A nice observation about email expectations from Merlin Mann, a software usability expert quoted in Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: Email is such a funny thing. People hand you these single little messages that are no heavier than a river pebble. But it doesn’t take long until you have acquired a pile of pebbles that’s taller than you and heavier than you could ever hope to move, even if you wanted to do it over a few dozen trips.
Country Calendar must be one of the few New Zealand media institutions that truly count as ‘iconic’. The weekly programme, which casts light on NZ farming, hasn’t looked back since its launch in 1966 and the current theme tune must be one of the most readily identifiable sounds for any Kiwi. This clip gives a glimpse of what the programme used to look, and sound, like.
Phrases and terms have a way of getting mangled over time and it can be hard finding clear examples of what is and isn’t right. Philip Corbett, a deputy news editor at the New York Times who’s in charge of its style manual, does a fine job explaining how to use ‘beg the question’.
For the nostalgics among you, here’s a cracker of an educational video from the days when women worked on the social pages, typesetters ruled, sub-editors wore visors and syndicated copy was mimeographed.
It strikes me as timely to ponder this, from British essayist and lexicographer Samuel Johnson: What is written without effort is, in general, read without pleasure.
Is it just me, or do you find in your organisation that people expect websites to mushroom by magic, as if little elves were at work while you slept? I’ve lost count of how many newsrooms I’ve come across which rely on the efforts of a single, young, overworked web editor to monitor and update their website 24 hours a day, seven days a week (impossible, of course, they just do their best Monday to Friday and hope nothing breaks on the weekend to make them look like muppets).
Every now and then I get an urge to create a Facebook group or something to campaign to bring back Dougal Stevenson. He was a TV newsreader in my youth, one of several with similar qualities. Dougal Stevenson didn’t smile and joke with an attractive sidekick to let me know when the story was light, or grimace to let me know the story was serious, or banter with a cheeky weather presenter or get matey with the sports guy (and pretend to know about sport).
I got a bit of a reality check at the GIMD journalism conference I attended recently, in several ways. The conference was held in Bali and its scope included ethics, minorities and reporting in conflict zones. I spoke, briefly, about how the internet is profoundly changing the delivery of news, how people find and keep up to date with news, who gathers news and how.
It’s not every day you find a joke about split infinitives in the opening sentences of a novel. But Peter O’Donnell provided just that when he transformed Modesty Blaise (think Emma Peel combined with Lara Croft) from a cartoon character into a full-flesh master criminal turned special agent extraordinaire in the opening book of a series.
Every day’s a good day for some Web2.0 for beginners from Common Craft. So here’s RSS feeds in Plain English.