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Archive for November, 2006

What would it take to keep me in Kent?

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

So, now Kent wants to be cool. One of my professors forwarded me this “Kent Cool Cities Survey” off of the city manager’s blog.

I’m not sure what to make of it. Yes, it’s good that they are looking forward. While Kent isn’t a dying town (or if it is, the dying nature of NE Ohio makes it seem less so), it isn’t the most happening of places. But cool isn’t something you can capture in a survey. In fact, attempting to do so makes you decidely more uncool. Plus, I like the suburban feel of the city for what it is. It was a great location to attend college. But it would take a lot to get me to stay after graduation. In fact, I can’t think of anything that would make me stay.

Don’t get me wrong. I love NE Ohio. I was born and raised in Akron, and I’d love to someday work for the Beacon (after they settle down and stop laying people off). I’ve visited a lot of places but never lived outside of Ohio. There’s just so much to the world beyond this few hundred mile radius. While I’m young, single and still adventurous enough, I want to sample the culture of different places.

So, my response to, “The best thing Kent could do to make it a more appealing place for me to live after I graduate is …” grow by about 50,000 and cede from Ohio. ;)

I must be rusty

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

I’ll admit, it’s been awhile since I took on the task of designing an entirely new Web site. I figured I’m a little rusty, it may take awhile; that was why I decided to set aside time off this weekend to do so. Yet, creating the graphics, writing the HTML and coding the CSS were by far the easiest part of this endeavor…. WordPress is annoying me more than any other program I’ve ever worked with. And I can’t figure out why. I’ve never used WordPress before this site. I had mastered Greymatter, and Blogger is cake. And while my php experience is minimal, the php isn’t what’s bothering me. It’s that what should be working isn’t working. What works in static HTML and CSS isn’t displaying right. And if my MacBook wasn’t so delicate and expensive, I’d probably have kicked it by now.

So anyway, just a note to say the layout is pretty much up. But I’ll be tweaking it, and trying to figure out why the header background isn’t showing up properly for much of the night.

Despite my annoyance, I do have to say, I really did miss designing Web sites regularly. As I was trouble shooting and scanning each line for a missing quote or unclosed div, I couldn’t help but remember that my attention to detail was what made me willing and able to stay up until dawn designing and redesigning typical. Although it’s been awhile. I don’t think this layout turned out half bad.

Update: So, apparently after I worked and reworked and reworked again the code for my header and just about gave up, I got it working. I don’t know why, but re-uploading the image seemed to fix the issue. I can’t believe I just spent an hour troubleshooting something that took 2 seconds to fix. :/ Either way, my site is now up and working.

¿Hablas Español?

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

Sí y no.

Hablo un poco Español. But I wish it were more.

I just popped a bag of popcorn for the first time in a long time. I didn’t want to be that girl and make the fire alarms go off because I left it in too long, so I read the instructions to gauge the right amount of time. The only problem was the instructions were in Spanish. At least the ones in the back where instuctions normally are. I had to flip over the find the English directions.

Granted most packaging sold in the U.S. remains predominantly English, I have a feeling this transition toward bilingual packaging is definitely gaining popularity not losing it. Not that it’s a bad thing. As my sister, the Spanish teacher, is quick to inform me when I point out this trend, “In a decade there will be more Hispanic than European people in the U.S.”

It makes me wish I hadn’t been so zealous to end my Spanish training when I realized I could choose between math or a foreign language. What used to be pretty good when I graduated from high school is now pretty spotty. Although I still put up with my sister talking to me in Spanish when she doesn’t want other people to understand her comments, my own abilities in the language have deteroriated a lot. But, as I know she is right, I’m thinking I’ll be dusting off those “Learn Spanish” CDs she used to teach herself when she was in high school. ¿Por qué no?

Designing an online presence in journalism

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

So, although I bought the domain earlier this week and I set up the WordPress blog a few days ago, it has taken me a little while to figure out the design I want. After copious amounts of time worrying how to craft the perfect online presence for myself (OK, so actually it was mostly me snapping photos of items on my desk before I went home for Thanksgiving and then sitting in my mom’s kitchen with my MacBook playing with Photoshop and worrying about fonts and drop shadows), I’ve managed to come up with a layout I like.

In my journey to this layout (which isn’t up yet, but should be up later tonight) I discovered a few things I either didn’t know or didn’t realize until I started.


Thanksgiving questions…

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

Over at Poynter, Jill Geisler posted 10 questions for journalists to ask themselves this thanksgiving. I figured it was worth doing. Granted, the Stater isn’t the same as most newsrooms, but there’s still some answers to this that are applicable.

