Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Have You No Shame?

OK, I understand that many news sites are shameless in their harvesting of information from official athletic department websites,

But my blogs and original content - not press releases emailed to media?


Am I the only one who thinks this is a problem?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Not Just Sports

While it's pretty easy to argue if you are an arts teacher and you get up at an open mic night at a club that you know there will be people taping you, Melissa Petro of NYC got not one, but two, patrons posting her expose that in her younger days she was, in her own words, "a sex worker." The New York Daily News is all over the story.

A change of pace from the past sports-oriented, gee, I didn't realize someone would be recording this miscues. We do get a classic quote from the bottom of the Daily News story of one what you have to think is soon to be former colleagues:

"If you want to be a teacher and that's your goal, it's stupid," she said of Petro's openness about her past. "If you want to sell books then maybe not - that's her prerogative."

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

According to e-Marketer, traditional blogs continue to grow in readership. Perhaps not at the speed of social media like Facebook or real-time reporting like Twitter, but the long-form (OK, that's a relative term) is judged as having opinion impact.

There are some very interesting numbers in the article, and on a sense level, I believe it to be a good policy to increase the amount of content. I know anecdotal emails and comments support the blogs, particularly for underserviced sports.

My only question is the survey cited isn't a neutral (Pew, Annenburg, etc.) source. Obviously, e-Marketer has some bias.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Coming Credential Storm

A must-read from CoSIDA regarding the NHL's proposed blogger policies. One of the key drama quotes:

Jeff Little at The Hockey Writers termed it "short-sighted and misguided." At Hockey Wilderness, a blog devoted to the Minnesota Wild, Bryan Reynolds decried "Jim Crow laws for media."

Those there recall I stood on the floor of convention to ask the question, who defines "legitimate" in media, and what happens when that standard has to be taken into a court of law. I have come across this somewhat dated Society of Professional Journalist's position paper from 2000 that talks about the Colorado and MIAA cases.

More from me later on the subject.

Update on Dark Heart

The Department of Defense recycled the first run of Operation: Dark Heart, a memoir of a former intel officer I commented on earlier this month.

A Quarter Century

Indulge me with a story about our town. Those who follow closely know I have resumed my paused career of cycling, in part because we have a very nice trail system here in Fayetteville.  Well, that and the need to regain a modicum of sanity.

Nevertheless, I had determined today I was going for a quarter-century around town - a 25 mile ride - that would require every trail in town, and then a little more.  Presented with a perfect mid-50s day with a steel-gray sky, I was thrilled to hit the road.  Little wheel truing and a shuffle reload, off to the trails.

There is a little bit of everything on the trails. Lake Fayetteville is like disappearing on a paved Robert Frost path through the Ozark woods. It is complete with he oldest cedar (I think) in the state of Arkansas and in what really is the middle of nowhere a National Park Service-type display to the Butterfield Trail.

A stiff wind came with the weather, gloomy to many; glorious to me. I have never been a summer; the bracing chill of approaching winter has always been my friend.

Working through downtown Fayetteville, I discover the connector on the Frisco Trail is semi-completed. An exciting descent down along the railroad tracks of the old Fayetteville station. At the southern end, I decide to make a detour to extend the ride and see something I had only visited once - the Fayetteville Veterans Cemetery.  Child of a veteran, it wasn't just to ride through, but to pay respects. The sign said no "recreational" activities like jogging or bike riding, so I could only coast along the perimeter fence, reading the names of the fallen I could view from the edges.

On the return ride through the deserted parking lots of Dickson Street, I heard a crash and looked to see a young man on the ground.  He looked a bit stunned.  Recalling my own tumble a couple of weeks earlier - no one stopped or asked - I pulled off.  Asking if he was OK, he said yes, but did I have any napkins or tissue; he had cut himself. No, sorry; sure you're OK? Yeah.

As a started off, I decided the least I could do was roll up to one of the restaurants on Dickson and get him some paper towels. The Jimmy Johns folks were accommodating, and I returned to find him semi-staggering toward the edge of the parking lot, a tee-shirt on his chin.  Hey, use the instead. Yeah, great, he said kind of groggy.  That's when he showed the cut, a complete cleaving of his chin meat, wide-open, side-to-side; the classic head first impact slice to the muscle and bone. OK, we've got to get you some stitches. Do you think? Yes, I'm sure.

