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Online media matters

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  1. Reading and paying for news

    Within days of the The New York Times pay-fence being unveiled, a number of reports about the well-being of the newspaper industry in Canada have been released. The sources, are, as usual, biased, but do present some interesting details.

  2. A year (almost) in photos

    Surprising what a daily photos reveal in hindsight

  3. Nothing queued, Netflix

    Canada feeds of American culture — the history of Canadian media can be read, in part, as a nationalistic defence against American influence (which in turn can be explained by the events 199 years ago). In the digital age however, with geo-fencing thriving, access to Hollywood is being limited in the Great White North. No Pandora. No Hulu. And until recently, no Netflix. As a recent American resident, I became a immediate Netflix junkie. In less than three years, I watched more than 500 movies (and rated another 2,020 and had 3,573 suggestions). There were nearly 400 more in my DVD and Instant Viewing queue. My move back to Canada coincided, coincidentally, with Netflix unveiling a Canadian streaming-only service. And the results have suggested it is struggling to understand their customer base. Laying aside an unnecessarily astroturfed launch, there is no way to import U.S. account history into a Canadian account. This despite the fact many Canadians retain U.S. residency for part of the year and others pretend to do so. More bizarrely, there is no way to queue movies.Each time a Canadian wants to view a movie on Netflix, he needs to search for it and hit play — and that is a powerful disincentive. In the U.S., my curated list of movies was the reason I returned to the site. That queue made it so easy to find those movies I'd discovered by using Netflix. In turn, it was the reason I renewed my service month in and month out.Netflix allegedly thinks queuing isn’ for streaming movies. The lack of the feature in Canada suggests similar changes may be coming to the U.S. as well. (Already, the add to DVD queue functionality was removed from the connected devices on the U.S. service.)For a company famous for iterative improvements to its user experience, I still am having a hard-time understanding the business justification for removing a tool that justified for customers a reason to keeping watching movies

  4. The danger with ending Newsweek.com

    Media mergers are never as great as they sound on paper — part of the brand of a news media company is the culture of its staff. Change the make-up of that staff, you change the core of the brand. So, when The Daily Beast’s “marriage” with Newsweek, there was much speculation about what it meant for the recently sold magazine. What’s more unusual, though, is what some of that speculation has resulted in. Past and present employees of Newsweek’s Web site are rising to its defence. And rightly so. While at msnbc.com, I occasionally worked with some of Newsweek’s online team and what they are doing is impressive. Newsweek.com has lead the media industry to Tumblr with its efforts there. The last redesign is simple, online-friendly, and relies on HTML5 for its underlying code. And, the team has elevated design to be a defining element of its online presence. Ten years ago, merging one online property with another was, if not defensible, and least difficult to argue against. The rules of the game were still being defined, and revenue was something to worry about later. Now, however, online media has become, for most people, the primary point of contact with any media brand, and Newsweek is no different. Redirecting Newsweek.com to TheDailyBeast.com reflects an understanding of online media that resulted in mergers like AOL and Time-Warner. And even if the printed Newsweek were to renamed The Daily Beast, the damage to the online presence will take years to rebuild. Barry Diller et al., if they really want The Daily Beast to flourish, would be wise to heed those voices tumbling across the Web

  5. Haven’t heard that before

    So, as HTML 5 begins to spread beyond the academic discussion phase, and into the fringes of the Web design community, an all too typical culture clash has once again emerged. The perfectionists and pragmatists are publicly at it again.

  6. Terminal City celebration

    Were it my city, I’m not sure what I would have thought. But it isn’t my city, and it was definitely an unforgettable experience.

  7. Don Watt, brander of No Name

    One of my earliest memories of design involves wandering aisles filled with uniformly yellow packaging of different shapes and sizes. Each item was labelled with the same, tightly kerned, black typeface and was always set in lowercase.

  8. Accessible Web video

    For a medium that was designed to share scientific papers, the Web does a good job at delivering video to mass audiences. For the past months, msnbc.com has been building an entirely new way to share that video to its audiences.

  9. Repositioning the news

    Something is in the air on the second day of National Newspaper Week, as two major Canadian media sites redesigned along with one American blog. Meanwhile, the Economist thickened its pay-wall and Canwest is seeking bankruptcy protection.

  10. Death and news

    Every time I post about a celebrity death in this blog, I think about how its title could be badly misconstrued. Nevertheless…

  11. New threads for stories

    Nine weeks ago, msnbc.com began work on a new story page design concept to improve the ways news events are covered.

  12. 5 steps to CBC success

    How to program a national public broadcasting corporation:

  13. Holy Fuck!

    Ironically, I never saw the Toronto band name-checked in the title when I lived in that city yet I heard lots about them (and again missed them) when they played a few block away from where I now live in Seattle. The band got rave reviews for their two recent performances and helped raise Toronto and Canada’s reputation amongst the often jaded scenesters in that U.S. city. Not good enough for the government of Canada who cites Holy Fuck as a reason for cutting funding to Canadian artists.

  14. CBC: near- or farsighted?

    Recently Canada’s public broadcaster urged the CRTC to “reject old assumptions about new media” and claimed that the consumption of broadcast media is not being negatively effected by the Internet.

  15. Minor changes for big effect in iPhone 2.0

    Sure, there are some new applications to download, but the big win with the iPhone 2.0 software is the subtle changes to the user experience, proving, once again, how attention to details can exponentially increase the perceived value of a product. (The other part, though, is making sure people can access that product.)

  16. iPhone apps

    Tomorrow, Canada will get its first legal iPhone, but, as well-covered in the press, it will pay an unbelievable price for the privilege. Coincidentally, I’ll be getting my second and handing the first one — the iPhone that introduced me to Seattle — to the same person who made packing tape a necessary feature for the phone.

  17. First impressions of BarCamp Seattle

    Probably a result of the venue, what with its actual class rooms filled with podiums, projectors, and microphones, the formality of this Seattle BarCamp is far more implicit than ever it was at the Toronto BarCamps (except for the one held, coincidentally, at the MSN Canada offices). Lots of hallway buzz, but the sessions have been sadly distracted by the jackhammering going on outside the Adobe building.

  18. Heading to BarCamp Seattle

    This is being written on a bus (the 30) as I tardily trek to BarCamp Seattle — only the first of many differences between my experiences with the BarCamp scene in Toronto (although, coincidentally, on my way to the first Toronto BarCamp, I spotted some infamous graffiti on the outside of a Starbucks franchise).

  19. Web Directions North ‘08 kicks off

    Coming to this year’s Web Directions North provided me with a very memorable first: entering Canada for the first time as a U.S. resident.

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