Browsing articles from "October, 2011"

Tumblr aware of its spam problem

Oct 31, 2011   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  1 Comment

by David Silverberg

The blogging platform acknowledged it’s facing a barrage of spam posts and fake accounts, but it has to publicly explain what it plans to do about the spammers.

Addressing a specific concern from a journalist, Tumblr discussed a recent increase in spam blogs and is “doing everything we can to quickly suspend these blogs and to keep more of them from being created.”

The problem lies with fake accounts created to “like other people’s Tumblr posts,” as TechCrunch reports. “It’s not all that different from the problem where spammers infiltrate blog commenting systems to link to their sites, or the now nearly discarded system of using Trackbacks to indicate when someone else has linked to your post from theirs.”

Tumblr has yet to publicize the problem on its official blog, but word leaked of its customer service department dealing with complaints about the spam. The associate producer of NPR’s Fresh Air, Melody Kramer, runs a blog for the popular program hosted on the Tumblr platform, and she had to deal with a deluge of spam posts, and was compelled to contact Tumblr. A customer service rep replied, “We’re aware of a recent increase in blogs with odd URLs that are following large numbers of users…The fact that one or more of these blogs has Followed you, Reblogged your content, or Liked your content will not compromise the security of your Tumblr account or the security of your computer in any way.”

Tumblr claims it hosts 30 million blogs and 40 million posts per day but now with news about rampant spamming, it’s unclear how many of those posts were created by fake accounts.

52% of kids under 8 using iPods, iPads and mobile devices

Oct 27, 2011   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  1 Comment

by Chris Hogg

Need a babysitter? There’s an app for that. A study published this week says a huge percentage of children under eight are consuming media on iPods, iPads and other devices at growing rates.

A study published by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group that studies children’s use of technology, says digital media has become a regular part of a child’s life and mobile devices are the toy of choice.

More than half (52%) of all children under the age of eight have access to mobile devices at home including smartphones, iPads, iPods and other tablets. And the rate at which kids are adopting technology is also perhaps surprising: 40 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds are using everything from TV to mobile devices and apps.

According to the study, 11 percent of all kids up to 8-years-old regularly use a cellphone, iPod, iPad or similar device and spend an average of 43 minutes doing so. Parents seem to be supporting the digital babysitters, as more than a quarter (29%) of all parents have downloaded mobile apps for their kids to use.

“Much of the focus in recent years has been on the explosion of media use among teenagers, whereas our study examines media use among young children during crucial developmental years,” said James Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, in a media release.

“Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed their position that children under age 2 should not engage in any screen time, yet the data shows infants and toddlers are growing up surrounded by screens. This use data is an important first step toward understanding how the prevalence of media and technology affects the development of our youngest kids.”

Among the key findings of the study:
• 42 percent of children under eight years of age have a TV in their bedrooms (30 percent of 0- to 1-year-olds, 44 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds, and 47 percent of 5- to 8-year-olds).
• Half (52%) of all 0- to 8-year-olds have access to a new mobile device such as a smartphone, video iPod, or iPad/tablet.
• More than a third (38%) of children this age have used one of these devices, including 10% of 0- to 1-year-olds, 39% of 2- to 4-year-olds, and more than half (52%) of 5- to 8-year-olds.
• In a typical day, one in 10 (11%) 0- to 8-year-olds uses a smartphone, video iPod, iPad, or similar device to play games, watch videos, or use other apps.

Those who do such activities spend an average of 43 minutes a day doing so.

While new technologies are starting to get the attention of both parents and tots, the study says TV continues to be the dominant medium and kids 8-years-old and under consume an average of 1:40 of TV or DVDs in a typical day.

Children also spend 29 minutes daily reading or being read to; 29 minutes each day listening to music; 17 minutes per day using a computer; 14 minutes daily using a video came console; and five minutes using a cellphone, iPod, iPad or similar device.

According to the study, infants between 0-1 years of age spend double the amount of time watching TV and DVDs than reading. Some children are also multitasking, as nearly one quarter (23%) of 5- to 8-year-olds use more than one device at a time.

“These results make it clear that media plays a large and growing role in children’s lives, even the youngest of children,” said Vicky Rideout, a senior adviser to Common Sense Media and director of more than 30 previous studies on children, media and health. “As we grapple with issues such as the achievement gap and childhood obesity, educators, policymakers, parents, and public health leaders need access to comprehensive and credible research data to inform their efforts.”

