Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, April 01, 2021

The results of Poynter’s latest EyeTrack study of news reader tendencies have turned a Digital Age truism on its head: Online news consumers read more indepth than print readers do.

The EyeTrack07 survey by the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based journalism school, found online readers read 77 percent of what they chose to read while broadsheet newspaper readers read an average of 62 percent, and tabloid readers about 57 percent…

[Sara Quinn, director of the EyeTrack07 project] said they were surprised to find that such a large percentage of story text was read online as this exploded the myth that Web readers had a shorter attention span.

“Nearly two-thirds of online readers, once they chose a particular item to read, read all of the text,” Quinn told Reuters on Thursday at the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ annual conference where the study was released.

Various qualifications were tossed in, including design-specific data about text format/typesetting helped the reader’s eye along. Fascinating for media junkies like me. (Disclosure: I was formerly employed by two of Poynter’s main media holdings: The St. Petersburg Times and Florida Trend Magazine.)

I wonder what these EyeTrack findings indicate about the societal evolution of electronic information intake. The assumption of visual flitting around while staring at a monitor is something I’ve bought into, extending far beyond news media:

Simply put, electronic data — computer-based information delivered through the Web and email, but also user-created with word processing and other applications — is expected to be malleable. A Word document can be edited, a Web page can be updated and customized, etc. Print data, particularly mass media, is looked at differently: Once it’s been committed to paper, it’s “done”. It’s more of a permanent document and record at that point, not subject to further editing or changes. Even if it’s a draft, or something as non-critical as a personal email message, printing it gives it a permanence it wouldn’t have if it existed only on-screen.

Given this, I wonder if most people don’t mentally approach reading, or even visual-input, material according to the medium upon which it’s presented. If you’re reading something on a monitor, does a part of your brain think, “This is for-the-moment stuff, it’s not going to stay relevant for long”? When you read a book, is the message, “This is the finished, crafted draft, it’s worth paying closer attention to”? In other words, all other things being equal, does the printed word merit more “stickiness”, or retention, on a mental level?

This may explain why online advertising, at least with relatively static text copy, has been to hard to push: It may inherently be at a disadvantage on electronic media. The concept of ad “stickiness” was tossed around a lot during the dot-com boom; maybe they were trying to achieve something that was unachievable. Same goes for e-books, which were expected to take off in a big way, but to date have not.

I wrote all that three years ago, and was prompted by a simple comment that reading something on paper, or printed out, resulted in better retention than if reading it on the screen. Up until now, I stuck with that gut feeling: Viewing pixels was for fleeting, on-the-fly information, while viewing ink was for long-term cranial storage.

Now? Maybe after just more than a decade of regular Web interaction — and before that, several more years of offline computer document reading and writing — the average person’s cognitive skills are better accustomed to this new way of absorbing information.

Which, following the ideas I laid out back in 2004, means that digital/online media is really poised to become a super-effective medium to communicate all forms of information: Entertainment, commercial, interpersonal, and more. Everything up until this point has been a clumsy prelude, as medium and audience have felt each other out; now, the lines of communication have been solified. The fun’s about to start…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/01/2021 10:30:45 PM
Category: Internet, Media, Society
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Citing a gradually shrinking pool of Israelis and Palestinians who care to study and speak each other’s languages, this telling justification is cited for one side:

Many Israelis look to Europe as their prime economic and cultural reference point. In business, the language they need is more likely to be English or French than Arabic. Today, among those Israeli Jews studying Arabic, many more than a decade ago are doing so for one reason: preparing for service in the Israeli security agencies.

This is nothing new. Despite the obvious post-Holocaust reasons for establishing the Jewish state, from the start Israel has been more European than Middle Eastern.

I think this is often glossed over when considering tensions in that region. There’s certainly no shortage of anti-Semitic feeling in the Islamic world. But what grated more on the Arab states was an Israel that, by the way it was set up and settled, more resembled a European colony or client state than a “native” political entity.

There’s some simplification in that characterization, but I think it fits. The continued affinity for overseas sociopolitical ties only reinforces the otherness that the Islamic world assigns to Israel. At this point, there’s no other choice for either side, but the roots for this division were planted from the beginning.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/01/2021 09:37:12 PM
Category: History, Political
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Proving that people will wager money on absolutely anything, folks in northern climes hold town-wide “ice-out” betting pools on the date and time that a local body of water will thaw out.

The basic drill: As Spring approaches, some object — cinder block, tripod, dummy in a beach chair — is placed on a patch of the ice. That object is attached by a string to a clock. When the ice thins sufficiently and the object cracks through the surface, the string yanks the clock, marking the exact time of the blessed event.

As spectator sports go, it’s not exactly riveting. But in 1988, the first year the [Joe’s Pond] contest was held, 421 tickets were sold. Last year, 8,386 tickets were sold to people in 41 states and two foreign countries. The ice went out April 16 at 3:20 p.m., the earliest ever. The deadline for entering the 20th annual contest is Sunday.

