Friday, April 25, 2008


Usually, I'm an early implementor on technology, particularly software and technique. The one place I just wasn't impressed, wasn't moved was the iPod. Why do I need another level of complications? As a veteran of the Broadcast.Com to RealPlayer to Real to Windows Media -- what could possibly make it worth it to move my MP3s once again. I could copy them straight to players, like the old Axim V51 and now my ATT Tilt. Who needed another system, another device.

Of course, all the Dell DJs weren't enough for my oldest, he got his iPod a couple of months ago. My wife had complained about the difficulty of moving files (what, honey, you just drag and drop) on her various MP3 players. My 11-year-old daughter, she's a Napster plays-for-sure swapping fool.

But, the breakdown of Juice and Vista has driven me to try iTunes and a Classic for podcatching.

My co-workers were shocked to overhear my conversations with our New Media director and Kyle Kellams over at KUAF as I was deciding between a Nano and Classic. After listening to my rants about iTunes jacking up desktops (which, lets be frank, it use to do in a corporate environment), they were stunned to learn I was crossing over. A week of fitzing with the interface on the iPod, I have something to say:




Oh, so, incredibly wrong. How much of my life was waisted on learning the ins-and-outs of various Windows-based players? I have learned one thing -- only old people have Classics. When I bought it, the 17-year-old at the checkout looked at the box with some kind of twisted nostalgia and proclaimed, "Huh, it's been forever since I've seen one of those."

Yeah, but I've got 80 gigs of jams, dude; a lot of it the original versions of the things you're banging your head on you Nano.

Chalk this one up for all those people who've said I was inflexible. Hah!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Speed of the Net

Once again, proved with today's press conference announcement. And yes, there is one today regarding John McDonnell. That note went out around 9 a.m.; general department staff at 9:24 a.m. Back through the Google News Alert chain by 10:21 a.m. off a posting at USA TODAY that at this moment (10:40) is showing 45 minutes old.

The boards had it almost immediately upon the press alert -- first found post at 9:10 a.m. That's because the media is a part of the boards, and the blogs.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Bad News Fit to Print

New York Times Company reports today in its flagship publication that the group posted a first quarter loss.

The company’s main source of revenue, newspaper advertising in print and online, fell 10.6 percent, the sharpest drop in memory, as the industry suffers the twin blows of an economic downturn and the continuing long-term shift of readers and advertisers to the Internet.

Meanwhile, Google's first quarter was up 30%.

Solving the Mismatch

File this under thought for the day. As I was sipping my morning brew and reading over some of the local sports and news on the internet, I realize that because of the ability to see more detail, to read commentary and to interact, I'm probably more connected with local issues than when I simply read the newspaper each day.

Same can apply to college sports -- folks are now "insiders" that do not fit the traditional definitions. They are not giving at the levels that once gave them access. They often aren't in the same town as their school of interest. The medium both brings in new faces and dilutes the position of the old guard. The mismatch comes when the newcomers believe their opinions have the same strength as the contributions of the supporters. That's a huge challenge.

Ideas are suppose to have force, particularly ones that are for the good. Lot of frustration when they aren't heard.

Then again, it seems all the new book deals are going to the innovative bloggers. Today's print edition of the Chronicle speaks of the $300,000 book deal with the 29-year-old internet copy writer who started Stuff White People Like. Reminds me of Will Leitch's book, and the growth of Mental Floss on-line and magazine items into published works.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Few Words on Surveys, Blogs and the News

Funny as it folds in on itself, there's a note on the Chronicle's wired campus blog that reading blogs can be habit forming. Goes on to detail a study at Cal-Irvine, but when you hit the bottom you realize that:
A) 15 people studied at one college
B) That's not a sample worthy of mentioning
C) Wasn't the concept (that people will read the same blogs habitually) a foregone conclusion?

Strikes me the same as if I asked 15 people at UA if they read the newspaper each day. As blogs -- a term I'm increasingly sick and tired of using -- become news sources, why would be be surprised at all if people feel compelled to check them each morning.

Could we now say that ESPN SportsCenter is an addiction? Looking up the forecast through Local on the Eights on the WeatherChannel is habit forming?

People seek information. They gather it through the easiest method to their particular circumstance. They value it in proportion to the proven ability to provide what the end user sees as truth. A person with computer skills would use on-line sources. A news-o-phile picks it up in print on the doorstep. A radio fan hears it through a talk show.

In this case, the new versions of a medium get confused with the truism running through time.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hyper-Local Tabloids?

