Do Online Petitions Matter?

Yet another serious political crisis, yet another flock of online petition signers entreating me to sign and re-share their petitions. I applaud my friends’ interest and effort in participating in these online petitions. But I have to wonder every time I see one: Is that actually worth my click? Though I can’t find scholarly research …


Critiquing “The Tech Intellectuals”

To do well in this economy, you do not have to get tenure or become a contributing editor to The New Republic (although the latter probably doesn’t hurt). You just need, somehow, to get lots of people to pay attention to you. This attention can then be converted into more material currency. At the lower end, this will likely involve nothing more than invitations to interesting conferences and a little consulting money. In the middle reaches, people can get fellowships (often funded by technology companies), research funding, and book contracts. At the higher end, people can snag big book deals and extremely lucrative speaking engagements. These people can make a very good living from writing, public speaking, or some combination of the two. But most of these aspiring pundits are doing their best to scramble up the slope of the statistical distribution, jostling with one another as they fight to ascend, terrified they will slip and fall backwards into the abyss. The long tail is swarmed by multitudes, who have a tiny audience and still tinier chances of real financial reward.”

— Henry Ferrell, “The Tech Intellectuals,” Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

A worthy and provocative read.

End of Summer Roundup

Yep, another summer has ended, and I’m back in fall classes already! It was a busy and great summer, and I feel like I accomplished a lot — though I could have done with another month to wrap up summer projects and do more preparation for the semester. I’m going to keep this post short …


Magazines of Stuff: PBS MediaShift Post

Hey, at least I didn’t call them “thingazines.” I have a new-ish post at PBS MediaShift that looks at two organizations — Quarterly and CONTAINER — that offer subscriptions to collections of objects. Intriguingly, both claim that the objects themselves within the “edited” boxes tell stories — and most explanation of the items occurs online. …


Coding Experiments

One of my recent personal projects has been trying to learn a bit of coding. I’d like to be able to integrate some of these skills into my teaching, and possibly into my research as well. I attended Code with Me in May, and it was a terrific experience. I learned a ton in one …


Sponsored Content and Native Advertising in Digital Magazines: PBS MediaShift Post

Sure, we’ve had “Special Advertising Sections” and advertorial sections in print magazines forever. And while those same sections are easy to reproduce in digital replicas of magazines, they don’t exactly take advantage of the digital format to provide interactive, intriguing experience of marketers’ messages. I recently wrote a post for PBS MediaShift on two companies …


Researching an Unusual Magazine

I recently published a study on a magazine that is a bit outside the usual purview of magazine journalism research: the digital magazine Inspire, published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This project offered a fascinating interdisciplinary opportunity to test assumptions about the community-building, audience-defining functions of mainstream magazines against a magazine with an entirely …