I guess the watching-paint-dry competition wasn’t exciting enough?

A couple of additional jokes come to mind: Native Americans getting into the act via casino extension, global warming as the handicapper… But I’ll refrain.

If you feel compelled to join the madness, you’ve got options. The deadline on some of these have already passed, so good luck for next year:

- From New Hampshire, the Lake Winnipesaukee Ice-Out Guess Contest

- From Alaska, the Nenana Ice Classic

- From Vermont, the Joe’s Pond Ice Out

- From Wisconsin, Black’s Cliff Ice Out Contest on Lower Kaubashine Lake

- From Minnesota, the Ely Echo Shagawa Lake Ice Out Contest

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/01/2021 07:50:26 PM
Category: Society, Weather
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I’ll admit, I was initially taken in by the announcement of ForkPress, the seeming split-off of WordPress by way of Habari (whatever that is).

But as I read the rippling repercussions — and started pumping some caffeine into my system — I slowly started to figure it out. My epiphany moment came when I paid closer attention to this telling stat:

Total ForkPress Downloads: 20,070,401

Impressive number of downloads for a new release. Even more impressive when you break down that big number thusly: 2007/04/01, or April Fool’s Day.

Not a bad hoax from the codemonkey contingent. I’m not going to even attempt to work out any of the other inside jokes and their meaning (K3? bbqPress?); what I’ve seen is amusing enough. It’s also the only Fool’s work I’ve come across today, in any context. If it turns out to be the only one, I’ll be satisfied.

I’m a little disappointed, because at first, I was thinking that my musings on a real WP forking were coming true.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/01/2021 02:32:47 PM
Category: Bloggin', Tech
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Here’s the next-to-last National Hockey League Special Teams Index of this 2006-07 season. Take a look at the shifting — what there is of it — from last week’s STI rankings.

Since the NHL season winds up next Sunday night, the final STI post will go up on that following Monday.

While I’ve tried to emphasize that special teams play does not necessarily determine position in the standings, it should be noted: Most of the teams bound for the playoffs do, indeed, sport a fat STI number. Notable exceptions: Atlanta and Tampa Bay, both of which have been languishing at the bottom of the Index pretty much all season. Lest you start knocking the Southeast as a crappy division, remember that likely Eastern Conference top seed Buffalo is down there too. Obviously, all three teams have been getting it done 5-on-5, despite their odd-man shortcomings.

STI Rank Team PP % (Rank) PK % (Rank) STI Number
1 Anaheim Ducks 22.2 (3) 84.7 (6) 106.9
2 San Jose Sharks 22.5 (2) 83.8 (13) 106.3
3 Montreal Canadiens 22.7 (1) 83.5 (14) 106.2
4 Vancouver Canucks 17.0 (20) 87.7 (1) 104.7
5 Minnesota Wild 18.8 (8) 85.5 (2) 104.3
6 New York Rangers 19.0 (6) 84.0 (10) 103.0
7 Nashville Predators 17.4 (17) 85.4 (3) 102.8
8 Dallas Stars 18.7 (9) 83.9 (11) 102.6
9 New Jersey Devils 17.7 (16) 84.8 (5) 102.5
10 Ottawa Senators 17.8 (14) 84.6 (7) 102.4
11 Pittsburgh Penguins 20.4 (5) 81.8 (17) 102.2
12 Colorado Avalanche 21.4 (4) 79.8 (24) 101.2
13 Detroit Red Wings 16.9 (21) 83.9 (12) 100.8
14 Florida Panthers 17.8 (13) 82.4 (16) 100.2
15 Philadelphia Flyers 14.1 (28) 85.2 (4) 99.3
16 New York Islanders 17.8 (15) 81.4 (19) 99.2
17 Carolina Hurricanes 14.7 (26) 84.5 (8) 99.2
18 Calgary Flames 18.6 (10) 80.5 (23) 99.1
19 Boston Bruins 17.3 (19) 81.7 (18) 99.0
20 Edmonton Oilers 14.5 (27) 84.3 (9) 98.8
21 Buffalo Sabres 17.9 (12) 80.7 (21) 98.6
22 Tampa Bay Lightning 18.8 (7) 78.7 (28) 97.5
23 Columbus Blue Jackets 15.5 (25) 81.1 (20) 96.6
24 Los Angeles Kings 18.1 (11) 78.4 (29) 96.5
25 Washington Capitals 16.7 (23) 79.8 (25) 96.5
26 Atlanta Thrashers 16.8 (22) 79.5 (26) 96.3
27 Toronto Maple Leafs 17.4 (18) 78.8 (27) 96.2
28 Chicago Blackhawks 12.3 (29) 82.5 (15) 94.8
29 Phoenix Coyotes 15.8 (24) 78.1 (30) 93.9
30 St. Louis Blues 12.2 (30) 80.6 (22) 92.8
by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/01/2021 01:16:57 PM
Category: Hockey
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