5Across: Smartphone Etiquette, and Our Lack of Civility

This episode of 5Across is brought to you by GoDaddy, helping you set up your own website in a snap with domain name registration, web hosting and 24/7 support. Visit GoDaddy to learn more.

Back in 2006 on MediaShift, I asked an innocent question to readers: In what social situations should you NOT use a cell phone? The response was overwhelming, with dozens of people upset by the lack of etiquette shown by people talking on cell phones in restaurants, theaters and even in public restrooms. We eventually came up with a definitive guide for cell phone no-no's.

Now, with smartphones becoming popular, the problem has become even worse. We have people texting while walking across the street, checking scores while out on a date, or using GPS when they could simply ask someone nearby. What's the story with smartphone etiquette? For this episode of 5Across, we convened a group of people to discuss various situations when smartphone use can be tricky -- in restaurants, with friends, in the car -- and considered an opposing view: when the phone call might be more important than the company with us in person. The result is a fascinating discussion about our transitional time, as we figure out (quite clumsily) when it's OK to chat on our smartphone and when it's not.

5Across: Smartphone Etiquette

>>> Subscribe to 5Across video podcast <<<

>>> Subscribe to 5Across via iTunes <<<

Guest Biographies

W. Kamau Bell is a comedian that told the very first joke about Barack Obama on Comedy Central's Premium Blend waaaaaaaay back in 2005. Unfortunately, the joke predicted that Barack would never be President. (Oops!) Comedy Central also invited Kamau to perform his critically acclaimed solo show, "The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour," at their theater in Hollywood. "The Curve" enjoyed a long run in San Francisco, had continued success in Oakland and Berkeley, and played to full houses in 2009 at the New York International Fringe Festival. His new CD, Face Full of Flour is now out on iTunes.

Fernando Castrillon earned a masters in sociology from the University of California and a doctorate in clinical psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). He currently serves as core faculty in the Community Mental Health Department at CIIS and is the director of CIIS's "Clinic without Walls." His clinical, teaching, and research interests include, among other things, the impact of hypervelocity technological change on human psychology and intersubjectivity. Currently he is working on a book based on his dissertation research, in which he examines the cultural, psychological and intersubjective consequences of the hyper-digitization of contemporary Western culture.

Nicole Lee is an associate editor for CNET.com. She reviews all manner of mobile devices, from cell phones to Bluetooth headsets. She is a co-host on Dialed In, CNET's cell phone podcast, and she also writes a bi-weekly Q&A column on CNET about cell phones called The 411. She previously worked for Gizmodo, Wired Magazine, and TechTV (now-defunct cable network about technology).

Daniel Scherotter is executive chef and owner of Palio d'Asti, an Italian restaurant in downtown San Francisco. Scherotter brought with him not only an appreciation for the lavish table of Emilia Romagna, where he worked for two years, but also an affinity for the exotic fusion of Sicily, where in 2003 he married his wife, Nina. Now that he's married, he's started working on his first book, "The Bachelor's Guide to Cooking," and serves on the board of directors of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

Syndi Seid is an authority on business protocol and etiquette and has appeared on "Good Morning America," CBS' "Eye on America," Fox's "Trading Spouses," HGTV's "Party At Home," and Discovery Channel's "Picture This." Major companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Sprint, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and the Miss Universe Pageant trust her to train their employees to avoid social faux pas that could lead to major business and political blunders. She founded Advanced Etiquette worldwide to help executives and employees overcome their fears and insecurities to find poise, confidence, and authority in any social situation. Her own book, "Etiquette In Minutes is now available at EtiquetteInMinutes.com.

If you'd prefer to watch sections of the show rather than the entire show, I've broken them down by topic below.

Restaurant Etiquette

Losing Our Humanity?

An Opposing View

The Worst Offenders

Evolution of Etiquette

Etiquette Tips

Credits

Mark Glaser, executive producer and host
Darcy Cohan, producer

Charlotte Buchen, camera

Julie Caine, audio

Location: Vega Project & Kennerly Architecture office space in San Francisco

Special thanks to: PBS, The Knight Foundation & GoDaddy

Music by AJ the DJ

*****

vega project card.jpg

What do you think? What kind of etiquette do you think we should have around our smartphone use? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

This episode of 5Across is brought to you by GoDaddy, helping you set up your own website in a snap with domain name registration, web hosting and 24/7 support. Visit GoDaddy to learn more.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

Are Photos by Aid Workers an Invasion of Privacy in Haiti?

