Friday, February 9, 2007

This just in: the big bad wolf

The ADN's front page got noted for being extra special today at the Brass Tacks Design "best front page." They liked the "amazing photo of the big bad wolf."

The "E" words

I keep hearing two words here at Stanford, and finally decided to put them together. One of the words is "entrepreneurial," and the other is "emergent."

Shortly after arriving here, I learned this university is decentralized and you are on-your-own to learn everything you can about its riches, which are considerable. OK, I was up for that.

Then, very quickly, you are told that this school is an entrepreneurial place. If you like an idea, get out there and do it. Want something to happen? Do it. This is the home of the Silicon Valley start-up, and Stanford students talk about their impending "start ups" as if that is an expected and natural progression in life. Being entrepreneurial is highly valued.

That slides into our new life on the Internet, don't you think? People are starting blogs and wikis and personal web pages and online businesses. And the only way you learn how to do this is to jump in and do one.

Now, for emergent. This is about how things are changing right in front of us.
Emergence is what happens when the whole is smarter than the sum of its parts...And yet somehow out of all this interaction some higher-level structure or intelligence appears, usually without any master planner calling the shots. These kinds of systems tend to evolve from the ground up.

That came out of Steven Johnson's book, called "Emergence." I read it in Dan Gillmor's book, "We the media."

Tuck these two words into the back of your mind. They are defining our age. It's not really a time to be passive and let things happen to you. It's a time to jump in and get your feet wet in some html, some xml, some social tagging, some folksonomy and maybe try your hand at a video on iMovie.

I just saw former ADN journalist and freelancer Doug O'Harra's new work over at his Web site, Far North Science. That's exactly what I'm talking about. Go take a look. Then get entrepreneurial and emergent, and start something of your own!

Rating the 2008 Prez-wannabe sites

I'm new to this site, called The Bivings Report. They describe themselves as "a source of news, insight, research and analysis on the web-based communications industry." I've started noticing their analysis of the presidential campaign Web sites. Hilary Clinton's site gets a thumbs-up in a recent post:
...this site impresses me with its lack of fluff and solid design. The red, white and blue palette is toned down for a less giddy experience. The user's eye doesn't bounce around. It goes where it was intended to go: the logo to the video to the action center. It's also only as Web 2.0 as it has to be.
...The overall initial experience is refreshingly pleasant here and I am into the content quickly without having to click through any registrations or toil through a video or splash page. High marks.

Scroll down for a thumbs-down on John Edwards conflict over firing some bloggers:
At this point the Edwards' campaign has pretty much pissed off the entire blogosphere over this (liberal and conservative). What a mess.

And, under the McCain banner, some bloggers are cautioning against being used by campaigns:
If the blogosphere wants to maintain a position of credibility, then we cannot be seen as the mud factory of the elections, especially in the primary. Campaigns (for President or anything else) that want to use blogger credibility as a channel to reach the voters need to be careful of using bloggers to bubble attack memes up to the surface.

We've only just begun.

Salmon site

I wrote last week about the potential for creating a "story shell" for salmon on the ADN Web site. The idea behind it is to cluster information on an ongoing story, to make a place for readers/stakeholders to gather, get informed, discuss. Dialogue, not monologue.
No sooner had I posted than I got an email from a Canadian nonprofit with just such a site, called Think Salmon. They would love to partner and share information. Their site is still in Beta and launches later this year. It is less science-oriented, and more culture-oriented. I think a newspaper site would have room for both.

The images pictured here are from the art section of their Web site. Salmon benches, who knew? (Images posted by Aileen Penner.)

I'm also reminded of a lecture from the multimedia boot camp at UC Berkeley. Jane Stewart cautioned newspapers not to let non-news organizations leap out ahead of them with powerful Web sites. She had examples from the sports world (pro football, college athletics, horse racing, NASA) where commercial or science interests created "news" sites that were more exciting and powerful than newspaper versions of those activities/events. The cautionary tale here is to own your own turf. We could own salmon/Iditarod/northern art, etc etc etc.

No more print NY Times, in 5 years?

Say it ain't so, Joe.
Here's what Arthur Sulzberger told a journalist from in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:
Given the constant erosion of the printed press, do you see the New York Times still being printed in five years?

"I really don't know whether we'll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don't care either," [Sulzberger] says.

My main thought on this is that it may give many other newspaper publishers the opportunity and permission to start thinking online-only, or combination of online/non-daily print.

But it's hard to say goodbye to print. And not just the reading habit, either. Tonight I ate dinner with some Pakistani friends. We dined, Pakistani-style, on the floor of their apartment with the food spread out picnic-style before us. Our table cloth was layers and layers of already-read newspapers.

Yesterday, I got a used book in the mail from an online bookseller. It came wrapped in old newspaper.

A week ago I watched a student fictional film here at Stanford about a janitor with art aspirations who would paint in the art studio after hours -- on old campus newspapers.

At a farmers' market last Saturday, I watched people carry away fresh-cut flowers wrapped in ... old newspaper.

Anybody trained a puppy lately?