I noticed his cap for the first time, Flying Burrito, and that there was a location right behind us.  Are you headed to work? Can someone take you to the hospital? He nodded with his napkins on his chin; somewhat surprisingly not as bloody as you'd expect. 

I felt really bad about leaving him to cross the street, but he insisted it was OK. I wished there was someway to have gotten him to the emergency room, but as my wife reminded me later, certainly his co-workers were able to help.

Finishing out the ride, it was hard not to think about his misfortune. Climbing the new incline off Dickson, I came across a group of four men I had passed earlier. They had seemed out of place, but as I worked up the hill one of them said encouragingly, "work the hill, you've got the prime; go man."

Did he say prime? As in "preem", the sprint or hill climb prize within a bike race. I think he did. It got me thinking about this being the longest ride I had made in almost a quarter-century, the 22-years since moving to Fayetteville.

Back in Louisiana, 25 miles was an everyday thing, and every September, the club I helped organize and run would do the League of American Wheelman century rides. Somewhere in my garage, there's an old wool jersey that fit a much younger man with a bunch of those patches.

Funny the things you will see, the people you will meet and the memories they will bring up - if you will just go out into the world a little more. Sometimes travel is right in your own back yard.   

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Life Imitates Art

"Facebook reports . . . Twitter confirms" the Burgundy-esque actor solemnly intones in one of the major cell phone companies' ads. The implication is clear -- social media is the source of our news today.

I knew it was just a matter of time until life proved this art, and we get it through one of the most lively of college sports personalities, Mike Leach. Yes, the fired Texas Tech football coach who once disciplined players for using Twitter and became the relentless subject of national criticism in the social media world for banning his team from using the real-time blogging system. The Pirate Coach famously said "a bunch of narcissists that want to sit and type stuff about themselves all the time."

That was so 2009. Here in the future, Leach finds himself the beneficiary of a million Tweets of his pithy comments now that he's a satellite radio sports host -- having been released from Tech as a coach, purportedly for unusual disciplinary methods.

And the center of the on-going will-he-or-won't-he banter around becoming the next New Mexico coach -- that in and of itself a poke in the eye of "nearby" Texas Tech (remember, nothing is really geographically close in the great American southwest).

The story broke on Facebook. Then, OMG kids, was confirmed on Twitter. Both were terrestrial radio station employees -- the Facebook page now closed to non-friends, the KOB-FM tweet now deleted. (Once again -- fun fact, once it's digital, it lives forever -- plenty got copies of the tweet and have preserved them in news coverage -- see previous link). This lead the one of the top traffic sports new media sites, SportsByBrooks, to bite and off the story flew to the legacy media. The Albuquerque Journal joined in with the usual "unnamed sources." KOB on the TV side became one of the first to start to back away.

Since the new media outburst, Leach's lawyer has made the AP and most of the legacy media saying there's no way he's going to UMN, but of course, the story won't die. In part, because according to a subscriber-only story of the Journal Leach didn't convincingly tell the paper he wasn't interested.

And we don't know the whole story why? Because the ABJ has only teased the non-subscriber with the content preview for Google searching of:

Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach played it coy Friday when asked about Internet-fueled speculation that he will take over University of New Me... MORE

Could the Journal be guilty here of their own little internet fueling? Or just protecting their copyright content.

The saga continues . . .

Thursday, September 23, 2010

E-mail Policies

Grambling State jumped from frying pan over an e-mail that hinted students could not use their university-issued accounts for political advocacy into the fire over a staff and employee guidelines. The gist is the student policy was a false rumor, but the FOI-fest which ensued turned up the staff policy. Subscribers can read from The Chron here.

"shall not be used for the creation or distribution of any disruptive or offensive messages, including offensive comments about race, gender, hair color, disabilities, age, sexual orientation, pornography, religious beliefs and practice, political beliefs, or national origin."

On the surface, this looks like a pretty standard block of text used in the late 1990s to enforce campus speech standards. My initial guess is no one had looked at this in years, and did not know the language was there.

