41-year-old makes US Olympic swim team

Time out for some sports news.

They say, after you turn 40, it’s downhill all the way. But not for some swimmers, apparently. Dara Torres, 41, competing with swimmers half her age, triumphed in the 100m freestyle Olympic trials qualifying her for the US team. And she’s not done yet. Dara hopes to qualify for the 50m event as well, in which she has the best times going in.

Michael Phelps, Aaron Peirsol and Natalie Coughlin are this year’s superstars but Dara Torres is the story.

According to DallasNews.com, this is Dara’s second comeback. She’s competed in four previous Olympics, her first in Los Angeles in 1984. In 2000, after a seven-year hiatus, she was the most decorated female athlete with five medals. Then came another seven-year retirement, in which she had a baby, Tessa, now two.

“When this started, people were saying I was their inspiration,” she said. “But I think it’s done a complete 180-degree turn. I have so many people coming up to me and telling me about their stories. I feel like I’m getting inspiration.”

She calls age “just a number,” but while pointing out that her first Olympic trials was 24 years ago, she stopped and repeated the number, as if it couldn’t be real.

If she qualifies for Beijing, she will become the first American swimmer to compete in five Olympics, despite sitting out the 1996 and 2004 Games.

Her comeback is so improbable that she knew some would have suspicions, so she went to US Anti-Doping Agency officials and volunteered for extra-stringent testing.

“I said, ‘Look, I want to be an open book. Because I want people to know that I’m doing this right. That I am 41 years old and I’m clean and I want a clean sport. I swam against swimmers who were dirty my whole life.’ ”

Dara’s secret, apparently, besides her incredibly competitive spirit, is her stretching routines. Makes one hurt just watching her.

Will Smith is all ears for Barack Obama

A little digression today. Will Smith tells the BBC, it’s all in the ears: "He has the ears, we both share the ears. People dig the ears."

Smith adds: "I travel around the world a lot, and I was kind of used to people being happy when the Americans showed up. That sort of changed over the last eight years. So I’m excited about the new possibilities of hope and change that Barack is bringing."

Side-by-side, the Spockish resemblance is uncanny. As pointed out by Faded Youth Blog, Obama said the same in February when asked by Entertainment Tonight who he would choose to play him: “Will Smith and I have talked about this, because he has the ears. He’s better looking than me, but we both have those.”

Face readers suggest that Ears That Stick Out "shows you are a non-conformist, an independent thinker, a scholar and a quick thinker but you are also stubborn." whereas Pointy Ears reveal "you are not as kind-hearted and reliable as you like to make out but on the positive side, you are original and inventive."

Hmmm. Spock quote for reflection: “[Spoken softly] Those who cannot hear an angry shout may strain to hear a whisper.”

IDC: 1.4 billion online

Highlights from IDC’s Digital Marketplace Model and Forecast:

1. The number of mobile devices accessing the Internet will surpass the number of online PCs by 2012.

2. Users will access the Internet through more than 1.5 billion devices worldwide in 2008, including PCs, mobile phones, and online videogame consoles. By 2012, the number of devices accessing the Internet will double to more than 3 billion, half of which will be mobile devices.

3. China passed the US in 2007 to become the country with the largest number of Internet users. China’s online population is forecast to grow from 275 million users in 2008 to 375 million users in 2012.

4. Nearly half of all Internet users will make online purchases in 2008. By 2012, there will be more than 1 billion online buyers worldwide making business to consumer (B2C) transactions worth US$1.2 trillion. Business to business (B2B) eCommerce will be ten times larger, totalling US$12.4 trillion worldwide in 2012.

5. Worldwide spending on Internet advertising will total US$65.2 billion in 2008, which is nearly 10% of all ad spending across all media. This share is expected to reach 13.6% by 2011 as Internet ad spending grows to US$106.6 billion worldwide.

6. Roughly 40% of all Internet users worldwide currently have mobile Internet access. The number of mobile Internet users will reach 546 million in 2008, nearly twice as many as in 2006, and is forecast to surpass 1.5 billion worldwide in 2012.

7. The most popular online activities today are searching, finding information for personal use, using Internet email, accessing news and sports information, and accessing financial or credit information. More than 50% of online users worldwide are using instant messaging and playing online games. The fastest growing online activities include accessing business applications, creating blogs, online gambling, accessing work-related email, and participating in online communities.

