Globe Gets Linking

The Boston Globe has often been criticized (by me, among others) because articles at its web site are lacking in links to other sites. Strange, then, that there is a lawsuit against the Globe and its parent company because of… links.

The account of the story in today’s Globe is good in several ways. It links all over the place. I like that. I also like the apparent lack of a link to the plaintiff in the case.

GateHouse, a national chain of local daily and weekly newspapers based in Fairport, N.Y., filed its suit Dec. 22, alleging that Times Co. violated copyright law by using “verbatim” headlines and snippets from GateHouse stories.

Robert Weisman drew on a commendable variety of sources for his story, which closes with a quote from Hal Abelson of MIT. “My view is the reason you put stuff on the Web is so people can link to it.” That’s a view I share.

A Fictional Future of Media

Paolo Bacigalupi, “one of the most exciting of the new breed of [science fiction] short story writers,” provides a view from a newsroom of the future.

My colleagues’ faces flicker gray and pale in the light of their computers and tablets. The tap of their keyboards fills the newsroom as they pass content down the workflow chain and then, with a final keystroke and an obeisance to the “publish” button, they hurl it onto the net.

In the maelstrom, their work flares, tagged with site location, content tags, and social poke data. Blooms of color, codes for media conglomerates: shades of blue and Mickey Mouse ears for Disney-Bertelsmann. A red-rimmed pair of rainbow O’s for Google’s AOL News…

New content blossoms on the screen, bathing us all in the bloody glow of a Google News content flare… They’ve scooped us.

The narrator is a struggling journalist who needs a scoop, gets one, and… Anyway, if an sfnal story about news media sounds interesting, check out The Gambler. Thanks to Niall for the recommendation.

If We Obsess About Terrorists, Then the Poodles Have Won

Today’s Boston Globe has a great headline: 8 flights at Logan delayed as poodle toys with freedom. Here’s the story.

Choochy the poodle broke free after her plane landed at Logan and for the next 17 hours, the tiny white fugitive managed to elude nearly a dozen Massport employees and State Police, holding up runway traffic as she cavorted on the tarmac… a Massport spokesman… said the pup “did create a little havoc.”

One passenger remarked that his plane “sat on the runway for 25 minutes as five Massport vans drove in circles trying to corral Choochy” while others were “a little incredulous that it would take so many men so many hours to catch this little dog.” But caught she was, and the story ended happily.

The State Police dog unit assisted Massport’s fire and rescue staff and operations personnel in corralling Choochy at about 12:40 p.m., enticing her with dog food… A safe but tired Choochy was reunited with her family.

I love this story for many reasons. Here are two two-word reasons.

  • Security theater. If you aren’t familiar with the term, Bruce Schneier will explain it to you. I hope that Bruce will join me in congratulating Choochy: you went out there a “tiny white fugitive,” but you came back a security theater star. You showed that security theater is farce: security at Logan costs millions, but can’t cope with a poodle.
  • Boston Globe. Some of the people who work there can write, and the Choochy story is one of the better examples.

Newspaper Websites

There’s a ranking of the top 25 newspaper websites at 24/7 Wall St (via Techmeme). 247WS is, by the way, nothing to do with the Wall Street Journal.

I was disappointed to find that it’s a ranking of large US daily metropolitan newspapers. So my favorite newspaper website doesn’t get a look in. I thought it was the world wide web.

The New York Times gets the top spot and an A grade from 247WS. However, it doesn’t get a link, and neither do any of the other sites. Evidence that 247WS doesn’t get the web mounts.

The Boston Globe is about halfway down the list, in 12th place.

It is odd that is such a good website and has such a long way to go. Both are part of the same parent company… There are some creative sections, like a homicide map of Boston, to keep readers on the site… But, the overall effort is uninspired. Grade: C.

My favorite newspaper website is The Guardian. Here’s a rather lovely bit from an interview with Ravi Shankar, in which the sitar man talks about being scheduled to follow Hendrix at the Monterey festival in 1967.

“I thought he was fantastic, but so very loud,” Shankar says now, shaking his head. “And then he would do that thing with his instrument when he would open up a can of gasoline and burn his guitar… for me, the burning of the guitar was the greatest sacrilege possible… I told them that even if I had to pay some kind of compensation to get out of playing the festival, I just couldn’t do it.” The organisers’ solution was to give Shankar his own stage for an altogether more civilised afternoon performance of assorted ragas, during which Hendrix sat quietly in the front row.

It might appear that my preference for the Guardian over the NYT, etc., is a bias in favour of the UK and against the USA. Let me reassure you that it isn’t. Why, I’m even in favour of the idea of naming July 4 Independents Day, rather than Thanksgiving.

Traffic From the NY Times

I noticed that a got a trickle of traffic from a URI It turns out that I provide one of their “Headlines around the web” for Massachusetts.

Perhaps I should change the post title to “the headline heard around the web.” Or perhaps I should click on the banner ad, since this blog is certainly not a profitable business.

Thoughts on Old Media

Every now and again, I see something about how old physical media, such as paper, will outlast newer media, such as the disc that this post will be stored on. There was such an article in yesterday’s Boston Globe.

The confusing thing is that digital memory offers the illusion of permanence. Even when people would like to see a file disappear, for instance, delete just doesn’t seem to last forever – whether it is on social networks like Facebook, or e-mails or text messages that surface years later.

The article refers to services to convert analog music to digital. I shed my last vinyl records the last time I moved, a few years ago. Next time I move, it’ll be time to shed my cassette tapes.

The ones I took care to keep during the last move are the tapes of Richard Thompson live shows. Perhaps I should convert them to digital. But I haven’t played them in years, and I can probably find the same or similar stuff on the web.

By the way, I read the Globe article on paper, and I paid money for it. And some of you were thinking that owning cassette tapes marked me as a dinosaur…

Social Networks Online at Economist

The Economist‘s recent article on social networks is worth a read. It draws many connections between social networking and email.

If you suspect that there will be little in the article that you haven’t seen elsewhere before, you’re probably right. But an article that brings things together, makes good points, and makes them well is a pleasure to read, and may be a good introduction for people wondering what the fuss is about. Talking of making points well, here’s one about how deals such as Microsoft/Hotmail and AOL/Bebo are sometimes viewed.

The correct half is that a next big thing—web-mail then, social networking now—can indeed quickly become something that consumers expect from their favourite web portal. The non sequitur is to assume that the new service will be a revenue-generating business in its own right.

NY Times and Getting the Web

Yesterday’s New York Times carried an article on The Best Kind of Traffic for Web Sites. Here’s the bottom line.

That honor goes to the people who arrive at a site by typing its Web address directly into their browsers or clicking on a bookmark. Such visitors, who tend to be repeat customers, linger the longest, spend the most money, and are the most likely to “convert” to buyers, doing so on 3.3 percent of their visits. On average, their visits are worth $5.69 apiece.

So some of these best web customers are people too dumb to bookmark? Apparently so, according to Engine Ready. I’ve linked to the firm’s site, since the NY Times can’t be bothered to.

Engine Ready was founded in 1998 as a Search Engine Optimization firm, and has had a blog since… 2008? So I have to refer you to the post entitled Why are there still boundaries between Web 2.0 and Web 1.0?

Business Week Changes Its Blog Article

A Business Week cover story in May 2005 argued that “blogs will change your business.” This week, authors Stephen Baker and Heather Green took the interesting step of annotating the article with updates.

For example, the 2005 article remarked that: “Six Apart, a four-year-old San Francisco company, leads in blog software.” A 2008 annotation adds that: “We also should have mentioned WordPress, a highly influential open-source blog platform.”

The article has a new title: Social Media Will Change Your Business. The last three years have seen the rise of Facebook, Twitter, etc.

It’s interesting to see Business Week using the web to update a much-downloaded and frequently-linked article from a few years ago. Good for BW, and for Stephen and Heather, for having the nerve to admit the ways in which the original article has dated. To say that it’s dated isn’t to look down on it. In 2005, I didn’t see Twitter coming (although I would have mentioned WordPress).

Two Newspapers Are Better Than One

If you’re interested in contrasting media coverage, horrific late-night bloodbaths, or reasons to read the Boston Herald, take a look at Universal Adam’s case for a two-newspaper town. Adams’ contrast between the Globe and the Herald is as vivid as… the Herald’s coverage of a bar where “it’s always past midnight.”

If you want to see a clumsier contrast involving two newspapers, go to New York: If Facebook is the New York Times, then myspace is the NY Post. Facebook is less like the NYT than it is like… I don’t know, a gooseberry. At least a gooseberry is bubble-shaped. (By the way, Fred Wilson usually writes rather well; that was his brain on Murdoch.)