Having watched some political festivities from extremely close range here and having lived and worked in the Louisiana higher ed system where the laws address Long-era abuses of public employees, where this started seems legit. You must be careful in political seasons as a public employee.

It did prompt me to take a quick look at the UA email policy for reference. You might double check yours, and any confidential information or proprietary information policies your school or athletic department might maintain.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Next Gen Politics

Frankly, I could care less about Christine O'Donnell's politics.  The surprise GOP nominee in Delaware does have something everyone should be interested in: a chatty past.

From clips surfacing from her appearances on Bill Mahr's show in the late 1990s - complete with off-handed comments about "dabbling" in witchcraft - to later work on the talk show circuit in which she discusses her views on sex, O'Donnell is facing square on her youth.

O'Donnell is a little different in her TV news appearance past.  Cast her as among the first of the Crossfire generation.  She had to work reasonably hard to get on those shows, and then to stay there, she's going to need to be memorable.  That's a charitable way of saying provocative.

Fast-forward 10, certainly 20, years from now.  And the next Christine O'Donnell is explaining why she friended the campus Wiccan guild and I Love The Bud groups on Facebook.

Think it's a stretch? I don't.

The key is will that generation care? They will realize that each and every one of them that got involved in social media will have a lot of posts and likes they may not be so proud of as adults; lots of hard party night photos. Not to mention, more than their share of out of context pics.

I watch O'Donnell on TV as she deftly maneuvers to slip her past comments.  I get a double sense off her. First, outsiders and persons her age in Delaware might not care about her goofy past.  Second, because she doesn't fit the template, and that bothers the establishment.

Who knows, that next generation may already be here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

NHL Staying on Blog Credential Front Line

It's no big surprise that the NHL has an official blogger policy draft floating around, as Penn State's sports journalism program pointed out this morning. NHL member teams have been leaders in this area. The "leaked" memo draft is here. If you missed the details, read more here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Travel Addendum

"Have your boarding passes out for the agent at the bottom of the stairs," the frazzled gate agent said. "Please make sure you're getting on the right plane. We are boarding two cites at once."

Yep. I'd be careful. Cause if your options are Panama City, Florida, and Flint, Michigan, you darn sure want to make sure you're in the rig plane.

Road Thanks

Thanks to Bill at REI Perimeter, who took the time to look up a bike part for me. That was above and beyond. No thanks to Varsity Gwinnett -- unusually off its game. How about that traffic in Athens? And Atlanta. Yikes.

But above all, thanks so much to the campus motorcycle cop who pulled me over to give me a ticket for no seat belt -- right after I stopped at the perimeter barricade to ask for help on where to part. Gee officer, the reason I had my seat belt off was, well, I just pulled away from that barricade you followed me through AND I was fumbling with the map.

At least he decided to make it a warning, but honest to God I thought he was about to start my visit to Athens for my first football game THAT much more special. So I guess, thanks to him for that.

Well, Ryan Mallett sure made it a great visit. Now let's hope I can than Delta for one more on-time departure in a few minutes.

While I'm dolling out the travel notes -- paperless boarding passes to the iPhone AND on-line check-in -- con mucho gusto gracias. If you aren't taking advantage, get the app for your airlines of use or at least take advantage of the send to your phone option for on-line check-ins. I did this for the first time this trip and it was great. I suppose the down side could be if the power goes out on your phone.

On to the gate.

Digital Meteorologist

I know that many of the followers here are weather geeks as well (shout out to my RadarScope homies). I'm going to recommend the new blog by one of the members of the WeatherBrains podcast, Kevin Selle.

His Digital Meteorologist blog has a very applicable post about the National Weather Service to what I just discussed here yesterday.

In the weather world, what happens in the NWS suddenly did get into social media and the source became the distributor?

Read what Kevin says here.

There's also a pretty good take on Apple's new iTV. Now where have we heard that business about going direct before and be careful about your rights . . . from 2008, and from 2009.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pournelle's Law

Jerry Pournelle is not a science fiction writer that I had known until he started appearing periodically on Leo Laporte's This Week in Tech. Catching up with old podcasts while on the road, he mentioned in passing his own "Iron Law of Bureaucracy."

"In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely."

