Journalist, Curator: not real-time jobs

Twitter Lists: Journalism Becomes a Real-Time Job is the title of a very recent post by Pete Cashmore, Mr Mashable himself. My real-time reaction to it was that real journalism is not a real-time job, since it requires fact-checking – and maybe even thought.

Perhaps I was reacting to the post title, when I should have been reading the post itself. After all, the post title is about one-third of the maximum length of a tweet. The post is pretty much a pointer to Pete’s CNN.com article, in which he discusses “a new breed of editor: the real-time Web curator.”

Curator: that’s a word I see more and more these days. It has scholarly, thoughtful connotations. I’m not sure it fits well with real-time.

Waiter, there's a distortion in my headline

The New York Times isn’t just mainstream media on paper these days. It’s also mainstream media online, with a side order of social media. Its site includes a number of blogs, one of which recently included a post entitled 100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (Part 1).

There’s been a lot of discussion about the post. There are over a thousand comments at NYTimes.com. There’s also lively discussion at reddit, at reddit (which seems over-tolerant of duplicate submissions), and at Waiter Rant (in a post that delivers the promised rant), and, I’m sure at many other sites.

Many of the comments are critical of the list of 50 things (50 more will follow in Part 2) that restaurant staffers should never do. But I’m fairly sure that Bruce Buschel, the author of the post, wrote no such list. I think that he wrote the post itself, including the first sentence: “Herewith is a modest list of dos and don’ts for servers at the seafood restaurant I am building.”

So “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (Part 1)” shouldn’t be considered a blog post title, since it wasn’t written by the blogger. It should be considered a headline, probably written by a copy editor. The headline misrepresents the post in at least three ways.

First, and worst, the headline makes it sound as though the list applies to all restaurants, while the post makes it clear that it is about a particular restaurant. Second, the headline refers to restaurant staffers, while the post is about front of the house staff. Third, the headline refers to things that should never be done, while the post lists dos as well as don’ts.

I’ve emailed BB to check my hypothesis that he didn’t write the headline. If he replies, I’ll update this post. Update: reply received, hypothesis confirmed. I like the sound of his restaurant, by the way. I don’t like the way a misleading headline can be put on a thoughtful piece of writing, even if said piece of writing is controversial – especially if it’s controversial.

What's that you say, Mrs Bloginson, the Feds now turn their hungry eyes on you

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) now requires that “bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.” Many tech bloggers have weighed in (e.g., Mashable Adam), most mentioning fines of up to $11,000 per post.

I find the FTC requirement disturbing, since it implies that some bloggers are making serious $ – and I am not among them. Some are even scoring serious – if oversweet – juice drinks.

If anyone wants to send me a tshirt with the slogan “I blogged, but all I got was this lousy tshirt,” I will wear it, post about it, and tell the FTC about it.

Music Blogging, Playing, etc.

I occasionally post MP3s here and elsewhere. I’m not really a music blogger. But, thanks to Box.net and to its anonymous accomplice, I felt like one recently. I received what I think is my first takedown notice.

Hence Crowded House’s lovely acoustic version of “Fall at Your Feet” can no longer be heard at my WordPlay blog. The post affected is about the Yahoo Media Player (see also this post here at Changing Way).

I don’t know who objected: Box.net didn’t specify in the email they sent. I’m sure it wasn’t Neil Finn or any other member of Crowded House, living or dead.

New England Aquarium Media

We recently received the summer edition of blue, the magazine that the New England Aquarium sends to its members once a quarter. It includes an “on the web” sidebar, which draws attention to the aquarium’s blogs.

The above echoes my recent post about Zoo New England and social media. But where ZNE’s dead trees provided directions to multiple social media sites, NEAQ’s emphasized its blogs. NEAQ does use other sites; for example, I’ve just become a fan of NEAQ on Facebook.

