting influence of money in politics. As Steven Dikowitz, one of our competitors and a member of our Citizens' Editorial Board put it, money is "the elephant in the room" where media and politics intersect. A July 2012 Gallup Poll revealed that reducing corruption in the federal government was second only to focusing on jobs among Americans' concerns.

So we are focusing on a subject that is owned by the people. After all, politicians who live by donations are not likely to meaningfully confront the issue without public pressure, and the public has a shrinking number of avenues through which to address their elected representatives, despite the growing list of complaints. Nor can most journalists, who must be careful what they ask lest they get blackballed by politicians or, worse, censored by the huge media corporations they work for (which reap tremendous benefits from the campaign finance system), be relied upon to push the issue.

Thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United and related decisions, combined with the politicians' reluctance to reveal the fonts from which their campaign financing flows, there is no good way to source money in politics. But if you "follow the money" as to where most of it flows, you find yourself at the door of the media. A May 2012 investigation by the Columbia Journalism Review took a hard look at the recipients of this largess. By law, "the campaigns get the lowest rates in a given ad class, [but] they do tend not to buy the cheapest class, which is subject to 'immediate pre-emption,'" while Super PACs and issue groups, "are not entitled to the same low rates." It all adds up to a bonanza -- the article quotes industry estimates that "$2.5-$3.3 billion will be directed to local spot advertising" -- a new record. This is quite an incentive to forget to question the campaign finance system.

With only four days until the Republican Convention begins, our reporters are tanned, rested and ready to march into the maw of the prime-time Conventions extravaganza. We, the production team, are exhausted, hurried and worried, up to our eyeballs in logistics, stretching our dollars until they squeak. We hear there's a hurricane heading for Tampa and are packing our camera raincoats. But it's worth every bead of sweat and storm-surge: We are using the lure of appearing on TV to find new journalists who have no stake in the system as it is. Because they represent the many people who have nothing to lose but the integrity of their leaders, we hope to leverage this issue into national prominence.

So, while other TV journalists at the conventions will be on the lookout for scandal and bombast, the Link TV Citizen Reporters will be more interested in the special treatment of special interests, the workings of Citizens United and Super PACs, the costs and tolls of attack ads. Will 2012 prove to be the year that citizens gain a stronger voice in the policy dialogue that shapes our nation? Stay tuned.

Evelyn Messinger (@citizenschannel) is president of Internews Interactive, http://citizenschannel.org. She is a television and Internet producer, and a pioneer of citizen engagement projects that define the parameters of digital connectivity. Her credits include daily news, features and documentary programs for the BBC, Link TV, PBS, PTV stations, CNN and others. Ms. Messinger is a co-founder and former executive director of Internews Network, an international media NGO.

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August 07 2012

14:00

Tired of Text Spam and Dropped Cell Phone Calls? You're Not Alone

Think you're the only one ready to throw your cell phone out the window the next time you have a dropped call or text spam? You're not alone, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. The survey found that cell phone problems are a common reality for the 280 million users in the United States.

The report identified four major cell phone problems: 72 percent of all cell users experience dropped calls, 68 percent of all cell users receive unwanted sales or marketing calls, 69 percent of text messaging users in the U.S. receive unwanted spam or text messages, and 77 percent of those who use Internet on their cell phones experience slower than desirable download speeds.

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The report also surveyed the frequency of all four mobile phone problems as experienced by smartphone owners. And in all four cases, smartphone owners reported higher incident rates. The largest margins are in spam and unwanted texts -- 29 percent of smartphone owners compared with 20 percent of other cell owners -- and slow download speeds -- 49 percent of smartphone owners compared with 31 percent of other cell owners.

Limited Solutions to Block Spammers

There are several ways people may attempt to remove cell phone nuisances from their daily lives. Step one is to contact your mobile carrier and request the available spam-blocking services.

University of New Hampshire student Feier Liu uses a non-smartphone and first called her mobile carrier to block a spam number about three years ago. The service was free, but only blocks individual numbers. Liu said she hasn't received a spam call since. She is certainly a lucky one.

Another service introduced back in March also counts on mobile users to vigilantly report spam text messages. North American mobile carriers have adopted a centralized spam-reporting service, which collects spam complaints into a shared database to help carriers identify and stop spammers. In practice, users forward spam texts to the shortcode 7726 (or SPAM), prompting the carrier to request the spam number.

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Allin Resposo, a web designer and smartphone user, has been reporting every spam text to 7726 since the service was introduced. Resposo hasn't seen an obvious decrease in spam and said that the spam texts are never from the same number.

While smartphones experience more problems, they paradoxically enable more possible solutions. A search for "block spam" on Google Play brings up dozens of apps created to block spam calls and texts. Most of these apps have ratings of four stars or more and could be worthwhile efforts for Android users. However, because of Apple's restrictions on developers, similar apps are not available for the iPhone, which, according to a prior Pew report, is used by some 53 million people in the U.S.

Finding Digital Authenticity

The Pew report stated, "It is against the law in the U.S. to place unsolicited commercial calls to a mobile phone when the call is made by using an automated random-digit dialing generator or if the caller uses a pre-recorded message." Yet spam phone calls, like those offering free cruises to the Bahamas with a pre-recorded "[fog horn] This is your captain speaking" are as real as ever. Clearly, spammers are evolving faster than legislation.

In fact, they may be piggybacking on our mobile dependence. The report also noted that non-white cell owners experience all four of the common cell phone problems at higher weekly rates than white cell owners, possibly due to the fact that "African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely than whites to rely on their cell phones as their primary or exclusive phones for calling and for Internet access."

Does all this indicate that more mobile usage equals more problems?

In a world where there are 14 million spam accounts on Facebook and probably similarly disturbing figures on other social networks, it's not hard to imagine that spammers on these mobile-enabled networks will find a way to spam our mobile devices.

Jenny Xie is the PBS MediaShift editorial intern. Jenny is a rising senior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying architecture and management. She is a digital-media junkie fascinated by the intersection of media, design, and technology. Jenny can be found blogging for MIT Admissions, tweeting @canonind, and sharing her latest work and interests here.

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July 30 2012

14:00

Do We All Have iDisorders?

Raj Lal, a senior engineer for a mobile phone company, checked his iPhone at the dinner table before getting a searing look and some strong words from his wife in the middle of a romantic restaurant.

It was their 10th anniversary. Lal, 34, said he felt embarrassed about the scene, but more so that he didn't even think about it as he pulled out the smartphone.

Lal isn't the only one who can't escape the lure of his mobile device. Today, it's commonplace to compulsively check a smartphone or text friends on any, perhaps all, occasions, special or not.

This constant connectivity is so much a part of our culture that it's become a hot debate in the last few years -- so much so that two recently released books tackle the issue head on: Sherry Turkle's book, "Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other" and "iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us", in which psychologist Larry Rosen even coins a term for our problem: iDisorder.

The 'iDisorder'

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"It's a mood disorder that's kind of a lifestyle," Rosen said. "I'm a tech devotee, but on another level, they are dangerous and encourage obsessive behaviors."

Rosen cites a study that shows that more than half of the iGeneration (born 1990 to 1998) and Net Generation (born 1980 to1989) respondents polled checked their text messages every 15 minutes or less. While the percentage goes down as the age goes up, Generation Xers (born 1965 to 1979) still make up 42 percent of frequent text-checkers, while 20 percent of Baby Boomers (born 1945 to 1964) seem to constantly check for calls. Rosen said it's easy for technology to become an addiction.

In Sherry Turkle's book, "Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other," she interviewed several teens on their mobile phone addiction. One refused to quit texting while driving, saying, "If I get a Facebook message or something similar posted on my wall... I have to see it. I have to." Others have chipped teeth or bruised themselves walking into furniture or objects while engrossed in their phones.

But similarly, older adults have also changed their expectations. In a chapter entitled "No Need to Call," Turkle interviewed several people who say an email or a text is sufficient and using the phone to speak to another person is just unnecessary. One 46-year-old architect explains it this way, "(A phone call) promises more than I'm willing to deliver."
Part of the reason, Turkle suggested, is that these people believe the human connection of a phone call is "asking too much, and they worry it will be received as demanding too much." Turkle even found herself not calling a close friend because it might be considered intrusive.

