Author Archives: Erica

Response to "Twitter Trap"

A few weeks ago I made a visit to the New York Times newsroom. Walking past a cubicle, I was introduced to Bill Keller, the Editor-in-Chief. Upon learning I work at Twitter, he said back, “I’m actually writing a piece about Twitter right now.”

“Go easy on us,” I joked.

His piece,  The Twitter Trap, came out yesterday.

Here is my response, which I wrote personally and not on behalf of Twitter.

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Katie Couric’s Social Media Path

About a month ago, I connected Katie Couric and Brian Solis for a conversation about Katie’s push into new media which started in 2008. What ensued was a discussion about the challenges, the opportunities and the areas of exploration they both think about when it comes to the convergence of “new” and “old” media. What I like to call – present media.

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Privacy Is Lost And That’s OK

My version of family dinner happens anytime after 9pm – on a weeknight, with food or without food, at my quiet NYC apartment. Sitting in front of my roommate’s flat screen TV. Matching silver laptops in front of us and on the coffee table – a pair of iPhones. Eyes dodging back-and-forth between browsers and broadcast. Browser and broadcast. Browser and phone.

Tonight I decided to type BrianSolis.com into my browser. I guess I wanted to know what was happening in his world. I like Brian because he is smart and savvy and really dedicated to sharing new ideas and information. I would say that’s why Brian is one of my digital educators. A person who bends my mind to think about what changes in technology mean to our society, our lives, our industries. And tonight I got just that when I read this line.

“In this episode (of BrianSolis TV), Michael Fertik, founder and CEO of Reputation Defender, joins the program to discuss privacy and the reasons why you and everyone who matters to you, will be unfairly, but forever judged by what’s online.”

The statement, in that very instant, made me think about and question to what extent people might unfairly judge me.

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The Downside of the Internet

Discovery. Essential to what we do as online entrepreneurs, in the business of information exchange.

Tonight I’m surfing YouTube. The CBSNewsOnline channel to be exact (as well other lesser-known channels like RT and Fora.tv). Which means watching clips, taking notes, jotting down views and thinking about the content. What makes exceptional click-worthy video journalism?

While I ponder that question….I wanted to post this clip of former CBS Evening News Anchor, Bob Schieffer.  It wasn’t at all what I expected when I clicked play, but was pleased that I did. Same goes for the next clip of CNN’s Jeanne Moos – a playful, informative poke at our culture of capitalism.

From Schieffer: a valid piece of wisdom on the “downside of the Internet.”

Click…

play

away.

The New York Times and the 20-Somethings

Robin Marantz Henig’s piece in the New York Times today, ‘What Is It About 20-Somethings?‘ left me with an abundance of thoughts.

The article starts out by describing what the ‘milestones’ of adulthood are: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. And since numbers show my generation hasn’t hit those yet, or is approaching them in a different order, she suggest this means we “slouch towards adulthood.”

While I appreciate the amount of research and thoughtfulness that went into this, I feel compelled to offer the other side.  While some of my peers may appear to be ‘slouching’ towards adulthood, some of them have accelerated towards it, building new milestones that might set the next generation’s bar. Milestones like being your own boss, traveling the world, paying for your own health care. Milestones that positively help our generation to worry less about how we stack up against the past, and more about how we can contribute to the new, emerging American future.

20-somethings, as noted by Henig, also have something else going for them – a sense of possibility. One that has been considered ‘romantic’ and fades in time. Yet from my perspective, that sense is one of the qualities driving innovation, new models of business, opportunities for growth. Far from romantic, it’s a new reality.

Now that deserves to be a milestone.

++

References

What Is It About 20-Somethings? – The New York Times, 08/20/2010

Why Can’t Twenty-Somethings Grow Up? -The Atlantic, 08/20/2010


Sitcom TV and the Cognitive Surplus

Thanks to Nick @ Nite, I spent the 1990’s watching classic American sitcoms. From I Love Lucy to Bewitched, I loved meeting my family after a sun-filled summer day around that television. But as the years went on, it was the lure of a new screen in the room – the computer – that pulled me away from the connectivity of those nights and into the future.

Clay Shirky reminded me of those memories when I watched his 2008 Web 2.0 Expo talk about the “cognitive surplus.

Here is the back-story.

In 2008, Shirky credited the television sitcom (summary here: Gin, Television and Social Surplus) as the most critical technology of the last few decades. He says, and I paraphrase – that as the country came into the five-day workweek around the start of the second World War, society experienced something new: free time. Problem was, people, like my grandparents, didn’t know how to handle it. So they “panicked” – and flocked to TV that acted as the “social lubricant” to our patchwork society. For decades, it linked us all together. It was present media. And with the onset of the Internet, web 2.0 and the long tail of choice, the sitcom and well, TV, has been challenged by choice.

