Things to read later


I’ll probably have something to say about these in my other weblog eventually.

Forbes on printing-press owners recent digital acquisitions.

Times exec interview at PaidContent

Digital Audio Book News


I haven’t used this blog in months, but I’m not at my usual computer (which runs Radio, my usual blogging engine), and want to save these links, and my Berkman Interloper credentials seem as valid as ever. Besides, at least one person at Harvard who subscribes to this feed may be interested:

I’ll have to stop at the library to get a PIN for my library card (or find out what I set it to when I signed up for the card). Unfortunately, there is some fine print at the end of the library’s downloadable book announcement:

Access to Downloadable Audiobooks is available outside Library facilities only. Library computers cannot be used for this purpose as we do not accommodate file storage on Library PCs or the transfer of digital audio files to personal digital media players.

NetLibrary Audiobooks are WMA files and are only compatible with Windows Media Player 9 and above. This service is not compatible with Apple products, including the iPod. NetLibrary is exploring options to provide this service for Apple products in the future.

So much for my iPod download-and-listen plan… or the idea of playing “bedtime reading” books on that old OS-9 Powerbook that I keep by the side of the bed. (I tried to use it with a book-on-CD copy of Tony Hillerman’s autobiography last week and discovered that either the library’s CDs and the Powerbook’s CD-ROM reader didn’t get along well.) I poked around and found more background about the technology NetLibrary is using, including WMA-compatible MP3 players. I’d actually been looking at a few of them for digital audio recording anyhow.

Is your news over-“balanced”?


Columbia Journalism Review’s “Blinded by Science” article from last summer
may come in handy in my news writing class discussion of fact-checking, multiple-sourcing and public relations.

Likewise New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent’s recent “It’s Good to Be Objective. It’s Even Better to Be Right,” which builds on his earlier “Analysts Say Experts are Hazardous to Your Health.”

(Note to past readers & RSS subscribers: Because I can access this Manila blog from home, office or lab, I’ve decided to use it as a parking space for “may come in handy in class” links, whether they are “breaking news” or several months old, like the CJR one.)

More about writing for the Web


I used this space last week for a first draft of a page that I’ve moved to my main weblog here.

Berkman regulars will notice links to a few of the usual suspects.

More about writing for the Web …

Web and Politics Survey


Why do people go online looking for political information? Where do
they go?

I have some ideas on the subject, but my
colleague Barbara Kaye at UT Knoxville and her research partner at
Southern Illinois
University-Carbondale are trying to be scientific about it.

They conduct an annual online survey that examines
the motivations for
accessing the Web, weblogs, chat rooms, bulletin boards and other
Internet resources for political information. (The survey has been
approved by the University of Tennessee institutional review board and
is being conducted for academic purposes

Knowing that I do not say
much about politics here, Barb thought my blog might be a way to reach
a few readers (and bloggers) who have broader interests than
just politics, such as, say, the Berkman Center

So here’s Barb, explaining what she’d
“We are specifically looking for individuals who connect
to online
political information to fill out our survey. We are wondering if it
would be possible for you to link to our survey. All we are
asking is for an icon that directs your readers to the survey

“Your help would be greatly appreciated and we would be more than
willing to share our findings with you.”

The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete.

Survey URL:

Web and Politics Survey …

Beyond the Esplanade


One of the last best things I did in Cambridge was to go see the July 4 fireworks from the bank of the Charles with blogging friends (Thanks, J!), getting closer to the flash and crash than my previous years’ vantage point in a crowd of neighbors atop Prospect Hill, a mile or so from the sound and smoke.

This weekend I was watching more pyrotechnics from atop another hill, the one I live on now. I’m so new here that I don’t even know if the hill has a name, but it gave me a new perspective for a fireworks show that competes for excitement and audience with Boston’s Independence Day.

