Archive for January, 2009

Its All Connected, Beware

January 29, 2009

So, it seems like there are signs all over the place that I should really think long and hard about this–and who know perhaps you should too.  I will give in and spend some time (here) and elsewhere thinking about the downside to being so connected-its all out there.

Back in the early days of the web (1995-1996) when I was still working in local television, I remember producing a series of stories on the emerging threat of identity theft through on line scams, and just poor on line security.  Unfortunately, when I Googled for those, they are not available, and to be honest looking back 10+ years, its common sense stuff.

But it was eye opening for me, and there are a lot of take-aways from that reporting that I use this day, and I read a lot about it.

Fast forward to the last couple of weeks-first a very dear friend had her world’s collide, and some of what she said on the internet in her personal life helped fuel that. The details are not important, but the lesson is-and its something I learned from a very unlikely source, an octogenarian news manager: Don’t put it out there if you don’t want it on the front page of the New York Times.

Last night, I got that rude lesson. Granted, in last night’s case (again the details are not germane to the lesson) it was deeper than the poor electronic data management I applied, but that is a contributing factor to today’s (personal life) mess.

So, as I was sipping coffee this morning and flipping through today’s NY Times ruminating on these events, there was a great write through right on subject in the paper: Learning How Not To Share .  And the reality is does it all have to be out there?

Although that line can be a little blurry, and there are people who can not see that line at all, and others (like me) who straddle it-there is a difference between what is done and said on line and what reality is.  And perhaps, those real differences are becoming less and less, and I update my little Twitterverse each morning about the gym, the world and waking my kids.  Perhaps that is my lesson to take away….

But there is also a catharsis to it.  Take the case of my friend, she posted a blog last night (its invite only so I won’t piss everyone off with the link) expressing her feelings.  Over the summer while my wife was doing a pretty heavy dose of chemo I used Twitter to send messages to the presidential contenders about the state of the nation’s health-care system (at least how I was experiencing it).

Do I think they read them? No. But you can Google them, and when Obama and health care are Googled, somewhere in that return are my ramblings.

And there is the cusp of the moment in history we are on.

We have these powerful tools to add to the national debate, update our friends and family–but we are also accountable for what we put out there, and have to know that even in the world of cyber there are real world repercussions.


Some Social Commentary

January 27, 2009

Warning-I am going to break format here and offer some social commentary-but not about social media.

Yes, there is no Twitter, FB, MS or Plurk in this post.

Instead, I want to talk about the $4 bagel, supply and demand, and price gouging.

In a not uncommon occurrence, I missed my train this morning, giving me about 40 extra minutes at the train station. Tired, hungry and bored, I set out for some breakfast. There is a DD at the station-but I hate DD.

So, since I had time to kill, I headed over to the bagel place. And for the first time in my life as a New Yorker, I experienced a $4 bagel (granted with coffee).

Now, I understand fully the concept of paying for convenience and simplicity. But as I was thinking about this, and eating an incredibly mediocre bagel–even that argument broke down.

Bagel and coffee from the guy at the top of stairs when I get off the subway $2.25.  That is convenient.

Bagel and coffee from the place I go when there are two or more on line at the coffee cart (I have a problem with lines) $3.25.

Bagel and coffee at the POS LIRR train station–1/4 mile from the station platform $4.00.

There is something terribly wrong with this math–as George Bush would say, its fuzzy math, bordering on voodoo economics.

And now back to your regularly scheduled blogging–don’t worry, I’ll Twitter this to make it seem on point.

Am I Connecting? Or Re-Channeling

January 26, 2009

A conversation I had last night keeps reverberating with me-and has had me thinking a lot this morning (was helpful on the treadmill to think about something other than my sore calf muscles).

Sometimes I joke, and sometimes I am serious that I can have a very anti-social streak in me.  Given the choice I would rather sit at home, watch sports and just shut out the world.  Yet, I am pretty active in social media circles, I work for one of the largest media companies in the world, I process 100’s of emails/day-seven days a week.  I am always communicating.

Last night, for the third or fourth time, I took the option to self-scan items at the Stop and Shop.  A)nd I don’t mean in the checkout lane without a cashier. I mean, getting a portable scanning gun when I walk into the store and a handful of bags, and then scanning the items off the shelf as I bag them.

A friend (the person I was talking to last night) and I have dubbed this “anti-social shopping.” And it is.  It keeps me from looking at anyone, chatting with anyone or even interacting with anyone.

Flash that against my Twitter stream-pretty aggressive in two way conversation.  Flash that against my commuting habbits, where generally I can chat away with anyone on the train on the way to or from work.  There is  a disconnect I think.

So, now I am thinking that there is a limit to the amount someone can communicate in a day or week–and rather than expanding my communications channels-I am re-channeling that effort.

Mind you, I am pretty sure the conversations on Twitter, Plurk, Social Median, Digg etc are far better than the idle chitter/chatter I would encounter at Stop and Shop–but I am just not sure how it all fits in.

No changes planned-but perhaps I should find a way to study the communication paths I choose-and figure out which are more effective.; which are more fulfilling and which are simply to pass the time of day.

The Social Media Tool Box

January 25, 2009

So, I’ve been thinking some about the tools I use to interact with my social media sites and accounts–particularily the ones that don’t require me to be on the site.

For instance, I am a Tweet Deck person on line, Twitterberry on my BlackBerry, Twitteriffic on my iPhone–but almost never on Twitter. (Add to that,, and some others tied to Twitter).

I am huge on Ping ( While this does not fit the criteria of sites that allow me to leverage them remotely-it does talk to so many sites it is a stand out.

