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February 27 2015


Best practices for integrating social media into your website design

Digital social networks have become a key source for website discoverabiilty. That makes it very important to seamlessly integrate social media into your website design.


Tip 1: Include the right social media icons as infrastructure elements

There are two primary points for infrastructure navigation, that is, navigation that remains constant from page-to-page of your website: the top and the bottom.

This is where you want to put the social media icons for the networks where people can find you. You may put them in both places if pages tend to be long; usually, one set will be smaller than the other.

This is the time to think strategically: by placing social media icons in your infrastructure navigation, you’re saying “you can get in touch with me in this space/place.” So if you never go to your Google+ page, you might not want to feature a G+ icon.

Again: these icons should link to the social media network. These are not “share” buttons!

Tip 2: Include Share Buttons

Share buttons are designed to let a website visitor share your content with her networks. Sharing (eg, Tweet, Like, Pin) should be seamless, whether we’re sharing a blog post, a great pair of shoes, a photo, or a pre-populated “quote” from a news release.

If your site is running on WordPress software (self-hosted or at WordPress.com), this functionality is “built in” (JetJack on self-hosted). However, there are other plugins available, including AddThis orShareThis.

Sophisticated share button applications let you customize a pre-populated tweet or post.


Tip 3: Integrate feeds where they make sense

You can embed Twitter feeds — yours or a list or a key hashtag, for example — anywhere in your site. Some people create a page that contains feeds. Others put them in a sidebar. Don’t integrate a feed from a network where you are not active.


Tip 4: Allow log in with multiple network accounts

If you want people to log in before commenting on a blog post, for example, give them multiple options. Let them log in with Disqus, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and/or WordPress. Don’t force them to create a new account on your site. Or only log in with Facebook!


Tip 5: Use analytics

Google Analytics is the granddaddy of free analytic services for your website. But you can also use analytics services to measure shares. For example, if you use a link shortening service like Bit.ly, you will get analytics on how that link was shared.

If you are scheduling content to share, then services like Buffer provide both analytics and scheduling.


Tip 6: Understand the networks

The networks are very different and they have different terms and conditions. WordPress.com doesn’t allow external ads. If you want a Facebook page for a business, it shouldn’t be registered as an individual profile; instead, an individual creates a profile for herself and then creates the page.


Tip 7: Use rich snippets and structured data to customize how your content is shared.

Snippets, in the context of search, are the lines of text that appear under each search result; their purpose is to give users a sense for what’s on the page and why it’s relevant to their search query.

There are three formats that help with SEO:

Twitter provides information about “Twitter Cards” and Facebook, OpenGraph.

The post Best practices for integrating social media into your website design appeared first on WiredPen.

February 26 2015


Get mad: Selma, women’s inequality, distractions

Selma, PSU Collection

Selma to Montgomery march, halted at the Edmund Pettus bridge (Tuesday, March 9, 1965).

I am southern, southwest-Georgia-southern. My Oscar night boycott arose in part because of the Academy’s shameful treatment of Selma. But I have also grown weary of the uphill battle for equality for women of all colors.

My husband and I saw Selma on the heels of the electrifying, Tony-award winning play, All The Way, which explored LBJ’s first year as president. Seattle playwright Robert Schenkkan won the 2014 Tony Award for best play for this Oregon Shakespeare Festival commissioned work. The Seattle Repertory Theatre sponsored a companion piece, The Great Society. Thus we were steeped in the mid-60s when we experienced Ava DuVernay’s vision of a pivotal moment in civil rights history.


President Johnson and Rev. Martin Luther King

President Johnson and Martin Luther King in the White House Cabinet Room. Wikipedia Media.


“You’re an activist, I’m a politician. You’ve got one issue, I’ve got a hundred and one!” a frustrated President Lyndon B. Johnson exclaimed in a meeting with the Rev. Martin Luther King in the movie Selma. “That’s OK. That’s your job. That’s what you do … Meet me halfway on this, Martin.”

In this scene, DuVernay echos Schenkkan’s treatment of the give-and-take that was essential to move forward on civil rights reform, to move forward on any controversial measure. Both playwright and director highlight the delicate and squishy nature of negotiation, whether it was LBJ trying to nudge a mulish coterie of southern Democrats or King’s need to unite factions within the movement.

Positioning knotty social issues as though they are actually complex, instead of simplistic, is what made both the play and the movie rewarding. In a similar but fictional fashion, Kris Nelscott provides yet another insight into the turbulent ’60s with her Smokey Dalton novels, which begin with King’s assassination.

LOC Selma

Aerial view of marchers crossing the Edmund-Pettus Bridge during the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965, Library of Congress.


I remain furious at criticism of Selma as a failing in historical accuracy.

It is a criticism that serves only one purpose: distraction.

It’s a distraction from an unequivocally horrific time in our history. One that we seem to willfully relegate to hear-see-speak no evil while simultaneously watching it play out today in places like Ferguson.

It’s a distraction that is doubly hypocritical because of the nomination, and win, for The Imitation Game screenplay.

As Monica Guzman wrote on Saturday:

The Imitation Game changed aspects of the real Alan Turing’s personality to conform more closely to our idea of the solitary nerd… [It] falls in line with the tired idea that only outcasts could love computers, rather than the reality that one of the pioneers of the field was a shy but nice enough guy who could work in a team.

<!-- Fact: Alan Turing <a href="https://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/hist/worldwartwo/enigma.rhtm" target="external">worked with others</a>, such as Cambridge mathematician <a href="http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/gordon_welchman.htm" target="external">Gordon Welchman</a>, in building a <a href="http://www.turing.org.uk/scrapbook/ww2.html" target="external">code-breaking machine called the Bombe</a>. Not a lone genius. Not a project code-named Christopher, a made-up-for-dramatic-effect allusion to <a href="http://www.turing.org.uk/scrapbook/spirit.html" target="external">a youthful unrequited love</a>. -->
Hells-bells: the screenplay completely fabricated the Turing-as-traitor scenes as well as the conceit surrounding his arrest, which is the central unifying theme of the movie! Oh, and the arrest occurred in 1952, not 1951, as the film erroneously informs the audience in its subtitles.

I enjoyed The Imitation Game as a fiction.

I appreciated its highlighting the despicable treatment of gay men in the 1950s. Its plunge into the moral dilemma of having to chose who to save and who to sacrifice to the German war machine in order to preserve the secret of breaking Enigma over-and-over. But I hated its unnecessary and substantive fabrications, about which there was barely a peep of criticism, at least on this side of the pond, last year.

Alan Turing

Alan Turing Statue at Bletchley Park, WikiMedia.


“If I have seen further it is by standing on ye sholders of Giants.” ~ Sir Isaac Newton

The screenplay for The Imitation Game situated Turing as the heroic loner. This is a trope which Hollywood loves (Dirty Harry, Die Hard, Batman, and Arnie “I’ll be back”, to name a few). Yet we know (from research) that this is parsecs away from how the world works, particularly when we are examining inventions.

