sree sreenivasan

Columbia Journalism Professor
Poynter Visiting New Media Professor
WNBC-TV Tech Reporter
http://www.Sree.net
http://www.SreeTips.com


Political Quotes, Anyone?

I
usually find out about sites for this column through reader tips, links
from other sites and notes from friends who say, “check this out.”
Rarely do I learn about useful sites via press releases.

But this week is an exception, because I got a press release yesterday with an eye-catching (but long) headline:

World’s Largest Collection of Political & Historical Quotations Available on the Web

Powerful Tool Includes Sources & Citations to Meet Journalistic, Editorial and Scholarship Standards

Turns out the site in question is PoliticalQuotes.org,
the home of Eigen’s Political & Historical Quotations. It offers,
at no charge, “over 40,000 quotations from more than 11,000 different
historical and political figures can be accessed through a powerful
fourth-generation search engine that is simple to use for the novice,
yet powerful enough for the most complicated Boolean and conceptual
searches for the sophisticated researcher.” Am not quite sure what a
fourth-generation search engine is, but I decided to give it a try. Read more

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Neil Reisner’s Place

Time to add to my occasional series on Web heroes and heroines, people who work tirelessly to help the rest of us understand the Internet better. Joining Gary Price, Tara Calishain and Wendy Boswell this week is Neil Reisner, a journalism professor at Florida International University, veteran reporter and long-time Internet trainer.

Unlike the previous three heroes, I have known Reisner for years and have learned a lot in person from him. He once wrote to me: “I’ve come to the conclusion that the Web is the best thing that’s ever happened to good journalists… and the worst thing that ever happened to lazy ones.” Instead of just complaining about it, he’s built a site that can help the good and the lazy

His site, at nreisner.com, is called “Reisner’s Place” and has the perfect tag line: “Nothing Fancy. Just Reisner.” His site is, indeed, pretty plain, but there’s lots of good and useful material here.
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Snarkmarket, Anyone?

Most of the media world, it seems, has seen EPIC 2014, the short, scary Flash movie about the future of the media from the perspective of the year 2014. As scary as it was, predicting the the rise of “Googlezon” (the merger of Google and Amazon) and the death of newspapers, I get the feeling that things might be even worse than predicted (but that’s fodder for another column).

The two young journalists (and former Poynter staffers) who created EPIC 2014 in 2004, Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson, have a blog where they highlight sites they like, articles they believe are worth reading, etc. The site is called Snarkmarket, and I have it bookmarked to visit regularly.

The reason I like their site is that it is both fun and useful — a rare combination among blogs. I also like the range of topics, ideas and interests they cover. Read more

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Wendy’s Wonderful Web

Time to add to my occasional series on Web heroes and heroines, people who work tirelessly to help the rest of us understand the Internet better. Joining Gary Price and Tara Calishain this week is Wendy Boswell, demystifier of many things online. Whenever I come across something written by Boswell, I always stop to read it. I learn something new and find myself taking notes that I share with others. Her official bio at About.com — where she works as a guide on Web search — says she has “designed several successful Web sites, and has been publishing, designing, and generally wasting time on the Web since the early ’90s.” I am glad she’s been wasting all that time and thus giving me lots to bookmark. A comprehensive list of useful articles by Boswell would be much too long for this column, but here are some items you should bookmark immediately:



  • About.com Web Search: This is Boswell’s main job, sharing tips and tricks about Web search with readers worldwide. Several times a day she posts items about various new search-related items she has come across.
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Tracking TV

Romenesko readers who can’t get enough news about the American TV business have several options. After starting your tour with Poynter’s most popular blog (which has several items a day about the world of broadcasting), you can try these new-ish free sites:

  • TVNewser.com: From Mediabistro comes this blog that brings you news and gossip about TV all day long. I read TVNewser, which is written by Brian Stelter, several times a day to keep up with developments big and small — and far more ratings numbers than I can handle. Read the “about” section to learn how an 18-year-old cable news junkie became a go-to guy for many people in the TV industry.
  • TVNewsday.com: This site, launched in January by Harry Jessell, a former editor-in-chief of Broadcasting & Cable magazine, is all about the business side of broadcasting. I asked Jessell how his site is different from TVNewser.
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Your Own Google Maps

We are seeing customized versions of Google Maps being used in all kinds of creative ways across the Web. When you get a chance, check out the dozens of interesting implementations at Lifehack’s Essential Resources for Google Maps.

