Are We Experiencing A New Sexual Revolution?


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Are, adult/erotic toys the new revolution in modern sexual intercourse? – Has there been a shift in the way sex toys and sex is now perceived in society?  Is 2016 the year we become sex-positive? – is the 2nd Sexual Revolution coming? The sixties were a time of free love with changing attitudes towards sex that have made it a memorable time in history, and it seems that …

Interview with Gene Expression


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Razib Khan runs the weblog “Gene Expression,” for SEED MAGAZINE in the Science Blog consortium. Additionally, he also cofounded the stand alone weblog “Gene Expression“, which has been commenting on genetics and related fields for the past 4 years. Razib has a background in biochemistry, but has been working in the IT industry of late, though he plans to return to science in the near future …

Should ABC News reveal its anonymous sources?


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In 2001 the news organization referenced “three well-placed but separate sources” in a story that later turned out to be false. Is it still obligated to protect these sources’ identities? brian rossAfter the story broke last week that Bruce Ivins — a government scientist who the FBI claims was responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks — committed suicide, virtually every news organization scrambled to find out more about the man and …

The Sideways offensive: Will Merlot sales ever recover?


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The scene lasts no longer than a few moments. Thomas Haden Church’s character, frustrated and looking to get laid, tells Paul Giamatti’s character that if the two women they’re about to meet want to drink Merlot, they’re all drinking Merlot. “No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving,” Giamatti responds. “I am not drinking any fucking Merlot!” The scene is humorous but fleeting, yet after the movie Sideways was met with …

HuffPo blogger pulls down post claiming Palin is trying to spread “retardation”


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After Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced today that she would step down the news made front page headlines and quickly spread online. But another story concerning Palin also cropped up: A Huffington Post blogger named Erik Nelson, whose bio states that he has “written for several comedy websites and published short fiction while living in the deep South,” published a “satirical” post claiming that Palin was trying to spread “retardation” …

Reversing the advertising trend: Will newspaper classifieds ever fully recover?


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Steve Outing asserts that Craigslist is not the enemy. He says this despite the fact that his new site, Reinventing Classifieds, is focused on reversing trends that Craigslist and its ilk have caused. “Enemy? No, I wouldn’t use that word,” Outing said in a phone interview today. “If Craig [Newmark] wouldn’t have come along with this idea then someone else would have. The nature of what the internet makes …

Did the White House Correspondents’ Association really snub World Net Daily?


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Yesterday, the Washington Examiner reported that Arianna Huffington was extremely displeased with the White House Correspondents’ Association, the reason being that in its first year attending the White House Correspondents’ Dinner the Huffington Post had requested three tables for its guests and only received one. Huffington was so sure she’d receive the requested tables that she had invited 14 “celebrity” guests. But the Huffington Post wasn’t the only news organization …

How a law student used Twitter to pressure dozens of Glenn Beck’s advertisers into dropping their support


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twitterAngelo Carusone says he didn’t start his campaign to pressure advertisers into ditching Glenn Beck’s radio and Fox News show as an opposition to his politics — though he admitted that their views significantly differ — but rather he saw Beck’s rhetoric as distinct from other commentators. “For me, the real motivator was what he had been doing to the political process, which was really feeding it into a frenzy,” …

The ACLU defends anonymous newspaper commenters


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Maggie McLetchie, a lawyer for the ACLU in Nevada, is defending four people whose names she does not know. Her boss knows their names, she said, but she doesn’t, and it’s her goal to make sure nobody else does either. The ACLU was approached recently by four people who left anonymous comments on a story about a tax evasion trial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A subpoena has been issued …

NPR embraces local, data-driven journalism


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For my latest Harvard’s Nieman Lab article, I profile StateImpact, NPR’s attempt to take the resources of a national news organization and apply them at a local level, utilizing data-driven tools:

Billed as “station-based journalism covering the effect of government actions within every state,” StateImpact essentially takes the extensive resources of a national news organization and applies them to the local level. For its initial iteration, NPR member stations from around the country sent in applications, and from those eight were chosen to receive grants. The grants, in part, funded the hiring of two reporters for each state: one for broadcast and another for the web. NPR also hired a team of project managers, designers, and programmers to work at its D.C. headquarters; this team collaborates directly with each of the participating states to create platforms and other tools to mine deeper into a given topic. Because every state differs in its most important issues, each participating team focuses on a particular topic. The Pennsylvania StateImpact reporters, as you may have guessed, focus on energy, with a concentration on the impact of drilling. Three of the states (Florida, Indiana, and Ohio) cover education while the remaining ones (Idaho, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Texas) report on issues ranging from the local economy to state budgets.