I recently spent a week in Port au Prince, Haiti, helping in a tent hospital set up at the airport.

michelle.jpgWhen I arrived back in San Francisco, I wrote about my experience in Haiti on my blog and posted pictures I had taken. I also posted photos on my Facebook profile, including images of smiling children who had just been operated on, long lines of patients, and even some "fun" photos, such as a few of me letting off some steam with a brigade of Portuguese firefighters at their camp (see photo at left).


Now, a rumor is circulating among volunteers that we should remove any photos of our time at the hospital from Facebook and other websites, unless we had received permission to take photographs.

On one hand, it seems like a reasonable request. Some of the photographs posted by volunteers seem invasive: There are photos of an anonymous leg being cut into, an un-named mother giving birth, people who are clearly sedated, and bleary-eyed volunteers drinking beer at the UN café. They have attracted attention and criticism at the hospital, and among some of our Facebook friends.


One friend of mine, who put a strange mix of suffering, surgeries, and drunken party photos on Facebook, posted a rant defending her right to post whatever she wanted. Her logic: If CNN can film a woman giving birth, then why is it wrong for her to do the same? She pointed out she is saving lives, and had the cojones to drop everything to help in Haiti in the first place, unlike her critics back home.



This ethical debate is inspired by the ability of anyone to easily create and distribute media such as photos, videos or blog posts. Professional media have long been training their cameras and mikes on the victims of natural disasters, but now anyone can do it, too. Is it more invasive just because some of us don't have a press pass?

Glimpsing Freedom -- And TV Cameras

Recently, a man who was rescued after being trapped for 27 days glimpsed the sky and the CNN cameras at almost the same moment. This isn't surprising. At one point, when I was in Haiti, I was counseling a traumatized mute boy at the hospital when all of a sudden he and I we were swarmed by a U.S. news network camera crew. Their lenses were inches from the boy's face as a doctor I had not met before talked about the boy's needs and his "thousand-yard stare." I remember thinking, "What this boy needs is for you to get the camera out of his face."

haiti2.JPGLater, a reality show doctor showed up and demanded that doctors operate on an 87 year-old woman with a broken pelvis that the TV doctor had "rescued" from her home. A real doctor accused the TV doctor of exploiting a disaster for her own interests.


Perhaps this is why blogs, Facebook posts, and tweets from citizens can sometimes do a better job of putting a human face on the suffering in Haiti, and bring it home to people who may not otherwise pay attention. We've become desensitized to the way traditional media portray events like the recent one in Haiti; it's possible that the authenticity contained in the accounts of non-journalists on the ground have a greater impact on folks back in the States.

Like most of those who have responded so generously to the crisis in Haiti, even the grandstanders probably had good intentions. But they can get in the way of those working to help the victims, and they can make it appear as if all of us on the ground are being insensitive, heedless of privacy, and are pumped up by our own do-goodedness.

Not surprisingly, the day after the reality TV doctor made her dramatic visit, strict media guidelines were put in place at the camp. Reporters needed to be vetted, sign in, and wear "authorized" media badges.

To Remove or Not?

So will I take all my Facebook photos down? Well, they have always only been accessible to my friends -- but I did remove a few photos and stories from my blog. I will not, however, take down all my stories and photos. Even though I am returning to the hospital and don't want to jeopardize my chances to do so, I feel certain that nothing I've posted is an invasion of someone's privacy.

Then again, maybe I am simply desensitized and part of the system myself.

Haiti Return Trip

UPDATE (3/8/10): The above post was written after my first trip to Haiti, and since then I returned for another stint helping at the hospital. When I returned, relief workers weren't allowed to board the plane in Miami until after we signed a declaration regarding photography: We would only take photos with permission, none of them would show someone suffering and only if they were for academic and medical purposes. This February visit was far more formal than my first visit to the tent hospital in January just weeks earlier.


I refrained from taking photos during my first day back at the tent hospital, which was not an easy task as I am someone who loves photography. Interestingly enough, I observed volunteers shooting pix, mainly on their iPhones. Later that night, a doctor showed me a photo of a patient's foot -- a case of Elephantitis -- a condition that causes enlargement of certain extremities.

"This is the stuff you only see in textbooks," the doc commented, making it clearly a legitimate educational photo. He went on to show me more photos, until he landed on one of a woman covered in surgical scrubs holding the hand of a patient in the ICU: "This one's my favorite." He did not realize that was me, under the surgical scrubs. Now the shoe was on the other foot, but in this case of course I did not mind. It showed me in my best condition -- not sedated or suffering. I think some of us forgot that while showing us at our best we may be showing others at their most low points.


