Archive for the ‘Interesting Tidbits’ Category

Another Internet Anniversary Causes Arianna Huffington to Prognosticate

March 19, 2010

This week marked the 25th anniversary of the dot-com designation. 81 per cent of Americans now visit five or more .com sites every day. Over the next three years alone, says Verisign,

“the Internet will see the number of users increase by 500 million to 2.2 billion worldwide, and devices accessing the Internet increase from 1.6 billion devices to 2.7 billion devices. And with the emergence of innovations like smart grids, electronic health care and radio frequency ID (RFID) tags, the Internet and associated technology systems will undergo profound changes in the next decade.”

To commemorate this momentous anniversary, a slew of  tech  and other types of writers and personages attended a conference hosted by VeriSign to talk about the future of the Internet, and Arianna Huffington, one of the attendees, blogged about it, as is her wont.  A lot of it is dreaming, but then, why not?  She envisions an ideal Internet future where a reader can be instantly provided with the “background knowledge needed to better understand the data and information being delivered as news. The powers-that-be — both political and corporate — have mastered the dark art of making information deliberately convoluted and indecipherable. For them, complexity is not a bug, it’s a feature.” Forgive me for maybe being old school, but isn’t that what we are talking about in terms of the future of journalism? She adds more vision to this – “Our future tool will also automatically simplify needlessly complicated laws, contracts, and linguistic smoke screens. So when a politician or Wall Street CEO performs the usual verbal gymnastics in an attempt to befuddle and bamboozle us, his words will immediately be translated into clear and precise language. It will be Truth 2.0.”

And finally, she envisions an app that senses when we have had too much connectivity and need to shut it all off.  This strikes me as unbelievably sad – that anyone has the feeling that we are so connected to the virtual world that we have to be reminded to connect with ourselves.


You’re Not Multi-tasking – You’re Futzing Around

February 12, 2010

OK, let’s say you’re a kid.  You’re doing homework, listening to music, and IMing your friends at the same time.  In other words, multi-tasking.  Your energy level is high, and you feel you’re being effective at everything.  But, say researchers, you’re not.  Says the Chronicle of Higher Education, “A student today who moves his attention rapid-fire from text-messaging to the lecture to Facebook to note-taking and back again may walk away from the class feeling buzzed and alert, with a sense that he has absorbed much more of the lesson than he actually has.” The fact is, though, that you’re not a kid, and multi-tasking is part of your lifestyle. What you have, apparently, is the illusion that you’re competent at the many things that you’re doing. Some psych professors at Stanford found that while multi-taskers are confident of their ability to do several things at once, they are actually worse at multi-tasking than people who like to focus on one thing at a time. “One of the deepest questions in the field”, says one of the researchers “is whether media multitasking is driven by a desire for new information or by an avoidance of existing information. Are people in these settings multitasking because the other media are alluring—that is, they’re really dying to play Freecell or read Facebook or shop on eBay—or is it just an aversion to the task at hand?”

Sir Martin Speaks

January 11, 2010

Sparksheet, a newsletter published by Spafax, a division of WPP interviewed Sir Martin Sorrell.  This may seem on the face of it to be fairly self-serving, and maybe so.  But during the course of the interview he had one or two notable things to say about media, media habits, and the whole money issue.

 “Media habits are changing, becoming much more one to one. That’s good news, but it’s also bad news because it’s highly fragmented, and therefore you don’t have large globs of ad revenue sticking to properties anymore. So it makes life for newspapers, magazines, and free-to-air TV much more difficult.It also means that smaller fragmented audiences are much more important. For example, the Transumer [people who travel a lot – consumer in transit] audience becomes much more important because it becomes more defined and more easily addressable and targetable.The JetBlue example shows you how violently media consumption – particularly amongst younger people – is changing, how it is likely to keep changing, and how specific it can all be. And actually it can be very effective and cheap for everyone.

What’s the missing link in getting brands to seriously spend on the Web? Is it that advertisers flock to quality content, and that just doesn’t exist to scale online?

Time. A lot of it’s to do with time. I’ve described it in the past as “age” but that’s gotten me in trouble. Agencies are run by old people like me, and older people like me are media owners and clients as well.

People take time to change. They might not get it yet. You become the CEO of a company and it’s taken you 25 years and the last thing you want in your last four or five years is violent change. You want things to go on just as they have before. So it’s a natural human emotion if you like – a human feeling – to resist this change. But it’s only a question of time. Because if consumers are spending 20, or 25 percent of their time online and clients are spending 12 or 13 percent of their budgets online, there’s a natural gravitational pull to that 25 percent.

Adios 2009 – From All of Us

January 11, 2010

Last week, we bade farewell to a decade about which most Americans feel pretty crummy on the whole. The Pew Research Center for People and the Press conducted a survey about people’s feelings on leaving the last ten years, and more (50%) have a pretty negative view of it (only 27% were positive).  Other decades, going back to the 60’s engender a more endearing quality, but that may be seen through the mist of nostalgia.  There were some positive notes, though.  Technological changes, in particular, strike the public as positive. Respondents had the overall best view of cellphones, which 69% claimed were a change for the better. Sixty-five percent said the same of both e-mail and the Internet.