8. Among mobile Internet users, the most popular online activities are searching, accessing news and sports information, downloading music, videos, and ringtones, using instant messaging, and using Internet email. By 2012, downloading music, videos, and ringtones will become the number one activity among mobile Internet users worldwide.

"The Internet will have added its second billion users over a span of about eight years, a testament to both its universal appeal and its availability," said John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC.

The report states that Internet users will move from just searching, shopping, and sending email to watching user-generated videos, posting blogs, and participating in social networks. The latter will create new opportunities and challenges for online advertisers seeking to monetize the Internet experience.

Copyright, media reform and the web that time forgot

1. IHT’s Alex Wright has a story, The web that time forgot, on Paul Otlet’s 1934 vision of “réseau,” or network – what could have been the precursor of the Internet.

He described how people would use “electric telescopes” to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks.

Otlet wrote a book about the possibility of electronic media storage, called “Monde,” where he laid out his vision of a “mechanical, collective brain” that would house all the world’s information, made readily accessible over a global telecommunications network.

Otlet’s vision began to crystallize in the form of the Mundaneum, a museum filled with millions of 3-by-5 inch index cards that was to become the master bibliography of all the world’s published knowledge.

Sadly, the Belgian government lost interest in the project after losing its bid for the League of Nations HQ, and Otlet was forced to moved it to a smaller space, before it was closed to the public.


2. Bill Moyers speech at National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis, June 7, 2008 is worth the wait on YouTube.

Get the transcribed gist here and ponder this excerpt:

“Why does it matter? What does the media do, anyway? I’ll let an old Cherokee chief answer that. I heard this story a long time ago – of the tribal elder who was telling his grandson about the battle the old man was waging inside himself. He said, ‘It is between two wolves, my son. One is an evil wolf: Anger, envy, sorrow, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is the good wolf: Joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’ The boy thought this over for a minute, and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’ The old Cherokee replied simply: ‘The one I feed.’

“Democracy is that way: The wolf that wins is the one we feed, and the media provides the fodder.

“Democracy without honest information creates the illusion of popular consent while enhancing the power of the state and the privileged interests protected by it.

“Democracy without accountability creates the illusion of popular control while offering ordinary Americans cheap tickets to the balcony, too far away to see that the public stage is just a reality TV set.

“Nothing more characterizes corporate media today – mainstream and partisan – than disdain towards the fragile nature of modern life and indifference toward the complex social debate required of a free and self-governing people.”

3. AP is getting flak for issuing take-down notices to Drudge Retort, the liberal alternative site spoofing the popular Drudge Report, for supposedly ripping AP content. Dan Gillmor calls AP’s rate details unintentionally hilarious and has this to add:

“Issuing take-down notices (to Drudge Retort) is obnoxious, plain and simple. Also wrong. Not only won’t this fly, but it’s a remarkable demonstration of how not to play well on the Web. I know some of the AP folks involved, and I have to assume they’ve been told what to do by their bosses, because they aren’t nearly this clueless.”

No doubt, the fire the wire argument gains more credence.


Tim Russert dies

One of the best interviewers on TV Tim Russert has passed on.

Sad to see a journalist in his prime go so suddenly.


Vinton Cerf: Interplanetary Googler

Let it be said, Vinton Cerf, the ‘father of the internet’, Chief Internet Evangelist of Google, and proponent of the InterPlaNetary Internet, is a really nice guy.

Although it was a hectic day for him, with back-to-back press interviews and an upcoming keynote, Cerf was accommodating, convivial and makes a great interview subject.

In 2003, when I interviewed him for the Star, he was equally nice, even LOL-ing my question on whether astronauts in Mars in the future would be spammed with ads for thermal underwear. Even though, at the time, he was still with MCI Worldcom, I had suggested the headline of this post for the story, which was sort of prescient considering he hadn’t joined Google yet.

This time, we spoke briefly on the InterPlanetary Internet project, the Exaflood, his role in Google as the Chief Internet Evangelist (he dressed the part on the first day), his pet subjects – net neutrality, IPv6 and a small self-financed project to provide solar-powered Internet cafes to the developing world.

