Enough Already!

Social media tools are enjoying a heady run with seemingly more popping up on the scene every day. Every company/organization/celebrity under the sun is trying to get is to follow their data streams. There reaches a point though, when we sometimes need to say, “Enough is enough!”

Case in point: Recently I saw a Twitter post about a new automated storage facility being unveiled by the British Library. I followed the link to the story in the Yorkshire Evening Post, and I was pretty shocked by what I saw when I tried to read the article.

Newspapers are ad-supported. I get that. We all get that. Lots of websites are ad-supported as well. We all get it. In fact, most of us are probably pretty adept at just zooming in on the story and ignoring all of the surrounding garbage stuff. It’s a little annoying when they insert ads in the body of the story and we have to dodge around them, but again, we’re kind of used to it. However, when they start disguising their little plugs as section headers within the story, it has gone too far.

As I read through through the story, the first two plugs were links to content elsewhere on the website. However, the next two were links to the paper’s Twitter and Facebook presence. I really didn’t need those masquerading as section headers within the story, especially when there is a handy-dandy social media box right below the story.

So you have some social media accounts, and you’re proud of them. Well and good. Just don’t shove them in our faces, please. I can find them in the little box . . . if I need them.


Your Social (After)Life

So what exactly happens when someone disappears from your social network and is never heard from again? Did they just move on to other activities? Or did they get mad at someone in the circle and write you all off? Or did they perhaps . . . die?

A recent AP story highlighted a few tales where the latter was actually the case. A person died, and relatives were left trying to make contacts with online friends to let them know what had happened. Seems like a few enterprising folks have found a new way to make money out of death. A couple of online services will take care of these after-death notifications for you so your friends won’t be left wondering.

For more information . . .


And Another One Gone

We just had a major newspaper announcement last week, and it looks like the Ann Arbor News is the latest victim. It sounds like the economy coupled with the new ways in which readers consume news are combining to really put the hurt on newspapers. The word is that the paper “will be replaced by a Web-focused community news operation.” Sounds kind of like that 150 citizen blogger approach we heard from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

It seems that in casting about for a way to survive, these organizations are really struggling to find models that work. According to the news story, Ann Arbor folks are saying that “the new free Web site won’t simply be the old newspaper delivered in a new format.” I can understand their need to try new things, but a community information portal simply isn’t the same thing as a newspaper, and that leads me to wonder who will provide balanced, accurate, insightful news – not just in Ann Arbor, but in all markets affected by changes like this.

My next question is about how we will be able to preserve the local history captured in these new community blog-o-portals. Libraries understand what it means to preserve newspapers in various formats: paper, microfilm, digital, etc. The Internet Archive knows what it means to preserve websites. But is there a natural fit here? Assuming that these new electronic news outlets contain content that should be preserved, can The Internet Archive capture these newspapers on a daily basis? If it can, perhaps that will be enough for casual users and serious researchers. But if it can’t?