Other, more advanced handheld devices, such as BlackBerrys and iPhones, were also relatively popular, though one-quarter of respondents thought they were a change for the worse. Unsurprisingly, younger adults were more likely to be positive about the rise of smartphones, while users over 65 were more evenly split. And the growth of environmentally friendly products is seen as a change for the good.  People are a lot more optimistic about the decade yet to come. 59% think it will be better, and only 32% think it will be worse.

More Lists

December 18, 2009

As promised, here are some more Top lists of 2009 – the top 5 YouTube videos (and their links), and the top 10 Twitter trends.  I just re-watched the Susan Boyle video, and I’m ashamed to say that I started crying again, just like I did the first time I saw it.  I’m such a sap.

Top 5 YouTube Videos 2009 (this doesn’t count music videos)

Number 1 – Britain’s Got  Talent – Susan Boyle – over 120 million views

Number 2 – David After Dentist – over 38 million views

Number 3 – JK Wedding Entrance Dance – over 34 million views

Number 4 – New Moon Trailer – 31 million views

Number 5 – Evian Roller Babies – 27 million views

Top 10 Twitter Trends (source: What the

1  #iranelection

2  #musicmonday

3  Michael Jackson

4  Google Wave

5  New Moon

6  Follow Friday

7  Halloween

8  Paranormal Activity

9  Harry Potter

10  TGIF

Information overload?

December 11, 2009

I remember seeing a report some years ago that said that with email and everything that was on line (which in retrospect was practically nothing) Americans consumed close to one terrabyte of information per year – a phenomenal and unfathomable number.  That was then.  This week, a report by UC San Diego calculated that US households (that’s households, mind you, not businesses) collectively consumed 3.6 zettabytes of information in 2008.  My first question, and probably yours, too, is how big is a zettabyte? If I read it correctly, a zettabyte is a billion trillion bytes.  Talk about unfathomable. To make it more comprehensive, on an average day, an average American consumes 34 gigabytes and 100,000 words of information.  This is information that comes through television, computers, radio, telephone, computer games, movies, and print.  We consume information for close to 12 hours a day, most of it in front of some sort of screen (like you’re doing right now, probably).  It’s really rather fascinating. And here’s where it all comes from:

End of the Year Lists

December 4, 2009

It’s getting close to the end of the year, which means lists, all sorts of lists.  This week, the top three search engines came out with their top ten searches for 2009.  It’s remarkable how different they are, and you can extrapolate from these lists a personality type for each of the engines.  At least I can, and I really can’t help myself.  Google had a large component of International searches.  Bing seemed to benefit primarily from a spate of celebrity deaths and disasters (although Michael Jackson topped all three).  And Yahoo is about as pop culture as you can get. 


  1. Michael Jackson
  2. Facebook
  3. Tuenti
  4. Twitter
  5. Sanalika (a Turkish social-networking site)
  6. “New Moon” (the movie exploded onto the scene in November)
  7. Lady Gaga — people searched as much for pictures and videos of the singer as they did for facts or song lyrics
  8. Windows 7
  9. (a Vietnamese portal).
  10. Torpedo Gratis (a Brazilian text-messaging site).


  1. Michael Jackson
  2.  Twitter
  3.  Swine Flu
  4.  Stock Market
  5.  Farrah Fawcett
  6.  Patrick Swayze
  7.  Cash for Clunkers
  8.  Jon and Kate Gosselin
  9.  Billy Mays
  10.  Jaycee Dugard


1. Michael Jackson
3. WWE
4. Megan Fox
5. Britney Spears
6. Naruto (Japanese Anime)
7. American Idol
8. Kim Kardashian
10. Runescape

The Internet Is Killing StoryTelling?

November 13, 2009

Ben MacIntyre in the London Times posits that the proliferation of short burst media – Twitter, blogs and reading on a mobile phone — is killing the art of storytelling. “Meanwhile, a generation is tuned,” he says “ increasingly and sometimes exclusively, to the cacophony of interactive chatter and noise, exciting and fast moving but plethoric and ephemeral. The internet is there for snacking, grazing and tasting, not for the full, six-course feast that is nourishing narrative. The consequence is an anorexic form of culture.”  I am not sure that this is entirely true.  The need for storytelling, and consequently for listening is so ingrained in every culture (and possibly in us as humans), that I cannot imagine that a change in platform will make it disappear.  (more…)

A Day That Will Live In…What?

October 30, 2009

October 29 was yesterday, and it was also famous for one or two things.  In 1929, the stock market collapsed, causing the great depression.  In 1969, common wisdom says, the Internet began its incursion into our lives (and where would we be without it?) by two researchers, Vint Cerf  and Robert Kahn.  Causing, you might say, the great expression. Cerf is now Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist. The Guardian has a fascinating article about the origins of the engine that is, 40 years later, driving our commerce, our social lives, and our entertainment. Former FT journalist Tom Forenski meanwhile, offers his birthday view that the Internet “devalues everything it touches”. Like newspapers.

Take Me Out to the BallGame

October 9, 2009


To many of us, October is synonymous with baseball.  And just in time, the Library of Congress issued a new guide of “Baseball Resources at the Library of Congress”.  This is a guide to the extremely extensive collection that the Library has both on its web site and in real life.  In addition to the materials that the library makes available to anyone who’s interested on its web site (tons of pictures as well as old baseball cards), it also has links to external sites, so it acts as a baseball web portal. The American Memory Collection is just a piece of what’s available.