Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


New Media v. Old Media

Posted by Andrew at 6:30 AM on July 14, 2010

How social media points the way forward for journalism. It’s a real example of how traditional media are becoming social media-aware and are using Facebook, Twitter and their ilk to get the news stories out faster and with more information.

However, what really registered with me is at the very end of the article.

There is a word of caution that goes with trusting what we read on this great “word of mouth” network.  Recent rumour mill stories on Facebook on the private lives of footballers ended up in the press and were proven to be totally wrong. So while this new technology can speed up the newsgathering process, journalists will need to make sure they do what they have always done – double check the facts.

I have real concerns about the loss of the old news media.  Obviously there’s no single cause but the rise of new media, the Internet “no cost” expectation and the “now” culture are all taking the toll.    But what will be the cost to our society when we no longer have professional journalists?

What will happen to investigative journalism?  What will happen when hysterical but unfounded rumours sweep across the social networks?  How will politicians be held to account when there is no-one to report on their mistakes?  How much more easy will it be to cover stuff up?

I can’t think of a single other instance where it’s become acceptable for amateurs to take over the role of professionals.  Would you want an amateur doctor to treat you?  An amateur engineer to design a bridge?  An amateur firefighter to attend an emergency?  No, I want these people to study for years to become competent at what they do.  Why should journalism be any different?  Just because you can string a sentence together, doesn’t make you a journalist.

Now, you may think that it’s a bit rich coming from a blogger for a major new media site but to tie this back to the original news story, I think it genuinely points the way ahead.  We have to get away from old media v. new media, it has to be co-opetition not competition, symbiotic not parasitic, and we have to find a way to reward news organisations and professional journalists to keep doing what they’re doing.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know is that it will be social disaster if we lose professional journalists because we were too cheap to buy a newspaper.

Blogger Censured By Press Complaints Commission

Posted by Andrew at 5:19 PM on March 29, 2010

The Press Complaints Comission (PCC) has censured a blogger for posting unsubstantiated comments on the website of a print publication, The Spectator.  This is the first time that the PCC has censured a newspaper or magazine over a journalistic blog.

The PCC regulates the behaviour of the press in the UK and holds them to an Editors’ Code of Practice which includes accuracy, respect for privacy, non-payment of criminals, etc.

In this case, Rod Liddle made comments about the ethnic background of criminals in London, namely that the “overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London was carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community.”  Although The Spectator tried to justify the comments partly through statistics and partly through the comment being an opinion, the PCC found that Code of Practice, Clause 1 (Accuracy) had been breached.

The director of the PCC,  Stephen Abell, said: “This is a significant ruling because it shows that the PCC expects the same standards in newspaper and magazine blogs that it would expect in comment pieces that appear in print editions. There is plenty of room for robust opinions, views and commentary but statements of fact must still be substantiated if and when they are disputed. And if substantiation isn’t possible, there should be proper correction by the newspaper or magazine in question.

Before all the UK’s bloggers get worried, first of all, there’s no danger of the PCC going round censuring bloggers.  To start with, the PCC is only concerned with newspapers and magazines who subscribe to its funding body. Secondly, it can only censure, which is largely name-and-shame, and it cannot impose fines.

However, while Britain has always had libel laws, it would appear that it’s just become a bit harder to defend (inaccurate) commentary by saying that it was an opinion and not a fact.  You have been warned.

Do People Take On-line Criticism Too Hard?

Posted by Andrew at 12:55 AM on November 3, 2009

Over here in the UK, there have been two incidents in the past week of people taking drastic action because of criticism on-line.  The first is that of Stephen Fry, who threatened to leave Twitter after being called “boring”, and the second is of a village council who resigned en masse because of a blogger’s comments.

The link to the two stories on the BBC are here and here respectively but you’ll find both stories reported on most UK news sites (with varying degrees of journalistic rigour!)  I’ll not go into the detail of each story but what I find interesting is that in both cases there is over-reaction and the recipient simply decides that the “effort is no longer worth it”.

As children, we all learn the line, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me”, but as adults most of us come to realise the power of words alone: “I now pronounce you man and wife” being possibly the most significant.  However, I find it amazing that a seasoned actor can take to heart comments from someone he’s never met.  Many of us do get vicarious pleasure following our celebrities, myself included, but even the most proficient of them does sometimes deteriorate into the humdrum.

Stephen’s medical condition probably had something to do with it but I find the actions of the district councillors even more astonishing.  Did these people go into local politics because they thought it would an easy or pleasant job?  Did they expect that arranging the Summer Fete would be the height of their work? None of the news stories that I read suggest that the blogger has done anything other than post inaccurate and offensive material and appears to be single individual.

