Stuff I Learn Only From The BBC World Service

I just heard two early-morning episodes (Central Time) of the BBC series called, “The Why Factor.” One was about how America sees itself (followed next week by how it’s seen by the rest of the world) and the other on why people have different preferences in the types of music they enjoy. (More on that one in a second.)

I’ve written before about my fascination with contextual content (the hows, whys, data, background and how-tos) — as much as I am fascinated with the chronological content we news and info-junkies plug in to. The BBC is a great example of a vast media empire that uses its resources to add context — history programming, for example — into its constant flow of current news.

For example, here is a factoid I just learned on “The Why Factor” episode about music.

According to research conducted by Spotify,the generational difference in music preference between Millenials and Baby Boomers boils down to Skrillex vs. Roy Orbison. (Meaning, the music you’d least likely find any overlap among people who are teenagers vs. 60+.)

I’m convinced (but I’ll note I’m in neither camp):

On Gigaom

On first glance. the front page of the influential tech news site, Gigaom, appears like yesterday was merely another day at the office: Coverage of the Apple Watch announcement, coverage of the upcoming SXSW Interactive. But then, in what appeared on Twitter to be a surprise to even its employees, Gigaom ceased operations with a post on its front page saying this:

Gigaom recently became unable to pay its creditors in full at this time. As a result, the company is working with its creditors that have rights to all of the company’s assets as their collateral. All operations have ceased. We do not know at this time what the lenders intend to do with the assets or if there will be any future operations using those assets. The company does not currently intend to file bankruptcy. We would like to take a moment and thank our readers and our community for supporting us all along.

Continue reading On Gigaom

New Clues for the Post-Cluetrain Era

“Markets are conversations.”

If you are an internet-marketing trivia master, you may recognize that quotation as Doc Searls’ prophetic observation that appeared 15 years ago as part of the Cluetrain Manifesto. Cluetrain began as a list of 95 theses posted on the website Cluetrain.com that captured the sentiments of Searls and three other tech-industry marketing veterans.

The Cluetrain Manifesto quickly evolved into a best-selling book that provided many early online marketers with a foundation for understanding and predicting how buying and selling would change when buyers have access to the same, or greater, data and insights previously controlled by sellers.

What would be different if a Cluetrain Manifesto-like list of observations, explanations and beliefs were created today? How would 15 years of reality override these prophecies?

We can now find out…

(Continue reading on the Hammock Blog.)

When Responsive Design Meets SEO Headline Writing

Untitled_10

In the olden days of print, there was a term called “orphan ” that referred to a headline or paragraph with a lonely word dangling on a line by itself. The copy editor would rewrite it “to get rid of the orphan.” (For a discussion of widows and orphans, see: http://www.magazinedesigning.com.)

Today, when we all read our news on various size screens on sites with “responsive design,” the headline length is not measured by “size” but by its relationship to the width of a container that I’ll just call “a column” (i.e., 100% of the width of a column, not 14 px).

Moreover, the writers of headlines today have it beat into them that their headlines should be “optimized” for search (SEO), which can be translated: Write this headline for a machine called Google.

There is nothing inherently or existentially or ethically wrong with writing a headline for Google. If I had a story like the one appearing on the Tennessean.com today about Ashley Judd and Connie Britton, I’d put their names at the beginning of the line, as well.

However, when “responsive design” meets SEO headlines, it can create something the reader sees on the screen a bit confusing. It makes me think of a big sign I used to see on a newsroom that said: Pity the Poor Reader.

I guess they took that one down and put up one that says,  Pity the Poor Google.