As the week went on I began taking photos -- always with permission, and usually only patients who were on the upswing, with the exception of a patient who was on the brink of death who I worked very closely with. It was not for academic or medical reasons. I simply wanted to remember his kind face and his angelic eyes. The few days before that I had posted his story, using a fake name "Jean," on my Facebook page. I was encouraged that his story moved poeple and that friends wanted to send money down to help him. Jean was happy to have his photo taken to remember our time together; he had a grace about him that I am sure I would not have in such a state.

Little did he know I was setting up a fund for him and his family. Even though Jean never said it, he was suffering. He was shot in the spine and was newly quadrapelegic. He was fighting infection and we had nearly lost him earlier that day. He and his family survived the quake, although their home did not. They felt lucky, but then an attempted carjacking left him paraliyzed.


Once back in San Francisco I spoke to one of my friends who had influence in the tent hospital. I made a general statement that there were "too many rules now." She asked me to be specific. I was talking about photography. She had a strong retort letting me know that she did not aprove of the photos I posted on Facebook. She told me all the very obvious privacy rights of patients. If it was not me who had done it, I would be lecturing just the same. But when you are there, and it gets so personal, we tend to bend the rules, making exceptions for ourselves that we would not make for others.



After my piece published on MediaShift, a nurse I worked with wrote to me, wondering out loud if the photos she had posted on Facebook were inappropriate. I thought that they were. She went on to rationalize that she felt it was okay to be sure that the world knows what is happening there. Is it really neccesary for me to see how bloody bed sores can be on someone's naked bottom, or actual blood dripping out of a just-amputated limb?

As someone thoughtfully commented on this site, it boils down to our own personal moral compasses. I would never think it's okay to post such things, but for some reason this woman thinks that by us seeing blood coming out of a patient it will keep Haiti in the news and keep money coming in. Maybe she's right and I just need to watch more of the Surgery Channel to get used to such images? Or maybe, like me, she became personally involved with these patients and wanted to tell their stories back home?

Michelle May is a San Francisco-based relief worker, traveler and school psychologist. Follow her travels on her blog.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

The #Spill Effect: Twitter Hashtag Upends Australian Political Journalism

Australia is gearing up for a national election in 2010 and a core group of influential political journalists in the elite Canberra Press Gallery are tweeting their way along the campaign trail -- and bringing an engaged public along for the ride.

Press Gallery journalists are among the most active Australian reporters on Twitter, which entrenched itself Down Under as a mainstream media reporting platform in the context of breaking news early in 2009.

As part of my ongoing research into the impact of Twitter on journalism, I've been investigating the role and experience of Australian political reporters on the platform. I'm currently preparing a case study on Twitter coverage of one of the biggest crises to afflict Australian conservative politics: The Liberal Party leadership collapse that was immortalised by the trending topic #spill in the last days of the 2009 parliament. (I will present a snapshot of this research in a peer-reviewed academic paper at the World Journalism Education Congress in South Africa this July)

I'm in the process of analyzing the thousands of tweets generated when the story unfolded, moment by moment, on Twitter. But more interesting are the experiences of political journalists who used the platform to augment their coverage of the leadership spill as it played out in late November/early December last year.

In the immediate aftermath of the story, I surveyed eight prominent tweeting Press Gallery journalists about their experiences. Their responses, and my ongoing assessment of the Twitter coverage, have strengthened my hypothesis that Twitter is having a transformative impact on journalism. this is taking place against a backdrop of institutional upheaval and audience demands for increased engagement with both journalists and the stories they report. This became clearer to me as I observed and actively participated in the #spill coverage as a content curator and commentator

Key Findings

My key preliminary findings are:
Twitter is becoming a vehicle for participatory democracy in Australia thanks to its ability to create unmediated interaction between political journalists, engaged citizens and politicians.

In the race to tweet, journalists are knocking down the walls that have in the past segregated media outlets within the Press Gallery. This is happening via content-sharing and cross-pollination between fiercely competitive commercial and public broadcast networks, newspapers and wire services.

Collegiality is being fostered between tweeting political journalists.

Conversely, competitiveness has a new, sharper edge.

Tweeting renders political reporting processes more transparent.

Twitter is a new dissemination point for breaking political news.

Twitter has broken through barriers that have historically isolated political journalists from media consumers.