The example Pournelle gave was teachers who worry first about the kids and administrators who worry about the system. His point being the administrators over time will take control and weed out -- through direct action or simple discouragment attrition -- the teachers.

Jerry himself provides his explanation on his email posting from 2006.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What Numbers are Real?

New lines of thought on new media and participation numbers.

In the Nielsen era, ratings were based on a percentage of the TVs tuned to a certain show. Notice, tuned to. Doesn't mean watching, cause you really can tell that. And the audience was extrapolated from a sampling.

So it was a potential audience.

The Audit Bureau provided circulation numbers for newspapers. How many were delivered, how many are subscribers. But the number says the potential total number who could have read a story or advertisement, not how many actually did.

Today, click through is a big factor in advertising, and the numbers are just fractions of the two big legacy measures. In the business, chasing after on-line becomes known as "trading real dollars for digital dimes."

I've heard a lot lately from folks focusing on their Facebook pages and numbers. Oooh, there's 80,000 friends of the page, we should focus there; not on the 8,000 on a Twitter feed or 800 in an interactive blog. Those are made up numbers, but the proportions are not too far off -- they each appear on face value to be orders of magnitude in difference.

Let's run through those. Just like Nielsen and ABC, 80K is the potential audience. Facebook's metrics will tell you the actual participation is much different -- maybe only half the 80K is active user base, then of that maybe 1/4 actually clicked on the item; of that 1/10th liked or commented.

Same applies often to the Twitter feed -- just because 8K follow doesn't mean 8K read.

Why do you put some much value in the smallest of the numbers -- the interactive blogs? Because you know they were there, they took time to participate and more than likely, they lingered (79% at UA) more than one minute on the page to be a part of the event.

So tell me, if only 600 to 1,800 of an 80K Facebook group read/like/comment; if only 800 of an 8K twitter feed take the time to retweet (and it's often more like 80); and 800 were in the interactive blog . . . .

At the end of the day, the numbers of actual participation, consumption of message and integration into the group are really about the same.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When Source Becomes Distribution Network

An interesting collision this weekend put me to thinking about the new role of people and organizations that once served the media ecosystem as sources, and what happens when those sources now have the means to distribute their own information.

Back in the day -- gosh, five years ago -- colleges and universities received notice of a game being on television, and would dutifully give that to the collective media to spread among the fan base.

Today, the moment we receive that information we share it to the media, but also directly to interested parties that follow our websites, real-time distribution networks and social media.

In the past few weeks, the contest to "be first" has led to some interesting events. A mistake by a website caused one of our local media to jump out with the news that an upcoming game would be on a certain network. It wasn't true. And in fact, there was no way it could be due to the league's TV windows and the preset game time.

We knew this, shared it with the media person. OK, retweet. Today, the news finally comes of what the network is -- so in the process of our sending out the info I'm concerned, is this going to look like I'm trying to call this media person out?

The networks and times come out at approximately the same time every week during football season for SEC teams. We have no particular interest in holding that back, or favoring one outlet over another. It's not going to be decided until the SEC says so. The league serves as source to us, and the same thing is going to happen -- as soon as they know, they will tell us and everyone else at once.

So is being first that important anymore? And if the source is also distributing the answers, is guessing to be first before the source makes a decision worth the chance of being wrong?

This echos locally back to the Mike Wise business. Now he claims that he was just making his "fake" tweet as a media gag on his radio show, and got caught by the Twitter Fail Whale -- his near immediate "hey, this is a joke and let's see how many people bite" tweet that he was saying over his radio show did not go out for 40 minutes. (You can listen more about his explanation through On the Media -- worth the click over).

But let's just say that Wise said he was guessing. Or that he had a mystery source. Or read another media account. When the NFL finally puts out their decision -- as source -- they send it through their distribution networks that Big Ben is getting four games.

What if Wise said four? He looks clairvoyant. He'd have bet the future with pocket deuces and come up the big winner. Would anyone really have been challenging him?

In our case if being on X network at Y time was almost systematically impossible, who's to say the media who jumped the gun would be at risk, if the risk proved correct.

Sometimes we get the sense that increasingly competitive media to be first are badgering for an insider edge, but get upset when we say no. The decision will be out when we've got it ready. Instead of respecting that as was the case in the past, the counter is "you're just holding it back so you can be first." No, we're holding it back until we know we're right.

