Election 2008 at Yahoo! News

Post ImageAs you probably know, I have been recording a weekly podcast covering the latest Hillary Clinton related headlines. I like doing it, because it gives me a chance to keep up on the news myself. I have found that gathering the stories takes a bit of effort though, so I was excited to see this from Yahoo:

At Yahoo! News, we’ve pulled together an über-site to help you engage in the 2008 campaign. In addition to the latest news videos, headlines, and political commentary, you’ll find dedicated pages for each candidate.

Beautiful – it’s almost exactly what I have been looking for! Here’s the page dedicated to Hillary Clinton. I’ll definitely be making use of this site on the weekend. Yahoo says they are going be adding even more stuff too, so it’ll only get better.

Read: Yodel Anecdotal

Thirsty for Podcasting News in 2006

Post ImageGoogle released their annual zeitgeist for 2006 recently, and the top searches proved to be quite different than those found on Yahoo’s annual listing. Google’s top ten terms are mostly technology-related, while Yahoo’s are entertainment-related.

Also different were the news searches. Coming in at number four on the top searches for Google News is podcasting! Who knew so many people were interested in learning about what is happening in the podcasting industry!

Here are my favorite podcasting news sites:

I also subscribe to a bunch of search feeds, and news feeds from individual companies too. And every now and then you get some news from more general sites like TechCrunch or Digg. I thought this list would have been longer though. Perhaps there is room in the news space for podcasting?

Read: Google Zeitgeist

Has TechCrunch lost its edge?

Post ImageI’ve been subscribed TechCrunch for quite a long time, and I rather enjoy reading about the various companies and technologies they profile. Lately though, I’ve noticed that TechCrunch seems to be reporting on “big company” or “big media” things far more than the little stuff. A good example of this is what happened today. I opened up my aggregator for the first time today, and there were five posts in the TechCrunch feed:

  • Live.com and Yahoo! bulk up for local search brawl
  • Zune Unveiling Tomorrow
  • NBC to put new primetime shows online for free
  • Major Google/Intuit Partnership
  • Skype Video For Macs Launches Today

See what I mean? These look like headlines from CNET News.com, not TechCrunch! Now don’t get me wrong, these are all very interesting posts, and TechCrunch always has some inside information or extra analysis which is worthwhile, but they didn’t get to 113,000 subscribers by covering the big guys. They got there by finding and sharing the smaller companies and products that no one else could find.

Which begs the question – is TechCrunch becoming more like a mainstream business news site? Can we expect more of the “big company” type posts? Has TechCrunch lost its edge?

The Media Delayed Windows Vista

Post ImageI’ve been reading a lot lately about why people think Windows Vista has been delayed so many times. There tends to be a set of consistent theories that always appear in a discussion, which I’ll summarize here:

  • The software is too complex, with too many interdependencies that are confusing or not understood very well.
  • There is too much bureaucracy and too many levels of management which slows down the development process.
  • Microsoft started sharing information about Vista far too early which led to unreasonable expectations for the end product.

I think there is definitely some truth to all of these different theories, but I have another one. I think another significant reason Windows Vista has been “delayed” is the media. With all of the media coverage everytime there’s a change in the Vista release schedule, one can’t help but think that something must be horribly wrong for the operating system to have been delayed. I mean it makes CNN for crying out loud! Consider the following two things:

  • The average user still doesn’t really have a clue what Windows Vista is. They are pretty happy using whatever operating system they are currently using. I see this all the time when I help people with their computers and start talking up a feature of Vista. (And no, this doesn’t mean that we don’t need a new version, for the same reason that Ford still manufactures a new version of the F-150 every year.)
  • Despite all of the fanboys, the other operating systems haven’t done anything particularly special since Windows XP was released. The various Linux distros are still emulating Windows. Mac OS X has some excellent eye candy, but doesn’t stand out in any other way. Of course those last two statements are just my personal opinion, but proof is in the numbers – neither Linux nor Mac OS X have taken market share away from Windows (at least in the consumer space). People are not breaking down the doors of Best Buy to purchase a Mac.

Which means what? Basically, I would argue that if the media didn’t report on every single schedule change, most people could care less if Windows Vista was released in 2006 or 2008. With no pressure from rival operating systems, and the only loud customer request being security (which was the reason XP SP2 was such a big deal) there really isn’t a huge reason for Vista to be delivered right away, and thus no reason for anyone to be up in arms about it being delayed.

Keep in mind that this theory about the media being a reason that Vista has been delayed is largely focused on the consumer/business side of things. Developers, hardware manufacturers, and of course Microsoft’s shareholders all have good reasons for wanting the OS to come faster. I think I have a valid point though.

Digital Newspapers – Coming Soon?

Post ImageA little over a year ago, I wrote that newspapers are one of my least favorite forms of media. To reiterate:

I hate almost everything about newspapers. I don’t like the size of the paper. I don’t like the way it makes everything black. I don’t like that every page has to be jammed full of stuff. I don’t like that the pages are not full color. I don’t like that once I find something interesting, I can’t do anything with it (like send it to a friend, or blog about it with a link, etc).

