Notable things: Note taking and TV show recapping, a simple fix for Google’s antitrust problem, keep shooting

From 2004-2010 I spent an ungodly amount of my free time recapping and analyzing “Lost.” I watched each new episode intently and took lots of notes, while all the while thanking my ninth-grade typing instrutor for giving me the gift of touch-typing.

The weird thing is that I rarely referenced those pages-upon-pages of notes when it came time to write the recaps. The process of taking notes while watching organized my thoughts to the point where I didn’t require back-up. Yet, there’s no way I could have cranked out the same material at the same speed had I not engaged in this note-writing exercise.

I was reminded of this when I read through Andy Greenwald’s TV Mailbag on Grantland:

When I’m recapping, I tend to pause the show every five to 10 seconds to jot down a line or an observation. Obviously, this is hugely annoying to anyone else in the room, so I tend to watch “work” shows on my laptop with a Word document open … For an hour-long show, I tend to accumulate about 10 pages of notes, most of which I never look at again. But the act of writing it down tends to lodge the stuff more firmly in my brain. [Emphasis added.]

I guess that note-taking quirk isn’t quite as odd as I thought.

(Incidentally, I miss watching “Lost” and I miss the fantastic community that revolved around it, but I don’t miss the 3-5 hours it required to recap each episode. I still don’t understand how/why my wife put up with that “hobby.”)


Randal C. Picker proposes an elegant solution to Google’s antitrust problem: let people set their own defaults for maps, local reviews, etc.:

Google hard-wires its search results in favor of its own maps, so a restaurant search on Google will return results with maps from Google. Perhaps I prefer MapQuest to Google Maps. Regulators would be understandably concerned that the rise of Google Maps has been driven by how tightly linked it is to Google’s underlying search engine and not because it is a superior product on its own. If consumers could designate a default maps provider, antitrust regulators would have much greater confidence that Google Maps is winning on its own merits.

Like rebates and coupons and rain checks and anything else that requires a modicum of effort, we know few people will ever reset those defaults. And that’s not taking into account Google’s superiority in many of these services. I use MapQuest about as much as I use Lycos.

Nonetheless, providing the option to switch services could go a long way toward easing regulators’ concerns.


The title of this image: “I’m not going to lie. I took 174 photos to get this ONE.”

I had a photography teacher in college who implored us to “keep shooting.” And this was before digital was the default.

He was right. You’ve got to take a lot of shots to get a good one.

My online edit fundamentals (in handy cliche form)

I’ve been involved with online content in one form or another for 16 years. Over that time I’ve developed fundamentals that guide my thinking. I’m posting them here just for the hell of it.


In no particular order …

Give a damn about the content and the people consuming it.

And the inverse: Assume no one gives a damn about your content. You have to earn the attention.

Value first, promotions second.

Good content projects are built on consistency and longevity.

Build your foundation with regular content (daily, weekly, whatever). Construct bigger / less frequent pieces on top of this foundation. It’s like taking off from a trampoline — every jump is amplified.

You have to do the work.

Headlines matter. A lot.

Metadata matters. A lot.

Formatting matters. A lot.

Page speed matters. (You know what I’m going to say here …)

Traffic spikes are high-sugar, low-nutrition.

Go where people already already gather.

Customize content for the platform.

Track the hell out of things.

Strive for a holistic view of traffic and engagement.

Spend one hour per week examining and asking questions against the analytics.

Interview checklist: What to check before the camera rolls

A few tough lessons I’ve learned after conducting lots of video interviews:

How’s your hair? — A flyaway patch is distracting. Lock that thing down.

Anything in your teeth? — Leafy vegetables love camera time.

Do you look presentable? — Reasonable shirt? Check. Pants? Check. Footwear? Check. (These are not shoes.)

How’s your breath? — Interviewees should not be overwhelmed by that grande house blend.

How’s the background? — Is it distracting?

And the big one …

Are you conducting an interview or having a conversation?

An interview is about the other person. A conversation is about both people.

If it’s not about you, don’t make it about you.