Free Kindles, local mobile news, and pissed off fanboys: My recent CNN.com Tech mobile stories

It’s been a very busy month and a half for me. I spent a week in Los Angeles as a featured presenter for the Mobile News Week at the journalism school there, and now I’m finishing preparations to travel to two other journalism schools next week for the Knight Digital Media Center’s Mobile Symposium. So I haven’t been letting Contentious.com readers know what I’ve been writing elsewhere.

But I’ve been logging a lot of cool mobile stuff for CNN.com Tech. So here’s a quick list of what I’ve been covering there…

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Local, mobile, paywalls, Google, more: My latest KDMC news for digital journalists posts

Over the last month I’ve fallen behind on noting here what I’ve been writing at the News for Digital Journalists blog on the web site of the Knight Digital Media Center. Here’s a quick roundup of what I’ve covered there since late February…

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US Census upgrades American FactFinder tool, new data coming soon | Knight Digital Media Center

For journalists and others who use Census data, the American FactFinder is a key research tool. It just got a pretty major upgrade — although the 2010 data isn’t included yet. Apparently that will happen “in the coming months.

I wrote more about this for the Knight Digital Media Center at USC site: US Census upgrades American FactFinder tool, new data coming soon | Knight Digital Media Center.

Poll: What’s your favorite journalistic style guide, really?

C’mon, journo types, be honest. Which of these resources is REALLY your go-to, most relevant and current style guide?

What’s that Hashtag? New glossary tools for Twitter

On Twitter, hashtags are a powerful, simple tool for tracking topics, communities, live events, or breaking news. They make you findable, and they allow on-the-fly collaboration. When you insert one of these short character-string tags beginning with #, you make it easy for Twitter users who don’t already follow you (plus anyone searching Twitter) to find your public contributions to the coverage or discussion on that topic.

The catch is that hashtags are often cryptic — usually because they work best when they’re as brief as possible. So you might stumble across an interesting-sounding tweet containing a hashtag like #wci, #plurk, or #tpb and wonder about its context. Although you can follow a hashtag easily with tools like Twitter Search, Hashtags.org, Tweetdeck, or Twitterfall (which Paul Bradshaw recommended yesterday in Tidbits), those tools don’t easily tell you what a given hashtag means.

Here some promising new tools that can help you quickly put a hashtag in context — or let people easily look up the meaning of the hashtags you launch or use… Continue reading

Breaking Out of the Echo Chamber

OpenDemocracy, via Flickr (CC license)
What might this Malian girl and I have in common, and what might we learn from each other? How could we know if we can’t really connect?

This morning I listened to an excellent Radio Open Source interview. Host Christopher Lydon was talking to Global Voices Online founder Ethan Zuckerman and GVO managing editor Solana Larsen. I’m a huge fan of GVO and read it regularly — mainly since I enjoy hearing from people in parts of the world I generally don’t hear much about (or from) otherwise.

One of the most interesting parts of the discussion concerned how homophily shapes our individual and collective view of the world. Homophily is a fancy word for the human equivalent of “birds of a feather flock together.” That is, our tendency to associate and bond with people we have stuff in common with — language, culture, race, class, work, interests, life circumstances, etc.

Zuckerman made a profound point: Homophily makes you stupid. Which is another way of saying something my dad told me a long, long time ago:

“You’ll never learn anything if you only talk to people who already think just like you.”

Here’s what Zuckerman actually told Lydon about how homophily makes it hard for people from around the world to relate constructively…
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Jack Vinson on the “me collector”

Jack Vinson
Knowledge management guru Jack Vinson had a lot of advice for scattered content creators like me.

In response to my post yesterday, I want one place for all my content, knowledge management guru and very cool guy Jack Vinson (who I finally got to meet at BlogHer) posted an elaborate list of almost-options that address various aspects of this puzzle.

See: The elusive me collector. Excerpt:

“The basics of the problem are pretty familiar: content I generate is scattered across many websites of varying degrees of openness. Blogs, wikis, forums, social networks, paid publications, mailing lists, photos, videos, podcasts, … But there isn’t a place where all of that stuff comes together. At the high level the needs are: automatic; item-level controls; permanence; tags; re-mixability.

“I don’t think anything I’ve run across, beyond your standard feed aggregator, has the ability to do something with the resulting aggregated content. Amy suggested that she would like to be able to categorize / tag the content, selectively share it, re-mix it, analyze it, feed it out to something else…. Essentially, ‘it’s my stuff, let me play with it.'”

Yeah. What he said.

Oh, yes, of course I checked — and I now own the domain mecollector.net. I’ll give it away to anyone who can prove they can put together a tool that does what I asked for. Go for it, geeks!