Archive for May, 2009

NYT Hires a Social Media Editor

May 27, 2009

finding forresterMore and more people are getting their news from filtering and alert mechanisms.  Why?  Because it’s easy and gets you to things of relevance to you.  This is more evidence that news is what the reader chooses to be of relevance.  News is like food:  junk food and healthy food are all available.  It’s our choice what we consume.  Filters and alerts are ways of altering your diet of news.  Sick of reading your local paper?  Not hearing news about that key competitor?  Set up a google news alert or subscribe to the RSS feed for your favorite sports team or start following a publication on Twitter or Facebook.  Reminds me of the great line from Finding Forrester where the wise Sean Connery character, a reclusive writer, says to his mentee, who can’t believe he reads the National Enquirer, “The Times is dinner, but the National Enquirer, that’s dessert.”   

Here’s a quote from the internal NYT email:  “the point is that an awful lot of people are finding our work not by coming to our homepage or looking at our newspaper but through alerts and recommendations from their friends and colleagues.” 

The New York Times Hires a Social Media Editor; Does It Need One?


Posted using ShareThis

Why Are Affluent People Healthier?

May 21, 2009

Whole Foods-MergerNo surprise here:  the rich are healthy because they can afford to be.  Now there is a study that proves this.  Why Are Affluent People Healthier? – The Atlantic Food Channel

Posted using ShareThis

40 Useful and Creative Infographics

May 20, 2009

best beerSee these cool data visualizations, although in many cases there’s more sizzle than steak.  Always the challenge of presenting information is that the coolness of the graphics is not necessarily related to the usefulness of the data.  I’ve always believed that the data story is what’s most important, but failure to present in an interesting manner can doom your idea.  40 Useful and Creative Infographics.  Thanks Jessica Mullens for pointing this out.

Posted using ShareThis

Jump Into The Stream

May 18, 2009

stream  Heraclitus,_Johannes_Moreelse

Fascinating Techcrunch article envisioning a future where streams of data are critical, not the current ponds of pages.  Jump Into The Stream  A couple of thoughts:

  • Reminds me of Heraclitus, who said, “You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.”  Streams are ever-changing and the most beautiful streams will be sought after.  
  • Reminds me of Clay Shirky’s comment:  “we don’t have information overload, we have filter failure.”  Streams are a way of getting us to filters.  Pick quality streams and you’re on your way to quality data. 
  • Finally, I am reminded that streams and filters are only important in the context of knowing what is important.  This gets at the heart of what is news and, more importantly, what is it that we want to enter our consciousness.  News is not the only thing that healthy and happy adults focus upon:  they focus on their values and their beliefs, their family and friends, their hopes and dreams.  If I have choice over the things that enter my consciousness, then I’m going to pick things that are additive to my values, beliefs, relationships, hopes and dreams.  My point is that we can get all the cool streams and filters for news, but there is a place, somewhere is this fast paced internet world, for the things that each of us has chosen, in our lifetime, to be fundamentally important.  I’m thinking about my favorite books, my goals for the upcoming year, my approach to my most important relationships, my guiding philosophy, my faith.  Streams can overwhelm the consciousness.  I think that people are craving the filters that Clay Shirky is talking about, as well as tools that will help them enhance the most important things in their life.  Sometime in the next five years, I predict a shift towards use of the internet towards helping each of us focus upon the fundamentally important things in each of our lives. 
  • Jump Into The Stream

Posted using ShareThis

Marshmallow Measurement

May 15, 2009

marshmallowTell a kid he can have two marshmallows if he waits for a few minutes, or one right now. What will he do? More importantly, what is different between the kids who wait and the ones who don’t? About 210 points in SAT scores. See the fascinating article in The New Yorker.

Happiness is Love. Full stop.

May 12, 2009

yinYangI was going to put this post on my personal blog, but realized it fit in nicely with the data and emotion concept I have been writing about.  Although data will win, it is relationships which lead to happiness which leads to love.  I’m headed to my 25th year college reunion in a couple weeks and, like the Vailliant study featured in the Atlantic, I will get to participate in and witness the amazing texture of the span of people’s lives.  So hard to predict what works and what doesn’t in the realm of relationships.  Some people need more relationships to be happy and some people can be happy as a loner.  I do think that doing something for your work that you love to do is another important part of happiness.  But what are the best relationships based upon?  Trust, shared interests, shared heritage, shared appreciation…but perhaps also some differences that make for being better together:  caution and adventure, ambition and complacency…this subject is vast.

Op-Ed Columnist – They Had It Made –

George Vailliant


Posted using ShareThis

Wolfram-Alpha: New Search Service Aims to Answer Tough Questions –

May 11, 2009

“Mr. Wolfram’s service does not search through Web pages, and it will not help with movie times or camera shopping. Instead it computes the answers to queries using enormous collections of data the company has amassed. It can quickly spit out facts like the average body mass index of a 40-year-old male, whether the Eiffel Tower is taller than Seattle’s Space Needle, and whether it is high tide in Miami right now.”

New Search Service Aims to Answer Tough Questions –

Posted using ShareThis

It’s Not Information Overload. It’s Filter Failure.

May 10, 2009


I totally agree with Clay Shirky.  See him here:

Schools, Data and the Bully Pulpit

May 8, 2009

whatever-it-takesIt’s nice to see charter schools promoted, but the David Brooks editorial points out how a subject like education is still subject to the whims of emotion and the bully pulpit.  Brooks was contacted by a scientist friend who conducted a study and was amazed to find that Geoffrey Canada’s middle school, Promise Academy, did indeed have better results, scientifically proven.  That’s wonderful, but nowhere does Brooks point out that one of the most important initiatives of the Harlem Children’s Zone was the concept of the “Conveyor Belt,” which included care about child’s life from before they were born all the way to middle school.  One of Canada’s greatest achievements, highlighted in the book called Whatever It Takes, is Baby College, a program for educating expectant Harlem parents in how to raise productive members of society.  Also missing from the Brooks editorial was any mention of the other charter schools systems (multiple schools under one management system) that have achieved better results, scientifically proven.  To see a list of charter schools and their results, visit either or

yinYangAll of this reminds me of the emotional and scientific nature of life.  In the end, data and science will win out.  My favorite book of late on this subject is The Black Swan.  But in the short term, emotions often win first.  Another favorite book of late on this subject is Made To Stick.  Ideas that win and stick are not always the best ideas.  I am fascinated that it is the emotional, “Made To Stick” concepts that continue to sell good ideas, not The Black Swan, rely-on-the-data approach.  Brooks editorial may propel Promise Academy and Harlem Children’s Zone to a new level of public appreciation, but only because of his bully pulpit, not because of his scientific and objective assessment of our educational system.  What must happen to truly propel education (and other social causes) is the implementation of a systematic, data-driven assessment of all schools (and other social causes) that makes it clear which organizations are performing better.  Op-Ed Columnist – The Harlem Miracle –


The Four Bears

May 7, 2009

four-bears-largeGreat chart showing how far we off from a depression.  Calculated Risk: Stock Market Update

Posted using ShareThis