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05 Mar

Documentary: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

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The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez reminded of a documentary I saw years ago… and one, thanks to someone posting it to YouTube, people can see: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

A documentary film crew happened to be filming Chávez during the April 2002 coup d’état, that removed him from office for two days.

I believe I was still in El Salvador, working for La Prensa Gráfica, when this all happened or recently moved back to the U.S.

NOTE: This isn’t the first time I’ve posted about Chávez. I wrote about him when he first joined Twitter nearly three years ago: Hugo Chávez selects his weapon of choice for Twitter

23 Feb

The definition of ‘Hack’

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Taken from The Original Hacker’s Dictionary (1988)

HACK n.
1. Originally a quick job that produces what is needed, but not well.
2. The result of that job.
3. NEAT HACK: A clever technique. Also, a brilliant practical joke, where neatness is correlated with cleverness, harmlessness, and surprise value. Example: the Caltech Rose Bowl card display switch circa 1961.
4. REAL HACK: A crock (occasionally affectionate). v.
5. With “together”, to throw something together so it will work.
6. To bear emotionally or physically. “I can’t hack this heat!”
7. To work on something (typically a program). In specific sense: “What are you doing?” “I’m hacking TECO.” In general sense: “What do you do around here?” “I hack TECO.” (The former is time-immediate, the latter time-extended.) More generally, “I hack x” is roughly equivalent to “x is my bag”. “I hack solid-state physics.”
8. To pull a prank on. See definition 3 and HACKER (def #6).
9. v.i. To waste time (as opposed to TOOL). “Watcha up to?” “Oh, just hacking.”
10. HACK UP (ON): To hack, but generally implies that the result is meanings 1-2.
11. HACK VALUE: Term used as the reason or motivation for expending effort toward a seemingly useless goal, the point being that the accomplished goal is a hack. For example, MacLISP has code to read and print roman numerals, which was installed purely for hack value. HAPPY HACKING: A farewell. HOW’S HACKING?: A friendly greeting among hackers. HACK HACK: A somewhat pointless but friendly comment, often used as a temporary farewell.
[The word HACK doesn’t really have 69 different meanings. In fact, HACK has only one meaning, an extremely subtle and profound one which defies articulation. Which connotation a given HACK-token has depends in similarly profound ways on the context. Similar comments apply to a couple other hacker jargon items, most notably RANDOM. – Agre]

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11 Feb

The Pope, the Invisible Gorilla and journalism

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This post is brought to you by today’s Morning Edition.

Two stories from today’s show, for me, are made relevant to journalism after running it through my journalistic filter.

Those who know me (or have read past rants) know that newsroom leadership, across the country and regardless of medium or market size, has frustrated me.

The news story about radiologists that invoked the ‘invisible gorilla’ reminded me about this struggle. Years ago, while I was at The Seattle Times, editors were brought into a retreat called Newspaper Next, I believe. (The site no longer exists, but thanks to the way back machine, you can still see it).

This was a retreat that had started popping up in newsrooms across the country, dealing with one central question: How do we pivot and use our existing resources to generate revenue for the newspaper.

Great topic.

During the presentation they played a video that has stuck with me for years since the talk, and which was played this morning on NPR (KPCC is my local NPR station).

I didn’t recall the name, but now know it is called the ‘invisible gorilla.’

While mine was slightly different, here is the video. Play it and follow the instructions.

The logo from theinvisiblegorilla.com is a gorilla reading a newspaper. A newspaper!

So, did you notice the gorilla? Or those other changes? Isn’t that amazing? According to the story and video, 50 percent of people who see this video are so focused on the task at hand that they miss the not-so-invisible gorilla that walks into the frame.

The take away from the video during that newspaper retreat was “are we so focused on newspapers that we are missing the gorilla?” And in newspaper speak, the gorilla meant digital.

A high up editor at the time, after watching the video, said how eye opening the exercise was… me, being a bit of a loud mouth, responded by saying “I’ve been that guy in the gorilla suit. Not only waving my hands, but also jumping up and down.”

Most digital journalists have had this experience.

It’s the culture difference between traditional and, well, digital leadership and competence that is such a challenge. Many of us have dealt with this in a variety of ways.

Which leads me to the second story: The Pope.

In his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI said “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

In today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith … I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” said the Pope.

I hear that, then tweet this:

If the Pope can realize he’s not fit to lead in these modern times, why can’t some newsroom leaders? #thingsithinkabout
@webjournalist
Robert Hernandez

And then I write this post.

Look, there have been so many changes in newsrooms and its leadership. We are the better for it. But there is still much more to go. And it’s on us to push it forward.

We will have moments when newsroom leaders retire, take buyouts, etc. … and their incredibly valuable newsroom knowledge will be greatly missed… but we have to remember that we are moving — slowly — toward the goal of a modern, well, newsroom.

This is not about age. No. It’s about understanding culture… in this case digital/Web culture.

And these are the things I think about. And occasionally ramble on in a post.

Please feel free to tell me what you think.

For those interested, here is a Poynter piece from 2008 about Newspaper Next 2.0: http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/business-news/the-biz-blog/87155/newspaper-next-2-0-way-outside-the-box/

18 Nov

My latest G+ Hangout experiment: Watch it with me

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So, ever since G+ Hangouts came out, I’ve written and talked about different ways of using it… some of my projects include Learn Code for Journalism and the short-lived (but I hope returning) Talk Journalism with Me vodcast.

When this tech first came out I also pitched the idea of a Google+ Clip Club. It has nothing to do with journalism, but everything to do with watching TV and movies together socially.

So, that’s my new experiment.

I, and whomever wants to join me, will be watching The Net, a beautifully horrible movie about technology, the Internet and how it can destroy lives.

The movie’s tagline: Her driver’s license. Her credit cards. Her bank accounts. Her identity. DELETED.