So what’s going on here?  There’s no doubt that the Internet has allowed celebrities and politicians to interact more closely with their fans and constituents.   But have we reached a point where the closeness has become unhealthy, too personal, with the voice of the one outweighing the thousands of others who do not have complaint?

Perhaps the medium has to take some of the blame.  It’s much harder not to feel slighted when the text message comes in on your phone while you are at home.  I have to take complaints in work every now and then, but I’m sitting in the office at work.  As I walk out the door, I leave the complaint behind and return home.   It seems to me that the line between the public role and private has become too blurred, especially with Twitter.

As for the councillors, my advice would be not to read the blog.

RSS Cloud Important but Feedburner feeds will still be slow to update!

Posted by geeknews at 6:18 PM on September 7, 2009

I have been advocate controlling ones own feed for many years. In fact I was often criticized for being a vocal opponent to FeedBurner.  The hammer has fallen again for those that rely on FeedBurner, as most of us know FeedBurner is very slow to update data from your master feed additionally they have been known to strip items from feeds before so it will be curious to see if FeedBurner users will be able to use the Cloud tag at all.

Here is where FeedBurner users are going to get bent over when it comes to this new way of instant notification to those subscribers that opt in for instant notification of your blog updates.

Example: Lets say you post a blog post on a UFO landing on your yard.  In order to get the scoop of the century you rush to post the encounter on your blog. Once you hit publish it may take a considerable amount of time for FeedBurner to re-cache your feed. Meanwhile if I live next door, and control my own RSS feed like I do now the moment I hit publish my RSS feed updates my subscribers get instantly notified and I essentially beat you to the scoop of the century.

Well with the introduction today of RSS Cloud for WordPress those that control their own feeds will now be able to push information to sites and services that implement the RSS Cloud features.

Matt over at WordPress has this to say about the new feature: “Why is this important? Right now how most people interact with feeds is by checking that it updated every now and then, usually about once an hour. Can you imagine waiting an hour to get your emails? (The world would probably be more productive.) RSS Cloud is an extra element in your RSS feed that allows subscribers to say “Hey, let me know as soon as you’ve updated, kthx.”

Feedburner users are going to have a little time to bang on the folks at FeedBurner to get this implemented as  there is only one Feed Reading service that supports this today and that is River2 by none other Dave Winer. You can be 100% assured that in a very short period we will see more feed reader services, and a whole cottage industry pop up over instant notification of blog post on those blogs you follow the most.

The best thing this is through existing RSS tags and we will not be beholden to the folks at pubsubhubbub which I never fully agreed with their implementation anyway. This opens a world of possibilities and will be a very big deal!

This is as big as Twitter, mark my words! If enough sites implement this, then the so called blogging erosion will cease because in my opinion it is always better to build your brand then someone elses and to date my blog has not received a lot of Google Juice from post I have put on Twitter, sure I get great traffic from my Twitter followers but I would rather to continue to build my brand here versus someone elses.

No Podfade — Just Pulling the Plug on MYDL.ME

Posted by fogview at 4:45 PM on August 25, 2009

mydl_logof you’ve been around the Internet for any length of time, I’m sure you heard of Scott Bourne and Andy Ihnatko.  Both can be found at the MY Digital Life blog and podcast — at least until August 31, 2009.

Scott and Andy have been doing a podcast and blog helping listeners manage their digital life for the past six months. Everything from backups to storage and cool gadgets were discussed on their blog and three times a month on their podcast.

The last podcast, MYDL #15, was a much shorter show and Scott announced that they were pulling the plug on the podcast and blog at the end of the month. The site was sponsored by Data Robotics (Drobo) and everyone decided it was time to shut down and move on. I had the pleasure of generating the show notes for the podcast and learned a lot in the process. Scott and Andy had some great information and the show will be greatly missed. Scott and Andy will still be around but focusing on other things.

In Scott’s final comments to his listeners, he urged everyone to backup, backup, backup. Something Scott and Andy preached on every show and good advice for everyone.

In the Internet world we tend to think everything lives on forever. Podcaster fade and websites go dormant, but rarely go away. MYDL is an exception. If you haven’t been to MYDL.ME, head over there now before August 31, and check out the great content, before it’s gone forever. 73′s, Tom

FTC to Monitor Blogger Claims and Payments

Posted by geeknews at 3:13 PM on June 21, 2009

Bloggers beware the FTC is about to start watching what you say and failure to disclose that you have been given a product or paid to blog about a product or service could find themselves with a FTC violation.

Disclaimer: Geek News Central and it’s writers will always disclaim in the blog post if a product has been provided by the manufacture or if any other type of compensation has taken place.

