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Real Journalism: Be Proud of Professionalism

April 22, 2015

I read “Murdoch’s Circle: The News International Scandal.” graphic is interesting, but it is not the easiest way to get the information. Nevertheless, if you are a fan of “real” journalism, you may find the write up interesting. The yellow icon with the exclamation point means that the real journalism operators in the Murdoch circle have been charged with a legal hoop de do. The red icon with the big “G” in the center means the real journalist or employee of the Murdoch outfit has been found guilty. If you just want to see who has been arrested, the graphic is interactive. Inspiring, is it not? I am just a lowly blogger living in Harrod’s Creek. One reader of my content suggested I took a condescending tone to some younger professionals. No kidding? I thought I included some mocking honks too. No real journalist am I. Sniffle.

Stephen E Arnold, April 22, 2015

Yahoo News Off the Rails

April 21, 2015

The article titled Purple Reign on The Baffler tells the story of the derailment of Yahoo News. The author, Chris Lehmann, exerts all of his rhetorical powers to convey his own autobiography of having served as a Yahoo News editor after being downsized from a more reputable publication, along with any number of journalists and editors. The main draw was that Yahoo News was one of the few news organizations that were not bankrupt. In spite of being able to produce some high-caliber news, writers and editors at Yahoo were up against a massive bureaucracy that at its best didn’t understand the news and at its worst didn’t trust the news. For example, the author relays the story of one piece he posted on militia tactics of ambushing police by breaking the law,

“Before the post went live, I fielded an anxious phone call from a senior manager in Santa Monica. He was alarmed… for a simple reason: “I haven’t heard of this before.” I struggled to find a diplomatic way to explain that publishing things that readers hadn’t heard before was something that a news organization should be doing a whole lot more of: it was, in fact, the definition of “news.”

One of the saddest aspects of the corporate-controlled news outreach was the attempt to harness the power of the traffic on Yahoo’s site by making all internet users reporters. Obvious to anyone who has ever read a comment section online, web users range from the rational to the bizarrely enraged to the racist/sexist/horrifying. Not long after this Ask America initiative tanked, Lehmann’s job description was “overhauled” and he resigned.
Chelsea Kerwin, April 21, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

NSF Makes Plan for Public Access to Scientific Research

April 16, 2015

The press release on the National Science Foundation titled National Science Foundation Announces Plan for Comprehensive Public Access to Research Results speaks to the NSF’s interest in increasing communications on federally funded research. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a 7 billion dollar annual budget that is dispersed around the country in the form of grants to fund research and education in science and engineering. The article states,

“Scientific progress depends on the responsible communication of research findings,” said NSF Director France A. Córdova…Today’s announcement follows a request from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy last year, directing science-funding agencies to develop plans to increase access to the results of federally funded research. NSF submitted its proposal to improve the management of digital data and received approval to implement the plan.”

The plan is called Today’s Data, Tomorrow’s Discoveries and promotes the importance of science without creating an undue burden on scientists. All manuscripts that appear in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and the like will be made available for free download within a year of the initial publication. In a time when scientists are less trusted and science itself is deeply misunderstood, public access may be more important than ever.

 

Chelsea Kerwin, April 16, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Informed Millennials

April 15, 2015

With the fall of traditional newspapers and aging TV News audiences, just where are today’s 20- and young 30- somethings turning for news coverage?  Science 2.0  tells us “How Millennials Get News,” reporting on a recent survey from the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The joint effort comes from a collaboration arrangement the organizations call the Media Insight Project. Conducted at the beginning of 2015, the survey asked Millennials about their news-consumption habits. The article tells us:

“People ages 18-34 consume news and information in strikingly different ways than did previous generations, they keep up with ‘traditional’ news as well as stories that connect them to hobbies, culture, jobs, and entertainment, they just do it in ways that corporations can’t figure out how to monetize well….

“‘For many Millennials, news is part of their social flow, with most seeing it as an enjoyable or entertaining experience,’ said Trevor Tompson, director of the AP-NORC Center. ‘It is possible that consuming news at specific times of the day for defined periods will soon be a thing of the past given that news is now woven into many Millennials’ connected lives.’”