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Part of the attraction is also the idea that by not using the phone, which can lead to an unscripted conversation that may portray them as awkward, email and texting lets people present themselves as they wish.

Infiltrating our most intimate moments

Technology is also taking a toll on our sex lives. "People are so addicted to that immediacy, that when they're up in the morning, before looking at their partner like they used to, they grab for the phone," said Mary Jo Rapini, a sex and relationship psychotherapist based in Houston. "Your smartphone isn't smart in bed."

It's also creating a generation of exhibitionists who are too shy to ask anyone out.

"What's intimate now is not what we used to consider intimate," Rapini said. "Teens are posting provocative pictures of themselves and sending nude pictures to each other."
Rapini said that sending nude photos is a powerful act for kids who feel pretty powerless. "They control it and feel good about it. But when you meet someone you have no control over it," she said. "Having a date and being judged, they don't have the skills to handle that."

The madness of multitasking

Rosen, a professor of psychology at CSU Dominguez Hills, said that human communication can't compete with technology's bells and whistles, likely the reason why some people often check their phones or messages while talking to another human being. "Technology overstimulates our brains with all the various sensory images we have," he said. "They're highly engaging. And what people aren't doing is taking time to let their minds calm down."

Instead of using your smartphone in the grocery line, Rosen advocates talking to someone else in line, looking at the magazines, or just taking time to decompress. "Go look at a flower, speak a foreign language or listen to music without ear plugs," he suggested.
Without this ability, people can't use metacognition, or the awareness of when to pay attention and determining when not to pay attention. "Instead they're thinking about their phone and what they're missing out on by not checking it," he said.

The idea of multitasking, which had become such a corporate buzzword, is also a bit of a parlor trick. More productivity is observed in "unitasking," but most multitaskers aren't convinced of that. "They're so interested in multitasking that when someone says, 'Let's talk face-to-face,' they can't do it," Rosen said. The same goes for students. "You can't listen to music and read a textbook at the same time."

Many in the psychological and medical fields have debunked the myth of multitasking as productive. Instead, the interruptions lead to more stress, attention difficulties, and poor decision-making.

The next generation

Another problem with our increasing Internet-laden society is that many children and young adults may believe all information found on the Internet is true. "There's no media literacy training," Rosen said. "You can't just assume your kids are good at parsing media."

The problem with teens and young adults is that their devices give them constant reinforcement and a squirt of dopamine, Rosen said. Worse, they feel they have to react to an incoming communication instantly or something bad will happen. That they will miss out on some conversation or news nugget that may be life-changing, he said. "That's compulsion," he said. "The Fear of Missing Out."

The biggest challenge and first step for those addicted is turning off the phone while they go to sleep, Rosen said.

And how do you know you're an addict? You start finding reasons to get up from the table so you can check your phone without anyone noticing. Manufacturing a reason is a bad sign. "You have to practice being strong," Rosen said.

So why are children allowed to become so dependent on a smartphone? Because for many parents, having a child quiet and not needing attention is considered a blessing to an overworked parent, he said.

Dinners Without Technology

Parents can help lessen the grip of the smartphone by not using their own smartphone as much and establishing "dinners without technology." Mainly he said he blamed many parents on what he termed "partial parenting," where parents continuously give children partial attention. "That's not how you should parent and the kids are not going to be OK," he said. "Learn to focus better and longer."

Mitchell Weiss, a business professor at the University of Hartford, told MediaShift that he worried about his students in the business world. "They avoid eye contact," he said. "You can see them tense when you get too close...The failure to make eye contact used to mean hiding something or being devious, but you can't think that way when dealing with these kids. Their social skills are not as developed."

Weiss said that many of the bad behaviors learned at home and school won't work at a job. "You can't be text-messaging back and forth with friends," he said. "Even having a conversation with an employee, their phone will make a noise, and I can see their eyes look over to the phone. And I can see they really want to pick up the phone but know they can't."

Despite the momentary lapse at his recent anniversary, Lal said that he tries to have more meaningful moments with friends and family. "The more you talk with people, the richer the experience," he said. "And that's more important than surfing the Web or talking to friends on Facebook."

Related Reading

> Special Series: Unplug 2012

> Hands-Free Parenting: How Much You Gain When You Unplug by Rachel Stafford

> 5 Tips to Prevent Digital Burnout and Maintain Good Mental Health by Sandra Ordonez

Barbara E. Hernandez is a native Californian who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has more than a decade of experience as a professional journalist and college writing instructor. She also writes for Press:Here, NBC Bay Area's technology blog.

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May 04 2012

20:00

Poll: What Do You Think About the Facebook IPO?

Now we have a date (May 18) and a price range ($28 to $35 per share) for what could be the biggest initial public offering in the history of tech stocks: Facebook. The company has grown by leaps and bounds since it was born in Mark Zuckerberg's dorm at Harvard in 2004, and now could make Zuckerberg richer than Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. If the IPO prices at the high end of the range, $35 per share, Zuckerberg could be worth $17.6 billion. So what's your take? Would you invest your hard-earned dollars in Facebook stock? Would you short the stock? Do you even care? Vote in our weekly poll, and explain your vote in the comments below.


What do you think about the Facebook IPO?

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April 27 2012

17:40

Poll: Where Are Your Favorite Places to Share Photos?

You recently went on vacation to an exotic and new locale and you want to show people your great photos from the trip. So where do you post them online? Are you a fan of Flickr or Facebook? What about Instagram? Or perhaps you're part of the thriving photography community on Google+. And let's not forget the old school folks who still prefer getting photo prints and putting them in an actual real physical photo album! Vote in our poll -- you can vote for multiple items -- and explain in the comments what makes a good photo-sharing service for you.


Where are your favorite places to share photos?

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13:38

Mediatwits #46: Photography Special: Creative Commons, Cameraphones, Instagram, Google+

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Welcome to the 46th episode of the Mediatwits podcast, this time with Mark Glaser and the Rafat Ali as co-hosts. Rafat is celebrating his birthday, we're not sure how old he is, but we know that he loves photography. So this week we are celebrating his birthday by doing a special show focused on photography in the digital age. Our roundtable includes crack professional photographer Gregor Halenda, photo and multimedia guru Brian Storm and social photographer extraordinaire Thomas Hawk in a wide-ranging discussion.

First is the debate over rights: Is it a good idea to post your photos on social media under a Creative Commons license? Or should you be more restrictive of your photos online? We also talk about the state of stock photography and the democratization of photography now that the tools are more accessible -- and everyone has a potential global reach online. And what about the rise of amazing cameraphones, apps and filters? Now that Instagram has been bought by Facebook for $1 billion, what's the implication about the future of photo-sharing and filters? Thomas Hawk also cites Google+ as being a hotbed of photography. How did it surpass Facebook?

Check it out!

mediatwits46.mp3

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Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

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Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

Intro

0:20: Happy birthday to Rafat!

2:15: Rafat got the photography bug in last two years

4:00: Pro photographers threatened by rise of amateurs

Creative Commons a good thing?

6:00: Special guests Thomas Hawk, Brian Storm and Gregor Halenda

8:30: Flickr has even started to innovate, along with newer players

10:20: Halenda: I won't post on Flickr or under Creative Commons, I want to be paid

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13:20: Hawk: There are examples of pro photogs making a business from posting online

What skills do photographers need now?

