Leif Erikson road, Forest Park
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Long weekend in Portland

Wednesday night: Delta non-stop flight from JFK to PDX. Michelle got a bulkhead seat, and I an exit row, so she traded the guy sitting next to me.

Thursday: few calls in the morning, purchased new running shoes, hour swim at The MAC, delicious lunch at Paragon in the Pearl, haircut with Brenda, drive to Eugene, and dinner at Pizza Research Institute with Shane, Hugh, and Michelle (both the chef’s special and the pear and pesto one were superb).

Friday: Breakfast at the Glenwood, drive back to Portland, afternoon nap, Prosperity Park out and back run with mom, and family picnic dinner in the park.

Saturday: 30 minute swim at The MAC, walking in Forest Park with Andrew, lunch and a Digital Journalism Portland sesh, hanging out downtown with Michelle and her sister, and a wonderful salmon dinner at home.

Relaxing weekend was just what I needed. Next trip I’m bringing my nice camera.

Where I’ve been: NYC, PDX, and EUG

Heatmap visualization of where I’ve been in three cities I most commonly visit, based on 1030 check-ins on Foursquare and a neat tool called Where Do You Go found via Zach Seward.

New York

Portland

Eugene

Pretty neat. The hotspots in each city are most commonly where I live and work. Unlike Zach, I check-in copiously, even at private residences, as a way of logging where I’ve been. The most unexpected insight from building these heatmaps is the sheer distance between Portland-area check-ins. It makes sense, but also is surprising compared to the other two cities.

Virtual rummage sale

I’m moving to Brooklyn at the end of the month, more on that later, and need to unload the bulky household items I’ve accumulated over the past few years. These include:

If you know of anyone looking for home furniture in very good condition, I’d be willing to make a deal.

One thing I’ve observed: the market is absolutely flooded with second-hand furniture right now. I imagine this happens every June. I also know that it was nearly impossible to find the things I needed when I moved down here last August or September. This smells like a market opportunity to me.

The idea that came to mind immediately was a centralized solution: the enterprising entrepreneur would rent an empty house or storage unit, pick up all of the furniture on the market at depressed prices, store it for a couple of months, and then resell when the demand picks up again. I’d imagine that most items listed on Craigslist or on display at garage sales in June are discounted at least 50%, if not more. The biggest issue with this model, although, is that there are serious costs associated with moving the furniture twice, first to storage and then to the buyer’s home, that might well cancel out any margins.

There’s got to be a cleverer solution.

Nature’s bounty

Creativity tip: if you have a hankering for a massive salad, but don’t know what to put on it, go to the salad bar and make a list of everything available. Then, go to the veggie section of the grocery store, and buy everything on that list and then some. With luck, you should end up with a delicious mix of beets, baby corn, carrots, cucumber, chard, olives, peas, avocado, potatoes, and tofu.

Covering Science and Technology: So you want to be a tech writer?

David Wolman and Marshall Kirkpatrick (@marshallk) led the conversation for the last panel this afternoon.

Informational interviews are a key part of finding stories, David says. He consumes a lot of coffee, talks with people about what they’re working on, and then also asks about what else they’re working on. That secondary information can lead to interesting pieces down the road.

Marshall has a detailed workflow for tracking down stories in the tech sector. He’s been working for ReadWriteWeb for the last year and a half, and is responsible for two to three posts a day. Most of the time, stories are “interrupt-driven” or dependent on the news of the day. The whole staff logs into a single Fever account to share RSS reading responsibilities.

One source of feeds is pretty ingenious. A research assistant dug up people who first linked popular web services such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. on Delicious. He did so for a number of startups over the last couple of years and put all of that information on a spreadsheet. Based on this aggregate information, he was able to identify 15 or so people who regularly link upcoming web services before anyone else. Subscribing to these Delicious accounts has multiple stories a week about hot new startups.

