Publishing, Coffee, Contracts

March 08, 2004 1PM PST

Welcome to mezzoblue expanded, a fresh Monday afternoon edition featuring commentary on items in the news that would have otherwise been relegated to sidebar status. (Because some days are more reflective than others.)

Craig Saila points to a lengthy but good read this morning by Vin Crosbie at Online Journalism Review which may be considered alarmist for the newspaper industry, but advocates practices have long been in use amongst the geek crowd.

In particular, Vin outlines a personalization strategy for big media that makes a connection between declining sales over the past four decades and the ever-forward march of technology. Newspapers, he argues, haven’t kept pace, especially given the variety of news outlets. Even the web isn’t proving a saving grace as the readership numbers are fairly consistent with the dead tree versions. Younger generations are less inclined to read newspapers, and the web isn’t drawing them in.

So personalization is the solution. The more technically savvy figured this out long ago, and thanks to NetNewsWire and FeedDemon among others, we’ve had the tools to make it a reality. I used to check in with, my local papers (or rather, their web equivalent) and a few other news sources daily. Used to, but I’ve since moved to more specialized news sources that align with my interests, and I’m not alone.

Newspapers have always been content aggregators; the content is no longer behind lock and key, so alternative solutions are cropping up. More content becomes available for consumption every day thanks to RSS/Atom. A newspaper’s role in this century is to bring this technology to the masses, or to die. §

Coffee is the fuel that powers the web, as far as I’m concerned. In light of that, good news this morning—it’s healthy, according to Italian dietician Chiara Trombetti. Anti-oxidants and tannin found in stronger brews are good for the heart and arteries, it’s good for the liver, and of course the caffiene boosts circulation.

So put a mug on as you work your way through the rest of this, and stock up on the teeth whitening strips, because if you take this advice to heart you’re going to need them. §

This is the punchline:

The sales representative kindly agreed to remove the clause when I pointed out that it wasn’t really sensible for us to ‘mortgage’ our company and all its intellectual property, and all its future, yet-to-be-created intellectual property, just to obtain telephone services worth under $500 a month.

This is the post. Excerpted from Martin Ertl’s new weblog Boilerplate, dedicted to “elegant drafting in contracts”. §

First it was Dan Cederholm’s new ‘Markup and Style Handbook’, and announced today were Eric Meyer’s two new books. Forthcoming: a second edition to the O’Reilly-published “Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide”, and a sequel to the now-classic “Eric Meyer on CSS” titled, appropriately, “More Eric Meyer on CSS”. Congratulations to the both of you, looking forward to all three. §

Finally, a story from my weekend.

So, can you explain to us, in layman’s terms so that we might even understand, what it is exactly that you do?

Well, gee Uncle C., I’ve been trying to that for years with only a limited degree of success, but here’s an example that might work. Think about the billboards, brochures, TV commercials, and businesss signs that you see daily. Somebody has obviously been paid to create them, so try to imagine taking those principles, squishing the production into a little box, and delivering the whole package on a screen.

But that’s the first half. Now for another analogy: think about your car’s dashboard. Somebody has spent a lot of time thinking about the various dials and controls, how they look, how they feel, and how easy they are to grab without taking your eyes off the road. I do that, but again, for things that only show up on screen.

So, then, what exactly are you going to be talking about at this conference in Texas next week?

Specifically, this technology called CSS which…. oh, hey, we’re out of gravy. I’ll be right back.§