Blogs as today’s communication bargain

Over the past weekend a number of media sources – online and off – picked up on a story which I think may have originated in Chicago, my hometown, on Friday the thirteenth no less. We won’t call it “Black Friday” in this instance, instead we’ll call it “Red Hot” Friday. The basic point of all these pieces was that the hot dog is making a comeback in these hard times; it is construed as the “perfect recession food” Hot dog sales are “red hot” according to the site “Serious Eats” http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/03/the-hot-dog-as-perfect-recession-food.html#comments

Now I am a serious hot dog lover myself; the Mii on my Wii is “hotdogman” for goodness sakes. The buzz about the dog reminded me that this is the time of the little guy, the bargain. I pass up the fancy car wash with the waiting room sporting a flat panel TV in favor of one tied in with a gas station where I get pretty much the same hand wash for about half the price.

Blogs are in a way the bargains of today’s world of communications. The “hot dog article” posted at Chicago Public Radio http://www.wbez.org/Content.aspx?audioID=32792

references the opinion of Darren Tristano an executive vice president at Technomic Incorporated, a food industry research firm: “He says hotdog stands are set to capitalize on food trends-they’re cheap, the food is fresh, customizable, portable, and he says Chicago hot dogs taste really good. All of which makes them a strong contender for a great recession meal.” Just exchange the words “Chicago hot dogs” for the words “well prepared blogs” and I think you’ll see the attributes listed are comparable. The recipe for “well prepared blogs” will be given in a later post.

 

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/19/back-at-the-same-old-stand/

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Jurors, a new hope for the new Information Age

Today’s New York Times article by John Schwartz http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/18/us/18juries.html?_r=1

 raises a number of important questions regarding for example the seeming dichotomy between traditional jurisprudence and contemporary information technology which is really the thrust of the story. But then there is, as Paul Harvey always said (may he rest in peace, see my previous post on Harvey) “the rest of the story”.

 What I want to focus on here is the quest for enlightenment beyond the confines of the courtroom for which the as many as nine jurors reported about clearly thirsted.

 “…conducting Google searches on the lawyers and the defendant, looking up news articles about the case, checking definitions on Wikipedia and searching for evidence that had been specifically excluded by the judge. One juror, asked by the judge about the research, said, “Well, I was curious,” according to Mr. Raben.”

 Peter Raben is the defense attorney for the case in question. “It was a heartbreak,” Mr. Raben added.

 Au contraire, mon amie. (caution: accumulating French flourishes ahead in this post)  In a recent post I cited the book True Enough by Farhad Manjoo. In his book Manjoo points to a concerning trend that people are accepting as gospel any pronouncements made by those they “follow” to use the Twitter idiom. This is great for the Russ Limbaughs of the world who actually laud this characteristic by giving it credence through the use of such terms as “dittohead”.

But in terms of our future as a society, I would much rather the Socratic Method be extolled.

 Well, lo and behold, these nine jurors are practicing intellectual curiosity don’t you know. Wow, what a concept! Yes there needs to be a rapprochement between the justice system and the new ways of accessing and sharing information and from some of the article’s content it seems we are groping our way in that direction, but I must say: la curiosité, c’est magnifique!

 

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/18/jurors-a-new-hope-for-the-new-information-age/

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A Jurassic Park kind of world

In many of today’s opinion pages, be they online or in print, readers were treated to a very insightful article by Kathleen Parker, titled “Weird new media world” in which, it seemed abundantly apparent to me, she was putting forth the premise that newspapers are a core communications vehicle of American society and conducted appropriately constitute the bedrock on which a free society is maintained. So granting necessary reshaping to conform to technological and cultural changes (I advisedly here avoid the term “advances” to describe such changes) the medium is important to retain. In her own words:

“Whatever business models emerge…newspapers have to focus on their traditional core of fact-based, serious reporting. We might add to that formula the need for a serious populace informed about the fragile thread that connects a free press to a free future. “

A number of considerations emerge from careful reading of her piece. Yes, I don’t have much need for the TV guide section of my local paper now that I have a TV guide accessible on my TV; so newspapers need to define themselves based on their “root” purpose to borrow a term from the computer age. A “root” directory in computer file systems is the first or top-most directory in a hierarchy. It can be likened to the root of a tree – the starting point where all branches originate. (Paraphrased from Wikipedia). This is basic Marketing 101 of course. Amtrak isn’t in the business of running trains, they’re in the business of transportation. Find the “root” and stick to it she seems to be urging, and keep a first amendment bulwark in place in the bargain.