Which brings me to my problems with Social Median, Digg and some of he higher consumption sites.

Social Median comes pretty close–with liberal RSS available. But the RSS kind of adds to the click experience–it doesn’t minimize the clicks, but it does get the content  onto my sites.  Next for me is trying to figure out how to thread that RSS into this site.  Digg would be better served to add some variations of its RSS–its a great tool, but too broad.

So, it worked

January 21, 2009

Wanted to share a blog I posted to  Overall, I think the use of CBS Eye Mobile in inagural coverage was a success–baby steps.  Not sure what is next, but I think we can build on these successes.

Fighting to Be Heard

January 20, 2009

Certainly it was not unexpected.  Put millions into a confined area-like the Mall in Washington, DC and it will stress the mobile bandwidth that we have all become reliant upon.  While the network certainly did bend, I don’t think it broke.

While I was not out on the plaza, I am making that assessment based on watching Twitter, CBS Eye Mobile, Facebook and other sites-where users were posting their updates from the crowd on the mall.

But there were still some great moments captured and shared:

Like John Legend hanging with the Obama family.

The reliance we have on this mobile backbone though has never been more apparent. A good friend was in the crowd, and was trying to send an MMS of his view of history (which was from about a mile away and shaky).  It didn’t arrive to me and others on his personal distribution list until well after 1pm (ET).

His carrier (I don’t know which one) queued up the message and then sent it out.

Here in NYC, there was evidence of this stress too.  As we sent out news alerts to our customers, the experience as a content provider was interesting.  The devices and carriers that are usually the first to get the alerts got them late.  The carriers who tend to queue up the alerts had them flow right through.  In talking to our MMS aggregator, the issues all came after the gateway, which is where the message reaches the carrier.

In an interesting Tweet from the Mall, here is what @dceiver had to say about his experience trying to update via his BlackBerry:

To review cell providers: Verizon, T-Mobile, great. Cingular, failed miserably. Guess what network my BlackBerry is on

But that did not stop the content from coming in-this is the age of the citizen journalist after all.

So keep those videos coming, wherever your share them, this is our collective digital archive after all.

Nice write through on technology during the Bush years

January 19, 2009

From Decalan @ CNet

Measuring Expectation, and Result

January 17, 2009

So, I am happy to say the network I work for is jumping into social media full force for the inauguration of Barack Obama-now with most of the planning and and creating done, we have to be patient, sit back and see what happens.

One of the biggest challenges we’ll all face (from the broadcast side out to the online side and into the mobile side) is the expectation game.  In some cases, I really don’t know what the expectation is-other than just do it.  And, in reality, I think its the right approach-be out there and do it and see what happens.

Still, there are challenges.  Some we can manage (like moderation, putting high end devices in the hands of people we trust etc), and some we can’t like the availability of connectivity.

We have our social media site all set and ready to go, and we are tied in with all the usual susects (Twitter, You Tube, Flickr etc).

Follow the progress @cbsmobilenews, @theearlyshow, @cbsnews or contribute. Upload your pics and vids by email

As Millions Press for a Slice of Bandwidth

January 16, 2009

Millions will descend on the nation’s capitol over the long weekend, and stick around for the historic swearing in of Barack Obama.  And while millions press for a glimpse to history-tens of millions will log onto news sites, picture sharing sites, social media sites and anything else to vicariously take part in this moment of American history.

Citizen journalists (and pros for that matter) will have a unique set of challenges on the Mall in Washington as history plays out.

In this ueber connected world, the masses packed onto the mall will be carrying with them a variety of devices-smart phones, iPhones, Flip cameras, laptops, air-cards and more.  Each will vie for a little slice of bandwidth so its owner can connect with others—and connect to the world.

These challenges make me think back to an evening in July of 1996 when TWA Flight 800 exploded off the south shore of Long Island, NY. At the time I was a local news producer in NYC and was among the first to make their way out to the Moriches Coast Guard base.  Granted, it was a different time so I was able to park on the base, armed with a camera, Nextel two way radio and a pretty good line of BS (and an NYPD Press Credential) I made my way onto a boat heading out to the scene.

As the specter of what occurred that night became clear, and hundreds of members of the media made their way out to the scene-those simple analog messages on the Nextel network were getting more and more garbled, and the connections fewer and far between.

I can remember even carrying a text pager-where I could not respond, but I could get a text message from managers or the assignment desk.  It looked something like this:

This was state of the art technology 10 years ago

This was state of the art technology 10 years ago


This little walk down memory lane harkens to the inauguration this way—as the media (at one point police estimated there were more than 2000 members of the media on scene) descended all of the carriers came out and added additional temporary cell towers to support the media, and emergency communications.

This is the backbone of our mobile society and communications.  Its not a glamorous part of the process-but critical.  When you pick up your cell phone, iPhone, BlackBerry-you expect it to work. To make it work you need access to the network, WiFi or WiMax.  The carriers and others have been hard at work for months adding capacity to the networks in Washington to support the crush—but there are limitations.

So that great picture or amazing video you are trying to upload to CBS Eye Mobile, TwitPic, Flickr, You Tube etc may take a little longer—or just not make the trip.

Along with the history that will unfold as Obama takes the oath of office-expect there to be a historic use of bandwidth that will go slightly less heralded, but will be critical to our memories of this moment.

An interesting take on the future of News-iPhone

January 12, 2009

Marianne Paskowski from TV Week has an interesting take on how iPhone and other high-end devices may actually save local news.

There is a reason I am working so hard to get apps out.

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