This is a slash: /
This is a backslash: \
So it bugs me when people say xyz.com/whatever as “xyz dot com backslash whatever.”
I know where it comes from: Windows directories really are separated by backslashes. It’s hard to adjust from that to the web, invented by Unix users.
So why do I care? I care because I like precision. I’m a programmer, so a misplaced semicolon or quotation mark often causes all kinds of errors. I learned grammar, so “it’s” instead of “its” rubs me the wrong way. Punctuation matters.
I read most of my text on blogs, where it may or may not have been proofread. I use Twitter, where people abbreviate and leave out words to fit into 140 characters. I’m seeing more and more typos in books and newspapers, as publishers don’t have time or copyediting staff to catch them. And here the Internet was supposed to usher in a golden age of text.
I wonder sometimes how long it will be before I stop caring. I think it’ll be a while. I’m still most impressed by people who can express themselves fluently in standard written English.
Note: Actually, that isn’t quite true – I can only evaluate the grammar in English, but I’m impressed by the ideas in the blogs I read in French as well. I was pleased to find I could decipher most of a post in Portuguese the other day, too…. Global Internet, here I come.
Posted in Publishing
In these days of news organizations slowly and quickly and very quickly falling apart, I’m starting to catalogue types of reporting that really should be done by citizen media instead. Josh Korr at Publishing 2.0 thinks of scrapbook news; I’m leaning more toward inane trend stories.
Case in point: why did at least three major news sources decide today to publish stories about the Facebook 25 things meme? The New York Times, Time, and my local, normally-serious Washington Post all fell prey to this; anyone would think the meme had a gifted publicist. But how did I find out about two of the three stories? From a friend’s Facebook status. (The Post one I found on its website, in my daily “read the 15-25 stories I might care about” scan.)
I quite like the meme, as long as no one expects me to complete it – my friends’ random facts have been amusing (especially the 25 completely fictional “facts” one person shared). But if you care about the story, you know it’s happening because it’s on your news feed, and if it’s not on your news feed I can’t imagine you care about the story. So why spend precious journalistic resources on this? Is this the kind of content people will value enough to pay for?
Sure, it’s content that got me to write a blog post. And maybe that’s what newspapers and magazines value now. But eyeballs are one thing, and money to support your foreign bureaus is another, and I wish the people I rely on for news had a better idea how to keep delivering it.
Remember last year? It’s that time again.
My glasses have been horribly scratched for at least a year, and I’d finally decided that within the next couple months I’d get myself an eye exam and some new glasses. Then last Tuesday my glasses weren’t just scratched, I couldn’t see through them properly. I think my left lens partially shattered in place.
So until I can get new glasses (on a considerably accelerated schedule), I’m not reading very much. Yes, I’m near-sighted enough that the computer screen 18 inches away is blurry. Yes, I’ve made the text bigger. No, it doesn’t help enough.
So instead I’ve been listening to all the podcasts I’ve collected and then proceeded to ignore over the last year or so. Some have been more interesting than expected. And the winners are:
- Chicago GSB Podcast Series – These are speeches/discussions at various events, so most of them are around an hour long. Normally I don’t have time to listen, but every time I do they’re interesting. The particular episode in this case was on CEO Goalsetting (MP3), including discussion of baseline goals, stretch goals, bounties, motivation, and what really works in a large company and in a startup. One panelist was the current CEO of Liz Claiborne, whose unenviable turnaround situation I’ve followed (for instance, see today’s Washington Post story on the men’s line), so it’s interesting to hear how he’s trying to change things.
- Deloitte Insights Podcast – The show descriptions included when you subscribe to Deloitte’s podcast are abbreviated versions of and much less inviting than the pages devoted to each episode, so I’m not sure why they don’t include the full text in the feed. Regardless, the episodes themselves are excellent, with thorough conversations by experts. I listened to Embracing Disruption: How Consumers Are Transforming the U.S. Health Care System, and while I know a fair amount about the trends (researching medical information and providers online, shopping around for care or being told you ought to, etc.), it was a very comprehensive discussion. Participants in next year’s expected health policy debate should listen to this one.
- McKinsey on High Tech Podcasts – Unlike McKinsey’s Global Institute and Finance podcasts, this one is interviews rather than audio versions of McKinsey Quarterly articles (which I’d really rather read/skim – better to do interviews with article authors like HBR sometimes does). The interviews look forward to potential new markets, since they’re on topics being researched by McKinsey’s high tech practice group, such as the Software as a Service episode I listened to. For me, sitting in an internet job and reading blogs of independent / small company web workers, SaaS seems everywhere, but it’s at the very early stages of corporate adoption. This was a good introduction to the benefits and where the market may go, though I was surprised there wasn’t more discussion of privacy/security issues with keeping data “in the cloud”.
I guess there’s a theme here of smart people having in-depth discussions of complicated business topics. Other podcasts in this category, not listed above because I listen to them more regularly:
LBS’s podcast doesn’t qualify because it’s too short; MIT’s is about selling the school rather than discussing research. Are there any more Serious Business Idea podcasts I should be listening to? Tell me now, before I can read again!
I’ll be going to Blogger Social in New York in a week, and in preparation I’ve been reading (and helping write) Steve Woodruff’s series of Socialite profiles. Now, for easy downloading, here are:
The 48-page full-size PDF (5MB) and the booklet PDF (4.8MB).
The booklet (courtesy of my new software toy CocoaBooklet) can be printed double-sided and stapled in the middle to make a cute little pocketable guide.