These things hold true today. So what has changed in the last year? A few things. The “magazine-newspaper” called Dose launched in some of Canada’s larger cities, and I have to admit that I like it better than a typical newspaper, probably because of the size of the pages and how they open like a book, rather than being folded horizontally. There’s lots of color and non-standard layouts too.

More interesting than that however, is that newspapers of the future, such as the one seen in “Minority Report”, are coming sooner than previously expected:

In the Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller “Minority Report,” a subway passenger scans an issue of USA Today that is a plastic video screen, thin, foldable and wireless, with constantly changing text.

The scene is no longer science fiction.

The so called “e-paper” technology is finally beginning to mature, making it feasible to employ for products like newspapers. Despite the recent advances, there is still a long way to go – there is no standard (not that we need one I guess) which means some e-paper is flexible and some is rigid, some can display full color and some cannot, some require a power source and some do not. I think it’s only a matter of time before the details are worked out however.

I eagerly await digital newspapers, and the editors of today’s publications should be excited too! The newspaper could once again be as “up-to-the-second” as TV stations, and the potential for advertising is immense – think Google AdSense, but in your dynamically updating newspaper. Digital newspapers would be better for the environment too! Let’s hope the technology advances and costs decline so that the digital newspaper will be a reality.

Read: CNET News.com

Time for Google Headlines!

Post ImageHave you ever used a news aggregator like Google News? My guess is that you have, at least once. While these aggregators drive traffic to newspapers, magazines, and other content websites, they also cause problems with the headlines authors choose for a particular story:

Journalist over the years have assumed they were writing their headlines and articles for two audiences–fickle readers and nitpicking editors. Today, there is a third important arbiter of their work: the software programs that scour the Web, analyzing and ranking online news articles on behalf of Internet search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN.

“The search engine has to get a straightforward, factual headline, so it can understand it,” Nic Newman, head of product development and technology at BBC News Interactive, said.

Seems that these headline aggregators don’t like wit or humor. Is that a problem with the current crop of readers? Yes. Is it something that presents an opportunity? Again, yes. All you have to do, news media people, is ask for it:

“Google, oh great one…with your vast resources and large repositories of data, surely you can present to us an algorithm that is able to craft funny headlines, complete with all the inside jokes your spiders can discover…bestow upon us mere mortals such an algorithm, and call it Google Headlines (beta, naturally)…and we shall be forever grateful.”

They can’t deny a request like that! Or can they?

Read: CNET News.com

PodcastUser Magazine

Post ImageIn January I wrote about the new ID3 Podcast Magazine, which I figured would be the one and only magazine devoted to podcasting. Today I noticed at Podcasting News that there’s a second such magazine called PodcastUser, though it appears this one will only be published in PDF and not as a physical magazine.

The first issue is now available for download, and at 24 pages, there’s quite a bit of information packed into the magazine. I haven’t read it in great detail, but there’s reviews, some news, quite a few “how-to’s”, and as far as I can tell, no advertising.

From the first issue:

Podcasting has a great community feel to it, and that is precisely what this magazine celebrates; a thriving community of people, discussing and providing different content by using the same medium.

The second issue will be available on March 1st, so check it out!

Read: PodcastUser Magazine

Google News goes gold

Post ImageAs John Battelle and others have noted, Google News is now officially out of beta. I guess it’s not the most important news item of the day, but it’s not often you see a product that has no way to make money and has been in “beta testing” for over four years “go gold”. From the creator of Google News, Krishna Bharat:

Google News has matured a great deal, and we’re proud to see it graduate from its beta status. Much remains to be done, and as always, we have many exciting ideas that we intend to take forward. Meanwhile, as the saying goes, if you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own. Or just keep reading Google News.

As Larry noted, there doesn’t seem to be much new with the service, aside from integrating search history. Has anyone starting betting on which product will move out of beta next? If not, we should! I’d put my money on Froogle.

Read: Google Blog

Economist.com Redesign

Post ImageNormally I wouldn’t post about a website getting a new look (unless it were one of my own or one that I manage) but I read the Economist all the time and I think it’s a great resource for information. And yes, they are sporting a new look:

For a start our homepage, article pages and Print Edition page have all been redesigned. You will see several other changes too:

  • We’ve enhanced the navigation – so it’s even easier to find what you want
  • The new pages are clearer – making them easier to read
  • Article titles are more consistent with the print edition – making cross-referencing straightforward

More improvements are due in the coming months. The aim is to make Economist.com sharper and fresher – a perfect complement to our incisive global analysis.

It looks really great! The Economist is a great resource for all you politics-economics-current affairs nuts out there, so check it out. And tell them I sent you!

Read: Economist.com Redesign

NowPublic Tags

Post ImageAs you can probably tell, I jumped on the tagging bandwagon very early on. I think tags are an excellent way to self-organize the vast amounts of information available to us. So I am really happy to see that NowPublic, a site I have written about before, has added proper tags!

I say proper tags, because while you could tag news at NowPublic in the past, you couldn’t really link to a tag. Now all you have to do is link to http://www.nowpublic.com/tags/edmonton, for example, to see all of the stories tagged with “edmonton”. Previously this required a search of the website.

Very cool! I’m happy to see the site continuously improving – can’t wait til it’s out of beta.

Read: NowPublic