Soon? Even many of us Gen Xers and (a few intrepid Baby Boomers) now take our news in small doses at varying hours. The survey also found that most respondents look at the news at least once a day, and many several times per day. Also, contrary to warnings from worrywarts (yes, including me), personalized news feeds may not be creating a confirmation-bias crisis, after all. Most of these Millennials insist their social-media feeds are well balanced; the write-up explains:

“70 percent of Millennials say that their social media feeds are comprised of a diverse mix of viewpoints evenly mixed between those similar to and different from their own. An additional 16 percent say their feeds contain mostly viewpoints different from their own. And nearly three-quarters of those exposed to different views (73 percent) report they investigate others’ opinions at least some of the time–with a quarter saying they do it always or often.”

Well, that’s encouraging. Another finding might surprise some of us: Though a vast 90 percent of Millennials have smart phones, only half report being online most of all of the day. See the article for more, or navigate to the report itself; the study’s methodology is detailed at the end of the report.

Cynthia Murrell, April 15, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Set Data Free from PDF Tables

April 13, 2015

The PDF file is a wonderful thing. It takes up less space than alternatives, and everyone with a computer should be able to open one. However, it is not so easy to pull data from a table within a PDF document. Now, Computerworld informs us about a “Free Tool to Extract Data from PDFs: Tabula.” Created by journalists with assistance from organizations like Knight-Mozilla OpenNews, the New York Times and La Nación DATA, Tabula plucks data from tables within these files. Reporter Sharon Machlis writes:

“To use, download the software from the project website . It runs locally in your browser and requires a Java Runtime Environment compatible with Java 6 or 7. Import a PDF and then select the area of a table you want to turn into usable data. You’ll have the option of downloading as a comma- or tab-separated file as well as copying it to your clipboard.

“You’ll also be able to look at the data it captures before you save it, which I’d highly recommend. It can be easy to miss a column and especially a row when making a selection.”

See the write-up for a video of Tabula at work on a Windows system. A couple caveats: the tool will not work with scanned images. Also, the creators caution that, as of yet, Tabula  works best with simple table formats. Any developers who wish to get in on the project should navigate to its GitHub page here.

Cynthia Murrell, April 13, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Pooling the Pangaea Ad Pool

April 2, 2015

In order to capitalize more on Internet ads, some of the biggest news published have pooled their resources to form the Pangaea Alliance, says Media Post in the article, “Premium Publishers Including Guardian, Reuters, FT Launch Programmatic Alliance.”  The Pangaea Alliance includes CNN International, the Financial Times, The Guardian, Reuters, and The Economist.  Combined all these publishers have an audience over 110 million users.  The Pangaea will make ad inventory available to advertisers using programmatic buying.

All participating members will pool their audiences and share their data with each.  This is very big news, considering most companies keep their customer list a secret.

“ ‘We know that trust is the biggest driver of brand advocacy, so we have come together to scale the benefits of advertising within trusted media environments,’ stated Tim Gentry, global revenue director at Guardian News and media and Pangaea Alliance project lead.”

Rubicon Project will power the Pangaea Alliance.  The alliance feeds into the demand for premium programmatic advertising venues on a massive scale.  The biggest problem it faces will be the customers.  They might have a large combined clientele, but will they actually want to pay for these outfits’ information?

Whitney Grace, April 2, 2015
Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

GitHub: More Than Code

April 1, 2015

Short honk: Google killed off its open source software thing. GitHub seems to be the go to repository. However, GitHub is more than code. Navigate to “Le Code Civil francais, sour Git.” Is it important that a code repository is growing its content pool? Nah, just a blip. There is that denial of service attack. But that is probably unrelated to GitHub’s activities.

Stephen E Arnold, March 31, 2015

Rakuten Goes Into OverDrive

April 1, 2015

If you use a public library or attend school, you might be familiar with the OverDrive system.  It allows users to download and read ebooks on a tablet of their choice for a limited time, similar to the classic library borrowing policy.  According to Reuters in the article, “Update 2: Rakuten Buying eBook Firm OverDrive For $410 Million In US Push” explains how the Japanese online retailer Rakuten Inc. bought the company.