What is fascinating, is the “spin” this gets in the “comment room”; I just checked out one: http://townhall.com/columnists/KathleenParker/2009/03/15/weird_new_media_world?page=2 and the majority of comments at this site are made by fire breathing persons who seem to have read only one word of her article, that word appearing as the last word of the article’s third paragraph and spelled b-i-a-s, “bias”. But the real bias, as I see it, is on the part of the commenters; which leads me to the book True Enough by Farhad Manjoo. The Publishers Weekly review of the book puts it this way: “Salon blogger Manjoo…in his perceptive analysis of the status of truth in the digital age, critiquing a Rashomon-like world in which competing versions of truth vie for our attention.” The book deserves more attention in a separate post, and the book deserves our attention in general because it presents a pretty disquieting picture of our future as a society of many different groups of “Dittoheads” as referenced in paragraph two of Parker’s article!

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/16/a-jurassic-park-kind-of-world/

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Girl Scouts ban use of internet to sell cookies

A seemingly innocuous AP piece is being picked up by a number of newspapers around the country. It hit me like a ton of bricks. So I did a little further checking online, and sure enough it is true. Newsweek is my source and I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of its report. http://www.newsweek.com/id/188714?from=rss

Girl Scouts of the USA does not allow the use of the internet to sell its “got-to-have-them” cookies! This exposé comes on the heels of the welcome news that the Vatican has awakened to the value of the internet (See my recent post on this matter). Kurt Soller’s article states the key point to be made about this whole imbroglio:

“…the group’s digital strategy seems confused and behind the times.”

The Girl Scouts organization purports to offer the largest program to teach entrepreneurship to young girls and yet it eschews e-commerce. Seems kind of like an oxymoron to me (ox-y-mo-ron) with emphasis on the last two syllables!

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/15/girl-scouts-ban-use-of-internet-to-sell-cookies/

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Vatican gets prodded into New Media age

An interesting piece in the traditional media – namely the New York Times – appeared today: Rachel Donadio’s aptly titled article, “Pope Admits Online News Can Provide Infallible Aid”. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/13/world/europe/13pope.html?_r=1 

The report contains quotes from the Vatican’s letter regarding the very controversial matter of the decision to revoke the excommunication of four bishops, including this excerpt:

“I have been told that consulting the information available on the Internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on,” Benedict wrote. “I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news.”

 

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/13/vatican-gets-prodded-into-new-media-age/

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Franklin Roosevelt invents the “fireside chat”

76 years ago today Franklin Roosevelt sat in front of a radio microphone and literally created a new communications “environment”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fireside_chats

What I want to point out about the concept of the “fireside chat” as a communications vehicle is directly related to President Obama and the current situation we face as a nation. As “Communicator in Chief” president Obama has to ensure that for the duration of this national morass we are going through, that in all his communication efforts to the general public he essentially utilizes what I will call the “Roosevelt Approach”, so well crafted by FDR, and therefore Obama’s communications advisors – who were seemingly so astute on the campaign trail – need to revisit the rationale for the success of the fireside chat format. In this regard, as important as the content was, the character of the presentation within the framework of the media involved is what needs to be assessed from a communications standpoint. Keep in mind that this took place during the “Golden Age of Radio”; we now are in the “New Age of the Internet”, and I am not so sure that a talking head in front of a camera albeit,  a Presidential talking head – translates that well on a computer screen for the purpose intended, that being hopefully injecting confidence about the future. What is needed is to re-invent the “fireside chat” circa 2009.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/12/franklin-roosevelt-invents-the-fireside-chat/

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Marshall McLuhan revisited

We’re going to mention “packaging” a lot, “The manner in which something, such as a proposal or product, or someone, such as a candidate or author, is presented to the public.” (from answers.com) with emphasis on what should be considered in trying to appeal to the INTENDED audience, which it often turns out is not necessarily what appeals (appearance-wise or otherwise) to the one generating the communication; this determination – what is it that most probably will appeal to the intended audience –  should be the first order of business in calculating a communications approach in all cases;  I would strongly urge that anyone striving to be an effective communicator start with Marshall McLuhan, if you haven’t already, because his conception of communications  is one of the pillars upon which all effective communications strategy should be based.

For example McLuhan said: “People don’t actually read newspapers. They step into them every morning like a hot bath.” Here’s another one, after the manner of McLuhan: People don’t actually read blogs. They jump on them coming and going like a bullet train.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/07/marshall-mcluhan-revisited/

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