There’s a lot to like about the NEAQ blogs:

  • There are multiple blogs, such as: Giant Ocean Tank Divers; Marine Mammal Trainers; and Bahamas Expedition.
  • For each blog there’s a clear subject, and a set of individual bloggers who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about that subject. For example, the Tank Divers blog has a list of regulars, each with a profile. It also includes contributions from others; in fact, the above photo is from a post by an intern, Linda (the ray is anonymous).
  • It seems that NEAQ regards its blogs as an important part of its website. At the risk of being a greedy advocate for social media, I’d like to see the blogs become more prominent, and I’d like to see a link to Facebook and to other social media channels on the blogs, etc. page.
  • I’ll summarize by saying that NEAQ uses blogs well to provide frequent updates from expert individuals. I emphasize that last word because, although organizations can enable and encourage blogging, good blogging comes from people who know and care about what they’re writing about.

Hub of Boston Bloggers Set Loose

Universal Hub is well-named, since it’s the center of the Boston blogosphere. The nut that holds the Hub together is Adam Gaffin. Adam has just lost his day job.

I strongly recommend UH for anyone interested in things Bostonian (or in what I used to call “the greater Cambridge area”), or in how to run a city hub blog. I strongly recommend AG to any media organization looking for talent. In a perfect world wide web, AG would be able to make a living from UH.

LiveJournal on Life Support?

LiveJournal has just shed a substantial proportion of its 28 employees. Reports differ as to how many have been let go. As usual, ValleyWag tends toward the negative.

The bubble in social networking has burst, decisively. LiveJournal, the San Francisco-based arm of Sup, a Russian Internet startup, has cut about 20 of 28 employees… product managers and engineers were laid off, leaving only a handful of finance and operations workers — which speaks to a website to be left on life support.

Executives at Six Apart, the blog-software company which sold LiveJournal to Sup, are happily counting the money… they should consider themselves lucky that Vox, the LiveJournal knockoff it started, hasn’t been more popular…

LiveJournal, founded by engineer Brad Fitzpatrick in 1999, predated most blogging services and social networks, and anticipated many of their features… But Fitzpatrick never figured out how to turn it into a business. Instead, he sold it to Six Apart, which didn’t have much more luck.

On the basis of history, I tend to believe the negative. I certainly echo Nicholas’ advice to back up your LJ, if you have one.

This is sad. LJ has for years integrated blogging and social networking. But somehow that integration remains one of the big issues in social media.

So, it looks as though there will be an exodus from LJ soon. Where will the people end up? If I were running WordPress.com, I’d buy more servers, and make social networking an even higher priority than it already is…

Oxite Doesn't Excite

Oxite is an open source, standards compliant, and highly extensible content management platform, Microsoft’s Jeff Sandquist posted yesterday. So is this Microsoft taking on Google/Blogger, Automattic/WordPress, Six Apart/Movable Typepad, Acquia/Drupal, and so on?

No it isn’t. Jeff and his colleagues “are hopeful that this lightweight sample allows folks to get rolling with ASP.NET MVC and understand the importance of web standards.” That’s worthy stuff, but it does make clear that Oxite isn’t an attempt to compete with Blogger, or with anything. Rather, it’s a sample application.

Globe on Econoblogs

Interesting article on the conversation about economic policy in today’s Globe.

A fast-moving, highly informed economics blogosphere… [has] helped to democratize policy making, throwing open the doors on the messy business of everything from declaring a recession to structuring the most expensive government bailout in history.

The online article, like too many at the Globe, fails to include links to the blogs it discusses. However, it is accompanied by a guide to economics and finance blogs, so the failure is not complete.

Business Cards For Bloggers

I have a recently-developed thing about business cards for bloggers (and other web publishers). If you share this interest, you might want to check out Brian Yerkes’ Business Cards of Bloggers gallery.

Here’s my contribution to his gallery, unworthy though it is to appear alongside some of the masterpieces there. The unworthiness arises, not only from my design, but also from the already-bewailed thin white stripe down the left-hand side of the card.

On a related note, I am thinking of becoming a value-added reseller of business cards for bloggers and the like. Criteria include: quality of product; drop shipping direct to customer; willingness to give a decent cut to the VAR. Suggestions welcome…

Business Card Closeup