Posts Tagged ‘network’

The Erdos Number and social nets

31 December 2009

My friend Don – we’ve been pals since elementary school – has one of the strongest moral centers of anyone I know (here‘s an example of what I mean, and here’s another side to this guy). I can remember back in high school sitting around a camp fire having one of those “meaning of life” conversations, when he caught me up short with the simple, obvious, and still true question we’re all struggling to answer. The question, he said, was simply, “how to live.” What are the ethics of a life well lived, he was asking. I still think that’s the essential question, partly because it’s something we can actually do something about.

Which brings me to Paul Erdos.

The other day I was listening to a show about “Numbers” from my absolutely all-time favorite podcast, Radiolab. The show featured a story about Paul Erdos and something called Erdos Numbers. (Sidebar: walking Mingus the Super Dog up the hill and down the hill yesterday I was thinking about this post, and it occurred to me that – while they’re quite different – Radiolab’s the aural equivalent of my all-time favorite magazine, the late, lamented, wish-it-was-still-around Whole Earth Review aka Coevolution Quarterly. Why? Because both are rich in sideways thinking, bringing the unexpected together with the everyday in brilliant moments of insight.)

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Paywalls or links?

29 April 2009

I’m traveling this week back in the Big Apple, raising money (let’s hope) plus seeing how we do at the National Magazine Awards (Mother Jones is up for 3 of ’em) so posting will be light. But wanted to point to an interesting guest post over at Reflections of  Newsosaur by  Bill Grueskin, formerly at WSJ.com and now at the Columbia J-School. He does a quick comparison of Journalism Online, the Brill/Hindery/Crovitz project to “generate much-needed revenue by building a platform for subscription services” (i.e., put the paywall back in place) and Publish 2, run by Scott Karp and Josh Korr, which is a platform designed to make it easy for journalists to do “link journalism” (viz Jeff Jarvis’ mantra: do what you do best and link to the rest…).

I think Grueskin is onto something – even with all the throatclearing that anyone writing about journalism+business models has to do these days (“we don’t know, we’re not sure, who can say, we’ll see how it turns out etc etc) – the key difference I think being that Publish 2 has a built-in incentive for journalists to connect not just with other journalists working on related items, but also with their community of interest. As someone thinking about non profits and journalism, anytime anything encourages us folks to open out to our community, that’s worth sitting up and paying attention to.

Grueskin reports that Publish 2 is kicking off a project to:

. . . track spending in the federal stimulus plan, marrying reporters’ content and citizens’ tips, but – and this is important – always through the lenses of journalists. He calls this as a “new ecosystem” of news, that is, a way of understanding that the Web empowers sharing of information, and that journalists have a special role to play in identifying worthy content and evaluating the quality and credibility of others’ reporting.

Combine this open-to-the-network approach to journalism and, say, Spot.us’ open source crowdfunding code, and maybe there’s something there to test out.

Anyone giving this a try?