Larry Larsen

(formerly Multimedia Editor at Poynter.org)
My personal website.


The Problem with .mobi

I won’t say the newly declared .mobi top-level domain extension is a ploy to drain pockets for no good reason, but I’ll come close. This domain extension has been approved and is being marketed as the solution for Web content providers to help people using mobile devices find the scaled-down version of a site.

I’ve written about the issue of finding mobile content recently (Sept. 24, Sept. 13), and I’d like to point out the two biggest problems with the .mobi approach.

First, there are a lot of domains with the same name but different extensions. Poynter.com (occupied by a domain squatter) is not Poynter.net (a U.K. IT outsourcing firm) is not Poynter.org (this site). Which one deserves Poynter.mobi and all the errant traffic that comes with it?

The second problem is that the extension .mobi takes even more effort to type on a miniature device than .com. Who wants to type more than they have to, especially on a handheld device?

The best solution I see is the suggestion by Travis Smith of Hop Studios in his comment to one of my previous postings: m.<yourdomain>.com/.net/.org. With this convention, we all get our mobile sites — and we get to type less (assuming your site uses www.… Read more

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What’s E-Paper Really for? Defining Device Roles

Reading Ernst Poulsen’s earlier tidbit about e-paper has driven me to speak up. Surprisingly, three times in the last week I’ve heard people mention that the trouble with e-paper is that is it only black and white and that it doesn’t support video.


I think it’s time to define the proper role of e-paper technology.


E-paper is reflective. It doesn’t light up in the dark like your video iPod (or Zune). I don’t know about you, but I don’t really have an interest in watching video on that kind of device when I have many other devices sitting around that already do that job very well.


Couple that with the fact that, in e-paper,you’re moving balls around in a fluid — as opposed to flipping lots of light switches on and off, which is basically what a computer monitor does. This means an e-paper reader which can display about 7,500 pages of text on a full battery charge would be drained in about four minutes just to display B&W video.


…That is, assuming it is even possible to swing around balls in a liquid 30 times per second — a feat I’m not entirely sure will happen in the next decade.


E-paper will play essentially the same role as an iPod: To take media that you normally consume sitting at a computer, and portably enjoy it away from that computer.… Read more

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Mobile Content & New Media Terms: Standards Matter

On Sept. 13, I asked Tidbits readers for input on a standard way that news providers could help people find news content on mobile devices.

In a comment to that post, Travis Smith of Hop Studios offered what I think was the most logical suggestion: m.<yourdomain>.com. The idea behind that approach is that the less you have to hunt and peck out letters on a small device, the better. I really like it.

Consequently, next week Poynter Online will add m.poynter.org as a redirect to our mobile site next week. I hope others emulate our example. A rising tide lifts all boats.

…On another standard issue, on Sept. 22, Leo Laporte suggested on his blog TWIT TV that we change our collective use of the word “podcast” to “netcast” before Apple sends us all letters.

I agree with him, but I’m sorry to say I’m not sold on netcast. “Net” is redundant for an Internet technology, and “cast” implies that it is sent to everyone like a TV or radio broadcast. I’m afraid the non-technical won’t know what it means without being told anyway.

And while we’re at it, let’s fill out the whole multimedia set as far as terms go.… Read more

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Mini-Me

I’m a fan of scaled-down sites for portable devices, (RSS is nice, but it’s overkill for my infrequent mobile browsing habits.) Sometimes when I’m out I’ll pull out my T-Mobile Sidekick and browse the news.


However, I often have trouble finding the scaled-down version of a news site, especially when I don’t have a full computer to look for it. In fact, last night I had a tough time remembering the URL for the mobile version of Poynter Online (www.poynter.org/avantgo).


So I have a proposal. We can work out the particulars in the comments to this post, if needed.


I propose that news providers develop a subdomain standard for their portable products.


For instance, at Poynter we are going to set up the subdomain mini.poynter.org to handle our portable site. It would be great if one day you could type in mini.nytimes.com, mini.sptimes.com, or just insert “mini” in front of any news provider’s URL to access the portable version of a site without the hunt.


What do you think? Please comment below. … Read more

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RSS Junkies Rejoice

By Larry Larsen, Multimedia Editor


You asked for it, you got it. Today we’re formally launching our RSS feeds site-wide. There are RSS feeds for every subject area and every column. You can see the full list here, and more feeds will be following in the near future.


