Thursday, December 31, 2009

If It Sounds Familiar . . .

. . . it's because the reality of what's happening these days with Facebook and your data security has been a threat since, well, 2006.

OK, sure, shameless I told you so week with the back link to early in this blog's lifespan, and Cassandra here was trying to tell you.

Next "Social" Media Problem

We just had a bit of a taste of this -- not athletes, but UofA students -- as public accessed live and web cams as the new potential embarrassment.

We talk to our athletes about their privacy settings on SNW. We don't talk to them about being aware of their surroundings.

Most schools have plenty of security cameras. Many in our venues. Where our athletes often think they are in their own private spaces. Not the time to pick your nose -- or worse. Remember, those tapes if on public property or networks become FOI'able in many states.

What happened here was one of the local TV stations getting security cam footage of a big on-campus party. Again, nothing really bad on the video, but it did illustrate the hoopla going on at the event.

Don't think it will touch you? Anybody downloaded the new hot iPhone app -- LiveCam? I'm sitting here in my hotel in Memphis, watching live webcam feeds from places like the Atomic Bomb Dome Memorial in Hiroshima. Then some classroom in Grand Island, Nebraska. And I-40 ouside of Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. And there's one here in Memphis.

Let's try the search function and sure enough, there are the three web-linked cameras on the University of Arkansas campus. Complete with the ability to move and control the cameras.

Little creepy.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And Now Your Phone

On the heels of learning you don't have much Facebook privacy if your friends like to use a lot of third-party apps and quizzes, you can feel a little more digitally naked with the demonstration scheduled for tomorrow by a couple of "white hat" hackers of the ease of listening in on your GSM-based cell phones.

Um, that would be almost everyone's phones.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Forget The Onion, It's The Oatmeal

Best experienced than explained. But I did get this neat graphic to display on my blog. Yea.

The Zombie Bite Calculator

Created by Oatmeal

Klein on Truth

Ezra Klein writes on the Washington Post website about Sarah Palin's relationship with the political media, but extrapolates about truth and news:

For one thing, newspapers work very hard to report things that are true, but they are less concerned with whether the overall impression from their reporting is a true impression. Shark attacks, for instance, happen very rarely. But if you report excitedly on every shark attack that happens, people will think they happen quite a bit. You haven't told anyone any lies, but your stories aren't leaving your readers with a true impression of the world.

Search and replace "Sarah Palin" with almost any high profile college sports name, and rethink what Klein has said. Very much worth following the link to the whole story, and thanks again to Jay Rosen's Twitter feed (a must follow).

911: New Facebook Security Worries

On the heels of the change to Facebook privacy two weeks ago, the Northern California chapter of the ACLU has launched a very eye-opening Facebook quiz. I first heard of this through This Week in Tech as Leo Laporte and his crew were taking the quiz themselves. Quite the debate in that episode to decide if the Facebook privacy change (designed to "hep yew" -- by defaulting your privacy wide open if you've never changed it before).

I personally have worried that something skeevy was likely going on with those questionnaire apps on Facebook. The ACLU reveals I wasn't even close.

Here's the 140: Third party questionnaires aren't bound by your Facebook privacy settings, or your friends.

That's right -- your friends.

So in a new twist of the old saw I preach (you're privacy is only as good as your friends, and once you post it, it's always available), if you have friends that love to take these IQ tests and other "games" they are potentially opening a back door to your personal information that you might not thing is public.

The Deseret News has a good story on the ACLU's quiz. Here's a link to Leo's TWIT episode.

Jason Calacanis has is column on the issue entitled Is Facebook Unethical, Clueless or Unlucky.

Those who have followed here and were at the CoSIDA panel on blogging in Tampa, you'll remember Dan Gillmor. He has deleted his Facebook account -- no small gesture by a major player in networked media.

If you've decided you want out, WIRED magazine provides a wiki on how to un-Facebook yourself.

Happy 700th

Looking forward to a little free time to catch up some stories for this blog as well as to take in a little road food. Right across the street from our hotel is one of the Man vs. Food challenge locations.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Blowing Out the Blog

Welcome to Memphis, my home for the next week. We're going wall-to-wall for our bowl this week, as much as a service to our fans as a proof of concept. Each day will have a blog, each press conference Twittered, all press conferences taped and posted in their entirety, and a end of the day "Good Morning Razorbacks" package of daily highlights posted overnight. We also set up a special question box for fans to send in things they want to know during bowl week. It will be interesting to see what kind of reaction we'll receive.

Rude to Tease

Sorry for the delay in relaying the story that I teased with this photo on my Twitter feed on Dec. 26.

