When our friends or mentors, our parents or children, lovers or acquaintances, famous people we know personally not at all, or even our pets die, we weep, we mourn, we grieve, we gather in ceremonial aspects and places and sing and weep some more. When a Vulcan dies, Vulcans do not weep. That would be illogical. Mr. Spock, first mate of the Federation Starship Enterprise, died last Friday morning. The whole world wept. Mr. Spock might have disapproved. Leonard Nimoy, the actor who portrayed the inscrutable, pointy-eared Vulcan for three seasons and a number of films, would no doubt have been amused by the reaction, but not surprised. Nimoy, who died at the age 83 of pulmonary issues, long ago accepted that the resolute, often forbidding but immensely steadfast Vulcan would be a kind of alter ego, complete with Federation uniform and all the accumulated Star Trek minutia. that would accompany him to the grave in the kind of pop cultural mind-melt practiced by Vulcans when they wanted to really get to know someone well. Not to mention the “live long and prosper” sign off with a whiff of hippie happiness and the hand sign which resembled an intellectual’s version of the hand jive. Nimoy, the son of Ukrainian Orthodox Jews, aspired to an acting career early on and had one, although a fair to middling one, until 1966, when he snared the role of Mr. Spock, the second-in-command of the Enterprise under Captain James Kirk on “Star Trek,” a series envisioned and made real by producer-writer Gene Rodenberry, whose mind-set seemed often to come straight from the counter culture of the times. The series in which Nimoy was the only alien on the ship that featured an American melting pot of a gorgeous African American, an Asian officer, a Russian and a Scot engineer with a Scottish accent as thick as Sean Connery’s chest, sent its crew into places “where no man had gone before” by way of warp speed that let the Enterprise time-hop, jump in and out of worm holes (and black holes), and encounter all kinds of planets filled with aliens, left over earthlings starting over, and little things called trebles. It championed a brotherhood of man among a universe filled with aliens, warned against environmental disasters and preached—sometimes with tasers at the ready—tolerance. It was also a kind of mind-blowing fun that seemed to have been produced in someone’s back yard. It didn’t matter. Although the series lasted only three years—enough to go into syndication where it took in aspects of a cult—it re-emerged in film form, big expensive Hollywood blockbusters. Spock, in fact, died in one of them only to re-emerge in another. Other series appeared, such as "The Next Generation," with a new captain, a bald and more cerebral “Make it So” Jean-Luc Picard, played by the Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart. There were comic books, more movies (including a current series that so far number two), cartoons and books. Star Trek got into our heads—soon Trekkie conventions, in which hordes of people dressed as characters from the series showed up, shared stories, exchanged knick knacks and generally took advantage of the opportunity of never having to grow up. Through it all, Nimoy never quite shed the shadow of Spock, and then finally stopped trying as in two books he wrote: “I am Not Spock” and “I Am Spock."
Dear Buzzfeed, Suck it. So, Mr. I’m-too-sexy-for-the-internet: How does it feel to have a grandma teach you to suck eggs? Yeah, you. “So what am I going to do with the $50-million infusion of venture capital, and a valuation that puts me somewhere near $850 million, all for cats and stuff.” Meet the “it” kid in town. The cool thing everyone has been talking about. The one that is so retro it is avant-garde. The one that said nanosecond attention spans be damned. How about seven hours’ worth? And just people talking? Oh, baby – old school is back! Radio. Yes, radio – that medium so old that its college roommate was the dial telephone. Or, more precisely, radio in the replayable form of podcasting and one series in particular called “Serial”: the eight-part investigation into a Baltimore murder, the young man serving life in prison, the former friend whose testimony put him away and the questions surrounding the case. It was so popular that 1.5 million people reportedly tuned in each week. But more than numbers, it was buzz. Old media – a great story well told without pictures – was a hit, even with the clickbait-addicted generation in their 20s. When asked what he thought, one member of the social media glitterati almost went into a trance: “I binge-listened!” Forget binge-drinking, binge-listening! For All Things Media, the significance of “Serial” is its defiance of all the woe-be-us punditry condemning the state of media today. Yes, there is a lot of very poor stuff out there, but there is a lot of imaginative content being created. And radio, the medium that was written off as dead half a century ago, has become a hotbed for innovation, much of it harkening back to traditions of old. If you haven’t listened, try NPR’s “TED Radio Hour” or “Radiolab” or “This American Life,” the show that spawned “Serial.” So while Jimmy Fallon was turning the “Tonight Show” into a late-night goliath string of YouTube segments, the buzz at the end of the year was a good old-fashioned murder mystery, told with sound alone in 30-to-50-minute bites by Sarah Koenig. It succeeded very simply because it was worth listening to. And in the age of free, it turns out people are willing to pay for something that they perceive gives them value. In this case, listeners replied virtually overnight to a request for support by bankrolling season two of “Serial” with donations. That is nothing new. That is public radio’s model. What was different: the audience includes people who have never even thought of a radio as something they might actually buy. Why would they? The internet is free, after all. Now the hard part comes…can Koenig and her team do it again?
