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About The Authors

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK’s best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and yes, she’s married to Kevin.

Email Suw

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a freelance journalist and digital strategist with more than a decade of experience with the BBC and the Guardian. He has been a digital journalist since 1996 with experience in radio, television, print and the web. As a journalist, he uses blogs, social networks, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technology to break news, to engage with audiences and tell the story behind the headlines in multiple media and on multiple platforms.

From 2009-2010, he was the digital research editor at The Guardian where he focused on evaluating and adapting digital innovations to support The Guardian’s world-class journalism. He joined The Guardian in September 2006 as their first blogs editor after 8 years with the BBC working across the web, television and radio. He joined the BBC in 1998 to become their first online journalist outside of the UK, working as the Washington correspondent for BBCNews.com.

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

E-mail Kevin.

Member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup
Dark Blogs Case Study

Case Study 01 - A European Pharmaceutical Group

Find out how a large pharma company uses dark blogs (behind the firewall) to gather and disseminate competitive intelligence material.


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All content © Kevin Anderson and/or Suw Charman

Interview series:
at the FASTforward blog. Amongst them: John Hagel, David Weinberger, JP Rangaswami, Don Tapscott, and many more!

Corante Blog

Monday, November 30th, 2009

links for 2009-11-30

Posted by Suw and Kevin

Strange Attractor has now permanently moved to charman-anderson.com. Please pop over to http://charman-anderson.com/2009/11/30/links-for-2009-11-30/ to read the original version of this post and comment on it. Thank you!

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

End the culture wars in journalism (wishful thinking)

Posted by Suw and Kevin

Strange Attractor has now permanently moved to charman-anderson.com. Please pop over to http://charman-anderson.com/2009/11/23/end-the-culture-wars-in-journalism-wishful-thinking/ to read the original version of this post and comment on it. Thank you!

Cuts at the Washington Post, primarily on the web and multimedia side according to the Politico, have brought into public a discussion that usually happens in newsrooms and mostly after hours amongst journalists. It has also exposed the depth of the division between digital and print journalists that has existed to varying degrees for most of my career.

Matthew Ingram, blogger and communities editor at The Globe and Mail in Toronto, discusses some of the specific issues at the Washington Post, but he is right in pointing out that the web-versus-print culture clash is anything but isolated to the Post:

(This kind of us-vs-them animosity) may have been amplified at the Post by the company’s physical and corporate structure (and there has been speculation that Web staff were let go because otherwise they would have had to be unionized), but you can bet this same battle is going on at virtually every major newspaper in North America. Why? Because they are caught between two worlds.

This isn’t isolated to North America. I’ve seen it across Europe, Australia and the parts of Asia I’ve visited.

To see this animosity in its full froth, just check out the comments on the report on the cuts at Washington indy, The City Paper. A commenter only identified as Sideshow Mel says:

For many years, The Post’s website was doing nothing more than posting the print articles, and hosting some online chats. But the web operation has this huge, spacious office to place things on the Internet, while the much-despised MSM reporters and editors were crammed together into an old, crappy space while actually doing the business of obtaining information and writing it. “the most productive and innovative employees,” don’t make me piss my pants. …

Jim Brady, former executive editor of WashingtonPost.com, does not truck with such comments, writing:

It’s the attitude of Stone Age commenters like these that still pervades far too many print newsrooms. Instead of attempting to adapt to what is clearly a digital future, they complain about the world collapsing around them, yet demean anyone who tries to do anything differently.

As he points out, Travis Fox, who won the first national Emmy for video journalism on the web, and fellow award-winning video journalist Pierre Kattar are reportedly two of those cut. On Twitter, Jim and Ken Sands, the executive editor for innovation at Congressional Quarterly, had a exchange that is another indication of how digital editors feel about this conflict.

jimbradysp: The most frustrating thing is that Web staffers go to work at newspapers b/c they want to help them find the way to the future…

jimbradysp: And, yet, once there, they find themselves ridiculed and demeaned by those they’re trying to help. Too much insecurity, I guess.

kensands: @jimbradysp Yes, insecurity. Find fault with anything new (blogs, twitter, etc.) instead of looking for ways it might improve journalism.

