Sunday, February 24, 2008


One day blogs very well might replace newspapers

by Larry Geller

You know how fast and cheap printers are becoming. Imagine you Hawaii Blog Journalcould go into a Safeway or Longs, push a button, and get a newspaper created according to your specifications and printed on the spot.

Now that dream might give newspaper publishers just a few nightmares one day.

It's far from realization, but the technology is almost there. For example, if the Advertiser were shut down due to a strike, you could indeed print your own "newspaper" on demand, based on sources that syndicate their information via RSS feeds. You know, that little orange thingy on most blog pages.

Ok, so why not try it. If you click on the image above, you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about. It's not perfect, but it's a beginning. What is it? It's  a brilliant new news reader (called Feed Journal) that presents as though it's a newspaper! Yes, it pretends. Not a bad job of it, either. Many people will like the format. And it's almost supermarket-ready, it's so automatic. It's supposed to do photographs also but I haven't figured that out yet.

I asked it to display a bunch of Hawaii blogs that published over this weekend. It could have displayed real headlines and even more conventional news.

So here you have it, the first issue of a "paper" that could be produced in the event the Advertiser doesn't hurry up and settle with its unions. No ads. Some extra white space for your doodles. All the blogs that fit, it prints.

This journal appears on your screen. You can just read it, or if there is a strike, print it out and give it to folks who don't have computers and miss their news.

Of course it's not the same news. In some ways, though, it's better.

Have a look, and if you like, let me know what you think. Remember, it's a news reader, you can set it up to display the blogs you are interested in.


that's pretty cool. one thing I see as a small glitch is that it doesn't seem to maintain citations, so you can't tell what is a citation and what is original post.

Hmmm... yes, there are a few glitches. The software is still under development, by one hard-working guy, I learned.

There were a few format glitches that I edited out of the PDF. So strangely, if it were to go "public" now, I guess bloggers would need an editor! Just to keep the format straight, mind you. Until the computer program improves, which it will.

The editing took me very little time. Should there be a strike and bloggers wanted to actually post a Hawaii blog newspaper, there is also software from the same website to gather the blogs onto a server automatically. That's what I really find exciting, but it's different from this in that anyone can use this program to put together their own personal "newspaper." The other, someone has to set it up, the choice isn't the reader's.

Perhaps there could be several editions. Kauai readers would want their local blogs, Maui and Big Island readers would want theirs, etc.

The supermarket paper idea is one I've had for years, from 'way back when I worked for GE Time Sharing in the '70s. At that time I was focused more on food and recipe info. There was no way then to gather news on a computer anyway. Now there is.

So if a strike should happen, it could be an opportunity to try out a newspaperless existence, just for the advancement of science, mind you.

If the Advertiser were to strike, wouldn't the Bulletin still be around?

Wonder why that doesn't register on your "disappeared" radar.

Interesting doohickey nonetheless, though.

Good question. I really wasn't thinking of the S-B, maybe because the Advertiser is the paper I subscribe to. I don't know if I would start reading the S-B if the Advertiser were to disappear. Maybe on-line.

This neat software was on my mind, and the possibility of producing a blog-based paper, so I guess that's what I wanted to try out. New toy.

Your question is a good one, though. I really didn't think that we still have one paper even if the other is temporarily gone.

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