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Norbert Specker: Netwanderings

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7. Mar 2008
Freedom of expression demos
All this - online or not - does not make much sense without the freedom of expression. Not everywhere this freedom is granted and reporters without borders calls for a demonstration. Here is the text of the newswire: "Reporters Without Borders will launch the first International Online Free Expression Day under UNESCO's patronage on 12 March, when it will also organise its second "24-hour online demo against Internet censorship," urging Internet users to come and demonstrate on its website, A total of 63 cyber-dissidents are currently in jail worldwide for using their right to free expression on the Internet. To denounce government censorship of the Internet and to demand more online freedom, Reporters Without Borders is calling on Internet users to come and protest in online versions of the nine countries that are "Internet enemies" during the 24 hours from 11 a.m. on 12 March to 11 a.m. on 13 March (Paris time). Anyone with Internet access will be able to create an avatar, choose a message for their banner and take part in one of the nine cyber-demos (Burma, China, North Korea, Cyba, Egypt, Erithrea, Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Vięt-nam). Reporters Without Borders will release its latest list of "Internet enemies" together with a new version of its Handbook for Cyber-Dissidents. (RSF via PR Newswire)"

28. Feb 2008
ACAP-Birth of a new standard
By way of Timothy Balding, president of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) we are pointed to the first downloadable version of ACAP. "This is a decisive moment for the Automated Content Access Protocol, the new standard devised by the newspaper, magazine and book industries to protect our digital publishing interests and make us masters of our own content." The protocol is based on the Robots.txt and allows for a range of different use cases identified by the publishers involved so far (NAA or ENPA among them). Importantly it allows also for a "Neutral" mode which allows publishers allowing access to their content exactly as now but at the same time making a statement supporting ACAP. The interests are clear and the initiative is way better than the crude legal action taken by some publishers by for example banning Google to link to their content. In how much the initiative fulfills the promise to make more content searchable online while securing and supporting the basic open access policy enbedded in a unified and single public internet, remains to be seen.

5. Feb 2008
Wired Journalists
The species of the online journalist has quite a few parks to roam among themselves. Most notably Poynter Online with a very deep mandate to provide help and tools as well as the necessary discussion. Or the long running Online News List. A new initative Wired Journalists uses the social networking tool set of Ning and seems to run in open doors (members went from 300 to over 1000 journalists in just the last week). The goal is to "help journalists who have few resources on hand other than their own desire to make a difference and help journalism grow into its new 21st Century role". Of course, social networking sites seem to work like restaurants: the right patrons have to frequent it often, the social exchange needs to be animated and lots of fresh ideas have to float around permanently. What is telling is the name: rather than limiting itself to "online" it addresses the journalist who is wired into ll kinds of reporting and distribution tools.

12. Sep 2006
Dropping Knowledge
Since we organzied Interactive Publishing we appreciate the time, the effort and the sheer endless believe it takes, to get an initiative like Dropping Knowledge off the ground. The round table with 112 experts who answer 100 key questions in regards to our present and our future, which then are all transcribed and available as 3 minute videos on the net...great. Check out the excellent website, ask your questions. Because the key are not the answers, the key are the questions and the key is bringing people around a table.

5. Sep 2006
The Digital Collection reworked
Cityweb serves the newspapers of the WAZ group with a September 11 special. We like the way they combined some of the screenshot from the Digital Collection with papers discussing the work of newspapers around the world on this day. (The Guardian When the Web came of age", Norbert Specker Die Medien im Krisenfall: Weltweite Online-Trends nach dem 11. September 2001).
Here the session report of Interactive Publishing 2001 on a panel with the key people of NYT, Wallstreet Journal, Spiegel, Aftonbladet talking about how they produced their news sites on September 11, 2001.

25. Jan 2006
Videos of DLD06
This happens if you don't do an IP or Content Summit for a couple of years: Dr. Hubert Burda gets together a mighty interesting crowd of people and has them think about Digital Lifestyle. Thank you for a very interesting conference! Many of our old friends (Ola Ahlvarsson, Bruno Giussani, Esther Dyson, Chris Wiener, Maria Finders, Wolfgang Frei, Dan Gillmor) gathered to get a whiff of the excitement that "ambient media" - as Yossi Vardi put it - is again able to create among artists, entrepreneurs and investors.
The best: You can see everything for yourself as the complete conference has been filmed and those films are niceley organized: DLD06 Media. Download to your iPod or on your computer. For a nice write-up of the proceedings check Bruno's Blog

23. Jan 2006
Digital Lifestyle Day 2006
Getting on the board
If there is a new wave starting to happen - as many of our old and many of our new acquaintances we meet here in Munich - it is time to get on the board. Check out DLD06 to have an overview of topics. Dan Gillmor and his often cited +We Media+ approach is as much a presence as former Boxman Ola Ahrvarsson who asks how our life, our buying and selling of virtual goods - such as islands in virtual game environments - will evolve.

