It’s been a while since I’ve attempted an analysis of media coverage but the appearance of these two articles at roughly the same time inspired me. Nature has a Mar. 22, 2013 article by Brian Owens titled, Canada puts commercialization ahead of blue-sky research; Federal budget boosts clean-energy research and university infrastructure. It’s not an unusual response to the 2013 budget and there has been a great deal of discussion about the trend towards commercialization (e.g. Ivan Semeniuk’s Mar. 25, 2013 Globe and Mail article, Federal budget ignites debate over what science is for).
Particularly striking with regard to the Nature article about the Canadian federal budget is the picture which accompanies it, the least flattering image I have ever seen of Canada’s Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty. Shot from the side and below, it emphasizes his girth and receding hairline. Interestingly, this shot is used in a British publication which is taking the Canadian government to task. I have not seen any comparable images in Canadian media pieces where Flaherty is usually shown full face and from mid-chest up.
The second piece I’m highlighting is about a technology application (thanks to @BoraZ for the tweet link) which features fascinating insight into the politics of selling technology, from an Open note to tech press/bloggers (Note: Links have been removed),
We just did a great rollout, the product is fantastic. This is going to move tech in a new direction. It’ll create new standards. I’m absolutely sure of it.
Yet, even with my track record as one who leads change in technology, the release of this software has gotten almost no note from leading tech bloggers and reporters.
That’s okay, because it’ll happen without them. Last time I pushed something through, it didn’t get support from the press either. And the time before that. We can make it happen without their help.
I think they’re comfortable with big software ideas coming from big companies. But I can’t make change happen within the context of a big corporation. Too much second-guessing, too many strategy taxes, too many phony business models. So I choose to do it as an independent.
These are early days, the product is very simple, and well-documented. We went to great lengths to make it easy to understand.
Helping users understand new relevant technology is what you do, after all.
PS: I did not include comments on this post because this is the kind of thing that attracts a lot of trolls.
PPS: To users, this is why you haven’t heard much about Little Outliner in the tech press. There’s nothing wrong with the product.
Curious yet? The product is called Little Outliner, from the home page (Note: A link has been removed),
Little Outliner is a powerful and easy editor that automatically saves text locally, a new feature in HTML5.
Here’s more information from the Little Outliner press guide,
You do not have to register or create an account. Just visit the site, and start typing.
It stores text in local storage on your own computer.
The user’s outline is not transmitted to our servers.
There is no charge to use Little Outliner. Use it to become familiar with outliners. For some people the features of Little Outliner will be exactly what they need.
Little Outliner is our entry-level product.
It’s where we start. We will release deeper, more specialized, technical and sophisticated products built on outlining. Little Outliner will remain simple, general, easy and approachable. It’s where we expect new users to start.
All of our products will be focused on outliners and communication.
As for who is behind Little Outliner, the company is called Small Picture (from the press guide),
Small Picture, Inc is a Delaware corporation, founded on December 19, 2012 by Dave Winer and Kyle Shank.
Dave Winer, 57, has a long history in the tech industry. He is the founder of Living Videotext, founded in 1981, created the first personal computer outliners, ThinkTank, Ready and MORE. UserLand Software, founded in 1988, created Frontier, integrated development tools and web content management software for desktop computers. UserLand developed the first blogging software, Manila and Radio, and pioneered the development of RSS aggregator and interapplication protocols. Winer was the first blogger, and pioneered the development of podcasting, in 1994 and 2001 respectively. He has been a researcher at Harvard and NYU and has a MS in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, and a BA in Mathematics from Tulane University.
Kyle Shank, 28, has worked as a consultant to Silicon Valley tech companies. He has worked within the software group at IBM in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Zurich, Switzerland. In 2005 he co-founded the first open source Ruby on Rails specific IDE RadRails based on Eclipse. Kyle graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2007 with a BS in Software Engineering.
Dave works in New York City, Kyle in the Boston area and collaborate via Instant Outline and Skype.
I think these two stories demonstrate the political nature of choosing images (in this case, presenting an image that suggests Flaherty is big [an upward angle tends to make someone seem big and threatening] while emphasizing his weight and aging) and choosing stories (in this case, determining what technology consumers will hear about). We tend to think of our information flow as being free and unencumbered when it is not. There are any number of gatekeepers and choosers who decide what we will and won’t see.
There is a kind of paradox at work. In order to blog or write or communicate one needs to make choices but that means one is inevitably put in the position of becoming a gatekeeper/editor/censor.
I don’t believe there is a magic way to escape the paradox and the best we can hope for is that we be vigilant about our own biases and that our readers or audiences remind us when we fail in our attempts.