Derek Willis, a database journalist and developer formerly at the Washington Post and now with the New York Times, adds details to the internal battle that broke out when he wanted to make the switch from the paper to the website. I met Derek in the spring of 2007 as he was trying to make the transition. I wasn’t aware of the challenges he was facing in making it (Derek’s emphasis, not mine):

In a very real way, my transition was held up – I (jokingly at first, and then angrily) referred to it as a filibuster or a senatorial hold – by a few people at the paper. These people, most of whom no longer occupy the positions they held then, are not stupid. They are among the smartest folks I’ve ever worked with, and I have a high regard for their journalistic abilities. But the thinking that caused the editor of the paper to become involved in whether a mid-level staffer moved to the website was, in essence, this: this is a bad idea, because it will hurt the paper. My ego might like to think that this was really true, but I think the reality is that these people could not compare the value of my work for the website to the paper because they did not understand what it is I wanted to do.

Read Derek’s post, especially if you believe yourself to be on the print side of this divide. Derek wishes that he had done more to bridge the divide between the paper and the website.

The dangers of this continued conflict

I’m highlighting this discussion because I know it’s not isolated to the Washington Post. A couple of years ago, I thought this discussion was dying out. Digital revenues were growing by double digits at many news organisations, although in real terms revenue from print still made up the bulk of the revenues. Despite a firmly entrenched belief amongst print journalists, the digital side of many news organisations were generating profits by the early part of this decade, although again, they were small relative to the profits from the print business. Sadly the Great Recession has re-opened the discussion and amplified professional divisions as job security has ended for print and digital journalists.

In 2005, I went to the Web+10 Conference at the Poynter Institute with my manager at the time, Steve Herrmann of the BBC News website. It was an honour to spend time with digital pioneers from the US and elsewhere. In 2005, these pioneers were already asking this question: How do we create digital businesses to support quality journalism? It’s worth reading Howard Finberg’s summary of the conference:

During the next 10 years, will the economic underpinnings of the current media business collapse? What business models will support quality journalism? Is the idealism and democratic value of journalism under duress?

This was early 2005 before the industry in the US entered its current crisis. Some of the best digital minds in the industry saw the coming collapse of the business model. We weren’t dancing on grave of print. We have the same goal as print advocates and most of us, being so close to the digital business, saw 2009 coming years ago. (Few of us probably foresaw the ferocity of this recession, although Dan Gillmor blogged often about the housing bubble and bemoaned the lack of coverage of it.)

We have to end this culture war and remember that we share a common goal. Suw and I see this in a lot of industries, not just journalism. People see digital strategies as mostly about technology, but often, the biggest obstacles are cultural and territorial. Change challenges existing empires (and emperors) in organisations. Organisations without a sense of shared vision will tear themselves apart as managers compete against each other for scarce resources rather than the real competition outside of their organisation. This is not to argue for change for the sake of change. But the world has changed and we have to adapt if we hope to have thriving journalism businesses in the future that support quality reporting.

What’s at stake? I agree with Steve Buttry when he says that the ‘web-first’ wars are in many ways fighting the last war. I thought we had put this web war behind us in journalism but if we continue to fight it, we will only increase the number of casualties.

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

links for 2009-11-28

Posted by Suw and Kevin

Strange Attractor has now permanently moved to charman-anderson.com. Please pop over to http://charman-anderson.com/2009/11/28/links-for-2009-11-28/ to read the original version of this post and comment on it. Thank you!

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Infoporn Friday

Posted by Suw and Kevin

Strange Attractor has now permanently moved to charman-anderson.com. Please pop over to http://charman-anderson.com/2009/11/27/infoporn-friday/ to read the original version of this post and comment on it. Thank you!

First up, David McCandless’ Billion Pound-O-Gram which very neatly allows us to compare how big various large sums of money are in relationship to each other:

billion pound-o-gram

Then there’s this Periodic Table of Visualization Methods. Mouseover each ‘element’ for an illustration of the method.

And finally, Pedro Cruz’s visualisation of the decline of the world’s four major maritime empires, which is just glorious. (Full-size version on Vimeo.)

Lovely, eh!

