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Happy Accidents. And Then What?

April 13, 2011 at 7:48 p.m.

If this was a new startup, a one or two person shop, I’d give it a thumbs up for innovation and good execution on a simple but viral idea.

But the fact that this is coming from Odeo makes me wonder – what is this company doing to make their core offering compelling? How do their shareholders feel about side projects like Twttr when their primary product line is, besides the excellent design, a total snoozer?

That comes at the end of the first post on TechCrunch about Twitter, then known by the shorter Twttr. The rest is history.

Twitter ...


Be organized. Or be mush.

August 25, 2009 at 8:01 p.m.

Talking to my colleague Dante Chinni today, he summed up my thinking on frameworks for reporting far better than I've been able to:

Without an organizing principal, all we're doing is throwing things out into the ether. It all becomes mush.

That's not an exact quote. We were in the middle of a long brainstorm and I wasn't keeping notes. But it's close enough.

Dante has been working on Patchwork Nation since its inception--it's all he does--and it shapes much of the way he looks at the news. It's his lens. When we ...


A lesson from Patchwork Nation: Frameworks for Reporting

July 28, 2009 at 9:46 p.m.

In programming, frameworks help speed development by abstracting common tasks and letting us focus on things that matter. They make what's important interesting.

We can apply this approach to reporting as well, especially when we're collecting structured data and treating news as data points. Doing this means we don't have to start over with each new set of figures.

A few lessons learned from Patchwork Nation and other projects.


Have more fun

July 6, 2009 at 5:55 p.m.

Before she flew to Russia ahead of Barack Obama's trip there this week, someone gave Margaret Warner an HD Flip Cam to shoot a few video diaries for the web. They came out a little bouncy, not quite the quality we'd get from more serious video equipment and the sound, while way better than I would have expected, could still be a bit clearer.

But the big thing I see in this video, and what I really like about it, is a reporter having fun.


Do something.

June 16, 2009 at 4:28 p.m.

Alex said this in a recent email, and it's worth repeating:

In the end, I think, doing something is what's really important. There can be a lot of wanking over platforms, implementation, topics or whatever. But doing something, and including people, being open in approach, is probably the most important thing to do, I think, and once the ball's rolling, let it roll in they way it wants to.

Remember that when meetings multiply, when platform wars become software crusades, when your computer does things that cause you to swear in Portuguese and Chinese and Italian.

Doing ...


The iTunes for News we have

February 11, 2009 at 4:41 a.m.

Let's talk about what iTunes does.

Back when it first launched, it was a companion to a piece of expensive hardware, the iPod, and a way to sell music that could be played on that piece of hardware. Both are Apple products, and the two work together as seamlessly as as Windows and Internet Explorer. One company, with a well-cultivated following, a lot of marketing and slick design, figured out how to make it easier for music fans to listen to--and pay for--music than downloading MP3s off Napster and its successors.

Did it stop piracy? Not in the least ...



January 28, 2009 at 9:09 a.m.

Steve Yelvington talks about being a local expert. This pushes farther a concept Jeff Jarvis advanced a few months back: The building block of journalism is no longer the article. Matt at Newsless describes this as systematic knowledge accumulation (he's talking about within journalism, in this case, but I think it's applicable here).

Let's think about what that might look like a bit. For a given topic or issue, I might want to pull together:

  • News articles
  • Blog posts
  • Forum topics
  • Links to other places talking about the issue
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Profiles of people who show up ...


Should my clip file be social?

July 15, 2008 at 4:56 a.m.

When I built my online clip file last year, I used Wordpress, the same software I use on my blog. It's easy to use, I could install it quickly and tweak it as needed. It's good for SEO without much effort. And best of all, it's free.

But Wordpress really is a blogging platform. It's meant for conversational media, like this blog (in theory, anyway). With my clip file, I turned off comments on posts, because I didn't envision that as a place to have a conversation. That's what this blog is here for ...