I could have reasonably guessed that next week's football game with Alabama would be on CBS based upon several factors. But until the SEC tells us via email memo that it indeed is a done deal, it's just our opinion. And if we had put that out to fans that we're "pretty sure," we'd be barbecued by the same folks that upset that we're holding back from them.

I know it's a damned if you do/don't dilemma.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Will CoSIDA be Last?

A point of discussion for some years within the organization is certification. The consensus was to not have it during the late 90s, early 00s. Increasingly, the point is moot. Other organizations around athletics are adding certification as a means of portraying themselves as "professional" and separating average skills from "college-level".

Look, I am the first to say I find the entire "wears a good suit" school of hiring -- total appearance over substance -- abhorrent.

Problem is that's not the world we live in, kids.

No offense to their profession when I say this, but the business card form comes across the transom a few weeks ago for one of our assistant equipment managers, who's got some alphabet soup after his name. I ask, and he's "certified" in collegiate equipment manager skills.

So add equipment managers to strength coaches, trainers, counselors, academic support, marketing, certain sport coaching groups, et al, that now provide certification to the members of their organizations.

The time has passed for it in the PR community associated with athletics. There. I said it.

Consider me certifiable.

Creepy Marketing? Maybe.

From Nielsen Wire, a brief on how neuromarketing research was used to promote sales for New Scientist magazine's cover. Briefly, the testing of covers to see where the eye went and what the deep recesses of the brain were lighting up through EEG scans picked the cover that went on to result in a double-digit spike in sales for the month.

On face value, determining what works via brain scan sounds a little creepy. Still, you get past attempts not so much to deceive as to give the answers perhaps a questioner wants to hear with the scanning. Lie To Me meets Scanners.

I've heard a good deal of skepticism on neuromarketing, and a lot of it based in a Luddite reaction.

Tell me something: what's creepier -- a volunteer hooked up to a bunch of electrodes knowingly studied or another "volunteer" who clicked "I Agree" to a EULA that allows complex algorithms to sift through all your searches, personal data and other trending data to deliver you ads that "fit" your predicted preferences.

At least the first volunteer knows it's happening.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Fellow punk rockers -- raise your hand if you still remember slam dancing -- I've go to say perhaps the most unsettling song I've heard in some time is Florence + The Machine "Kiss with a Fist," which I uncovered while pulling down the more current "Dog Days are Over."

The lyrics are beyond inappropriate, but just like quality old school punk, oddly, you can't look away because of the music.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dark Heart Brings Fiction to Life

One of my all-time favorite movies is Hopscotch. Walter Matthau plays a seasoned CIA operative, that, well, I'll just quote IMDB:

tired of his incompetent colleagues retires and dares them to stop him from publishing an embarrassing book of memoirs

Actually, more like quits because he's not going to accept a desk job, which was a blatant attempt at driving him from the field, again, courtesy of the incompetent boss of covert ops. As the years pass, I love this movie more and more . . . but I digress.

Today, I pick up the newspaper to read: Sources: U.S. seeks all copies of memoir. Apparently one Anthony Shaffer has written a tell-all book, Operation Dark Heart. The book was cleared by Army Reserve, but Defense Intelligence has objected. Oops, too late, the book is already printed.

No problem, the Pentagon offered to buy up the entire 10,000 book first run. (OK, the BBC link is gratuitous; but love to see the "Defence Department").

Sort of like when the CIA operatives go to visit Miles Kendig's publisher in England and threaten to do evil things -- like burn down the warehouse -- to prevent that book's release. Ah, Myerson; I've known you well.

All said, the bumbling efforts of the Pentagon to get and destroy the book are going to make it the most sought after download of the fall season.

If the DIA wasn't being so ham-fisted about it, you'd almost wonder if it wasn't a publicity stunt to get attention for the book.

" . . . this is Eleanor Roooooosevelt. Joe Cutter is tied to a chair in his rooooom . . . "

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Seen Today

Maybe I'm missing the point here, but a clip from a recent Division I school job description:

social media experience (professional use of social media outlets)

As opposed to all those amateurs using social media to influence the reputation of our respective teams and brands.