Goodbye 2014 - Hello 2015 Rather than look back, I thought perhaps a way to start 2015 was to look forward and see some of the fun that might be to come. So here are 10 big media things to keep an eye on: 1. Local Television 2014 ended with a big shuffle. Sinclair Broadcast Group took the reins of WJLA and longtime news director/station guru Bill Lord headed out that door and straight up Wisconsin to the ailing WUSA. Can he repeat his magic farther up the dial? How will WJLA fare under new ownership with a news operation that takes its marching orders from a centralized news hierarchy? 2. The Washington Post There’s a lot of new energy now that the Age of Bezos has dawned. New culture, new publisher (Fred Ryan, the former general from WJLA and Politico) and new building will generate plenty of armchair analysis. 3. Social Media Bloopers What will be the next great faux pas to enliven our humdrum lives? It’s been a while since a Weiner popped up, and everyone has now learned that you don’t dis the Obama gals. But it is the gift that keeps on giving. More to come, guaranteed. 4. Radical Fundamentalists What will they come up with next in their unfortunately very effective media strategy, and will legitimate governments finally figure out a way to counteract them? 5. Net Neutrality This is the single most important issue facing anybody who uses the internet for anything. The outcome, to be decided this year, will define all our worlds. 6. Hometown Machiavellis Will Frank Underwood and Olivia Pope, the lead characters of the shows “House of Cards” and “Scandal,” continue to give us Washingtonian the guilty pleasure of thinking that we are indeed smarter than everyone else (oh, come on, don’t deny it)? 7. The New Republic TNR is dead, long live TNR. Can the Facebook-billionaire owner really reinvent the icon of American liberalism after its very public self-immolation at the close of 2014? 8. CNN President Obama joked last year that CNN was in search of its dignity. The big question for 2015 is whether it can find its identity. The Network of Record has been best known more recently for its endless coverage of events long after there is nothing to say (along with the uninformed wanderings of a misanthropic cook). 9. Voice of America Less on the radar but still important: What is the future of VOA? Elements in Congress seem intent on making it a propaganda agency, while the journalists who work there are committed to journalism. The venerable agency’s survival is by no means assured. 10. Colbert Finally, the biggest and most pressing unknown in all of American media for 2015: Colbert. What will he look like now that he has shed his Comedy Central persona and moved into his new CBS chair? And just as important, can he challenge the Grand Wizard of Late Night, Jimmy Fallon? ATM is all a-Twitter to see (or at least something social).