The screenplay for Selma, on the other hand, underscores social change as a messy process, rife with many actors. I was surprised — and pleased — that DuVernay presented King as leader and consensus builder not an autocrat, not a savior, not a loner. In her vision, King is a man beset with doubt as he sought to steer a movement for equality that had no clear way forward. She showed us how the path was obscured by competing leaders and how sometimes (Malcolm X) those leaders might offer themselves as a sacrifice for the greater good.

Raise your hand if you knew, before seeing this movie, that there were multiple marches in Selma, marches that were started and aborted before the successful one of March 21, the one we know and celebrate?

Raise your hand if you were able to watch these scenes unmoved to tears, anger, or mortification that these acts of violence against peaceful protesters were done in your name?

This is the movie criticized for historical inaccuracy?

Selma beating 1965

Baton-wielding Alabama state troopers waded into a crowd of peaceful civil rights demonstrators led by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Chairman John Lewis (on ground left center, in light coat) on March 7, 1965 (Bloody Sunday), in Selma, Alabama. Library of Congress photo.


Was DuVernay shunned because she’s black, she’s a woman, or her protagonist was a martyred black man? We’ll never know, but I believe her gender played a role in the Academy’s cold shoulder.

Which brings me to the other reason I boycotted this year’s Academy Awards spectacle, prompted after seeing She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. That’s when I began to internalize just how far we have not come, baby.

“It’s time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.” ~ Patricia Arquette

A truth met, once again, with nit-picking distractions.

I could trot out the facts. The 6,028 voting members of the Academy: 94 percent white, 77 percent male. Of the 43 people on the board of governors, only six are women. Not unlike its cousin up the road in Silicon Valley, the demographics of “success” are white and male.

In its 83-year history, only one woman has been named Best Director, Kathryn Bigelow.

The Sony emails released last last year revealed a wide disparity in the pay bestowed on the men and women of Tinseltown.

Research from San Diego State University’s Martha Lauzen peels back the curtain on how Hollywood makes movies. In 2012, 78% (195) of the top 250 films had no female writers . Last year, 79% had no female writers . There’s more: 99% had no female composers; 96% had no female cinematographers; 96% had no female sound editors; 78% had no female editors. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Looking at the top 100 movies of 2012: women had fewer speaking roles than in any year since 2007. Less than a third of the speaking roles were female characters .

And that’s just Hollywood. A pattern of exclusion and unequal compensation is the norm, not the exception.

An analysis of the NY Times home page showed that men are quoted 3.4 times more often than women. U.S. newsrooms are about 1/3 female. And overwhelmingly, managers are men. So are newspaper opinion columnists.

Only a third of the nation’s doctors and lawyers are women, and they make less money than the men. At the earnings peak — ages 45 to 50 — women earn 62 cents for every dollar that male doctors make (based on median earnings). The pay gap extends to nurses and other health care professionals.

Indisputable facts that reflect entrenched norms, yet allude to them at your own peril.

Arquette was criticized from the left for, among other things, acknowledging the role of mothers in our culture.

From the LGBT community. From the right:


Seriously, you don’t want someone who has a megaphone to remind people of stubborn, intractable facts?

We can argue about the outsized compensation of celebrity culture (let’s not forget sports and fashion) separately from the stark fact that, even there, women are treated differently from men. All women, black or white, straight or gay.

Distractions, people.

And this time it’s not external divide-and-conquer, like we saw with the attacks on Selma from LBJ’s alumni. It is internal sniping that can only result in maintenance of the status quo.

That’s another way in which DuVernay’s movie was powerful. She showed us how King moved forward despite similar — although far less public — sniping.

Arquette spoke the truth. DuVernay spoke a truth. Yet the Academy and the institutions it represents — including those outside moviedom — sit stubborn and inviolate.

Oscars chart

Oscars chart from International Business Times/Hanna Sender


This is why I boycotted the Oscars.

I object to distractions from painful truths.

Distraction as a method of preserving the status quo is at least as old as the Roman Empire. (Probably older.)

In the face of distraction, facts alone do little to spur action. For that, we need focused anger.


“First, you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a human being, goddammit, my life has value.'” ~ Howard Beale, Network (1976)


It didn’t hurt Sunday night’s ratings to have only one angry white woman of a certain age refuse to turn that dial (so to speak).

We won’t get Hollywood’s attention — or any other institution of power — until all of us are angry.

We. Must. Get. Mad!

Then we act: with feet, with fingers, and with pocketbooks.

Support movies (and other media) that feature realistic women characters (not objects) and those made by women producers and directors. If a tight budget means you’d need to pass on the latest derivative blockbuster, thoughtfully consider saying no to pablum.

Tell your friends what you are doing and why. On social media, in blog comments, during phone calls, at coffee chats. Ditto, those elected to represent you. And a timely letter-to-the-editor couldn’t hurt; neither will a touch of humor!

Speak up, knowing you are not alone and so that others might feel less alone.

Of course, Hollywood is only one brick in the wall. For some of you, it won’t be the first you tackle. That’s okay.

It took nearly a century for women to wrestle the right to vote from those who withheld franchise. Why should we be surprised that equal pay and true equality haven’t arrived simply because President Kennedy put pen to paper in 1963?

We can turn that law into reality if we put our collective minds and hearts to it and ignore attempts to pull us off course with distractions.

But first, we have to get mad.

Get involved

Learn more

Photographic citations

Photo 1: Jack Rabin collection on Alabama civil rights and southern activists, 1941-2004 (bulk 1956-1974), Historical Collections and Labor Archives, Eberly Family Special Collections Library, University Libraries, Pennsylvania State University. 1965. Source: Flickr, CC License.

Photo 2: President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Martin Luther King, White House Cabinet Room. 1966. Source: Wikipedia

Photo 3: Aerial view of marchers crossing the Edmund-Pettus Bridge during the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. 1965. Source: New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Library of Congress.

Photo 4: Alan Turing statue at Bletchley Park. Source: WikiMedia.

Photo 5: Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. Library of Congress photo. March 7, 1965. Source: U.S. House of Representatives.

Chart: Oscars infographic from International Business Times, by Hanna Sender. February 22, 2015.

Photo 6: Civil Rights Memorial Mural, painted on the side of a building on the west side of the bridge in Selma. May 29, 2007.
Source: Flickr, CC License

Selma Mural

Civil Rights Memorial Mural, painted on the side of a building on the west side of the bridge in Selma. May 29, 2007. Flickr CC License.

The post Get mad: Selma, women’s inequality, distractions appeared first on WiredPen.

February 18 2015


Text-to-speech on a Mac, a writer’s aid

Assistive technologies have a way of going mainstream, of offering benefits to a community wider than the one for whom it was designed.

Text-to-speech is no exception.

Initially, text-to-speech output from computers was a way to make the technology (and content) accessible to people with visual impairments.

But some people prefer learning (taking in information) in an auditory manner. Or they have long commutes. Ages ago I had students tell me that they would accomplish their class “readings” by having their computer “speak” the articles. Sometimes they’d record it for playback later.

Here’s another group who might benefit from text-to-speech: writers.

Although a boon to screenwriters or playwrights, text-to-speech functionality lets the author proofread by hearing, rather than reading.

Using text-to-speech on a Mac

Some applications have text-to-speech enabled and accessible on the Edit menu.

