Findings: mixing it up for mental stimulation

On my computer monitor at work is a saying from a fortune cookie: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”

 But sometimes it’s hard to imagine doing something else. I don’t mean just “I am fill-in-the-blank-occupation and this is what I’ll always do.” I don’t mean just work, and I don’t mean deliberate resistance.

I mean that it can be difficult to perceive or to think in a different way from what we as individuals normally do.

And that can be a drawback, because grooves can become ruts.

My friend Anna Haynes pointed me to a New York Times article by Janet Rae-Cupree, who says, “it becomes nearly impossible to look beyond what you know and think outside the box you’ve built around yourself.”

This is called the curse of knowledge. Some examples are: “It’s why engineers design products ultimately useful only to other engineers. It’s why managers have trouble convincing the rank and file to adopt new processes. And it’s why the advertising world struggles to convey commercial messages to consumers.”

I think it’s good for people in general and journalists in particular to do things we don’t ordinarily do, to travel outside our comfort zone, in order to broaden our exposure and stretch ourselves.

I acknowledge that I should get out more, but there are many ways to poke outside your natural self. My paper, The News & Observer, requires that all journalists have some training outside their own field every year.

But we can step outside ourselves by doing something as simple as randomly changing the radio station and listening to whatever pops up. Or for the 21st century, we can do it with random web pages.

Published in: on January 2, 2008 at 2:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Findings: AP, and revenue

Doug Fisher at Common Sense Journalism reviews several changes for The Associated Press.

Pat Thornton at The Journalism Iconoclast has ideas about how newspapers can make more money online. These include marketing to current nonadvertisers and learning lessons from Web powerhouses. For instance, he suggests suggests making classifieds free or but selling ads around them or selling extra services, such as featured ads. (Found via Amy Gahran’s Contentious.)

Published in: on December 30, 2007 at 7:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Findings: Should Do This

Via David Cohn: Should Do This is essentially an open suggestion box. So far, there are only two entries for newspapers — to include links within online articles and to cut down on the paper editions.

Published in: on October 28, 2007 at 4:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Findings: to whom to pass the torch

From Hal Crowther at the Independent Weekly, via Philip Meyer:

“But the key point of understanding is that while the newspaper is expendable, the tradition it represents and the information it supplies are not. The evolution from Gutenberg to Gates may be irreversible, but as new media replace old ones there’s no official passing of the torch of responsibility, no automatic transfer of the sacred trust the First Amendment placed upon the free press and its proprietors. In fact the handoff, such as it is, has been fumbled very badly. As newspapers are eviscerated, marginalized and abandoned, they leave a vacuum that nothing and no one is prepared to fill—a crisis on its way to becoming a tragedy. When railroads and riverboats began to go the way of the passenger pigeon, no one was harmed except the workforce and a few big investors who had failed to diversify. If professional journalism vanishes along with the newspapers, this thing we call a constitutional democracy becomes a banana republic.”

Read/Write Web gives an example of who could inherit the torch. Josh Catone writes that stories by the Fake Steve Jobs were spread through a number of blogs as if they were real.

Published in: on October 26, 2007 at 8:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Findings: Life At

Via the Bivings Report: Life At, private social networks for big apartment buildings.

This is microlocal, and something newspapers should have done. They could still do it.

Published in: on October 24, 2007 at 5:25 am  Comments (2)  
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Findings: Newspapers for everyone

Involvement through Newspapers and Civics helps people who can’t easily afford a newspaper subscription.

INC “offers qualified families a free, 3-year subscription to a local, daily newspaper, as well as three extended learning opportunities in an effort to help them find and hone their civic voice.”

Found through Doug Fisher’s Common Sense Journalism.

Published in: on October 16, 2007 at 5:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Findings: Creating community

Many news companies are working on expanding in the conversational arena. Guy Kawasaki, at How to Change the World, wrote about The Art of Creating a Community. In a nutshell (with my parenthetical comments):

1. Create something worth building a community around. (Most news companies start off with a geographic community and can go from there.)

2. Identify and recruit your thunderlizards—immediately!

3. Assign one person the task of building a community.

4. Give people something concrete to chew on.

5. Create an open system.

6. Welcome criticism. (We sometimes don’t accept challenges as well as we challenge others, but we’ve been improving.)

7. Foster discourse.

8. Publicize the existence of the community. (On a tangent: We should realize that our digital offering are to varying extents ofte a different product from our original newspaper, or whatever. Different products serve different markets and often need different channels for marketing.)

The post is from February 2006, but that’s OK if you haven’t read it before. I’m trying to merge worlds, or at least expand the overlap.

Published in: on October 12, 2007 at 5:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Findings: venture capital, and rewarding ideas

Via Romenesko: Gatehouse is offering $1 million to employees with ideas that will make the company $50 million.

Via Read/Write Web: Paul Graham of YCombinator, among others, about how the venture capital industry needs to adapt to lower barriers of entry.

Graham says about new businesses, “Now the only threshold is courage.”

Published in: on October 11, 2007 at 7:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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At Read/Write Web: How to Create a Web App, second in a series aout starting a Web company. This follows How to Bootstrap Your Startup. These are just about one model, sending the initial work overseas, but some of these instructions would likely apply in other circumstances.

Linked from RWW: The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint, by venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki.

Published in: on October 4, 2007 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Findings: future business, and the audience

The American Press Institute is offering seminars in Growing Audiences Beyond News and  Building the New Revenue Portfolio.

In comments at Poynter, Bill Marvel, a senior writer at the Dallas Morning News, notes the problem of chasing newspapers chasing nonreaders or casual readers.Pursuing nonconsumers is a valid business strategy — but not at the expense of current, loyal customers.Even if the nonconsumers would like what you’re doing, they probably don’t even know about it. And your core customers grow more and more disappointed … and gradually become noncustomers.

Read/Write Web links to part of series on the future of business at MSNBC.  Besides print newspapers, the list of 10 businesses facing extinction in 10 years consists of:

* Camera film manufacturing

* Coin-operated arcades

* Crop dusters

* Gay bars 

* Pay phones

* Piggy banks 

* Record stores

* Telemarketing

* Used bookstores

Published in: on October 1, 2007 at 5:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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