Category Archives: Unexpected

Media shifting not just for the young

Merrill Brown and Carnegie Corporation’s new report “Abandoning the News,” about how 18-34 year olds are moving away from traditional sources of news, is getting some attention in digital media circles. Looking at my own news and entertainment media preferences (and, admittedly, as someone about a dozen years removed from the high end of the report’s target demographic), I think the report could go even further.

I’ve replaced watching live, unfiltered broadcast and cable television with TiVo — two TiVos, actually. I have a hard time imaging not being able to pause live TV, rewind to catch something I want to see again, or see a menu of shows, based on my preferences, ready to be viewed whenever I want. If there is a significant news story, I can replay a live feed. It is almost painful to watch raw TV in hotel rooms when I travel.

I’ve replaced broadcast radio with XM Satellite Radio. Continue reading Media shifting not just for the young

‘Tis the season

We are entering that time of year, that marvelous season, the season that frequent travelers dread. Not the holiday season. Amateur season.

The hallmark of amateur season is travelers who fly only once a year, and only during the summer or over the holidays (Santa Claus excepted, of course). You can spot the amateurs a concourse away: No idea where their driver’s license is when they get to the security checkpoint. No idea where their boarding pass is. Expressions of childlike wonderment when the TSA asks them simple questions, such as, “Did you realize hunting knives aren’t allowed in carry-on luggage?”

And yes, as a frequent business traveler, I’ve seen all of the above. Continue reading ‘Tis the season

When dinosaurs ruled the airwaves

The following originally appeared as a “State of the Art” essay in Analog Science Fiction & Fact’s July 1992 issue. Portions were later excerpted in the Seattle Times in October 1992.

Though 2004 is a dozen years later and some of the names of the players have changed, much of the game being played remains the same today. When it comes to news and the human capacity to make sense of it, filters are important since more broad-based information gathering and dissemination mechanisms — up to and including the latest darling, Web logs — don’t change the limits of the human attention span. And mass media continue to have increasingly less mass.

Back in 1992, this was considered farsighted heresy. Now, it’s happened. Continue reading When dinosaurs ruled the airwaves

Life at 35,000 feet

If you’re a frequent business traveler, you know we’re in the midst of the busy summer air travel season or, as I like to think of it as, amateur season. It’s a time when things which worked marginally smoothly during the first half of the year self-destruct like baggage on an airline conveyer belt.

I’ve just wrapped up six months of being on the road nearly every week for clients and conferences. Twenty-six roundtrips give one ample time to reflect on things one should have known before, say, having to choose between the ham and turkey sandwich. (Tip: They taste identical. I know, because when I asked the Northwest flight attendant, that’s what she told me.)

So while I haven’t written as many tech analyses and commentaries as I’d like since beginning my journeys, I can offer hard-earned advice for the infrequent business traveler: Continue reading Life at 35,000 feet


Partisans either in favor, or critical, of blogging seem to have an awful lot in common with the three blind men asked to describe an elephant. Depending of the part of the elephant they touched, each envisioned an entirely different type of creature.

After my essay of a month ago, I’ve had a similar experience … only with a lot more emotion.

My intent with “Blog No More” was to pen a cautionary tale for would-be bloggers — detailing two realities of creating and maintaining a personal Web log that I’d discovered in the year since beginning and abandoning my own (and while, simultaneously, writing this blog as a tech Web newsletter and contributing to a group blog in a different industry).

It was designed to counter the hype that many in the mass media had heaped upon blogging in the wake of its use in politics and by entertainers. As Rob Greenlee of WebTalkRadio said to me, too much hype and unrealistic expectation and blogs become this decade’s equivalent of personal Web pages — easy to set up and just as easy to let sit idle and watch die a slow, neglected death. Continue reading Love/hate/blog

Sam the polydactyl torby

This morning, I went though my usual routine: Make coffee. Open freezer. Grab ice cube tray. Remove one tuna cube and place in bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds. Add cold canned mystery chicken parts mix from refrigerator. Microwave for 10 seconds. Grab container of lactulose, measure 2cc into a syringe, and release over tuna-chicken mixture.

Give to wide-eyed feline. Did I mention wide-eyed, radioactive, occasionally-exploding feline? Continue reading Sam the polydactyl torby

Nigerian scam, reconsidered

We’ve all received the scam spam: Somebody in some other country (Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Iraq) needs help getting something (large sums of money, luxury cars) out of that country … and you can share in the spoils if you just front some cash to help make it happen.

By now, the e-mail scam is almost comical — almost, because some people continue to be taken. But if the scammers really want to do boffo business, as Hollywood types used to say, they should make a few tiny, purely fictional changes to their standard pitch to make it more relevant in today’s U.S. economy.

Humbly submitted for your consideration: Continue reading Nigerian scam, reconsidered