Archive for January 2008

The best new magazine Web site of 2008

January 29th, 2008 — 11:34pm

PopSci LogoI just wanted to take a moment and recognize the folks over at Popular Science magazine for their Web efforts. They quietly launched a redesigned site,, in 2008. It’s built on the Drupal platform and one way of looking at it is that, functionally, it’s a group blog. Each navigational bucket along the top represents a category, but all posts/articles/stories appear time-stamped in reverse chronological order on the home page.

PopSci home page

If you haven’t checked it out, I recommend.

It offers a unique model for a traditional print company to leverage their assets on the Web. It also gives me hope that old media companies will come to realize that a blog is just as easily (and perhaps more helpfully) understood as a medium, not as a genre.

4 comments » | Journalism, Magazines, Media, New Media, Old Media

Does Facebook’s ‘friend limit’ thwart the ability for mass organization?

January 26th, 2008 — 12:49pm

A friend of mine sent me the following story of a Canadian union organizer banned from Facebook for making too many friends:

CUPE organizer/Labour Start correspondent Derek Blackadder’s foray into labor-related social networking was rudely interrupted by a warning from Facebook saying that he was making too many friends.

Facebook LogoHe then asked me, “Does this thwart the potential for organizing through Facebook?”

No, I said. And here’s why:

Obviously, if you want to get a message out to organize a protest, a prayer service or anything else , you’ll get that message out most QUICKLY by having a lot of friends, say, more than the 5,000 limit. Note I said most QUICKLY. (This is the equivalent of broadcasting a message through a traditional one-to-many medium).

But not necessarily most EFFECTIVELY, nor most SUCCESSFULLY, if the barometer for success is how many people take the desired action you’re hoping for.

Here’s the key

Successfully organizing on Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean one person broadcasting a message to 5,000 people. If anything, that message is going to be watered down for broad appeal, less relevant to each specific person, and prompt the least (percentage wise) action.

The KEY is getting 50 people to each tell 50 people to teach tell 50 people, etc., etc., etc. (Or, really, 5 people to tell 5 people, etc., etc., etc.) Each message then becomes a relevant, targeted message, and a message that the recipient of which is most likely to pass on.

And that’s what gives social networking sites, such as Facebook, such a great potential for organization.

So you sort of have two issues: 1) crafting the right message and 2) getting that message to the right people.

Obviously what I’m describing here is simply viral marketing in theory (the practitioners of which will tell you in reality is anything but simple).

5 comments » | Communication, Facebook, New Media, Old Media, Online Communities, Viral Marketing

Catholicism 2.0: Religious blogging, podcasting & online communities

January 24th, 2008 — 8:20pm

Call to Action logoEach year Call to Action, a progressive, reform-minded organization within the Catholic Church, convenes a National Convention. This year the group aims to hold a few sessions on how to utilize new media technologies to inform and galvanize the laity to action. Some suggested sessions include blogging, podcasting and social networking. I had a conversation last night with an organizer, and hope to sit on a panel for the group. The convention is in November and preliminary information can be found here. More to come soon…

Comment » | Blogging, Journalism, Media, New Media, Online Communities, Social Networking

“Companies must become social” – Jeff Jarvis

January 20th, 2008 — 1:14pm

Jarvis posted recently over at the Buzz Machine about companies need to become more social.

I can’t agree more.

He describes how one company’s attempts to “be more social” pay dividends down the road in terms of increased creativity and good ideas. Well said.

Comment » | Job, Journalism, Work

New position at Southern Progress Corporation

January 20th, 2008 — 1:11pm

Well, I’ve finally settled into an apartment here in Birmingham, Alabama, and have one week under my belt at Southern Progress Corporation. Thus far I’ve been nothing but impressed by the professionalism and the energy at SPC.

I’ll be working in the Travel and Livings sections of

Exciting stuff.

Comment » | Job, Southern Living, Travel, Work

The worst tour company in Cusco for a trek to Machupicchu

January 16th, 2008 — 11:49pm

I hate to use my blog to do this, but I can’t let faulty business practices go unreported.

Peru Viajes o Globo (UPDATE: former link now a spam site) swindled me and my friend out of money and provided a drunk guide.

Victor the swindlerVictor, pictured at right, sold my friend Brett and me a four-day tour with a guide along the Inca trail from Cusco to Machupicchu on January 5th, 2008. He informed us we would be returning to Cusco around 7 pm on the 8th and agreed to book an overnight bus for us from Cusco to Arequipa the night we returned and charged us an additional 75 soles (or $25). Our guide, who got drunk and left us to our own devices to ascend Machupicchu by ourselves, booked the wrong train for us to return to Cusco on the 8th, causing us to miss our overnight bus to Arequipa. We approached Victor the next day, but he refused to refund us our bus tickets.

That’s how it went down. Not a huge deal, and I’m not immensely bitter, but a faulty deal nonetheless.

Comment » | Machupicchu, Peru, Travel

Newspapers are “just another player”

January 15th, 2008 — 8:44am

WAN logoThe World Association of Newspapers (WAN) published a list of 66 trends which, according to newspaper executives across the globe, are affecting them and their business models. The whole list is worth downloading, but one I found particularly interesting was the following:

Newspaper companies are becoming “just another media player”
The newspaper industry can no longer perceive itself as exclusive or unique to other market players.

Wow. Should the newspaper industry ever have perceived itself as unique or exclusive? As a consumer of news, I think that attitude can often lead to a feeling of estrangement from a local news source. Newspapers, as a part of the fourth estate, undoubtedly perform a valuable service to their communities, but they are still part of the community.

Comment » | Newspapers

A few media-related travel observations…

January 13th, 2008 — 4:37pm

Skype logoOne thing that amazed on my recent trip to Peru was the pervasiveness of Skype and Facebook in hostels and internet cafes, even in some of the most remote destinations. A year ago when I backpacked in Argentina, a quick glance around a “locutorio” would reveal computers dominated by travelers on gMail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail and the like. E-mail allowed those on the road the ability to stay in touch with friends and family with incredible ease.

Within a year and a half, however, not only did I find it incredibly easy to drop my parents a quick note, I could even call them. In Aguas Calientes, the tiny village outside Machu Picchu in the remote Andes, every internet cafe I went to offered Skype with headphones.


Comment » | Facebook, Peru, Travel

Back from Peru

January 12th, 2008 — 1:56pm

Sorry for the month-long hiatus, but I am finally back from Peru.

(And in that spirit, check me out overlooking Machu Picchu!)
Matt overlooking Machu Picchu

But now that I am back, I am a graduate and will be adjusting to working at Southern Living down in Birmingham, Alabama. The next few days entail finding an apartment and all that fun stuff. Wish me luck!

1 comment » | Job, Machupicchu, Peru, Southern Living, Travel

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