The study, “Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America,” is based on a survey of 1,384 parents of children up to 8 years old, and was conducted May 27-June 15, 2011.

The full study can be downloaded free here (opens in PDF).

This article originally appeared on Digital Journal [Link]

Photo courtesy of aperturismo

Paywalls — How to evaluate a New York Times subscription

Oct 25, 2011   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  No Comments

by Paul Wallis (Guest Contributor/Digital Journalist)

Some will have noticed I’m not exactly a great admirer of mainstream media. It took me ages to decide to subscribe to The New York Times, and the reasons weren’t what I expected.

It was a popup that started it. I had 2 articles left for the month. Did I want to subscribe, and if so, why? The only thing that ever bothered me about New York Times subscriptions was that they might pull the plug on the NYT the way they have on other papers. That would have been a loss, because NYT is one of the few good sources of news online without that weird editorial Kama Sutra approach to information. I’ve been reading the NYT for well over a decade, made a few comments and it’s one of my few compulsive mainstream media stops when looking for information on any subject.

Even so, I baulked at a subscription. The NYT gives you 20 free articles a month. That’s pretty good value, and it’s been enough for my needs as a writer and a consumer. That said- Some other issues popped up. Paul Krugman alone writes roughly that many articles per month. So do David Brooks and Frank Rich. These are guys who know how to put together an argument, and if I don’t always agree with them, I can at least respect their talent and ability to make their points. That can’t be said for many other mainstream media outlets.

I read at least three news sites a day. I read Bloomberg, The New York Times, BBC, ABC Australia, PBS and sometimes Washington Post, in the search for non-rabid news. I’ve got Reuters and AP bookmarked, and Google News on tap.

So, the evaluation works out like this:

1. The New York Times contains a lot more depth in major articles and op-eds and degrees of literacy which are notably missing from other sites.

2. I’ve had more than enough of politically motivated troll-news, and if the NYT has a Democrat flavour, it’s not based on clichés and macro-posts like other sites.

3. Do I use NYT research commercially? Yes. It pays for itself, and the site is pretty good in terms of searching for specific information.

4. The raw material approach from NYT is stronger and much broader

5. Do I need to see opinions from Krugman, Brooks, Rich, et al? Yes. They provide perspective, whether I agree or not.

6. Does the information value justify $1.10 a day? Yep.

7. Do I prefer to subscribe to things like this using PayPal rather than a credit card? Yes. I don’t use credit cards online unless it’s absolutely 200% essential.

8. Am I the sort of cheapskate that figures things out this way? Yep.

9. Is there a cancelation/refund policy? Yep.

Having read the NYT for well over 10 years and found a 99c offer for the first month (as distinct from $35, I signed up. Rupert Murdoch was right – Quality sells.

I still don’t agree with paywalls. I think that advertising revenue from fixed prices and marketing news site products (imagine a Best of The New York Times historical package 2000-2010, let alone the rest of its history) is a better and more realistic commercial option. I’m still worried that lousy business models will obliterate good news media. I still don’t like, or trust, MSM as a whole. But I’ll go along with this.

This article originally appeared in Digital Journal [Link]

MTV to air reality TV show on Occupy Wall Street protests

Oct 24, 2011   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  No Comments

by David Silverberg

MTV plans to broadcast a reality TV episode on youth taking part in the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York. ”True Life: I’m Occupying Wall Street” will premiere on Saturday, November 5, at 6 p.m. ET.

An MTV release describes the show: “The special episode will take you to the front lines as MTV cameras follow three young people who get swept up in the political movement that has quickly grown into a global phenomenon.”

The release also cited a recent MTV-sponsored study finding that 93 percent of young adults “feel that the current economic situation is having a personal effect on them; and  72 percent don’t trust the government to take care of their well-being.”

It is unclear if MTV affiliates in other countries, such as Canada, will air the True Life episode on the same night as the American network.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Bogie Harmond

Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live (Part 2)

Oct 19, 2011   //   by admin   //   Blog  //  No Comments

The following is the second of two excerpts from Public Parts by Jeff Jarvis. Public Parts defends greater society’s move to public displays of personal information in an age of the Internet, social media and blogging.

