Powerful New York Times Piece on, well, New York.

Stories from New York are a dime a dozen, and among the looming skyscrapers, people can be be as numerous and erratic as an upset nest of ants. But in 2011, the New York Times published called “One in 8 Million,” an Emmy-award winning photojournalistic piece which takes the everyday lives of 54 men an women across New York City, and gives you a narrow slice of the city through the sights and sounds of their lives.

I was actually introduced to this through a photojournalism class (with UMass’ fine photojournalism professor Dennis Vandal), and I was immediately impressed by the scope, detail, and emotion so expertly packed into these little slide-shows, photographed mainly by a man named Todd Heisler.

For example,  the story of Ed Grajales, a Dictaphone repairman. The photographer shows intimate close-ups of Grajales working on the machines, and simplistic, yet skillful full shots of him working in his office, while his gravely, classic New York accent rolls over the story of his life and career.

The blending of high-quality audio with the varied approaches to camera angles provides almost a sort of movie-esque appearance, and if you’re following the story with just enough attention, you can almost swear you’ve just watched an actual video of this person’s little piece of New York City. It’s surreal in the most fantastic way, but then again, maybe I’m just taken in by the superb presentation of each story.

In the case of each profession, they will show the subject of that particular piece while interjecting audio of them in the midst of their work, like with Joe Keegan, The Ladies’ Man. It involves photos of him approaching women and asking them out in any variation of his tried-and-true ways, while the audio mixes him in, nonchalantly discussing his techniques. They juxtapose this audio with pictures of him on some dates, playfully holding purses in a shop, sharing his umbrella, or sitting close to one of his dates in a quiet park, and it really gives you a sense of what makes this guy tick.

It seems just so easy to get lost in their little worlds, and while not every one of them may be as thrilling to me as the others, there’s always just a few that I’d want to go on, even just for a moment longer, and share their fascinating part of New York that I may have never otherwise seen.

Doug Aamoth – Tech Blogger

Doug Aamoth is a blogger whose focus largely lies with technology and electronics, with blogs appearing on Time.com’s “Techland” and Techcrunch. He’s a fairly prolific writer, and usually has an average of about three to four posts a day, but on certain days, contributes just one post to either tech site. On Techcrunch, he occasionally posts reviews on technology, like an amusing review on a home soda maker in the shape of a penguin, but it’s largely aggregated blog posts that make up Aamoth’s daily submissions.

Post lengths are usually fairly short, around 400 words or so, on average. However certain posts, like the story about a possible upgrade to smartphones to increase battery life by up to 50%, jump up to over 800 words. Comments seem to be sparse on most of Aamoth’s posts, with most only getting few to no replies.  Though occasionally the comment count can jump pretty high; the highest I’ve seen being on his re-post about MIT’s prototype traffic application, which garnered 44 comments.

He typically has a more laid-back reporting style, and much of his material is simply re-posted from other new sites with a new summation of events, or a small interjection of his own opinion. He does contribute regular, weekly segments that stray away from the simple re-posting, like his “Paycheck Friday! Purchasing Suggestions for your Perusal,” and “Top Five (Day of the Week) Tech Deals.” The “Paycheck Friday” series has a series of silly, typically useless (yet always interesting) items to buy with your hard-earned dollars, starting small like an inflatable fire hydrant, increasing over a few items until he drops the pricey items, like $2000 Carbon Fiber Gucci shoes. Tempting, isn’t it?

Mr. Aamoth, color me jealous of your livelihood. Reporting on tech news and receiving neat gadgets from people desperate to have them reviewed? Where can I sign up?

Patch.com Still Feels Full of Holes

With the ever-teetering state of the US economy, it’s a small wonder that many large newspaper companies have to really push to turn a profit, lest they fall prey to the insatiable beast known as “foreclosure.” So when large newspapers begin to hurt, it’s no surprise that the same could be said (if not more) for local papers. This is where Patch.com hopes to step in.

