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Good Writers, Good Readers, Good Publications

Good Writers, Good Readers, Good Publications

Do you read “the paper” (or just read?) just so you can bump into mind-altering articles? To have your perceptions and values tested? To grow the vitality of your mind?

Here’s an article that makes me appreciate liberal arts — the major and/or the orientation:

What Does a Parrot Know About PTSD?
An unexpected bond between damaged birds and traumatized veterans could reveal surprising insights into animal intelligence.

Here’s an excerpt:

Nearing Serenity Park’s exit, I decided to turn back and step inside Cashew’s quarters for a moment. I had only to nestle close to her perch and she immediately hopped on my back. Crisscrossing my shoulders as I had watched her do with Lilly Love, she stopped at one point for what I assumed would be the parrot equivalent of a kiss. Instead, she began to clean my teeth: her beak lightly tapping against my enamel, the faint vibrations strangely soothing. Immediately afterward, she took a brief nap in my shirt’s left breast pocket — it felt as if I’d grown another heart — then re-emerged and crawled to the top of my head. She strolled about there for a time before plucking out one of her own deep blue-green feathers and then descending to gently place it on my left shoulder. I have it still.

Papers were (are?) great because they were multi-disciplinary: the different sections speaking to different audiences and serving different function.

Groupon Is Good For Something. Newspapers Actually.

Groupon Is Good For Something. Newspapers Actually.

I have never used a Groupon. And there are plenty of nightmarish stories about how they kill small businesses. No big news here folks — it’s going, going, gone.

But not the model.

It should actually be out there reviving newspapers. That’s kind of a non-sequitur. Let me explain:

I was talking to my older friend who was a former editor and columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer about how to save newspapers. He’s kind of a media curmudgeon (sorry AC!) so he didn’t quite get — or consider — the following — I’m curious to hear what you all think:

Let’s allow people — and even newspaper professionals — to post suggested stories — just like Groupons are posted and with the same gamification. Like this: People who are interested in a story can pledge some money to it, and when a level of interest and financial support is achieved, the story gets kicked off and assigned to a reporter (or a pre-assigned reporter).

This would give readers editorial pull — and it gives newspapers a business model tied to performance. Practically and financially speaking, I’d rather (or likely) spend $300 in small increments across a year, investing in particular stories or reportage rather than spend $50 on an annual subscription for content that often never connects with my interests.

I love local news — but I’m always frustrated that the ratio of good content to bad content + fluff is 1:100.

So, is the Groupon model just a model? And if it is, can it be the thing that saves journalism? It might just be able to de-couple the content-advertising dependency that has corrupted journalism.




Content Marketing. Now In Your Patagonia Catalog.

Content Marketing. Now In Your Patagonia Catalog.

Cool to see bona fide content in Patagonia’s clothing catalog. This spread starts off with a piece by Bill McKibben: “If there were seven wonders of the world’s destruction, the tar sands complex in Alberta might well be the first.” Sober stuff when you’re trying to decide to buy a $500 mountaineering jacket.


Question is: Does this engender or foment “vicarious goal fulfillment”?

That’s fancy psych talk for when this critical content makes the consumer feel good about himself — that he is now current on eco news — to the extent that he allows himself to buy lots of (read: unnecessary) clothes. This is similar to how the inclusion of salads on fast food menus actually increases the consumption of Big Macs.


Why Pinterest Should Pivot And Help The Real Contributors Of The Web Get Paid

Reviewers of the world it’s time to start getting paid.

There’s something wrong with the state of the internet. In particular, reviews.

We write them. We look through them. We rely on them!—even when they’re written by total strangers. They provide enormous value to internet users worldwide. They’ve transformed ecommerce. Yet we don’t own what we write.

Amazon does!

Can’t we snap our fingers and ask the silicon valley rainmakers to take the democratic ethos of the internet one step further and give individuals automatic intellectual property rights for the content we create?

Pinterest is almost there.

It allows users to curate what matters to them—but it doesn’t let us get paid if our curation brings value to a company or organization. I do recall them surreptitiously trying to swap out user-pasted urls with affiliate-laden ones. Hmm. Good idea–bad execution.

Gumroad is making waves by making any link an ecommerce storefront. Not sure if this can be executed as a default in one’s ‘lifestream’.

Yotpo is doing something interesting–using algorithms (what else!?) to find the best reviews for any product. And, Yotpo, will the writer of that ‘best review’ get something in return?

And then there is VRM–or Vendor Relationship Management. There’s lots of interesting things over there–for example, a few of their goals:

  • Make individuals the collection centers for their own data
  • Give individuals the ability to share data selectively
  • Give individuals the ability to control how their data is used by others

It’s good to know we’re heading in the right direction. Heck, there may be a startup being featured right this very instance who has solved the problem.

Regardless–let’s decide to turn the corner together and demand ownership of our thoughts and social content.’s President Thinks Video’s Just For Flying Semis. Really?

Charlie Tillinghast, President and Publisher of, posits: Video News Reporting for the Web is Different, “Talking Heads” Not Needed.

I won’t comment on the irony of this.

Anyway, he says that video has to be better than text–it can’t compete with text. And that the industry has to focus on using video in a way that presents things that can’t really be described.

He says: “Video journalism has to go more towards really excellent visuals. They have to film thing like animal phenomena. Or weather. Or accidents. Or combat.”

Really? Good luck with that.

Web video rules for a number of reasons which have nothing to do with shark attacks or people falling off chairs.

  • Video is great when you don’t want to read or can’t read. If you’re commuting or exercising, listening to or watching video is a great alternative.
  • Video permits you to get to know content providers more. No one really likes ‘talking heads’ per se, but if you want to get content straight from a source, it’s just really great to hear it from the author or creator. You get to the know the person so much better and in a different ways than you would just by reading. Think Charlie Rose.
  • Video permits people to demonstrate things. We all remember that writing assignment from 5th grade about describing how to make a PB & J sandwich—well, video is the optimal medium for that. Sure, it was a good writing assignment, but showing is superior to telling or describing.
  • Art. You can’t read a concert. You can’t read an exhibit at MoMA . But you can watch them!

This news exec is looking at the issue through his product and revenue source–not the medium or the consumer.