The photo is the gas cap of my son's Jeep. Pretty much right where I left it on Dec. 24. While rushing around on Christmas Eve morning, I took his vehicle to top off the four-wheel drive tank and to refill my generator gas cans (after all, hard to be a net controller and assist with county emergency service without power yourself).

Drove off from the White Oak Station on Joyce that day to get home for church, and until I was driving up to Lowe's to make a return and noticed -- no gas cap. Well, that's certainly good as gone, but since the station was on my way home, figured I'd drive by and see if someone had turned it in.

Those who follow know I've had a pretty dark recent history of items left then lifted from gas stations, so I don't have a lot of faith I'll find it.

But like its own little Christmas miracle -- there was the cap, right next to the pump I used. It gave me a small lift, a little more faith in people.

Secondary story -- how about that iPhone shadow. That's got to be the new "marker" shadow.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Way Too Holiday Productive

Maybe that last post relates well to why this blog has become so holiday spasmatic.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Blue Laws

Funny what crosses your mind during church, but in Christmas eve mass I'm thinking about the whipped creme and peanut butter we forgot earlier at the store. Will the grocery still be open?

As a child, this was a very real problem. Everything -- I mean everything -- shuttered for Christmas eve and day. Forgot the batteries for those new toys? You were screwed.

Now, at least two or three options are open all night and all day (as I discovered last year on a bacon quest), and most of the society -- at least the shameless commerce division -- will be back on-line by 6 p.m. this evening.

Last night, my son never went to bed and spent his entire Christmas eve engaged with one after another fellow young person that received the same on-line based video game. For him, the world never hits pause.

So is this different, a truly unique innovation? Life is 24x7, and much more so for generation's past who had to raise or hunt for food and shelter. We do have eminence leisure in the 21st century compared to the 12th (or the early 20th, for that matter).

What may be different is that society as a whole lacks the governor it once imposed upon itself. I grew up with Blue Laws that forbade most businesses being open on Sunday in the South. You just made adjustments or did without. Most parts of the U.S. got rid of their Blue Laws, and thus business runs every day of the week without much difference (unless, of course, you're looking for beer -- and even that is beginning to fade). Banks never opened their lobbies past two, or heaven forbid three, in the afternoon and never, ever opened on Saturday. White collar work was five days a week from 9 to 5. Even blue collar work was a single shift at a time.

We look at the internet as the reason why we have a 365 lifestyle. Maybe, but it's just the tool; it's the oxygen of this always on world -- the catalyst, the accelerant. Class this as a ponder out loud but the way society has become 24x7 seems a real break, a difference from our collective past.

But, is it cause, or compensation? Do we race around at what seems to be an unprecedented pace for human society because we have this connection that destroys the previous barriers to time and space (it's always after 5 p.m. somewhere in the internet empire)?

Or did we create its importance to fill a genetic gap in our leisurely world? Absent the requirement to struggle 24x7 for food and shelter, are we now drawn to something to plug that hole in our hardwiring.

Another Bright Idea Down

In trying to contrast RTR (real-time reporting) with more indepth investigation, I hit on the brilliant idea of forensic journalism. Something to re-brand investigative journalism, hip it up for the CSI generation. That was until I dig in a little to find A) that idea's been used and B) by Webster, it would not apply (forensic, by definition, relating to the legal system).

Still, we've seen a great leap forward in the ability to generate reportage from events in real time. Many argue that it comes at the expense of analytical work. Others that the free nature of networked media has destroyed the financial basis for investigative units.

I see lots of young journalists on a daily basis. At the risk of sounding Gran Torino here, kids these days don't have or seek out the skill set to do the work. Thus the forensic tilt. How many of them leave their college days knowing how to bore into a subject's open records, parse a public or private entity budget, understand what is abnormal in policy or practice within a specialty area? They're darn good with a computer, can surf like hell and network with the best of them.

Skimming across the participatory media, employing that force multiplier, is the extent of the investigative skill for too many. In part, it isn't their fault -- they're very busy being preditors and multimedia mavens to service the bitch goddess of real-time. I read and hear a lot about the travails of lost money in the traditional media to fund such work. I don't know -- nobody had to fund Sinclair.

Merry White Christmas

A crusty, cold Christmas morning here in the Ozarks. We received just over two inches, almost three, of frosty global warming overnight. For the first time, my wife was able to see "Blizzard Warning" on the TV weather bug.

Today's quite chilly 19 degrees with gusts to 25 mph should remind us that it certainly isn't warming. Not real convinced it's change, either. Why?

One of the enduring family legends was my first two Christmas days. My mother and grandmother marveled over how back in 62 and 63 it was a white Christmas in north Louisiana -- one of them bringing four inches (a huge amount) of snow.

When we moved to Fayetteville just over 20 years ago, it was a mild summer and two hard winters with lots of snow.

