What ABCnews.com got really wrong about social media and Mumbai attacks

On Nov. 28, ABCnews.com published a story by Ki Mae Huessner called Social Media a Lifeline, Also a Threat? about the role of Twitter and other social media in the coverage of, and public discourse about, last week’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Huessner interviewed me for this story because I’ve been blogging about it on Contentious.com and on E-Media Tidbits. She chose to include a few highly edited and interpreted quotes from me that I think grossly misrepresent my own views and the character of our conversation.

Yeah, being a journalist, I know that no one is ever completely happy with their quotes. I’ve been misquoted plenty in the past, and normally I just roll with it. But this particular case is an especially teachable moment for my journalist colleagues in mainstream media about understanding and covering the role of social media in today’s media landscape.

Today’s a pretty busy day for me, but I didn’t want to let this go unsaid any longer. So I made a little Seesmic video response to this story. Here I am speaking strictly for myself — not on behalf of any of my clients or colleagues. Yes, I am very emphatic here and somewhat critical. Please understand that my frustration is borne of seeing this particular problem over and over again.

Tracking a Rumor: Indian Government, Twitter, and Common Sense

This morning, as I check in on the still-unfolding news about yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, I noticed a widely repeated rumor: allegedly, the Indian government asked Twitter users to stop tweeting info about the location and activities of police and military, out of concern that this could aid the terrorists.

For example, see Inquisitr.com: Indian Government trying to block Twitter as Terrorists may be reading it.

Rumors — even fairly innocuous ones — really bug me. Mainly because they’re so easy to prevent!

I’m trying to track this particular rumor down, but haven’t been able to confirm anything yet. At this point I’m skeptical of this claim. Here’s what I’ve found so far…

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Why CNN’s pseudo “hologram” was such a bad idea

The Dallas Morning News Tech Blog speculates on the next step in holographic election coverage...

The Dallas Morning News Tech Blog speculates on the next step in holographic election coverage...

Someone might want to tell CNN: TV is a two-dimensional medium. Holograms don’t work there — not even in high-definition. That’s even more true for holograms that aren’t really holograms.

On election night, CNN debuted a new type of eye candy into its coverage: three-dimensional video interviews with reporter Jessica Yellin and rapper Will.I.Am, both speaking from Chicago. As the TV camera moved around the studio, the angle of the projected image changed, creating the illusion of an in-studio 3D projection.

Here’s what it looked like (Note: CNN’s embedded video just went flaky, but that article on CNN contains a playable version.)

And here’s why this stunt was such a bad idea…

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Letters to the Editor Blog: Why didn’t you just say so?…

One of the things I’ve liked about Boulder’s Daily Camera is that on their site they run an unfiltered Letters to the Editor blog. Unlike the letters that get published in the print edition, every letter the Camera receives gets posted to this blog — where (unlike comments left on Camera articles) they can be found via the site’s search engine.

And look how easy they make contributing your letters! All you have to do is send an e-mail to openforum@dailycamera.com.

Well, almost… Continue reading

Boulder Police DID Have Options: Disorderly Conduct Citation

Yesterday, Boulder Daily Camera reporter Amy Bounds interviewed me about my experience at the 10th annual Halloween Naked Pumpkin Run, where 12 streakers were cited by police for indecent exposure. She used that information to expand her Camera story naming those cited — a list that included several local scientists and students. (I wrote about this yesterday.)

Bounds also added to her story a brief quote from Boulder police chief Mark Beckner:

“Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said indecent exposure was the charge that best fit the violation. ‘We don’t set the law,’ he said. ‘As police officers, we enforce it. We don’t get into the sentencing part of it.”

It doesn’t look like the Camera saw fit to push back against Beckner’s facile claim, which is unfortunate. Because the Boulder police did have another option here. They could have chosen to cite the streakers instead under Colorado statute 18-9-106. Disorderly conduct.
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Boulder Naked Pumpkin Runners = Sex Offenders? COME ON!

Scene of Boulder’s 2008 Naked Pumpkin Run busts, plus two nearby real (violent) crimes earlier that same day.

UPDATE NOV 4. The names of the 12 busted streakers have been published, so I’m following up on this case via local courts

On Halloween, as I wrote earlier, I went down to Boulder, CO’s Pearl St. pedestrian mall to check out the costumes — which are always spectacular — and to see the annual Naked Pumpkin Run. (Note: that link above goes to my blog post which includes a video containing nudity.) This loosely organized event has a lot of local fans.

The Naked Pumpkin Run is nothing more than that — sometime around 9-10 pm on Halloween, a bunch of people get naked, put jack-o-lanterns on their heads, and run en masse down the Pearl St. Mall. It’s not sexual, violent, dangerous, or threatening. It’s just silly. It’s unique. It’s fun. It’s exuberant. It’s positive and life-affirming.

And: It’s illegal.

Unlike in previous years, the Boulder police were out in force for this event, where they ticketed several runners for indecent exposure. Consequently, several fun-loving local folks may end up suffering life-altering public stigma as registered sex offenders.

No kidding.