15:00: Storm: Schools are teaching kids everything -- photography, video and multimedia

18:00: Halenda: Stock photography can't support pros anymore

20:10: Storm: Everyone has tools and distribution so now it's all about quality

22:10: Hawk: Google+ lets you share circles of photographers with all followers

Cameraphones get ever more powerful

25:30: High-end cameras are still selling well

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27:30: Hawk likes Camera Awesome as one of his favorite photo apps

29:40: Halenda says knowing Photoshop is essential to pro photography

32:30: Storm helped start "The Week in Pictures" at MSNBC.com in 1998 as pioneer; had 100 million page views last month

More Reading

Photojournalists Scramble to Video. Is it Worth It? at MediaShift

Digital camera sales defy smartphone onslaught at the Globe and Mail

Zuckerberg announces Instagram purchase on Facebook

Camera Awesome app

Thomas Hawk on Google+

Gregor Halenda Photography

MediaStorm

The Week in Pictures at MSNBC.com

The Big Picture at Boston.com

Lens blog at NY Times

Guardian Eyewitness app

Flickr Creative Commons images

Creative Commons' Images blog

Creative Commons + Flickr = 22 Million Sharable Photos at MediaShift

The Digital Journalist

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about where you share photos:


Where are your favorite places to share photos?

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+

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April 26 2012

14:00

'Carnivàle' Creator Bypasses Hollywood, Launches Transmedia Story 'Haunted'

Discovered on the Internet and known as a storyteller with a unique vision, writer and producer Daniel Knauf, best known as the creator of "Carnivàle" on HBO, has ditched Hollywood and struck out on his own to mine the field of transmedia.

With a beta project made public called "Haunted," Knauf's new company, BXX, is jumping feet first into the transmedia world.

Difficult to separate the plot from the technology, "Haunted" is best described as a fictional story that follows paranormal investigators working inside an abandoned house tormented by supernatural events. The storytelling format features multimedia elements such as research documentation and investigators' blogs. Shot with multiple cameras, the project's navigational timeline allows viewers to manipulate how they view the story.

The transmedia world is a popular one, with Sundance Institute announcing this past fall six transmedia projects accepted into its first-ever New Frontier Lab, with an impressive list of Hollywood heavyweights as advisers. In an article on Mashable, Lisa Hsia, executive vice president of Bravo Digital Media, defined transmedia storytelling as telling a story that extends across multiple media platforms. (For television, it goes beyond the on-air show.)

I spoke with Knauf to find out why "inventing a new narrative" is so important to him, what potential he sees in transmedia storytelling, and to ask him, "Why the rebel stance?" The following is an edited transcript of that discussion.

Bxx: "Haunted" Promo No. 1 from Daniel Knauf on Vimeo.

Q&A

Tell me about BXX (pronounced BOX) and what drew you to create the transmedia project "Haunted" for the Internet?

Daniel Knauf: Black BXX LLC is the name of our company, but we're going by BXX now. I wanted to see if I could make a nonlinear drama work. I came up with BXX Mars about five years ago, and I did the normal thing and talked to the money people. Everyone said, "This is interesting. Can we make a TV show out of it?" It's the first place they go.

The traditional entertainment industry is not known for their humility. They tend to think they are the end all. You don't take a TV show and put it on Hulu and call it Internet content. No, it's not. It's a TV show you're watching on your computer. Hulu's not really Internet, Funny or Die is not really Internet; those are just TV being watched on a different screen. For me, I wanted to invent a narrative that there was absolutely no way you could have done it if the Internet wasn't invented. That was the goal I set myself.

In the end, I just got tired of trying to convince them this lives and breathes on the Internet. I got tired of explaining finance models to them and I thought, let's just do an inexpensive version of this and show them. I had sold "Carnivàle" off the Internet. I've always been into the Internet, and it stuck in my craw that the Internet wasn't treated as the medium it could be.

But obviously money comes into play; what are the plans to monetize BXX?

Knauf: I've given up on Hollywood. They are too frightened. I've gone so far off the reservation. All I want to do is set up shop here in Nashville and build a studio and start making these things. If I had to monetize this right now, I would use surveys. I think they are the least intrusive. I don't think I need people to watch ads every 30 seconds. I hate roll-ins, banners and pop-ups. I'd like to give people the option to subscribe and watch without surveys for a reasonable price. Choice is best.

But let's be realistic, in order to make these things, they cost money. I'm a huge believer in capitalism, and we'll look for people to invest in this. Money follows the eyeballs. I tried a Kickstarter for this, and I didn't meet my goal. But when I told people they would get their money back, I got $14,000 sent to my PayPal account from total strangers in $5 and $10 amounts. They just wanted to see this thing and loved "Carnivàle" and what I do. The money will come.

Audience-building must be key to a project like this that's outside of the Hollywood system and without its production and marketing budgets.

Knauf: I've built a relationship with my audience. It used to be complex for the audience and artists to connect, but that chasm doesn't exist anymore. We have no PR. We've really only promoted through social networks. We had about 3,100 people sign up for early access, and we've had about 8,000 unique visitors. Not bad for no advertising or PR. Only 22 people put their hands on this thing. We are all artists or craftsmen. Even our CFO was pulling cable. I was driving the RV. We didn't build sets. We shot on location. We used high-end security cameras and made certain compromises and bootstrapped it ourselves.

The actors ended up doing such an amazing job, that what was supposed to be a beta, not for the public, we decided to release to the public. We did the pre-launch because we thought it would be pretty buggy and wanted to get feedback before it went public, and two weeks later we went live. Anyone can access anything free. They do have to register if they want to unlock documents; this is so next time you log in, you aren't locked out of documents you've already opened up.

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About 30 percent of people who visit spend more than a half hour, and about 12 percent spend more than an hour. I created this to engage people, so we are really happy. Strangely, the U.S.A. is the No. 1 place for hits, but Norway is second. My wife says it is because it's where 'Big Brother' was invented.

Speaking of 'Big Brother,' there is a voyeuristic aspect of "Haunted." It reminds me of certain forms of reality TV mixed with paranormal activity. I think the use of the security cameras amplified that feeling. Can you talk about that?

Knauf: There is a voyeurism quality. Even a good movie feels voyeuristic or (like) a stage drama. What's interesting is, with this shooting schedule, you're not just watching actors acting. You're watching actors living. There was no off-stage. We had cameras in the bathroom. When we said 'action,' we didn't say 'cut' for 32 hours. There is a certain level of reality that occurs in that situation. We directed in shifts, and there is still some footage I haven't seen.

My partner, at about 26 hours, said, 'You gotta come in and watch these people.' I would say they were experiencing some kind of incipient post-traumatic stress syndrome. They were zombie-fied and behaving oddly. The location was like a spook house with sound effects and things falling and crashing. There isn't a big difference between being an actor pretending to be attacked by a haunted house and being a person being attacked by a haunted house. It was a traumatic event for them, and I ended up cutting about eight hours off the shoot.

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What about the tech part, the security camera vibe and ability to track the characters' movements throughout rooms? How does this factor in, and where do you see this going?

Knauf: I'm used to copywriting everything, but now I get patents and I feel like Thomas Edison. It's really cool, like I'm an inventor or mad scientist. The hardest thing when we are explaining 'Haunted' is the easiest thing when you get on and play with it. People ask, 'How do I watch this? What if I make a mistake?' It doesn't matter. You can't do it wrong. I tell people just watch it, and you'll see how natural it is. Nothing is more artificial than a three-act structure. They don't exist in nature. What you find when you play with 'Haunted' is you are accessing it like you do your memories. Memories don't work in a linear fashion. Memories work like we work on the Internet -- something reminds us of something, that keys something, that then links to something else.

It was designed to have multiple cameras and views open. The first thing that came up was people wanted to sync them all up. I hadn't thought about that, and we did our best to make that happen. Of course with the Internet, maintaining sync is hard unless you have a really big pipe. I would like to make it work better on tablets. We have 90 percent function. We can't get the time slider to work on touchscreen HTML 5 yet, but we are working on it.

What I really want to do is make it so people can download these videos and cut their own movies and have a film festival. We haven't licked that end of the coding yet, but definitely for the next one.

Is there a specific 'event' I can send readers to find to get a taste of 'Haunted'?

Knauf: Saturday, Hour 5, Segment 6, Camera 1 is a good time for people to check out to see a character reacting strongly to something she is watching on camera, then they can go find which camera she is watching. Our audience has blown my mind. We have a lot of multimedia research stuff, articles and such, and they knew to go to the logs and find out when all the weird s--- happens. It didn't even occur to me they could do that. People are so smart at figuring out all the 'wow' moments.

