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Aretha Franklin sues satire site over viral fake news story
April 17, 2014 | 4:09 am

aretha-21If you spend much time on social media, you’ve seen those stories show up in your friend feed—a satirical piece that someone assumed was true. Sometimes it’s easy to catch, if it comes from a known satire site like The Onion or Duffelblog (though Duffelblog may not be as familiar to people who don’t have a lot of ex-military social media friends). But if it’s an unfamiliar site, the stories can sometimes seem believable enough that you believe them yourself for a bit. (It’s especially common around April Fools Day, but thanks to sites like this, it’s now...

Tinder Foundation report details minute costs, massive benefits of bridging Britain’s digital divide
March 20, 2014 | 10:32 am

tinder foundationThe UK's Tinder Foundation, "a not-for-profit social enterprise that makes good things happen with digital technology, established in December 2011," recently released a report, "A Leading Digital Nation by 2020: Calculating the cost of delivering online skills for all," that looked at "the investment needed to get everyone in the UK using the internet regularly with Basic Online Skills." And it turns out that the outlay required to upskill the UK's "11 million people still left without the basics needed to use the web in the 21st century" is comparatively minimal: £875 million ($1.45 billion) to be exact. And, as the...

Konrath, Rice and the anonymous reviewer
March 14, 2014 | 4:38 pm

Troll mode 'on' pink The inimitable Joe Konrath has weighed in on the petition the also inimitable Anne Rice has engaged in, asking Amazon to end the practice of permitting anonymous reviews. Rice aims to stop on-line bullying. Konrath rightfully points out that there are innocent, non-bullying reasons one might want to remain anonymous, such as writing a review of adult content without your child seeing it, or writing a review on a political topic without making yourself a target and so on. These are all arguments I have seen before, and they are arguments I agree with. My 'real name' has a very identifiable...

The Debate Over Paying for News
September 30, 2013 | 3:11 pm

Matthew Ingram has a great write-up on the question of paying for news. Will people do it? Do paywalls actually generate revenue for traditional newspapers? The sobering answer is, not really---unless you are the New York Times. From the article: "Take Gannett, for example. The newspaper chain is the largest newspaper publisher in the U.S. as measured by circulation, with more than 81 daily papers, and it has been betting heavily on paywalls to drive additional revenue at its various properties. So after two years or so of trying to push its paywall strategy, how many of Gannett’s newspaper readers have been convinced...

Internet Basics 101: Back Up Your Stuff, Back Up Your Stuff, Back Up Your Stuff!
September 26, 2013 | 3:01 pm

From my friends at GigaOM comes this write-up about the perils of relying on the 'Cloud' for keeping your stuff: author Geoffrey Goetz writes about some music he had which disappeared from his Apple iCloud account when Apple stopped carrying the songs in question. It seems their cloud matching program only works for items they presently list in their catalogue, or that you've uploaded yourself. If Goetz had downloaded his purchases and then re-uploaded them manually, he could have kept them. I feel for Goetz and his difficulties, but really this should be Internet 101 at this point. Thou shalt back...

Op-Ed: Too Much Tech To Keep Up
September 1, 2013 | 1:42 pm

techI had an amusing phone chat with a client earlier this week. He called to tell me he was losing his YouTube virginity. (Really? Doesn’t he know that sort of thing tends to go viral?) Ahem. Anyway, the video in question wouldn’t upload from his phone, and he couldn’t figure out how to get it on his computer to upload from there. I walked him through hooking his phone to his computer via USB cable, and when I finished my explanation, he said, “Dang! That was so simple. Please don’t tell anyone I had to call you.” Why? Because he used to...

Eyeball-licking trend in Japan debunked by sharp-eyed reporter
August 31, 2013 | 9:38 pm

JapanWhen the Guardian posted a "news article" earlier this year headlined "Eyeball-licking: the fetish that is making Japanese teenagers sick," all hell broke loose. That's because the "story" was a hoax, and the Guardian, along with a number of news-gathering outlets, did not do the proper fact-checking that such stories warrant. But thanks to the Tokyo-based American journalist Mark Schreiber—he's been writing, reporting and translating in Japan since 1965—the fake story has been debunked, and the Guardian has since apologized and taken the article down. Case closed? Not really, because this kind of thing happens a lot in the digital age, where fact-checkers...

‘Find It Fast’ research tome from print era seeks rebirth in Internet age
August 30, 2013 | 7:45 pm

Find It FastChalk this story up to a chance encounter at a yard sale overseas in Taiwan. Meet Robert Berkman, a man with over 25 years experience as an editor, author and professor in the media and information industries. You might know him as the author of a curious little paperback from long, long ago titled "Find It Fast: How to Uncover Expert Information on Any Subject," first published in 1987. The subtitle of the print edition sounds quaint now. But with a new subtitle in the works, Berkman's info tome is now being prepared for an updated sixth edition to be released next...

On Negative Reviews and Bad Online Behavior
August 29, 2013 | 1:45 pm

cyber-bullyingI've read a couple of articles this week on author bullying, fan culture and negative reviews, and I've taken a few days to let the ideas simmer before writing this essay. As an author, I'm sensitive to the subject. But I'm also a reader, and that allows me to see both sides of the issue. No, I don't approve of author bullying—or any kind of bullying, for that matter—and I've seen too much about the bullying culture on GoodReads to be happy about what appears to be going on there. It will be interesting to see what, if any, changes take place...

Disconnecting Completely For the First Time In Years
August 26, 2013 | 3:33 pm

Everyone loves to write about disconnecting while on vacation, and about whether it's a good idea or a bad one. (Uh, yes, I do put myself in the category of loving to write about it.) Anyway, my husband and I just got back from a week-long camping trip where we disconnected completely. I'd like to say it was for some profound moral or spiritual reason, but it was actually because we were camping in a park that had no cell signal and no Wi-Fi. Can you believe it? In 2013? And we didn't leave the country. Heck, we didn't even leave...

The Anonymous Comment Debate, and Why HuffPo’s Proposed Solution Won’t Work
August 22, 2013 | 12:46 pm

anonymousOne of the most controversial stories in today's Morning Roundup was the news that Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington wants to end anonymous commenting on her site. She explains that the troll problem is getting more aggressive and that people should "stand up for what they say and not 'hide' behind anonymity." But is it the anonymity that's the problem? Or is the people, who wrongly give themselves permission to behave differently? And is this belief dissipating now that the Internet becomes more commonplace? I think that, among "regular" people, it might be. My mother used to differentiate between "real" friends and "Internet people" when...

Cord cutting snips the reality-TV noose
August 10, 2013 | 9:00 am

reality-tvFrom Techdirt comes yet another bulletin about the phenomenon of cord cutters—this rising demographic is, well, continuing to rise. From the article: The pool of potential customers has risen with no correlative rise in subscribers. That's an indication that more households are foregoing cable television entirely...that had better represent a huge concern for the industry. Television providers have done a horrible job of making their content available in the way customers want it, when the customers want it, and they result has been a declining subscriber base. Personally, I humbly submit that the availability...