Posts tagged geekery

It is the responsibility of scientists and journalists to work together in stopping such empathy fatigue, because empathy is the primary human quality that fuels our instinct to protect human rights around the world.

Jamil Zaki, Empathy Fatigue and What the Press Can Do About It, The Huffington Post.

Background:

Circa 2009, I geeked out over Zaki’s article because, well, hearing a psychologist weigh in on the objectivity-is-perilous-in-journalism debate is refreshing. No one’s really arguing anymore over the fact that objectivity is a tricky, nuanced, sub-standard ethic for journalism, but a new, better ethic hasn’t quite emerged. A singular sterling standard probably won’t. 

Last fall, some of the best and brightest in media sat down to talk about it all and thanks to Poynter, this book emerged. Really smart people all over the world are creating and debating around accurate and value-creative reporting. You can explore our ethics tag for past coverage of some of those conversations.

The News:

Zaki, who is on the science side of things, very much heeded his own call to action and today I’m geeking out over his newest project, The People’s Science, a digital public space where scientists and the public can meet, share, and talk about science.

The site’s purpose is to encourage scientists to write posts about their research in easy-to-understand language and for the public to have conversations with those scientists directly.

In Zaki’s words (via NPR): 

In an ideal world, I think TPS could provide a platform for scientists to feature their work to a broad audience and describe why they find it exciting and relevant. For non-scientists, I hope that the site can provide an insider’s perspective on how scientists think, and a way to go beyond the “punchlines” of a given study and understand the process that went into it. I also think the public should be able to use this to vet other media sources, testing claims made by reporters against scientists’ own descriptions. Finally, I’d like the site to be a true forum: instead of each “pop” abstract serving as a static document, I’d like non-scientists and scientists alike to be able to ask questions and engage in discussion about the work posted here. At the highest level, my dream for this site would be to help scientists and non-scientists into more dialogue, which I believe can only be a good thing for our culture at large.

FJP: We agree, obviously, on very many levels. It humanizes the researchers behind academia’s impenetrable walls by thrusting them into the social sphere. It’s a gold mine for science reporters to have easy and direct access to emerging research and scientists. As someone who (in my non FJP life) works for an academic journal and deals quite regularly with the incomprehensible abstract and insanely long paper title, it’s wonderful.

Now go explore the site and ask questions.—Jihii

Valentines for Your Journo-Geek Lovers
For the fifth year, Mediabistro’s got us covered:

You’ve still got a week before your journo-sweetie will need an actual Valentine’s Day gift. But we’ve got you covered if you haven’t come up with the perfect way to say you mean the world to me. The 10,000 Words team put together our annual round up of valentines just for the journalist in your life.

FJP: There. You now have no excuse not to send along something sickeningly, adorably, geekily loving tomorrow.

Valentines for Your Journo-Geek Lovers

For the fifth year, Mediabistro’s got us covered:

You’ve still got a week before your journo-sweetie will need an actual Valentine’s Day gift. But we’ve got you covered if you haven’t come up with the perfect way to say you mean the world to me. The 10,000 Words team put together our annual round up of valentines just for the journalist in your life.

FJP: There. You now have no excuse not to send along something sickeningly, adorably, geekily loving tomorrow.

Being a nerd and a journalist, I have a natural inclination to typewriters, writing software, and a nice pen and notebook.  I found this article from NYT about authors and their relationship with their early word processors.  I love the part about Stephen King.


But Mr. King’s 1983 short story “The Word Processor,” Mr. Kirschenbaum ventured, is “likely the earliest fictional treatment of word processing by a prominent English-language author.”
The story, published in Playboy (later retitled “Word Processor of the Gods”), certainly captured the unsettling ghostliness of the new technology, which allowed writers to correct themselves without leaving even the faintest trace. In the story a frustrated schoolteacher discovers that by erasing sentences about his enemies he can delete them entirely from the universe and insert himself in their place, a reflection of Mr. King’s fascination with his Wang System 5’s “insert,” ”delete” and “execute” keys, recounted in the introduction to his 1985 story collection, “Skeleton Crew.” “Writers are used to playing God, but suddenly now the metaphor was literal,” Mr. Kirschenbaum said in the lecture.

Being a nerd and a journalist, I have a natural inclination to typewriters, writing software, and a nice pen and notebook.  I found this article from NYT about authors and their relationship with their early word processors.  I love the part about Stephen King.

But Mr. King’s 1983 short story “The Word Processor,” Mr. Kirschenbaum ventured, is “likely the earliest fictional treatment of word processing by a prominent English-language author.”

The story, published in Playboy (later retitled “Word Processor of the Gods”), certainly captured the unsettling ghostliness of the new technology, which allowed writers to correct themselves without leaving even the faintest trace. In the story a frustrated schoolteacher discovers that by erasing sentences about his enemies he can delete them entirely from the universe and insert himself in their place, a reflection of Mr. King’s fascination with his Wang System 5’s “insert,” ”delete” and “execute” keys, recounted in the introduction to his 1985 story collection, “Skeleton Crew.” “Writers are used to playing God, but suddenly now the metaphor was literal,” Mr. Kirschenbaum said in the lecture.

Google Drops Native H.264 Support

If you’re a video producer, have friends who are video producers, or are just freaky geeky, take note: Google’s dropping native support for the H.264 video codec from the next version of Chrome.

This matters to those who are moving towards HTML5 and clashes with publishers’ existing attempts to deliver video across platforms. Simply, Apple’s dominant mobile platforms (various iThings) only play video encoded as H.264.

As WebMonkey explains:

Google has rather nonchalantly dropped a bombshell on the web — future versions of the Chrome browser will no longer support the popular H.264 video codec. Instead Google is throwing its hat in with Firefox and Opera, choosing to support the open, royalty-free WebM codec.

Google says the move is meant to “enable open innovation” on the web by ensuring that web video remains royalty-free. While H.264 is widely supported and free for consumers, sites encoding videos — like YouTube — must pay licensing fees to the MPEG Licensing Association, which holds patents on AVC/H.264

Prior to Google’s announcement, the web video codec battle was evenly split — Firefox and Opera supported the open Ogg and WebM codecs, while Safari and Internet Explorer supported H.264. Google took the egalitarian path and supported all three codecs.

Google’s move away from H.264 makes sense given that Google is already heavily invested in WebM. In fact, the only reason the WebM codec exists is because Google purchased On2, the creators of the VP8 codec. Once Google acquired the underlying code it turned around and released VP8 as the open source WebM project.

There’s been considerable outcry from developers concerned that they now need to support two video codecs to get HTML5 video working on their sites. However, given that Firefox — which has a significantly greater market share than Google’s Chrome browser — was never planning to support the H.264 codec, developers were always going to need to support both codes for their sites to work across browsers.

Takeaway: if delivering video, make sure you’re encoding it, or using a video service provider that’s encoding it, with both H.264 and WebM.

Update

Ars Technica’s Peter Bright thinks dropping H.264 is a step back, writing:

Google’s justification doesn’t really add up, and there’s a strong chance that the decision will serve only to undermine the use of the <video> tag completely. This is not a move promoting the open web. If anything, it is quite the reverse.