Thursday, April 15, 2010

Open Access & The Pulitzer Prize

The awarding of the Pulitzer Prizes to a a cartoonist for, the online arm of the San Francisco Chronicle, and an investigative journalist at ProPublica are in many ways a paradigm shift in the literary, publishing, and the age of the internet. Their award is historical as it's the only time an online-only publication has won such a prestigious award for editorial content.

An independent journalism outlet that syndicates content to various traditional news organizations but itself operates solely on the Internet, ProPublica specializes on investigative reporting who had won the award along with the Philadelphia Daily News. Competing against multi-million dollar New York Times, ProPublica still managed to win. A non-profit organization, it offers a resource for struggling news organizations that can't afford to focus human resources on investigative reporting.

In the other award, Mark Fiore won the award for his editorial cartoon work, a series of web videos on Competing against the likes of established The Philidelphia Inquirer and Politico, this is a huge feat. Although it has only been two years since the Pulitzer Prize board first began permitting online-only publications, ProPublica and SFGate's achievements have significant implications in both the publishing and literary world.

Of course, with the ubiquitous availability of Internet access, it has become commonplace for academics to publish a scholarly article and have it instantly accessible anywhere in the world where there are computers and Internet connections. The possibilities of open access comes at a time when the traditional, print-based scholarly journals system is in crisis, as the cost of publishing can no longer match the demand of subscribers. As the number of journals and articles produced has been increasing at a steady rate, the average cost per journal has been rising at a rate far above inflation.

As a result, this all indicates that the web has become the great equalizer for publishers and writers. Until recent time, both academics and publishers have been skeptical about the quality and legitimacy of web publications. Perhaps the latest winners of the Pulitzer Prize by two creators of online content is an indication that open access is slowly making its way into the public consciousness.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Gladwell on Social Media

In a surprising splash of cold water, Malcolm Gladwell dispelled the anticipation and excitement of social media enthusiasts at the F5 Expo in Vancouver, BC. As a conference that converges interactive exhibits, peer idea-collaboration amongst fellow entrepreneurs and executives, and "edge-of-your-seat conferences into one explosive day," on topics such as mobile apps, search marketing, business blogs/webinars, social media, and web 2.0 . . . Gladwell came, and Gladwell left, with a debris of ideas for us to take home.

Gladwell took to the stage at a Vancouver conference on online technologies Wednesday to dismiss the opinion that social media will change our society. He believes that trust -- or the lack of it -- is the main reason why the social web offers weak connections rather than strong. While the Internet offers anonymity and a broad reach, it fails to deliver trust.

Intriguingly, he thinks social media is still in its experimental phase. For someone as observant and bright as Gladwell is, he certainly makes a good point. In the brief history of the internet, it builds something up up only for it to be toppled later. Perhaps Facebook is just a flavour of the month. The web is not a world that respects loyalties and longevity. . . Will Twitter?