Patch.com is a self-proclaimed “hyperlocal” news site that, they say, is “a community-specific news and information platform dedicated to providing comprehensive and trusted local coverage for individual towns and communities.” Run by AOL, they wish to fill the gaps left by ailing news agencies in their coverage of local events. Currently, they have correspondents in cities of 23 states, and they have plans of growth over the next few years. But how exactly is this site needed?

Additionally: Forcing your audience to scroll to the bottom of the page for a minuscule search bar? Bad form, Patch.com.

According to Time correspondent Belinda Luscombe, after the closure of the Cincinnati Post, a paper with subscribers from Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, she says, “voter turnout dropped, fewer people ran for office and more incumbents were reelected.” She clarifies that it may have been a very concentrated occurrence, as only towns in northern Kentucky had elections that year, and she says, “it seemed that smaller towns were much less affected by newspaper closures than larger ones.” Unless a town stages events large enough to attract the attention of a larger district paper, much like the Telegram & Gazette does for Worcester county, town officials may have little way to tell its citizens of any planned events going on, and citizen interest can flatline.

But can Patch.com help with this? It seems to be a novel concept, but as far as the site goes now, I’ve hit some major shortcomings.

My first inclination upon arriving at Patch.com’s front page was to check for my own little hometown of Millbury, Massachusetts, where I hit the first snag. It’s not there. Neither are many towns and cities around the Worcester county area, and while the T&G swoops up large events, Millbury is also lacking notification for many events. This may be no direct fault of the staff of Patch.com, but it definitely ratchets my need for it to just about zero. A cursory glance over the rest of the cities listed and I see neither Amherst, nor most of Hampshire county, and yet again, the site fails to yield any credible reason for me to return. Perhaps I’m just not the audience Patch.com wants.

A more important issue I’m finding is that, while there may be many towns to choose from, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, the site provides very little to help you with that. No notable headlines for a state, region, or town are listed unless you go directly to the town itself. While giving the facade of an intuitive user-interface, once you wish to find out the news, you seem to have to know exactly what you’re looking for. Zero for two, Patch.com.

 

Product Patents Possibly Too Protecting?

Doug Aamoth, blogger for Time Magazine, wrote a story back on September 8 about patent infringement lawsuits filed by several tech giants against other tech giants, and its current impact upon the electronics industry. It’s a problem that has plagued software development teams for ages, affecting Sony’s controllers for the PlaystationMicrosoft’s software, among countless others.

In Aamoth’s article, he discusses Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorolla Mobility on August 15, and the electronic industry’s prolific and strategic use of lawsuits and counter-suits to stonewall companies and their products. The purchase can be one of a sort of pro-active insurance, because Google is already in the midst of numerous lawsuits, some of which stemming from their sale of nine patents to HTC, another software company embroiled in a series of lawsuits and counter-lawsuits with Apple.

One problem that seems to be rife within the patents themselves are the occasionally vague and unspecific nature of the products or features meant to be protected. One example would be SEGA Enterprises Ltd., the company behind several popular game series like “Sonic the Hedgehog,” and “Yakuza,” currently holding U.S. Patent 6,200,138: “Game Display Method, Moving Direction Indicating Method, Game Apparatus and Drive Simulating Apparatus.” So when it any other game developer, be it a huge, multi-national company to the smallest team of indie developers, wishes to have a game where they wish to show which direction you are going in, or where you want to go,  they need to pony up to SEGA for the license. For anyone possibly unacquainted with video game mechanics, knowing where you want to go is pretty much right up there with movement in the first place.

So with companies suing and counter-suing each other, it begs the question: What happens to the up-and-coming developers in a market with such open hostility? Can new companies possibly hope to innovate and create new products in a market where you can be sued for selling your products via the internet? One thing is for sure, these large companies aren’t likely to get along soon, and the smaller developers will just have to watch the skies for any stumbling giants.