What's next? The end of the world? No, the regrettable next step in new media is to bring you the local version of the Enquirer. Welcome to Yes, it's the home of Matt Leinart photos, but as the current top guy at the website said, it's really not about the rich and famous (although, they're not above using them go get publicity).

"Ninety-eight percent of our stuff is through submissions from a regular person of just funny stuff someone was doing, or stuff maybe they shouldn’t have been doing," said The Dirty's COO, Ray Levine

So, instead of the local newspaper, you'll check your Google alert feeds on news items, read through the local bloggers on politics, check out the local music scene with the on-line version of the old free entertainment paper and now, get your local dirt -- both at TheDirty and, if you're like a lot of smaller areas without a lot of contributors, the hyper-local coverage via Topix.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Good to See Coaches Aren't the Only Ones

How often has this happened -- coach rolls out to a booster function they believe is "closed" only to have off-the-cuff remarks posted on the internet and taken as gospel.

Barak Obama, join the head coach's gaffe circuit. At a closed fundraiser in San Francisco, he made some comments about rural voters. Now that might come back to haunt him, but at least I'll give credit that he hasn't tried to say he didn't say them.

It serves as a constant reminder that if you're in the public eye, you never leave it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The World is Flat

Periodically, I spend quality time perusing the periodical racks of the local stores. Want to know the trend? See what these other folks have spent tons of money deciding what was hot.

The discovery? Flat is in. No more layered text mastheads. No faded overlays. Drop shadow is dead. Shockingly, not even stroked text.

Don't believe me? Even the Photoshop magazines are doing the non-Photoshopping of the logos, mastheads and text.

This is no big surprise. The layout work reminds me of the late 1970s, early 1980s with a very minimalist look, a reaction to the psychedelic overlays of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Bauhaus is back, baby.

It's all about the font once again. Good news for someone who can tell his Futura from his Univers, knows that Helvetica is just for the squares and Arial -- yeah, maybe as a Disney character but not the characters on my publications.

Big test coming up for some folks on this. It will be interesting to see if they are hip to the trend.

Friday, April 11, 2008

One Great Day

Today was spent helping my wife set up her garage/estate sale. Aside from battling unseasonably cold weather and gusts to 32 (as measured on ye olde anemometer), this was a fantastic day. I'm helping the wife. We're clearing out the house of a lot of old stuff [and committing to the fact that once it leaves the house, it isn't coming back].

Part of that was a visit by Dickson Street Books to see if my deceased mother-in-law's old books had any value. They're quite patient with the junk, helping me separate the wheat. While waiting, I turn to see not one, but two Menken first editions (Prejudices, Second; Prejudices, Third). Um, yes, I'll take that as store credit; and with that Second comes home to bring my collection to almost complete. If anyone out there has the First they'd like to part with . . .

Standing there with Menken in hand -- it just feels good to handle the old books of a master. At the end of the day, it is about classics. Starbucks found that out the hard way. For all the marketing, the research, the product placements, the collateral items -- Starbucks lost its way because it forgot what made it Starbucks. Good coffee, and a coffee-shop atmosphere.

Read the other day they're going with this Pike Place "revival" to have more coffee beans handled and ground in the store. The result? The Starbucks smells like it should. An inadvertent huge error by the corporation -- when you go to vacuum sealed products, and pre-ground items you might save a little coin, but in the process you lose the soul of the coffee house.

There's a lesson in my cup of coffee today. Sometimes, the way to your future is through remembering what got you to where you are today. Lot of folks forget that. If passion got you there, keep it. If your fan base got you there, remember them. We'll see.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Start Your Day Refreshed

Every time I get that "Noli nothis permittere te terere" kind of day, I am vividly reminded it can be worse by Randy Pausch. The former professor who has added incredible grace and dignity to his departure from this life has managed to live long enough with pancreatic cancer to see the publication of his book based on his famous "last lecture."

In other internet news, our good friends at Center for Citizen Media have a pair of stories.

One is not so good for TV as CBS adds to its public woes. After acknowledging talks with CNN to "outsource" its national coverage, huge cutbacks are on the way for its 27 company owned local stations.

But, if you jump across the digital divide, according to the New York Times, blogging will kill you. The story starts by describing the digital-era sweatshop -- your home -- and relates the unfortunate coronary demise of three bloggers. I also find the counterpoint from ZDNet compelling, and reassuring in a Pausch-like way:

Let’s put a little perspective on this blogging thing. You could be getting shot at in Iraq. You could be a single mom working three jobs to stay afloat (Happy Birthday mom). You could work in a coal mine. You could be in a life and death battle with Leukemia. You could be doing any one of thousands of high-stress jobs. Sure, the Web has a lot of stress but let’s get real: If you’re stressed out over 5,000 RSS feeds chances are good you’d be stressed by any profession you chose.

