Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Catching up

Been out of town for a few days and away from Internet (riddle: Why does a lower-end Courtyard Marriott give free high-speed access while the higher-end one where I was giving the seminar charge big bucks per day?), and so am catching up.

Three quick things:

1) From the OOPS department: Powerline catches the New York Times with its pants down. Check out this post. Apparently the NYT had this line in its Pope obit "need some quote from supporter" when it ended up posted on the Times' Web site. The article already had a detractor, leading the conspiracy theorists to theorize, of course.

2) While I was gone, Morris Communications launched Bluffton Today, the replacement for the Carolina Morning News, which was the Savanna News' publication competing with McClatchy's Island Packet for the lucrative Hilton Head Island market. Steve Yelvington, Morris' man of all things digital, has this post explaining what's up. Among other things:

BlufftonToday.com is a grand experiment in citizen journalism, a complete inversion of the typical "online newspaper" model, an Internet-powered interactive community center.

Here's a short list of what we're doing:

  • Everyone gets a blog. Not just staffers, but everyone in the community. LeMonde (France) and the Mail and Guardian (South Africa) are doing this, too. I don't know of others but would appreciate pointers.
  • Everyone gets a photo gallery.
  • Everyone can contribute events to a shared public community calendar.
  • Everyone can contribute recipes to a community cookbook.
  • RSS feeds are everywhere -- all the blogs collectively, all the blogs individually, classified ad search results and so forth.
  • For people with Windows XP, we're giving away BT Reader, a branded, customized RSS application that fully supports podcasting. It comes preloaded with RSS feeds from BlufftonToday.com and SavannahNow.com.
A print product will be produced off of and keyed to the Web site. This will be an interesting experiment similar to California's Northwest Voice (though more blog oriented, it seems) and an interesting strategy. By picking the Bluffton Today name, Morris is branding toward the off-island area, which has been faster-growing than the more mature Hilton Head. And while Hilton Head is generally higher end, it is less likely to have the cadre of permanent, committed residents needed to make a venture like this work.

So far, no indication of what will be done if these bloggers suddently want a piece of the action for their contributions, however. That's still a big opening in a lot of these ventures.

3) In his latest Numbers Guy column, Carl Bialik takes apart all those business-sponsored surveys we like to run. Unfortunately, it's probably like trying to stick a thumb in the dike -- we'll keep using such dreck anyhow.

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