Bob Stepno's Other Journalism Weblog
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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Aggregating: Using Layout to Indicate Who Wrote What

Today I'm still exploring news aggregators and enjoying the irony of having little time to read the actual news stories. I'm storing the summaries to read later, so here's an experiment. I'll give each of my aggregated "to read" items its own entry in this weblog so they can be bookmarked at a "permalink" indicated by a # sign, and I'll add a comment of my own in green.

The indented sections are the text and links as delivered to my aggregator by Really Simple Syndication (RSS). Meanwhile, see the Christian Science Monitor's site for an excellent "About" page concerning news-site RSS feeds and aggregators, as well as the RSS links for its news sections and resident webloggers, including Tom Regan, whose advice on online scams is just in time for April Fool's Day (more on that topic below).

Now, back to the aggregated news...

For several years I've been telling people that Pablo Boczkowski, now a professor at MIT, had written a doctoral dissertation that I'd be happy to put my name on. That's because his was a lot like my own dissertation proposal, minus the distractions that kept my project in a stack of "in progress..." files for years.

Even though my own is finally done, delivered, and official ("Ph.D., class of 2003"), I still like Pablo's dissertation, and friends finally can see what I mean, now that it's a "real book" they can buy from MIT Press, Digitizing the News.

Never having met, and about 1,000 miles apart, Pablo and I each had the idea of investigating innovation in the early "online news" newsrooms by doing case studies at three online news sites, and adding some historical perspective on digital news delivery. We both started our fieldwork in 1997. Pablo chose three newspapers in the U.S. for his case studies, after being inspired by online news back home in Argentina. I did my work in North Carolina.

At that point I had been working my way through grad school with a part-time job as an online news editor at in Raleigh for a couple of years. For the dissertation, I planned to compare online news projects at a television station and two newspapers, but I refocused the project after visiting, also in Raleigh. I jumped at an adviser's suggestion that I just focus on the television station, which he thought would save me time and money.

It did save me money, but it also turned into a longer project. After I backed up to do a more TV-background research, I found my first interviews being overtaken by staff changes and redesigns at the WRAL site. The redesign process provided the lemons I turned into eventual lemonade to finish the dissertation. Perhaps someday it will be part of a book you can shelve alongside Pablo's! I think they'd work really well together.

Yesterday he introduced his Digitizing the News to a small but enthusiastic audience at MIT. I was there; so was J.K. Baumgart, Harvard news-librarian-blogger, who even took notes and already has them online! So here they are, fresh from the aggregator...

Lecture: Digitizing the News: Innovation in Online Newspapers. I attended the lecture Pablo Boczkowski gave at MIT about his dissertation: Digitizing the News: Innovation in Online Newspapers. It's based on observations he made at three news organizations between 1997 and 1999. Read my notes. [j's scratchpad]

5:20:15 PM    

Of course no one reading this weblog is going to fall for any of the usual Internet hoaxes, even if they do come around again for April 1st. But if anyone does, I'll be able to point them here to let them know they're not alone.

Net Hoaxes Snare Fools All Year. Infinite power supplies, 87-pound house cats and dehydrated water do not exist. Yet people continue to be fooled by online hoaxes. It's that time of year again, so watch out. By Joanna Glasner. [Wired News]

4:29:45 PM    

Third-degree aggregation: This is an NITLE item about a Times item about a Pew study. It reminds me to go back and look at the MIT Media Lab's work with an online newspaper for older users, originally under the heading "Silver Surfers." (If I do get back to this later, I'll add a link or two here.)

More American seniors are using the internet than ever before, according to a new Pew Internet & American Life Project study . "Older Americans and the Internet" finds gender parity among online seniors, enthusiasm mixed with caution . The Web offers some resources for assisting older citizens in learning about cyberspace.

(via New York Times: Circuits )

4:26:35 PM    

Obits in the aggregator? I do want to read these when I have time... each someone whose work I've admired.

John Sack, 74, Correspondent Who Reported From Battlefields, Dies. John Sack was a pioneer of New Journalism who was best known for his reporting from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. By Christopher Lehmann-haupt. [New York Times: Arts]

Emily Morison Beck, 88, Who Edited Bartlett's Quotations, Dies. Emily Morison Beck was the self-described literary archaeologist who edited three editions of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. By Douglas Martin. [New York Times: Arts]

Alistair Cooke, Elegant Interpreter of America, Dies at 95. Alistair Cooke was the urbane and erudite British-born journalist who was a peerless observer of the American scene for almost 70 years. By Frank J. Prial. [New York Times: Arts]

4:23:10 PM    

There's no Boston outlet as far as I know, and my first attempt to tune this new radio voice online ran into trouble with the Real Audio player... I'll try again later.

Liberal Voices (Some Sharp) Get New Home on Radio Dial. Air America, which makes its debut on Wednesday with Al Franken at the microphone, intends to challenge the hegemony of conservatives on commercial talk radio. By Jacques Steinberg. [New York Times: Arts]

4:18:35 PM    

Hmm. I wonder if anyone read this and started thinking outside the box about bringing high-tech to the Delta?

Massachusetts Tops Tech Index, Mississippi Last (Reuters). Reuters - Massachusetts remains the state best positioned to take advantage of a high-technology economy, while Mississippi lags the rest of the nation, according to a new study released on Wednesday. [Yahoo! News - Most Emailed]

4:16:17 PM    

This book intrigues me, because I've often wondered whether Sam Clemens thought about the Mississippi while strolling down the hill from his Hartford, Conn., home and along the banks of the small, meandering Hog River , now reduced to a concrete flood-control channel. (I lived a few blocks away in the 1970s.)

Huck Finn's Birthplace, Along the Mighty Chemung. It was in Elmira, N.Y., from his sister-in-law's hilltop farm overlooking the Chemung Valley, that Mark Twain imagined Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. By Michelle York. [New York Times: Books]

4:14:00 PM    

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