Later at the WCIT 2008 keynote in Kuala Lumpur, he entertained the audience with his view of the Internet in 2035 as well as stories from the early days.

One example in his presentation was that of a surfboarder who embedded an Internet-enabled laptop into his surfboard. A simple search for the story turned out ironical. The inventor’s name is Jools Matthews. Cerf, Matthews and the Internet. Crazy.

You can view a similar speech Tracking the Internet into the 21st Century in Zurich and download this similar powerpoint presentation.

Guy Kawasaki reveals his greatest startups…

…his kids.

In a revelatory moment, a jetlagged but relaxed Guy Kawasaki candidly exclaimed that he regarded his four children as his greatest startups.

Speaking at a WCIT 2008 event in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, he came across as an honest, “I hate to travel” family kinda guy — not the predatory venture capitalist you would expect from someone from the Valley.

That hatred for travel way back in the 80s and the refusal to drive two hours to take up the offer of becoming CEO of then unknown and “undefensible” company by the unlikely name of Yahoo! may have cost him the Forbes’ billionaires list. “I had a kid and another in beta…” he says of his “bozo moment” which may explain why Guy still doesn’t ring a bell beyond IT circles, his one claim to fame being an evangelist for the Mac in 1984.

Guy says he has yet to score the big deal that would qualify him as being a successful venture capitalist, and he thinks that as he gets older it all comes down to sheer luck.

On reflection, he doesn’t think he would have invested in Google or eBay and he passed up on a startup that believed “drowning is a growth industry” and sold a roll of redtape as a solution, and now is raking it in.

He amused us with some tales of crazy pitches, said he won’t buy an iPhone until it has 3G and Microsoft Exchange Server on it — highly contradictory after berating Windows machines and Bill Gates’ simultaneous holograpic presentation nearby — and that he wouldn’t take up the Apple CEO position, again because of, you guessed it — his four kids.

One gets the impression that Guy is too much of nice guy to be in the cut-throat VC game.

You can hear the entire presentation below or here:

and download a similar Powerpoint presentation here.

Caption for pic above: Guy and fan.

Gen Y: 7 things you need to know

Increasingly, more of my peers are finding it difficult to relate to the younger people joining the workforce. The consistent rant is about Attitude. The disconnect seems to cut across all industries. The age group is usually those in early to mid 20s. No doubt, they will find the pigeonholing below quite condescending.

In “Why Gen Y Is Going to Change the Web“, Read Write Web’s Sarah Perez has a lengthy but revealing insight into Generation Y aka the Millennials, those born between 1982-1997, “the most digitally active generation yet.”

Here’s the gist:

1. PLUGGED IN: They grew up around PCs, the net, mobile phones, video games, and mp3 players. They are web savvy multitaskers, are able watch TV, surf the web, listen to music, and talk or text on their phones, often performing several of these things at the same time.

2. TV ISN’T KING: Although you’ll find some Gen Y’ers obsessing over the latest episode of “The Hills,” and other shows, they aren’t watching TV as much as other generations do. They rather time-shift, download and watch episodes on their own terms. Gen Y’ers rather spend time using their Xboxes and Wiis even it cuts into TV viewing. For them, TV is often just “background noise”.

3.DON’T CARE ABOUT ADS, ONLY WHAT THEIR FRIENDS THINK: Because they are immersed in media, and marketed to constantly, they’re distrusting of ads. Instead, they respond to “humor, irony, and the unvarnished truth.” But when it comes to making decisions, they’re more likely to rely on their network of friends and their recommendations.
Gen Y doesn’t have brand loyalty, however – they’re quick to move the next big thing.

4. WORK ISN’T THEIR WHOLE WORLD: They’re going to go to work, but it had better be fun. For Gen Y, work isn’t their identity. They’re also not going to blindly follow orders just because you’re the boss. “Generation Why?” needs “buy in”.

Gen Y wants companies to be more accommodating, offering the ability to work from anywhere, flexi-time, a culture that supports team communication, and a “fun” work environment. Old school bosses may need this survival guide.

5. THEY’RE SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS: Gen Y cares about the world. They pay attention to politics, the economy, social causes, and environmental issues. They think they’re a force to be reckoned with in elections and follow the candidates online on social networks. They read the news, but not in newspaper format, which is is going to hurt that industry even more as time goes by.

