Business and social media: American companies growing up, sort of

Ever since the Internet began gaining popular awareness in the mid-1990s, the topic of how businesses can productively use various new media technologies has been a subject of ongoing interest. Along the way we’ve had a series of innovations to consider: first it was the Net, and the current tool of the moment is Twitter. In between we had, in no particular order, Facebook (not that Facebook has gone away, of course), CRM, mobile (SMS, smart phones, apps), blogging, RSS and aggregation, Digg (and Reddit and StumbleUpon and Current and Yahoo! Buzz and Technorati and Del.icio.us and seemingly thousands more), targeted e-mail, YouTube, SEO, SEM, online PR and, well, you get the idea.

We certainly hear examples of businesses getting it right with new media, but in truth these cases represent a painfully small minority. Continue reading “Business and social media: American companies growing up, sort of”

Why American media has such a signal-to-noise problem, pt. 2

Part 2 of a series; Previously: What Bell Labs and French Intellectuals Can Tell Us About Cronkite and Couric

The Signal-to-Noise Journey of American Media

The 20th Century represented a Golden Age of Institutional Journalism. The Yellow Journalism wars of the late 19th Century gave way to a more responsible mode of reporting built on ethical and professional codes that encouraged fairness and “objectivity.” (Granted, these concepts, like their bastard cousin “balance,” are not wholly unproblematic. Still, they represented a far better way of conducting journalism than we had seen before.) It’s probably not idealizing too much to assert that reporting in the Cronkite Era, for instance, was characterized by a commitment to rise above partisanship and manipulation. The journalist was expected to hold him/herself to a higher standard and to serve the public interest. These professionals – and I have met a few who are more than worthy of the title – believed they had a duty to search for the facts and to present them in a fashion that was as free of bias as possible.

In other words, their careers, like that of Claude Shannon, were devoted to maximizing the signal in the system – the system here being the “marketplace of ideas.” Continue reading “Why American media has such a signal-to-noise problem, pt. 2”

Ten years on: was Columbine the rule or the exception?

Part two in a series

How did it happen? Why did it happen? There’s simply no way to measure how many hours have devoted to these questions in the ten years and four days since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire at Columbine High School, and while we don’t (and never will) have all the answers, we do have some of them. Obviously a good bit of the discussion focuses on the individuals themselves, and other analyses cast a broader net, examining the social factors that shaped the individuals. In a way, the question we’re still debating perhaps boils down to nature vs. nurture. Were Harris and Klebold Natural Born Killers? Or are they better understood as by-products of deeper social trends and dynamics?

The answer is probably “All of the above,” but we can’t simply check C and be on our merry, uncritical way. Continue reading “Ten years on: was Columbine the rule or the exception?”

On Tuesday: suppress voter suppression

Election Day is nearly upon us. We’ve already noted some of the voter suppression shenanigans out there and there’s been a lot more since that posting. Frankly, I expect Tuesday to be a freakin’ circus on this front.

You can help make Election Day a cleaner experience for all of us. We’ve added a couple badges at the top of the column to your left for the Twitter Vote Report and the Voter Suppression Wiki. Our friend Tracy Viselli is volunteering on these efforts, and here’s what she has to say: Continue reading “On Tuesday: suppress voter suppression”

Ike updates: evacuation traffic and Edmundo tweeting Ike on S&R channel

Post Updated at 4:35 PM MDT. Click on “Full Story” to read the update.

First, Ann Ivins reports that “traffic is starting to pick up along Interstate 10 coming in from Houston. They haven’t created evacuation lanes yet. Gas prices have jumped in the last two hours by a few cents.”

Second, Edmundo Rocha will be tweeting on Ike from a shelter in Houston. We’re still in the process of reloading our Twitter widget, which got zapped during our host move a few days ago. We hope to have it up this evening.

In the meantime, you can follow his coverage on the S&R channel here. Continue reading “Ike updates: evacuation traffic and Edmundo tweeting Ike on S&R channel”