Newspaper circulation drop accelerates

It’s the largest drop recorded so far during the past decade’s steady decline in paid readership — a span that has coincided with an explosion of online news sources that don’t charge readers for access. Many newspapers also have been reducing delivery to far-flung locales and increasing prices to get more money out of their remaining sales. Source: Newspaper circulation drop accelerates April-Sept – Yahoo! News.

Newspapers are trying to recover from a steep drop in advertising revenue — traditionally their main source of money. The worst U.S. recession since World War II and the lure of the Internet have combined to make the industry’s annual ad revenue $20 billion less than it was three years ago.

This is another example of the growth of social media and the fall of traditional media. As more (young) people turn to the Internet for news and information, they are more involved, more engaged in the news; users are making the news. This is a sign of times to come – newspapers and news media are an endangered species – the Internet is the new news source and social media is the new printing press. Power to the people.

Ironically, I grabbed this article from an online news source (AP News & Yahoo News). What happens if these sources dry up? Why should they continue to pay people to report news when social media sources do it for free? Stay tuned. Those questions haven’t been answered yet.

Twitter in the news again and not in a good way

Is it just me or is it a slow news day? When the top trend on Twitter is about a dispelled rumor it’s time to take the day off. The top trend has been ‘RIP Kanye West’ for the past 24 hours. It was disputed more than 12 hours ago, but it has a life of it’s own now. Worst of all it (the Twitter trending topic) made national news.

Would a dead man have time to haunt the world by posting pictures of supermodel Gabriela Barros online? Rapper Kanye West, of course, is not dead, although “RIP Kanye West” is still the hottest-trending topic on Twitter (Pop & Hiss advises against clicking on it, unless you’re ready for a stream of baiting links to random sites).
Source: Amber Rose debunks ‘RIP Kanye West’ Twitter topic | Pop & Hiss | Los Angeles Times | October 21, 2009 | Los Angeles Times.

Actually, there is something significant about trending topics – not just RIP Kanye West – because they invoke reactions. Twitter users that continue the trend are either curious or opinionated. If a user clicks on a trending topic it receives more hits or has more weight in the trend. If a user comments (or retweets) on the topic it receives more weight. Both actions keep the momentum going – the snowball effect. More importantly than the whole world talking about you (publicity) the whole world is making its own news; trivial as it may be.

The Twitter effect is included in my soon-to-be-released review of the book, Socialnomics: How social media transforms our lives and the way we do business.)

Obama coming to the heart of conservatisim – Aggieland

Hundreds expected to demonstrate Friday at A&M during presidential forum.

By Nathan Adkisson |

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A&M official: “We expect our students will treat the president with respect.”

Officials say about 20 organizations have reserved space to demonstrate on campus, including several Tea Party groups, the College Democrats and the College Republicans. While Texas A&M has not prohibited any groups from protesting, university officials said they expect demonstrators to honor the Aggies’ well-known code of conduct.

It’s not students we fear. It’s the hundreds of non-Aggies being bussed in from all over Texas – Tea Party groups – that probably did not vote for Obama and probably will try to stir up trouble.

I think Friday will be a good day for everyone to stay home.

President Obama speaks at Texas A&M
President Obama speaks at Texas A&M

It wasn’t that bad. North of campus and we didn’t hear or see anything unsual – we were in the office when he arrived and at home when he left. But, Obama, Bush 41, and Gates all came to town in support of a Points of Light/Volunteer forum.

Balloon lands in Colorado, boy not inside

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) – A 6-year-old boy, [Falcon Heene,] said to have climbed into a homemade helium balloon that took off and flew across Colorado on Thursday, was not inside when the contraption landed and authorities launched a search for him.

Source: Reuters.

The response on twitter was even faster. The hastag #balloonboy shot to top trend in a matter of hours. A website was created, and of course there was a t-shirt, “Go Falcon, Go.”

The back story is that the 6-year old was a member of the family that was on the “Wife Swap” show. You can see Falcon in this youtube video.

Watch Out Teacher Retirement System Might Fund Trans-Texas Corridor

Cronyism and the Corridor
Monday, October 12, 2009
posted by paulburka at 3:07 PM
Source: Burkablog: Texas Monthly.

The Statesman reported yesterday that Governor Perry is removing Linus Wright, a former Dallas school superintendent, as chair of the board that oversees the $88 billion Teacher Retirement System and will replace him with a current board member who is also a member of Perry’s campaign finance team, Dallas real estate investor R. David Kelly. (Wright succeeded Jim Lee, who was one of three co-chairs of the Perry fundraising apparatus; Lee had resigned in the wake of news reports that he had run up six-figure gambling debts in Las Vegas.)

The removal of Wright occurred just a few days after Perry had announced the death of the Trans-Texas Corridor.

In my humble opinion this is something we need to watch and keep in check. If TRS is raped to fund the TTC we loose twice.

