Metaphor: Jumping out of a plane without a parachute

Jumping without a parachute
Dave Winer’s Find an airplane to jump out of

In hindsight, the Times could have and should have been the new distribution system, but they would have had to be nimble to do that, and been willing to accept the feeling of jumping out of a plane with no parachute. They let people in California do that nstead because they were willing to deal with nsecurity. What a silly reason to cede an empire.

Now here’s the good news for the Times. There’s still time.

The electronic system isn’t finished upheaving. There are still planes taking off that you can jump out of but as before there are no parachutes. You could hit the ground. Hard.

Why Tumblr is the best RSS reader

I use Google Reader like most RSS subscribers. But you know what? Tumblr’s better. (Added: I know Tumblr’s not a true RSS reader. Stick with me.) Here are five reasons:

No “unread” counts
I hate watching the number of unread items pile up until it hits “1000+.” Dave Winer thinks that’s the wrong way, too. It bugs me so much, I asked Aardvark for suggestions for a Google Reader-like without the unread count and got the reply “get over it.” Guess what Tumblr doesn’t have? I can start at the most recent and go until I start seeing stuff I’ve already seen or until I’m bored.

Everything gets mixed together
In both Google Reader and Tumblr, I subscribe to a huge range of things: politics, media, technology, funny, interesting, people I know. In Google Reader, even though I don’t have to, I segregate different stuff into different folders. But on Tumblr, that’s not even a possibility. So I’ll get some hilarious 4Chan joke right after photos of pelicans covered in BP’s oil. Believe me, way better than slogging through a bunch of tech blogs.

Commenting is just like blogging
When I pursue my feeds in Google Reader and something pisses me off so much that I am forced to spew Internet-troll rage inspires me to respond, that comment is often buried in Google Reader. But on Tumblr, if I have something to say, I can hit the “reblog” button, write as much or as little as I’d like and publish it to a blog. My blog.

Subscribing isn’t a commitment
Even though it’s not, subscribing to a feed in Google Reader feels like a commitment; suddenly I’ve just added 10 more unread items and a new feed to to categorize and prioritize. But when I land on a Tumblr blog, I almost always subscribe. It’s not going to add a bunch of new unread items to my reader, I don’t have to figure out where it fits in my folder scheme. If the blog becomes bothersome, I can unsubscribe easily.

Everything’s a full feed
I never, ever have to leave Tumblr’s dashboard to read the rest of something, which streamlines my reading a lot.

I’d miss some of Google Reader’s functionality (e-mailing and saving items in Pinboard, for instance), but if I could move all my non-Tumblr feed to my Tumblr dashboard, I think I would.

Metaphors: horse carriages and a really dumb quarterback

A quarterback who just doesn’t get it
Dave Winer to Jay Rosen, 33 minutes into Rebooting the News #43

It’s like in football. … When the quarterback gets the ball, the quarterback always turns back and runs a few yards back before even thinking about passing the ball. And you think, “Why is the quarterback doing that? He’s giving up yardage. I mean, he’s running the wrong way.” Well he do it to find some little bit of room so he can see whats out there. So, in the new industry, they’re never willing to do that. They’re always standing right at the scrimmage line, not budging an inch. And of course what happens — they get tackled every goddamn time and they can never throw the ball.

A misnamed  car
Andrew Spittle on Twitter, discussing how using the term “computer-assisted reporting,” instead of referring online tools, is silly.

CAR would be like calling a car an “engine assisted horse carriage”

RSS cloud and me

WordPress just added support on its hosted blogs (all 7.5 million of them) for a new Dave Winer project called RSS Cloud. It is system for RSS, which allows users to subscribe to content and is also the hidden backbone for services such as Twitter, that updates compatible readers in real time.

Essentially, this is an open-protocol that could move real-time conversation away from Twitter, or at least give it some competition. Read Write Web understands and explains the whole thing better than I do.

Dave is obviously pretty jazzed: “It’s pretty amazing. I feel about the same way as I felt when the NY Times RSS feeds came online in 2002.

Anyway, I just added a new plug-in that makes my WordPress install cloud-enabled. Cool.

Metaphors: Waves, Coral Reef, Planets and Goliath

You can read the premise behind this in the orginal news metaphor post, which was linked to by Jim Romenesko, Jay Rosen and The New York Times‘ David Carr, among others. That post has grown unmanageably large so I’ve created a category for it. You can still suggest metaphors via e-mail, Twitter, Publish2 (tagged “newsmetaphors”) or the comments.

Pushing Back at the Ocean
Steve Outing’s No solution to news problems? Hah!

The newspaper industry is seeing bankruptcies, layoffs, the loss of serious watchdog journalism, and a sickening decline in quality because of the “situation.” While a sour economy is clearly a big part of the problem, the biggest problem is that the industry’s leaders seem to think there are no good solutions other than wading in the ocean and pushing back the waves (i.e., tectonic changes in consumer behavior and advertiser spending patterns).

A Coral Reef
Jay Rosen and Dave Winer’s Rebooting the News podcast No. 12

(I haven’t had a change to pull the exact quote. I will.)

Planets in Orbit
Dan Pacheco’s Newspapers Need A Galileo

It’s not that different from the geocentric view of the universe that Galileo correctly identified as false, but the Catholic Church fought until the bitter end. Likewise, newspapers, and many large media companies, still assume that they are at the center of the local universe, when in fact they’re really planets spinning around suns which orbit galaxies. They still have an important role, but until they realize that they’re one part of a larger system they’re operating out of an illusion.

David and Goliath
Charles Arthur’s David v Goliath in the newsroom, and why we need new wrappers for journalism

OK: now see the publishers of Gizmodo, Engadget, Gawker, TechCrunch et al as the Davids, fighting the Goliaths of the New York Times and, of course, the Guardian and all the other papers. Should they fight on the same terms? If they want to get beaten, sure. They’ll never be able to find the experienced journalists, the experienced sales people, the special something that the papers have been able to build up over decades. The papers have the news process down pat. They can get those stories into paper-sized parcels and out to people so effectively there’s no room left.

So the blogs have to create their own battlefield, their own rules, and fight there.

Armies of Unequal Strength
Jeff Jarvis’s David, Meet Goliath

Right. They have things to learn from each other if they can stop sniping long enough to notice how few of them are left standing on the battlefield. But their culture expectations get in the way. To continue Charles’ war metaphor: It’s the Redcoats vs. the rebels; the GIs vs the Vietcong. When the new guy breaks the rules, protesting that they’re doing it wrong does no good. Learn. That’s what I was trying to say.