Anyway, I’m going to watch the movie and screenshare my desktop via a G+ Hangout… enabling the ‘on air’ feature.

No clue if this will work, or if it will be completely awkward… but I have a few extra hours on my hands, so let’s see how this goes.

NOTE: This movie is so bad I’m not sure I’ll watch it all the way through… BUT the opening sequences that invoke technologies from 1995 are well worth it!

Here’s the trailer:



If I can, I’ll post the G+ Hangout here, or embed it even. But, I’ll be using Talk Journalism with Me page: http://gplus.to/talkjournalism

17 Aug

My response to The Hartford Courant’s “Spanish-language strategy” with Google Translate


Como una cortesía para The Courant, por demostrando ignorancia y falta de respeto a su propia comunidad, déjeme decir: lo cagaron.


If you were to translate this using Google Translate, guess what… it would be wrong. Anyone who is bilingual wouldn’t be surprised. But they would be surprised in hearing that a news organization would solely depend on using this primitive service as their “Spanish-language strategy.”

Sadly, this isn’t a joke: Hartford Courant’s Spanish site is Google Translate by Poynter

But, instead of just being disgusted or insulted by The Courant’s “strategy,” let me offer some tips for an actual strategy:

1. Hire a diverse staff, and in this case, a Spanish speaker. Listen to them. Anyone in their right mind would have told you this was a bad idea.

2. I know resources are tight, as an affordable alternative to hiring more staff, partner up with the local Spanish-language news organizations. Believe me, they are there. And they’d love to help you inform the community. (Hey Courant, have to tried working with Connecticut’s Latino News Source: ctlatinonews.com?)

3. No Spanish-language news organization in your town? Look again. Think radio, newsletters or neighboring towns. Any of these will be better than an automated site.

4. Still confused? Reach out to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists to find local members in your area, including Spanish-language news organizations.

5. But, let’s say there are no Spanish-language news outlets. Partner up with the largest, Spanish-language local business. They know their community and are fully aware of the information network that is functioning now.

Lastly, apologize to the fastest growing demographic in your community for treating them with such little respect. It’s not a smart business move to belittle them, especially if you want to tap into their growing influence.

I preach experimentation, risk taking and embracing failure. You experimented and took a risk… and you failed. Oh, did you fail.

Learn from your big mistake and start genuinely engaging with your own diverse community.

Do you have any tips for The Courant or any other news organization trying to serve its Latino community? Please share them in the comments.

 

Oh, and if you are wondering, here’s how I’d translate my statement:

As a courtesy to The Courant, for displaying its ignorance and lack of respect to its own community, let me say: you fucked up.

16 Aug

What does Google’s autocomplete say about the 2012 U.S. presidential election?

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As we know, Google’s mission “is to organize the world’s information” and one of the most influencial ways they help their users is through their suggestions via their autocomplete feature.

Autocomplete suggestions occur when you begin typing out a search. According to Google, it’s “algorithm predicts and displays search queries based on other users’ search activities and the contents of web pages indexed by Google.”

So, I was curious. What are Google users routinely searching for when it comes to the candidates for president and vice president?

Here are screen grabs displaying the current suggestions:

Google autocomplete results for Barack Obama

 

Google autocomplete results for  Mitt Romney

 

Google autocomplete results for Joe Biden

 

Google autocomplete results for Paul Ryan

Search details: These searches were done on August 16, 2012 at around 2:30PM PT. I used a “reset” Safari browser. I reset the browser before each search. I was not logged into Google. I did these searches from my office USC campus, in Los Angeles.

Guessing from the results, these suggestions change over time, reflecting the larger news of the moment.

05 Jul

Can pop culture save the nerds?

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I was asked to write about Nerds + TV/Pop Culture… here’s my short piece, with other smart nerds.

Yes, but it’s not enough
One day the nerds will inherit the earth. And if you look at shows like Big Bang Theory, you might think our time has come. But while there are zombie shows and summer blockbusters based on comic books, contemporary media isn’t the beacon of nerd hope we’d like to imagine.

Read the entire piece here

Categories: Culture, Personal Tags: ,
24 Jun

Forget The Newsroom (2012), go watch The Newsroom (1996)

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I have to admit, I had high hopes for HBO‘s new show The Newsroom, but when I saw the trailer… I cringed.

The reviews are still coming in since it debuted tonight, but while discussing it with other journalists over Twitter, I remembered a much better show.

It’s a relatively unknown Canadian show that debuted 16 years ago… with the same name. (If I recall correctly, legendary The Seattle Times photographer Alan Berner was the one who told me about it.)

The Newsroom (1996): Wikipedia | IMDb

I’d describe it as The Office, but in a newsroom… also, it was five years before the original The Office was on the air.

Thanks to the web, you can buy the show on Amazon, rent the DVDs via Netflix or… see the entire first season (in pieces) thanks to YouTube.

Here is the first episode… enjoy!



Compare and tell me what you think!

23 Dec

Introducing Forbes to Media Diversity

You can see more diverse journalists of color — of all ages — in this spreadsheet: http://diversify.journalismwith.me/. You can read about how this came about here: Crowdsourcing ‘web journalism rockstars of color’

12 Jul

Google+ Clip Club

Well, here’s an idea… let’s have a ‘hangout’ on G+ and watch films together that are on YouTube.

There are plenty to choose from… In the past I wrote about seeing the classic journalism film Deadline, U.S.A., which sadly has been removed. But there are many others to watch.

Maybe it’s a clip showcase… maybe it’s reviewing our work… maybe it’s a meme off, in the but-have-you-seen-this style? Maybe it’s a version of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Anyone interested? Send me a note!

And, if you have an idea for a film/clip, submit it here!

Thanks for trying this out with me!

Robert

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