Knoxville calls the Labor Day event Boomsday. A sponsor also calls it “the biggest single-day event in the state of Tennessee and the largest fireworks show in the southeast United States.”

Whille Boston fires its rockets from a barge in the river, these fireworks are launched from a high bridge over the Tennessee River — a bridge that just happens to be anchored to my new hilltop. Down along the river, the city closes a stretch of highway, turning it into a midway for the day, stretching off toward the university stadium. Hundreds of thousands of people join in the fun, and the “Tennessee navy” drops anchor in the river — about 200 powerboats that stay for Sunday’s Big Orange football game.

The Boomsday show doesn’t include the Boston Pops, Stars & Stripes Forever or the 1812 Overture cannons… but I read that there was some Gershwin broadcast to coincide with the most elegant part of the display, and at a more climactic point I did hear a few people singing along with Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” Next year, maybe I’ll find a seat closer to the sound system.
Beyond the Esplanade …

For newcomers to RSS


For students who first heard about “Really Simple Syndication” in my
class at UT this week, the “Read what I read?” menu item on the top
right corner of this page is an example of a “aggregator” page that
republishes “syndicated” news summaries from news sites and weblogs.

Free places to build your own RSS subscription lists include, and

For a lot more than you need to know about RSS, go here.

Crimson to orange: Settling into new home, job & computers


My “Other Journalism” weblog is serving as to-do list, moving-to-Tennessee narrative, and parking place for links I want to share with news-writing students… at least until I decide how I’m going to use my new home page ( and the Blackboard course-management system.

As long as this one is still here, perhaps I’ll post a note from time to time for any Cambridge, Somerville & Boston friends who wonder whatever became of me.

So far teaching in Knoxville is full of surprises — having the school director who encouraged me to apply for the job decide to quit the week I got here… and then starting the first day on the job with a power failure and ending it with my face on the evening news!

I did find the local contradance (small, but enthusiastic) and lucked into a class schedule that lets me sleep late the morning after it. A next door neighbor plays mandolin and banjo, and there’s a bluegrass and oldtime radio station to take the place of WUMB.

So far so good. My Thursday nights are still a little on the empty side, though…
Crimson to orange: Settling into new home, job & computers …

Another Blog on July Hiatus…


This is a month for (pick one or more)

  • Mystery (audio)
  • Vacation
  • Travel
  • A new job
  • A new car
  • Reading entire books, not just newsfeeds
  • A new place to live
  • A haircut
  • A new color scheme
  • All of the above
  • All but the haircut?

Another Blog on July Hiatus… …

Is 576 feeds a newspaper RSS record?


The New York Times has just upped its RSS channel total to 27 feeds, but while writing about it yesterday, I discovered a newspaper with a whopping 576 page-specific feeds… including one in (and about) Gaelic and another about men in kilts.

In case that isn’t enough of a hint, the feeding-frenzied paper is The Scotsman, national newspaper for the land of at least some of my ancestors… a fine place where it was apparently worth a headline to tell folks that, “Penny Lancaster, the underwear model, has failed in a bid to buy Jack McConnell’s infamous pin-striped kilt for her partner, Rod Stewart.”

Talk about using RSS to get “News on Demand“!

Actually, if there’s an online newspaper out there doing more to provide varied and useful RSS feeds, tell me about it in the comments or by e-mail!

(More fun facts than you could possibly want to know about the “land of my ancestors” reference:
Hidden behind the generic “Bob,” I’m named after my grandmother’s hero and Scotland’s legendary king, Robert the Bruce. M
y Glasgwegian grandmother had consented to name my father both for “Robert” and for my Stepnegian grandfather, “Stanley.” That made my late Dad the initial ”RSS” in my experience. He was pretty good for a feed and a decent aggregator, too, and I wish I’d gotten to say that to him on Father’s Day because he liked a joke, no matter how bad. On any day, this has been a fine excuse to type the words “Glasgwegian grandmother” and coin the word “Stepnegian.”)