31. Oct 2005
Worldcup on the horizon
At the moment I spend two months in Berlin, the place where next year's soccer worldcup final will be staged. And would you believe it - you can already feel it engulfing the city with a web of excitement. Time to look back on what happened at the last World Cup and how over 150 newspapers around the world covered the games.

23. Sep 2005
Blogger's handbook
"Blogs get people excited. Or else they disturb and worry them. Some people distrust them. Others see them as the vanguard of a new information revolution. Because they allow and encourage ordinary people to speak up, they’re tremendous tools of freedom of expression. " How very appropriate then that the organization "Reporters without borders" gives the world a handbook on how to blog. Dan Gillmor, Mark Glaser, Jay Rosen among others offer their excellent advice on how to write, what ethics might signify in this environment, which tools are best and Ethan Zuckerman gives a detailed description on how to blog anonymously. Unfortunatly this is a crucial survival tip in too many corners of this world. The book is concise, compassionate, helpful, free. But judge for yourself.

3. Jul 2005
Murdoch ripples
As suspected all along, it not so much matter what is said but who says it. The only way some dusted down - long and often repeated statements - could become news again. According to the Scotish Sunday Herald Murdoch's April speech admitting that he did not do enough internet after the dotcom bubble burst and his reflection that "As an industry, most of us have been remarkably, unaccountably, complacent" sent ripples through the industry. This observation is followed up by statements and strategic inputs from the FT and their 60/40 approach to free/paid content to The Guardian and its page view building approaches to the Times or ("how not to do it") to The Independent. After another rise of 52% in the first quarter of 2005, online advertising in the U.K. now almost doubles radio and is neck-and-neck with outdoor spending.

30. Apr 2005
Wrap-Up on Event Auctions
Monique van Dusseldorp kindly tells a bit of the story on newspaper event auctions that Norbert Specker has been involved with lately. They might form the nucleus for a long anticipated reunion of print/online movers and shakers. Who knows...

21. Nov 2004
Are newspapers burned out?
This is the title of a piece in the Guardian that nicely sums up the various perspectives on the question if newspapers are going away - or going to stay. On a similar tangent we find Ombudsman Jerry Finch in his statement that quotes Ted Turners wild misperception of 1981 "I believe that newspapers as we know them will be gone, not in 30 years, but in 10"

29. Oct 2004
Picture power
The Washington Post has been on the front line for years with its feature Camera Works. Not only does one find portfolios of staff photographers or the famous Day in Pictures but also commented slide shows, such as this one of photographer Andrea Bruce Woodall on her work experience in Iraq. Impressive - and not for the first time reason to take a hard look at the role of pictures for newspapers in this ever faster online environment.

14. Sep 2004
Wiki finds mind space
Wikis have been discussed in this blog. John Naughton, columnist for The Guardian goes on to describe the key characteristics of Wikipedia, the open source encyclopaedia in his Wicki's whacky. Mainly the amazing fact that a non-hierarchical approach is starting to out-class other renowned players in the knowledge field, such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

10. Aug 2004
Olympic Coverage Online
The impossibility to put a geographic limitation on online video feeds restricted online coverage during the last Olympics and during the FIFA Worldcup last year. It looks as if those limitations can be put in place these days, as many national broadcasters offer as many 30 parallel feeds (BBC). >Here is the complete story.

5. Jul 2004
Productive Interaction
That is what Philip van Allen calls his design approach in a good article in the OJR. "In many ways, online publishing design has stalled. Content producers seem happy with the raw benefits of the medium -- timely access, self-publishing, links, and search -- while barely scratching the surface of interactive publishing design opportunities.". Interaction design certainly had more promising starts than successful endings so far. (Avid Mac-users might say: maybe with the exception of F10 and F11).

21. Apr 2004
The knowledge of everybody
For a long time I have been fascinated by Wikipedia, which was started by (among others) the tireless Erik Moeller. More than 250,000 articles have been submitted to this huge encyclopedia as of today and the quality appears to grow in similar waves. For newspapers there is the very interesting Current Events page which lends itself for easy linking and support for this open-source knowledge project. There's no immediate commercial benefit apparent, but it will make you feel good. Plus, for the dictionary aficionados, try out the Wiktionary while you follow your enlightened inner self. (For more on Wikipedia, be sure to read Sree Sreenivasan's recent column about it, which appeared on

20. Apr 2004
Local menace
The column Local search menace in the IDEA-Magazin looks at the threat that the combined effort of the yellow pages and the search engine industry constitutes for newspapers. What if those two start going any more clever after the advertising dollars of the local businesses?
It is very possible that newspapers have supported their own henchman by applauding Google on every move that helped it to win the hearts of more than half the world's internet users. So mesmerized many newspapers still are by this ruthless concentration on the user they witness - one feels the need to check the pulse.

6. Apr 2004
News Map
The News Map visualizes the news flow on Google-News in a way that is very similar to financial information tools such as The map of the Market. No doubt very appealing.

5. Apr 2004
Yelvington looks both sides
Steve Yelvington has been an Interactive Publishing speaker and on the board of advisers for many years. His excellent list of newspaper objectives is as complete as it gets at this stage.

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