A wedding photographer generated $100k in business through Facebook


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In my latest article for Harvard’s Nieman Lab, I interview Craig Finlay, a hobbyist photographer who stumbled into a lucrative wedding photography business through Facebook:

The way Finlay described “this Facebook thing,” it seemed like it had occurred mostly on a whim. He and Mysi had been editing photos from Rebecca’s shoot and decided to throw some of them up onto the Facebook page they had created for their company, Soda Fountain Photography. They tagged the bride and the groom in these initial photos and went back to editing the rest of the batch. But a curious thing happened: When the photos hit the bride and groom’s Facebook walls, friends who had attended the wedding started going in and tagging themselves, thereby publishing the photos to their friends’ walls. In essence, every person who was at the wedding was promoting Soda Fountain Photography’s content — each picture with the company’s watermark at the bottom — to their social graph.

“Almost immediately, our clients were being generated on Facebook,” Finlay recalled. “Because there were the people in the wedding who were getting tagged, and I guess the fortunate thing about wedding photography is that the friends of your clients are the demographic you’re always trying to hit. They’re 20-somethings, and they’re either getting engaged or are engaged. So when you take photos and throw them up on Facebook, you tag the bride and the groom, and, yeah, a lot of people looking at the album are family members, but a lot of them are their friends too, and the people who are engaged really interact with your photography in a much deeper way than they could with just a pretty ad in a magazine. They’re clicking through dozens of photos that you immediately throw up on Facebook from the wedding and they don’t think they’re looking at an advertisement — they just think they’re looking at their friends’ wedding photos. But every photo has a watermark on it, so every time you look at it it’s like it’s being imprinted.”

How netroots bloggers are influencing Occupy Wall Street


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For my latest article at PBS’ MediaShift, I interviewed activists from Firedoglake and Daily Kos to explore the various ways netroots bloggers are influencing Occupy Wall Street:

But though the decentralized structure of OWS has helped its public perception, its sluggish decision-making has made it ill-prepared for one major obstacle: winter. As the protests stretch on into December, many of the northern locations will be plunged into below-freezing temperatures. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already predicted OWS will peter out with winter, and unless the protesters adequately prepare for the next few months, the cold will likely pose a significant challenge. Yet because of an inefficient mass-voting system, it’s difficult for any particular encampment to make the kind of executive decisions needed to purchase the expensive supplies that would shield protesters from the chill.

Jane Hamsher initially addressed this problem by purchasing supplies out of her own pocket. Hamsher, founder of the popular progressive blog Firedoglake, had been attending Occupy DC protests when she realized that the protesters didn’t seem to have a contingency plan in place.

Huffington Post gives the practice of liveblogging a facelift


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For my latest Harvard’s Nieman Lab article, I interviewed Nico Pitney, the executive editor of the Huffington Post Media Group, about HuffPo’s liveblogging tool and whether it’s a new evolution in the art of liveblogging:

I asked Nico Pitney, the executive editor of the Huffington Post Media Group, whether HuffPo’s liveblogging tool is an attempt to marry both kinds of journalism. “We basically imagined three types of readers,” Pitney said. “One who just wanted the key facts from the story, a solid overview that’s basically a traditional news story. This person is not interested in the minute details and the liveblog coverage. Then there’s another type of user who already knows the overview and does want the key facts and liveblog coverage. And finally there’s a third kind of user — and we count this as a large percentage of our users — who wanted the overview, but then once they saw the liveblog, it got them in deeper, and it made them more engaged in the story.”

Using Kickstarter to raise an $11,000 book advance


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My most recent article for PBS’ MediaShift details how a midlist science fiction author bypassed traditional publishing completely and raised $11,000 on Kickstarter. Despite the rosy outcome of his experiment, you might be surprised at his outlook on self publishing:

In August of this year, Pratt uploaded his project onto Kickstarter with video and text explaining his goal. Like before, he offered a series of prizes: For $5 you could get your name in the acknowledgments; for $10, a bookmark; for $50, “a signed limited-edition chapbook featuring a new Marla Mason story”; for $75, “a signed trade paperback” of the novel; all the way up to $2,000, which would result in Pratt writing a “Marla Mason short story just for you, featuring any supporting character of your choice, to be produced in a signed chapbook limited edition of a single copy.”

By this point, Pratt had already serialized two Marla Mason books and had received a fair amount of fan mail for the first four books. Altogether, he had collected several hundred email addresses from fans in the series, and so when he announced the Kickstarter project he sent out a note promoting it to this group. Kickstarter also pushed the project to its front page and tweeted it out to its followers, resulting in donations from people who weren’t even fans of the series. In only 13 hours, he’d met his fundraising goal of $6,000, and by the time the project closed, it was up to over $11,000.

Measuring news consumer interest around Occupy Wall Street


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My most recent article in Harvard’s Nieman Lab explores why Occupy Wall Street is perfect for web journalism. I interviewed editors from the New York Observer, The Atlantic, and Reason to determine how hungry news consumers are for OWS content.

