Scripting News


Pierre and Jeff's excellent ventures

It's really great news that Pierre Omidyar is getting behind Greenwald et al in their new journalism venture. That, and Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post should provide new creative stimulus for the rest of the journalism industry.

If I were in either of their shoes, I'd look at why Twitter has been so effective as a distributor of news, and then take a step back and imagine a few years from now what an even-better-Twitter might look like. I think for smart tech guys like Omidyar and Bezos this should be pretty easy.

But what about everyone else?

Being a medium-size web-only news organization (or web/mobile, more likely) will have advantages over either of the other two. Bezos bought a full-featured already booted-up print/web publication and Omidyar is starting from scratch.

What if you're in-between those two? I would go affiliate. Build a better aggregator for your staff, a river of news, more highly concentrated than Twitter, and then share it with your readers. Let them add feeds to the flow. And then build new functionality around these relationships. It's something Twitter is doing, but slowly -- and they will only do one possible set of relationships. There will also be value in being not-Twitter as well.

The trick is to have a great farm system, and use that to boot up something bigger than what Bezos has, before he can.

Key idea: News orgs not only have expertise at creating news, they are great at consuming it too. Use that to help define the news reading experience of the future.

BTW, Jay Rosen has the best summary of what Omidyar is up to, based on a phone conversation they had. Jay is also in a great position to understand what the opportunities are.

 10/16/2013; 2:35:28 PM.

OPML and Evernote

Following up on the enthusiasm for the idea of Fargo and Evernote having a long-term relationship, we're still not there. I'm really resisting rolling up my sleeves and working on the Evernote side of things. It means writing a server app that basically synchs up Evernote with OPML. Fargo is real good at producing it, and the feeling is that it would be a nice way to edit Evernote notebooks.

The idea is pretty simple at least at a conceptual level.

Here's an OPML file.

Here's an Evernote notebook.

When a change happens in the OPML file, make the necessary changes in the Evernote notebook to reflect those changes.

There are people with expertise in Evernote, and I'd be happy to help them navigate the world of OPML, but I have no room in my head for another operating environment. I have to try to hook up with some Evernote expertise.

So if anyone is out there who is interested, please have a go at this, and let me know if you have any questions.

PS: Also the same idea applies to blogging platforms such as WordPress, Tumblr and the exciting new Ghost platform.

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How would it work

On Twitter, Ramond Yee, who has worked with the Evernote API, asks what I want Evernote to do with the OPML.

The answer depends on what I've written in my outline.

Let's say I create an outline with 27 top level heads and underneath each head, a series of paragraphs. That would translate into a notebook with 27 items, each with a bunch of text in them. The text that's under the headlines. Nicely indented, if there was any structure beneath the headlines.

Why? So the notes can be indexed alongside everything else I enter into Evernote, using all the different ways they have of getting ideas in there.

That's my understanding of how people use Evernote. I want to remember something. So I create a note. Or I have a note for all ideas relating to a certain topic. It's fairly free-form. Outlines are nicely structured. Just shoot the structured stuff over to the Evernote, while it remains resident in Fargo, editable as an outline.

Another way of saying the same thing -- both paradigms are good for notebooks, but the notebooks are useful in complementary ways. I can make lists and easily reorganize them in an outliner. I can search all my notes in Evernote and find all notes relating to a certain topic.

I want the same text to be useful in both contexts.

Make sense?

 10/16/2013; 10:55:29 AM.

Why men stay silent about sexual harassment

Bora Zivkovic, who I have met several times, and did a podcast with when I was at NYU, has admitted that he did something wrong, something that amounts to sexual harassment. I've read some of the discussion on blogs and on Facebook, and a question keeps coming up -- why don't men say more about this?

My opinion: it's impossible to navigate the minefield without saying something that can be interpreted as supportive of the accused, or not sufficiently condemning him, or harming or dismissing the accuser. Staying silent is easier and safer. And staying silent is something men are good at.

But I'm a blogger, and I know Zivkovic, and I think I can shed some light.

I read Ms Byrne's account and Zivkovic's mea culpa.

I've had the experience that Byrne describes with Zivkovic, him talking about personal topics, without pausing, not allowing others to get a word in. This happened several times, once at a group dinner in Chapel Hill and another time in a podcast. I've remarked about it to a friend, who said she had never seen him do it. But my experience was exactly as Ms Byrne described.

Had the topic been sexual I would have been more uncomfortable than I was, and I was plenty uncomfortable, even angry with him.

But we have a fair number of mutual friends, people I really care about and like, so I find it impossible to believe that there isn't a lot of quality to him as a person. I would give him the benefit of the doubt, and accept his account as true.

Further, Internet shitstorms deliver their own punishment. I've been at the center of them in the past. Maybe it would be possible to give this to a mediator, who would examine all sides, and come to a conclusion and recommend a punishment. Then he could do what was asked of him, and everyone could feel that it had been resolved and possibly some good had come from it.

 10/16/2013; 9:57:44 AM.

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