The Colorado Daily posted this video of the event, including some footage of the busts:

Need some irony? All this happened less than 24 hours after two remarkably violent assaults, which occurred just a half-mile from the scene of the Naked Pumpkin Run busts.

Here are the details, as best as I’ve been able to gather them so far… Continue reading

iPhone Copy & Paste Tease…

The more I use my iPhone, the more I just want to cry or scream at the lack of copy & paste functionality.

Last night I was on my way to the home of a new acquaintance for a Labor Day BBQ. I’d put his address in my calendar entry for the party, but hadn’t yet made an address book contact for him. Once on the road, I wanted to bring up his location on Google Maps on my iPhone. (No, I wasn’t driving.) I found that, unlike in the contacts database, you cannot click on the address in the location field of an iCal entry to map the location. ARGH!

So I had to open the calendar entry, quickly memorize the address in the “location” field, switch to the Maps application, and enter the address before I forgot it.

Dumb. Yes, I want calendar entry locations to click over to maps. But even more generally, I want iPhone cut and paste!

Then the universe began to tease me, cruel fiend that she is…

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Transit sites: Go mobile, please!

If ANY web site should have a mobile-friendly layout that automatically loads when accessed by a mobile device, it’s public transit sites.

Seriously — people want to use transit sites on the go! That’s kind of the whole point of transit.

My local transit agency is RTD Denver. Go check out that site. It’s hard enough to navigate on a computer with a big display and a real keyboard. Just try it on your phone! Torture!

And if they offer a mobile version, they sure don’t make that obvious.

Got some especially good examples of mobile-friendly public transit sites? Give your examples in the comments.

Is this thing on?

For the last couple of days I’ve been struggling with WordPress. The old version I was on (2.3) for some mysterious reason started slamming my web server to the point it would bring the site down whenever I’d try to write or edit a post. (Tech support at my web host, Bluehost.com, was spectacularly UNhelpful in troubleshooting this problem, BTW. Tom Vilot and I figured it out independently. Bluehost support utterly wasted nearly two hours of my time yesterday in four separate calls….   Grrrrr……)

So now that Tom helped me get WP manually updated to 2.6 (Bluehost only offered automated update options to 2.5.1 — another grrrrrrr……) WP now seems ready to cooperate. (Well, except that my secure login stopped working.) I’m trying it out with this post. We’ll see what happens.

Moment of truth: Is this thing on? If you’re reading this, it worked.

UPDATE: OK, now that I know I can use the site again, here’s a gripe I have that maybe WordPress developers can do something about:

Why is the WordPress update process so F*CKING OBTUSE???

Here’s what I mean…
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3G iPhone Coming June 9 (Look Out, Nokia!)

Open Democracy, via Flickr (CC license)
Can Nokia move fast enough to keep competing with the iPhone in the US? Time’s running out!

I’ve been hearing the rumor, and Gizmodo claims it’s true: Apple is supposed to debut the next-generation iPhone on June 9, during the keynote address of its Worldwide Developers Conference. I would expect it to go on sale in the US pretty soon after that. (But of course, you never really know with Apple.)

Apparently this new iPhone will include 3G network compatibility. That’s really important for people who want a true multimedia content creation and distribution tool, not just a phone. It’s also likely to have real GPS — which is far more accurate and useful than the crappy fake GPS the current iPhone uses (based on cell phone tower triangulation). That’s important if you want to accurately geocode the content you create (photos, video, etc.).

BUT… the new iPhone is not likely to be the complete Max Headroom device that journalists and mobloggers really need. Because it’s not likely to get a much better camera (currently just 2.0 megapixels). And it’s not likely to support a Bluetooth keyboard. And it’s not likely to get a built-in video editor. So it’s still meant mainly for mobile content consumers, not creators.

In other words, the new iPhone still won’t be as good a product as Nokia’s N95 already is — at least not as far as journalists and mobloggers are concerned.

Nevertheless, I might soon end up settling for an iPhone — unless Nokia pulls its US service act together damn quick. (Specifically, before the new iPhone goes on sale in the US.)

Why? Because the new iPhone might be barely good enough for much of what I need a mobile device to do. More importantly, Apple has proven, through its service practices, that it stands behind its products and cares about customers’ experience after they buy. Apple understands and respects that users of high-end phones run their lives on those devices, and thus cannot tolerate being without them for more than a few days at a time.

Meanwhile Nokia’s dearth of US local service centers, requirement that customers ship damaged or dead phones to Nokia at their own expense, and warranty that allows Nokia up to 30 days to return a phone — plus its risky, clunky, PC-only firmware update process — convey the message that Nokia doesn’t really care much about its US customers. (At least, not after they fork over $500-$700 for an N-Series phone.)

And when it comes to must-have, multi-use mobile devices, service quality is at least as important as product quality. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that, for me, service is more important — since evidently I am willing to compromise (within reason) on the product I want in order to get the service I need. I doubt I’m the only journalist/moblogger willing to make that tradeoff.

That said, I know that Nokia has recently woken up to the fact that its US customers are so very displeased with their service, and they are starting to try to make amends. Here’s where that’s at so far…
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