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CBC radio hubbub

03 May 2010
Posted by Shannon

In a leaked survey on a newsroom innovation called The Hub, 30 CBC national radio reporters tell a mind-boggling tale of institutional incompetence. It’s a surprisingly amusing story, with great literary potential, and you might as well enjoy it: It’s your tax dollars at work.

They say it's killing journalism there. But I think it has potential as a radio drama – a sort of audio version of The Wire -- which I discuss in my Tyee column

Facebook zucks

01 May 2010
Posted by Shannon

Facebook’s latest assault on users’ privacy is stirring up a storm of opposition from a range of critics including Canada’s privacy commissioner, some U.S. senators, and groups like MoveOn.org and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Facebook calls this scheme to allow external websites access to user profiles “instant personalization.” FB makes data sharing the default setting, forcing users to opt-out if they don’t want their private info spread far and wide. Privacy advocates are arguing that Facebook has to make this opt-in.

The wags at EFF say instant personalization is much too benign a term for such a sneaky practice, so they’re soliciting new name suggestions via Twitter and Facebook (off course).

Their fave terms include bait-and-click, bait-and-phish, dot-comfidence games, and confuser-interface-design.

Some suggested a play on the name of Facebook’s 25-year-old CEO Mark Zuckerberg. I like getting zuckered, but there is also zuckermining, zuckerpunch, and for something lousy, that zucks – I plan to use that one. - Read more

Posted by Shannon

Further evidence that journalism is making a transition back to its origins as a small business run by journos themselves can be seen at London’s arts news and reviews site TheArtsDesk.com.

This beautifully designed site is the brainchild of former Daily Telegraph dance critic Ismene Brown and some of her colleagues who launched the round-up of local news and reviews in September 2009. It runs as a collective, with profit sharing.

- Read more
Posted by Shannon

The wits over at ArtsJournal.com flagged this unintentionally hilarious Depend ad that hits its target market – aging classical music fans – right in the face. Watching them demean women conductors as ditzy fools who can’t keep track of the “magic wand” is weirdly fascinating: it’s like something from a 1960s ad archive.

And it's another sign Satire Is Dead.

- Read more

Trolls with PhDs

21 Apr 2010
Posted by Shannon

Some Brit professors are writing anonymous online book reviews that prove something I’ve long observed about the academic world: the politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low.

The Telegraph reports a tempest in a sherry bottle after the law professor wife of a historian was caught badmouthing hubby’s rivals’ books at the UK Amazon site. She called them “dense and pretentious” and “critically dull,” which are fightin’ words in them circles. - Read more

Cut the crap

16 Apr 2010
Posted by Shannon

Social media users tend to ignore the first question most audiences ask of any communication that comes their way: What’s in it for me?

As I drown in waves of self-serving drivel, I wonder if there has been a genuine social shift into the Age of Narcissism, or if it’s an illusion created by the sort of people who favour Twitter, in particular. I suspect the latter, since some of the biggest offenders are well past their half-century mark.

- Read more

Decor whore

14 Apr 2010
Posted by Shannon

You can keep Xmas, Halloween and Valentine’s Day – my favourite annual event is the Smallest, Coolest Apartment contest at Apartment Therapy.

It’s underway this month, and features more than 60 domiciles to a maximum size of 1,000 square feet. But my favourite category is the micro apartments, which are under 400 square feet. A few New York entries are under 300 square feet and house two people plus their cats and dogs.

- Read more
Posted by Shannon

The British are trying to reinvent theatregoing as a self-esteem scheme.

The Guardian reports (without irony) that an economic think tank is advising U.K. theatres to embrace some self-help bromides as a way of measuring the post-performance well-being of audiences in order to determine the quality of the show.

It raises one question: Did someone resurrect Douglas Adams?

- Read more
Posted by Shannon

Poor Stan is dragged reluctantly into Facebook. I know the feeling.Poor Stan is dragged reluctantly into Facebook. I know the feeling.

 

In another era, there used to be a joke that when Time magazine featured a hot new trend on its cover, that was the signal it was over. Now a South Park episode is the sign of a brand about to be mocked into decline, and Facebook just got the treatment.

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Posted by Shannon

Apparently newspapers are looking to obits as lifesavers. Death notices have proven to be one of the last reliable revenue sources, probably because most people find it tasteless to slap the rellies’ demise on Craigslist. Although there’s an equally creepy trend to immortalizing people on Facebook death pages. (Deathbook?)

And then there are programs that allow the dead to email long past their demise. 

- Read more