Meet Jibo, the “world’s first family robot,” an innovative gadget designed by robotics experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A futuristic device created by Professor Cynthia Breazeal and her team of media tech specialists, Jibo is unlike any other household gadget. Move over, Siri, Jibo is now part of the family. Standing at just 11 inches tall, Jibo is an interactive storyteller, messenger, photographer and personal assistant. It even has the ability to learn and recognize the different voices and faces of family members under the same roof, to create a more helpful and personal experience than other gadgets. It’s sleekly designed and packed with artificial intelligence algorithms that allow it to learn and adapt to people’s preferences and habits. It can take photos and videos, deliver hands-free messages and even read and tell stories. Using recognition software to learn and track faces of family members, Jibo provides an advanced version of video calling, almost as if you were really there. It uses natural cues, such as body movement and speech, to know where to look during a video call and moves as if it is part of the action in a room. Its hands-free message delivery system uses the same face recognition software to ensure each message is delivered to the right person. Designed to provide companionship while assisting its owner in coordinating and managing daily activities, this six-pound gadget wirelessly connects to the internet and will “support the unique needs to a human being as we interact with it – to empower us to succeed, thrive and grow with technology like never before,” according to Breazeal’s recent blog post about Jibo. After just a week into its crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com, Jibo, Inc. has raised well over $1 million from nearly 2,500 backers. The campaign, with the initial goal of $100,000, was fully funded within just four hours. Because of its astonishing crowdfunding results, this little gadget now holds a record for achieving “top rank” status among the website’s 15 most funded tech projects of all time, and in just four days, according to the Jibo team. Currently, it is the most funded product that is active on the website. Since it reached its $1-million stretch goal, the company plans to release a free bonus collection with each purchase, complete with special animation and extra movements that Jibo can execute in the home. If it reaches the $2-million mark before the last day of the campaign on Aug. 15, the company said they will release another exciting bonus collection for their customers at no additional charge. The home robot will cost $499 in the consumer version and $599 for the developer version, which will allow engineers and developers to optimize Jibo’s capabilities on its open platform. The initial release is scheduled for early 2016. Click here for more information on Jibo and the record-setting crowdfunding campaign.
Dear media, Really? I mean, come on. I get it. President Obama is an easy mark. He is not exactly riding a wave of adulation at the moment. There are legitimate questions about how his team is handling an array of the tumultuous issues that have made this summer anything but lazy. These issues have not been easy: from the domestic maelstrom of Ferguson and the coming water wars of the West to the monstrous Islamic State that has now defined itself in its barbaric murder of Jim Foley, the unrepentant would-be Soviet-reconstituter Vladimir Putin, the embarrassment and neutering of the Secretary of State over Gaza and an Afghanistan that seems poised to fall even further apart if that were possible. So, I say again: really? I understand that news organizations pay a lot of money to camp their staff out on Martha’s Vineyard to cover the President. They have to. A news executive once described covering the President around the clock: “It is a death watch. We have to be there just in case he dies.” They also have to justify that expense by actually covering the President when his staff decides he should break from his much needed vacation to make news. But . . . really? There are, indeed, those who have problems with everything this President does -- from policy to his simply being President. Whatever your political stripe, there are legitimate issues that deserve to be raised. But this has now gotten silly. After the President delivered his clearly heartfelt remarks about Foley (Could anyone actually feign anything in response to that barbarism?), major news organizations reported that Obama was back on the golf course barely 20 minutes later. Then, Twitter took over. Implied: could this man be so heartless to talk about this death and then go share a few chuckles on the links? What a monster! CNN even had five minutes of silent footage from a distance of the President playing with three others. And look: he was chuckling and taking a few swings. Wherever you stand, this is ridiculous. And it is unfair. Look at Obama’s hair. It has gone white. ATM would suggest that nobody other than another former President can comprehend the stress of that job. I am actually glad my President (any President) is trying to get away for at least a few days. If that means pretending there is nothing but an infuriating white ball for a few hours, ATM wishes him well. While the President has forfeited just about all rights to privacy outside an enclosed space, the core of all journalism is responsibility. The framing of this golf outing as juxtaposed with a statement on an unspeakable tragedy by responsible journalists does a disservice to the audience and the industry. Leave that to the ranters who prowl the internet. They do that kind of stuff far better than you. So, I ask again. Really? Give me (him) a break. Yours in dismay, ATM
