Tag Archives: PandoDaily

My Story at PandoDaily: “The Internet’s Own Boy”

The Internet's Own Boy

At PandoDaily I reviewed the new documentary “The Internet’s Own Boy.” It’s a new documentary about Aaron Swartz, the 26-year old activist and hacker who hanged himself last year just before he was to stand trial for downloading millions of academic articles.

The government’s case against Swartz involved the download of millions of articles from an academic database called JSTOR. In September 2010, Swartz began using a newly purchased laptop, a Python script, and MIT’s open network—which granted its users free access to JSTOR—to grab the articles. Once MIT and JSTOR administrators realized what was happening, the University installed a hidden camera in the unlocked wiring closet where Swartz had stationed his computer. Days later, Swartz was caught on the surveillance camera swapping a new hard drive. He was then swarmed by police, arrested, and eventually indicted on 13 felony counts.

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The Biggest Threat to Email: Mobile Chat

Hamish McKenzie writes at PandoDaily:

Given its young demographics, its location-responsive functionality, its ability to exploit the power of its host devices, various revenue options, and its personal quality, mobile chat makes email look staid and inflexible. Those factors won’t be enough to kill email. Indeed, as a delivery mechanism for in-depth written interactions, it’s hard to imagine what could beat email. But when it comes to online communications, mobile chat’s advantages are perhaps significant enough to one day thrust email into second place.

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Google To Feature Longform Journalism In Search

Google's In-depth News Search

Inside Search

Google will now begin to feature in-depth reporting and longform writing in their search queries.

Where the default Google search on any given topic brings up recently written news, the company will now cater to users who are looking for more thoughtful coverage on a subject. As Hamish McKenzie of PandoDaily explains, Google has enabled a kind of Twitter-style news consumption. This is where the most prominent stories Google offers are always the stories that were written up moments earlier, or stories that were extremely popular within the current news cycle.

The advantage of this style is that it provides readers with the news of the day, the word of the moment without much fuss. The downside, though, is that other kinds of journalism, the kinds that take longer to produce, or that don’t link strongly to the events that are happening THAT DAY are crowded out. This mode favors rapid-fire news over thoughtful essays, press release blog posts over careful criticism.

For example: If you searched “Boston Bomber” Google will give you a bunch of crappy, recently written articles about the Rolling Stones cover or the alleged revelations that he was into right-wing-conspiracy theories. While these links have merit, it would also be extremely useful for Google to give us some definitive accounts of the whole Boston bombing episode–not just the insignificant trickling of brand new news stories.

This novel, in-depth highlight will help readers more fully understand.

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Slow Media

Hamish McKenzie has a thoughtful piece at PandoDaily on the latent demand for “slow media.” By this he means digital books, long form reporting, and careful analysis, as opposed to the unceasing onslaught of crappy blog posts and zillions of shoddy articles that sites churn out to keep their “content” “fresh.”

Rather than lament the decline of literary culture, McKenzie frames the issue in terms of media economics. It’s not that people dislike reading top caliber, longer writing, it’s that no business model yet exists to fund such publishing endeavors. McKenzie discusses start ups that are attempting to create such a business model and explains how an assortment of existing strategies–affiliate links, sponsored content, pay walls, special events and memberships–are grasping for long term success.

Slow Media, on the other hand, has opportunities beyond display ads. It favors deep engagement rather than brief contact with ad meat. It trades on relationships with the audience rather than fleeting touches. It builds affinity rather than habits. So far, we have seen media owners struggle to monetize those differences, and so many instead rely on the mechanics of the now to generate mass as quickly as possible, even as the ad units upon which such an approach is predicated produce diminishing returns. In these early decades of the Internet, the economic disincentives for longform reporting or analysis have been too great. What may emerge, however, are new ways to unlock the power behind that deep engagement and loyalty.

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Native ads and content marketing are here to stay

At PandoDaily Shane Snow discusses the rise of native advertisement and the explosion in content marketing.

Over the past two years, we’ve seen a similar trend happening in a well-known and well-tested marketing channel, now dressed up in new clothes and offering new opportunities. Folks call it native advertising or content marketing. The advertising trade press can’t get enough of it. All the old-school SEO companies are desperately trying to cash in on the wave, and virtually every media company with a digital presence is exploring (or actively running) sponsored content programs. Shoot, Marissa Mayer just paid a billion dollars for a company in which native ads are the main revenue opportunity.

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US Immigration And Technology

Cale Weissman writes at PandoDaily:

“In the long term (and ideally) we would, as a nation, confront our dismal education system, which doesn’t graduate nearly enough computer-literate people. In the short term, our best bet is to do what we do best: Import what we need and get rid of policies that only serve to undermine our economic well being.”

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Tumblr’s Failed Journalism Experiment

Hamish McKenzie of PandoDaily explain’s why Tumblr’s in-house journalism project, “Storyboard” was nixed.

Even though it had success with its partnerships program at placing stories into other forums, Storyboard’s stories always had the whiff of marketing, or what is these days being described as “native advertising.”

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Do Men Read?

Bryan Goldberg, entrepreneur, founder of Bleacher Report and contributor to PandoDaily, explains why his next business venture will be a news/content site just for women.

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We Don’t Need News Summaries, We Need Better Analysis: Yahoo, Summly And The Folly of Semantic Analysis

With Yahoo’s recent acquisition of the startup Summly, an app that summarizes news articles for iPhone consumption, Hamish McKenzie of PandoDaily raises a good point: is it news summaries we want, or succinct analysis?

McKenzie’s thoughtful piece riffed off a razor keen blog post by Cornell professor Emin Gün Sirer who argued that not only was Yahoo’s purchase preposterously stupid, but that the technology behind Summly represents a culture of mindless news consumption. Gun Sirer explains:

Our time is valuable, and we definitely need tools that help. And because digital information sources have become repetitive echo chambers, I would welcome tools that can extract the latent signals. “This article is really a fluff piece paid for by tobacco interests.” “This picture of attractive happy people of different races mixed together in the same proportion as society at large, sipping lattes at Starbucks, is probably an image ad by Starbucks.” “Yahoo makes outrageous purchase to get people to talk about its dying brand, and perhaps to indicate that it has cash to waste…

Instead of providing insight or the guiding light of expertise or data, Summly relies on technology that merely extracts basic facts using natural language text (this can be accomplished by cutting out the first sentence of news articles and copying the 2nd paragraph, where the who/what/where/when/why can be found, according to Gun Sirer).

And the natural language technology that Summly deploys isn’t even all that impressive. As Gun Sirer writes, “if Yahoo were to look at the work of anyone who is active in [natural language]…it’d immediately discover that this is a deep field full of exciting developments at its core. Gluing [a natural language] engine up to news surely adds some value, but pales in comparison to what cutting edge [natural language] algorithms can accomplish.”

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