If you follow Shirky’s perspective, he goes on to say that society is just now waking up from a collective bender, a bender that has exposed a cognitive surplus. Massive amounts of time that people choose to spend in different ways – from updating Wikipedia page to creating video content to building a personal brand.

So who will be the game changers that create the new sitcom – the new social lubricant? Will there be one or many? And who will find the avenues to construct the new model of business, news and entertainment around it?

I can’t wait to dig into Shirky’s new book – fittingly named The Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.

Posted via email from EricaAmerica’s posterous

Mango Diplomacy: A People to People Market

While I sit and wait for my curry at one of my favorite local restaurants, I am reminded of the story of the mango and how it connects to my journey towards journalism. First, let me offer some background.

The mango is a fruit native to India and tied to a 4,000 year history. Up until three years ago, Indian mangoes we kept from the U.S., restricted by a trade embargo that paved the way for Mexico and parts of South America to cash in on a estimated $156 million a year market. Apparently, Americans really love their mangoes.

I know all this nerdy fruit history because I went to the mango celebration in 2007, signaling the lift of the trade freeze. Hosted by the U.S. India Business Council, the room was packed with policy deal makers, reporters, diplomats, executives and yes, Indian mangoes. Served with ice cream.

I met a man named Raghubir Goyal at the event and went on to write about the lift of the freeze for his newspaper, India Globe. He returned the favor in an unusual way – by introducing me to Helen Thomas, who took me under her wing and taught me about the standards and ethics of journalism – the ones she met  each and every day, for 57 years, at UPI.

But back to the mangoes. As it turned out, last week, I got something in the mail. A box of Indian mangoes.

The mangoes came complements of Dr. Savani, a dentist living in America. I called him a few months ago, on a whim, to see how the mango imports were going. Apparently, not so well.

“We have no business model for selling the mangoes,” he told me on the phone. “…and the market is still dominated by South American mangoes.”

He went on to tell me how he works with Fed Ex and once a year, brings in a shipment of mangoes and send to the types of people at the celebration in 2007. To remind them of the farmers desire to sell their product in the U.S.

I ended my India Globe article in 2007 with this quote from USIBC President, Ron Somers – which I find fitting to leave here now.

“As India’s prosperity rises and U.S.-India commercial and trade relations deepen, jobs and opportunities will result on both sides. Will mango imports affect U.S.-India trade? Let’s just say mango diplomacy will strengthen the people to people connection crucial to any true partnership.”

**Erica Anderson has been to India three times, where her Uncle served as Chief Executive Officer of General Electric India for fourteen years.**

Posted via email from EricaAmerica’s posterous

Personal Democracy Forum: A New Generation of Thinkers

Last week I was at Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) in New York City. PDF is known as the premier global conference on how technology is changing politics and government. This was my second year attending and it was a remarkable few days.

My favorite panel was “Truth, Fact Checking and Online Media” with Jay Rosen, NYU Journalism professor, Bill Adair, creator of Politifact, and Marc Ambinder, politics editor at Atlantic. During the panel, they discussed the maze of misinformation that exists online, and how we, as professionals, can seek to be “trusted brokers” of facts.

Politifact is an especially compelling project – and one of my Tweets quoting Adair got a lot of buzz online. As Adair said, “Obama made 500 campaign promises,” and @politifact rates them as kept, compromised, broken, stalled or in the works on ‘Obameter.’

And as always, I enjoyed hearing what Professor Rosen had to say. He opened up his presentation with a photograph of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, and stated – There have been many situations in which “the press have been put in the service of untruth.” I think that’s an important quote to remember as we find our way through this new digital forrest of information, sourcing, news gathering and fact checking.

If you don’t know much about Rosen – his ideas are worth exploring. He is one of the most disruptive thinkers in our “future of journalism” crew. To see what I mean, check out his  suggestions to CNN to save their programming, or his advice for Meet the Press: fact check what your guests say on Sunday and report it online the following Wednesday.

Why not?

The whole idea of these panels is to bring together those “disruptive” thinkers – and another one worth noting is Newark Mayor, @CoryBooker, who joined the conference for the final key note. Booker uses Twitter as one way to connect to his community and crowdsource information about their needs.