Bob Cohn, the online editor for The Atlantic, told me that 10 percent of the publication’s top 100 posts for the month of October concern Occupy Wall Street — by far the largest concentration of any one topic. “The full range of the digital vocabulary — videos, slide shows, text articles — is doing pretty well,” he said. “I think it’s a complete reflection of reader interest.”

Growing coverage from media outlets, Cohn said, also signals the evolution of Occupy Wall Street from a single protest to a genuine movement. He believes that many journalists were surprised when it gained legs — three to four weeks ago nobody would have been able to predict that the coverage would have blossomed into what it is today. And part of the reason news outlets are seeing so much traction on it is because it’s a movement that lends itself well to the Internet. “I think this kind of fast-moving story from city to city really is tailor-made for web coverage,” he explained. “On the other hand I’m certain that for many print publications there’s tremendous opportunity for long-form print coverage. But in the early days it’s so dynamic; it’s a great opportunity for web journalism.”

How PBS used social media to promote Ken Burns’ Prohibition


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I’ve written a new article for Harvard’s Nieman Lab on how PBS used GetGlue and other social platforms to promote Ken Burns’ Prohibition:

Two weeks ago I was sitting on a long bus ride between New York City and DC when I noticed several people I follow on Twitter checking into the PBS documentary Prohibition on GetGlue. GetGlue is a social networking site that allows users to “check in” to media they’re consuming in real time. The site provides a platform for viewers to discuss the shows they’re watching, giving them points and stickers as rewards. Users are often encouraged to share their check-ins and viewing habits by posting to their social streams on both Facebook and Twitter. According to a blog post the company published last month, GetGlue saw 11.7 million check-ins from its users during August alone. And it “now has over 1.5M users and has a database of over 200M ratings, reviews, and check-ins.”

Prohibition, the much-anticipated Ken Burns documentary about the 13-year ban on the sale and manufacturing of alcohol, has garnered over 28,000 check-ins and more than 4,600 “Likes” to date. On the night of my bus ride, it ranked among the top ten shows, with more check-ins than The Simpsons. Kevin Dando, PBS’ director of digital marketing and communications, told me in a phone interview that those numbers are a reflection of PBS’ heavy involvement with GetGlue and other social media platforms. “There are several different stickers that people can get with Prohibition,” Dando said. “You get one for checking in and watching a preview, you get ones for each of the three episodes, and then there’s one for people who have watched all three nights.”

How my team at JESS3 drove 200,000 views to one of its videos


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Over at JESS3, the creative design agency I work for, I describe how I secured over 100 embeds and thousands of tweets and Facebook shares for a single video:

On January 17 we released both a YouTube version and Vimeo version of the video, and JESS3’s PR team immediately went to work promoting the video to journalists, bloggers and social media users. Using our micro-targeting techniques, we first focused on tech writers who had already written about the coming anniversary. Within the first few hours after releasing The State of Wikipedia, TechCrunch — arguably one of the most influential blogs covering the tech sphere — had embedded it and covered it.

Not long afterward, Mashable — the most widely read social media blog — had written about it as well. Combined, the TechCrunch and Mashable posts alone generated over 2,000 retweets and 500 Facebook shares. ReadWriteWeb also covered the video.

After this initial success we began fanning out and pitching other communities. We successfully pitched dozens of design, advertising and animation blogs, getting hitafter hit after hit. We then moved into the long tail, pitching smaller blogs and Wikipedia enthusiasts who had influential audiences.

The origin story of the New York Times’ blogs


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Inevitably, questions and even tensions arose when the ingrained Times culture rubbed against emerging digital sensibilities. For years, getting a story published on page A1 of The New York Times — the holy grail for most reporters — was a protracted ritual that involved two meetings with a large cast involving increasingly senior editors. The process by which the stories were pitched and debated took hours over numerous meetings across all the different departments.

In comparison, the process of getting a story onto the home page of The New York Times Web site often involved lobbying a 20-something gatekeeper, generally via instant message. The editors of blogs, who had no guarantee their content would even appear in the paper, were strategic about what we would lobby for — and when to do it. The right home page “refer” could send page views soaring.

‘Page One’ Excerpt: How The New York Times learned to stop worrying and love the blog

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Inside the iPad strategy of Golf Digest


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For an article on PBS’ MediaShift, I interviewed editorial directors at Conde Nast’s Golf Digest to get an inside look into how the magazine developed its iPad app.

Bob Carney, the magazine’s brand editor, is someone who grappled with this question in the months leading up to the subscription’s launch.

“For Golf Digest, I think at the very beginning we thought we’d add every kind of bell and whistle we can,” he told me in a phone interview. “And we found out that not only is that costly, but really for someone coming to Golf Digest, what they want is more of what they get in the magazine. So for the magazine, instruction and service information about the equipment are the most important things, and the iPad app ought to take that and extend it, not go somewhere else.”

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