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That's clever of the audience -- a true use of a multimedia project. With this under your belt, are you ready to tackle BXX Mars? What genres of storytelling do you see as lending themselves to this format besides supernatural or horror?

Knauf: BXX Mars is the next one we're doing. It's about a group of astronauts facing being marooned. They have a short launch window they have to make or be stuck on Mars. BXX Mars will be 72 hours. I'd love to do BXX Niagara about a honeymoon hotel. A family reunion would work, too -- any story that Robert Altman would have done. This whole thing is character-driven. We could follow people in a shelter in a hurricane like Katrina or track a firefighter on 9/11 -- or BXX Whitechapel and set up the East End of London and have the actors living that role for a 12-hour period.

How do you decide the length of time to cover?

Knauf: The length of the event isn't as important as how we are covering it. One isn't directing in a traditional sense -- more like cuing events to poke the actors with a stick. It's a marathon for an actor. I'm not willing to hurt people to deliver entertainment. The next one, the actors will really have time to train, especially when we aren't on location but on sets. You could technically call a cut or shoot an insert, but the problem is it feels totally false. There is a level of reality in these performances that exist only in this format. Even voices change in tone depending on whether one is tired or scared. It is impossible to duplicate.

There is a strength in the performance from the actors being in character for so long. The actors had to change how they act. I had to change how I write. Everything changed. It turned out to be a surprising way to tell a story. They wake up in character and cook a corn dog in character. It leads to some real moments. We connect with the quiet moments. That's where drama lives. This format really delivers that.

MS: So is this goodbye to Hollywood?

Knauf: What has really burned me out on Hollywood is since I did 'Carnivàle,' I have a stack about 11 feet tall of material, and maybe 18 inches of it has landed on eyeballs. I didn't get into the business to write for half a dozen studios executives. I've been paid well for the 11 feet, but that's not why I do this. I do this because I am paying forward for every writer that inspired me. If my stuff isn't landing on eyeballs, then I've failed at that. In Hollywood, they are always teetering on the brink of saying no for 1,000 reasons. With BXX, I can create huge amounts of content for peanuts in Hollywood terms. I can create 1,500 hours of content for under a million dollars. This is potentially very profitable, and I can take those profits and do standard productions as well.

BXX Mars will create 1,600 hours of footage. I could easily cut a mini-series out of that for TV. What's cool is once everything is set up, I can bring in an American cast and then bring in a Chinese cast and do it all over again. It is so cross-platform. Everything follows the Internet because the Internet embraces every medium.

And everything you do is yours as opposed to working within the Hollywood system and selling rights. Is that a motivating factor?

Knauf: My big bugaboo with Hollywood is copyright. If you open a Stephen King book, it is copyright Stephen King. If you watch 'Carnivàle,' it is copyright HBO. The only reason for that is they are pigs. There's only five or six of them, and they know they have to stick together. It's like a cartel and so against antitrust laws. I want to create a studio where if someone wants to make something at my studio, they get to retain their copyright. It will never be 'copyright BXX.' That's my pipe dream. We would be what Random House is to Stephen King -- we would publish that person's work. Why would I pirate someone's intellectual property just because I'm the one with the money? It's disgusting the way Hollywood treats artists. Everyone's convinced we are always on the bubble of being fired at all times. The town runs on flop sweat. 'Everybody will never work again.'...There is so much fabulous material that didn't move forward because of Hollywood timidness.

People ask why there isn't anything good on TV. I'm coming from the inside, and I'm telling you that not only do they think the audience is an idiot, to the point where they think you can't feed yourself, but they loathe you, too. They hate the audience because they can't figure out why they watch what they watch. I've read somewhere that the odds of a show succeeding is about the same as they were in the '60s. Things fail now because they are exactly like 10 other things on TV.

I think we are going to have another renaissance. My showrunner friends listen to me being a mad prophet, and they are amazed: 'You do whatever you want to do? No one tells you what you have to do!?' I think when people realize the gates are open and no one will shoot them when they step out, things are going to change.

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Technology is definitely pushing storytelling to new limits. As writer and blogger Chuck Wendig wrote on transmedia, 'It makes me feel like I'm from the future. In the end, though, whether you call it transmedia or cross-media or new media or hybridized-story-pollination (HSP), it's still just storytelling. Though it's storytelling in a bigger, sometimes weirder, way.'

Amanda Lin Costa is a writer and producer in the film and television industry. She writes a series called "Truth in Documentary Filmmaking" and is currently producing the documentary, "The Art of Memories."

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April 16 2012

14:00

7 Ways to Be the Programmer No One Hates

After reading Sandra Ordonez's MediaShift post "7 Ways to Get Programmers to Stop Hating You," my first thought was: Wow, good advice. My second thought was: How can we programmers get people to stop hating us? After 13+ years of working as a technologist -- from a junior developer to the manager of a couple tech departments -- I've seen first-hand that "tech hating," to use Sandra's phrase, is sometimes justified. Put simply: Sometimes techs deserve to be hated.

And so, I offer this list to you, fellow techies, in the name of Office Peace. Let's show the world that the stereotype of the rude, uncommunicative programmer is as outdated as the 15" CRT monitor issued to me at my first job. Let's earn some love. (Note: Please don't think that I'm holding myself up as a perfect example here -- these aren't things that I do every day, although I try, but they are good reminders for all of us.)

1. Add a new language to your resume: Human

Chances are your resume has a list of programming languages you know. As important as they are to your job, the language you use when you communicate with your co-workers is every bit as important. Being able to discuss the ins and outs of tail call optimization or the pros and cons of statically typed languages with regard to metaprogramming might make you a great programmer, but if you're not able to communicate meaningfully and respectfully with non-technical people, you won't be a great co-worker. And you'll be doing yourself a disservice; how are you going to get recognized for the great work you do if you're not able to explain that work to anyone who's not a programmer? And how are you going to change anything about the place where you work if you're not able to turn a complaint into a constructive suggestion? The answer is: You aren't. So do yourself a favor and start boning up on your human-to-human interface communications.

2. Remember your operating context

Make it your business to learn more than just the technical specifications for your projects. The more you can get a sense of the big picture, the more you can understand the context within which you are expected to make your brilliant technical decisions -- and the more likely it will be that those decisions are the right ones for this unique situation. When you're able to keep the big picture in mind, you become more than just an implementer -- you become a problem-solver.

3. Think like a client

No, I don't mean change your deadlines for no reason, call yourself at 5:00 on a Friday for technical support, or forget your password to the CMS. What I do mean is to try to put yourself in your clients' (or co-workers') shoes. Maybe they don't know the right terminology for everything, but they still need help; maybe they're under time and budget constraints that you don't know about (and that affect their decision-making); maybe they have a million things going on right now and the code you're writing is just one of them. In short, try to remember that you may not know every variable, and that you're not the only one with a difficult job.

4. The power of positive thinking, or at least speaking

Here's a ripped-from-the-headlines-of-my-job (well, my old job) scenario: Say your company's client has already signed a contract with the vendor of a terrible CMS before your project starts. You can say "that was a stupid choice" and await further instructions. Or, you can say "OK, they've made a choice that we wouldn't have advised them to make; now here's how we can work within that constraint to build them a great site." Saying "no, we can't do that" is easy. Saying "yes, we have constraints, and here's what we can do" is harder -- and about a million times more useful.

5. Would you like a side of Value with that?

Let's face it: Most clients (and non-technical managers) don't care how elegant your code is as long as that code works. And while truly great programmers are a rare breed, there are plenty of "good enough" programmers who can get the job done -- maybe not as well as you can, but good enough that your client can't tell the difference. So how can you set yourself apart? Ask questions. Specifically, ask the right questions to help you figure out (and build) what your client/boss/teammates really want, as opposed to simply what they are asking for. You probably know about tools, solutions and approaches from your past work that a client (or a co-worker) has never even heard of -- here's your chance to fully leverage your technical knowledge and skills to help them meet their goals in ways they didn't know was possible. Delivering what someone really wants is a great way to add value and differentiate yourself in a marketplace where any college kid can bang out a Drupal site and call it "programming."

