The granddaddy of Internet communication has brushed off one purported giant killer after another (Does anybody remember Google Wave?) and Adrienne LaFrance argues that it may deserve to live forever: "Email works. It’s open. It’s lovely on mobile. And as other forms of communication theoretically lighten the burden email places on people, perhaps it will become more tolerable again. The guilt people often associate with email is, after all, not technological."
William Heisel launched what he thought would be the investigative project of a lifetime — a takedown of an inefficient and unfair family court system, rooted in a sophisticated analysis of court data. Months later, he gave up, having failed to find a suitable data set: "I realize now that there is a wealth of data around us all the time that mostly goes unnoticed. But it’s rarely packaged neatly and sitting on some server in one government office for you to download."
Science says that using bullets in your PowerPoint slides actually makes it less likely that your audience will remember what you've said, Leslie Belknap writes. Turns out it's hard to read and listen at the same time: "When presenters minimize the cognitive exertion required to absorb the information by avoiding long lists of text on their slides, audience members are able to use their remaining cognitive capabilities to actually process the information being presented."t
A Duke University team is spending the summer experimenting with "structured journalism," an approach that breaks down news into continuously updated data fields, Laura Hazard Owen writes. The project is led by PolitiFact founder Bill Adair, who says: “It’s hard to measure how many hours of a reporter’s time are wasted writing a paragraph about things you have written before. When we get accustomed to it, I think it will actually save reporters time and readers time.”
Matt Waite comments on the FAA's long-awaited action proposing regulations to legalize commercial drone use: "It’s surprisingly flexible and permissive given what the agency has required of users up to now. Put simply, drones for journalism becomes very possible and very legal under these rules. Only a few things wouldn’t be allowed, and they’re minor in the grand scheme of things." More from Ben Popper and Al Tompkins.
They've been around for almost a decade, but Cynthia Graber writes that podcasts have struggled to find a niche. Now, that may be changing, thanks to new equipment and new ways for their creators to earn revenue: "Today, podcasting is making a comeback, in part because the technology — smartphones and audio recording programs — is easy to use … Apps like Stitcher encourage seamless podcast listening, and websites like SoundCloud make embedding and sharing audio a snap."
Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists discusses what journalists can learn from the new movie Rosewater, about the Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who was interrogated in Iran during the 2009 election protests: "The standard email and social media account contains the kind of information that interrogators used to pull out fingernails to get — your friends; your colleagues; your associations; your private opinions; your political beliefs."
What can you do when you have to send someone a large file over the Internet and it's too big to attach to an email? Is Dropbox the only alternative? Not at all, Amit Agarwal writes. For example, there's Skype: "The popular Skype app can also be used for sending documents, photos, videos and other large files of any format to your Skype contacts. Just initiate a chat session or a audio/video call with a contact and choose the Send File option to initiate a transfer."
The Associated Press will start using computers to generate routine business stories, and Mathew Ingram thinks that's a good thing for both journalism and journalists: "By widening the pool of available reporters to include both amateurs and robots, we increase the amount of potential journalism being done," Ingram writes on GigaOM. "All it means is that as a professional journalist, you now have to make sure that you are better than a robot."
Writing for Nieman Journalism Lab, ProPublica's Scott Klein warns that journalists who shun data and programming can lose out in the chase for stories: "We all know reporters who don't know how to write a FOIA letter and who can't bear the thought of reading the avalanche of documents that, with luck, arrive in response. You can be a good journalist without being able to do lots of things. But every skill you don't have leaves a whole class of stories out of your reach."