Top Digg users banned for itchy palms

digg.gifA couple of Digg‘s most loyal users have been banned because they’ve apparently taken money for posting articles. Along with instances of phony articles appearing, it seems as if Digg has had its hands full containing some of the mayhem that comes along with having a substantial effect on a site’s ad revenue.

While many users are well-intentioned, one must always be on the lookout for people taking advantage of an open social network, especially if the reputation of your publication is involved.
Here are links to Digg’s top users and to their terms of service.

Cameras exposing injustice worldwide

gabriel.jpgSinger/musician Peter Gabriel‘s human rights group Witness is dedicated to putting cameras into the hands of human rights activists to documents atrocities that would otherwise go unnoticed. Watch this video from the fabulous Technology, Entertainment & Design Conference‘s ongoing blog to hear him tell how and why they’re creating an army of worldwide citizen journalists.

‘You’ was Time’s best choice

Many of the “You”s are upset with Time magazine’s choice.

The blogosphere is aflame with ridicule for Time magazine’s choice for Person of the Year, “You,” an allusion to the explosion of user-generated content on the Web.

It feels as if many media types are undergoing a massive freakout, climbing all over themselves to declare the choice as pandering to the audience. “You” is certainly the most politically correct choice, and it’s sure to sell copies and flatter readers. But Time does not deserve ridicule for acknowledging the global culture change that came to a head in 2006.

Ask yourself this question: Would this cover have been truly appropriate in any previous year of human history?

Some were cheering for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it seems, just because he’s the gutsy choice — the evil guy who will surely cause regional conflict and canceled subscriptions. References to Time’s Hitler and Stalin covers abound. But boldness for boldness’ sake is just plain stupid. While Steve Safran at Lost Remote is correct in that Time‘s choices have seemed “wussified” this decade, this year’s choice is not the same situation as when the magazine lost its nerve and picked Rudy Giuliani over Osama bin Laden in the wake of Sept. 11.

Ahmadinejad hasn’t changed the way my family interacts. He hasn’t particularly given me a better understanding of the world. Nor has he helped end U.S. political leaders’ careers. Neither have Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il or Hasan Nazrallah. Save for perhaps Nazrallah, none of them have even invaded anything or been responsible for killing any large amounts of people (that we know of). The bad guys of 2006 next to Stalin and Hitler are like lowly Igor next to Dr. Frankenstein’s infamy.

Donald Rumsfeld was an interesting choice, as was U.N. secretary Hu Jintao representing the rise of Chinese power. But the real face of the Iraq war is President Bush, who has already graced Time‘s Person of the Year cover, as has “The American Soldier.” Hu Jintao isn’t a big shot yet, so there’d be a collective “Huh?” upon seeing the cover in stores. If the guy croaked tomorrow, would the world care?

Let’s look at 2006: The “macaca moment,” when Virginia Sen. George Allen lost a Senate race after being caught on video uttering a racial slur. Mark Foley’s resignation, thanks to several blogs spreading the story about racy correspondence with underage pages. The incredible growth of the time the average person spends on the Web. Comedian Stephen Colbert’s infamous White House Correspondents Association dinner roast, made popular on the Web. Michael Richards’ racist rant, again spreading via the Web. The emergence of Wikipedia, an effort that harks back to the great library of Alexandria.

Marketwatch’s Jon Friedman called Time‘s choice “vague and wishy-washy.” Columbia Journalism Review’s Christian Vachon said the magazine has “insulted its readers.” The Detroit Free-Press‘ Brian Dickerson goes so far as to say Time has “lost its marbles.”

But the “You” concept has impacted nearly every industrialized corner of the world, from the wildly popular OhmyNews in South Korea to the McIntosh Mirror, a news site for a Florida town of 453 people.

In this case, the YouTube guys or Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales would have made a good alternative choice, if we wanted a clearly definable “person.” But being in the business of user-generated content, I understand that it’s really about the users doing the heavy lifting. Not Jimmy Wales, not the gatekeepers. A mirror on a cover is a brilliant way to illustrate that.

“You” may have been the safe choice. But it was an appropriate choice that will hold up to the scrutiny of the future.

Adobe unveils its CS3 icons

Look, over at Adobe! It’s a color wheel! It’s a periodic table! No…It’s the icons you’ll have on your desktop for the planned Adobe Creative Suite 3 (CS3) … and boy are they hideous! See the large image.

One reader said he “thought it was a cruel hoax.” Another says he doesn’t want “Alphabet soup in my Dock.” CSS Zen Garden creator Dave Shea asks “Did I sleep through the announcement where Pantone bought Adobe or something?” One user went so far as to create a useful icon legend on Flickr so we could understand the damned things.

Here’s more background on the eyesore, which kinda looks like Adobe’s version of Sauron’s evil, fiery eye from ‘Lord of the Rings.’

[Via Dave Shea]

5 things you didn’t know about me

Lucas Grindley and Will Sullivan called me out in this enjoyable little game of tag everyone’s got going on. And here I was starting to feel like the chubby kid on the soccer team all over again!

