Dear Diary: What’s the role of a personal journal in the digital age?

Gigaom

On July 8, 1997, a few days after my thirteenth birthday, I sat down at the big old desktop PC in my family’s basement, opened a new Word document and started my first diary. 15 years later, I am still writing in the diary I began back in 1997.

Of course, a few things have changed. 15 years ago, I had a dial-up AOL account, an email address, and Instant Messenger. Throughout high school, although the internet got faster and more of my friends got their own email addresses, the tools I used stayed pretty much the same. I copy-and-pasted some emails, and transcripts of AIM chats with crushes and friends into my diary, but the volume of this content was fairly light: My diary could still serve as an accurate representation of my life (at least, an accurate representation of the way I perceived my life to be at the time…

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It’s not just Tumblr — most social networks don’t understand original content

Gigaom

The recent shuttering of Tumblr’s Storyboard highlighted the discrepancy between online communities and companies’ efforts to produce valuable original content for them. The problem isn’t that “Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter are sharing networks, not publishing companies,” as one writer suggested. The problem instead lies in substance and delivery.

Community-inspired initiatives, much like journalism, need a sense of purpose, passion and objective urgency – the ability to look unflinchingly at a subject and capture it in a way that’s surprising and insightful. With that in mind, here’s how some of the most popular communities and social networks are experimenting with original content — and what works and doesn’t.

Tumblr

Storyboard sought to surface and report on interesting stories and users within the Tumblr community, applying a kind of branded journalism and marketing mix that’s becoming increasingly commonplace.

The failure of Storyboard was in its inability to find an editorial voice that resonated in…

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Timing is not just for traders anymore, networks need it too

Gigaom

The past few years have seen low-latency networking get a lot of attention, driven primarily by high-frequency traders looking for an edge for their algorithms. However, the importance of communication latency and timing accuracy in general isn’t new. From the dawn of homo sapiens, when cave people first scratched lunar cycles on their cave walls, to the birth of telecommunications, accurately knowing what time it is has been important — for people and for networks.

Yet, in the move to packetized information, and the internet as we know it, timing got left behind. In a fatal mix of both enthusiasm and arrogance, synchronous timing was seen as irrelevant. After all, the world was moving to asynchronous packetized information switched by routers. Why would anyone still need old-fashioned synchronous information? Ma Bell was dead. And what did she know anyway? Fast forward to today and the current standard Network Time Protocol

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Wonderville Launches An Interactive Content Library And Virtual Classroom Network For Kids

TechCrunch

Last July, a group of veteran executives from eToys, eBay, Sesame Street, Discovery and Disney unveiled their ambitious plan to create a souped-up Khan Academy for kids. But rather than a straightforward port, the learning platform, called Wonderville, aimed to expand on Khan’s approach to the “flipped classroom” by aggregating educational content from a variety of third-party sources.

Using eBooks, TV shows, videos and mobile apps from iTunes, Amazon, YouTube and beyond, Wonderville creates what it calls “Smart Galleries,” which consist of digital content like quizzes, apps, fact sets and so on designed to reflect what kids are studying in class. The content, which includes some fun topics as well (like Bigfoot) to keep kids interested, is vetted by Wonderville’s team of teachers to ensure quality and age-appropriateness.

After nine months of development, Wonderville is officially launching its new-and-improved pilot program. The new Wonderville focuses on Kindergarten through fifth…

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Walk the Road To Freedom – Taking Risks With Your Photography Business

Photofocus (old site)

I know it’s a cheesy image for the title, but it’s an image with a story so bear with me.

I made this picture a few months ago and it happened to be at a pivotal time for my family. We were visiting Oregon from Utah and were suddenly considering moving to Oregon, and life was feeling a lot like this image: we had a clear road in front of us, but we couldn’t see where it ended.

Moving my family and my photography business to a new state where we had no contacts has been the scariest venture I’ve ever undertaken because I don’t have anything established: no clients I can call and remind to do new pictures, no group of students I can expect to take my next class at the community college, and no studio I can invite my club members to join me in for a…

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