While journalists continue to re-examine professional fundamentals as they negotiate their way through the Twitterverse, they, in general, view the benefits of the platform as outweighing the risks.

The upcoming Federal Election will be Twitterised

I'll elaborate on these findings in my next post for MediaShift. For now, here's a look back at the #spill story, and what it means for Twitter and journalism.

parliament house.jpg

The Press Gallery Joins Twitter

Last June, Canberra Press Gallery journalists successfully campaigned for the right to take mobile devices and laptops onto the floor of the parliament to enable live-tweeting of Question Time, the daily slanging match between the government and opposition parties. This followed the development of a significant following for the journalist-led Twitter discussion around Question Time, aggregated by the hashtag #QT, which effectively engaged an active online citizenry. This change brought about an end to a decades-long ban on communication devices within the parliamentary chambers. And, as a result, politicians began joining the #QT chat from their leather benches.

Highlighting the traction Twitter has gained within Australian politics as a recognised political reporting platform, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd cited the tweets of Sky TV News political editor, David Speers, while taunting the opposition on the floor of the House of Representatives last August.

"Twitter is a welcome addition to the political landscape in my view," Speers told me. "It's encouraging journalists to be faster, wittier and more collegiate."

The Story of #Spill

The flow of Press Gallery journalists onto Twitter accelerated during a leadership crisis that ultimately cost the opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, his job. Turnbull's attempts to offer bi-partisan support for a controversial emissions trading scheme resulted in an historic schism within the party and an ugly leadership meltdown that ultimately shifted Australian conservative politics further to the right. It was a riveting story.

sam maiden tweet jp.jpg

But what made this political crisis even more spectacular was the way it played out on Twitter. Press Gallery journalists poured onto the platform, and political watchers were glued to journalists' Twitter streams. A politically engaged Twitter electorate was taken directly into the eye of the storm by journalists live-tweeting every twist and turn within the halls of power. They also interacted with their followers. Prominent political players in the crisis, including the deposed leader and one of his key challengers, also used Twitter to engage directly with voters and canvas public opinion.

The Australian's chief online correspondent, Samantha Maiden,) later told me that she felt politicians were generally slower on the Twitter up-take.

"I think it's a bit of a myth that politicians were tweeting in great numbers during the spill, but I certainly know they were keeping their eye on what was emerging on twitter," she said.

Radio 2UE's Latika Bourke said that many politicians were obsessive about tracking the updates form journalists. "Some MPs I know were glued to the coverage, although they'll never admit it publicly," she told me.

Other journalists mentioned the fact that scores of political staffers were closely watching the feeds and phoning reporters, asking them to elaborate on tweets. The staffers also forwarded tweets to the politicians themselves. This confirms the legitimacy Twitter obtained during the #spill as a political reporting platform.

The journalists used Twitter for a wide range of activities. these included:
Tweeting breaking news

Live-tweeting from media conferences

Posting pictures to illustrate the atmospherics

Offering opinions

Monitoring key political players' Twitter feeds

Linking to long-form stories on their outlets' websites and, critically, to those of their competitors

Discussing story updates and journalistic processes with their colleagues, competitors and followers

Interacting with the public

Posing questions to politicians, or passing comments directed at them via the medium

J-Tweeting the Spill

How significant was the role of Twitter in the reporting of 'the #spill'? Within 24 hours of the story breaking, Crikey's Bernard Keane reflected on the impact it had already made.

"Now it's a vast combination of news outlet, rumour mill and commentary chamber, and it's virtually instant. Media in its purest form, with all the flaws and benefits of media similarly magnified," he wrote.

According to Latika Bourke, a commercial radio journalist with the nationally distributed Sydney talk station 2UE, Twitter was at the heart of the coverage.

"I can't tell you how many times I heard journos admit they 'better get into this Twitter thing,' that fortnight ... It was the only service providing minute-by-minute updates of the very fluid situation," Bourke said.

The journalists I surveyed spoke of colleagues overcoming their apprehensions about the time-sapping effect of Twitter as the story unfolded.

ABC Radio chief political correspondent Lyndal Curtis made efficient use of her Twitter account during the week-long crisis. "I used Twitter mainly as a content aggregator -- I didn't have time to monitor Sky [TV], other radios or the newspaper websites because I was constantly on the phone or on the air," she said. "So Twitter was my RSS feed."

Sandra O'Malley, an experienced political correspondent with the main Australian wire service, Australian Associated Press, said she found timely tweeting difficult given the significant deadline pressure involved in reporting for a news wire.