6. Get Involved

Raise issues and ask questions at the beginning of a project, not when it's too late. If technical staff aren't typically included early on in the project process at your company, start making the case for why they should be, because it will save time, money and frustration later on. The more you can involve yourself during the early stages of a project, the more you're setting yourself (and your co-workers) up to succeed by identifying pitfalls before you're staring up from the bottom of one. But pointing out danger is only half the battle; use the time at the onset of a project to make suggestions, add value (see above), and demonstrate your worth to your employer. Making that killer feature work right is part of your job; suggesting a way to make it better/cheaper/faster/reusable/etc. is what will make them love you.

Mind The Gap

7. Mind The Gap

Technical people and non-technical people often suffer from a "failure to communicate" due to the ineffable nature of many tech words and terms. When a non-technical person asks you a tech-related questions, simply coming back at him or her with a string of tech-speak doesn't actually make you look smart -- it makes you look like someone with no communication skills. It pigeonholes you. It reinforces the stereotype of the unhelpful technical person who can communicate well with computers but not with humans. It makes you look less useful, and less useful employees aren't the ones who get the best assignments -- they're the ones who get cut when times get tough. Albert Einstein said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Explaining something in a non-technical way doesn't mean dumbing it down, it means proving that you're smart enough to do your programming job in reverse: Take a set of technical concepts or instructions and turn them into ideas a non-technical human can understand. Brilliant!

Conclusion: Try A Little Tenderness

This list is a good start, but in the end if you still have the attitude that all non-technical staff are idiots, you're never going to justify their love (and you're going to hurt your career prospects in the process). You didn't learn everything you know the first time you heard it, so be forgiving when your non-technical co-workers sometimes ask you the same question over and over again. It's OK to tell them where to find the answer that you already sent them, but if that doesn't work, look again: Maybe you're not explaining the issue well enough so that it sticks. Practice transparency. Provide detail. Put a friendly face on the big, scary technical stuff. Remember that you are an ambassador for techs everywhere. So give us all a good name -- and earn that love.

What do you think? If you're a techie, what do you do in your job to try to keep the haters at bay? Is this list useful? If you're non-technical, what would you add to this list? What you are you doing to help inter-office relations? Tell us in the comments.

"Mind the gap" photo by Flickr user asparagus_hunter and used with Creative Commons license.


Jordan Hirsch has spent the last 13+ years as a lovable technologist with a focus on content management. Currently, Jordan helps non-profits accomplish great things on the Internet as part of the team at Beaconfire Consulting. He's also a musician and improviser, and blogs about music and technology at Wired For Music. You can follow him on Twitter at @tfish77, where you can read his thoughts about living in Brooklyn with his pregnant wife and not-pregnant dog.

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April 11 2012

14:00

Governments Increasingly Targeting Twitter Users for Expressing Their Opinion

This piece is co-authored by Trevor Timm.

In its six years of existence, Twitter has staked out a position as the most free speech-friendly social network. Its utility in the uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa is unmatched, its usage by activists and journalists alike to spread news and galvanize the public unprecedented.

As Twitter CEO Dick Costolo recently boasted at the Guardian Changing Media Summit, Twitter is "the free speech wing of the free speech party."

But at the same time, some governments -- in both not-so-democratic and democratic societies -- have not taken such a positive view of Twitter and freedom of expression. Instead, they've threatened, arrested and prosecuted their citizens for what they express in 140 characters or less.

Not surprisingly, in a number of authoritarian-minded states, journalists are often the first targets. And as bloggers and pundits take to the ephemeral style of Twitter to criticize rules, the government has been -- in a number of cases -- one step ahead. While some countries, such as Bahrain and Tunisia, have chosen to block individual Twitter accounts, others prefer to go straight to the source.

Crackdown in the Middle East

In February, Saudi blogger and journalist Hamza Kashgari fled the country after threats on his life. His crime? Tweeting a mock conversation with the Prophet Mohammed, an action which many called blasphemous. Though Kashgari was on his way to a country that would have granted him asylum, he transferred in Malaysia where, upon his arrival, he was detained, and finally extradited back to his home country, despite pleas from the international community to allow him to continue onward.

Kashgari remains in detention in Saudi Arabia, while outside of prison, members of the public continue to call for his murder. Nearly as chilling is the threat to his livelihood: Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Abdul Aziz Khoja has banned Kashgari, a journalist by profession, from writing in "any Saudi paper or magazine," meaning that even if he walks free, he'll be prohibited from continuing in the only profession he has ever known -- and all for a tweet.

In the United Arab Emirates -- no stranger to Internet censorship -- political activist Mohammed Abdel-Razzaq al-Siddiq was arrested in late March for criticizing one of the country's rulers on his Twitter account. Earlier in the month, blogger and activist Saleh AlDhufair was arrested for criticizing repressive actions by state authorities on Twitter as well.

According to one source, UAE authorities also detained three other people in recent weeks for postings on social media, including one young citizen who faces charges for commenting on uprisings against autocratic rulers in the region on Twitter. All are free on bail for now, but their ultimate fates have yet to be determined.

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In Oman, police arrested prominent blogger Muawiya Alrawahi in February after he posted a series of tweets in which he criticized the country's rulers on a variety of issues. Alrawahi's arrest directly followed that of two journalists charged with "insulting" the Minister of Justice. And in nearby Kuwait, writer Mohammad al-Mulaifi has been held for more than a month over accusations of "insulting the Muslim Shi'ite minority," a charge which for another activist, Mubarak Al-Bathali, whose "crime" was also committed on Twitter, resulted in a prison sentence of three years (later commuted to six months). His detention was not the first of its kind in the country either; in the summer of 2011, Nasser Abul spent three months in prison for criticizing the Bahraini and Saudi royal families on Twitter.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) has taken a similar approach. Last summer, SCAF court-martialed young activist Asmaa Mahfouz and charged her with inciting violence, disturbing public order and spreading false information via her Twitter account. Tunisia and Morocco have also cracked down on social media punditry of late and have arrested Facebook users for expressing themselves politically.

Facebook is as likely a target as Twitter. In the West Bank, Palestinian authorities arrested two Palestinian journalists, which may prove to have a self-silencing effect on other local reporters. Two journalists and a university lecturer were recently detained for comments made on Facebook that offended the Palestinian Authority. The lecturer remains imprisoned.

Democracy?

Arrests and prosecutions based on tweets is not relegated to Middle Eastern countries, however. A string of cases in otherwise robust democracies have raised questions by using the legal system to attempt to jail citizens who many would say are engaging in free speech.

South Korea -- one of a handful of democracies that justifies online censorship on the basis of "national security" -- has used its National Security Law to mete out harsh punishments to those who "praise, encourage disseminate or cooperate with anti-state groups, members or those under their control." The law applies to "affiliation with or support for" North Korea, and allows the government to censor websites related to North Korea or communism.

As reported by the New York Times in February, authorities arrested Park Jung-geun, a 23-year-old photographer, who re-posted content from North Korean government site Uriminzokkiri.com to his Twitter account. Ironically, South Korean media regularly cite the government-run website in news reports. Though Park claimed that his Twitter posts were intended sarcastically, prosecutors disagreed, countering that the Twitter account "served as a tool to spread North Korean propaganda." If convicted, Park could face up to seven years in jail.

In the United Kingdom, where the prime minister already floated the idea of censoring Twitter accounts during the London riots last year, a judge sentenced 21-year-old college student Liam Stacey to 56 days in jail for tweeting racist remarks about a prominent footballer for the Bolton Wanderers. While the tweets were certainly "vile and abhorrent" as the judge concluded, his statement that "there is no alternative to an immediate prison sentence" is misguided. By making an international case out of the tweets, the prison sentence ended up giving them more reach than if had they been ignored.

In the United States, strong free speech protections under the First Amendment have kept Twitter users out of jail for expressing their opinion, but increasingly, the federal and local governments have been going after Twitter users in a different way -- by subpoenaing their Twitter information in criminal investigations. Most notably, this tactic was used against three former WikiLeaks volunteers, who saw their Twitter and email information subpoenaed in a Grand Jury investigation into the publishing of classified information -- a practice normally protected by the First Amendment.

