The problem with too many media outlets

Nowadays, everyone can be a media outlet. Traditional media (newspaper and TV), new media (whatever the hell you consider it, including bloggers), even down to anyone with a twitter account or random blog. Obviously information is power – and having a lot of information on something can usually be a good thing. That is, until you have ‘to many cooks in the kitchen’, and leave everyone having to dig through all the noise to find something meaningful. And those who ‘break’ the story get the fame, until the next story comes along, and then no one cares.

I’ve been trying to write this blog post a few times, with possible titles as ‘Social Media Freakout’ or ‘Hyperlocal Hyperactivity’ (and I may use them in the future). But some events today led to a perfect post, that almost writes itself. Case in point, the ‘OMG UKROPS IS GOING TO BE SOLD!!!!!!’ flurry of tweets today. First of all – this rumor is nothing new. This rumor has been flying around for a very long time now. And heck, I even had my own say in it recently (before all of today’s events broke out). I’m not saying its not true – im just saying some need to stop contributing to the noise!

For those that don’t know, there’s two things that happened today. First an entry is posted on Food World that Ukrops has been out looking for buyers. Then there happens to be a forum post yesterday mentioning that there have been 29 liquor licensees applied for at ABC. While I understand the Food World article (I used to read it at slow times when I worked there), how can anyone trust a random forum post? There are even emails flying around (my wife got one) that even mention the sale value ($850 million).

Over these two events is then the hype machine that surrounds it all. To the point that RVANews leads an article mentioning the sale. Then you have the hype machine that is twitter cast its wrath all over the information. Local news affiliates (both NBC and CBS, as well the RTD) make mention of it, but at least dont contribute much to the hype. All this is good – twitter is almost like todays ‘small talk’, just only much more public, visible, and online. But with all this noise – you really have so much ‘he said/she said’ arguments, all targeting back to two random posts on the internet (and yes kids, not everything you read online is true). Twitter has got to be the fastest way ever in  humanity to spread ‘misinformation’ (misinformation in quotes, because no one knows for sure whats true, whats not. Somethings going on – just not many know what yet).

It’s hard to say in words how I feel about all this. I am complaining, but not really. I want my news as fast as everyone. But I am finding it increasingly difficult to filter all the noise. To the point that I would rather jump back a few years, and have more ‘solid’ news than fast news.

Sometimes this can be a good thing. A great example would be the plane crash in the Hudson. That was mentioned on twitter first, then brought to mainstream media. And all in all – handled in a very good way.

But let’s also look at the recent Michael Jackson tragedy. For hours the only trending topics on Twitter dealt with him. But you had people all over the world just plain out making stuff up! This got to the point where CNN (where we happened to be watching coverage) was jumping back and forth about what was going on. Obviously VERY few people in the world at that time knew what was going on – but social media freaked out the big guys enough to change their decisions based on whatever was more ‘hip’ at the time. And this all leads down into a downward spiral.

I wish I had recorded an AWESOME interview on CNN the next day. I don’t even remember the guys name – but he talked specifically on this topic. With all this going on – its hard for ‘true’ media outlets to also filter the noise, and therefore actually slowing the news down! Yes everyone may know something is going on – they may not know the truth.

ZumoDrive invites available!

I recently recieved quite a few more invites to the ZumoDrive service if anyone would like some. If so, please leave a comment.

ZumoDrive is a cool new ‘cloud’ storage service, that works across Macs, PC’s, and the iPhone. Once you install their software, you have a new drive appear on your machine, that you can just copy files to, and have ANYWHERE. One thing that really sets this service away from some of the others is their iTunes integration, which basically streams your music from the cloud. 

I tried this out on both the iPhone and my Mac, and really enjoy it. Its great to just have a copy of a few important things with me at all times, especially when I dont have to worry about storage space on my phone. You can read a lot more about their service on their FAQ.

Gmail now has To-Do lists!

Today is a day I thought would never come (just like the day a year or so ago when they allowed IMAP access). But Google has finally released a todo list manager for Gmail. Though its a labs feature, this has the most ‘polish’ I have ever seen on a labs feature, and I am sure eventually will be a new part of Gmail outside of labs (possibly with even more features!)

This is something I have wanted since I started using Gmail heavily. I really enjoy making quick todo’s for things I need to work on or check out, but could never find the right solution. Remember The Milk is doing a great job, and probably at the head of the pack when it comes to making these online. But im not fond of always paying for services like that, and you can only get iPhone and other integration if you are a Pro member.

Having these todo’s in Gmail is a blessing. You can create multiple lists, search through your lists, and make sub-tasks as well. And one of the best things was you can even MARK EMAILS AS A TODO ITEM! This is amazing, because I have been trying to hack up a system using the stars as a todo list manager, and it just didnt work for me! Also, for those that keep Gmail open all day (Im starting to), you can also pop this out like the other windows.