Rakuten has been buying many businesses in the “sharing economy,” including raising $530 million for Lyft.  OverDrive is a sharing company, because it shares books with people.  It is not the only reason why Rakuten bought the company:

“Another reason for the purchase is the firm’s reach in the U.S. market, [Takahito Aiki, head of Rakuten’s global eBook business] said.  Rakuten has been on a buying spree in recent years to reduce reliance on its home market in Japan. In October it bought U.S. discount store Ebates.com for about $1 billion.”

What does this mean for the textbook industry, though?  Will it hurt or help it?  When Amazon and other online textbook services launched with cheaper alternatives, the brick and mortar businesses felt the crunch. The cup may be either half full or half empty. Publishers may not be familiar with the sharing economy and may have an opportunity to learn first hand if this deal goes down.
Whitney Grace, April 1, 2015
Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Great Content and Google Quality: An Important Factor

March 30, 2015

I read “Facebook Hosting Doesn’t Change Things, the World Already Changed.” The idea is that there are some apparent truths to which everyone needs to kowtow. Examples of these statements about the status quo include:

  • News is a commodity
  • Marketing is cheaper
  • Getting attention is tough
  • Facebook and Twitter are the feeders to the information highway’s best tourist stops.

You can work through the other statements on the list.

There are some examples of success. One of which is Adam Carolla, the former radio personality turned into a podcasting and liquor machine. Other apparent winners are Buzzfeed and HBO.

The point is that great content is not a commodity. Greatness, by definition, is for the few who are—well—great.

The only hitch in the git along is that Google seems to be in the greatness game. The idea is that Google’s quality score will make certain content findable. Now I don’t know much about real publishing nor do I have the skinny on Google’s Deep Thoughts.

It seems to me that if Google defines great content by making it findable to the universe of users its serves each day, then folks with content excluded from the Google podium have some “facts” to confront.

First, Google will want to get paid to make another person’s great content findable to Google’s great content machine. Think Adwords, conforming to Google’s webmaster policies, and generally being part of the great, big, happy Google family.

Second, great content about topics other than Lady Gaga, crooked contractors, and faux Rome may not mesh with the university of Facebookers and Tweeters. Examples include developments in genetic engineering, solid state physics, and analyses of Heisenberg’s marginalia.

I am okay with big media companies asserting their content is great. I am okay with real journalists cranking out detailed analyses.

But I think the notion of “great” has to adjust to Google’s increasing skill in assigning a quality score. If Google’s methods flag content as great, the publisher gets a gold star like those Miss Costello handed out in the sixth grade. If Google does not pass out a star or even an “Also Participated” certificate, the notion of “great” may need some fine tuning.

But there are options. Facebook and Twitter await. Good if one if Lady Gaga or a denizen of Silicon Valley, Madison Avenue, and Austin coffee shops.

Where’s the money? Probably near those who are able to define great and make it visible.

Stephen E Arnold, March 30, 2015

Swiftype Raises More Money for Web Site Search

March 16, 2015

TechCrunch tells us that search startup “Swiftype Raises $13M More For Its Starter Site And App Search.” Swiftype’s mission is pretty straightforward: they want to create customizable search tools that do not suck (TechCrunch’s own language). You have to admit that it is a bold move, considering many out-of-the-box solutions do stink worse than dial-up from 1995 and open source (while it is free and awesome) requires a bit of developer experience. Swiftype takes the guesswork and makes a tailored solution without the hassle or developer experience.

While Swiftype originally started out for Web sites, they have moved into other areas:

“On the other hand, online publishers might not be the most lucrative customer base, so while co-founders Matt Riley and Quin Hoxie told me they still support publishers (and we still use Swiftype at TechCrunch), they’ve also expanded into other areas, particularly knowledge bases (basically, FAQs and customer support sites) and e-commerce.”

The search company will use the $13 million will probably invest the money to expand its already popular search tools. New Enterprise Associates led the Series B funding and they were used for the original Series A round. Swiftype used New Enterprise Associates to form a long-term partnership.

Whitney Grace, March 16, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

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