6.THEY DON’T WANT YOU AS A FACEBOOK FRIEND: They’re wary of old folks, like their boss, trying to “friend” them in their social space, especially if they’re tragically un-hip wannabes. 54% have used MySpace, Facebook, or some other social network. Gen Y is getting into lifestreaming too, twittering and streaming live video. In their own world, they’re celebrities. Says Jason Barg, a 2004 graduate of Penn State University and founder of an online real estate company, notoriety is more about standing out from the crowd. “A primary goal of people my age is not necessarily to become famous but to become distinctive,” he says.

7. WORK TOOLS NEED TO MIRROR WEB TOOLS: Gen Y will drive adoption of “Enterprise 2.0” products and services. Gen Y in the workplace will not just want, but expect their company to provide them with tools that mirror those they use in their personal lives. If socializing on Facebook or on mobile phones helps them get a lead, then they’re not going to understand why they can’t use it for work. For more buckled down companies, if workers aren’t provided with the tools they want, they’re going to be savvy enough to go around IT’s back and get their own.

RESOURCES: Ypulse (RSS) My Gen Y Life (RSS) Twenty Set (RSS) Our American Shelf Life (RSS) Millennial Leaders (RSS) Lisa’s Generation Relations Blog (RSS) Modite (RSS) Life Before Noon (RSS) Generation Y Voodoo (RSS) Personal Branding Blog (RSS) Newly Corporate (RSS) The Marketing Student (RSS) Young and Frugal (RSS) Employee Evolution (RSS) PR Interactive (RSS)


Amy Gahran: Is Journalism a Toxic Culture?

Quoted via Contentious.com or Poynter’s Emedia Tidbits:

“Most of what I do is help journalists and news orgs wrap their brains around the Internet. Generally I enjoy that work. Lately, though, I’ve been getting quite aggravated at the close-minded and helpless attitudes I’m *still* encountering from too many journalists about how the media landscape is changing. Those attitudes are revealed by statements, decisions, actions, and inaction which belie assumptions such as:

*The only journalism that counts is that done by mainstream news orgs, especially in print or broadcast form. Alternative, independent, online, collaborative, community, and other approaches to news are assumed to be inferior or even dangerous.

*Priesthood syndrome: Traditional journalists are the sole source of news that can and should be trusted — which gives them a privileged and sacred role that society is ethically obligated to support.

*Journalists and journalism cannot survive without traditional news orgs, which offer the only reliable, ethical, and credible support for a journalistic career.

*Real journalists *only* do journalism. They don’t dirty their hands or distract themselves with business and business models, learning new tools, building community, finding new approaches to defining and covering news, etc. As Louisville Courier-Journal staffer Mark Schaver said just this morning on Twitter, “[Now] is not a good time [for journalists] if you don’t want your journalism values infected with marketing values.”

*Journalistic status and authority demands aloofness. This leads to myriad problems such as believing you’re smarter than most people in your community; refusing to “compromise” yourself professionally by engaging in frank public conversation with your community; and using objectivity as an excuse to be uncaring, cynical, or disdainful.

*Good journalism doesn’t change much. So if it is changing significantly, it must be dying. Which in turn means the world is in big trouble, and probably deserves what it will get.

There’s a common problem with all these assumptions: They directly cut off options from consideration. This severely limits the ability of journalists and journalism to adapt and thrive…

I realize that right now is a scary time for journalists who crave stability. I have immense sympathy for good, smart people (many of whom have families to support and retirements to plan) who fear the unknown. Many of the news orgs that have sheltered and supported these journalists as they ply their craft are crumbling due to their inability or unwillingness to adapt their business models — leading to layoffs, buyouts, attrition, dwindling resources, overwork, and general demoralization.

I also know — first hand — that the prospect of learning new skills can be daunting. (That’s why, after all these years, I still don’t speak any language but English, and I still don’t know how to write computer code.) Plus, many of us have spent lots of money on j-school and many years in professional journalism honing our writing and reporting skills. We don’t *want* to learn how to think like an entrepreneur, or an information architect, or a community manager! We just want to keep doing what we know how to do; we didn’t sign up for all this extra stuff….