Finally, here are some other great tid bits from my live tweeting:

  • Move over, Bit.ly. The U.S. government created a URL shortener.
  • What can you do with a kite, string and a digital camera? MIT’s Jeffrey Warren is mapping the Gulf oil spill with it.
  • See a pot hole? Broken street light? See Click Fix is a new web application allowing people in communities to report non-emergency situations – and get help, fast.

Transcribing the Helen Thomas Tapes

I’m sitting at a Cafe, transcribing more of the Helen Thomas tapes. When I met Helen in 2007, I asked her if it would be OK to film some of our conversations about life, journalism, politics and the intersection of each. Now it’s 2010, and it’s time for me to sit down and transcribe them all, show her what I’ve got, and see what step is next. Why? I suppose I feel the conversations and lessons that came out of our talks shouldn’t be kept just between us. So many people are passionate about reconstructing fact-first journalism.

She told me during one of our first meetings this was the most difficult time she has ever seen for a young person to enter journalism. Really? I was skeptical. Even during WWII, when she got her start? Even when women weren’t anything but coffee brewers and secretaries in newsrooms? Now? Yes, she told me. In a moment of self defeat, I told her about the advice of some Washington media who told me: if I wanted to get in, I should leave, work at a small news outlet in some small town, and try to make my way back. I loathed such advice. Why would I do that? Even in 2007, I felt a rising tide of change that I wanted to be around for. Helen agreed. “Start at the top. Stay in Washington,” she told me on a park bench outside the White House. And I did. Stay in Washington, that is. And in the years that followed, I would find my own way for education and experience, talking to Helen Thomas about it along the way.

Over the years our poignant conversations produced moments of intensity and real time lessons for me. It has been a remarkable privilege to have these talks with Helen. But truth be told, this isn’t about us. It’s about a significant shift in American journalism – and how two bookends of the industry viewed it. Analyzed it. Consoled each other over it. Found hope from each other in it. Learned from the others experiences with it. And at the end of the day, ended on a note that left each of us feeling optimistic about it.

Here is one quote from this batch, filmed in her cubicle on February 19, 2009:

EA: Two columns ago, you wrote about the stimulus, and about how Obama was courting (Republican) votes. And it didn’t work. Only three Republican Senators voted for the package. What is it really going to take to change the way Washington works, which is what he says he wants to do.

HT: I don’t think he’s going to change the way Washington works. That is, he ought to do what is right for the American people. And if he does, he’ll win.

Posted via web from EricaAmerica’s posterous

The Information Gap: Fact-Based International News

When I first moved to Washington in August 2006, I found a rich international culture. And within months of exploring the city, I was reminded of what I had always known – I love looking at the U.S. from behind the lens of international news.

The first time I left the U.S. (Indiana might I add) was to New Delhi, India, in 1996. I was an awkward 11-year-old, with blonde hair, braces and an insatiable curiosity about the culture around me. When I returned, I told my english teacher I might have a hard time keeping up with her curriculum, because I was planning on writing a book about my trip. (Insert laughter). The book never came but a draft sits in my parent’s home in Indiana, safe keeping for when the time is right.

Funny thing is, timing really doesn’t care about being right.

Ten years later, I was sitting in my D.C. apartment reading an article about how international news buearus were being cut right and left by struggling American media companies. It helped me to understand that massive cutbacks, newsroom shutdowns and a growing gap for fact-based news and information would soon ensue.  And in tandem, so too did  my obsession with the evolution of fact-based journalism.

Fast forward to 2010. A few months ago, I spoke on a panel at the National Press Club about how I’ve used digital tools to gather, produce and disseminate news. After the talk, someone from Radio Free Europe (RFE) approached me. He told me about their HQs in Prague and the mission to provide uncensored news in censored states like Afghanistan, Turkestan, Iran, Kosovo, Moldova and more.

So I began to dig in.

RFE is worth checking out. They have hundreds of journalists in areas that the Post, the Times and other American-focused outlets had to cut. (No doubt they still get stringer stories, but the presence is not the same.) RFE also has a sick amount of multimedia content, radio clips, and blog content like Journalists in Trouble that put it all into perspective. It’s a gold mine of information and hard to get content.

But my digging in is not without motivation. I am trying to see if I can help them out in terms of digital and content strategy, community building, engagement and targeting. So that when the time is right, the vulnerable, information-deprived audiences around the world, or even simply in America, will get the fact-first information they need.

While I continue to learn about RFE, I wanted to share with you guys some of the cooler stories I’ve found. Enjoy.

In Need Of Transplants In Tajikistan

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gdwkqwmVy4[/youtube]

Migrant Express: Stuck at the Border

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq2JmDexrEQ[/youtube]