Tag Archives: Reporting

Why I use Evernote for all my notes

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This morning I was thinking back to the days when writing news was my primary vocation. A long time before Apple released its Intel version of OS X – in the phase when it was questioning the sanity of any reporter who claimed it was working on one – I was chatting to Nick dePlume of ThinkSecret.

Nick asked if I knew anything about a Manchester-based company called Transitive. He’d heard that they were working on a method for Intel chips to run PowerPC code, something that was vital to Apple’s efforts to shift architecture. Nick wanted to get a second source for this, and so was doing a little digging around.

I hadn’t heard anything, and when I dug around couldn’t find enough. Transitive was open about what it could do, but didn’t talk about its customers. Eventually Nick, and Matthew Rothenberg, got the story out in what was probably the scoop of the decade in the Mac market.

And this morning, I was trying to remember exactly when Nick and I spoke – and I couldn’t. Of course, at the time, I took copious dated notes on paper but unfortunately those notes (along with most of my notebooks prior to 2003) got lost in a house move.

That’s one of the reasons that I now use Evernote for all my note taking. Although it’s obviously an electronic solution, it’s easy to scan in any paper-based notes you make (even using something like an iPhone camera) which get automatically get run through text recognition software and get turned into something searchable.

Normally I’m wary about relying on online services for this kind of stuff, but Evernote takes care of that too. It has desktop clients which sync with the online database, so, if the company died, would give you a local back up of all your information.

If I’d had Evernote back when I spoke to Nick, I’d still have those notes and I wouldn’t be trying to wrack my brains to work out when exactly it was. My notes might not be any kind of important historical archive, but they’re very valuable to me – because they represent a significant part of my work and life.

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Seth Finkelstein nails why TechCrunch sucks in one line

In a comment on Rogers Cadenhead’s blog, Seth Finkelstein perfectly captures what the deeper reason behind the TechCrunch/Last.fm poor reporting is:

“The basic problem is that there’s no profit (from attention) in being right, but there is in being first.”

The first post on a topic gets most of the inbound links, most of the traffic, and most of the attention, something that was obvious to me even when I was online editor at MacUser ten years ago. In that sense, TechCrunch is simply responding to the market.

The theory has always been that good information will out, and some people might suppose that the coverage that Last.fm’s response has got is evidence of that. But the problem is that it basically took RJ being incredibly blunt – “TechCrunch is full of shit” – in order to get the message across. He, and other Last.fm employees, had already denied the story in less-blunt language in the TechCrunch comments, and on other blog posts elsewhere. Yet the story continued to get traction until Last.fm effectively made it personal.

The interesting question is what consequences does this have for communications, and responding to erroneous stories. If the pressure is on sites to be first, rather than being right, then we are going to see a lot more of these stories – and sooner or later, a company will get into serious financial problems because of one.

Will it take a court case before big new media organisations implement better reporting standards? Will it take a company suing someone like Mike Arrington personally before people realise that the editorial process evolved for some very good reasons?