Blog on Blog – a new site to yak about journalism and blogging

Samantha Israel, a student in the journalism program at Ryerson University in Toronto, announces the launch of Blog on Blog, a blog she hopes will do two things: Serve as online meeting place for those who might have something to say about blog form as it relates to journalism and as a place where she might be able to glean some Deep Thoughts for use in an article on Canadian journalism and blogs which she's preparing for the Ryerson Review of Journalism.
From the first post at Blog on Blog:

Blog on Blog:
“Welcome to Blog on Blog – the blog where bloggers blog about nothing but blogs. Well, blogs and journalism that is.
Do you think blogs are unplugged versions of columns? Does horizontal editing float your boat? Do you think the old media is a dying breed? Do you wonder if blogs are a threat to the mainstream media? Are you itching for a rant about arrogant bloggers?”

Air Canada and a new Celine Dion video — right here!

Watching TV over the last couple of days, I couldn't help but notice the new Air Canada adverts, with soundtrack from Celine Dion. Ms. Dion — as I reported last month for CTV National News — is the new voice of Air Canada's marketing campaign. In addition to a new marketing campaign, Air Canada unveiled new uniforms for their employees, some new amenities on some aircraft, and a new logo and colour for their jets.

The song is called “You and I” and you hear it during Air Canada ads. Mind you, you don't see Ms. Dion in the TV adverts. You will, however, see her singing the entire song “You and I” next time you fly Air Canada. It is played inflight, I am told, though I haven't flown on Canada's flag carrier since the campaign launched.

Celine Dion fans — I'm told there are more than a few — need not spend hundreds on a plane ticket just to see that video. I have it right here, courtesy of Air Canada. (This is a 70 MB MPEG file, so be sure you're somewhere with the right bandwidth). The marketing materials that Air Canada provided to reporters included a CD with, among other things, the video of Ms. Dion singing “You and I”.

Now, I must confess that for a guy who grew up on the Clash and The Who, I find “You and I” strangely catchy.

The video, mind you, is pretty straight-ahead stuff. It was shot in Toronto and in Las Vegas, Air Canada said. There is one remarkable shot (see a still of it, right) in the piece. At three minutes, 14 seconds into the video, you'll see Dion hit the big high note of the piece while standing on the end of a runway just as some giant jet flies right over top of her exactly on cue. Do you know what that probably cost? How many times did they have to bring the jet back and start again because they didn't get the timing right?

No one knows what Ms. Dion is costing Air Canada. Air Canada won't say but experts I spoke to said it's likely in the millions. As one reference point, Chrysler paid Ms. Dion $14-million (US) to use her to market minivans although it must be said that Chrysler was to use Ms. Dion more than Air Canada plans to use her.

Not surprisingly, some of the union rank-and-file at Air Canada was less than pleased that, within weeks of coming out of bankruptcy protection — a period during which thousands of employees lost their job or were laid off or took drastic pay cuts — Air Canada is spending lavishly on a glitzy marketing campaign.

Part of that campaign includes painting planes a new minty blue (is that a colour?) and putting a new logo on the tail (see photo left). See the “B-Roll” section of this blog for more photos of Air Canada's new stuff and some more description.

October's most popular posts – and a first appearance on Technorati 100

What of October, that ambiguous month, the month of tension, the unendurable month?
Doris Lessing, in Martha Quest (1952)

What of October, indeed. Well, around here October was the month Jon Stewart took on Crossfire and Colby Cosh lost his regular gig at the Post. (He's still chipping in from time to time, though, I'm told).
Posts here about both those items were among October's most popular posts.
For the record, there were more than 23,000 unique visitors to this blog plus 16,000 XML requests, presumably from those grabbing the RSS feed of this blog.
That traffic — and your links back to this point — have also put me in to the Technorati Top 100. For bloggers, this is pretty cool stuff.
Now, mind you, Canadians are well represented on the Technorati Top 100. For one thing, Toronto's Cory Doctorow (now in Britain, last we heard, carrying the EFF flag) and his Boing Boing blog is up there at number two. (Technorati's Top 100, incidentally, is a list of blogs ranked by the number of blogs which link back to the original site.)
Toronto-based Ross Rader, one of the Tucows brainiacs behind this publishing platform, has his Random Bytes blog clocking in at number 61 on the Top 100. (That's better than Jeff Jarvis and Joi Ito — two A-list bloggers)
Vancouver's Roland Tanglao has been on the Technorati Top list for a long time. On this day, he's at number 87.