Most of the ReadWriteWeb writers use Tweetdeck for Twitter. Marshall has the 4,000+ people he’s following organized into different categories, including NY Times, analysts, augmented reality, etc. The team has a Skype chat they keep open 24 hours for coordinating on stories. They use hashtags within the conversation to enable people to find information of a specific type (i.e. which stories need editing with #edit).

For tracking reactions to pieces he’s written, Marshall searches for conversations based on a specific URL with Friendfeed, based on the ReadWriteWeb domain in Digg, and recently favorited tweets.

Libby Tucker notes that the differences between David and Marshall’s reporting styles. David flies to Urbana, Illinois to interview a scientist, whereas Marshall notes that if he has to put his pants on, it’s a big day.

Future of News roundtable, Eugene-style

Future of News panel at SPJ's Building a Better Journalist

The lunch session at SPJ’s Building a Better Journalist conference today was YAPOTFON, or Yet Another Panel On The Future Of News. Conversation was facilitated by President-elect Hagit Limor (@hlimor).

DJ Wilson is the President and General Manager of the KGW Media Group in Portland. “More than ever, people are consuming media.” Part of it is the 24/7, anytime, anywhere demand from consumers. KGW is a content business that works to meet that demand.

Rita Hibbard (@rthibbard) is the executive director and editor of InvestigateWest, a reporting non-profit in Seattle started by ex-Seattle Post-Intelligencer staffers. The bad news is the sheer number of journalists that have been laid off; the number of credentialed reporters in Olympia, Washington has gone from 25 to 6. [Ed note 10/25: This may also be due to waning interest in covering government] “Readers and news consumers are starting to wake up to what’s being lost out there.” We’re not replacing the investigative troops, but figuring out new ways to get the job done. InvestigateWest is brand new; incorporated in May, website launched in July, and first story will be out next month. It’s a piece on the misuse of public lands. They generate original, high-level investigative content. The business model is to syndicate it to as many media partners as possible, not build up their website. The first grant InvestigateWest received was from the Bullitt Foundation, which hasn’t traditionally funded journalism.

“Collaboration is a big part of this new media ecosystem.” InvestigateWest is working with a number of media partners in ways that would not have happened five or ten years ago. “The era of one dominant media source in a community is over.” News will now be an ecosystem of many parts.

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BarCamp Redefining J School

A few co-conspirators and I want to hold a BarCamp on Sunday, October 25th, the day after the SPJ regional conference at the University of Oregon. For those who have never attended one, a BarCamp is an “ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment.” In short, if you think you have something to teach you can throw it in to the mix. If you’re there to learn, then you have a whole number of knowledgeable people as teachers for a variety of topics.

The topic for this BarCamp? Redefining J school. The news industry is going through epic change that most J schools are ill-equipped for. It’s time for a new style of learning. We brainstormed several possible sessions:

  • What courses should you take to supplement your journalism career? What are good minors to a journalism degree?
  • What do students want from professors? How can students take initiative and enhance classes?
  • Crowdsourcing, and leveraging the knowledge of the community to put together a story
  • Where’s the line between PR and journalism?
  • Digital basics (blogging, Twitter, Google Alerts, etc.) and how those tools can be used
  • How to get paid internships (i.e. kickstarting your career while still in college)
  • Where’s the line between work and life when building your personal brand online?

Granted, I’ve done a lot of punditry in the last year talking about how J school is obsolete and needs to be completely reinvented. It’s time to translate grand ideas into action.

We’re planning to meet at 6:00 pm PT in the EMU Fishbowl, next Tuesday the 6th. Join our Google Group to stay in touch, or leave a note in the comments.

Backdoors in the interwebs

Flaw in DuckWeb was caused by lax security practices

On Tuesday, July 21 around 11 pm Pacific, I stumbled across a serious information security flaw in DuckWeb, the University of Oregon’s student information portal. For some of the work I’ve been doing with Publish2, I’ve been paying close attention to the composition and beauty of URLs. When printing out my degree audit for a trip down to Eugene the next day, I realised that the print version of the degree audit had a unique string of digits at the end of the URL. Curious, I changed the last two, refreshed, and ended up with someone else’s degree audit.

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