Text to speech in Preview

Access text-to-speech in Apple Preview via the edit menu.


However, it is more likely that you will need to enable speech in the Apple System Preferences.

1. Access System Preferences from the Apple menu.

Access System Preferences

Access system preferences by clicking on the Apple in the upper left hand corner of the screen.


2. Access Dictation & Speech by navigating to it or by typing in the search box (which will highlight it).

Apple System Preferences

Access Dictation & Speech in Apple System Preferences


3. Access the speech panel and enable text-to-speech functionality.

Dictation & Speech Preferences

Speech preferences panel; select “Speak selected text when key is pressed.”

You can customize the voice and the rate of speed. You can also change the keyboard combination used to enable speech; by default it is Option+Escape. If you change the combination, make sure you don’t pick a combination that you use for something else.

When you are ready for your Mac to being reading text out loud, press the specified keys. To stop the speaking, press those keys again.

If you have highlighted a section of text, that is all that your Mac will read out loud. Otherwise, if all is going well, the Mac will read whatever text is visible in the current window. If there is no text for it to read, you should hear a beep.


Text-to-speech in Microsoft Word

Word is an exception to the rule.

In order for your Mac to read any text, you must highlight it first. That means if you want it to read an entire article, you must first highlight the entire document (select all is Command+A).


Text-to-speech in any iOS device

Here are the steps to enable text-to-speech; watch the video for visuals.

  1. Open Settings
  2. Go to General
  3. Select Accessibility
  4. Select Speech
  5. Enable Speak Selection
  6. Tap Voices if you want to change from the default

When you find something you want to hear, highlight and select “Speak”

The post Text-to-speech on a Mac, a writer’s aid appeared first on WiredPen.

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Enabling text-to-speech iOS

Quote-busting: not Darwin

It sounds so clever, so right … that you want to share it immediately!

not charles darwin

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change“

Which, one assumes, is the point.

This particular version of the quotation misattributed to Charles Darwin was in my Twitter feed.

The Darwin Correspondence Project makes it clear that this is not Darwin. They gave an award to Nick Matzke for documenting the quote, which you can find on scads of images.

Kathy’s mantra:

If it sounds too good (or too bad!) to be true, it probably isn’t! Check before sharing!

Where to check quotations? I start with Wikiquote. Sometimes I search-inside-books using Amazon or Google. Don’t trust any of the thousands of quotation sites on the web (unless there is a source – and then, maybe not).

The post Quote-busting: not Darwin appeared first on WiredPen.

February 17 2015


Hacking bookmarklets to work on your mobile device

Update (21 Feb 2015): This demo is with an iPadAir. I’ve discovered life isn’t quite as straightforward with an iPhone6. Updated instructions, below.

Bookmarklets add application-like functionality to a web browser. They are often used for link sharing because you don’t have to leave the page or copy the URL in order to share (or save) the page.

This. is a new link-sharing social network. But the only way to share a link is via a bookmarklet. And bookmarklets aren’t the easiest thing to use on mobile devices.

Here’s how to share a link on This. from your phone or tablet, using Google Chrome. The process is the same for any bookmarklet!

1. Install Chrome on your computer and your mobile device(s)

2. Sync your desktop browser bookmarks with your phone

Sign in to Chrome using the same Google Account on your desktop and your mobile devices you want to sync.

Here’s how Google says you should set up sync settings:

  • On Windows, Mac, Linux, or Chrome devices
    1. Go to the Chrome menu (upper right) Chrome menu > Settings.
    2. Under Sign In, check the Advanced sync settings and make sure the “Bookmarks” checkbox is selected.
  • On Chrome for Android
    1. Touch Chrome Menu > Settings > your email address.
    2. Touch Sync and make sure the “Bookmarks” checkbox is selected.
  • On Chrome for iOS
    1. Touch Chrome Menu > Settings > your email address > Advanced.
    2. Slide the “Sync Everything” switch to On. If you don’t want to sync everything, slide the switch to OFF and choose the data you want to sync, specifically “Bookmarks”.

3. Install This. bookmarklet on your desktop version of Chrome

Access the bookmarklet here, if you have a This.cm account. If you are working with a different bookmarklet, I assume you know how to find it!

4. Consider renaming the bookmarklet

The default name for the bookmarklet is This. I changed mine to SendToThis because I wanted something easy but distinctive to type on the phone. How to edit your bookmarks in Chrome.

5. Open Chrome on your mobile device

You must use the same Google account on both browsers for this to work!

  1. Log in to This.cm.
  2. Navigate to a story you might want to share with This. (Or whatever you’re doing with your bookmarklet.)
  3. Tap in the URL bar (to bring it in focus) and start typing the name of your bookmark.
  4. When Chrome shows your bookmark in the “guess where I want to go” list, tap it. I have named mine SendToThis.

    Accessing bookmarklet

    To accèss the bookmarklet, begin typing its name in the URL bar. Chrome will reveal a dropdown of possible locations. When you see it, tap it.

  5. That tap will launch the bookmarklet, just like it does on your “real” browser.
  6. Continue editing the text fields and select the proper image.
    NOTE: with my iPhone6 (8.1.1), I was able to delete the headline but not type a new one. The only input option I had was “paste”. So I had to type my headline / author (it wasn’t pre-populated and I got an error when I left it blank) / comments elsewhere (I used Notes) and then paste each, one-at-a-time, into the bookmarklet. Clunky but it worked. You need to use the phone in portrait mode, too. Chrome version 40.0.2214.73.

    Bookmarklet triggered on iPad

    Bookmarklet triggered by a tap; Chrome and iPad Air.

  7. When you’re finished, tap “Add This.” and you’re done!
    Add This.

Watch a demo on YouTube

The demo is made using an iPad. This should work for any bookmarklet you save in Chrome (when it’s synced with all devices).


More about This.

The post Hacking bookmarklets to work on your mobile device appeared first on WiredPen.

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Bookmarklet Hack : using Chrome bookmarklets on your mobile devices

February 01 2015


A meme too far: U.S. Army pulls tweet for using the word “chinks”

On Friday, the U.S. Army used the word “chink” to describe  intelligence community vulnerability to terrorist use of social media communication. Twitter exploded with cries of race baiting. The Army deleted the tweet.

chink: (1) a small cleft, slit, or fissure <a chink in the fence>; (2) a weak spot that may leave one vulnerable <his lawyers found a chink in the law>; (3) a narrow beam of light shining through a chink
First Known Use: 1535

When I saw the latest social media tempest, I first thought that the Army had used the word “chink” in a tweet that referred to Asian-American soldiers.

I would never have dreamed that the tweet referred to issues around social media.

Let me clear: using chink as a pejorative for people of Asian heritage is wrong.

But “chinks … in armor pose challenges”? The word is not being used as shorthand for Asian-Americans!


And if the word itself should be retired (as at least one has suggested) which I do not advocate, what about Chink Santana?


The real story in contained in the news release has been obscured.

Our intelligence community is afraid of digital communication networks.