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But more recently, a series of subpoenas have been issued by the Boston and New York district attorneys offices in response to Occupy Wall Street protests. At least four accounts have been targeted, and often the subpoenas come with requests for months of information for minor crimes such as disorderly conduct that often don't rise to a felony, require jail time, or even show up on one's permanent criminal record. Critics have seen it as an intimidation tactic against protesters who are engaging in legitimate First Amendment-protected speech.

While social media sites like Twitter will continue to proliferate in the coming years, governments -- whether they are fearful of the power of communication, because of existing strict speech laws, or a combination of both -- will find ways to "fight back" against increasing venues for expression. Journalists -- whose livelihood is increasingly bolstered by social media -- must continue to call attention to them.

Occupy image by asterix611, CC BY-NC-ND-2.0

Jillian C. York is the director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She writes regularly about free expression, politics, and the Internet, with particular focus on the Arab world. She is on the Board of Directors of Global Voices Online, and has written for a variety of publications, including Al Jazeera, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, and Bloomberg.

Trevor Timm is an activist and blogger at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. Previously, he helped the former general counsel of the New York Times write a book on press freedom and the First Amendment. His work has also appeared in The Atlantic and Al Jazeera.

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March 30 2012

19:45

Poll: How Is Social Media Changing Activism?

How do people end up in the streets protesting something? What motivates them to take action, even when that action could lead to their arrest? Last year, Facebook and Twitter played major roles in helping organize street protests during the Arab Spring, to the point where dictators were focused on either blocking the services or using them to spy on protestors. And now, with the recent Trayvon Martin shooting, the backlash against "pink slime" in meat, and the protests against the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, action has spread through social media like never before. Are we at a tipping point for activism fueled by social media? Is it all good or is there a dark side? Vote in our poll, below, and share your thoughts in the comments below.


How is social media changing activism?

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

13:00

February 10 2012

14:00

Mediatwits #37: Merger Mania: CIR-Bay Citizen; GigaOM-PaidContent; Twitter Censorship

robert rosenthal headshot.JPG

Welcome to the 37th episode of "The Mediatwits," the weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift's Mark Glaser and Jillian York, who is filling in for Rafat Ali. It's been a crazy week in media + tech, with important mergers abounding! First up is the Center for Investigative Reporting announcing that it will try to merge with another non-profit, the Bay Citizen, making a powerhouse investigative team to cover local, state and national issues. We get all the key players in that deal as guests on the show: CIR chairman Phil Bronstein, CIR executive director Robert Rosenthal and Bay Citizen interim CEO Brian Kelley.

Next up, there's a merger of key tech sites, both started by Indian-born bloggers who turned them into startup businesses. GigaOM announced it was buying PaidContent from the Guardian for an undisclosed sum. The Guardian will get stock in GigaOM's parent company and get a seat on the board. Special guests OM Malik, founder of GigaOM and Staci Kramer, SVP at ContentNext (and sometimes co-host of Mediatwits), talked about the deal and how the "synergy" in this case didn't mean layoffs. And finally, we discussed the recent move by Twitter to censor some tweets in countries that had more stringent free speech controls. Was Twitter right to implement these rules?

Check it out!

mediatwits37.mp3

Subscribe to the podcast here

Subscribe to Mediatwits via iTunes

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

PhilBronstein.jpg

Intro

1:00: Jillian York explains her work at the EFF

2:20: Blogs, online forums, social media only places for free expression in many countries

3:35: Rundown of topics for the podcast

CIR and Bay Citizen

4:30: Special guests Phil Bronstein, Robert Rosenthal, Brian Kelley

8:00: Rosenthal: Want to create engaged audience in Bay Area and globally

11:10: Kelley: Should be excellent synergy between organizations

12:45: Kelley: Striking about timing of executive departures, but not connected

17:20: Bronstein: Sustainability is something we talk about every day

GigaOM buys PaidContent

20:00: Special guests Om Malik and Staci Kramer

22:30: Malik: We can now cover a broader spectrum of topics

22:40: Kramer: In this case, synergy won't mean layoffs, cost-cutting

26:30: Kramer: We're not new media, we're media

28:50: How is Om any different than Michael Arrington as VC?

Twitter censoring tweets

32:30: Micro-blog service will comply with rules in other countries

33:45: Is the #TwitterBlackout a good idea?

35:50: York: The laws in the countries are the problem, not the companies' policies

38:10: York: I don't think these companies should be in China

More Reading

Bay Citizen, Center for Investigative Reporting Plan to Merge. Now What? at MediaShift

Bay Citizen in Merger Talks With Another Nonprofit at Wall Street Journal

The Bay Citizen's short, strange saga in nonprofit news could be coming to an end at SF Business Times

Bay Citizen, Center for Investigative Reporting Announce Intent to Merge at Bay Citizen

GigaOM + PaidContent = Perfect Sense at MediaShift

Is GigaOM Buying paidContent? at AllThingsD

Why We Are Buying PaidContent at GigaOM

GigaOM And paidContent Join Forces at PaidContent

Twitter Censorship Move Sparks Backlash: Is It Justified? at Wired

Twitter's censorship is a gray box of shame, but not for Twitter at Reuters

Twitter Censorship: Outkast's Big Boi Involved In Beyonce Tweet Takedown at Huffington Post

South Korean Indicted Over Twitter Posts From North at NY Times

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about Twitter censoring tweets:


What do you think about Twitter censoring tweets?

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+

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February 09 2012

22:10

GigaOM + PaidContent = Perfect Sense

When the U.K.-based Guardian Media Group bought PaidContent in 2008, it was portrayed as an attempt to expand into the U.S. market. The Guardian newspaper was a forerunner in its use of the web, and already got a large portion of its traffic from North America.

But I had trouble seeing why a general interest news organization, even a forward-looking one, would buy what was a essentially network of niche sites geared toward media and technology executives.

Now, a company that's steeped in the businesses of Silicon Valley, GigaOM, has a acquired "the best chronicler of the media industry," founder Om Malik wrote on his blog yesterday. "The ethos of PaidContent and our company are in sync."

The founder of ContentNext Media (PaidContent's parent company), Rafat Ali, who is co-host of this site's Mediatwits podcast, seemed equally pleased.

"Just married the woman of my dreams & the company I founded got the best owner possible. Both after false starts," he tweeted from New Delhi.

When news of the acquisition spread this week, it wasn't a particular surprise to anyone who'd been watching either company over the last several years. It made perfect sense -- and actually, a lot more than the Guardian purchase in 2008.

So, the news signals two things: 1) the formation of a tech media super-group and 2) a shift in strategy for the Guardian.

The Players

Rafat_Ali.jpg

New York-based PaidContent has since its founding in 2002 been one of the leading properties covering the business of media, especially digital. It expanded into coverage of mobile with MocoNews, Indian tech media with ContentSutra, and launched PaidContent:U.K. The sites in January received more than 700,000 unique visitors, according to reports.

The GigaOM network, founded by Malik in 2006, is based in Silicon Valley and covers tech industry verticals such as clean tech, broadband and Apple. It says it receives 4.5 million unique visitors monthly.

Both networks were founded by Indian-born journalists who'd worked in the heady 1990s of New York's Silicon Alley, Ali for Silicon Alley Reporter, Malik for Red Herring and Forbes. Malik moved to Silicon Valley in 2000 to work for Business 2.0.

Ali and Malik are also good friends, and Ali is on GigaOm's board of advisers.

Malik has talked of wanting to try his hand in business after covering it for so long. He worked tirelessly to build his company from a blog covering technology to a network, a research subscription service, and an events company.

Standing with Ali and Malik in the fall of 2007, I heard Ali quietly caution his friend to take care of his health. "Blogging can kill you," I remember him saying. Eerily, a couple months later, Malik suffered a heart attack. He has recovered but is said to be more careful about his work habits today.

Ali, whom I have worked for and with and who is also a friend, has told me of running the business off his laptop both in London and from his apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., where he lived before coming to New York a few years ago.