Disclaimer: The FTC has not paid for this blog post :)

Anyway it could get real ugly out there for bloggers who have been notorious for writing reviews of products, services and sites and never disclosed that they have been compensated. We will keep an eye on what the guidelines coming out of the FTC will be.

Bloggers have it. Newspapers want it.

Posted by GNC at 6:58 AM on May 23, 2009

There are many articles comparing the pros and cons of physical print news versus the online/blogging news.  The following lists are not pros and cons but what each group has that the other side wants.  What could happen with the merging of the two?  Thanks to Tech Crunch for stirring my brain.

What Newspapers Have and Bloggers Want/Need:

  1. Bloggers have less official access to many press conferences and meetings. Who gets the press pass?  How do you get the press pass?  Will it not eventually recreate a few sources for news as different agencies pick and stick with favorites?  Newspapers made narrowing it down easy.
  2. covetBloggers have less incentive/time to investigate and search out multiples sources. Bloggers seem to surf the web not pound the streets and interview people face to face.  Newspapers live that way.
  3. Bloggers write about what interests them, not what interests others. With no boss giving assignments, who will report on those needed but sometimes mundane happenings?  Will we be stuck piecing together all of our news from 500 RSS feeds?  Newspapers make basic world, national, and local news easy.
  4. Bloggers are not the one “go to” place for news. Difficult to find a local blogger.  I do not know of a single blogger reporting on news in our area of 175,000 people .  I guess I would have to look if the paper shut down.
  5. Bloggers have less accountability/oversight to preserve the truth. I know, I know, that the community could police itself just like Wikipedia.  I’m not sure they will or really have the ability.  Besides, most people believe whatever they read and probably won’t go back to see any updates or corrections.

What Bloggers Have and Newspapers Want/Need:

  1. Print Media has a narrow chain of command that dictates what and when news is published. It is no wonder why dictator, communistic, and extreme governments want control of the media?  Why are news agencies tending to endorse political candidates? The news has been far from fair and balanced for a long, long time.  Blogs are more numerous, yield less individual influence, say what they think, and allow more free interaction.
  2. Print Media has a need to make a larger profit.  Bloggers hope to pay the bills.  There is nothing wrong with this.  It is the goal of every business owner to make money.  Why should newspapers be any different?  The problem is that it is a very low margin/no margin business that is about to go on a ventilator.  The motivation and ability to survive is decreasing.
  3. Print Media has a high overhead for getting the news to the reader. Ouch this is number one.  Manufacturing and delivery is expensive.  Presses are extremely expensive, paper is expensive, labor is expensive, management is expensive, delivery is expensive.   The web does it on the cheap.  I can deliver the same news to as many people for pennies on the dollar as a blogger.  And it won’t take much ad revenue to pay for that delivery.
  4. Print Media has few ways to guage how much of their content is read. The newspaper does not create a log file ever time my eyes read a certain article or ad.  Advertisers are left to subjective decisions on whether business increased because of the ad most of the time.  The web brings freedom and analytics.
  5. Print Media locks down the content and its distribution. There is no open source in this land.  Republish the AP article and receive a DMCA.  Everything is copyrighted.
  6. Print media now publishes old news. 24 hours is not soon enough.  12 hours is not soon enough.  2 hours is not soon enough.  What do you mean “The game was not finished as of press time”?  By the time your article reaches me 36 hours after the game, you have lost me.  I can visit a site, use an RSS reader to get the headlines, or subscribe to email updates and text alerts.  I do not even have to wait for the “top of the hour”, “quarter of the hour” news on the radio.

Enough of my opinion.  What is the real truth?  Will you, the community, let me know?  Are we really ready for this new world of news?

A Short Introduction from Fogview

Posted by fogview at 8:09 PM on May 14, 2009

Hello, my name is Tom Newman (aka Fogview) and I’m the newest blogger on Geek News Central. You may ask what are my Radio-electronics-magqualifications and what will I be bringing to the table. Well, I’m a geek and have been involved with tech for over 30 years. I’m a hardware/software engineer and have been involved with the micro computer revolution (that’s what we called it back in the “old days”) since it first began. I started out as a Test Engineer integrating a Data General Nova 2 minicomputer into the factory manufacturing process of the company where I worked (Diablo Systems). I spotted an article in Radio Electronics magazine talking about a home-brew computer, Mark-8, and decided to build my own Intel 8008 microcomputer. I ordered the circuit boards from author of the article and scrounged all the parts and built my bare-bones system. I finally had my very own computer at home! I hand-coded a simple program in assembly language and amazed myself by having a set of blinking LEDs marching to the beat of my very first 8008 program. I had written pretty large programs at work that could control Diablo HyType Printers, but there was something uplifting about my very own computer that could blink some LEDs.