Twitter Backchannel, Sarah Lacy, Tony Hsieh

Sarah Lacy blows-up at SXSW 2008 I couldn’t resist posting this little piece of twitter meltdown irony. At SXSW 2008, Sarah Lacy, interviewed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, a keynote speaker. The interview went so badly that the twitter backchannel took over the show and those in attendance were making scathing comments. Eventually, Sarah lost control of the interview and was relegated to moderator of questions from the crowd. When it was all over, Sarah had a tweet of her own.

Visual Thinking SXSW 2009 Fast forward one year, during SXSW 2009, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh gave a keynote (by himself) with this visual thinking aid. Four months later, July 2009, he sold Zappos for $850 Million. Guess who reported the sale on That’s right, Sarah Lacy. Her headline was “Amazon Buys Zappos; The Price is $928m., not $847m.” Now that’s ironic.

HighEdWeb 2009 Wrap Up

Links from the conference

After conference links

The first-timers raise their hands at orientation.
The first-timers raise their hands at orientation.

If you read the posts in this blog tagged with heweb09 you’ll see my notes from sessions I attended. Several were good, a few were not-so-good. Going from memory of my evaluations, I would say my average score of sessions was 5.5 out of 7 (78%).

Was it worth approximately $2000 to attend? When I was in school 78% was a “C”. It was passing, but you couldn’t get into graduate school with a C average, and you couldn’t get a good paying job with a C average. Now, you should know that I grade rather conservatively. No one got a 7 on my evaluations; no one got a 1. If I like it and I thought I learned something they got 6. The first keynote, with Jared Spool, would have received a 7, the best of track winners I attended would have received a 7, but these were not graded. So overall, I will come back if it is in the budget, but I wont fight for it if it is not. (It cost me a lot of money that cannot/wont be reported on the expense report.)

I met a lot of people, and followed several tweeple. I learned a few things and was entertained. Those were part of my goals so I can say that part was met. I don’t have H1N1 and I don’t think I gained 10 lbs and I got some swag, so check on those goals too. However, I was a little surprised at the skim-the-surface approach of the sessions. I know there is a lot of material for the board to choose from and they did a good job of touching on major aspects of higher education web. I felt like I was back in college: class for 90 minutes then 15 minutes to get across campus, and a lack of detailed information about lecturers’ materials before getting to the session. (Kudos to Daniel Frommelt for putting his session, “Augmented Reality“, online before coming to the conference.)

The back channel t-shirt.

Unfortunately for the conference I learned something else – what happens in the backchannel doesn’t always stay in the backchannel. This shirt (“I Survived The #heweb09 Keynote“) is an example of what came out of the backchannel after Tuesday’s (October 6) keynote with David Galper. My netbook battery was low so I did not get to read it while it happened. You can read the transcript of the backchannel during keynote #2.

After the conference a few us wrote analyses that reflected the words of Michael Fienen:
“I think that it’s important to admit that several of us might have overstepped a professional line, but I think the event itself was not uncalled for and is an important example that audiences are no longer passive.” Source: The Great Keynote Meltdown of 2009 | .eduGuru.

After I read the article my tweet comment was “@fienen Good observations 1) material not relevent to an educated crowd 2) reflects poorly on “us” 3) pressure for next year.”

We have something to think about for next year. In this age of transparency you must “know thyself” and be an expert in your area – experience and ignorance shine equally through the window of our minds. We are people in higher education with limited budgets that come together to live, laugh, learn, and we express ourselves using the technology we help to create – the web.

Post Script

Conference committee for HighEdWeb 2010 remember three little words, “hella drop shadow

WordPress University

Stephanie Leary
Website Administrator, Texas A&M University

October 7

CMS Capabilities

  • posts and pages
  • scheduled publishing
  • basic workflow
  • easy media embedding
  • excellent seo
  • ubiquitous feeds

Killer Feature is the User Interface. (made by happycog)

Post vs. Page

Posts have…

  • included in feeds
  • categories
  • tags
  • excerpts
  • comments and trackbacks
  • custom fields

Pages have…

  • not included in feeds
  • page parent (not categories)
  • template
  • menu order
  • comments and trackbacks
  • custom fields

Pages can…with plugins

  • included in feeds
  • categories
  • tags

The dirty little secret because pages are posts and posts are pages.

Things that are posts

  • blogs
  • news archives
  • press releases
  • podcasts
  • newsletters
  • magazines
  • journals
  • …

Things that are posts

  • anything you want in a feed
  • anything organized by date

Things that are pages

  • anything that does not change often
  • anything that is not organized by date

Other things

  • media uploads
  • users
  • links


  • installation
  • file import
  • basic options
  • reading settings
  • permalinks

Less blog, more CMS

  • magazine-style home pages
  • great url structure
  • no category or archives
  • contextual navigation
  • breadcrumbs
  • subpage listings

Magazine Layout

  • multiple content areas
  • category sections
  • list of subpages
  • widgets

Required theme files

  • index.php
  • style.css

Other recommendations

  • functions.php – this is where you define widgets
  • screenshot.png

More files

category.php = global category theme

category-6.php = category theme for catid=6

How a theme file works

  • get_header
  • The Loop
  • get_sidebar
  • get_footer

sandbox, hybrid, thematic themes to start looking at

Inside The Loop

  • title
  • content/excerpt
  • date
  • categories
  • tags
  • author
  • custom fields