I'll give benefit of doubt that was was meant was someone who during their professional PR career had worked with social media in their strategy. Because if the meaning was the opposite -- we'd like to have very professional attitudes and professional language and professional approaches to a calculating use of social media outlets, including the ever so professional manipulation and spinning of said outlets -- well, ya ain't gettin' what this is all 'bout.

Be genuine. Professional = plastic; 60s Mad Men false. It's that confusing serious with solemn again.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Blogger

OK, I know when you are the receiving end of EDSBS and the rapier of Spencer Hall, it's not funny at all. But one must give props to anyone willing to pen the line:


As a tag line to a photo of the new Virginia mascot. The lead item of this week's Curious Index.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Prejudices, Reissued

I learn via the Arts and Letters RSS that H.L. Mencken's series, Prejudices, has been reissued as a single collection. I have hunted copies of the series -- collections of the Bad Boy of Baltimore's harshest critiques -- at used bookstores across America.

I've found Mencken fascinating first as the ultimate iconoclast; skeptical but not a cynic. His role in defining the early 20th century culturally is often underestimated.

More recently, I find him a presentist echo for today's chattering class on cable news. As Truman said, the only thing new in the world is the history we don't know, and it is very easy to point backwards to Mencken and say, there, there is the precursor of Bill O'Reilly; of Keith Obermann; of Glenn Beck; of Rachel Maddow.

In some ways yes, but in many, it does violence to the record. Mencken was, to use the now almost passe term, a hater. He was, however, a self-aware hater -- a critic who fully understood he was expressing his personal view of the upper class and those who perceived of themselves as successful.

A&L links to a review on Barnes and Noble's site by Katherine Powers:

Prejudices must be taken at its title's word: the pieces within are the enunciation of visceral, intransigent opinions, often pedestrian in their substance and riven by inconsistency. They are, in a word, journalism.

Oooh. That was, dare I say, a Mencken-esque turn of phrase by Powers.

I use Mencken extensively in my history class, and for those who would like a taste of what a really catty column reads like, pick up a Prejudiced or two. Sahara of Bozart comes quickly to mind, or his missives from the Scopes Trial. Powers reminds of the obituary column of William Jennings Bryan in which Mencken writes of midwestern statesman: a charlatan, a mountebank, a zany without shame or dignity.

Next time you think a Limbaugh is biting, or a Dennis Miller turns an erudite riposte -- spend a little time in the 1920s.

Monday, September 06, 2010

While You Were Starting the Season

Perhaps you were like me and only paid slight attention to the showdown between Time Warner and Disney over the carriage of ESPN on TW's cable systems. PaidContent provides the very, very important backstory for college sports fans (and athletic departments).

ESPN3 gets even wider access and approaches a TV Everywhere system.

For now, you have to hope your internet provider allows it through.

This isn't unlike our own iHog audio strategy -- if you are a subscriber, we should not care what device or mode you use to access it. Same applies here with ESPN3 as a follow-on piece of the TV Everywhere concept.

Read more at Paid Content.

Sharing the Labor on Labor Day

Lots of talk at NAB 2010 among some of the digeratti about "reverse distribution networks." Let's just call them friends.

If your content is compelling, or you have a lot of friends that can help you in a good cause, a very effective and cost efficient way to get the word out is to put your fans to work for you.

See, everyone in the past had distribution lists to media so you could get a story out about an upcoming event. That's still a way to reach certain key demographics and put your facts and details in front of media VIPs.

Facebook and Twitter are the front line. Need to get the word out about, oh, let's say the most recent accomplishment of a star athlete and create buzz about the fact? Create a custom hash tag, share the meaning of the tag with those fans and let them go to work replicating your message.

This past weekend, we toss out to our fans -- with the instructions on what to do -- our new hash tag of #15Mallett. If they see that tag, we are telling them to retweet, repost, like and share.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

More Wise Twitter

Courtesy of the Indiana Sports Journalism feed, David Kindred remembers some of the all-time media "jokes" gone wrong.

Along with more insights on the whole sordid affair, a reminder of a classic from the Age of Watergate:

Ben Bradlee, in his time as the Post’s executive editor, once said, "Yes, we print lies. We print what people tell us."

