Saturday, March 31, 2007

The public in publishing

This past week, the blogosphere was abuzz with something disturbing. Death threats, sexual harassment and cyber-bullying of the lowest kind.

Visit blogger Kathy Sierra’s site and you can read about some of the things she’s been through. It’s not funny, not a dark sick joke. It’s just plain sick.

Personally, I think that if you commit a crime you have to accept the consequences. However, that’s difficult when the perpetrators hide under a veil of anonymity.

Something that’s all too common out here.

I’ve always believed that you have to stand behind what you write (or say, for that matter). How can the blogosphere purport to be an honest or ethical place if we don’t adhere to that principle?

Though it’s not at all the same situation, this made me think about the student from Birchmount Collegiate in Toronto, who was accused of suspended for posting a personal attack on a school administrator on Facebook.

Details of what he said are sketchy and hard to verify (the comments were taken down). A student protest supporting him turned violent (reminiscent of the ‘60s).

At first I thought the punishment was an overreaction. Students always bitched about their teachers or principals in private. And that’s to be expected.

The difference now? In the past his comments would have been part of a private conversation.

But as soon as a conversation becomes public (i.e. you publish and distribute your thoughts), it takes on a different tenor. And if slander or threats are involved, it becomes a lot more serious than blowing off steam.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Start spreading the news

The weekend papers covered the latest NADbank data on readership in Canada and naturally put their own spin on the results.

Toronto Star: “Toronto Star Remains Canada’s Most Read Daily Newspaper”

Globe and Mail: “Growth of free dailies dropping”

Toronto Sun (news release): “Toronto Sun: Fastest Growing Newspaper in GTA”

But what really struck me was that just over half of the adults in Canada (51 per cent) read a newspaper everyday and spent about 47 minutes doing it (Editor & Publisher). This isn’t surprising given the number of English-language dailies we have in Toronto alone (six - including the free subway papers).

However, I did notice that readership of Metro and 24 Hours was flatlining and I came up with an idea for them to increase readership and be a bit more sustainable at the same time.

Of course, this will require the help of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).

First some background: Every morning on my way to work, I notice that the subway recycling bins are overflowing with copies of the free dailies, read once and put to rest.

Yet, if you happen to find yourself in the subway after say 11 am and are looking for something to read, you can’t find a free daily anywhere.

So why doesn’t the TTC encourage people to recycle the papers in special ‘spread the news’ containers that could be placed in subways, streetcars and buses?

Readership per issue would probably go up (though it might be hard to measure this), less copies could be printed (saving paper and other resources), and people could stay in the know morning, noon and night.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Back from vacation. Still cold (with snow) in Toronto even though tomorrow is technically spring.

I’ve been writing this blog since January and I wanna tell ya (as a Catskill’s comic might segue), there’s gonna be a few changes ‘round here.

First off, you’ll notice a slightly altered name (I’m adding ‘PR’) and a new subtitle. Why? I’m listening to advice from Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s Naked Conversations Chapter 11, page 171 ‘Tip #1: Search engine results’.

I want ‘em.

I’m an optimist who’s hoping to become an optimizer.

Also (from reading the book), the blog is going to become a little more focused (hence the subtitle) but hopefully somewhat looser too: less columnistic and more just plain me.

If you haven’t read Naked Conversations and are interested in blogging, I’d suggest you pick up a copy. It’s an invaluable reference, both eye opening and slightly maddening. I loved reading about all the inter-connections and linky-ness (Tip #9), but wasn’t as crazy about the vigilante-esque aspects of citizens on a rampage. That reminded me of the group with the ice cream truck and flyers chasing after Griffin Dunne’s character in Martin Scorcese’s After Hours. Funny to watch. Not so funny if you’re the one being cornered and they won’t let you tell your side of the story.

I’m keeping to my 500 word maximum.

Adding more blogs.

The signature sign-off is gone.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Vacation cold rush

Today on my way to work, I noticed the large windows on the King Street entrance of Metro Centre were completely frosted over. It looked spectacular. But it did remind me of what happens to my glasses when I come indoors from extreme cold. (The temperature was -22C.)

I have a theory about this winter. I think somehow the calendar got pushed forward a month: so January should have been December, February-January, March-February and so on. I have absolutely no scientific data to prove this. It’s just a gut feeling. But the weather is backing me up.

That said, it’s nearly March break and I’m heading off on vacation tonight. So I won’t be blogging for a while.

See you later in the month.