Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Days of the Wiki

Playing with wikis is fun. I have spent some time editing two wikis over the past week.

One of them is Wiki Wiki Sandbox. I am responsible for the "Slayer" drawing I did in a notebook a year and a half ago in Ireland. This is a really interesting concept for beginners (or newbs) to learn how to operate on a wiki. I really like the name 'sandbox' as this is all just an older, technological sandbox.

I used the experience on that wiki to edit Wikitravel to include my local neighborhood restaurant from back home. I edited the Silver Spring page to include the Stained Glass Pub.

This experience taught me a lot about wikis and how they operate. This process strikes me as a great way to get the whole story on a subject. Using the changes I made to Wikitravel as an example, I know what the best places to eat at are in Silver Spring, where as a travel book would probably advise people to eat in Rockville or Bethesda.

Maybe somebody out there will find my changes helpful.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Best Wiki Ever

A wiki, according to Wikipedia (conflict of interest??), is "a type of website that allows anyone visiting the site to add, remove, or otherwise edit all content, very quickly and easily, sometimes without the need for registration."

Eventhough the first wiki, WikiWikiWeb, was online back in 1995, this is a relatively new wave of technology that is revolutionizing the way in which the world views the internet.

Some may argue that since anyone can edit a wiki, then it is not a reliable source for information. A recent article, Wikipedia/Britannica: A Toss Up, highlights the argument that Wikipedia is just as accurate as Britannica. However, since wiki's store all the changes over time, they can easily be reverted back to their original content. Vandalism is rarely a serious problem.

Interestingly, 'wiki' is also an acronym for 'What I Know Is'. Pretty cool.

Jeff Gralnick

Jeff Gralnick has been a broadcast veteran at CBS, ABC, and NBC over the years. After graduating from NYU, he began his career at CBS in 1959. Gralnick has worked as a field reporter, Vice President and executive producer of Special Events and World News Tonight, and Executive Producer of the NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.

His biggest accomplishment in web journalism has been overseeing the development and launch of This ethos makes me believe he will have a lot to say when discussing web journalism with our class.

In an article he wrote back in 2001, Gralnick says,

What won't win this game is a "plain vanilla" web site like the ones you see far too many times in far too many markets as you prowl the Net. You know the ones. Minimal graphics. Local weather but not well done. No local traffic. Minimal content beyond headlines. Brand building limited to schedules and those mandatory "meet Glen and Glenda" anchor profiles.
Remarkably, this quote holds up to the test of time. Just because a company or organization has a website, doesn't mean they are web savy. They still need to put effort into the site and post relevent content.

Two questions I would ask Mr. Gralnick are, 1.) Have websites improved at an appropriate rate since he made the quote, or is that statement still relevent? and 2.) What ideas he brought to the development on that have shown up on other sites.

Hopefully, Gralnick can expand on this idea in class today.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Stovall 2, Part 2

Ch. 10 - Design on the Web

Big to to average to small! This is really important to remember from Chapter 10 of James Stovall's book. Bigger might not always mean better, but it does always mean more important. Good to know.

There are three elements of design, type, illustration, and white space. It is essential to have the same type of font (repetition) throughout a web site. Consistency shows that the web site is professional and that the creators have also put some thought into serif or san-serif fonts.

It is also necessary to have illustrations to liven up the text. This is similar to blogging, where pictures are as important as words. For journalism, however, I think it is necessary to have a first hand picture of the event. For blogging it might be OK to do a google search, but for journalism one should have a picture of the event itself.

White space is also key because the eye needs "breathing room" to make out what it going on. This should be built into the design of the website. When writing an article, white space is achieved from headings and spacing and all that good stuff.

Ch. 12 - Media Law Online

It's not libel if it's true. Words to live write by.

I'm glad that Stovall including this section in his book because after Professor Gil-Eguii's presentation I am a little worried about what is and is not legal.

One of the interesting parts of this section is the legal issues of putting music online. I once thought about uploading a song or two on yousendit or another uploading site to share with readers. Is it illegal if the band is not signed to any record label? I'm sure they would actually appreciate the publicity! Unfortunately, Stovall doesn't go too in depth with this notion.

