Forbes, Webfeeds, and Ignorance

A couple of days ago I posted an item on the Poynter Institute’s E Media Tidbits blog concerning some weirdness over webfeeds witnessed recently at Forbes Magazine. See: Forbes and Webfeeds: Now They Get It, Now They Don’t. Check it out – it’s a clear example of how some people in the media (allegedly a fast-moving, forward-looking industry) can be stunningly resistant to the very idea of change.

Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention in that Tidbits item: Forbes also recently began offering its own collection of webfeeds.

Special E-Learning Grab Bag

Greetings from St. Petersburg, FL – where they haven’t forgotten the true meaning of humidity (drip drip drip drip…) I’m down here for a few days to work on an e-learning project at the Poynter Institute. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few e-learning-related items that have caught my attention lately.

TOP OF THE LIST: RSS, Knowledge Management, and Me: Reflections, Aug. 4: Kathleen Bennett explains how she’s experimenting with using webfeeds to enhance the NLII Learning Objects Virtual Community of Practice.

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OK, Your Turn to Talk!

Thanks to the efforts of my husband/sysadmin Tom Vilot, CONTENTIOUS has just moved to a new server and is using new blogging software: WordPress. This change has finally made it possible to turn comments back on for this blog.

So if you’ve been dying to post a comment for a CONTENTIOUS article, now’s your chance! Please bear in mind: To protect against comment spam (the reason why I had to turn off comments when I was using Movable Type), comments for this weblog are moderated. This means that when you post a comment, you won’t see it appear online right away – you’ll have to wait for me to approve it. Thanks in advance for your understanding and patience.

I won’t censor comments in any way – I will approve any legitimate comment. I just want to be able to prevent comment spammers from appropriating my weblog and annoying my readers. Most days I will be able to approve comments very quickly.

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Ripples in the Blogosphere

Earlier this year, blogger Nova Spivack undertook a very cool, original, and potentially useful project: his blog meme propagation experiment. Basically, this effort sought to create a dataset that would show how ideas and themes of discussion (“memes”) can spread among weblogs.

Specifically, the experiment allowed each instance of the meme (relevant blog posting) to be tracked by time and location. It also tracked how each instance of the meme was vectored (from whom it was discovered).

That experiment is now closed, after cycling through four variations. (So don’t bother trying to participate by adding links at this point.) However, I’m eagerly awaiting more posts from Spivack regarding the results.

I’d heard about this experiment during the spring, but it didn’t really ignite my interest until I read Spivack’s July 8 posting, A Physics of Ideas: Measuring The Physical Properties of Memes. Here are a few excerpts I’d like to share…
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FirstGov Features “Secrecy News”

Kudos to one of my favorite online publications, Secrecy News, for earning an interesting place in the US federal government’s web portal, FirstGov.

Unlike the preponderance of FirstGov resources, Secrecy News is not a US government publication. It’s published by the Federation of American Scientists, and it covers new developments in secrecy, security, and intelligence policies.

So why, when you search FirstGov for the term “secrecy,” do Secrecy News articles appear in the results?…
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Feedless Hall of Shame: Most of the Fortune 100

Here’s an update for my Feedless Hall of Shame – this blog’s personal pit of ignominy for those organizations or online venues which really, really should offer at least some kind of minimal webfeed-based information services. In fact, they have no good excuse not to be doing so already!

I figured that the best business rationale for offering webfeeds – at the very least for press releases and investor information – would be major companies. I mean, these organizations live and breathe in tune with the gyrations of the fast-moving stock market and media. What better way to reach out to investors and the press than to offer webfeeds for those online audiences? Serve them up-to-the-minute information in a highly organized format, friendly to updating and syndication. Bingo!

With that in mind, I used Feedster’s Feedfinder tool to scan for webfeeds on the internet domains of the Fortune 100 (the 100 largest US companies, based on 2003 revenue, ranked by Fortune Magazine).

The results, in a word, were dismal. Currently only four Fortune 100 companies offer any sort of publicly-accessible webfeed under their primary domain – and only one (IBM) is making serious use of this valuable new communication channel.

As Homer Simpson would say: D’oh!

So which Fortune 100 companies are using webfeeds, which aren’t, and how could they all leverage this medium?…
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This Week’s Grab Bag

Once again, here’s a smattering of interesting items which have caught my attention lately.

TOP OF THE LIST: The ASTD E-Learning Handbook, edited by Allison Rossett. My Dad just got me this book for my birthday. (See, my wish list came in handy!) It’s fabulous, I’ve been devouring it in spare moments. I’ve read several books on e-learning, mostly how-to and theory. This book offers unique appeal because it’s actually a compilation of articles where e-learning practitioners discuss, largely in plain language, the practicalities, possibilities, and pitfalls of this field. It’s fascinating reading – right up there with my other favorite title in this genre, Michael Allen’s Guide to E-Learning. Thanks, Dad!

Read the rest of this week’s list…
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The Info-Provocateur

OK, this cracks me up… This morning, Travis Christopher called me a “provocateur” in his blog E-Learning from the Trenches. This is just too cool.

For a while now I’ve been struggling with how to define myself when people ask me what I do. I do so many things, it’s such a complicated answer. I’ve been tempted to apply the in-vogue label “change agent,” but frankly that just feels too bland for my taste.

Amy Gahran, Info-Provocateur. I like it. Maybe I’ll put that on my next set of business cards. Thanks, Travis!

My E-mail Alerts are More Popular than My Webfeed (Survey Results, Part 7)

(NOTE: This is part 7 of a series exploring the results of the 2004 CONTENTIOUS Reader Survey, which was completed by 157 respondents as of Aug. 18, 2004. See the complete index for more survey results. Additional results will be published in future entries.)

Question 7 of the 2004 CONTENTIOUS Reader Survey was:
Do you receive the CONTENTIOUS webfeed or e-mail alerts? If so, which one?

Here’s how the 157 respondents to this question answered:

  1. 44%: E-mail alerts
  2. 28.7%: Webfeed
  3. 17.8%: Neither
  4. 9.5%: Both

Here’s what those numbers mean…
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