What is an RSS feed?
RSS is a structured file that sits out on the Internet and represents the content on our site. When something new is added to Poynter.org, it is also added to the appropriate RSS feed. Your RSS reader will then notify you that something new has been added. This will keep you from having to keep your browser set to Romenesko, hitting the “refresh” button all day — but feel free to continue doing that, if that’s your thing. Read more about RSS on Wikipedia.org


How do I use RSS feeds?
You will need some device, software or hardware, to collect the RSS feeds for you. Usually, these are called RSS readers or aggregators. Read more about RSS readers at Wikipedia.org. There are so many ways to read RSS feeds that any list we make will surely be incomplete. I will propose several options below, but feel free to mention the RSS devices you like best in the feedback section of this article.… Read more

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Larry’s Luncheon Challenge

By Larry Larsen
Multimedia Editor


You’ll find the following as part of my contribution to the current Week in Media feature. As the suggestion of one of my editors, I’ve broadened this challenge from “comprehensive article” to conversation in the feedback area. If you have ideas for coverage of this issue — the historical context of domestic spying approved by the White House — please add them to the feedback area attached to this item. Depending on what develops, we’ll explore some virtual luncheon possibilities.


I’ll buy a nice lunch for the first journalist who can write a comprehensive article that explains to me the difference between the warrantless domestic spying of the Bush administration compared to the warrantless domestic spying of the Clinton adminstration, compared to the warrantless domestic spying of the Reagan administration (ruled legal by a Federal appeals court), compared to the warrantless domestic spying of the Carter administration (how do you think they caught Billy with a quarter-million of Libya’s money?), compared to the warrantless domestic spying of the Ford administration, compared to the warrantless domestic spying of the Nixon administration, compared to the warrantless domestic spying of the Johnson adminstration, compared to the domestic spying of the Kennedy administration, compared to the warrantless domestic spying that began under the Truman administration.… Read more
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The Poynter Diet


Roy Peter Clark, Vice President, Senior Scholar and Reporting, Writing & Editing Faculty
I never have the same diet of news every day, or even every week. In general order of how I might access them during the day, I consume: Imus in the Morning (MSNBC), The Today Show (at least the first hour), and surf the other morning news shows. I read: the St. Petersburg Times, the front page of The New York Times (in Starbucks), Romenesko, Google News, Sports Talk Radio. I listen to or watch at least one conservative talk show: either Rush or Hannity or O’ReillyNational Public Radio, some brief snippet of local news -– usually holding my nose from all the crime coverage, NBC Evening News, occasional MSNBC evening programming, occasional Fox News check-in (hardly ever CNN), ESPN.com, Sports Center on ESPN. Also get news and information from a lot of channel surfing, from occasional magazine reading, from word of mouth. 

Karen Dunlap, President
Awake and exercise to Bay News 9 and CNNSt. Petersburg Times for breakfast, NPR while driving to work, scan The New York Times and Wall Street Journal at my desk. MSNBC online during the day.

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Lessons From the Storm

The Katrina Project Site was an interesting look at Hurricane Katrina by a group of students at the P.I. Reed School of Journalism, West Virginia University. We asked how the project came about and what went into putting it together. The following is their story:

By Assistant Professor Dana Coester, Assistant Professor Joel Beeson and Assistant Professor Bonnie Stewart of the P.I. Reed School of Journalism, West Virginia University.




Disaster 101: A multi-media class becomes a real-world reporting experiment.
By Joel Beeson, multimedia director and visual journalism assistant professor 

Three weeks into the fall semester, Hurricane Katrina hit and out went my painstakingly planned multimedia syllabus. The first week we had a class discussion to define multimedia. The subsequent weeks would be dedicated to teaching audio recording and editing; video recording and editing; and digital photography in a logical, step-by-step progression to the Holy Grail — a three-minute semester project of the student’s choosing.


Instead, Katrina hit and student teams took mini-disc recorders, pads of paper and pencils, digital cameras and mini-DV camcorders and began to interview and photograph evacuees, volunteers and staff. The class became the ultimate “learn by doing” laboratory.


We learned (and still are learning) about teamwork and about which parts of a story are best told by a particular medium.… Read more

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Reaffirming their mission


Marty Albertus and Matt LaGesse speak with
with Naughton Fellow Meg Martin. Produced by Larry D. Larsen. The audio runs just over three minutes.
Download the MP3 to your portable audio player (right click, file save as…)… Read more

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The Blanton Contingencies


Bill Blanton discusses the details of The Naples Daily News disaster plan
with Naughton Fellow Meg Martin; The audio runs 13 minutes.
Download the MP3 to your portable audio player (right click, file save as…)… Read more

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