Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why 140 characters can be too few

Twitter can be deadly -- to careers. CNN has fired Octavia Nasr reportedly for a tweet praising the late Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, one of the founders of Hezbollah. According to the Guardian, she said she was praising his work for Muslim women, not actions many believe led to terrorism. The money quote from Nasr: "Reaction to my tweet was immediate, overwhelming and provides a good lesson on why 140 characters should not be used to comment on controversial or sensitive issues, especially those dealing with the Middle East."

What's Time charging for?

It looks like Time is going to be following an idea I have been espousing for some time. A brief quote from a Time spokesman on a blog called "All Things Considered" includes this description of the company's plans: "Our strategy is to use the web for breaking news and ‘commodity’ type of news; (news events of any type, stock prices, sports scores) and keep (most of) the features and longer analysis for the print publication and iPad versions."

In other words, the free Internet material will be the sort of "news" that can come from anywhere with exclusive material protected for purchase either from print or iPad versions. Of course, comments on the blog ask the usual "Why would I want to pay to get what I can get elsewhere" questions that proliferate among new media devotes, but the Time plan (and others, such as Murdoch's newspapers) isn't offering news you can get elsewhere behind a paywall. It's up to Time and the others to make us want to pay to get it (as we do now for all sorts of material, see my Internet and cable bills for examples).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Paying for articles at Time

Has Time magazine joined the Internet paywall world? Nieman Journalism Lab notes that nearly every story on the current issue of Time carries this phrase: “The following is an abridged version of an article that appears in the July 12, 2010 print and iPad editions of TIME,” but without any links to the full story, just referring viewers to the print and iPad editions.

One comment on the Nieman site says the is "stupid," "
Paywalls are bad enough, but making your digital version only available on one format is just plain dumb." But, putting only part of your stories on free sites makes sense to me. It's a strategy that I expect to see followed more and more as established media attempt to rebuild profits. Other commenters note that Time has pulled its archives from most aggregators, including Nexis.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The medium is indeed the message

Ken Swafford of Slate offers his take on why printed books will never be replaced by ebooks. The reason, based on reading of Marshall McLuhan as well as his experience, lies in the way we perceive words, or "delivering technology" in McLuhan-speak. We perceive words on screens differently than on paper, Swafford says, and the difference is important. The medium is indeed the message.

Monday, July 5, 2010

No more Mr. Nice Guys?

Tom Shales writes in the Washington Post that the end of Larry King on CNN means the end of "the nice guys." King, Shales, says, represented a time when television was more civil and friendly. Shales takes a number of shots at the "incivility" of cable television talk. Can't disagree with him.

Printed books faster to read

Some of my suspicions turn out to be true. One is that I wondered if one could read an ebook as rapidly as on paper. The answer? No. According to a study by A.C. Neilson, it takes significantly more time to read a book on a Kindle or iPad than on paper. The iPad was significantly better than the Kindle 2, which, in turn, was much better than reading it on a PC.