He, too, worked tirelessly and because of that, PaidContent developed a reputation for never missing a beat. He formed the company almost by accident, having launched it as a way to get a job after Silicon Alley Reporter, and was able to sustain himself with speaking engagements and a few sponsorships.

He hired noted journalist Staci Kramer, who helped him build the site and the staff and became senior vice president at the parent company ContentNext.

staci_d._kramer-s.jpg

"This is a great outcome of an intense process," Kramer wrote me last night in an email. "Guardian News & Media gave us a great vote of confidence with the initial acquisition and again now by making sure we were matched with the right company, then staying as minority shareholders."

GigaOm Gets Quality Staffers

Malik wrote that the "first and perhaps most important reason" for the deal was "people. I have been an admirer of PaidContent's editorial team from the very beginning of its journey. Rafat Ali and Staci Kramer were two of my favorite writers in the early days of professional blogging."

He also cited others on the team, including Ernie Sander (whom I worked with at the AP), who he said would become "executive editor of our sprawling online editorial operations."

ernie_sander-o.jpg

Together, Ali, Kramer and others built an event business and launched ContentNext Dex, a financial index of media-related sites and a research arm, neither of which seemed to take hold. Ali told an M.B.A. class of mine he visited last year that ContentNext, which he left in 2010, made a significant share of its revenue from events.

After 2008, New York media types sometimes marveled how Ali & Co., and Mediabistro.com founder Laurel Touby, my former boss, both sold just before the "nuclear winter," as a friend from Mediabistro called the subsequent economic collapse.

Mediabistro was paid $23 million by what's now WebMediaBrands, $3 million of that in longer-term "payout" bonuses should the company hit certain performance markers. The Guardian paid 4 million pounds (about $6.3 million at today's exchange rate) for PaidContent in 2008, the Guardian reported yesterday.

The guardian as PaidContent's guardian

It's not surprising that in the recent environment and focused on other areas, the Guardian couldn't quite make its new venture thrive.

One of the smaller of leading U.K. media organizations, and solely owned by a trust to keep it independent, the Guardian Media Group has struggled financially in recent years, reporting a before-tax profit for 2011 of 9 million pounds (about $14.24 million) after losses of 96.7 million and 171 million pounds, respectively, in the previous two years.

It has, meanwhile, pushed to get more of its operations into digital, an area where it could be innovative and expand its footprint to new markets.

It has launched blogs headed by aggressive reporters, had "hack days" that invited developers to figure out new ways to cover and present news, developed multiple feeds that allowed seamless intake and display of news and information, even given rather open access to its wider database via APIs (application programmer interfaces) that let others build applications on its proprietary data.

In the annual report, the company said its re-version-ed iPhone app had 322,000 downloads in less than its first three months. It last month ended a three-month free trial of its iPad app, opting to charge 9.99 pounds (about $16) after a week.

Guardian News & Media, the division that bought ContentNext, announced last November that "following a strategic review" it was looking for a buyer for ContentNext while it turned its U.S. focus to "building the Guardian." Guardian Media Group's 2011 annual report said the company was "looking ahead to further digital launches ... most importantly a major expansion in the U.S. with a new digital-only operation based in New York."

It recently launched the U.S.-focused GuardianNews.com.

Under terms of the deal, Guardian News & Media gets a minority stake in GigaOM alongside venture investors such as Reed Elsevier, Alloy Ventures and True Ventures. It also gets an observer seat on GigaOM's board, Malik said.

'A Fraction' of the Original Price

Neither Malik, the Guardian nor ContentNext named a price. Ad Age reported it was a "fraction" of the original deal. Guardian representatives pointed me to their statement online.

By taking a seat on GigaOM's board, the Guardian perhaps hopes to learn more about how the digital world works at the cutting edge. In turn, GigaOM gets more knowledge of media and the international sphere.

GigaOM, in acquiring ContentNext, gets a presence in covering the New York-centric media world, a crowded arena in which it has made forays but never solidified its hold.

They will turn the New York offices of ContentNext into GigaOM East, just blocks from where Ali and Malik used to work.

A GigaOM representative told Ad Age the company would keep PaidContent at its current web address and hadn't decided whether to fold it into GigaOM.com.

"By blending [PaidContent's] coverage with ours, we hope to watch this fast-changing industry ever more closely," Malik wrote.

The GigaOM purchase is hardly an "OMG" -- it just makes good sense.

An award-winning former managing editor at ABCNews.com and an MBA (with honors), Dorian Benkoil handles marketing and sales strategies for MediaShift, and is the business columnist for the site. He is SVP at Teeming Media, a strategic media consultancy focused on attracting, engaging, and activating communities through digital media. He tweets at @dbenk and you can Circle him on Google+.

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00:00

Are You Part of the 2% (of People Who Get Campaign News From Twitter)?

Many of you are, like me, among the proverbial "99%" when it comes to economics and income. But if you regularly learn about the 2012 campaign from those you follow on Twitter, as I do, you're in an elite class of a different sort.

A new report out from the The Pew Research Center for The People and The Press contains some interesting findings about the media outlets citizens are using to inform themselves about the presidential campaign.

Here are a few of the more surprising findings.

New Media: Not So Much

According to the study, while this is the first campaign in which the Internet has surpassed local newspapers as a primary source of political news, social-networking sites are largely exempt from this trend.

Very few Americans regularly get campaign news from social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter (6% and 2%, respectively). Even among people who report using these social networks, nearly half (46%) say they "never" learn about the election there. At first, these findings seem to fly in the face of the current craze around word-of-mouth or peer-to-peer campaign tactics. But when you consider the apparent influence of offline social networks (you know, friends and family and other relationships that transcend cyberspace), these types of grassroots approaches are doubtless effective.

social network breakdown.png

Cable rules

The study also shows that for the first time, more Americans regularly get campaign news from cable news outlets like Fox News and MSNBC than from their local television stations. This makes cable news the most popular destination for regular political news. Given the frequency and intensity of these channels' political coverage, this may not be surprising. It may also not be surprising to learn that Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to tune into Fox News and Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to turn to CNN and MSNBC.

What does this all mean for the prospect of continued polarization in this country? What do we get when the increasing influence of cable news channels on the national debate mixes with the increasing partisanship of those channels' audiences -- and when more people are getting campaign news from the Internet (where, presumably, they can pick political news sites that align with their political disposition) than the local paper, magazine or radio station?

Moreover, what does it mean when the audience group that most commonly reported that they "enjoy political news a lot" (people who agree with the Tea Party) are also most likely (at 74%) to report that they see the news media as biased?

I spoke with Carroll Doherty, the associate director of the Pew Research Center for The People and The Press, who observed that Tea Party Republicans who reported seeing bias aren't thinking about Fox News, but about other media channels they're less likely to watch. My psychologist friends might chalk this up to a classic case of actor-observer bias, but no matter.

media channel breakdown.jpg

What? Mitt Romney is a Governor?

If it is the media's job, collectively, to educate voters about the candidates, their policies and issues, they're not doing a very good job of it. The report finds that the "general public's knowledge about some of the fundamentals of the major candidates' resumes, positions and the campaign process is rather limited ... 58% were able to identify Newt Gingrich as the candidate who had been speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Fewer than half (46%) knew that Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, and just 37% could identify Ron Paul as the Republican candidate opposed to U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan."

This begs the question: If the various media aren't effectively educating the voters, perhaps we can find ways of educating ourselves -- and maybe we could start by using Twitter and Facebook?