Poor Jennifer Lawrence. Her nude photos posted, blasted, shared, across numerous websites. A naughty snap secured on that mysterious thing called the cloud. And the digital thugs who ripped it from the nether regions of some server somewhere. Foul, foul, foul! But hang on, Edward Snowden is hailed as a hero for making public classified information from the NSA showing that the top secret agency was spying on Americans. Is there a difference between the two cases? Are both Snowden and the faceless server-Peeping Toms villains? By now, half of readers are screaming that the two were completely different - one was a private invasion and the other a public good. The other half are cheering. But that is the point - our media is not just changing what we can share and how we share - but our very concepts of what privacy means. And if you are not thinking about that every time you use the Internet, or take a pic and post anywhere, caveat emptor! “There is no such thing as privacy anymore!” exclaimed one of the country’s leading privacy experts, who asked not to be named, when asked about how she would define privacy today. “Only a fool would still think that you could put anything anywhere connected to the web and truly believe it won’t be gotten by others.” Privacy. Such a quaint notion. In the old days JLaw would have either taken photos with a Polaroid, had the film developed (yes they could have been stolen then but then she knew she was giving the naughties to them and crossing her fingers they wouldn’t look) or used a digital camera with a chip that you then put on your computer and printed. To get the pics you would either have to steal them from the photolab or break into her house. Privacy was an easier concept - and invading that privacy was so much more clear cut. Now beware. Snapchat, the photo messaging application, was supposed to guarantee privacy. You could share a picture privately with a friend and not worry about it being more than that because it disappeared in a few seconds. Gone forever. Well at least that was how it was meant to work. Then it was revealed that those revealing Snapchats lived on far, far longer. And if they lived on longer, then they could be JLaw’ed. Nothing is sacred. For those of you inclined, Google tracks your porn searches. Moreover, check the cookies on your computer and realize what you gave up by just turning on that desktop/laptop. You will be amazed how many companies you have never heard of and to whom you did you did not give consent to access your computer, have planted their tracking code on your device. ATM suggests periodically cleaning out all website data, at a minimum. If you have allowed a phone app to use your location info - you are now essentially carrying the same thing as an ankle bracelet used to track felons. You are not the only one who can launch the “find my iPhone.” But perhaps there is hope. A recent Pew study says that people are far less likely to share their political views on social media when they think a majority of others might disagree. So at least we seem to be keeping our political thoughts to ourselves a bit. So maybe that’s the secret. If you want to keep it private - pass that note in class. Or just don’t take those photos in the first place. But in the meantime, we are all Jennifer Lawrence, just without the fame and the hacked photos, at least as far as we know. Amos Gelb is the founder and director of the Washington Media Institute.
I never took Sara Just for a masochist. The incredibly smart, able, talented and – by the way – thoroughly nice ABC News senior executive was just named the head of the venerable PBS NewsHour. In today’s media, venerable is not a good thing. Venerable is revered. Venerable means gravitas. Venerable means nobody is watching anymore, which, regrettably, is increasingly the case for the NewsHour. There was barely any notice paid to the pronouncement that the revered Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff would assume the co-anchor chairs. And Sara Just is going to save it –- although she coyly is not saying how. But what is she trying to save? It is a completely new news ecosystem that seemed to have changed enough already the last few months and then decided it was only just getting started (a cap doffing to Al Pacino’s immortal diatribe in “Scent of a Woman”). Just announced: Gannett is breaking the newspapers off from everything else. Why? The first Silver Line train to Gannett’s headquarters in Reston must have been carrying a magic vision of the future. Recently announced: Tribune papers doing something similar. That mess many know about. Previously announced: Digital First – the force that was going to drive local papers truly into the new age decided to simply shut its doors. Literally out of the blue. Mashable/Buzzfeed – two distinctly non-general news organizations – deciding that the future is in good old-fashioned journalism and are hiring staffs. The most venerable New York Times slitting its own wrists in a leaked internal memo saying that its digital strategy simply did not cut it. The oddball Vice Television is beefing up to become one of the major forces in international reporting. And yet, venerable refuses to give up. About a year ago, the venerable Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism issued a much-promoted report called “Post Industrial Journalism.” Its authors, C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell and Clay Shirky wrote in their opening paragraph: “much of [journalism’s] future is already here and… there is no such thing as the news industry anymore.” Could they have been more wrong? Once more an incident of venerable over-thinking its own importance. So, what does Sara have up her sleeve? Nothing short of rejuvenating the term “venerable.” If she succeeds, she will offer a road map for all media trapped by its own history. If she doesn’t, well, don’t let anyone call you “venerable.”