"Twitter was a secondary consideration for me in such a frantic environment," she said "Interesting, however, how competitive it can be. [I] found myself quite put out when I broke a story on the wire but only managed to get it to Twitter late, or not at all, and saw others getting it out there first."

The ABC's Chief Online political writer, Annabel Crabb was one of the first Press Gallery journalists to begin tweeting, and she has a large following at her dedicated Question Time Twitter feed.

"(The #Spill) was an event quite well-suited to Twitter, in that it was fast-moving, anarchic, and constantly changing," Crabb said.

She outlined how the story highlighted the real-time news value of Twitter and its capacity to offer a more detailed picture over time: "A story filed for a newspaper at the end of the day would, of necessity, be obliged to edit out some of the stranger twists and turns that occurred during the day; the deals that fell over, the partnerships that formed and disintegrated all within the space of an orthodox news cycle."

While some said Twitter was the star of the #spill story, Keane, said it was actually part of the bigger (and more permanent) story "of the demolition of the old media model of media outlets and their journalists and editors acting as filters on what information is passed on to consumers."

The collaborative reporting facilitated by Twitter - the "wisdom of crowds effect" - will be explored in part two of this report, along with the impact on political reporting of engagement between tweeting journalists, 'punters' and political pundits. The breakdown of historical divides between journalistic camps, which challenges traditional notions of competitiveness - and raises concerns about further eroding mainstream audiences by driving 'followers' to the websites of competing media outlets - will also be examined, along with the associated emergence of a heightened collegiality between tweeting Australian political journalists.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

Self-Publishing, Author Services Open Floodgates for Writers

In 2001, the Wild Writing Women, a San Francisco Bay Area travel writing group of which I was a member, decided to self-publish a book of stories. Why? Because none of us could find a traditional publisher for what we thought was our best writing.

www1.jpg

We had skilled publishing professionals among us, so we never considered using a vanity press. Instead, each of the twelve of us tossed in $500 and formed a small business. One of us went to San Francisco City Hall to process our business name, Wild Writing Women Press. Another bought the ISBN and bar code; others hired a book designer, edited, proofread, created a website, and chose a printer. Promotion was easy because we had 12 professional adventure travel writers talking up the book in the course of marketing our other books and projects.

Wild Writing Women: Stories of World Travel was an instant hit. We sold all 1,000 copies in the first week of publication and made back more than double our investment. Eighteen traditional publishers were suddenly interested in purchasing the book. The group decided -- by a skinny 7 to 5 vote -- to sell it to Globe-Pequot. Self-publishing success? Well, it's 2010 and we've yet to see any royalties.

The Self-Publishing Boom

Mid-level authors already know that the era of large advances, generous royalties, book tours and media spots are over. They have to spend their own time and money to create a website and publicize their books. Publishers just don't have the resources to offer them full support. Why? The Internet, online bookstores, e-books, and an economy in decline are cited as some root causes of the steady slump in the traditional publishing industry. In 2005 sales were down by 9 percent (and have continued to fall). Yet in 2006 print-on-demand exploded.

The 2007 Bowker report quotes Kelly Gallagher, general manager of business intelligence for New Providence, N.J.-based Bowker, saying, "The most startling development last year is the reporting of 'On Demand' titles...which mostly consists of reprints of public domain titles and other short-run books."

These "other short run books" have not been sub-categorized, so it's difficult to pinpoint specific growth areas. Arguably, the largest portion is in books created with the help of corporate author services companies (that is, vanity or subsidy presses) like Lulu and iUniverse. But also on the rise are book packagers (who do everything, which may even include writing the book for you) and true self-publishing, which is the creation of a new indie press as a small business by the author or group of authors.

Bowker's statistics on U.S. book publishing for 2008 reported a decline of 3.2 percent in traditionally published books, while the number of print-on-demand (POD) books jumped to over 285,000, about 10,000 more books than were published by traditional publishing houses. That's a 132 percent increase in POD from 2007 and a second year of triple-digit growth. But the fact that large and mid-sized publishers are moving to POD instead of investing in offset print book inventory certainly must contribute to this statistical rise.

POD technology has been brought to the masses by author services companies like Lulu and CreateSpace, two popular services with no cost to entry. They, and others, depend on printing price markup and add-on services to make their profit, charging from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands to "self-publish your book." They have refined their browser-based tools so that authors with no book design skills can upload text and point-and-click to create a book cover. Suddenly, authors who have spent years writing query letters and wooing agents are spending their time on the Internet playing with fonts and photos and hitting the BUY button to get copies of their book delivered to them.

