FDA approves prescription Placebo (Onion Radio News)

A recurring theme in my thoughts and work lately is psychological resistance to demonstrable facts. (See: Why facts will never be enough to make people believe). Sometimes that’s due to cognitive dissonance, emotional reasoning, or herd reinforcement. But sometimes it’s due to a plain lack of understanding of what science is and how it functions.

So this recent episode from The Onion Radio News reduced me to helpless giggles. Enjoy!

UPDATE: On a related note, science journalist Christie Aschwanden alerted me to this 2008 NYT story: Experts Question Placebo Pill for Children. Thanks! Brilliant! You just can’t make this shit up!

Three generational gadget trends for news orgs to watch | Knight Digital Media Center

Today at the Knight Digital Media Center site, I took another look at a new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project about generational differences in tech gadget ownership and user.

See: Three generational gadget trends for news orgs to watch

The trends & implications I saw are:

  1. Picture-taking is the most popular non-voice cell activity, even more than texting! So why not do more with community-contributed pictures?
  2. Tablets are still a niche market. Right now, there are much bigger mobile fish to fry in terms of potential market size. Consider where your business interest really lie.
  3. MP3 players are especially popular with young adults, so consider doing more with podcasts and other audio content.

I discuss the details more over at my article on KDMC.

Breaking the story box: Al Jazeera uses modular content management for Egypt phone-in updates

Today at the Knight Digital Media Center site, I explained How Al Jazeera is putting audio updates from Egypt online fast.

They’re using ScribbleLive, a modular-oriented content management tool that “plays nice” with content from a variety of sources — social media, MMSed-in photos, blog posts, and — as shown — phoned-in audio updates from Egypt.

See Al Jazeera English, Live Messages from Egypt.

I’ve covered ScribbleLive before. I think it’s a great tool, and I’d like to see more tools like it for venues that cover breaking news. Another good option is Burt Herman’s Storify project.

The intersection of science and science fiction: Future Tense podcast

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. produces an excellent weekly science podcast, called Future Tense.

I just listened to today’s episode, Future Sci-Fi, which is about the intersection of science and science fiction — how they’ve influenced each other. I’ve heard most of these anecdotes before, but nice to have them pulled together into a well-crafted narrative.

Worth a listen.

Why everything is “technology”

A couple of podcasts I listened to recently reminded me that, in a sense, everything is technology. Including your house. Including your eyes.

Give these a listen and you’ll see what I mean:

Kindle Text-to-Speech: “Robotic NPR”

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NPR’s next hire? (Image via Wikipedia)

I’ve made a discovery about Amazon’s Kindle e-reader: It’s a pretty good “news radio.” That is, its text-to-speech function does a surprisingly decent job of reading news content aloud.

I currently subscribe to the Wall St. Journal on my Kindle, and I’ve gotten in the habit of letting it read me some interesting articles as I go through my morning routine. I like it. The automated text-to-speech reader is a bit flat for fiction, narrative, and essays that require significant emotional or rhetorical inflection — but it’s great for news. I’ve starting considering it my “robotic NPR.”

(Ducking the reflexive outcry from all my friends at NPR…)

Of course, my point isn’t only about the Kindle. It’s about how any text-to-speech service or tool can interact with text-based news and information content — and why creators of text-based news content should start to take that into consideration. Because you never know exactly how people will experience your content…

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