For those of us struggling to understand the consequences of opening up our local news websites to broad public participation, Ulises Ali Mejias has a helpful essay, Social Media and the Networked Public Sphere. He focuses on a key distinction between mass and public:
I flew back from St. Petersburg, Russia, yesterday -- a long day that began at 5 a.m. Russian time and ended around 5 p.m. EDT.
In my absence my ISP had broken my Internet setup -- Murphy dictates that technology will go haywire when you have no access to fix it. The first order of business today was to get things untangled so that I can resume getting my daily dose of drug, stock and mortgage spam.
It was surprising how few Internet access cafes I found in Moscow and St. Petersburg. By contrast, mobile phone usage (especially SMS text) is extremely high.
E&P's Joe Strupp has a wrapup of how online components figured in the Pulitzer Prizes announced yesterday. While online elements were included in many of the winning entries, they were limited to text and still photographs -- no audio, no video, no interaction.
Strupp quoted Sig Gissler, prize administrator: "There are others to consider down the road," Gissler noted. "We will be making other change as circumstances change."
Circumstances changed last century.
It's a provocative introduction to the "State of the Media 2006" report from the Project for Excellence in Journalism: "Will we recall this as the year when journalism in print began to die?"
It's not that bad, the report says: "We believe some fears are overheated. For now, the evidence does not support the notion that newspapers have begun a sudden death spiral. The circulation declines and job cuts will probably tally at only about 3% for the year. The industry still posted profit margins of 20%."
There's a temptation to look at the Washington Post blog blowup and perform a cost-benefit analysis on interactivity. Clearly you can't just toss interactivity technology -- comment systems, forums, chat rooms, whatever -- onto a website and get nothing but happy flowers and joy blossoms. User comments alone aren't interaction. Staff needs to be involved -- responding, leading, and occasionally mopping up spills. Human resources aren't free.
Big Brother wants to know what you've been searching for on the Internet, and has asked Google for the records. Google, to its credit, isn't handing them over without a fight.