We are publishing two excerpts from the book, and today you’ll learn about the “myth of perfection” and how trying to attain perfection hampers government and our own lifestyle. Should we be more public with our shortcomings?

From Public Parts by Jeff Jarvis. Copyright (c) 2011 by Jeff Jarvis. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster.

Thanks to the practical realities of our industrial economy—the efficiencies of mass production, distribution, marketing, and media—we are saddled with a myth of perfection in modern society. A one-size-fits-all “perfect” product that takes a long time to design and produce is sold to a large market. Its manufacturer cannot have it perceived otherwise. There are no second chances on the assembly line. The distribution chain invests in large quantities of the product and cannot afford for it to be flawed. Mass marketing is spent to convince customers that the product is ideal. So perfection becomes our standard, or at least our presumption: our shared myth.

But perfection is a delusion at best, a lie at worst. It is unattainable. The claim of perfection supports priesthoods with closed orthodoxies who define standards for all in fashion, publishing, education, and entertainment. Perfection inflates expectations and inevitably disappoints (every car eventually breaks). Perfection discourages risk and innovation, openness and invention. Perfection is expensive, and the quest for perfection leads only to failure. After all, nothing and no one is perfect.

By operating in public, warts and all, we no longer hold ourselves to the ideal of perfection. By rejecting perfection as a promise, we are free to make what we do ever better. We are never done, never satisfied, always seeking ways to improve by working in public. “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien,” said Voltaire: The best is the enemy of the good. The best is also the enemy of the better. Striving for perfection complicates and delays creation. in technology, we call this insidious process “feature creep”— adding one more gewgaw to get one step closer to the ideal before release. The cure is the public beta: Just put it out there to see what it needs.

The tyranny of perfection permeates the rest of society and our lives. In our schools, we teach students there is one and only one right answer to every question. Then we add the questions together in tests and teach to those tests, expecting students to spit back what we feed them. We call that achievement. We should instead be encouraging experimentation, rewarding challenges to our accepted wisdom, and designing schools around learning through failure.

The expectation of perfection hampers government. A few years ago, I spoke about Googley government with five hundred federal webmasters in Washington, D.C. Those geeky civil servants are among our best hopes for innovation in government. But they and their bureaucrat bosses live in dread of mistakes. They know that one misstep can bring the disapproval of their bigger bosses—politicians—and of media and constituents. Public servants need a license to fail so they can try things in public, imperfect and incomplete, and collaborate with us all. The webmasters cheered at the suggestion. But I found few who were optimistic enough to believe that day will come. We still inhabit a culture that wants heads on platters when mistakes are made, especially in politics. Search Google for “politician resigns,” and you’ll find a parade of ignominy.

Now search Google for “CEO apologizes,” and you’ll find a pile of crow bones on the plate with toyota, BP, Citigroup, Chrysler, and even NPR at the table. When Michael Dell returned to Dell and Howard Schultz came back to Starbucks to fix their respective companies, each was open about their problems. Dell had quality, customer service, and reputational issues, which I recounted (and, to some extent, caused) in my blog and last book. He instituted the means to listen to customers’ complaints and ideas and act on them. Starbucks, Schultz believed, had watered down its experience. He went so far as to close stores while baristas were retaught how to make a cup of coffee.

Groupon CEO andrew Mason at first defended controversial 2011 Super Bowl commercials that seemed to make fun of suffering Tibetans and dying whales until it became clear that the public didn’t appreciate the jokes. He apologized: “We’ve listened to your feedback, and since we don’t see the point in continuing to anger people, we’re pulling the ads.” Those CEOs trusted their customers. They learned that responsiveness beats defensiveness. Confession is as good for the PR strategy as it is for the soul. “We believe that disclosure of oneself to others is a moral good in itself,” Richard Sennett says in The Fall of Public Man.

Our myth of perfection, I suspect, also affects our personal lives: our romances and marriages and our relationships as parents and children. How many wives are caught trying to fix their husbands’ failings—and failing? When should we push our children to succeed, and when are we holding them up to some false and unattainable standard?

Granted, the problem with my attack on perfection is that it could lead to lower standards, to settling too soon, to the scourge of being just good enough. but I believe publicness and pride will save us from that mediocre fate. Even if imperfect, no one wants to seem shoddy in public.

Read the first excerpt of Public Parts about the value of allowing companies such as Google to mine our public data