Ready for the Future?

Reading and listening about the MyLifeBits platform and the personal data base project, I felt overwhelmed by the shear volume of information and the task of storing and organizing it. My initial reaction was: Who has the time and do I want or need to record and archive every step I take?

Maybe. Today’s middle school students will certainly have a different point of view. Most are already computer and multimedia literate.

I can only imagine what the reaction was in the 1940s when Vannevar Bush wrote about the Memex, a device he described as freeing us from the tedious handling, coding and storage of information. The Memex, as well as many ideas ahead of their times, have not always been appreciated for their potential.
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They Know Who We Are

I’m looking around at my Canon printer, my Dell desktop PC, my HP laptop and outside is my Honda CRV. They’re all spies!

Their digital technology allows this. And every time we use these gadgets or interact with the Internet we unknowingly generate markers that can be used to track our movements or create a profile.

Our private and public selves are being redefined.

When I had to research someone for a story, before going to fee-based Nexus, I would do an Internet search. It’s amazing the information you can find about a person in a general search, even photographs. I’m sure my presence on the Internet has increased after joining LinkedIn and registering for various job boards. I’m not comfortable with that. I’m very concerned with what I post in this blog, for example. I’m concerned about my posts in LinkedIn or having to go through YouTube for a video post.

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Information Is Power

In the old days when a government was being taken over, the new guys would immediately secure among other things, the airport and main roads, and the radio and TV stations. The new government needed to control the movement of people and ideas in and out of the country.

As Professor Halavais said in his lecture: Those who have control over communication resources arguably have control over resources in broader terms.

This underlines the importance of a free flow of information and ideas, which is what is needed for a democracy to work. Obviously, some governments and movements still feel the need to control the flow of information, including the Internet.
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It’s Called File Sharing

Depending on where you’re standing, it’s called file sharing or just plain stealing.

Who doesn’t want to get something of value – such as copyrighted material — for free?

But sharing a six-pack or a bunch of CDs obtained in a smash and grab could land you some face-time in court, if caught. Someone invested money to create those products, and they want a return on the investment.

If you’re file sharing on the Internet, it’s quite clean and painless. You’re not really stealing product, but discouraging potential sales of the product. And, the targets of file sharing are not sympathetic characters: big media companies and overpaid, pampered talent. They already make too much money. Right?

One could argue this both ways.
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Another Blow to the Dead-Tree Platform

We all know it’s coming … the end of dead-tree journalism. But it still causes a pause, or is that pain.

A California high school is putting out an online-only newspaper. The numbers say it all: $14,000 a year for print vs. $300 a year for online. With the economy’s crunch on school budgets, I’m sure the printing of school newspapers is being reviewed in more than just one place.

Check out the video that goes with the story.

But the bright spot here is that journalism is being taught and practiced.

And some day, you will be seeing journalists who have never had a story published on a dead tree.

Yes I Cam

Need for Improvement (on the sites & this entry)

(I apologize for this much abbreviated benchmark)

My proposal is to create a web site for a psychologist who practices in Mid-town Manhattan.

It would be accurate to say that Manhattan has more than enough psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists. My client suggested that I look at the “Psychology Today” website, which has a link to a formatted section for professionals to list information about themselves and their practice. I didn’t go through the whole list for Manhattan, but of those I did, few had their own web sites.

My second starting point was to Google “psychologists in Manhattan,” which is how I came up with the these sites: Kevin R. Kulic (NYC office, Orange Co.) Advanced Behavioral Health and Manhattan Therapists.

There is a lot of competition in this field in this area, but most of the web sites I visited need improvement in visual aesthetics, usability and organization. The design elements and principles, and organization do not work together as well as they could.

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Journalism Was Not Well-Served

After blogging about the need for trained journalists because they are better-equipped to report the news in a fair, balanced and objective way, here comes the New York Post, Steve Phillips and a 22-year-old production assistant.

The NY Post’s coverage of activities at ESPN was at its tawdry best –or worst. Tabloid journalism isn’t my brand of journalism.
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A Blog for All

Reading “Naked Conversations” brought me back to another time and another technology, but the same mistrust of the media.

Under the advice of people who understood the power of television and how to use it, the Nixon campaign in the late 1960s used TV to reach the public with a targeted message without the filter of journalists. It is a strategy used now by people and candidates of various points of view on the Internet with all its venues, including blogging.

Blogging has no middle person, it’s cheap, it’s social in nature, it can reach a mass audience, it’s easy to use and the feedback can be immediate.

The authors – Robert Scoble and Shel Israel – of “Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers” write of the book: “It’s about stripping out all the crap that gets in the way of understanding and trust between [businesses and customers]. Mostly, it’s about blogging, the most powerful tool so far in this revolution.”

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Be First, Then Work It Out?

The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch recently hired consultants to advise the newspaper about its web site. Some of the advice seems to echo some of our readings.

As I read the editor’s column, it was good to know that I’m not alone in my thoughts about journalism. One observation in particular — at the end – brought to mind Cass Sunstein’s “Democracy and Filtering”?

The paper’s editor, Benjamin J. Marrison, wrote: The consultants “suggested that we should take readers behind the scenes more.”

“They said Internet readers want to be part of the reporting process. The consultants continued: Online news consumers don’t mind if your initial report is inaccurate. They just want it first. Online readers know that, over time, the truth will come out.

Maybe that’s why newspapers have struggled with the Internet.

Being first is preferred. Being correct is paramount.”

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