Speaking of cognitive dissonance: How LeBron James Broke the Golden Rule of Sports

Following on my earlier post, Why facts will never be enough to make people believe, a friend showed my this amazingly witty and incisive video rant by Jay Smooth, founder of the New York hip-hop radio show, WBAI’s Underground Railroad.

It’s on a similar theme, with a twist: The collective, self-reinforcing cognitive dissonance and fervent but meaningless arguments that keeps sports fandom and the pro sports industry rolling — and why the people involved in pro sports probably shouldn’t draw attention to that fact. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, and all that.

I think you might be able to search-and-replace the sports references here with references to politics, religion, smartphone platforms, or news/media brands, and it would still work.

Brilliant.


via YouTube – How LeBron James Broke the Golden Rule of Sports.

Hat tip: George Kelly

Mobile phone security: What are the risks?

On CNN.com Tech today, I wrote a basic overview of the most common current security risks mobile users face, and some basic things you can do to protect yourself:

Mobile phone security: What are the risks?

First on the list was malware — and on that front, Android definitely presents the biggest risk, because it’s such an open platform.

So, anticipating the trolls: Even though I own an Android phone and love it, and have said so several times in my CNN posts, I’m sure I’ll get lots of comments from Android fanboys complaining that I must be on Apple’s payroll.

For the record, no, I get nothing from Apple. In fact, I’m really kinda tired of iPhone fetishization, especially by tech media. I’m not anti-iPhone or anti-Apple (you’d have to pry my macbook from my cold dead fingers)

I used to own an iPhone and liked it well enough, but I AT&T really sucks in the Bay Area, so last summer I traded up to a Droid Incredible, which I generally like better. It’s got its hitches and weirdnesses, but it’s also a pretty cool device.

But being an Android owner has made me far more aware of mobile security. Ultimately, I think that’s a good thing.

So Android fanboys: Chill out. Go get some Doritos. And a reality check.

Neither am I on the payroll of Norton or Lookout, two companies whose products I mentioned as examples of the kinds of tools smartphone users can employ for mobile security. Norton did invite me to their mobile security event in SF. Yeah, I’m a journalist. I go to conferences. I meet with companies to learn what they’re doing. Shocking, I know.

My CNN post also covers premium SMS fraud, phishing, and spyware — and the spyware thing is especially creepy…

Why facts will never be enough to make people believe; and why journalists should learn to roll with that

Right now I’m reading Seth Mnookin’s Panic Virus — a book about the bad science, bad science media coverage, and quirks of human psychology that fostered the anti-vaccine movement (by parents concerned that vaccines cause autism, despite the wealth of peer-reviewed science to the contrary).

I’m reading it because I’m fascinated and concerned why people (sometimes in large numbers) tend to cling to beliefs/positions fiercely long after they’ve been factually debunked/disproven, whether by science or by journalistic, legal, or other systematic investigation. (WMD, anyone?)

This kind of anti-fact, anti-science backlash tends to really confuse and frustrate journalists and scientists.

It sucks when you work really hard to do the fairest, most systematic investigation of a topic that deeply affects many people’s lives — but the very people who are suffering most from the topic of your research refuse to believe what you have to say, or accuse you of being part of some conspiracy to hoodwink them. And meanwhile, your less skilled or less ethical colleagues are producing their own research and reports designed to foster fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

That generates considerable friction, controversy, and conflict. And worse, it delays the discovery and implementation of real solutions.

Why does this happen — and what can journalists and scientists do about it?…

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Mobile in low-income communities: My March 2011 talk at USC Annenberg

Earlier this year I spoke at several events during Mobile News Week at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This is the video from that event — a Director’s Forum session for USC Annenberg faculty and students.

First, my colleague Jason Da Ponte gives an excellent overview of the current and evolving mobile landscape, and the role of journalism in an increasingly mobile media environment.

My part starts around 21 minutes in. Afterward, Jason & I answered questions.

Mea culpa: I can’t be an off-duty journalist

Is a journalist ever off-duty? I tend to think not — and yesterday I feel like I neglected my duty. It’s bugging me.

It was Memorial Day, I decided to go for a long bike ride to see the beach at Alameda. I needed the exercise, and the weather was perfect. I was enjoying myself greatly — but as I was biking back along Crown Beach in Alameda, I saw police, firefighters, and onlookers gathered. I asked what was happening, and they told me that a man was stranded offshore. A firefighter pointed out into the water, and I could see a head bobbing above the waves, about 150 feet out.

“It’s shallow out there, he’s standing,” said the firefighter. And indeed, the man didn’t seem to be struggling. But he wasn’t waving or shouting for help, either.

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What to do when your home wifi stops working and your broadband provider can’t fix it

People tend to take their home wifi for granted, like their electricity supply: it’s just supposed to be on. But unlike your power, if your wifi stops working, too often it’s up to YOU to diagnose and fix it.

I work at home and depend on broadband internet to make my living. This week I lost about two full working days because my broadband went out. My internet service provider (ISP), Comcast, was unable to get it working or even steer me in a useful direction, despite keeping me on the phone for hours and running lots of tests of the connection between their equipment and my equipment.

Were I not lucky enough to know a programmer with lots of networking experience who could spend time helping me investigate other possible points of failure, I’d be out of luck for home wifi right now — which would severely hinder my business and life.

Here’s what happened with my home wifi, and how I fixed it. Also here’s why ISPs need to do a much better job of helping residential customers diagnose possible network problems that lie beyond the narrow scope of the wires and modems they sell…

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YouTube founders buy Delicious, but I’ve moved on

For a long time I was a devoted fan of the social bookmarking service Delicious. It was my backup brain, and I used it to feed content to this blog when I didn’t have time to write. But after Yahoo bought it a couple of years ago, they just let it wither on the vine. It was sad.

So I was happy to see this news today:

YouTube Founders Buy Delicious; First Step To Taking On Google?

…Of course, I’ve moved on. Diigo is now my new backup brain. I’ll keep an eye on how Delicious evolves, but it would take a hell of an upgrade to tempt me to switch back.

Social Media for News Sites: J-Lab learning module, live chat

Recently I helped co-author a new learning module from the Knight Citizen News Network: Likes & Tweets: Leveraging Social Media for News Sites. It’s a pretty detailed resource, intended primarily for online local news startups — but the lessons there could be applied by local news orgs in legacy media, as well as anyone trying to connect with a community online.

I only played a small role in this project — the vast majority of the work was done by Susan Mernit and Kwan Booth – my Oakland Local cofounders and partners in the House of Local media consulting group.

Yesterday, Susan, Kwan & I participated in a one-hour live chat hosted by J-Lab about this learning module. You can replay the complete transcript. We got really great interaction on this. J-Lab told us that this live chat attracted far more readers and participants than its other live chats. It was fun, and I’m glad it was a success!