Mark Hannah is the political contributor for MediaShift. Mark's political career began on the Kerry-Edwards presidential campaign, where he worked as a member of the national advance staff. He's more recently done advance work for the Obama-Biden campaign, the Presidential Inaugural Committee and the White House. In the "off-season" (i.e., in between campaigns) he worked in the PR agency world and conducted sensitive public affairs campaigns for well-known multinational corporations, major industry organizations and influential non-profits. He serves on the board of directors of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, is a member of the Public Relations Society of America and was a research fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. He is a graduate of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and received a master's degree from Columbia University. His personal website is www.mark-hannah.com, and he can be reached at markphannah[at]gmail.com

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February 03 2012

14:00

Mediatwits #36: Facebook IPO Fever; Dive into Media; $30 Million to Columbia/Stanford

Welcome to the 36th episode of "The Mediatwits," the weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift's Mark Glaser and Dorian Benkoil, who is filling in for Rafat Ali. It's been a crazy week in media + tech, with Google privacy concerns, Amazon falling short in earnings, and much more. But the dominant news was Facebook filing for an IPO, with demand to read its S-1 crashing the SEC's servers. The startup had $3.7 billion in revenues, with $1 billion in profits last year, and showed tremendous growth in users and advertising. Can anything slow down the juggernaut on the way to raising $5 billion in a public offering? We talked to special guest Nick O'Neill, founder of AllFacebook.com, who was impressed with the user engagement on the social networking site.

This week was also the "Dive into Media" conference put on by AllThingsD in Laguna Niguel, Calif. Special guest Peter Kafka programmed the show and interviewed many of the top execs on stage. He told us about the challenge of interviewing Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, a former improv comedian, as well as the mix of old and new media at the show. Finally, Columbia University's Journalism School and Stanford University's Engineering School received a $30 million gift from Helen Gurley Brown to create a new Institute for Media Innovation, marking the largest gift in the history of Columbia's J-School. Has digital media now arrived? Has the revolution been institutionalized?

Check it out!

mediatwits36.mp3

Subscribe to the podcast here

Subscribe to Mediatwits via iTunes

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

Intro and roundup

1:30: Questions about Google combining privacy policies

4:00: Google, Amazon fall short in earnings

5:50: Rundown of topics on the podcast

nick o'neill.jpg

Facebook IPO fever

7:00: Special guest Nick O'Neill of AllFacebook.com

10:00: Dorian: Each Facebook employee bringing in $1 million in revenues

11:35: O'Neill: Probably more than 60% of ad revenues from self-serving ad system

14:00: 12% of Facebook's revenues coming from Zynga

16:00: Special guest Peter Kafka

18:20: Advertisers still not sure about ROI on Facebook

D: Dive into Media

21:00: D conference tries out a niche conference for media + tech

22:45: Kafka: Twitter CEO Dick Costolo can zing you if you're not careful

peter kafka dive into media.jpg

23:45: Great insights from Hulu, YouTube execs

$30 million gift to Columbia/Stanford

28:10: Attempt to bring data and journalism worlds together

31:00: Bill Campbell, "The Coach," is an adviser on the project

32:45: Dorian: Era of digital media is here

More Reading

Microsoft Attacks Google Privacy Policy With Ads, Gmail Man at TPMIdeaLab

Facebook's IPO Filing is Here at Business Insider

Sean Parker, Chris Hughes And Eduardo Saverin Dumped Their Facebook Shares at AllFacebook

Well, Now We Know What Facebook's Worth--And It's Not $100 Billion at Business Insider

Facebook's Ad Business Is a $3 Billion Mystery at AllThingsD

Reminder: The $5 Billion Facebook IPO Won't Make You Rich at Gizmodo

Facebook's $5 Billion IPO, By The Numbers [CHARTS] at MarketingLand

The Facebook IPO: billion-user ambition at a $1bn price at Comment Is Free

Facebook and Don Graham Have Been Very Good to Each Other at Forbes

Dive into Media coverage at AllThingsD

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo: We're Not a Media Company. We're in the Media Business. at AllThingsD

Hulu Boss Jason Kilar: Who You Callin' Clown Co.? at AllThingsD

Columbia J-School and Stanford Eng Nab $30M Joint Gift for Media Innovation From Helen Gurley Brown at AllThingsD

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time prognosticating what you think Facebook will be worth:


What do you think Facebook's value will be in 5 years?

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

January 20 2012

17:12

Poll: What Do You Think About the Anti-SOPA Protests?

Can online protests make a difference? In the past, they've had mixed success but with enough people pushing against the twin anti-piracy bills, SOPA and PIPA, the U.S. Congress was forced to pay heed. They have now put off bringing the bills to a vote, while contemplating rewrites and changes to the bills. Google alone collected more than 7 million signatures online for a petition against the bills. So what was your experience on Wednesday during the day of protest? Were you moved or unmoved? Did you take action or did life go on as normal? Share your experience in the comments below, and vote in our poll.


What do you think about the anti-SOPA protests?

For more on the protests, check out these recent stories on MediaShift:

> Mediatwits #34: SOPA Protests Make a Difference; Yang Out at Yahoo

> Your Guide to the Anti-SOPA Protests

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15:20

Mediatwits #34: SOPA Protests Make a Difference; Yang Out at Yahoo

danny telegram.jpg

Welcome to the 34th episode of "The Mediatwits," the weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift's Mark Glaser and Rafat Ali. This week the show is mainly focused on the huge day of protest online Wednesday against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) before the U.S. Congress. After Wikipedia, Reddit and other sites went black, and millions signed petitions and called lawmakers, at least 40 representatives and Senators said they wouldn't support the bills in their current form. It was a breathtaking display of online organization that got results.

Special guest Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch discussed the role that Google played in educating people and helping them take action. Plus, Sullivan created one of the more creative memes by sending a telegram to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) because she didn't have an active Twitter or Facebook page. (Click the image above-left to see the telegram at full size.) In other news, Chief Yahoo and company co-founder Jerry Yang announced he was stepping down as Yahoo tries again to turn the tanker around. Special guest Eric Jackson, an activist investor in Yahoo, talks about the brightened prospects for the web giant now that Yang has departed.

Check it out!

mediatwits34.mp3

Subscribe to the podcast here

Subscribe to Mediatwits via iTunes

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

danny_sullivan headshot.jpg

Intro

1:10: Rafat is going away to get married and to take a long honeymoon trip

3:00: There are more serious issues that should get this much attention

5:00: A clear explanation of the SOPA and PIPA bills before Congress

7:15: Rundown of topics on the podcast

Huge day of protesting SOPA online

8:00: Special guest Danny Sullivan

11:10: Sullivan: Big media companies should make content easier to find, buy

13:00: Should be an easier way to pull down infringing sites

15:10: Sullivan explains why he did the telegram for Sen. Feinstein

19:00: Obama comes out against the bills in their current form

Yang out at Yahoo

Eric Jackson head.jpg

20:20: Special guest Eric Jackson

22:40: Jackson: Investors have shied away from Yahoo stock

25:40: Jackson is heartened by new CEO Scott Thompson

28:00: Jackson: Shareholders could get a special dividend

More Reading

SOPA protest by the numbers: 162M pageviews, 7 million signatures at Ars Technica

Your Guide to the Anti-SOPA Protests at MediaShift

Put Down the Pitchforks on SOPA at NY Times

Where Do Your Members of Congress Stand on SOPA and PIPA? at ProPublica

Protect IP Act Senate whip count at OpenCongress

Senator Ron Wyden To The Internet: Thank You For Speaking Up... But We're Not Done Yet at TechDirt

With Twitter, Blackouts and Demonstrations, Web Flexes Its Muscle at NY Times

Google Blackens Its Logo To Protest SOPA/PIPA, While Bing & Yahoo Carry On As Usual at Search Engine Land

Protests lead to weakening support for Protect IP, SOPA at CNET

Jerry Yang's Departure Means Major Transformations for Yahoo! at Forbes.com

Yahoo's Yang is gone. That was the easy part at CNET

With Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang departed from board, Yahoo seeks a new course at Mercury News

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about the anti-SOPA protests:


What do you think about the anti-SOPA protests?

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

January 18 2012

23:10

Your Guide to the Anti-SOPA Protests

Today was an important day in the history of the Internet and activism. While the U.S. Congress expected to quickly pass two bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), mounting opposition online has led them to reconsider. That all came to a head today when various sites such as Wikipedia and Reddit decided to black out their content, and others such as Google put up anti-SOPA messages on their sites. The following is a Storify aggregation of all those efforts, including explainers, stories, tweets, parody videos and more.

[View the story "A Guide to the Anti-SOPA Protests" on Storify]

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

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