My point? Maybe, just maybe, these climate swings are larger cycles we've yet to understand. Some years, it's warm. Some years, it's really stormy. Some years, it's quite cold.

They call it . . . weather.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Teaching Journalism History

While proctoring the final exam for my American history students at nearby NWACC, I'm catching up on old Chronicles, notably the Journalism in Crisis edition of the Review. Carlin Romano's lead essay asking for a "Philosophy of Journalism" course is interesting, but I'm drawn to two quotes:

"Every journalism student should be required to take a course in journalism history. It's essential for young journalists to understand how our peculiar institution developed, and that it is not a natural kind -- it can be changed and reformed."

Indeed. Back in the dark ages of X-Acto knives and proportion wheels, we didn't have that course during my undergrad days. Almost a career later, I can speak with authority and experience that it is despirately needed in the standard curriculum. But, I make that point that every discipline should be forced to have that class. I say each semester to these students at NWAAC, and Neill Postman is right at the top of my syllabus: "History is a meta-subject."

Similarly, I can't fault Romano's conclusion:

"Before directing more Knight and other grants to further repetitive Twitter and Internet 'experiments,' they should support a core intellectual curriculum in journalism studies that would make a far greater difference to future excellence in the field."

Romano isn't being quite as Luddite as he sounds there (oooh, historical reference), and I am all for teaching and understanding the latest techonology. I would make this rejoinder -- just because its novel, doesn't make it "new" media. Study the past. You might find the future there.

Monday, December 14, 2009

You Said WHAT?

Picking up the paper edition of our campus newspaper and reading through a lengthy story by Jimmy Carter (no, while we do print the former president's poetry on the UA Press, he has not become a Trav sports reporter) about social media and college athletes. Specifically, Carter was talking about the extreme reactions many students and fans have on Facebook in particular. You can read the story online.

The subject was Alex Tejada, and the Razorback football place kicker's miss at LSU. Carter found a couple of people who had launched particular invective at the 20-year-old student for his missed field goal, and several who created some less than complimentary groups about Alex's performance.

I am reminded of the series of television commercials a while back in which Peyton Manning showed up at various business establishments to cheer on the workers. You can almost sense the tongue in cheekiness.

I've said it repeatedly from my own interaction with irate fans -- a lot of times they don't know there is a human on the other end of the email. John Freeman's new book (the current read on the nightstand here) is The Tyranny of E-Mail, and he speaks to my own personal experience when he writes:

" . . . there is no face on the other end to stop us in midsentence, to indicate that what we are in the process of saying is rude, not comprehended or cruel. We say what we want."

He continues with the takeway:

"Psychologists call it disinhibition, and its pervasive effect -- as can be witnessed every day in nasty comments appended to newspaper articles on line, in the aggrieved tone and intent of some blog postings in e-mail inboxes scorched by flame wars -- has turned may parts of the Internet into a nasty place."

One of the students quoted in the story provides some humanity:

Unfortunately, with social networking sites it is hard to draw the line between harassment and freedom of speech. However, it is never okay to tell someone they are worthless and they should die because of a football game.

Us old folks call that good perspective. Others, not so.

Other than that I would say the department should just be a spectator like they are at the events they cover.

Again, here's a key -- the athletic department isn't a spectator, and frankly, some of the things said would not be tolerated even in a pro venue. A spectator who indicated a player should die would be escorted out. Nor is the university a spectator. Both are parts of an educational institution, and it is incumbent upon that institution to instill some level of civility.

Another student voice from the article:

Is it wrong? Probably. Do we have a right to voice our opinion? Yes. While I understand that these groups and remarks serve no real purpose or value, they do however give us as fans a chance to “vent” our frustration in one of the only ways we can.

The student-athlete really can't win in this. If they try to acknowledge or defend, it often eggs this on. If they ignore it, sometimes it goes away; usually not.

Let me pose this another way -- would the students who so bravely called out Alex's performance enjoy Alex arriving at their classroom to hurl invective at them while they completed their final exams? To belittle their choice of answers? To start a "Joe Student Got a F and SUCKS!" Facebook group when the grades came out?

No, we'd call that inappropriate behavior. That would be unfair to a student.

Ask yourselves, is it fair to a student-athlete?

Friday, December 11, 2009

One Man's Leaker . . .

. . . is another man's journalist.

Amused to watch from a distance the East Anglia controversy over the leak of "hacked" emails regarding climate research. If it wasn't so darned significant, it would just be another example of insider academic politics aired large -- reminded of the Georgia history department document dump of a couple of years ago.