With dizzying energy, Jack’s Boathouse owner Paul Simkin teaches students to move with the latest technology as the director of Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts, located in Georgetown. In his own way, he instructs them to stay current and focused on the big picture. Because of the many media outlets in the nation’s capital and the digital media explosion, the center was established to meet the needs of 21st-century creatives. The center offers professional studies certificates in 3D animation, audio production, digital filmmaking, graphic and web design, digital photography and web development. The approximately 300 students enrolled in the programs are registered as full-time students or take classes at night as part-time students. The other programs include locations in Atlanta, Ga. and Waltham, Mass., west of Boston University’s main campus. In addition to his work as a photography professional and educator, Simkin also manages and owns Jack’s Boathouse next to Key Bridge. Simkin, who bought the boathouse in 2006, rents out approximately 70,000 boats per year, he says. An avid kayaker, the Chicago native says the idea to buy the boathouse came to him while taking a conference call in the middle of the Potomac River. As with anything in Georgetown, there is a historical context. Boston University’s CDIA D.C. campus is located in the Foundry building on Thomas Jefferson Street, in the space formerly occupied by the Foundry Cinema, which closed in 2002. The original Foundry building dates back to 1856. The center’s spaces consist of administrative offices, computer labs and photo studios. Simkin’s office is on the ground level next to the C&O Canal, but the first thing you might notice is the skeleton that he uses as a coat rack. Equipment is everywhere. He has not yet fully moved in. One characteristic about Simkin is that he seems like he’s ready for anything. “I can go anywhere in the world and shoot anything with that,” says Simkin, as he points to a pile of photography equipment. Even though students pick one major on which to focus, multidisciplinary study is the name of the game. “If you can show that you can put a site together, that you can put the illustration for your intention, whatever it is, you’re worth a million dollars to [people],” said Simkin. “It puts you light-years above all the other people of a similar ilk. That’s what we’re dedicated to.” For Simkin, it is important to balance the practical and creative aspects. “That creates a problem,” says Simkin, “because we aren’t teaching people to fix air conditioners and transmis- sions. We’re teaching art. So, on the one hand, we’re train- ing people to make money, but on the other hand we have to nurture a vision in someone.” Instruction — and Structure While at the center on Friday, Paul was approached by one of his students, Nouf Mallouh. She was working what the center calls her “Practicum.” Practicum is a student’s final project that requires them to provide work for non- profit, socially responsible organizations, which otherwise would not be able to afford such highly skilled digital work. Mallouh is from Saudi Arabia. She’s studied both graphic design and photography at the center. For her practicum, she is working with the Literacy Lab, a non-profit organization that teaches reading to low-income students in Washington, D.C. She has a series of about 50 photos from a recent shoot and wanted Simkin’s opinion. As Mallouh goes through the photos, Simkin gives both positive and constructive criticism. “Nice shot,” he says. “That’s a beautiful shot. Thank you. You’re very good at capturing faces. Take a compli- ment when you get it. She’s mugging for the camera. Next, please.” Simkin gives Mallouh a lot of tips about where to crop photos but compliments her ability to capture faces and hands. After about 20 minutes, we leave the computer lab. Moments like those are what make the job for Simkin, who became director of the center in September. “One condition I made when I accepted the job was that I get to do stuff like that,” Simkin says. As the center’s director, Simkin might not be expected to be as available to his students as he is and that he would leave that sort of work to professors. “When they kick my ass like that, it makes me a better photographer,” Simkin says. “She had a very good sense of feeling, of kids. I freeze up around kids. I can’t just get in and be tight and be part of a scene. She has a natural incli- nation for that. So, I get to see a point of view that I would otherwise miss.” “I really couldn’t imagine a better mentor,” says Erin Schaff, assistant director at CDIA’s D.C. campus, and who views Simkin as a great resource for photography students. Schaff, who is from Red Hook in upstate N.Y., graduated from Kenyon College in May 2011 with a B.A. in political science and came to Washington to pursue a career on Capitol Hill. After working in the office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and other jobs, Schaff began working part-time at Jack’s Boat- house in June and fell in love with the river. “I had a full-time job, and I quit to work for him full-time,” says Schaff of Simkin. “It was kind of a big leap for me, because everything was kind of stable. Everything was going very well in the direction I thought I wanted to be going. So, it was a big leap, but it has totally been worth it.” As someone