Speaking in the devil’s classroom-

Don Vermillion, former Montgomery County administrator invited me to speak to a graduate course at UD that he team teaches with DDN Editorial page editor- Ellen Belcher.

The course is about local government and the media- and they wanted a speaker to discuss using the Internet to raise hell (well you get the point) as compared to the DDN that uses it to try to make a living (well- you get the point again).

I followed the CoxOhio web-geek- who was suggesting using MySpace to build networks (something I wouldn’t ever recommend- keep your content on a site you own- or run serious risks)- and probably believed that buying keywords is also a good way to get hits (not). Needless to say- the DDN does such a lame web 1.5 implementation of social media that people should be embarrassed to post on it.

While I believe people in local government and public service need a much better education in how to use the web- and what web 2.0 means- I doubt they learned much from me in the  little over an hour I talked.

I tried to share some of the concepts of my websitetology seminar– compressing 7 hours into 30 minutes-  and I tried to explain how one will do battle in the future with people like Ellen who buy ink by the barrel.  I doubt I achieved much.

The key thing to remember is that content is king, and targeting a community to connect with is what will make the difference. No matter what you do- if it can’t be searched, indexed and show up at the top- you either better have lots of friends linking to you- or a big budget to advertise.

The web 2.0 thing could change politics as we know it- but it will take a whole bunch of people seeing the 2.0 light. It was scary when not a one of the students knew what an RSS icon was.

Sorry I didn’t do a better job folks.

And, even more sorry that UD thinks Ellen Belcher understands the role of the media. How many things would have been uncovered if the Dayton Daily News did some true investigative reporting? Would I have ever been arrested and prosecuted if they had put a stop to secret commission meetings that they were aware of? I’m sure it wasn’t good form slamming Ms. Belcher in front of her class for allowing music reviews in the DDN to claim they could tell the color of the artists by listening to the music- but, to this day- I still believe the DDN to be the cause of more racial tension in Dayton than any other single source.

I doubt I’ll ever be evaluated fairly in the DDN- that’s why I’ve been placing my ideas here for people to examine straight from my mouth. All in one place, all searchable, and accessible.

Will I go to hell for it? Let’s wait and see.

I was in the devil’s classroom tonight- the windows were open, it was hot- and I lived to write about it.

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2 Comments on "Speaking in the devil’s classroom-"

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Going to hell for sticking your neck out, recognizing the truth and speaking your mind ??? I don’t think so. The DDN suffers from a severe case of organizational paralysis, something that is epidemic today with just about every business, non-profit group as well as colleges and universities. Lots of inept people on the payroll, all under leadership (if you can call it that) that is short-sighted and lives in fear of actually confronting and removing non-performers. Kind of a “the inmates running the prison” syndrome. The alternative and grassroots media are ripe for growth while the old dinosaurs are slow to react and adapt to the changes that are taking place within their own markets.

D. Greene

DDN’s website drives me crazy – it’s just an out of the box, “Turnkey” Content Management systems designed for newspapers. Which means it’s dumb, and it has lots of little flaws that don’t get fixed. For example, the commenting system does not foster any sort of intelligent discussion or debate (so much for the community, eh?).

The most annoying “feature” is forcing me to login to read their two paragraph articles. When I’m on a computer I’m not logged into, it sends me to a sign-up screen. To login, I have to click ANOTHER button, wait for the page to load, and then login. How trivial would it be to have the login portion on the same initial page as the signup – like 95% of all websites do? A few years ago I emailed their webmaster complaining about this usability issue in identical language. He didn’t get it, I guess, because his reply consisted of “you can login by just clicking the login link! It’s fun and easy!” Since the website can’t be easily customized since it’s a proprietary, closed source CMS that probably has huge subscription costs associated with it (i.e. the polar opposite of WordPress), and since it’s obviously run by dolts who do not understand concepts like ease of use, I loathe using the DDN website.

As for that CoxOhio person talking up MySpace – Facebook is far more powerful as a social networking tool than MySpace. People use it more, groups and forums are easier to organize and participate in, and there is a higher level of trust between the user and the provider because facebook isn’t plagued by viruses, spam, and horrible custom page designs. Facebook is adding blog features, allowing you to cite any website pretty quickly, YouTube integration is easy, and commenting and messaging are simple and effective. I bet that even though most of those grad students don’t know what an RSS feed is, they are using one every day when they login to Facebook.