Adapt or your business model will die!

I’ve long been frustrated with how stuck-in-the-mud much of the news industry and many journalists regarding their own business models or career path. Seems to me, the key skill to survive and thrive in chaotic, disruptive times is adaptability.

Here’s a great example of adaptability: How the much reviled flavor-of-the-month web startup Chatroulette has found a way to make money off its inevitable tide of exhibitionists:

Fast Company: Chatroulette Founder Andrey Ternovskiy Raises New Funding: “50,000 Naked Men”

“Chatroulette can’t fully wean itself off nudity yet. “You’ll still see some naked men, about one every hour,” Ternovskiy says. Of the roughly 500,000 visitors Chatroulette receives daily, about 10% are males itching to show their business. So Ternovskiy parlays that business into profit.

“Everyday, about 50,000 new men are trying to get naked,” he says. “What we’re doing is selling the naked men to a couple of websites–it’s an investment for us.”

When users flag someone enough times for indecent behavior (by clicking a button), the offender is automatically transferred to a partner site. Thanks to deals with adult dating services like FriendFinder.com, Chatroulette is earning cash hand over fist from the referral traffic.

“Basically, once we detect a person is naked, he’ll be kicked from our service to another website,” Ternovskiy says. “So, we’re actually getting revenue from naked men right now.”

 

Input needed: HOW could a news site be a truth vigilante?

I’ve been following, with interest, the recent flap sparked by this Jan. 12 column by New York Times public editor (ombudsman), Arthur Brisbane: Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?

Brisbane asked NYT readers: “I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.”

This led to consternation from many Times readers, who believed this kind of revelation is part of the basic job of any news organization. GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram offered a good roundup of the flap, and at The Guardian Clay Shirky wrote an eloquent deeper exploration of the mindset disconnect between the Times and its readers.

Many people are debating the ethical implications of this issue. However, I’m wondering about the practicalities and possible opportunities.

If the NYT (or any news organization) does decide to point out when sources offer inaccurate “facts,” HOW might they accomplish that? Might there be good options, especially online, that could serve this purpose in addition to inserting relevant text into stories?… Continue reading

The power of parody: Fotoshop by Adobé

There are few things I love more than a brilliant parody. This spoof commercial, by commercial director Jesse Rosten, shows exactly why plastering media with unachievable ideals of feminine beauty hurt women. Which sounds like a really heavy point to make. But this is fun. That’s the art of really making a point.

Fotoshop by Adobé from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

Doing my part to undermine Rick Santorum. You can too!

When you Google for "Santorum," this is the top search result. (Click to enlarge - but only if you're not too squeamish.) You can help keep this brilliant effort working.

It’s time to use my power for good.

Yesterday NPR reported on how the batshit crazy social conservative former US senator Rick Santorum is pulling ahead in Republican polls for the presidential race.

Santorum has always annoyed and amused me. But with this, he’s officially scaring me.

Today, Marketplace Tech Report reminded me about Rick Santorum’s Google problem — so I decided to take action.

So here I am linking to SpreadingSantorum.com, a Google bombing page that writer Dan Savage set up in 2003.

Furthermore I encourage everyone else to do likewise.  Especially if you’ve had your own web site or blog under its own domain name for several years. But even if your only online presence is via a third-party service like Facebook, WordPress.com, or Tumblr (where you don’t have your own domain), I still encourage you to post a link to SpreadingSantorum.com.

Talk about a long-term investment in search visibility that is REALLY paying off! Here’s how it works…

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Cheer from Christmas Past, by Terry Gilliam

Thought you were going to escape the holidays unscathed? Think again! I’m actually in the holiday mood this year, and I’m not afraid to inflict it on others…. Muahaha…

This is an early animation by Terry Gilliam, from Christmas 1968. Laughing Squid posted it to Tumblr this morning.

Every since my brother introduced me to Monty Python when I was about eight, I’ve been enamored with highly visual absurdist humor. And I especially adore Terry Gilliam’s ability to upend our assumptions of space, time, place, scale, and intention.

This was also why I loved the original Pink Panther cartoons, Ren & Stimpy, and Ralph Bakshi’s Mighty Mouse. And, of course, my all-time favorite film, Brazil (by Terry Gilliam, of course).

We live in an unpredictable world, where meaning shifts drastically as context changes. We’re forever falling into a new picture frame, and parts of other pictures intrude rudely upon ours. Laughter is the best way to stay afloat amidst chaos. And there is always, always chaos.

And with that, happy holidays, all!

 

Facebook, Yahoo: just let me follow the damn link

I’ve noticed on Facebook that if someone shares a link using Yahoo’s Facebook app, I can’t just follow the link. They seem to expect me to install that app just to follow the link!

Case in point: Here’s a screenshot of a link that one of my Facebook friends shared, which I tried to click on:

Click to enlarge.

When I tried to click that link, here’s what I got:

Click to enlarge

No, I don’t want to install that stupid app. But this request gave me no option to just follow the link — neither in this window, or when I hit “cancel.”

#sharing #fail

Occupy Wall Street is not “Birth of Venus”

Probably like most people, I’ve been hearing about the Occupy movement through media, both news coverage and social media. I won’t pretend to understand it, I haven’t been following closely. But it has bugged me how I keep hearing that the movement lacks clarity and focus.

Yesterday I listened to an excellent Radio Open Source podcast episode. Christopher Lydon interviewed Mark Blyth, a political economist at Brown University, about what he’s been learning about the Occupy movement by talking to protestors in Boston — and putting it into a global economic, social, and historic context that I found sobering.

So give it a listen:

Mark Blyth (6): Going to school on “Occupy Wall St.”

One point Blyth made that particularly struck me — and that I especially wish every journalist would take to heart — is this: The labor movement didn’t come out of nowhere. It didn’t spring into being fully formed with collective bargaining and arbitration procedures. It coalesced gradually, in fits and starts, from a society struggling with the “volatility constraint” that comes with rampant inequality.

Birth is messy. Infants aren’t born talking in complete sentences. So don’t look at the Occupy movement expecting this:

Boticelli's "Birth of Venus"

After listening to all the context Blyth offered, I suspect we’re watching the earliest phases of a different kind of labor movement: the labor pangs that precedes the birth of something that might eventually walk and talk. Something that probably won’t go by the name “Occupy.”

I only hope the world can collectively raise this baby right.

I can haz Android root! And it was easy!

This morning I finally rooted my Droid Incredible! One-handed, even! (Dislocated finger hidden by massive splint.)

This morning, before I even had my tea, I finally jumped off a cliff I’d been avoiding: I rooted my Android phone (Droid Incredible).

I’ve had this phone for a year. Generally I like it, but the things I don’t like about it mostly seemed to be fixable if I rooted my phone.

Rooting means undoing the controls that the carrier and manufacturer place on how my phone operates…

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