Terrorists are using social media to plan events, recruit, share information, propaganda, and so on. “We can detect [their activities] pretty well, but I’m not sure we know what to do about it,” said a terrorism expert…


Klon Kitchen, special advisor for cyberterrorism and social media at the National Counterterrorism Center, said he sees “the rapid and seemingly unending advancement of technology” and social media as being one of the biggest threats.


The proliferation of social media and technology will impact “every future special operations mission,” he said, “whether it be direct action, combating terrorism, information operations, civil affairs or any other SOF [Special Operations Forces] mission. The threat would come from terrorists exploiting social media for their own nefarious causes.”

Substitute the word “criminal” for “terrorist” and you’ll see an ages-old government lament about new communication technologies and keeping secrets.

WWII secrets

The United States Army Corps of Engineers acquired the town of Oak Ridge, TN, the site of the Manhattan Project, in 1942. WWII-era billboard posted in Oak Ridge; 12/31/1943. DOE photo.


Let “terrorist” stand and you’ll get a glimpse at the justification for widespread telephone wiretaps.

The person who wrote the tweet used an awful metaphor (what “armor” is social media communication penetrating?).

The first world has real problems: income and wealth inequality, #blackLivesMatter, food deserts, obesity … and our own government spying on us. Because it’s afraid terrorists might be talking on digital channels.

Outrage at use of a word that’s 600 years old, in the context of its original meaning, is a distraction from the very real problem to our privacy that the Army’s news release illuminates.


Sure, get mad. But get mad at the real problem.



The post A meme too far: U.S. Army pulls tweet for using the word “chinks” appeared first on WiredPen.

January 31 2015


Will Rogers on “trickle up” economics

Will Rogers quote

Posted July 28, 2012 on Political Memes

There’s a meme floating around Facebook this week. It features this “trickle up” economics quote from Will Rogers:

The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellows hands (earliest source I’ve found, March 22, 2012).

The meme isn’t new (it’s been around almost three years, at least) but the quote is mostly accurate (it’s missing ellipses). However, important context is also missing, context that places this observation slap dab in the middle of the Great Recession (to talk like Will Rogers, just a little bit).

Here’s the full quote:

This election was lost four and six years ago, not this year. They [Republicans] didn’t start thinking of the old common fellow till just as they started out on the election tour. The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover was an engineer. He knew that water trickles down. Put it uphill and let it go and it will reach the driest little spot. But he didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellows hands. They saved the big banks, but the little ones went up the flue.

The essay by Will Rogers was a regular weekly column.

Number 518, it ran in the St. Petersburg Times on November 26, 1932.

What was going on in the country?

Will Rogers took aim at far more than President Hoover, however, as you can read below.

I’ve transcribed the essay from the Google newspaper archive. I’ve added modern punctuation in a few sentences, but this is primarily written as it was published (screen capture at the bottom). I’ve added links and a bit of commentary, and I’ve highlighted a few choice phrases.

And Here’s How It All Happened
November 26, 1932
St. Petersburg Times

by Will Rogers

Well all I know is just what I read in the papers or what I see as I prowl hither and thither. With the election over everybody seems to have settled down to steady argument.

The old hidebound Republicans still think the world is just on the verge of coming to an end, and you can kinder see their angle at that for they have been running things all these years.

I got a letter the other day from a very prominent businessman in Los Angeles, Mr. Frank Garbutt, the man that has made running of clubs a science, and not just a business. He owns every club from the great Los Angeles athletic club to beach clubs, golf clubs, to polo clubs. Now Frank is the longest headed man you ever saw. Yet he said there wouldn’t be a bank open in five months after Roosevelt took office. I don’t know what these fellows figure the Democrats are going to do with the country.

You would think a lot of folks would have their passage booked to some foreign land til the next election when they could get these Democrats back among the unemployed. Why they were in for eight years here not so long ago, from 1912 to 1920. Course I was just a boy and can’t remember back that far, but I have heard my dear old dad say there was some mighty good times, including a war thrown in for good measure.

Personally I could never see much difference in the two “gangs.” They used to be divided by the tariff. The tariff was originally supposed to aid the man that manufactured things. Well, the Democrats of those days didn’t manufacture anything but arguments, so they were against the tariffs, but the south woke up one day and saw some spinning looms advertised in the Montgomery Ward menu card, so they sent and got some and started spinning their own cotton.

Well they had cheap water power, cheap coal, cheap labor, and the Yankees started moving their shops down from the north. Well the Democrats woke up on another morning with a tariff problem on their hands. The South had gone industrial in a big way. Well they started talking about a tariff in bigger words than the north, so now that the South had got ‘em some smokestacks where they only used to have some mule sheds, why they are just tariffing themselves to death. So that left the principal dividing line between the two parties shot to pieces. You can’t tell one from the other now. Course, the last few years under Mr. Coolidge and Mr. Hoover there had grown the old original idea of the Republican Party, that it was the party of the rich. And I think that was the biggest contributing part in their defeat.

I think the general run of folks had kinder got wise to that. In the old days, they could get away with it, but of late years, the rich had diminished till their voting power wasn’t enough to keep a minority vote going. This last election was a revulsion of feeling that went back a long way ahead of the hard times. Mr. Hoover reaped the benefit of the arrogance of the party when it was going strong.

Why, after that ’28 election, there was no holding ‘em. They really did think they had “hard times” cornered once and for all. Merger on top of merger. Get two nonpaying things merged and then issue more stock to the public. Consolidations and holding companies! Those are the “inventions” that every voter that had bought during the “cuckoo” days was gunning for at this last election.

This sounds so much like the derivatives market that led to the 2007-2008 collapse that it gives me shivers. ~@kegill

Saying that all the big vote was just against hard times is not all so. They were voting against not being advised that all those foreign loans was not too solid. They were voting because they had never been told or warned to the contrary that every big consolidation might not be just the best investment. You know the people kinder look on our government to tell ‘em and kinder advise ‘em. Many an old bird really got sore at Coolidge, but could only take it out on Hoover. Big business sure got big, but it got big by selling its stocks and not by selling its products. No scheme was halted by the government as long as somebody would buy the stock. It could have been a plan to deepen the Atlantic Ocean and it would have had the endorsement of the proper department in Washington, and the stocks would’ve gone on the market.

This sounds so much like mortgage trickery that led to underwater loans that it gives me shivers. ~@kegill

This election was lost four and six years ago, not this year. They didn’t start thinking of the old common fellow till just as they started out on the election tour. The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover was an engineer. He knew that water trickles down. Put it uphill and let it go and it will reach the driest little spot. But he didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellows hands. They saved the big banks, but the little ones went up the flue.

Another echo of the “Great Recession” — saving the financial giants that got us into the mess. ~@kegill

No sir, the little fellow felt that he never had a chance, and he didn’t till Nov. 3, and did he grab it? The whole idea of government relief for the last few years has been to loan somebody more money, so they can go further in debt. It ain’t much relief to just transfer your debts from one party to another, adding a little more in the bargain. No, I believe the “boys” from all they had and hadn’t done had this coming to ‘em.

Google newspaper archive

Screen capture of Google Newspaper archive; image is linked to the archive.

The post Will Rogers on “trickle up” economics appeared first on WiredPen.