InfoWorld: Life after print

(via IHT)

Philip Meyer, in his book The Vanishing Newspaper, predicts that the final copy of the final newspaper will appear on somebody’s doorstep one day in 2043.

For some, it’s come sooner.

Can an 180,000-circulation, weekly magazine go web-only and still survive?

International Data Group, the world’s largest publisher of technology newspapers and magazines, says it can be done.

InfoWorld, its flagship weekly turned web publication, is generating ad revenue of US$1.6 million a month with operating profit margins of 37 percent.

A year earlier, when it had both print and online versions, InfoWorld had operating losses of 3 percent on monthly revenue of US$1.5 million.

“The excellent thing, and good news, for publishers is that there is life after print – in fact, a better life after print,” said Patrick McGovern, the founder and chairman of IDG.


“Advertisers and readers of high-tech publications have moved online more swiftly than other audiences, so IDG may offer a glimpse of the future of publishing. Yet the transition only came after years of investment, upheaval and changes in its practice of journalism.

“The biggest single step and most striking sign of the company’s online shift came a year ago, on April 2, 2007, when the last print edition of InfoWorld appeared and it became a web-only publication.

“There were nervous months after the switch, as the company awaited the reaction from advertisers and readers, but before long InfoWorld’s web audience was growing and its business improved.

“In 2002, 86 percent of the revenue from IDG’s publications, whose titles include Computerworld, InfoWorld, PC World, Macworld and CIO, came from print and 14 percent online.

“These days, 52 percent of the revenue comes from online ads, while 48 percent is from the print side.

“Last year, print and online publications accounted for 70 percent of IDG’s US$3 billion in revenue, with the rest coming from its conference business and technology research firm, IDC.

“The giant technology publisher has not just stabilized its business, McGovern said, but is now growing around 10 percent annually – though a severe recession would surely dim its growth prospects this year.

“Throughout its network of 300 print titles and 450 Web sites in 85 countries, IDG has converted smaller titles to online only, but InfoWorld was the big one. More will come, company executives say, as print titles slip into the red and are left behind.

“But they emphasize that the print versions of some titles, like CIO, a glossy twice-monthly magazine, will likely be around for many years.

“CIO, for chief information officer, distributed free to senior technology managers, is solidly profitable and runs long pieces that detail the use of technology in corporations and government institutions.

“Yet even CIO has adopted what its managers call an “online first” business model. Three years ago, the editorial staff was divided into three people who worked on the website only, and the rest only on print.

“Today, there are no barriers. The total staff size, at 23, is one fewer than in 2005, but now most of them spend 80 percent of their time on the web, while a handful of writers spend 80 percent of their time on the long, centerpiece articles in the print magazine.

“But everyone writes for the web these days. ‘It’s only fair to people for their career development,’ said Michael Friedenberg, the president of CIO. ‘How can you say to anyone, in this environment, that they can only write in print and not online?’

“Yet as a web-only publication, InfoWorld is very different from the bygone print edition. Gone are the long pieces of more than 3,000 words, with anecdotes and narrative, examining how technology had transformed some company or industry. Instead, the key online is packaging information into ‘digestible chunks,’ typically of no more than a page of text or so, sometimes in lists of “10 things to do” to solve some technology problem in companies.

“The web also opens the door to offerings that are impossible in print like short animations that explain complex technologies, and an online petition urging Microsoft to keep selling the aging Windows XP operating system beyond its June cutoff date that has collected 160,000 signatures online.

“Without the physical limits of print, it becomes easier to explore topics more deeply on the Web. InfoWorld presents a stable of bloggers, including 19 freelance writers, who are authorities in niches including data protection, green technology, open-source software and cloud computing.

“Eric Knorr, the current editor in chief, says the goal with reporting and blogging is to create ‘thought leadership and depth’ in several subject areas online.

“Stewart Alsop, a journalist-turned-venture capitalist, was the editor in chief of InfoWorld in the 1990s, when the it was thick with ads and its editorial staff was at its peak. “Technology publishing just happens to be at the point of this whole transformation of media,” Alsop said. ‘What’s happening at IDG is a fairly accurate map for every other publishing organization. Get over it, it’s going to happen.’ “


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