Transformation Tracker: David Shedden tracks economic, technological, and historical changes in the news business.

Mosaic was the Web’s first killer app, said 1993 NYT story

The New York Times
Eighteen years ago this month The New York Times introduced its readers to the Web, and its first killer app, the Mosaic browser.

The newspaper didn’t have an online site yet, but you could find
John Markoff’s story on page D1:

Think of it as a map to the buried treasures of the Information Age.

A new software program available free to companies and individuals is helping even novice computer users find their way around the global Internet, the network of networks that is rich in information but can be baffling to navigate.

….Mosaic’s many passionate proponents hail it as the first “killer app” of network computing — an applications program so different and so obviously useful that it can create a new industry from scratch.

The Mosaic Web browser (Courtesy: National Center for Supercomputing Applications)

….Before Mosaic, finding information on computer data bases scattered around the world required knowing — and accurately typing — arcane addresses and commands like “Telnet” Mosaic lets computer users simply click a mouse on words or images on their computer screens to summon text, sound and images from many of the hundreds of data bases on the Internet that have been configured to work with Mosaic.

Read more

Monday, Oct. 10, 2011

Flashback to 2005: HuffPost, YouTube launched; Podcasts proliferate; ‘Print Needs Its Own iPod’

New York Times
Six years ago today, on October 10, 2005, New York Times columnist David Carr wrote a story called, “Forget Blogs, Print Needs Its Own iPod.” It is a fascinating reminder of how much media and technology have changed since.

His piece made me wonder about other 2005 stories and statistics from the pre-iPad world. Here are a few.

February 15, 2005
YouTube is founded with the first video posted in April.

May 2005
The Huffington Post is launched.
Related: “Dazzle, Yes. But Can They Blog?” By Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, May 9, 2005

May 2005
Google introduced a new AdSense program that invited bloggers to share revenue from targeted Web page ads.

June 28, 2005
Google Earth is launched.

July 7, 2005
Passengers used their cell phones to photograph the chaos and damage when terrorists bombed the London underground subway. Traditional media soon shared these images with the world. Read more


Friday, Aug. 12, 2011


Did CBS really invent original reporting on TV?

Romenesko | TVNewser | YouTube
55 years ago today, on August 12, 1956, a group of CBS News journalists appeared on the quiz show, “What’s My Line?

They were some of the best reporters in the history of broadcast journalism: Walter Cronkite, Eric Sevareid, Robert Trout, Charles Collingwood and Douglas Edwards. On the show, blindfolded panelists tried to guess the group’s occupations by asking a series of questions. Here is a video of the show:

Coincidentally, Romenesko linked to a story earlier this week about a new CBS News promo that claims the network invented original reporting on TV. The claim largely rests on the work of these early broadcast journalists and their colleagues.

If we could go back 55 years, perhaps we could ask these journalists
what they think.

Here’s what I think: No one person or network invented original TV reporting. TV news had been slowly evolving since the late 1930s. Read more


Thursday, June 30, 2011

What was Rupert Murdoch thinking when he bought Myspace?

BBC | ASNE Speech
Shortly before he bought MySpace in 2005, Rupert Murdoch shared his thoughts on the digital age in a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

At the time, the BBC reported on News Corporation’s purchase of
MySpace. They also offered an analysis of Murdoch’s speech and his
company’s past attempts with online technology. Jeremy Scott-Joynt wrote:

“Just three months ago, news magnate Rupert Murdoch made an unusual admission.

He had realised, he told a high-powered audience at the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washington DC, that he had got something rather important rather wrong.

News Corporation, the global media group he controls, had failed properly to engage with the online world – and risked losing its hard-won position in news as a result.

As a ‘digital immigrant’ – as he described himself – he acknowledged he found it difficult to visualise how News Corp should change its ways.

Read more

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

1982 New York Times story predicts the future of technology, Facebook

New York Times

Here is a look at the future from 29 years ago today.

In a June 14, 1982 story called, “Study Says Technology Could
Transform Society”
the New York Times described a report from the
National Science Foundation:

A report commissioned by the National Science Foundation and made public today speculates that by the end of this century electronic information technology will have transformed American home, business, manufacturing, school, family and political life.

The report suggests that one-way and two-way home information systems, called teletext and videotex, will penetrate deeply into daily life, with an effect on society as profound as those of the automobile and commercial television earlier in this century.

It conjured a vision, at once appealing and threatening, of a style of life defined and controlled by videotex terminals throughout the house.