January 28 2015


#noDaddy : GoDaddy SuperBowl ads give crass a bad name

Just six days before the 49th SuperBowl, GoDaddy revealed its heavily teased “puppy ad” in an exclusive on the NBC Today Show. (An “ad” on a “news” show means free advertising. Well played, GoDaddy.)

The response was immediate and negative.

Initial protests focused on the need to adopt pets from shelters and the horrors of puppy mills. Reputable breeders do not sell online.

Although CEO Blake Irving announced on Twitter that the company would pull the ad, the website’s news release section hasn’t caught on. It’s on the blog; good luck finding it from the home page.

GoDaddy news releases

Nothing about pulling the commercial in news releases; midnight Pacific.

But at least one analyst smells a rat.

So maybe GoDaddy felt an ad about an ill-treated puppy simply wouldn’t cut the mustard. Or maybe – just maybe – it’s maximizing a media that has fully embraced positing and airing Super Bowl ad teasers as newsworthy, rather than what the acts really are – pretenses for free publicity. If this is indeed a childish ploy, it shouldn’t necessarily be rewarded with attention or applause.

My initial horror was different.

It centered on the content of the ad.

  • Putting dogs in the back of a truck so that they will slide around is not humane or safe. And in my state (and a handful of others), it’s illegal. As it is in California, where the commercial was shot.
  • If a puppy were to be tossed out the back of a truck like Buddy was in the commercial, the puppy would likely be hurt.
  • The woman representing GoDaddy’s small business customer sold Buddy when she didn’t know where he was! (“I’m so glad you made it home. Because I just sold you on this website I built with GoDaddy.”) Can we say “unethical” and “breeder without a conscience”?

Moreover, according to GoDaddy statements, the company reached out through digital social networks to find a name for the puppy.

But Buddy is the name of the puppy in the 2014 Budweiser SuperBowl commercial. That ad also featured rural life, a puppy returning “home” and a good ole farming stereotype, the red barn. Plus, Budweiser is featuring a puppy again in 2015.

There are no coincidences.

Where is their advertising agency, Barton F. Graf 9000 (@BartonFGraf9000)? That account exec and creative team should be getting a virtual tongue lashing every bit as robust as that directed at GoDaddy.


Their last tweet, made Tuesday morning, was a retweet.


The Barton F. Graf 9000 Twitter account (GoDaddy ad agency) is marked by a cone of silence.

Enter the competitors


Nothing new, move along.

I was stunned at how media framed this company’s history of demeaning advertisements. I shouldn’t be — it means that their PR folks did a damn good job of getting “reporters” to regurgitate corporate talking points.

Go Daddy pokes fun at cheesy-but-adorable commercials featuring puppies – you know, like those Budweiser ads. ~

Pokes fun? Dear Ms. Grossman: satire and parody are hard. This ain’t it.

Previously known for its risqué spots involving women in various stages of comic undress, the domain name registration company has had a change of approach lately. ~ Ben Popken, Today.com

Comic undress? What’s funny about scantily clad women prancing about in a 30-second commercial?

GoDaddy has developed a reputation for Super Bowl commercials that toe the line for what is and what isn’t politically correct. ~ Adam Stites, SBNation.com

Politically correct? The ads have historically been demeaning to women. That’s not politically correct. It’s sexist.

GoDaddy has a history of tasteless SuperBowl commercials. From Business Insider in 2012:

GoDaddy — which prides itself in being sexy, edgy, and an inch away from crossing the line — has bought a Super Bowl spot every year since 2005… In 2006, ABC rejected GoDaddy’s commercials 13 times before approving one.

The company’s first SuperBowl commercial that ran in 2005 “spoofed” the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” of the prior year’s game. See a sampling from the intervening eight years.

Some people – and organizations – show maturity after a 10-year period.

And some don’t.


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January 26 2015


How to: make great reference citations when editing Wikipedia

I don’t edit (or create) Wikipedia articles every day, so I never remember the syntax for writing a great reference citation. Not “how to cite a Wikipedia article” but “how to cite your source in a Wikipedia article”.

So I’m making a cheat sheet that, maybe, I’ll be able to find easily. If it helps someone else, all the better!

Special tags required

Since Wiki code is, umm, in many ways opaque, we need a cheatsheet.

For your citation to appear in Wikipedia article footnotes, it must be enclosed in “ref” tags. In addition, we need a section named “Notes” or “References” near the end of the page, and it has to include a special bit of code.


Best practice for your references is to include as much information as possible in order for someone to follow your research tracks. This should have been S.O.P. when you were writing papers in college or high school. And guess what, there’s a template for that!

Create a citation for a web-based resource

We are creating a footnote, not a classic hyperlink. (Although the footnote is hyperlinked to the citation.)

There are several types of “web” resources, such as a web page, a formal news organization article, or a journal article. The format for the citation is similar. The primary difference in formatting between these examples is that “newspaper” will be italicized and “publisher” will not be.

1. News article, whether media organization, magazine, journal or periodical

{{cite news
 | last =
 | first =
 | author-link =
 | last2 =
 | first2 =
 | author2-link =
 | title =
 | newspaper =
 | pages =
 | year =
 | date =
 | url =
 | archiveurl =
 | archivedate =
 | accessdate = 

Here’s an example of a news citation. If you think you might use a source more than once, give the reference a name:

  1.  Nicks, Denver (23 January 2015). “Activist Defiant After Sentencing Over Stratfor Hacking”. TIME. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
<ref name="timeBrown">
{{cite news
 | last = Nicks
 | first = Denver
 | title =  Activist Defiant After Sentencing Over Stratfor Hacking
 | newspaper = TIME 
 | date = 23 January 2015
 | url=http://time.com/3680594/barrett-brown-sentencing/
 | accessdate = 25 January 2015

Second (or third or fourth) uses of this reference, in the same article, would look like this:

<ref name="timeBrown" />

2. Web page, such as on an organization website

{{cite web
 | last =
 | first =
 | authorlink =
 | last2 =
 | first2 =
 | author2link =
 | title =
 | publisher =
 | date =
 | year =
 | url =
 | accessdate = 

Here’s an example of a web citation:

  1. “CAIL Board of Trustees”. The Center for American and International Law (CAIL). Retrieved Jan 25, 2015.
{{cite web
 | title = CAIL Board of Trustees
 | publisher = The Center for American and International Law (CAIL)
 | url = http://www.cailaw.org/About-the-Center/Board-of-Trustees/index.html
 | accessdate = Jan 25, 2015

See Wikipedia help pages for more examples.

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January 17 2015


Go #hawks! Seattle has a new #12thMan!

Seattle is going a little bit crazy in preparation for Sunday’s playoff game, where the Seahawks play the Green Bay Packers!

2015-01-16 13.50.33-2

Even the veggies (at least the scallions) are in the game! Taken at PCC Markets, Green Lake, Seattle. Image copyright KE Gill.

Go Hawks! #12thMan!

Shot with iPhone6 and processed with Camera+.

The post Go #hawks! Seattle has a new #12thMan! appeared first on WiredPen.

January 14 2015


What do the most popular news stories for 2014 say about us?