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Infoporn Friday

Posted by Suw and Kevin

Strange Attractor has now permanently moved to charman-anderson.com. Please pop over to http://charman-anderson.com/2009/11/27/infoporn-friday/ to read the original version of this post and comment on it. Thank you!400…

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Infoporn Friday

Posted by Suw and Kevin

Strange Attractor has now permanently moved to charman-anderson.com. Please pop over to http://charman-anderson.com/2009/11/27/infoporn-friday/ to read the original version of this post and comment on it. Thank you!250…

Friday, November 27th, 2009

links for 2009-11-27

Posted by Suw and Kevin

This entry was originally published at Strange Attractor

  • Kevin: Mike Butcher adds more detail on Microsoft's discussion with Rupert Murdoch's News International about 'de-indexing' their content from Google and being paid by Microsoft as an exclusive search provider on Bing. The most interesting tidbit: "Money talks, obviously, and we understand that the payments could be a) part in revenue share from advertising on Bing b) the inclusion of news partners in adverts for Bing. In other words, you’d start to see ads with “You’ll only find The Wall Street Journal on Bing.com” etc."
  • Kevin: Brian Stelter reports: "A consortium of magazine publishers including Time Inc. and Condé Nast plan to jointly build an online newsstand for publications in multiple digital formats, according to people with knowledge of the plans." It's a so-called iTunes of news. I wonder if this will follow the eMag model that Axel Springer is following in Germany with additional digital content beyond
  • Kevin: "William Lewis, Telegraph Media Group editor-in-chief and now MD of digital, has outlined the strategy behind the newly created division."
  • Kevin: Jay Rosen is compiling a list of sources of subsidy in the production of news. It's a brilliant list that looks in great and growing detail at revenue sources for news production. It is well work bookmarking and checking as Jay and others add to it.
  • Kevin: Investor and tech watcher Fred Wilson points a new technology from the developer of audioscrobbler, the technology underpinning last.fm. Richard Jones has now released a technology called Playdar. "Playdar is a "music content resolver" platform. You put the Playdar software on all the machines you have with music on them. And then Playdar makes it so that you can play your music via the web whenever and wherever you want."
    Open platforms and ecosystems are powerful and the music web needs more of them. I am excited to see where Playdar goes. I'll be following it closely and if you are into web music, you should too."
  • Kevin: An excellent post with some great data and analysis from Alison Gow, Executive Editor, digital, for the Liverpool Echo and Liverpool Daily Post. She takes newspaper to task for claims that 'nobody else scrutinises our public bodies'. She says that the average local newspaper isn't a regular visitor to magistrates courts in the UK. She is working with the Press Association to look at new models of producing local accountability journalism, and she has the numbers to prove it. She also answers the charge from a commenter that newspapers local council and courts coverage is dominated by recycled press releases. Not so. It's great to see this kind of blogging and research going on from within journalism. It's inspired me to do more of it.
  • Kevin: My colleague Patrick Smith, writing for PaidContent, has a brilliant post on economic models that work online. Offline models transfer imperfectly to the internet. It makes sense because geographical isolation and the natural monopolies they grant aren't in operation. Content is both plentiful and searchable, and the high capital distribution economics of broadcast and print media aren't in play.
    Patrick offers alternatives and makes a succinct but compelling case. Engagement, not just marketing to drive page views, and rewards for loyalty could address inadequacies in the existing digital models for news organisations.

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

links for 2009-11-24

Posted by Suw and Kevin

This entry was originally published at Strange Attractor

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Computer Weekly: The Social Enterprise

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

This entry was originally published at Strange Attractor

I’m excited to say that I have been asked to write on Computer Weekly’s Social Enterprise blog. I’ll be covering all aspects of social technology in business, whether behind the firewall or out there in the world wild web: tools, techniques, interviews with the people who make all this stuff happen and anything else I can think of.

Now that might sound an awful lot like what I do here on Strange Attractor, but I think what will happen is that I’ll end up talking about the other bits of social media here. So there’ll be more of a media and journalism focus here, more of an enterprise focus there.

I hope you’ll join me over on The Social Enterprise. Here’s the RSS.

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

A new home for Strange Attractor

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

After five years here at Corante, it’s time Strange Attractor got a bit of a makeover, which is why Kevin and I have decided to move the blog to a new home.

Our new RSS feeds are:
Suw’s RSS feed
Kevin’s RSS feed
Combined RSS feed

We will continue to cross-post here for the foreseeable future, but the comments, conversation and fun will happen over on charman-anderson.com.

Kev and I have both greatly enjoyed being here on Corante and would like to thank Hylton and the team for their support. But it’s time for the fledgling to fly the nest. We hope you’ll come with us.