Complicating matters

  • custom loops
  • multiple loops

Modify the query (query_posts)

  • limit
  • offset
  • parent
  • categories & tags (include/exclude)
  • sort order
  • type
  • author
  • status


one included by default – get_sidebar()

can use more than one with php file include syntax


theme/plugin hybrid

can be defined in functions.php or installed as part of a plugin

Built-in Widgets

  • archives
  • categories
  • calendar
  • links
  • RSS
  • pages
  • meta (log in/out, feed)
  • recent posts
  • tag cloud
  • text


6735 plugins and growing

Plugins can…

  • add widgets
  • create template tags
  • modify loops
  • create shortcodes
  • alter user roles
  • provide custom fields
  • alter write screens
  • add JS libraries

Putting it all together

We want…

  • pages
  • a blog
  • subscribe to comments
  • a podcast
  • a contact form w/spam guard
  • a private area
  • users to be redirected on login

Sidbar login plugin

Peter’s login redirect

Problems with private

visibility: menus

granularity: groups

privileges: roles

Plugin to fix this – Role manager (for now)

[PressThis podcast talks about world press]

Hiding the admin area

  • sidebar login
  • front-end editor
  • P2
  • posthaste

Moving servers

  • changing domains
  • edit database fields
  • use config file constants
  • changing directories
  • maintaining permalinks

Caching Plugins

  • WP Cache
  • Super Cache
  • W3 Total Cache

What’s New in 2.9

  • image editor
  • trash (posts, pages, comments)
  • new excerpt filters
  • easy changes to contact profile fields
  • included handbook (printable)
  • category-slug.php

What’s different in MU

  • each user gets a blog
  • each blog gets a set of db tables
  • users can’t upload themes or plugins
  • site-wide plugins installed for all
  • site admin screen (and role)

Calendar plugin: AMR ICAL Event

Cross-site Scripting: What Is It, and How Can You Protect Your Site from Becoming a Victim?

Paul Gilzow
Programmer/Analyst-Expert, University of Missouri

twitter: gilzow

October 7

(This was Winner of Best of Track TPR)


or local copy Cross-site Scripting: What Is It, and How Can You Protect Your Site from Becoming a Victim?

Same Origin policy: 1 page in 1 tab can’t interact with other page in another tab.

Injection attack: accept exploits the trust for a site

Education sites are the worst for xss.

URL Shorteners are bad: need to be locked down in edu

Three main types:

  1. non-presistent/reflective – most common, relies on social engineering (GET data)
  2. persistent/stored – web forums, social media sites (POST data)
  3. local – less likely but dangerous (html files on your desktop)


” ‘ < abx >

The People directory “search” is not google and thus another company (in house) makes the search – more vulnerable.

How to protect:

Be paranoid. Trust no one. Layers, layers, layers.

Input filtering

Input validation

Output encoding

Intrusion detection system


Tidy the output

HTML Purifier


No Script plugin for Firefox.

Look at phped for php editing.

Maybe the Purpose of Our Redesign is Only to Serve as a Warning to Others

(Winner of Best of Track MMP)

Anthony Dunn
WCMS Coordinator, CSU, Chico

October 7


or local copy Maybe the Purpose of Our Redesign is Only to Serve as a Warning to Others

Background Info:

In 2007 Chico had a web committee (formed 1996) that governed the internet.

It was/is political environment.

Current site was november 1999

Current design april 2004

Jerry Spool “redesigns always fail.” If you do it right you don’t have to redesign. It grows as needed.

Someone needs to take responsibility, and establish a web governance structure.

They should take ownership of the content (brand). Then others come to them and ask for a recommendation of how to put something on the web.The benefit is that it removes politics for the process.

In the beginning it was hard to decide what each (of 4) group does; what is their role. But with time it got ironed out. “If you don’t have high-end buy-in, you will fail.”

Create a competent and sufficient team. A team of designers is not enough. A team of programmers is not enough. You need a team of all of these. If you a lacking one it will be evident.

Define the project. Identify what’s wrong with the current site. Set the scope; sign off on it (accountability). Ask what do you want it to do (brainstorm); don’t bogdown. Define the phases, deadlines, milestone to be accomplished.

The biggest constraint was budget. It didn’t exist. Having no budget helped to pair-down the site. Focus on what needs doing not what they want to do.

Do the research: crazyegg, google analytics, user surveys. Helpful, but not a lot of useful information.

It help find best practices. It helps to learn from other sites’ mistakes. Get input; focus groups, meetings with stakeholders.

Plan your content. Number 1 reason it fails is because of content. Make information architecture(?). Make wireframes. Keep track of every piece; inventory the content.

By doing all this stuff it defused negative reactions for future designs.

Frameworks = no budget friendly. Write a bunch of extra (custom) stuff.

Take Away:

  • get buy-in and high-level ownership

  • make sure you have the right people on your team

  • clearly define the project and its scope

  • do the research

  • get input and feedback

  • have a content strategy and plan