There were some awfully big news stories in 2014: Cuba, Ebola, Ferguson, ISIS, Malaysian Airlines, mid-term U.S. elections, Russia/Ukraine/Crimea, Sony/Korea, and the Winter Olympics. We landed a robot on a comet. High profile celebrities died (Philip Hoffman, Joan Rivers, Robin Williams).

So what can we learn from this New York Times list of most visited digital content? Where the top five stories have nothing to do with world events or even strife but are, instead, classic human interest stories?

  1. Forty portraits in forty years (Oct 13, 2014)
  2. An open letter from Dylan Farrow (Feb 1, 2014)
  3. How y’all, youse and you guys talk (Dec 21, 2013)
  4. Philip Seymore Hoffman, actor of depth, dies at 46 (Feb 2, 2014)
  5. The 52 places to go in 2014 (Jan 10, 2014)
most popular NYTimes content

The most popular digital stories on the NY Times site, 2014

First, there’s a clear difference between major events and features

In the blog post announcing the list, the New York Times notes that it offered extensive coverage of major stories like the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and the Ebola outbreak fears in the U.S.

But the “big news” story is the exception in this list; the most read stories are human interest 0r explainers.

There are only five stories that I would classify as a traditional “news” story — something extraordinary, breaking news: two celebrity deaths, one suicide bomber death, a local doctor diagnosed with Ebola, and results of the Michael Brown autopsy. There are two explainers: Ebola and Ukraine.

Everything else (13 stories) is, in one form or another, entertainment.

If ever there was an illustration of the importance of “soft news and entertainment” as a subsidy vehicle for “hard news” this might be it. Ditto our need and appreciation for “explainers” — stories that put today’s news or ongoing stories into context. (Note: this is my largest and most persistent heartache with journalism in the age of digital content/linkages and unconstrained — for the publisher — time/space.)

Second, the gulf between “most clicks” and analyses of what is “most talked about” is enormous

There are many ways to peak inside Internet conversations to see what people are interested in. Twitter, Facebook and Google provide a perspective that is very different from the NY Times.

No top-10 list from Twitter. Instead, scroll through a by-the-month infographic that shows relative importance of a story or hashtag by its bubble size.

Twitter moments Feb 2014

Snapshot of February 2014 in Twitter moments

This list of important moments on Twitter is, like the infographic, arranged in chronological order; it is based on my interpretation of bubble sizes and is not intended to be definitive. Data are from the Twitter blog post announcement.

There’s a mix news and entertainment, of domestic and global. But the most retweeted tweet? That would be entertainment (not without controversy):


The entire timeline is worth exploring but you can also explore only news and politics.

Over on Facebook, the FIFA World Cup was number one, driving “more conversation than any other event in Facebook history.” Conversation not defined in the report.

  1. FIFA World Cup
  2. Ebola outbreak
  3. Elections in Brazil
  4. Robin Williams
  5. Ice bucket challenge
  6. Conflict in Gaza
  7. Malaysia Airlines
  8. Super Bowl
  9. Michael Brown/Ferguson
  10. Sochi (Winter) Olympics

On Google, our number one search for the year was “Robin Williams.” Our top “news” search was Ebola.

Google trends 2014

Google search and news trends for 2014

This compare-search-terms trend analysis from Google suggests how difficult trends can be to tease out of millions – billions – of searches.

Google search term comparison

Google search term comparison shows the complexity of teasing out trends

I’ve added a more general search term to the very specific (mh370 lost/found) terms Google linked to in its year-end countdown. Important note: the methodology used to create all of these lists is opaque.

Echelon Insights, a consulting group led by two GOP strategists, produced this chart of Twitter conversations for 2014 (pdf). The landscape looks very different, contextually, from the NY Times page-view data.

In part, that’s because this is an insight into the psyche of a sub-set of people who use Twitter.

For this sub-set of Twitter accounts, Echelon said, “the intertwined cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner” was the top story of the year. Note that the data are from 185 million tweets; Twitter reports there are 500 million tweets per day. So this analysis is based on less than 50% of the tweets made on one day.

This is not “what America talked about” on Twitter in 2014. But it is an interesting analysis of what politically-minded people talked about.

Twitter news topics for 2014

Twitter news topics for 2014, per Echelon Insights


A bit about their methodology, which makes clear that they are looking at a subset of Twitter accounts:

Through a process we call Optimized Listening, we build highly tailored lists of Twitter accounts and listen to all their public tweets, rating each group’s relative interest in different news stories, cultural trends, or political leaders. To analyze the year in news, we started with political insiders (a Beltway-centric list of influencers), and highly-followed conservative and liberal activists.

Take-aways for news organizations

First, take year-end reports like these with a grain of salt. It’s practically impossible to compare reports directly, because the platforms have different customer bases and we don’t know how they developed their lists.

Second, move your business focus from individual articles to The Story. That’s what you’ll see in the FB/Google/Twitter analyses. We care about the big stories even if we don’t read (or watch) each and every one.

Third, take a page from the pre-Internet magazine world: provide in-depth features that put today’s headlines in context. And figure out how to do that by telling a human-centered — not ideas or data — story.



The post What do the most popular news stories for 2014 say about us? appeared first on WiredPen.

January 09 2015


A (new) manifesto for the 26-year-old WWW


Cartoon from Geek and Poke

I remember when the Cluetrain Manifesto hit the ‘net. That would have been 1999.

As I read their 95 Theses (not to be confused with a predecessor set), I remember thinking “yeah” and “hell, yeah”. A lot. Their criticisms of marketing, business and mainstream media resonated, even though I did not think of myself as a geek nor did I live in the Silicon Valley bubble.

I immediately integrated it into the classes I teach, where it would remain for much of the next decade.

This week, two of the authors updated Cluetrain.

There are 121 new clues. Not a moment too soon.

In 1999, the World Wide Web was only 10 years old. Authors Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger hit a nerve with Cluetrain, which anticipated the disruption of the 20th century broadcast communication model.

It’s 16 years later, and as Doc and David point out in the new clues, some things haven’t changed.

Others, like privacy and intellectual property (aka copyright), are elevated in importance.

David explains why they revisited Cluetrain:

What seemed inevitable 15 years ago now is at risk. So Doc and I thought it was time for a re-assessment…

Doc chimes in:

We watched clueless old companies (publishers, retailers, you-name-it) and new ones get the Net wrong — in large measure because it got people wrong, and how the Net was comprised of people more than technology.

Glancing over our shoulders

A flurry of reviews and commentary marked the 10-year anniversary milestone.

Here’s one:

Is there much more to say other than Be Approachable and Be Personal? Not really, except in Locke and Weinberger’s own 12-step program for internet business success: Relax, Have a sense of humor, Find your voice and use it, Tell the truth, Don’t panic, Enjoy yourself, Be brave, Be curious, Play more, Dream always, Listen up, and Rap on.

Journalist Keith McArthur celebrated that 10 year anniversary by wrangling 95 bloggers to make 95 posts on the 95 theses in April 2009.

