The first rule of coding for Drupal

This is a message to prospective Drupal developers. I'm going to propose this as the First Rule of Coding for Drupal: We do not write code for Drupal.

The year of the tablet?

If you believe all the hype coming out of CES at Las Vegas this week, this is the Year of the Tablet, and the Year of 3-D Television. The latter is easily dismissed (maybe 5 years from now, but not 2010). As for the former: I repeat what I said nearly three years ago. There's a bunch of hurdles to be overcome.

The passing of Editor & Publisher

In the newsroom of the first daily newspaper that employed me, Editor & Publisher magazine was forbidden because of the employment classifieds that justified the "editor" part of its title. The editor regarded it as subversive literature, luring his staff to faraway places with the promise of riches, or at least a living wage.

Thinking about a paywall? Read this first

If you're thinking about charging for content, this high-quality infographic could save you from making a big mistake:

What is this? It's the general shape of your typical newspaper website's user behavior over the course of a month.

This is a not a graph that your typical Web metrics system offers up without a struggle, but if you can force it to reveal this data, it's eye-opening. I first pulled this sort of curve out of a Tacoda system half a dozen years ago, and it changed a lot of my thinking.

Lookie Lou isn't really a customer

Danny Sullivan is getting a lot of points for his post beating up on News Corp. titled If Newspapers Were Stores, Would Visitors Be “Worthless” Then?

Far be it from me to defend Rupert Murdoch.

But I have to take issue with the premise that newspaper executives are idiots for not realizing the immense value of random visitors from random places who stumble across a newspaper story.

It ain't there.

As so often is the case, Sullivan uses an analogy, then takes it to absurdity:

A professional journalist embarrasses himself in Jackson, Tenn.

As Thanksgiving approaches, perhaps we all should stop and give thanks that we have not, recently at least, made fools of ourselves quite as thoroughly as did Jackson (Tenn.) Sun editorial page editor Tom Bohs when he admonished "citizen journalists:"

"If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out."

You too, Tom.

Some advice to designers of news websites

This morning I ran across a note at drupal.org from a beginning designer asking for a critique of his attempt to design a news site. The attempt led me to focus on some weaknesses that are common to many professionally designed sites.

There are too many "redesigns" of news sites, and the typical redesign process is set up for failure. It goes like this:

Keller's list of 7 priorities should be every newsroom's list

I often point out that the New York Times is in a very different business than the typical local/regional daily newspaper in the United States.

But listening to Bill Keller tell the NYT Digital crew his list of seven "questions that loom largest to us at the moment," I'm struck by how perfectly it aligns with the key newsroom issues at every daily newspaper in America.

If you're not acutely aware of all of these, you have some homework to do.

Keller's list:

Government-supported journalism

Writing for the Washington Post, Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols advocate a renewed government effort to support journalism.

This has sparked a predictable round of mild paranoia (government support can become government control).

But it might be useful to take a look at the many ways in which government already contributes to journalism, through funding and policy, in ways that benefit the citizenry of the United States.

The big obvious examples are broadcasting.

Slate's ill-informed pageview whoring

Isn't Slate supposed to be above the level of "random Internet troll?" One wonders after reading the anti-Drupal rant by Slate Washington correspondent Chris Wilson, who first claims to explain "Why running the White House Web site on Drupal is a political disaster waiting to happen," then fails to do so. Wilson's complaints about Drupal are universally wrong in fact, but the kicker is that he finishes up with this quip: