Archives for category: Tips & Tools

Carlos Brando, a Ruby on Rails developer, has released a free book covering the Ruby on Rails 2.1 updates.

It’s a pretty good overview for those new to the latest version of Rails. And hey, you can’t beat the price.

(via Ruby Inside)

It’s the end of the week, which means time for Ricochet’s One for Fun.

Today, I’m giving away private beta invites.

Update: All the invites are gone. If I get more in the future, I’ll post a new note.

Mapfaced allows users to create, search for and rate food and drink crawls in New York City. It’s positioned to be part map mashup, part Yelp.

Evernote is a multiplatform notetaking and clip organizing tool. It’s been around since at least 2005, but the new incarnation allows you to pass clips to Evernote from PCs (Windows XP/Vista) and Macs (Leopard), phones running Windows Media, and Web browsers (Firefox 2, Safari 3, IE7).

There’s even an alpha test of IMAP support, so iPhone users can browse, clip and send to an Evernote account too.

Want to check either of these out? Post a comment telling me which site you’d like to try (one site only) and your email. And if you have a favorite bar or restaurant you’d like to recommend, post that too.

I’ve only got a few invites for each site. First come, first served.

I love The Economist.

You may scoff at their Web site, but there are few sources that analyze business and world affairs as well or as soberly.

On March 6, they published a story called, “Hold the Front Page,” which described an HP Social Computing Lab study that tried to answer the question: How do you maximize attention for stories on a Web page?

To conduct the experiment, researchers Fang Wu (no relation) and Bernardo Huberman simulated the behavior of stories on Digg, pitting popularity against newness.

They discovered that while a fresh story may drive a lot of traffic at first, there will come a time when story popularity matters more. As I understand the conclusion, exactly when that happens varies from site to site, depending on each site’s reader patterns.

The full text of the Fang-Huberman study (written for scientists), makes for some really interesting reading if your head doesn’t explode over the math, and makes a case for news organizations to study traffic patterns closely.

As The Economist states:

“…You would be wise to learn more about exactly how interest in your stories cools off, if you want to display those stories in a way that will entice the largest number of people to read them.”

Social media consultant Chris Brogan has posted 10 tips for conference goers.

Since the season is about to get into full swing, here are some of the best ideas from the list:

  • Scour the web (technorati and Google Blogsearch) to see who’s coming, and reach out to people you want to see.
  • Have a really simple, brief sentence to answer: “What do you do?” “What are you working on these days?” “What brings you to the conference?”
  • Never assume people are better than you, or that you’re somehow not good enough or important. You are. And if people don’t know you yet, go in like they know you reasonably well anyway.

People naturally flock together in safe, familiar groups, especially when they find themselves amid a sea of strangers. But to learn anything new, it’s more useful to break away now and then. For the shy, there’s an entire wiki on how to start a conversation.

What do you do to get the most out of seminars / panels / expos / conferences?

(Cross-posted on Wired Journalists)

Didn’t make it to the Journalism 3G symposium in Atlanta? Catch up on what you missed.

Georgia Tech has posted videos of the talks and panels, and links posted by conference attendees.

As mentioned earlier this week, the live webcast from “Journalism 3G: The Future of Technology in the Field” (a symposium on computation + journalism) begins at 1 p.m. ET.

Speakers and panelists include:

  • Krishna Bharat – Principal Scientist at Google and creator of Google News
  • Ian Bogost – videogame designer, critic, and researcher, Assistant Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Founding Partner at Persuasive Games
  • David Cohn – and
    Ezra Cooperstein – Director of Development and Production for the Viewer-Created Content group at Current TV
  • Leah Culver – Founder of Pownce, a San Francisco-based micro-blogging service
  • John Geraci – Co-Creator of
  • Mark Hansen – Co-PI of the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing at UCLA, creator of (and one of the guys who created the cool art installation in the NYTimes Tower)
  • Alexander Hauptman – Senior Systems Scientist working on the Informedia: News-on-Demand project at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Elizabeth Spiers – media columnist for Fast Company magazine, founding editor of

Check out the full list of speakers, then be sure to watch the webcast. QuickTime 7 or later required.

Those who blog conscientiously know this already, but it’s worth bringing up this excellent post from Mindy McAdams.

Today, OC Register science columnist Gary Robbins spoke at a panel about blogging during the Future of Science Journalism Symposium.

In addition to writing about things his local audience can actually see and experience for themselves, Robbins times his Sciencedude posts to have the most impact:

The idea that “people will find it” is a vestige of the old journalism, Robbins said — no, they won’t find it, unless you play it correctly.

Therefore, it pays to know your metrics. Any site that doesn’t let its producers see Web traffic is wasting opportunities to tailor its content for maximum traffic, which translates, of course, into money. Think about that.

(via Teaching Online Journalism)

Starting Friday, journalists and researchers from all over will gather at Georgia Tech for Journalism 3G: The Future of Technology in the Field.

Though there hasn’t yet been a lot of discussion on the group’s CrowdVine site, a look at the member list shows a wide swath of interesting minds and movers who are pushing online journalism to be more than just text + photo + video + comments.

According to the conference website, there almost 220 people have registered. If you can’t make down to Georgia, you can watch the live webcast starting Feb. 22 at 1 p.m. ET

Joe Grimm, columnist and the Freep’s recruiting and development editor, guest blogs from the Tools of Change conference in New York, where members of the book publishing industry are discussing their future. — Chrys

Book publishing’s tectonic plates shifted a little more Monday as HarperCollins said it would publish books for free on the Web and Random House said it would test selling books by the chapter.

As their world shifted, hundreds of book publishers, librarians and authors tried to learn how to keep their footing at the O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference in New York.

Stephen Abram Opens TOC Conference in New YorkStephen Abram, vice president for innovation at SirsiDynix, opened the conference by kicking holes in near folkloric arguments that people don’t read anymore and that the young don’t know anything. He pushed publishers to move beyond Web 2.0, in which anyone can contribute, to Web 3.0, where networks reign.

Content king? No, said Abrams. Context is.

He described a phenomenon that is the opposite of continental drift in which Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and a host of social networks are hooking together. Smart publishers will thrive in an online social world.

Second Life, for example, has 5,000 visits a night to its library, which is staffed 80 hours a week.

Abram urged publishers to get into the networks and follow the lead of its customers, asking for their opinions.

“Are you still threatened by Google? You should be threatened by Facebook,” Abram said. He predicted that most of today’s Web 2.0 companies will fall by the wayside and that focusing on just one or a couple of them distracts from the real change.

The change is already happening, Abram said, with 300,000 people joining MySpace every day and 35 percent of its users posting content every day.

Devices are changing just as rapidly. He put up a slide that showed that a device the size of an iPod will be able to hold a year’s worth of video by 2012, all commercial music ever created by 2015, or all content ever created by all media by 2020. And the United States is woefully behind other parts of the world in its use of mobile devices.

But the solutions and the answers won’t be in any particular Web site or device, but in understanding audiences and letting them in on the fun. Abram said, “If you’re still trying to create a destination site, you’re messing up.”

Abram blogs at Beyond the Job.

The Tools of Change conference is at New York’s Marriott Marquis Feb. 11-13.

Joe Grimm, Detroit Free Press recruiting and development editor and Poynter columnist, pinged me with a conference tip.

Book publishers will meet next week in New York to attend the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference.

While the book world works differently from news, it faces some of the same issues: declining sales, competition from bloggers, the need for alternative delivery methods, and questions about creating community.

Several sessions could be worth your time:

Take a look at the full conference grid and be sure to register if you’re interested. The conference runs from Feb. 11-13.

And if anyone is attending, post a comment and let us know what you learned.