As the sides trade attacks, the first line of defense is a violation of privacy. OK, not attempting to know what goes for FOIA in the UK, but if this were an American public university, pretty sure those emails could be accessed directly under state laws. It speaks more to being careful what you put in your emails when you are at a public institution. What really hurts these professors is their inside jokes and barbs at opponents taken into the light of day reveal something they certainly did not intend as they believed they were chatting among like-minded colleagues.

When Daniel Ellsberg opened up his files to the New York Times, thus creating the Pentagon Papers crisis, he was reviled by the U.S. government for violating the 1917 Espionage Act by leaking national security documents. Ellsberg saw it as a duty:

I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public.

Somebody at East Anglica thought the same. It's possible to have hacked the email system and recovered those emails, but far more likely that someone with access did the deed -- an insider who either had their own Ellsberg moment or had been wronged and decided to go Deep Throat on his enemies.

If you want more Pentagon Papers, the Wikipedia entry is a good starting point.

Who Tells Your Bad News

A must read front page article from The Chronicle of Higher Ed this week on executive communications and the harsh economic times many universities are facing. I could not improve on Kathryn Masterson's prose:

As hard as it was to explain a shifting situation, the risks of not communicating were worse. With expectations of openness and a greater number of communications tools available, silence from the top could spur a loss of trust, a decline in morale, and the spread of misinformation about what was happening.

That's easy to say when it isn't you. Nobody likes to be wrong, and no one who has ever had to really do it likes to be the bearer of bad news. Never forget that in this business, they do not pay you for the good days; you earn your keep on the bad days.

A reinforcing shot from Vinca LaFleur, a former Presidential speechwriter, quoted in the story:

People can deal with bad news, but they want to know what's going on. If you don't give them the information, they will connect the dots, and rumors get started. Once that happens, it's hard to put the genie back in the bottle.

That is great advice; however, considering LaFleur's previous employer, slightly amusing.

The 12-points for good communication strategy in the story is pitched with the headline of a "New Brand of Communication" for leaders.

Funny. I guess spin got to be so S.O.P. that telling the truth is now some kind of hot new way of managing a crisis.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yo Solo

Thinking about the old legend of Bernardo de Galvez, the Americian Revolutionary War governor of Louisiana. Funny the things that stick with you from your youth. The heart of the story is extremely meaningful to me. The Spanish who sought to take Mobile, but the sand bar at the edge of the bay grounded a lead ship. Fear of grounding other ships led to, well, an impressive chickening out. But not Galvez, who knew it was vital to take Mobile.

Galvez commanded a ship and led it through the shoals, inspiring the rest to eventually follow and the Spanish to take the British outpost in Mobile. For his bravery, for his single-mindedness, for his ability, Galvez was rewarded with the ability to place on his coat of arms the motto -- "Yo Solo" -- I alone -- for his work.

Days like this, bring back that story. Daring individual effort. Yo Solo.

If not rewarded, at least you know that you did the task.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

It's Good to be Right

Standing line from the 2005 and 2006 network media presentations -- participatory media is a force multiplier for the legacy media. Still don't believe? Try these quick one-offs just from around our neighborhood:

When the whole early announce for the bowls went horribly awry last week, the legacy media turned to whatever proof they could find that certain schools had become associated with certain bowls. One here at Arkansas was the intrepid work to discover a deleted link on the Liberty Bowl Facebook page to a bootleg Razorback video on YouTube -- j'accuse, evidence of the bid.

Another moment -- perhaps trying too hard -- our newspaper tried to infer that because of a keystroke error by a stat person that one of our suspended players was on the bench. A bit lame, one might say, but it was born of our strong on-line fan base noticing the entry of the player's name on's stat tracker -- not even ours.

And never overlook the ability of a well-placed Tweet to cause news. Our athletic director is very keen on the concept, and when he decided to let folks know he was having dinner with the ownership of a NBA franchise about a potential preseason game in Fayetteville, it created a buzz.

Not just here, but Cincinnati football coach Brian Kelley made his release to the world that he would listen to Notre Dame last week via his Twitter feed.

Just informed our team that Notre Dame has contacted me and I will listen to what they have to say

Side note: one of those covering Kelly's tweet was the Chicago Tribune, who has a Twitter, Inc., page that is filled with similar social media news breaks.

The 140 takeaway: Ignore and avoid the social media at your own peril, because your legacy media certainly is not.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Another gap, but in part due to live blogging events at the mothership (check out the new BasketBlog entries done by yours truly and our learning new media students) and working on finding the right selection for our new media/sports production position at the university. More to come on that later.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Quick Profound Thought

Making one of those semi-annual bookmark sorts -- you know, deleting the broken, adding the new -- and it's official:

My folder of local news blogs is larger than my legacy newspaper links.

There's your sign of the times.