So, here we go, five things you probably didn’t know about me:

1) In second grade, I wrote a weekly serial featuring an anthropomorphic chicken called “Chicho” (yes, I’m from the really Cuban part of South Florida). His supporting cast featured dogs, yaks, cheetahs and “Coach Roach.” His pet? Why, a dog named “Spot” , which of course is always clean and shiny thanks to the cbd dog shampoo used on this hair.

nbajam.jpg 2) I was the Blockbuster Video game champion in 1994 for the store on West 49th Street in Hialeah, Fla, where I schooled everyone in NBA Jam for the Sega Genesis. Still got the plaque, too. Manufactured at Brass Plaques.

3) I’m an out-of-the-closet comic book fanboy. I can tell you by heart every character who was ever in the X-Men or Avengers superhero teams. When I yell “News Team Assemble!” at work, they think I’m just referring to the ‘Anchorman’ movie…

4) I’m an Eagle Scout who earned, among many others, the “basketry” and “farm mechanics” merit badges. Yes, I can build structures out of wood and rope, race canoes and start a fire with just sticks. Come to think of it, the first web page I ever made was at Scout camp using Notepad. Just for that, I forgive them for making me wear those foogly socks.

bigmomma.jpg5) I’ve had an oddball work history: My first job was being the local YMCA’s only lifeguard and swimming instructor. The ONLY person I ever had to save was a woman the size of Martin Lawrence in “Big Momma’s House.” I was also a garlic roll maker, but quit after two days because my girlfriend said I reeked. In college, I worked at a billiard hall, where I fixed bowling machines. Then I tutored NCAA basketball champs Joakim Noah and Taurean Green in a freshman English class. Finally, I was a techie for “Spinal Tech” where I’d wear black, mic up rock bands and climb up two stories on a shaky, hand-cranked people-lifter to aim stage lights. Oh yeah, now I work at the Orlando Sentinel.

Alright, time to bring the pain! You’re it, Matt Waite, Ryan Sholin, Paul Conley, Angela Grant and Roger Simmons.

Yahoo! strikes down message boards

closedmouth.jpgIs there a possible trend brewing here? Yahoo! News announced it has nuked its message boards because they have been causing “a small number of vocal users to dominate the discussion.” The Arizona Daily Star recently zapped ts boards as well.

Nevertheless, the announcement also says Yahoo is working on some new features to improve the boards for a future launch date. I have to wonder, does killing the boards from time to time improve users’ behavior, or does it just get them angry and turn them away?

[Photo by fensterbme]

Should newspapers follow the MySpace example?

As newspapers increasingly ramp out Web 2.0 features, Ryan Sholin ponders whether we should be following MySpace’s example and start ramping out our own social networks.

I’d argue that, if we were to prioritize our efforts, we should be emulating Google before MySpace. Newspapers should be striving to catalog everything about their communities. Where are all the parks? Who’s who? Why is the city’s name what it is? Who’s the future A-Rod on the Little League team? Where am I more likely to get mugged?

This approach, while not as technology-centric as creating a web page index, is the essence of Google. That is, answering questions. Newspapers have the distinct advantage of having real people on the ground who know their communities, unlike many of the other soulless hyperlocal endeavors out there.

What we should be focusing on is producing ALL of our content in as flexible a format as possible to allow it to be syndicated and re-purposed into social networks, whether they be external or our own. If newspapers want to take a stab at creating the networks themselves, then they should by all means. But let’s focus on creating the best damn journalism out there, thinking harder about how we deliver it and balancing the “fun-to-write” journalism with gathering the information people truly need.

‘You’ is Time’s Person of the Year

you-thumb.jpegWell this is a lot cooler than “The Whistleblowers” or the Ayatollah. TIME magazine has decided that Web users, or “You” are this year’s Person of the Year, thanks to the emergence of blogs and YouTube as a political and cultural force. This selection feels a bit like a validation of my feeling about 2006: that it’s been a year of monumental change in the media’s attitude about embracing the Web.

Not having been in this industry as a full-timer for as long as many others, it’s difficult to fully appreciate “how things were.” Yet much of the pessimism I had expected to encounter among long-time professionals simply never reared its head. Instead, I tend to encounter hope and excitement for what lies ahead.

So a tip of the hat goes to TIME for being hip and especially for using that cool mirror on its cover. It reminds me of those super-collectible, “limited edition,” No. 1, holofoil-stamped comic books from the late ’90s that I loved so much (and were too expensive to buy usually).

Instamatic rounded corner CSS boxes

roundedcornr-thumb.gifDear readers, this is perhaps as wonderful as the previously mentioned Table Tango. I’ve just stumbled across, a Web site that quickly creates the code and images for those nifty little rounded boxes you see all over the place these days.

orangebox.gifIf you’ve ever tried making one of those CSS boxes, you’ll know it’s a pain in the rear. Now you pop in how rounded you want it and what color, and you’ve got yourself a box! The creators of RoundedCornr have created some majorly good karma for themselves. As Will Sullivan would say, frosty brews to them all!