new media

Open-source vs. closed-source

The video above features boxer Mohammad Ali praising the benefits of the open-source operating system, Linux. “Shake Things Up!,” he declares. “Shake up the world!”

My recent column in Dubai’s Gulf News examined the difference between open-source and closed-source systems. We can see this disparity illustrated in a variety of areas: Android phones vs. Blackberry, Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Britannica, open-access academic journals vs. closed-access publications, and YouTube vs. television news.

I wrote that the march toward more open systems and shared knowledge has already and will continue to “shake things up”:

While some may debate whether open-source or closed-source systems are more beneficial, the road of history appears to be leading steadily toward a more open-sourced vision. The benefits of an open-sourced systems include an increased acceptance of new ideas and a quicker pace toward innovation — far more so that in closed systems.

Open-source projects also tend to benefit from the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ with ideas and innovations that could be missed in closed environments. Most importantly, open-source systems are transparent — nothing is hidden from view, allowing anyone to offer their input equally.

I’ll close with another Linux commercial, one that stresses the importance of sharing knowledge. It’s good to see open-source approaches gaining acceptance, but the closed-source culture is deeply ingrained in many organizations.

By | June 6th, 2012|Uncategorized|0 Comments

On the effects of state-led media in the UAE

Just stumbled across this interview with Dr. Sulaiman Al Hattlan, an academic and journalist, with astute observations about the media in the United Arab Emirates. Read this part of the interview:

In the Arab world, however, journalism started as a party voice or as an official voice to governments. Hence we have various issues. First, we can’t differentiate properly between media and advertising, between propaganda and reporting, between public relations and journalism, between opinion and news, or between news and analysis.

Second, there is a lack of independence in many Arabic media corporations, which were originally attached to governments or influential personalities in their societies, and that continue to serve political or commercial interests. Moreover, there is an important cultural matter, namely the absence of critical spirit and self- criticism in our culture.

Finally, with the arrival of New Media and citizen journalism, that allows for all to express and to have their input in building the general public opinion, we are witnessing such a mixture of criticism and blunt accusations, that the reader has difficulty in discerning between the actual responsible and constructive criticism and the one based on rumours and lies. So, in a climate like this, the challenges within the media sector are increasing. It is my sincere wish that we should somehow try to accelerate our steps towards building a civil society based on the concepts of polite conversation, the respect of others’ opinions and the importance of accurate information.

Yes. What an eloquent summation of the problems with the media system in this region.

By | January 10th, 2012|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Atlanta Journal-Constitution is turning a profit

According to the paper’s public editor:

A year ago, the newspaper was losing money. Business leaders moved quickly to turn that around, making a series of painful expense cuts that included trimming home delivery to outlying regions and reducing staff. Printing was consolidated at the company’s Gwinnett County plant, meaning the downtown presses were no longer used. And so the downtown office, which was expensive to maintain and no longer fully utilized, became an obvious choice for savings.

As difficult as those cuts were, the work paid off. The AJC has been profitable for the past several months. And in the face of necessary changes, the newspaper maintained its focus on what is essential to readers: a comprehensive report with deep local news, business, sports and entertainment coverage; a diverse mix of opinion and expertise; and in-depth watchdog reporting on topics that matter to all of metro Atlanta.

The AJC has indeed been doing a good job covering the area despite its reduced staff. They also put an impressive amount of resources into investigative journalism — producing about 10 enterprise pieces a week.

I would also add that the paper has worked on listening to complaints about its liberal bias — both in the news section and on the editorial pages. The paper shifted its editorial board to the center a year ago.

The AJC should also be lauded for its embrace of networked journalism. They often use shout-outs to their Twitter followers to get information on developing stories. And anecdotal evidence shows they’re quite receptive to fixing the mistakes pointed out by their networked community. Earlier this year, I criticized a lede for unfairly portraying a suspect in a crime as guilty. They fixed it within 2 hours and alerted me via Twitter.

It appears that all these elements make for profitable journalism. Other news outlets should take note of the AJC’s approach to the news business.

By | April 19th, 2010|AJC, networked journalism, new media|0 Comments


Interesting article in the New York Times about a new service that aims to make government more responsive:, a local advocacy Web site … lets users write about issues to encourage communication between residents and local government. SeeClickFix users post a complaint about problems that occur within a set of boundaries on a Google Map, like graffiti at a bus stop or potholes on a busy street, and the site communicates the problem to the appropriate government agency and marks the problem on the map.

Seems like a no-brainer addition to any hyperlocal Web site.

By | January 4th, 2010|new media|0 Comments