And a few years later, here’s another:

There are far too many companies in 2013 who still haven’t learned the lessons these authors were shouting from the rooftops in 1999. There are too many companies mistakenly believing they can and do control communications about their company, products and services. There are too many refusing to acknowledge – much less participate in – the marketplace conversations. There are still company-erected barriers keeping employees from participating (at least officially) in the public conversations. Walled forts around many businesses seem to do all they can to keep the customer out of the daily workflow and at a safe distance, harming relationships rather than doing the things that would develop relationships and goodwill.

Some criticized the original Cluetrain as religious/crazy in outlook or tone and others found polarizing. For example, here’s PC Magazine’s John Dvorak in 2002:

The book is written by a cast of characters who were apparently caught up in the dot-com scene at its peak, and they managed to capture in one book almost all of the lunatic fringe dingbat thinking that characterized the Internet boom…

I’m betting that most of these folks go to Burning Man and all of them write blogs about it and how cool it was. They link to each others’ blogs and read what they say about each other—all highly complimentary…

I don’t get it.

Despite Dvorak’s dismissal, many (most?) of those “hippy-dippy assertions” have stood the test of time.

Today we routinely talk about digital social environments — the digital marketplace — being “conversations”. That metaphor comes directly from Cluetrain’s first thesis:

1. Markets are conversations.

Me, I’m looking forward to the conversation about this new set of 121 theses.


Geek and Poke, 2008, wordle header image of the #newClues created without Internet, Net and Web

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December 25 2014


Tip: can’t log in to PayPal from iPad /iPhone apps

After going through a 360 process at least three times while trying to use PayPal to pay for Christmas movie tickets in Fandango … I gave up and started trying to find a solution using Google.

Read on to see how to enable PayPal payments on Fandango, if you’re having problems.

1. Log in to PayPal on your computer

With the new interface, click the cog in the upper right and navigate to settings.

PayPal - settings

2. Go to security settings

Go to security settings, then select edit your security key.
PayPal settings - security

3. Deactivate your mobile phone

And any other security keys you might have enabled.

4. Log in to PayPal on your device

You should be able to use your normal email/password combo.

5. Quit the application, then re-open

Shaking up the electrons, so to speak.

6. Create a PIN using the mobile app

It is possible that had I stopped here both the PayPal app and the Fandango app would have worked. However, I continued to step 7.

7. Go back to the PayPal website on your computer and re-activate your phone as a security key.


This worked, in the context of using PayPal as the payment method in Fandango.


I cannot log in to the PayPal app on my iPhone5 in iOS8.

PayPal app fail

So, this solution made it possible to use Fandango to buy movie tickets but killed my ability to use the PayPal app. Since I don’t use the PayPal app, I’ll consider this a minor inconvenience.

If you find a solution that doesn’t hobble the PayPal app, please respond in comments!


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December 24 2014


The importance of feedback in web applications, a case study

How to make subscription activation a pain (feedback is AWOL)

When we engage with a web application, the interaction is something like a conversation.

A click is not unlike asking a conversational partner a question. We expect confirmation that the listener heard the question (a head nod, a verbal cue) and some sort of answer. Even if the answer is “I don’t know.”

This leads to a key heuristic for web (and mobile) design: making system status visible. That’s a fancy/engineering way of saying that applications need to provide feedback, to respond after we, figuratively, ask a question.

heuristic - web application status

Jakob Nielsen (1995):
“The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.”

Don Norman Design of Everyday Things

Don Norman (1988):
Does the application let us know what is happening via appropriate feedback?

The web application in this case study violates both concepts.

Seattle Times subscriber account creation

I recently subscribed to the paper/online Seattle Times. The paper sent me an email reminding me to activate the online subscription.

Seattle Times subscriber email

It’s been a while since I had a print subscription, but I’ve had an online account (for commenting) for a long, long time. I used the same email to subscribe that I had been using for commenting.

It wasn’t clear from the email what “activation” meant, but the link led to a page with two options:  “log in” or “activate account”.

Seattle Times activate subscription

The “activate your account” link leads here.

Since I was activating an subscription, I started on the right. But when I tried to create an account using the email associated with my subscription, I was informed that the email was in use.

Seattle Times activate account

Seattle Times activate account - error message

The “activate your account” email did not acknowledge that I already have an account with this email address at the Seattle Times. Neither does the landing page.

And yet the two databases appear to be linked.

Given that linkage, the activation landing page could have pre-populated my email address and prompted for password.

If using a different email with the account is an important feature, how might subscriber services have provided an option for using a different email address? Here’s one (although I believe that a change like this should be managed after activation):

Alternative subscriber activation

This is one way that the activation application could be more friendly.

After logging in, I was greeted by this confusing set of options:

Seattle Times activation screen

Why is activation a two-step process? Why would non-subscribers be able to see this page?

I had clicked a link titled “Activate my account” to get to this screen.

After clicking that link, I should have been greeted by a “success” or “thank you” or “we need more information” message. Not an warning complete with yet-another-activate-link! Moreover, how in the world could a non-subscriber reach an activation page?

After I clicked this second “Activate” link, more hoops. Note, if activation is a multi-step process, this should have been the screen that greeted me after my first “Activate account” click.

Seattle Times activate step three

Given that this a  multi-step process, it would be helpful to add that information to each step. Think Amazon checkout.

Possible multi-step information

Provide information about multi-step processes; there are three steps in the Seattle Times process

Next, missing feedback

I provided subscription details in the above screen, which led to this confirmation summary.

Seattle Times subscriber activation

No matter how many times I clicked “finish,” nothing else happened. Browser and operating system: Chrome Version 41.0.2251.0 dev (64-bit) / Mac OS 10.9.4

It’s at this point that the application stopped talking to me.

I clicked “Finish” and nothing happened. Well, I could see bits were being exchanged, but the page status didn’t change.

I clicked again. Nothing.



Am I finished, ie, is my subscription activated?

I can’t tell because system feedback has ceased. The page (system status) is unchanged.

Key take-away

This is not unlike having someone hang up in the middle of a telephone (or IM or text) conversation.

It’s critical that web (and mobile) applications finish the conversation!

When customers are left hanging, like I was, we don’t know whether or not we have been successful. It’s the application’s responsibility (ie, the web devs, PMs and so on) to complete the conversation.

It is possible that this is “the end” — that I have successfully activated my subscription.

But it’s also possible that the application doesn’t like my browser. Or that the backend was busy. Or something. In any of those cases, the application should have told me that it was having problems.

But by its remaining silent (the page remaining unchanged), I just can’t tell.



The system had not activated my account.

I started over with Safari. This time instead of remaining “silent”, that “Finish” click led to this:

Seattle Times activate subscription success



Cross-posted from UX Notes @ kegill.com

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December 16 2014


Latest Twitter self-destruct: #PhillipWhite, San Jose cop

Veteran police officer Phillip White may have tweeted himself out of a job.

Buzzfeed reported on Sunday that White was making threatening comments on his Twitter account.

His account settings were soon set to private; the account has now been deleted.

Phillip White, Twitter account

San Jose police officer Phillip White, Saturday, December 13, 2014


On Monday, the San Jose Police Department placed him on administrative leave. According to the San Jose Mercury News, department policy is that police officer posts in social media should not reflect “conduct unbecoming of an officer.”