As long as you have Gmail Labs setup, you should see Todo at the top of the list under Settings -> Labs. Turn this on, refresh the Gmail page, and you should be good to go!

Gmail Labs

Last night, Google announced and launched a new feature in Gmail called ‘Gmail Labs’. This feature allows Google employees to write mini-apps for Gmail for the users. From what I read, its any Google employee, not just Gmail developers. Google has this really cool ‘20% rule’, where 20% of your work time should be dedicated to doing something for the company other than your ‘regular’ job. So they opened up the Gmail code to all employees, and want them to make stuff!

Right now there are about 13 tools to choose from. Everything from pictures in chat, mouse gestures, to being able to play the old school game Snake! There is even one that will block your screen for 15 minutes to take a break!

You can get to the Lab by clicking on Settings, and then on Lab. They started rolling it out around 9PM Eastern last night, but I didn’t get it in my account until this morning. Im not really sure if I am going to use any of these just yet, but the possibilities are endless of course. Supposedly as new features are placed in the Lab, as the user base grows and code is double-and-triple checked, these features will eventually make it into the normal Gmail code base. 

Now I just wish one of the people there would realize a to-do feature in gmail would be PRICELESS!

WordPress.com now running WP 2.5

The wife and I just got back in from running around getting dinner and checking out Lowes and Home Depot for some stuff (Why cant they make a fan that has a remote in a style I like?!?).

I come back to a few emails and log into wordpress to approve a comment.

Lo and behold, WordPress.com has started the move to using WordPress 2.5. Im writing this in the new admin. It looks quite a bit different and will take some getting used to, but is already MUCH faster and cleaner looking!

Looking around on the WordPress.com forums, a lot of people are already complaining. They say that its slow, hard to navigate, etc. Of course when things change, people complain. There are even petitions to allow people to decide if they want to run on 2.5 or not. Who cares? I love it!

We had the same problem when launching our new site, people were so ingrained on how they got around somewhere, it really shocks them to see a change! The immediate reaction is usually always negative in a change like this, until it grows on people. You just have to learn how to go with the change, realize that its ‘usually’ for the better, and move on! Our new site is faster, easier to manage/maintain, and much easier to grow. The new wordpress.com will be the same!

Its funny though, I was looking to going to my own hosting soon. One of the reasons was just to have my own thing again, but another was to start using wordpress 2.5. At least now I get to somewhat test drive the new wordpress 2.5 install before doing in on my own!

The guys at wordpress have more about the new setup here. It appears that they are actually treating as more of an ‘update to the admin’ that an ‘update to the entire site’. 

Problems with Facebook and Safari 3.1

Sunday afternoon I ran Software Update on our iMac running 10.5.2, since some security updates, iLife updates, and Safari updates were needed. Like usual, things went VERY smoothly, and I have actually noticed Safari being MUCH faster on our iMac.

One thing I did notice was problems on a few sites that had quite a bit of AJAX, especially Facebook. I could no longer use the search, menus, or any other ‘buttons’ on the pages. I searched around online, and quite a few people were claiming that ‘you need to reinstall Safari because there was a known issue’. I find this hard to believe, because if it was ‘that’ bad, we really would have heard something.

Well, in just doing some maintenance on our machine,  I cleared Safari’s cache. This solved the problem! Im not sure what caused it in the first place, but if you are noticing issues with Safari 3.1 and Facebook, make sure you empty your cache. Safari makes this VERY easy, just select “Empty Cache” from the Safari menu!

No only if WordPress.com could get their act together with their TinyMCE install on not removing all formatting from posts in Safari!

Listening To: ‘Still Alive’ by Jonathan Coulton and GLaDOS

Facebook figures out my connections for me!

I noticed something new when logging into Facebook this morning. On the front page, under status updates and birthdays in the right column, there now is a randomly appearing ‘People You May Know’ area! You can click on ‘see all’ to go to a list of about 30 people you may know based on existing connections. If you dont see it on your front page, you can also click ‘Friends’ at the top, then select ‘Find Friends’. The very last entry will say ‘People You May Know’

I went through the list this morning and found about 5 people that I did not even think about being on Facebook before. Its great to reestablish those connections, and to have a tool like this to help.

The one thing that I haven’t noticed yet is a way to get a new ‘list’ of people. It seems that every time I refresh the page it does present me with a few new people I have not seen before.  Im guessing with this being the first day it has really been out, that new features will come over time.

I already can think of two AWESOME features that would make this even better…

  1. Sort those people you may know by the amount of connections you actually share. For example, if I share 20 connections with a person, one would assume I would have a better chance of knowing them than someone I only share 3 connections with.
  2. Allow me to ‘flag’ or ‘remove’ people that I really just don’t know! I keep my friend list pretty small, and I only add people I usually really know. Therefore, let me mark someone as ‘not knowing them’ and get a new list of more possible choices

Listening To: ‘9 Ghosts I’ by Nine Inch Nails