Thinking about Alaska

View from a Grant Aviation plane

I've spent five weeks so far this year in Alaska, which in part accounts for my absence from blogging. I spent three weeks in Juneau, one in Kenai, and one in Anchorage. That's a tiny sample of our largest state, which has more coastline than all the rest of the country combined, and more land mass than Texas, California and Montana put together. But some points stand out.

No, you can't see Russia.

Sarah Palin is not particularly welcome to return.

Itsy-bitsy teensy-weensy type

I found myself annoyed the other day by the Washington Post's unusually small, hard to read body type, so I installed the very nice CSSViewer Chrome extension and took a look at several sites to see what's popular these days.

When activated, CSSViewer pops up a display of the active CSS rules for whatever element you're pointing at. Here's what I found.

It's not a paywall (part 2)

The New York Times has (finally) unveiled details of its metered-access digital subscription system to predictably mixed reviews.

As I've said, it's not a paywall, and using that word steers you toward misunderstandings. Think of it as rate-limiting. Light usage is free; heavy usage brings a request for payment.

Our disappointing journalism

Catching up with a crushing load of unanswered email, I wrote this in response to a query from a grad student who asked about contextualized journalism:

The video tag mess, and why Google's interests are (mostly) our interests

Earlier this week, Google's Chrome browser project announced it was dropping support for H.264 video, and immediately there was an uproar as if Google had desecrated a sacred object and posted the video on YouTube.

Most people actually have no idea what this means. A lot of people have drawn conclusions that I think are fundamentally wrong. All of this is very important to the evolution of Web media, and I'm going to try to make some sense of it.

Let's start with the word "open."

Things I wish tech journalists would learn

Things I wish tech journalists would learn:

Counts are not the same thing as surveys.

Surveys yield projections that have margins of error that should be disclosed and explained.

Survey methods should be disclosed and critically examined. If a survey was conducted in order to generate a press release for marketing purposes, it's probably bullshit.

Units in distribution pipelines are not the same as units sold to consumers.

Lines outside of stores are a publicity stunt.

The open Web and Android are the winners; what does it mean?

"OK open systems beat great closed systems every time." I've cited that quote (from Scott Kurnit, circa 1994-95) often, and we're now looking at yet another example: Android and the Web are winning the mobile space. Your stats may be telling you something different. They're probably wrong.

We've launched robust mobile news sites for most of our newspapers, properly integrated with our non-mobile sites, fully supporting social link-sharing and commenting. We also have some apps from a couple of different vendors. In terms of usage, the mobile sites are slaying the apps.