So what's that phrase at the top? Oh, you thought I meant Illegitimi non carborundum, but of course, being connected citizen I was able to discover that old chestnut is at best dog-Latin, bastardized (all pun intended) by "Vineger" Joe Stillwell. The Second World War general was a constant nemesis of Claire Chennault. It does my heart good to learn how illegitimi his Latin was, since in regard to many issues Stillwell certainly was a bastardes himself.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

More Things You Shouldn't Do on Facebook

As college athletes in particular and students in general complain that their freedom of expression is being stifled by people looking at their Facebook pages, this just in from Michigan as the East Lansing PD is looking into a student's page that launched a 3,000-4,000 street party and riot. The originator of the event is being considered for charges -- doubt that happens -- but the groups that were created to celebrate the event (notably, I got Gassed at Cedarfest 2008) are being looked at for potential legal issues. There is more here at the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

On Crisis Management

Today, we'll be covering crisis policies in the SID class. Having a plan and working on media relationships before the crisis are the big keys to success. Consider last night's national championship -- did Kansas win it in overtime, or back in October when they were working on conditioning and free throws?

There's quite a shift in the approach by colleges toward the media, and a lot of resistance to change in being open during a crisis. Christine Syme of Montana State had an excellent piece in the NCAA News a month or so ago about "aggressive disclosure." The text for our class has an absolutely golden quote about the old-school duck-and-cover mentality:

"The silent organization sets itself up for a public flogging in the media."

I'd only add, that it won't be the three newspapers, four TV stations and a couple of radio hosts warming up the cat-o'nine-tails. It's more like the classic scene in Airplane as the entire cabin lines up to take a slap at the program as the average anonymous fan on the message board, the citizen media bloggers and the established media bloggers will join into the fun.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

You're Missing the Better Final Four

After taking in the men's blowouts, can anyone doubt that the women's battles tonight were the better games? The Candice Parker-Sylvia Fowles battle has been titanic tonight. Physical, gutty as both fight injury. The essence of championship basketball.

Now tomorrow night, the men's final might be something really special.

By the way, how in the world can a major venue not be able to control the floor clocks? All night the "right" goal to the broadcast position has been off. It had 8.0 seconds left when the horn went off at halftime of UT-LSU; it was off a full minute during the UConn-Stanford game.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Hooray Caffine

A tip of the hat to Andrew Sullivan's blog which turns up this British study on the positive effects of a daily cup of coffee in regard to Alzheimer's.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

We Have Met the Blog, and The Bloggers Better be Us

Henry Jenkins is a new media theory guy at MIT. So, why should athletic departments care? From one of his many Chroncle of Higher Ed essays, the payoff quote:

Prospective students. A rising percentage of the students we admit list these blogs as the primary way in which they learned about the media-studies program. New students come to us with a much sharper understanding of the strengths of our program and how their interests might align with our continuing research efforts. The blogs thus raise the number and quality of applicants, and may have had some impact on our yield — the percentage of accepted candidates who enroll. New students are increasingly integrated into the life of the program well before they arrive in September.

Do I really need to translate? OK, right in the middle -- blogs thus raise the number and quality of applicants -- re-read that with the word recruit for applicant.

If you need more sources, check out the Chron's companion piece on whether or not Marshall McLuhan matters anymore by Jenkins -- it is filled with links to the people he thinks are the vital bloggers in this area.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Beautiful Two-fer Today

A brilliant pick-up on today about angry journalists venting about the future of their profession. Current and former scribes carry on about layoffs, websites and management at

OK, this is just too delicious. We constantly hear from the Fourth Estate (and the Leadership -- be it athletic or political) about the low-life nature of anonymous posters. They'll say anything cause they have nothing to lose, cowards hiding behind screen names.

Guess what -- all the posters at are simply numbers? Et tu, media?

The story has several rants on each side of the new media world -- joining in one one of our local columnists today who decries Al Gore's invention as the bane of serious journalism -- but one of the payoffs is accidental.

I have always said that one of the keys to understanding the blogosphere is accepting the fact that it fundamentally is a negative medium. No one goes on-line to praise; they only take time to vent. Snark is driven by bile. So, quoting from the story:

Since then, his website has inspired an imitator,, which has much catching up to do with only about 100 "pieces of happiness" compared to the more than 2,600 gripes so far on

Yes indeedy -- hate beats love 26:1.