In his New York Times story, Robert Reinhold went on to present other findings from the report:

Privacy and control

The report warned that the new technology would raise difficult issues of privacy and control that will have to be addressed soon to ‘maximize its benefits and minimize its threats to society.’

Emerging online industry

The study focused on the emerging videotex industry, formed by the marriage of two older technologies, communications and computing.

Read more

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

What is the future of mobile advertising?

Business Insider

Business Insider continues its special report on the future of
with a look at possible trends in mobile advertising.
Dan Frommer writes:

As mobile phones evolve, mobile advertising is evolving, too.

Already, we’ve seen a shift from tiny text and banner ads to more
sophisticated efforts. Some are trying to captivate you with
mini-games, interactive widgets, and contests. Others serve up a
specific deal based on your location.

And while today’s mobile ads aren’t doing too poorly — 60% of mobile users click on mobile ads at least one a week, according to a recent report — there’s still a lot of room for advancements as the industry matures. (Especially considering that a lot of those “clicks” are probably by accident.)

He continues to describe the following mobile advertising trends they expect to see during the next few years.

1. More interactivity and “apps as ads.”

2. Deals and rewards, not just empty pitches. Read more


Monday, May 16, 2011

Edward R. Murrow producer dies at 90

CBS News

CBS News reports that another link to the early days of broadcast journalism has passed away:

Veteran TV producer and reporter Joseph Wershba, whose resume includes Edward R. Murrow’sSee It Now” broadcasts exposing Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch hunt in the 1950s, and who was one of the original producers of “60 Minutes,” died Saturday at age 90.

Wershba, who resided in Floral Park, N.Y., succumbed to complications from pneumonia in North Shore Hospital on Long Island, with his wife Shirley at his side.

Wershba’s career spanned more than half a century in broadcast and print journalism. A two-time Emmy Award-winner and Pulitzer Prize nominee, Wershba joined CBS News in 1944 as a radio news writer, rising to news director of WCBS Radio in New York. He became a correspondent for Murrow and Fred Friendly’s “Hear it Now” radio series, and was named a field producer when the show transferred to television.

Read more

Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2011

Looking back at news homepage history

10,000 Words | Vimeo

In his post, “Nostalgia: 11 Retro News Website Homepages,” Ethan
Klapper takes us back in time with old news website homepages.

He writes:

Inspired by a recent Facebook album posted by Jim Brady, the former executive editor and TBD general manager, here are
a couple of old homepages from news sites we know well. Any notable
omission is due to the Wayback Machine not being able to crawl the
(Click here for the homepages.)

Vostok design studio has also posted some homepages with
their video, “15 years of”

And finally, here are a few early homepages we found while
compiling our New Media Timeline project.

Mercury Center on AOL, 1994

Time Magazine on AOL, 1994

U.S. News on AOL, 1994

Access Atlanta on Prodigy, 1994

San Francisco Examiner on Compuserve, 1981
(The first online newspapers were text only and didn’t have homepages as we know them today. Read more

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Monday, Apr. 11, 2011

Lessons from Usenet, the “Facebook of the ’80s”

Harvard Business Review Blog Network

There are lessons to be learned from Usenet, the “Facebook of the ’80s.”

Alexandra Samuel writes:

..if you look at the longer history of the social Web, it’s clear that
some principles have been around for a long time. And nothing brings
those principles into focus like a look at the social Web’s first big
controversy, all the way back in 1987: The Great Renaming.

“The Great Renaming” refers to a major shift in the structure of usenet provider, the massive distributed discussion board system; the Facebook of the ’80s.

She goes on to say that the social Web’s three core principles, that it should be “free, open and participatory,” have been around since the Usenet’s struggle with growth and reorganization in the 1980s. And that the principles of “free, open and participatory” have historically been a driving force on the Internet and the social Web’s equivalent to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Read more


Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011

paidContent posts list of most-successful U.S. digital media companies


The folks at paidContent have posted their inaugural “paidContent 50.”
They write:

Welcome to the paidContent 50, our inaugural list of the
most-successful digital media companies in the U.S. We examined every
company we cover (and more) to determine the 50 that are bringing in
the most money from online content and online advertising. For each
company, we offer not only their digital revenues, estimated in some
cases, but also a snapshot of their business strategy and a look at
some of their key moves over the last year. We think you’ll find some

Joseph Tarkakoff goes on to say that “We’re the first to admit that the list contains a fair amount of guesswork — informed guesswork but guesswork nonetheless. It is meant to help kick off a deeper conversation about digital success.”

Take a look at their choices. It is a fascinating list.

News Corp. Read more