Repurposing and Wallpaper

How do you afford to pay a designer or have the time yourselves to make all those wallpapers?

It is all about re-purposing.

In the past, every printed guide needed a cover. OK, that made sense. But these days, everything is on-line (or so the NCAA and lots of people say/think).

Alright then, what is the master aspect ratio of what you're doing now? A landscape 4x3 at minimum, 16x9 more likely?

Gee, how hard is it to turn those page graphics from your "on-line" media guide into wallpaper that can be distributed to the fans so they can join in.

Keep in mind, internet 2.0 was all about sharing, a conversation. The 3.0 world we live in now takes that two-way street and puts in the back pocket of a fan who not only wants to be involved with you directly, they want to be a part of the program.

So, why not provide them visual message to share with their friends (and potential future students at your school)?

Our plan is to provide an image piece -- adapted from a cover art/schedule card/poster -- and a schedule piece -- often the back cover -- as well as three flexible pieces of art for mobile. We are also doing each one in three aspect ratios -- 800x800 for older computers and two flavors of wide screen/resolution -- 1280x900 and 1900x1200.

So yes, that's a minimum of nine pieces of art for every sport; 19 sports -- OK, you do the math.

That's not including our Game Week wallpaper to give fans a quick shot of info about the upcoming football opponent and a bonus wallpaper based on a great play from the past week's game. Yep, another six (2x3 resolutions) per week in football.

If you want to see the collection, we have a home page just for that at

Friday, September 03, 2010

Carving Out Niches

Tomorrow, we'll see a couple of brave experiments come to a first test. They might stumble, but I'm pretty sure they won't fail. More important, they represent the digital future for athletic departments.

Both are related to the rapid encroachment of rights holders -- local, conference and national -- onto campus. Long ago the ability to stream live football left Arkansas to various parties. What we own is anything not game, and anything before kickoff (or after).

OK -- let's create a streaming video pregame. For two years, that was just the same video that went to the main scoreboard screen coupled with the audio of football radio pregame.

Tomorrow, we'll have our own little original programing Countdown to Kickoff. Student run and manned through the RazorVision Academy.

The RazorVision Academy is the completion of a dream I laid out for the first time in 2006 to the J-School here. Battling for the concept through 2008 and 2009, here in 2010 it's about to start paying off dividends with the hiring of our dual-appointment sports journalism production assistant professor and director of the RazorVision Academy.

Along with the pregame show for football, they'll do all home soccer, volleyball, softball and track. That refocuses our professional staff onto other sports and into our specialty productions for on-line recruiting. Tons of real-world experience for students, better production for all.

Original experience programing is the untapped future. Big 10 Network vacuums up everything live, along with many other league-wide deals. So what is left? Get creative. We did a nine-part series this summer "Meet the Coaches" that was half sitdown with our assistant coaches and half mic'd up in practice feature. Fans get to know the assistant coaches. Assistant coaches get to talk about things that are important message points to potential recruits. We get a summer series for RazorVision subscribers when there is no other programing. Again, everyone wets their beak.

The other is iHog bringing out audio from football. This is still the beta in many ways, but I'm putting our money, time and engineering into audio streaming to mobile devices.

But I want to see the game, say the fans. Great. ESPN3 and the SEC Digital Network are going to do that either this year or next. They own the rights. And we're not going to dump very significant money into code and effort for something that may exist in our control for only a year.

Audio, however, belongs to the campus. And that's where our niche will be in the third-screen web 3.0 mobile world.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Take Care with Tweets

Personally, could care less about celeb gossip -- except when they are making new media news. For those more wrapped up in tonight's game or this weekend's openers, Paris Hilton got rung up for cocaine possession last week. No, no says Paris, who ironically was at the nearby Wynne in Las Vegas, wasn't my coke cause it was a borrowed purse.

She admitted yes, my ID; my money; my rolling papers; but no no no no to the blow.

Today, we learn through one of the celeb sites who took a little review time of Hilton's Twitter feed that at the very least, the heiress and former brief Arkansas resident owns a purse just like the one she was arrested with.

Props to Radar for the story here || Jump to the tweet

Let this be a lesson about those spur of the moment TwitPics. One never knows when it may become at least an embarrassment and at worst a legal entanglement.