Nine years of insanity, and journalism shares the blame

It is nine years now since the day America lost its mind. Since the day a small band of hate-filled terrorists opened the door to madness, and our nation walked right through. Since the day when the entire world was moved to stand as one (a French newspaper proclaimed: "We are all Americans!") but we didn't notice because we were filled with grief, fear and rage.

For a moment on that day, we forgot our differences. Southern crackers and Detroit homeboys and Amarillo cowboys were all Americans, and all New Yorkers.

In praise of quick and dirty: when the pursuit of excellence is the enemy of success

Increasingly I believe that we in the media business doom ourselves by our devotion to quality. Before you get out the gunpowder, let me explain myself. I love excellence. Awesomeness is, well, awesome. But the premature pursuit of excellence can kill you.

Algorithmic layout: Another thing the visual journalists are going to hate

Ever since we began using computers to handle news -- which is probably a lot longer than you think -- there has been a notion of automating the processes of laying out pages. Long before InDesign, long before Quark, long before Pagemaker there were attempts to apply algorithms to news, to sort and arrange and place items on pages without humans driving every detail of the process.

Don't drink the mind poison, and don't believe Fox

There was a time when American journalism was the gold standard of the world. We created the world's first journalism school. Newspapers and, later, broadcasters all over the world looked up and tried to emulate our practices. But no longer.

I've traveled the world quite a lot in the last 10-15 years. I've read local newspapers and watched TV news in places where journalism once was illegal -- Moscow, St. Petersburg, Prague, the former East Germany. Around the world I've seen the influence of the American tradition, and it is a powerful force for good.

Ten good-enough predictions about tech, media and news

One wall of my office is covered with notes and diagrams trying to divine the future. Nobody can get it right, so I'm actually not worried about that. What's important is to generate views that are useful and helpful in planning. In that spirit, I thought I should share a few "predictions" and see what you all think. I'm thinking of the period 2015-2018. It's close enough to be real, but far enough to give the imagination some running room.

Revolutions are made by rule-breakers

Engadget's Darren Murph has a tale of how ESPN's newsroom adopts technology:

"The iPad has been out for just over two months, yet somehow ESPN -- a massive corporation that should technically have all sorts of red tape bogging down this type of forward thinking -- has managed to not only get a setup working in its labs, but actually get the new setup working and onto shows that we're enjoying each and every day. "

A whack on the head from Maslow's hammer

I thought we were beyond this, but no: it seems that quite a number of people who are old enough to know better are making silly pronouncements to the effect that Tablet Is The New Print.

This calls for a mind-expanding whack on the side of the head, preferably applied with Maslow's hammer. Abraham Maslow was the psychologist famous for his "hierarchy of needs." He also was famous for saying "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." That's called Maslow's hammer, or sometimes "the law of the instrument."