And, finally, from Oakville, Ontario, making his first appearance on this august list, there I am at number 97. (left.)
Thanks for dropping by.
Here, then, for your review are October's greatest hits around here:

  1. [What he said] Stewart on Crossfire (posted 10-16-2004)
  2. No blogging from Olympic village (?) (posted on 8-8-2004)
  3. More mainstream Canadian journo-bloggers (posted on 10-21-2004)
  4. [What they said] Apple calculator a bad joke (posted on 8-10-2004)
  5. Is the Post trimming its columnists' roster? (posted on 10-1-2004)
  6. How to spell Internet and Web (posted on 8-16-2004)
  7. Finally!! Airport Extreme and my LinkSys router are talking! (posted on 12-13-2003)
  8. I'm on Canada AM tomorrow (posted on 10-7-2004)
  9. Google by the numbers (posted on 5-5-2004)
  10. Canada best for access among world's largest economies (posted on 11-24-2003)

Perhaps I was all wrong on this Internet thing …

For a long time, I was a firm believer in what University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein argued in his 2001 book : That the Internet is a great example of narrow-casting and that that's bad for democracy. Sunstein's book was, I thought, a good start for the case that traditional mass media's role is actually more important in the Internet age.
Why? Well, when we log on, we usually know what information we want, so we seek it out. Increasingly sophisticated software agents, in fact, will help us find more of what we want. Our bookmarks are filled with sites which echo our interests.
Mass media, on the other hand, is different. We don't know what we will find as we turn the pages of the newspaper or watch a newscast. When we open the paper or turn on the TV, all we ask is “What's going on?”
As a result, through the mass media, will be exposed to information we never even thought to seek out. We will learn new things about parts of the world we never knew about and we will be exposed to ideas and opinions which may enrage us. Most of all, because many of us in a given community are reading or viewing the same paper or newscast, the community has some things in common to talk about. This is good for a healthy democracy.
So along comes the Pew Internet and American Life Project and they say fears I had (and, I suppose, Sunstein had) about the weakening of the democracy are unfounded. Pew researchers thought they would examine the premise that this echo-chamber effect of the Internet inhibits citizens in a democracy from colliding with others they would not otherwise collide with.

“…prominent commentators have expressed concern that growing use of the internet would be harmful to democratic deliberation. They worried that citizens would use the internet to seek information that reinforces their political preferences and avoid material that challenges their views. That would hurt citizens’ chances of contributing to informed debates.
The new survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in collaboration with the University of Michigan School of Information survey belies those worries. It shows that internet users have greater overall exposure political arguments, including those that challenge their candidate preferences and their positions on some key issues.”

The Pew report goes on to say:

While all people like to see arguments that support their beliefs, internet users are limiting their information exposure to views that buttress their opinions. Instead, wired Americans are more aware than non-internet users of all kinds of arguments, those that challenge their preferred candidates and issue positions.
Some of the increase in overall exposure merely reflects a higher level of interest politics among internet users. However, even when we compare Americans who similar in interest in politics and similar in demographic characteristics such as and education, our main findings still hold. Internet users have greater overall exposure to political arguments and they also hear more challenging arguments.

Interestingly enough, the report continues on to say:

Television is the primary news source for political information, broadband users increasingly get their information online. Three-quarters of all Americans (78%) say television is a main source. Some 38% of Americans say newspapers are a primary source; 16% the internet; and 4% say magazines.

and I think here is the key passage for those, like me, who worried that those who lived and died by Internet sites were locking themselves into information silos:

Internet news is mostly used as a complement to more traditional media. Still, a large number of people have gone to non-traditional Web sites to get information. People are not abandoning traditional news media for the internet. Of those who get news online on an average day, 90% also got news from a newspaper or TV.