Fast forward 30 years and here I am. I’m a Windows/PC person who has recently added an iMac and a MacBook to my collection of tools. I’m a computer consultant so I still dabble some in hardware design and programming now and then, but I find myself moving towards web designs and digital photography. I’m also very involved in Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, podcasting, etc.).

Oh, did I mention I’m a geek, just like the majority of those of you who come to Geek News Central and listen to Todd’s podcast. I’m interested in podcasting, video, photography, gadgets, software, and tips to make me and everything I use, work better and faster. That’s what I hope to bring to Geek News Central — reviews, tips, and my view of technology and this new fangled thing called the Internet.

If you want to know more about me, you can always follow me on Twitter @Fogview, or my podcast/blog at Fogview Podcast, and at Fogview Photos. Stop by and say howdy.

73’s, Tom

Someone must pay the bill for journalism

Posted by GNC at 6:44 PM on May 14, 2009

Someone has to pay the bill for journalism.  Whether it be in print, radio, video, or online, someone has to pay.  There is no such thing as a free lunch.  What has paid the bill for news so nesfar?  Advertising, advertising, and more advertising.  Everything from full page ads to 4 by 6 ads to the classifieds.  Everything has been paid for by advertising.  Advertising is supposed to bring in business that makes the investment worth it.  Now that ad revenue is reminiscent of the first hill of a roller coaster, all media depending on advertising is struggling.  Newspapers are getting hit with an equivalent left right combo from the fist of George Forman.  Not only are the ads drying up, but the internet is pulling away readers at an alarming rate.  What will they do?  Robert Murdoch wants consumers to pay for the online content.  Good luck.

Consumers must pay for what they consume. We pay for the meal we consume at McDonalds.  We pay for the gas our car consumes.  Consumers makes the economy go around.  The recession has put consumers on a diet and hunt for really cheap and free food.  No meal is ever free or cheap. Someone is paying.  How will consumers pay for journalism in the post-recession era?  Advertising will rebound, but businesses will refuse to put all their eggs in that basket again.

Here is my one idea to throw into the mix.  News organizations could begin to offer paid-for services to consumers that help supplement the advertising revenue.  Perhaps offering personally configured, organized home pages for a small fee.  Or maybe a PDF of your news delivered to your inbox at configurable intervals throughout a day.  The advertising from local businesses could be targeted to the consumer based on the types of news they have selected (not unlike Google).  Web 2.0 is making this all possible.  If news sites keep making us navigate through their selected structure, or read the headlines they suggest it will not be as effective as it could be.  Just an idea.  An idea that has many flaws I am sure, but some possibilities.

So what are you willing to pay for?  There are no free lunches in this world.

Is how we find blog aritcles changing?

Posted by todd at 8:10 AM on July 8, 2008

Blogger Louis Gray has been studying the referrals to his blog and has noticed that getting linked to by a large blog site or influential blogger doesn’t drive the same level of traffic as it used to. The move in traffic generation has been to the aggregators like Techmeme, Reddit, Digg etc. There is also a large shift towards readers consuming content through RSS readers rather than always coming direct to the website.

Both these trends are understandable to an extent. The sheer volume of content and the large number of blogs that are out there make it very difficult for people to easily find interesting or relevant content without the aggregators. This is a catch 22 situation. There is too much content out there for a user to filter it without taking up way too much time. The aggregator sites help with this by doing a pre-filter for us. This leads to a bit of group think though, where we only see the articles that algorithm’s have determined are the most important. RSS readers are also a way for us to deal with large amounts of information more easily

It is natural that a space that is as relatively new as blogging will evolve rapidly over time. The environment will continue to evolve as technologies grow and develop and as people throw ew ideas into the mix. I don’t think anyone can argue that we have the whole community information thing down perfectly yet. We have never individually had access to more information as a species and we need to work out exactly how to best process it.

I do not believe that the final solution is going to be the aggregators. This is not really a model that gives us the best information. It is the method that is easiest for advertising though, and since that is the prime method for revenue in the space this gives those sites the power at the moment. I would imagine that the future will be in more human edited content rather than algorithm generated content. For this method to succeed though a way to generate revenue directly from the content consumption needs to exist as advertising revenue is not large enough or stable enough to fund this.

Advertising also has a corrupting influence on editorial content. This is not necessarily in a pernicious way, but a subtle influence that this has when advertising is the only method with which a company gets its revenue. The people that give you your revenue are your real customers. If all you have is advertising then your business is to deliver people to advertisers, not to deliver a service to your “consumer”. Over time a couple of revenue generating models will emerge and then the game will change yet again.