NYTimes.com: All the Aggregation That’s Fit to Aggregate

From Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times:

“Aggregation” can mean smart people sharing their reading lists, plugging one another into the bounty of the information universe. It kind of describes what I do as an editor. But too often it amounts to taking words written by other people, packaging them on your own Web site and harvesting revenue that might otherwise be directed to the originators of the material. In Somalia this would be called piracy. In the mediasphere, it is a respected business model…

Last month, when AOL bought The Huffington Post for $315 million, it was portrayed as a sign that AOL is moving into the business of creating stuff — what we used to call writing or reporting or journalism but we now call “content.” Buying an aggregator and calling it a content play is a little like a company’s announcing plans to improve its cash position by hiring a counterfeiter….

There is no question that in times of momentous news, readers rush to find reliable firsthand witness and seasoned judgment. (In the first hour after Mubarak fell, The Times’s Web site had an astounding one million page views, and friends at other major news organizations tell me they enjoyed a similar surge.) I can’t decide whether serious journalism is the kind of thing that lures an audience to a site like The Huffington Post, or if that’s like hiring a top chef to fancy up the menu at Hooters. But if serious journalism is about to enjoy a renaissance, I can only rejoice. Gee, maybe we can even get people to pay for it.

  • Excerpts from NYTimes.com
    (And I make no income aggregating this story)

The film ‘Schooling the World’ is profound, disturbing

From Kima via Cooperative Catalyst:

“Today, I watched a profoundly disturbing film. It completely shattered my view of education as a progressive force in the world. Even if the system in place is seriously outdated, I never really questioned the intrinsic value of education as a way out of poverty, as a way to move humanity into their future….

“I believe Schooling the World is a film that is just as, if not more, important as Waiting for Superman — at least Sir Ken Robinson seemed to agree with me when replying back on Twitter, after I brought it to his attention, that it is ‘An important and fascinating movie.’

“The current education system was devised during the start of the industrialization, more than 200 years ago. Its purpose was to create skilled workers that could take specialized jobs and work in the factories. …

“In the developed countries, most of the factories are gone, more people than ever work in services, and a great level of innovation and creativity is required by most modern companies. However, the education system still produces people that can do specialized jobs — or worse, tries to generalize their knowledge to such a level that it is useless at that point.”

Fan video from Korean drama Coffee Prince

It seems that I am very late to this party. I’ve been watching the 2007 South Korean drama, Coffee Prince, on Hulu. It’s the story of about a dozen people — from three generations — in a Seoul neighborhood who come together to renew a failing cafe and who actually renew each other.

As with the several other Korean dramas I’ve watched, the pilot is somewhat silly by sophisticated Hollywood standards, but the series grows with depth and insight over the first few hours. (Incidentally, the MBS-sponsored subtitles can be pretty interesting, too, like “tomboy,” for a female who isn’t obsessed with marriage, and “shaken,” meaning the moment of being attracted to someone new.)

Over a quarter million people have watched this fan-produced video, which combines the song “Across the Ocean” by American duo Azure Ray — used twice in the series — with scenes of cafe owner Han Kyul and “tomboy” Eun Chan from the middle episodes.

I am, again, fascinated by the way this series integrates universal emotions — captured with quite a bit of subtlety — with the resistance to South Korean cultural expectations about men and women, parental respect, and class distinctions.

A real human interface (Multitouch Barcelona)

“Did you ever think that your computer was alive? That there was someone inside working for you? ‘Hi, a real human interface’ is a metaphor for how interaction with technology should be. It was our attempt to create the perfect interface; one that really understands our deepest needs, a human interface indeed.”

“Multitouch Barcelona is “an interaction design group exploring natural communication between people and technology. We design experiences that merge real and digital into a creative environment where people are invited to touch, play, move, feel as they do in the real world”

Transparent governance is the new fad (China Daily)

“In China people tweet on t.sina.com.cn and among the most avid tweeters is ‘Minister Wu’. Yes, for real, he is a government official, but not quite ministerial ranking.

“Still, a government official who openly tweets is a novelty here and naturally, Minister Wu – as he is affectionately referred to by fellow tweeters – has many fans and is one of the most read twitters across the land.

“Minister Wu is the deputy director of the publicity department of Yunnan province. He openly supports government transparency and presses for monitoring of government behavior. I am not sure whether this has won him friends within government circles (probably not) but he has found support on the Internet.”

Live social media dashboard (via @markgr)

Many of us who have been following social media since the early 90s are very sensitive to today’s exponential growth in usage of the sharing web.

“Inspired by other cool real time counters, Social Media Industry Head, Laurel Papworth, my own Rise & Rise of Social Media presentations and various ‘cool’ videos (you know the ones) I decided to put together this little Flash app (which is in constant development) showing how active & dynamic the Social Web, Mobile Industry and Game Business is.”

The power of Quora

“On Quora you can subscribe to topics, specific answers or people.  You’re alerted when people follow you, when the create new questions in your topic area and when new people have answered the questions you’re following.

And the system is really quite smart.  First, it has DIGG like voting mechanism where you can vote up or down the quality of an answer.  If your objective is to be near the top of an answer stack (e.g. and thus be read by everybody following the topic) then you need a great quality answer.  You also need to answer the question reasonably early because when a question has been around for a while the important people aren’t likely to be going back and reading it again (thus they will neither see your answer or vote your up).

So in a way it has built in game mechanics.  And they are trying to bake in user adoption into the design of the product.  Obviously it is build on a social network “follow people” model that is asymmetric like Twitter.  When somebody is new to Quora and is following you it encourages you to “give them topics” to follow, which is clever because if they accept the topics they get more alerts, more emails – more bacn – and thus they come back to the site more frequently.

Digital First, Print Last: Journal Register’s John Paton

“To be in the News business now means you must run your business as Digital First.  And that means Print Last. Print Last because that is how this new world works. Print is a slow medium and digital is fast. Atoms will never beat bits….

“Digital First strategy is centered on the cost effective creation of content and sales and not the legacy modes of production…. Community media labs in each of our 18 dailies have helped turn our audience, who became our competitors, into our colleagues. And the communities we serve are the better for that….

“As CEO, I blog to my employees and the public. I ask for their help and they oblige. I also regularly email my 3,106 employees and they me. And the most common complaint is – lack of communication. You just have to keep working at it knowing that it, like the website or the newspaper, is a job that is never done….

“We actually pay some of to experiment. We call it our ideaLab. The ideaLab is a select employee group – we asked them to apply online via my blog (and they did in the hundreds) – who are paid to experiment. We supply them the tools (Droids, Smartphones, iPhones, iPads, Netbooks, etc); the time (25% off with pay) plus some extra pay as an incentive. There are no rules….

“Jeff Jarvis – now a member of Journal Register Company’s Advisory Board — said it best: ‘Do what you do best and link to rest.’…

Across all of our 18 dailies, we assigned, reported, edited, produced Web & print products using only free Web-based tools … We have built sales support systems using an iPhone and free Google tools. We have successfully printed pages on a press using only free web tools. The next time some rep comes to your shop brandishing a $20M system – tell the price just went down. Way down….

“In Torrington, CT at our daily, the Register Citizen, our young publisher there, Matt DeRienzo deputized his entire community to fact check all of his products online and in print. By putting a Fact Check box online he issued an invitation to every reader, source and community member to hold them accountable and engage in correcting, improving or expanding the story.”

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