These customized maps are easy to use, but not really easy to create. Even with such guides as “How to add a Google Map to any webpage in less than 10 minutes” and tools like MapBuilder.net, creating your own customized map is something best left to ultra-techies (I am not one; I haven’t tried it myself).

[NOV. 2006 UPDATE: I have discovered other easy-to-use map builders,  including:

But there is another, easier option for creating your own maps using what I have been calling a collective media project. For several columns now, I have been asking you to to help us with the Web Tips Frappr Project — a way to show you how the free site Frappr.com uses Google Maps to create maps just for you. Read more

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Perfecting PowerPoint

I hate PowerPoint. I know that for many of you, them’s fightin’ words. After all, the wildly popular software is the staple of presentations everywhere. Even kids in elementary school these days are taught to use it for show-’n’-tell. 

I have nothing against the product itself, I just can’t stand how badly executed most presentations are. More than 25 years of my fascination with the Panama Canal, for instance, were nearly destroyed last year when I sat through an hour of a dull PowerPoint presentation by canal officials. I refuse to do them myself and haven’t created a .ppt document in years.

Everyone gets so excited about putting up all kinds of graphics, fancy fonts and jazzy transitions that they pay no attention to the content, overstuffing the slides with useless stuff. Badly executed PowerPoint just cannot be salvaged.

However, there are ways to make better presentations using PowerPoint, including these tips:

  • Stick to one thought per slide.
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The Changing Media Landscape

The grainy photo to the left shows you a brave last stand.

It was taken on a recent morning in my Manhattan apartment hallway, with a cellphone camera (hence the bad lighting, poor depth of field, etc.). It shows home-delivered newspapers outside all seven apartments, including two outside mine, the one on the far left corner.

At a time of plummeting newspaper circulation (it fell 2.6 percent during the six months ending in September, even as  online readership of newspaper sites rose 11 percent, more than triple the growth rate of the Internet as a whole), I like to think my neighbors and I are, without ever talking about it, fighting the good fight.

But what makes it a good fight? Are newspapers worth saving? Why do I, Web guy, pay for two sets of printed newspapers every morning?

These questions were on my mind as I organized a panel earlier this month at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism called “The Changing Media Landscape, 2005.” Presented with the Hearst Foundation as part of the Columbia Journalism Dialogues program, the idea was to gather journalists and media influencers and take stock of the revolution around us. Read more

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Social Networking for Journalists

“Social networking for journalists” sounds
like some sort of lesson in manners and schmoozing. While we all
certainly know people who could use some help in that arena (present
company excluded, of course), this column is about how journalists can
make use of social networking Web sites. These sites, which help
connect friends, friends of friends and friends of friends of friends,
have grown in popularity in certain demographics (teens, college
students, young professionals, singles, married-but-looking, etc.) over
the last couple of years. Sites such as Friendster, LinkedIn, Yahoo
360, Orkut, MySpace, etc., use the concept of “trusted” friends or
acquaintences — i.e., connecting people only to those who want to be
connected and doing so only by connecting friends of friends.

To test out these services, I had set up accounts over the
last few years, but have stopped using all but one. My excuse: I can
barely make time for the friends I have; I don’t have time to make new
ones.
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I Hate E-mail, Part II

My last column was filled with tips and lessons from a recent spate of e-mail troubles. I thought I was going to teach you folks something, but, instead, I got a lot of useful tips and ideas from the e-mails you sent me. Many of those tips are gathered here (please take a look).

The topic of e-mail hell seemed to resonate so much, I decided to revisit it.

One sign that you are addicted to e-mail: You compose messages in your head in the shower, on the treadmill, in the subway. I do that all the time, despite carrying a Treo 650 personal digital assistant and seeming to live online. In fact, I wrote the top of this column in my head in the shower. Too bad my editor, Julie Moos, will not be impressed by my diligence when I turn it in late.

Here are some of the tips that came in the mail:

  • Drew Cherry of IntraFish Media writes from Bergen, Norway: I’d add another annoyance about e-mail: miscommunication.
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