Authors Who Never Expected to be Authors

Another market contributing to the big spike in POD is the population who never thought of authoring a book until the tools became so accessible. Family memoirs, for example. Cookbooks by church groups. Businesspeople who write books to enhance their career. Professors who author their own textbooks.

rulesforrenegades.jpg

I met Christine Comaford at the San Francisco Writers Conference in 2005. The high-energy entrepreneur and CEO of Mighty Ventures decided that authorship would give her more credibility, and serve as an excellent marketing tool. Her resulting success story is a 2007 book titled Rules for Renegades, complete with a website offering free resources and high-priced DVDs.

Established writers have also turned to self-publishing. Paul Lima is a Toronto-based freelance writer and long-time journalist. In recent years, he helped grow his income by teaching seminars and selling self-published how-to books on business writing, among other topics.

"I'm not technical," he said, "and with Lulu all I have to do is upload a hi-res JPEG photo for the cover, and make a PDF from Word to upload as the interior."

60days.jpg

He said that "Lulu's distribution seemed pricey and Amazon takes their cut, too," so Lima decided to look at another option -- a partnership with a "micropublisher" called Five Rivers in Ontario. Five Rivers created a book that adhered to Lightning Source's print specifications which, because it's owned by book-giant Ingram, easily distributes through bookstores, retail e-book distributors and Amazon in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. They also got distribution for him through the major Canadian retailer Indigo.

Lima earns a 10 percent royalty and he says that's okay with him. "It's a business arrangement -- they're my publisher-distributor-business partner," he said. "The results were phenomenal. We've sold 1,000 copies in less than a year of How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 60 Days. U.K. sales have also been impressive."

Blurring the Lines

The distinctions between traditional publishing, vanity press and self-publishing is becoming ever more blurred, and that's causing some anger and confusion. Publishers Weekly's Lynn Andriani caused a stir by admitting that the subsidy and vanity presses misuse the word "self-publishing," yet made no move to correct the error. And what would be the motivation, when the new expanded definition of self-publishing is experiencing triple-digit growth for the second year in a row while traditional publishers struggle to stay afloat?

Today's definition of self-publishing includes subsidy and vanity presses, print-on-demand companies, and book packagers, which many would like to clarify as being publishing or author services companies.


"Author Solutions' brands -- AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford, Wordclay, and Xlibris -- have published more than 120,000 books by 85,000 authors," Andriani reported in the same article.

When I queried Jane Friedman, publisher and editorial director of Writer's Digest, about the term, she replied, "our definition of self-publishing includes all scenarios where an author pays for publication, whether that author pays an author service, a printer, an e-publisher -- anyone. For example, we have an annual competition called the Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards; we accept any entry where the author bears the cost of publication." (Writers Digest charges $125 to enter the contest.)

Traditional publishers are even creating self-publishing branches of their businesses. Author Solutions helped Harlequin create a self-publishing arm for romance writers called Dellarte Press. It charges $599 to $1,599 for author packages. (Harlequin's first name for their nascent business was Harlequin Horizons, but the industry shrieked.) Author Solutions also helped Christian book publisher Thomas Nelson with its West Bow services, which offers packages ranging from $999 to $19,999.

In contrast, Lima started his self-publishing career on his own and without purchasing a package from one of these new companies. For him, having a sense of control and ownership is what makes the process attractive.

"I really like the fact that I'm controlling the book publishing process and I think that POD has really changed the relationship between author and publisher," Lima said. "I write a book in 60 days, and 30 days later I have the final draft. With niche books like mine, you don't really need the publisher. You've got your website, blog, Twitter and Facebook, and if you write non-fiction you can sell through seminars and talks and articles you write for other people."

Would he go the same route again? Yes. And he has.

"Lulu is a great way to test your book," he said. "You don't need to fully commit. I like it because you can check it out in the minor leagues and then step up to the major leagues with Lightning Source."

Carla King is a publishing and social media strategist and co-author of the Self-Publishing Boot Camp Workbook, which grew out of experiences leading workshops for prospective self-publishers. She has self-published non-fiction travel and how-to books since 1994. Her series of dispatches from motorcycle misadventures around the world are available as print books, e-books and on her website.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

4 Minute Roundup: Google’s Trouble in Europe; WAC vs. Apple

This episode of 4MR is brought to you by GoDaddy, helping you set up your own website in a snap with domain name registration, web hosting and 24/7 support. Visit GoDaddy to learn more.

