Reuters: An editor-in-chief Twitters

David Schlesinger, the editor-in-chief of Reuters News, has a fascinating post up at his blog, Full Disclosure — a fitting title, given the topic of the post. Schlesinger writes about how he has been Twittering from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and how his Twitter messages (or “tweets,” as people insist on calling them) actually beat his own wire service, as described in a post at Silicon Alley Insider. The news? That billionaire financier George Soros believes the current economic downturn could be worse than the Great Depression, and that as much as $15-trillion might be needed to save the banking system.

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What Would Google Do? My review

Jeff Jarvis doesn’t come right out and say it, but it’s pretty obvious why the former media executive, blogger and journalism professor chose to call his recent book What Would Google Do? It’s safe to say that Google isn’t just the flavour of the month, it’s the flavour of the decade, and possibly even the century. Known only to geeks a few short years ago, it has quickly become the sine qua non of modern technology companies, a multibillion-dollar colossus that for many people is virtually synonymous with the Internet.

In his book — which the front flap refers to as “one part prophecy, one part thought experiment, one part manifesto and one part survival manual” — Jarvis says he set out to “reverse-engineer” the principles that have made Google great, and then apply those lessons to other companies and industries, from restaurants to car companies. Despite the title, however, this book isn’t really about Google at all. It’s really about the Internet, and the disruptive effects that the Web in all its various forms is having on businesses and even society itself. Like so many others, it seems that Jarvis is happy to use Google as a stand-in or proxy for the Web itself.

(read the rest of this review at the Globe and Mail book site)

The Policy Wiki: A social experiment

After about 15 years writing about business and technology for both the print and the online versions of the Globe and Mail, I moved into a newly-created job a few months ago as the Globe’s “Communities Editor.” It’s still evolving, but in a nutshell my job involves thinking about, developing and implementing new ways of interacting with our readers online, as well as helping to improve some of the ways in which we already do that — such as the comment feature on our news stories, which we were one of the first newspapers in North America to offer, but which needs some additional features in order for it to be truly useful.

As part of that mandate, I helped launch a site called the Public Policy Wiki several weeks ago. A joint venture between the paper and the Dominion Institute (a non-profit agency dedicated to improving the dialogue about public policy in Canada), it’s a combination of a traditional wiki — that is, a publicly-editable resource similar to Wikipedia — and a public discussion forum, with comments and voting features as well. In many ways, it’s a kind of social-media mashup aimed at pulling in suggestions from readers and other concerned Canadians about public policy issues (the Obama administration has also experimented with this kind of idea).

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Yahoo buy the New York Times? Puh-leeze

As everyone waits to find out how new Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz plans to resuscitate the struggling Internet giant, in the meantime, the stress of watching Yahoo bungle one thing after another — such as coming within inches of a merger with Microsoft, only to blow the deal at the 11th hour — seems to have taken its toll on some otherwise perceptive stock analysts. Take Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray, for example. As described by Barron’s blogger Eric Savitz, Munster recently wrote yet another “open letter” to Bartz (man, she must be getting sick of those) in which he suggested that Yahoo buy the New York Times. And maybe Gawker Media as well. Oh yes, and Twitter too. And maybe FriendFeed. And maybe some other stuff.

Is this a strategy, or a laundry list? With all due respect to Munster, rattling off a bunch of names as possible acquisitions doesn’t amount to a realistic strategy for the company at this point. I get the idea — Yahoo needs quality content, and the NYT has that in spades; Yahoo needs to get bloggy, and Gawker owns that territory in numerous key market niches; and Yahoo needs to get more social, hence Twitter and FriendFeed. But isn’t this just going to spread Yahoo’s peanut butter even thinner? It’s already gotten so thin that even peanut-butter manifesto writer Brad Garlinghouse is gone. More importantly, gobbling up Twitter or the New York Times doesn’t actually make a whole heck of a lot of sense.

(read the rest of this post at GigaOm)

The Policy Wiki: An end and a beginning

With the tabling of the federal budget this afternoon (which we are live-blogging), the Globe’s first experiment in merging public-policy debate and social-media tools — the Public Policy Wiki, a joint venture with the Dominion Institute — comes to a kind of conclusion, but the discussion that we helped start about the economy will continue as long as Canadians have ideas they wish to share.

We’ve collected the data on the two policy proposals that our contributors and readers supported the most, and we’ve sent that information to the Finance Minister as we promised. But while the budget process is now complete, the economic portion of the Policy Wiki will remain available for contributions, even as we begin a new chapter aimed at discussing Canada’s policy towards Afghanistan.

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