"Deep linking" is a hyperlink that sends a user to any page other than a site's home page. The reason this is relevant is because a bunch of major companies are worried about advertising revenue. Trust me, if Ticketmaster is involved in a court case, chances are the other side is right.

This chapter goes to show that the future of the internet will be much more guided by laws than it currently is, which could be good or it could be bad.

Ch. 14 - Practice and Promise

When Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450's, it created a revolution that is still felt today. Likewise, when the internet was created in the 1960's, it sparked a revolution. How long will the internet last? Who knows, but we do know that it is still in its infancy.

Stovall lists many interesting ideas in the final chapter. First, the best of the internet is still to come.

I have only been using the internet since I was in middle school. I had to learn the idea as it was still developing. Other generations will have the internet from the day they are born. They will have no sense of a life without instant messaging or downloads.

One part where I disagree with Stovall is when he writes that video does not work well on the internet. I watched streaming video of the men's NCAA Basketball Tournament on my computer and the picture was nearly flawless! This doesn't show a lack of knowledge on Stovall's part, but rather how far technology has come in the few years since his book was published.

Finally, Stovall writes:

The audience is no longer confined to a few choices. There still may be only a few outlets that offer local news, but if the user looks beyond that, the choice is greatly expanded.

The greatly expanded choices that the author lists include all of the blogs and
websites created in this class!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Stovall 2, Part 1

In Web Journalism, the author James Stovall has many insightful comments to help improve online writing, specifically journalism.

Ch. 5 - Every Word Counts

In chapter five, three key points caught my eye. Stovall writes,
[Media writers] must put themselves in the background and mold their writing style to fit the demands of the medium they are using.
This is important to remember, specifically for this class, since we have switched from writing blogs to journalism articles. My write up of Dr. Gudelunas' presentation is vastly different from what I wrote about Gisela Gil-Egui. Although they were both highly informative, I attacked each response in completely different styles.

Another key point of Stovall's is to use subheads to break up an article to make it easier to read. I applied this to this particular post to make it easier, since it is lengthy.

One aspect of this chapter where I disagree with Stovall is where he writes that blogs won't replace news sites. Although I agree that our current idea of blogging won't make news sites extinct, I firmly believe that news sites will adapt a style closer to blogging in the future. He's a little off base there.

Ch. 6 - Editing

I love Stovall's museum analogy to understand the idea of hypertextuality. This is a great way to explain the concept to someone who doesn't understand it. When someone walks into a museum, there is no set path to take. There is no beginning or end. Very cool.

Another interesting point he makes is to clean up quotes that have bad grammar. I'll often read sports articles where an athlete will use slang in a quote that would appear in an article. In the quote, random brackets would enclose a word that is not normally substituted. For example, in a recent article, an athlete says,
"It's a game we definitely had to have coming off the last two [losses]," said Brad Miller, who had 14 rebounds. "It keeps us right there with Los Angeles with our game there [Wednesday night]."
I have no idea why 'losses' or 'Wednesday night' are in brackets. I was never sure if this was OK as a journalistic technique, but now I know, and knowing is half the battle.

Also, I never knew that I could subscribe to a comics site,, for $9.99 a year. I'll have to check that out.

Podcasting Call

The future is here today!

At the RCADE workshop on Monday, March 21st, the topic of the day was podcasting.

I knew what a podcast was before attending the workshop, but I had no clue what RSS is. RSS stands for 'Real Simple Syndicate' and is available on many websites. For example, on, there will be a small orange icon that looks like a radio broadcast signal in the bottom right corner. (I use Mozilla Firefox, it may be in a different location depending on which browser you use.)

If you click on this button, it will take you to another page which you can subscribe to that has all the main news stories on it. This is exactly how podcasts work.

With the incredible popularity of Apple's iPod, just about every one has iTunes downloaded on their computer. What users probably don't know is how to download podcasts, or an audio or video clip downloaded on the internet by using RSS.

For example, if you open up iTunes on your computer and click on 'podcasts' on the left menu, it will take you to an online store where you can subscribe to countless podcasts of many different issues, ranging from NASA to sports to politics, for no cost.

This is unique because any one can submit a podcast to Apple and after a review, it could be put up on this site for anyone to download.