Here's the latest 4MR audio report from MediaShift. In this week's edition, I look at the trouble Google is having in Europe, with its executives indicted in an Italian court; the European Commission investigating anti-competitive behavior; and recent privacy complaints against Street View. Plus, an alliance of rival cell phone companies wants to create a unified app store to take on Apple. Plus I ask Just One Question to Spot.us honcho David Cohn, who explains an innovative ad plan for the crowdfunding site.

Check it out:

4mrbareaudio22610.mp3

>>> Subscribe to 4MR <<<

>>> Subscribe to 4MR via iTunes <<<

Background music is "What the World Needs" by the The Ukelele Hipster Kings via PodSafe Music Network.

Here are some links to related sites and stories mentioned in the podcast:

Google's appeal in Italy is a blow for freedom at the Inquirer

Italy's prosecution of Google execs could hurt flow of Internet information at Seattle Times

EU regulators critical of Google Street View, report says at LA Times

Google's Italian problem has a Korean solution... at ZDNet

Google facing challenges to its bold ambitions in Europe at LA Times

Mobile Operators Unite to Take on Apple's App Store at ClickZ

Why the WAC Is Whack at GigaOm

Apple ambushed in Barcelona at the Register

Mobile Operators Unite to Fight Apple App Store - Could it Work? at PC World

Spot.Us Adds Assignments, Widgets, Story Updates in Revamp at Idea Lab

Spot.us

Also, be sure to vote in our poll about what you think about Google's search results:


Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

This episode of 4MR is brought to you by GoDaddy, helping you set up your own website in a snap with domain name registration, web hosting and 24/7 support. Visit GoDaddy to learn more.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

IOC Loosens Citizen Photog Restrictions, Launches Flickr Group

At the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, social media was in its infancy. But in Vancouver, it sometimes seems to overshadow the accredited media.

As expected, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics are the first Games to truly be impacted by social media. As a result, one question leading up to the Games was whether the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would continue to exercise its restrictive policies regarding media coverage and copyright. Would these policies change when bloggers, amateur photographers and other members of the citizen media brigade made their voices heard in Vancouver? Or would the IOC clamp down and seek to silence the voice of the crowd?

ioc-flickr-7211

It seems the IOC is ready for a bit of change: It recently announced a Flickr Fan group. Slowly, the Olympics are changing to meet the new media world.

This is the second photo essay by Vancouver photographer Kris Krüg (view the first one here; read our Olympics coverage here). This time, he examines how social media is changing the Olympic Games.

Womens Hockey - Canada vs Slovakia - Canada Place - Vancouver
Winter Olympics

Only accredited photographers are allowed to shoot from the media sections inside the Olympic venues. Here, you see an accredited sports photographer, who has to abide by the IOC rules, with a Flickr sticker on his lens. It's great to see old school mixing with new school.

Go to Photo 2 ->

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

How Mobile Apps Are Revolutionizing Elections, Transparency

The importance of social media in politics was made clear by Barack Obama's 2008 presidential run. But there is a new frontier of Web 2.0 technologies that politicians and political groups are slowly starting to embrace: the smartphone app. These apps have the potential to reshape how politicians communicate, raise money and get out the vote.

The biggest player on the smartphone app stage is Apple's iPhone. But the BlackBerry, Android, Palm Pre and other smartphones are likely to play a growing role as well.

The age of political apps began in October 2008 when the Obama campaign released its free Obama08 app. It organized a person's iPhone contacts to enable supporters to call any friends located in important electoral districts. The Obama app also had a donation interface, news feeds, local campaign events, and a list of Obama's positions on major issues.

The impact of the Obama App on the campaign is hard to say. But, as we approach the 2010 midterm elections, other politicians and political groups have developed apps to advance their issues. Below are some app highlights.

Apps for Politicians

Newell-App.gif

A few politicians are already ahead of the app curve. The biggest name on the national stage with an app is Sen. Sam Brownback, who is running for governor of Kansas. The SamForGov app, like Obama08, was developed to engage voters and provide real-time information about the candidate. The same is true for John Kasich's Kasich for Ohio app, which is supporting his Ohio gubernatorial run, and Felton Newell's Newell for Congress app, which was developed to support Newell's campaign for California's 33rd District.

"I've received lots of feedback from people who I run into and I show them the app...that it does really communicate who I am as a person and what my campaign is about," Newell said in a phone interview.