Getting the Most out of Life: 10 Questions


It just keeps going and going

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

If CNN is to be believed, then the Internet reached a major milestone last month. It hit 100 million Web sites. Pretty impressive for something so young.

I have always wondered how many Web sites there were exactly, just out of idle curiousity. But nobody really knows because it would be impossible to count all 100 million (or more by now) or keep pace with all the new sites being hatched each day.

It’s interesting nonetheless that this is coming in the same month that the U.S. hit the 300 million person mark. I’m sure there’s no causal relationship (hey, all those sociology classes on research methods taught me better than that), but it is still an interesting juxtaposition. I haven’t seen anywhere, not that have I really looked, but I wonder how the growth rates compare.

As a side note, I seem to remember a story coming across the wire earlier this week that mentioned that only 1 percent of the Internet was porn — but now I realize that 1 percent of 100 million (that’s 1 million for those keeping score at home) is still quite a bit. Or, as the guys in my office joked, that doesn’t take into consideration the percentage of people choosing to look at that content instead of the remaining 99 percent.

The future is now

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

So, I just happened upon this article Young people don’t like us. Who can blame them?… I’ll pull out the part that was most poignant and truthful for me. Although it is definitely aimed at a British audience, it’s a message I think people stateside should heed as well.

Today’s 21-year-olds were born in 1985. The internet was two years old in January that year, and Nintendo launched ‘Super Mario Brothers’, the first blockbuster game. When they were going to primary school in 1990, Tim Berners-Lee was busy inventing the world wide web. The first SMS message was sent in 1992, when these kids were seven. Amazon and eBay launched in 1995. Hotmail was launched in 1996, when they were heading towards secondary school.

These kids have been socially conditioned in a universe that runs parallel to the one inhabited by most folks in the media business. They’ve been playing computer games of mind-blowing complexity forever. They’re resourceful, knowledgeable and natural users of computer and communications technology. They’re Digital Natives – accustomed to creating content of their own – and publishing it. (Remember the motto of YouTube: ‘Broadcast yourself!’)

Now look round the average British newsroom. How many hacks have a Flickr account or a MySpace profile? How many sub-editors have ever uploaded a video to YouTube? How many editors have used BitTorrent? (How many know what BitTorrent is?)

Definitely something to think about. It also reminds me of why, as one of the editors I met at the job fair in Detroit told me “I don’t have to tell you this… looking at your resume and work, you get it.” Part of the reason I and many of my peers — though I will say a surprising number of them don’t — “get it” is that we always have. It’s what we’ve always known.

I had a conversation with one of my reporters at dinner yesterday along these lines. It’s crazy for me to think of all the things that have been invented just in my lifetime. I mean, I remember a time before Nintendo dominated kids’ lives, back when baseball and climbing trees were the best ways to pass the time. I remember rushing home to watch TRL after school and hurrying up softball games to catch the end of Dawson’s Creek, back before TiVo made the television work around your schedule.

I even remember before we had the Internet. In fact, I remember the day we got the Internet. In all it’s 33kbps glory (and that was cutting edge, 28kbps was standard at the time). I remember when my whole family shared a single att.com e-mail address because Hotmail hadn’t been invented yet. I remember a time before I understood the concept of a search engine and the role of advertising online. (For the longest time, I’d go to Yahoo.com, type in “chat” and the banner at the top was a mouse running into a hole, which somehow advertised for The Globe. I remember how frustrated and confused I was when they changed the banner ad and I couldn’t find The Globe for weeks.) I also remember when chatrooms, The Globe’s in particular, were not java-based. In fact, I cut my teeth on HTML in those chatrooms, trying to make my text bigger and bolder, trying to draw an audience even at age 10. Heck, I remember when Netscape was the only browser.

I remember learning computer programining in the 6th grade on machines so outdated that not only were there no harddrives but the floppy disks actually were floppy. I remember when having a pager was the “in” thing, and when cell phones weighed as much as a text book. And I remember when I felt like the outsider because I had an e-mail address and none of my friends did, back in the years before AIM, Facebook and MySpace.

What I think is craziest of all about this is that I grew up and can remember both worlds. I think no other generation can say that, and therefore my peers and I are going to be the people who have to take the media industry by the arm, lead it toward the light and reconcile the differences between old and new media. For that I feel lucky. Instead of inheriting a dying industry, I look at as an opportunity to trailblaze and create something new.