who runs two large operations, it is no surprise Simkin needs someone to help keep him organized. Schaff provides that structure. Never Getting Old Boston University began opening its three CDIA campuses as film photography was being replaced by digital as the de facto medium for professional photographers. “When we started five to six years ago, it was the end of film,” Simkin says. “It was the end of the dark room. These folks had the vision to make great photographs but at the same time to realize the end was there -- and that it was not a defeat. It was a great opportunity to make great art.” The school was founded on the principle that technology is constantly changing. This means that the center’s curriculum is continually changing. The center’s classes resume in January. “Two years in digital stuff is huge,” Simkin says. “So, if we just stuck to the same one [process], we’d be in big trouble.” This dedication to technology has been a constant for Simkin. When he was 24 years old, he was work- ing as a photo editor at the Associated Press. Then, he made a decision about photography. “I’m editing photos, when I see these dark room guys. These are guys in white jackets who would print photos,” Simkin says. “I ask one of these guys, who were about as old as I am now, ‘How much back- ground is there to being a dark room guy?’ It turns out that the guys were photographers earlier, and they had shot on 4 by 5, the kind of stuff you’d shoot Marilyn Monroe with in the ’50s and the ’60s. Those pictures were great. The quality was great. So, when the 35 millimeter [film] came out, they didn’t want to shoot 35 millimeter, because it was so small and the pictures were grainy. They held on to their 4-by-5 view of things, and then the world passed them by. And they were printing my pictures.” “I made the decision I was never going to get old as it related to the image." Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts will be partnering with the Georgetowner for its fourth annual photography contest. Email submissions to email@example.com by Jan. 8. Winners will be honored at a Jan. 17 reception. For more information, visit www.Georgetowner.com. [gallery ids="101088,137699,137684,137695,137690" nav="thumbs"]
Editor’s Note: We are so thankful to Michael Saylor for sitting down with us last month. We got such a positive response to the first article that we’re back with more insights from Georgetown resident and the Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of MicroStrategy, author of “The Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence will Change Everything.” It was at the beginning of the era of the personal computer, when the world, according to Saylor, “took a hard left.” “The Latin-Roman alphabet is superior to symbol-based languages, like Japanese and Chinese, for writing software code. Look at a keyboard. How do you create a keyboard for a language like Chinese that has 25,000 characters?” The PC era gave us Microsoft, Oracle and Intel, then Dell, HP and IBM. When the World Wide Web came about, it was EBay, Amazon, Yahoo! and then Google at the forefront. All American companies, all using English as their primary language, for programming and for business. Today, if you want to become a software programmer, no matter what country you live in, you have to learn English. ? “If you speak English you can purchase everything cheaper. If you sell in English, you will sell everything, your product or service, more expensively…The center of gravity of Western civilization is English.” Saylor sees other factors, beyond software programming, contributing to America’s Newest Great Age. One of them is the formation of the European Union – hear his take on that. Another is that the mobile wave provides people around the world, both adults and children, with easy access to American culture and ideals. “We aren’t just exporting American technology. We’re exporting American technology, American values, American products and services, American currency, the American legal system. It’s all becoming a standard in this creeping way.” Saylor sees the United States as the biggest beneficiary of the formation of the European Union. Click to hear his take (4 minutes) “Technology doesn’t work at all; technology fails…until it succeeds.” Much of Saylor’s perspective on the mobile wave is driven by his studies at MIT. In addition to aeronautical engineering, his coursework covered the impact of science and technological advances on society. All new technologies begin with an idea. There are often fits and starts at the beginning, while the innovator is working to overcome obstacles so that the idea can become reality. Click here to listen to Saylor's Take on Technological Innovations in Aviation (4 minutes) Saylor gave us a quick lesson in this, illustrating the history of aviation from the Wright Brothers to the space shuttle. It’s a fascinating study (hear it here), one which he sees the software industry mirroring. Not too long after we put a man on the moon, aviation technology advancement slowed considerably. At the same time, computer and software technologies progressed to the point where the general public could begin to use them. As consumer adoption increased, advances have come rapidly – all the way from the desktop computer in the 1970s to Internet access on your smart phone today in 2012. Regarding Privacy Concerns: “At the end of the day I’m not concerned about the plight of consumer; the consumer is the big beneficiary of the mobile wave.” Click here to get Saylor's insight into consumer privacy concerns and how they will be resolved (3 minutes) If you’ve ever used Google maps on your smart phone, you were probably happy that it knew your current location and could use it as a starting point to give you directions to your destination. There’s a good chance that targeted content or advertising, based on what Facebook or other entities know about your online habits, has led you to products, services or information that you enjoyed. But there are two sides to this technology. While it can be comforting to track the websites your teenager is visiting and his or her location throughout the course of a Friday night, would you be comfortable with your employer, marketers, the government or other entities knowing what you’re doing online and where you are at each moment of the day? Many are concerned about the erosion of civil liberties. Some people readily admit that they find this aspect of the mobile wave “scary.” Saylor acknowledges the concerns, but he sees the benefits of the mobile wave outweighing the potential downsides. He’s a big advocate of transparency, meaning that consumers are told upfront what information is being collected on them and how it will be used. He sees current privacy laws evolving to keep up with the new challenges brought by the mobile wave. The sub-title of Saylor’s book is “How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything.” So, will it? It’s an engaging read. [We encourage you to pick it up (or download "The Mobile Wave") and decide for yourself](http://www.microstrategy.com/the-mobile-wave/).
The noise has been deafening. The sport of the post presidential and vice-presidential debate punditry has grown from a torrent to a deluge, moving from on-air to online and virtually everywhere else. After the now-famed Romney Resurrection, Saturday Night Live dared to hilariously get inside the heads of the candidates. Obama, it posited, was distracted thinking about how he had forgotten to buy the first lady an anniversary present. It would have been even funnier had it not been what we in the media all seem to have been trying to do since Obama-Romney I got us all nattering. The coverage seems to be only reinforcing this weird epoch of journalism today which wobbles between punditry and a “just the facts” dirge. Even as journalists work harder than ever, nobody seems very happy. Especially not the audience if a Gallup poll – brought to our attention, of course, on Facebook – is to be believed. It says an all-time high, 60 percent of us, now “have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.” Perhaps worse than that, in recent conversations with graduate and undergraduate journalism students, even these driven youth who represent the future of this industry feel that, at best, today’s media is so-so. These are people want to do this for a living. One more tasty treat of negativity – the University of Colorado closed its famed journalism school last year partly citing loss of relevance and recently Emory University in Atlanta announced a similar move with its growing journalism department. Others are sure to follow. ATM comes not to bury Caesar, but to give a call to action to save him. With the permission of our valiant publisher, I am taking a column away from observing or commenting or critiquing to urge. To misquote a frequent television ad, “It’s my journalism, and I want it now!” I urge anybody interested in being a part of creating that future of journalism to support the Kickstarter campaign for DecodeDC – the new podcast devoted to reporting on Congress in a way nobody else is. Yes, we have venerable publications like the Hill, Roll Call, the entire Congressional Quarterly family, and even the future-is-now Politico devoted to the daily throes of our legislative and executive bodies – but few have proven able to cover Congress like former NPR Congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook. For anybody wondering why her voice has disappeared from NPR airwaves, Seabrook decided this summer that she couldn’t continue to cover Congress as a daily mud fight any longer. “It just didn’t seem to be doing anybody any good any more. What was the point? I was becoming as much part of the problem.” So instead Seabrook decided she, and we, deserved something different. Seabrook left to start an independent podcast called DecodeDC at DecodeDC.com. In her first two episodes, she truly humanizes Congress and simultaneously eviscerates all that should be eviscerated. They are worth listening to. They are good. Very good. And worth supporting. Seabrook is turning to people who want great journalism to support her and provide the seed money needed to fully fund a year of DecodeDC, and she has turned to the online money-raiser – Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a wonderful way for ordinary people can play venture capitalist, venturing to put their money where their mouths are. If you are one of those who loves, is interested in learning something more than the latest mud slinging, and wishes journalism reached for something better than it seems so often to be today, take a listen and then support. Seabrook has until 6 p.m. Oct. 19 to raise the money to fund 28 more episodes.