Apps for Keeping up with Congress, White House

Aside from candidate apps, there is a category of apps designed to provide political enthusiasts with a significant amount of Web 2.0 capabilities. At the top of this list is the 99-cent Congress app (also available in Congress+ and Congress Pro upgrades).

Developed by Cohen Research Group, the Congress app is loaded with information on members of the House and the Senate, including photos, office addresses, contact numbers, website links, campaign news, and other details that put users in direct contract with the U.S. Congress.

Real-Time-Congress-App.gifAnother big hitter in this category is the Real Time Congress app, which was developed by Sunlight Labs. Real Time Congress provides users with a number of information feeds related to House and Senate floor debates; a documents feature that provides immediate access to Congressional Budget Office, Congressional Research Service, and Office of Management and Budget documents as they are posted; real-time notices from the Democrat and Republician whips; and hearing schedules, among other features.

Finally, there is the White House app. Released in January by the Obama administration's technology team, it offers users access to information about the White House, from blog updates, video and photos, to news and a live feature with real-time data.

While the app hardly pushes the limits of what advanced smartphones are capable of, the White House app offers something more important in terms of the the "culture of no," which is how Peter Corbett describes the bureaucratic impediments to technological progress in Washington.

Peter-Corbett.gifCorbett, CEO of the interactive strategy, experiential marketing and content creation solutions company iStrategyLabs, said the White House app is an example for other government agencies to emulate.

"If the White House is using YouTube and building iPhone applications and is using idea sourcing platforms for letting citizens vote on stuff, that's giving all the other agencies permission and an example to follow for when they try and do new things for their constituents," Corbett said.

Apps for Democracy

Corbett and iStrategyLabs are engaged in an emerging category of apps that support open government initiatives. In 2008, Vivek Kundra, former chief technology officer of Washington, DC, and current chief information officer of the U.S. federal government, approached Corbett with a question about how to make the new open government data sets usable for the average citizen.

Corbett responded with the Apps for Democracy contest that offered technologists the potential to win as much as $30,000 in prize money for the development of apps that use the data catalog, and help government function better for citizens. When the contest ended, 47 iPhone, Facebook and web applications had been submitted. iStrategyLabs estimated they are worth more than $2.6 million to Washington.

That contest inspired Sunlight Labs' Apps for America contest and others in Germany, Belgium, Australia and elsewhere. More importantly, Apps for Democracy demonstrated that the technology development crowd has significant interest in participating in these kinds of initiatives.

"We see that there is a passionate local base of technologists that finally see a way to really apply their skills to the process of democracy and government," Corbett said. "Typically they [technologists] were never engaged. They are generally focused on what's going on on TechCrunch and Twitter and not really focused on what's happening on Huffington Post and C-SPAN. Now what we are seeing is because there is this way of tapping into citizen technologists, they are becoming much more engaged in democracy and America itself."

Walking Edge, Ballot Signing App

Technologists are already creating apps that can make an impact in elections and ballot initiatives. The recent election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts was aided by an app developed by Republican Web Development. The firm created an app for GOP candidates called Walking Edge. The Atlantic's Chris Good wrote that the app offered canvassers a database of where undecided voters and candidate-supporters live. The app used geo-location tools and Google Maps, and after canvassers made contact with a person they could update the database in real-time.

Verafirma-app.gifAnother app being developed by the California-based company Verafirma enables users to sign a ballot initiative using an iPhone. It is currently being used by the Citizen Power Campaign to gather signatures for an initiative aimed at prohibiting public employee unions from using member dues for political activities. The app itself is the first time anyone has used a touch-screen phone for gathering signatures.

"The problem with the system today is that if you have a good idea to change California or improve the future of our state, the first question you are asked is do you have $2 million to hire paid signature gatherers to collect signatures to get your initiative on the ballot," Verafirma co-founder Jude Barry said. "We think technology changes that question."

App development has the potential to significantly influence democracy. During the 2008 presidential race, Obama's campaign had a clear edge using technology. Peter Corbett suggests the technology gap for the GOP has now been closed.

"It's an arms race for who can use the most technology the best to either raise funds or to reach constituents," Corbett said.

Steven Davy is a freelance journalist, and freelance radio reporter/producer. He regularly covers the defense industry and security related issues for UPI. Additionally he hosts a current affairs newsmagazine radio show called the Nonchalant Café Hour which broadcasts live in Kalamazoo, Mich. Steven recently created Exploring Conversations as a multimedia website examining the language of music for his graduate thesis project at Michigan State University.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».