However, these latest tweets reflect a pattern of discourse unbecoming to a police officer such as jeering at protestors, including basketball players from the University of California, Berkley. After Buzzfeed’s story, White lost his job as a part-time basketball coach (reflected by his Twitter handle) at Menlo College.

phillip white Twitter account

phillip white Twitter account

Phillip White Menlo College Facebook


White appears to have also lost support of his union, the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, based upon a statement that did not mention him by name:

Offensive, disrespectful and inappropriate social media comments have no place in the public discourse surrounding the tragic loss of life from recent officer involved incidents. We condemn these comments. What the San Jose Police Officers’ Association will remain focused on is continuing to foster a positive dialogue and positive relationships with the community we are sworn to protect and serve.

There is a petition at Change.org calling for his dismissal from the San Jose Police Department. It currently has more than 12 thousand signatories.

First Amendment and public threats

In addition to asserting a right to kill if threatened, White twisted the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to #CopsLivesMatter.

Threaten me or my family and I will use my God given and law appointed right and duty to kill you. #CopsLivesMatter
~ Phillip White, @Coach_White3431

White’s tweets are not a First Amendment issue per se: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech …” However, in June the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving threats on Facebook (Elonis v. United States):

Courts have used two approaches in dealing with threats. One requires police and prosecutors to show that the person making the threat genuinely intended harm. The other – and one used more often in recent years – is whether “a reasonable person” would be put in genuine fear for their safety or their life… Are such posts – not specifically sent to a person, who may be named – enough to support a “reasonable person” standard? (emphasis added)

Earlier this month, the justices argued over the legal standards that could determine “when a rant goes from being offensive to being threatening.”

By the way if anyone feels they can’t breathe or their lives matter I’ll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun.
~ Phillip White, @Coach_White3431

Based on recent events (Mike Brown and Eric Garner), the tweets that White posted Saturday imply a threat to black people. In that context, especially since White is a police officer, could these tweets be considered hate speech,speech directed at a historically oppressed religious or racial minority with the intent to insult and demean“?

Even if you think the answer to that question is “yes,” the First Amendment “prohibits government from regulating such speech altogether… just because speech offends people, this is never a justification under the First Amendment for punishing it (@NahmodLaw).”

And yet.

How can anyone “protect and serve” a community that they have denigrated publicly? And why should that community trust the speaker?

The 60s may be a half-century behind us, but many of issues raised then remain with us today. And digital social networks like Twitter can highlight and counter archaic attitudes, even as they provide a forum for them to be expressed.

Update: 2:45 pm Tuesday, December 16

In response to discussion on Facebook, I checked the California law (pdf) on carrying loaded firearms in public. Open carry is illegal. However:

Peace officers and honorably retired peace officers having properly endorsed identification certificates may carry a concealed weapon at any time.

I’ve not seen any news report address this point.

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Myth-busting: a tale of two shooters

When I saw that the Montgomery County Pennsylvania shootings were trending in Australia, I discovered a tweet that sent me down a content analysis trail. In that exploration, I spent more time on “television” news sites in a day than I normally do in a month!

From Storify:

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December 15 2014


Which president was the first to appear on a comedy show?

When President Barack Obama appeared on The Colbert Report last week — as part of the countdown to the show’s being shuttered on December 18 — some groused that he shouldn’t have.

Certainly, Obama has set a record when it comes to connecting with popular culture through niche television shows.

But who was the first president to appear on a comedy show? (Hint: it was a Republican.) The first to appear on cable entertainment? (Hint: it was a Democrat. Both were candidates for the office at the time.)

For the answers to these questions — as well as which president was the first to broadcast a press conference from the White House and who was the first to record campaign speeches for the masses — kegill/politicians-campaigns-and-popular-culture-a2727588bfe6">check out my story at Medium:

kegill/politicians-campaigns-and-popular-culture-a2727588bfe6">Politicians, campaigns and popular culture

The mass media journey from wax recordings to The Colbert Report leads directly to our internal conflict over governance.

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November 17 2014


Tilting at windmills: cite your sources!

Today’s Don Quixote post: credit your sources, please.

A long time ago, most of us had at least one class (probably English) where our teachers tried to instill in us a respect for the ideas of others. One way to illustrate that respect: cite those ideas, provide a list of sources. (Failure to do so, you might remember, could result in charges of plagiarism.)

 If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. ~Isaac Newton 

Tilting at windmills
It is so damn easy to share digital content today. We need to cite sources not just because we might be building on someone else’s ideas.

We need to cite sources so that others can trace the path back to the original source and/or so that the original source can get the credit she deserves and/or so that we don’t find ourselves enticing our friends to share items that Snopes has discredited.

Citations are far easier for the web than when we had to use APA style or MLA style.

All you need to do is share the URL — the link — where you found/saw the item: a photo, a news clip, a video, a quote …

It’s nice to share more information (see guidelines for citing sources in Wikipedia articles) in the event that the site goes tits up or the publisher reorganizes the site and breaks all the links.  Helpful information includes the date you shared the item — which, if you are sharing on Facebook or Twitter, is part of the shared item — and the date it was published.

But really, just sharing the source URL would be a huge step in the right direction.

Why this message today?

My cardinal rule on sharing is this:

 If something seems too good (or too bad) to be true, check before sharing!

That’s because folks count on an emotional response to get us to share their content. Trigger a knee-jerk reaction, not a reasoned one.

I broke my own cardinal rule this morning.

I know better than share image from “celebrities” and I’ve been burned by sharing stuff from George Takei before. In other words, I know better.

But the message jibed with my (obviously) low opinion of Wal-Mart. So I clicked that share button, despite having a whisper of doubt: I double-checked the spelling of Hanukkah. (Why would Wal-Mart, of all places, spell it Chanukah?)

Chanukah Photo Is Not Wal-Mart

Chanukah Photo Is Not From Wal-Mart

Facebook posters (agitprop)

This isn’t the only Facebook post from the weekend where sourcing would be useful.

Facebook: Don Blankenship Indicted

Facebook: Don Blankenship Indicted

Kudos: Rainforest Action Network links to the AP story that is the basis for the text on their agitprop poster (the FB photo).

But no where do they tell us where they lifted the photo of Don Blankenship.

It’s not on their own Flickr stream; perhaps that image of Blankenship isn’t sufficiently disdainful.

It’s not the photo accompanying the AP story; that’s a different Alex Wong photo (Getty) from 20 May 2010 Senate hearings.

It looks a lot like this Andrew Harrer photo (Bloomberg/Getty) from the same hearing. But it appears to be lifted from this 2011 Rolling Stone article or this April HuffPo article; both feature the same Alex Wong photo (Getty).

Is the agitprop poster fair use of a copyrighted photo from 2010? Maybe. I don’t know; IANAL.

But I think it is “fair” for readers to know that a photo taken 20 May 2010 is being using to illustrate an indictment that happened on 13 November 2014.

So the next time you create content to share with your digital social networks, also give us the original source.

That link will go a long way towards creating a “paper trail” as well as a “credit trail.”

Header image: fair use of Picasso b/w print, which hangs on my wall; visit the Picasso Museum in Barcelona.

The post Tilting at windmills: cite your sources! appeared first on WiredPen.

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