So on your next subway commute or jog, you can listen to Bill Maher, watch a Nickelodeon cartoon or catch up on the local sports topics.

Say goodbye to radio, podcasts are the future!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


According to James Stovall in his book, "Web Journalism," shovelware is a term used to describe "the practice of simply shifting the content produced by the organization for another medium [...] to the web site with little or no change."

I hate when sites use this technique because it disallows for interconnectivity, which Stovall and Biz Stone claim is the backbone of what the internet should be.

This technique is used at The Mirror, Fairfield University's student paper, to transmit newspaper stories to the internet. I feel that my He-Said columns could improve greatly by adding HTML or links. It would provide me with many more opportunities as a writter. This isn't unique to smaller news sites, as fails to fully capture all of the possibilities as well.

Someday soon this whole concept of interconnectivity will catch on, and I hope that I'll be at the forefront of the movement. any other name would smell as sweet.

Mainstream news sites are trouncing news-oriented blogs by a wide margin.


At their very core, blogs are counter-culture. Blogs are designed to give an opinion that the mainstream media will not bother to state. To shed light on an issue left in the dark by the MSM. In his article, "That Which We Call a Blog..." Dan Mitchell breaks no new ground and offers only one bit on insight. He states,

The report also shows that while blogs may present no real threat to top news organizations, niche publications are far more vulnerable. "This realm of publishing, which I call 'The Magic Middle' of the attention curve," Mr. Sifry writes, "highlights some of the most interesting and influential bloggers and publishers that are often writing about topics that are topical or niche. And what is so interesting to me is how exciting, informative and witty these blogs often are. I've noticed that often these blogs are more topical or focused on a niche area, like gardening, knitting, nanotech, MP3's or journalism."

This last quote saves this article from complete irrelevance. Words like interesting, influential, niche, exciting, and witty are all veryy good descriptions of a well-written blog.

Yes, blogs aren't as popular as Yes, the line between blogs and news sites is increasingly becoming blurred. However, neither of these things are necessarily bad.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Blogging is Good for You!

Since I'm planning on entering the workforce in a few months, I've been interested in the do's and dont's of keeping a blog while working for a company. I stumbled across this article, Ten Reasons Why Blogging is Good for Your Career, and it has some really good ideas.

Some of my favorite are...
  • Bloggers are better-informed than non-bloggers. Knowing more is a career advantage.
  • Networking is good for your career. Blogging is a good way to meet people.
  • If you’re in marketing, you’ll need to understand how its rules are changing as a result of the current whirlwind, which nobody does, but bloggers are at least somewhat less baffled.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Death Row, Pandas and Blogs

Radley Balko is trying to make a difference. He is actively trying to draw attention to the interesting case of Cory Maye (pictured right), who was arrested for shooting a cop during a drug raid at his house. Cory Maye is on death row, and Balko is trying to gain attention for what he feels is an injustice by blogging and recruiting bloggers to comment on the case. Will it work?

Couldn't hurt.

The blogosphere is comprised of hundreds and hundreds of political blogs, ranging from the far left to the far right. Aside from personal journals, politics is probably the most popular topic on the internet. Hopefully movements like this one will increase political activism and open some eyes.

One site that the article mentions is Battle Panda, which is an nice little blog that I can see myself frequenting.

One interesting aspect of this case is that there are very few items in Lexis Nexis about the case, but lots of blogs. This goes to show the ease of getting things posted to the web.

Leaving My Mark

In my Interpersonal Communication class, CO 200, I learned that the only way to make internet blogs a two-way form of communication is to leave comments for someone to read and react to. Therefor, the most natural place for me to leave a comment is on one of the three blogs that I have been following for the past two months.

On her blog, Eggs Akimbo, the writer Em was upset that no one responded to one of her blogs and that, overall, her comments had toned down. Leaving a little message will hopefully encourage her to keep on blogging because she is a veru witty writer.

Another comment I left was on a sports blog that doesn't seem to have the same blog posted. Goes to show you the importance of permalinks.

The last comment I left was on a classmates, James' Blog. I had spent a lot of time working on a blog that would counter his argument, but I thought it would be better to leave a comment on his.

Hopefully my comments will start picking up!