The Final Push: Staring Down the Barrel of the Midterm Elections

Finally! It’s less than 90 hours until this long national nightmare of a mid-term election comes to hideous close. We can’t wait for the relative calm (maybe?) of Nov. 3, when everyone sleeps for a full day before gettin’ wound up for 2012.

Until then, we’ve got lots to do:

1) “Arkansas Week,” 8 p.m. tonight. I join KUAR-FM, 89.1’s Kelly MacNeil, the University of Arkansas’ Hoyt Purvis and host Steve Barnes for a final assessment of the state’s Congressional and constitutional officer races, such as they are. Remember that big exciting Senate race? Not so exciting heading into the final weekend. We look to the 1st District for any final fireworks. Also: Swepco’s 0-3 in court rulings. Check your local AETN station tonight or watch it online here.

2) “Today’s THV This Morning,” election day. Last week, I appeared on the noon show each day for a quick, final summary of all the Congressional races. On Tuesday’s “Morning” show, I’ll be live throughout the morning with some last-minute notes and maybe a guest or two.

3) Midterm Election Watch Party, the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock. I’ll be on a panel with a couple of other yahoos to give some final impressions of this year’s campaigns. We’ll also take questions from the audience and enjoy a warm bowl of bean soup before the returns start, er, returning. Fun!

4) Election Night Returns on Today’s THV and ArkansasBusiness.com. Pop up some popcorn, grab a Coke and settle in for a long night. You’ll be on the couch, we’ll be in at the parties, on the phone, online and in studio delivering the latest election night news as it happens. Arkansas Business Publisher Jeff Hankins will analyze the county-by-county returns live on Today’s THV and THV2.com, and I’ll be manning coverage for ArkansasBusiness.com.

5) The Morning After. Hankins and I will be on “Today’s THV This Morning” and “Today’s THV at Noon” to go over the results and, maybe, What It All Means.

And if this year’s elections weren’t scary enough: Happy Halloween!

Missing the Point of Aaron Sorkin’s ‘The Social Network’

The Social Network

The Social Network

Great insight from New Republic writer Lawrence Lessig on how “The Social Network” writer Aaron Sorkin completely misses the point of the story of Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Lessig concludes that the audience will miss the point, too.

The real deal here is innovation, and how the Internet is the most powerful platform for it in our history. Because of it, Lessig writes, “Zuckerberg’s genius could be embraced by half-a-billion people within six years of its first being launched, without (and here is the critical bit) asking permission of anyone” [emphasis mine].

Zuckerberg put his code, his idea, on the Web for all to access for less than $1,000. Used to be, the question of distribution was a tough one for some innovators. Not so for Zuckerberg. Not so for anyone with a Web-ready idea today.

But people who see “The Social Network” this weekend likely won’t get that, Lessig writes:

Practically everyone walking out will think they understand genius on the Internet. But almost none will have seen the real genius here. And that is tragedy because just at the moment when we celebrate the product of these two wonders—Zuckerberg and the Internet—working together, policymakers are conspiring ferociously with old world powers to remove the conditions for this success. As “network neutrality” gets bargained away—to add insult to injury, by an administration that was elected with the promise to defend it—the opportunities for the Zuckerbergs of tomorrow will shrink. And as they do, we will return more to the world where success depends upon permission. And privilege. And insiders. And where fewer turn their souls to inventing the next great idea.

Full article: Sorkin vs. Zuckerberg, The New Republic

Forget Ping for Now; Apple TV’s the Real News

Apple TV

Apple TV

… iTunes in the context of Apple TV is vastly more interesting—in fact, Apple TV is by far the most enthralling thing Apple announced this week, a model for what Apple products should be more like.

Apple TV’s integration with AirPlay and an upcoming, more powerful new Remote app soothes a lot of the anxiety about the inexplicable sense of disconnect between various Apple products.

The Seeds of Apple’s Cloud – Gizmodo

There was peculation that Apple would make good on its purchase of Lala this week by finally putting iTunes in the cloud, allowing you to stream your music library from anywhere. That didn’t happen. But the connectivity heralded by the new Apple TV to all IOS devices is a really cool step in the right direction.

Despite it’s “meh” debut, the undercooked Ping might pay off farther down the road (name another social network that has more than 100 million credit card numbers already on file). The bigger announcement this week was the new Apple TV — not so much the odd “rent and don’t purchase” model, not even the Netflix integration, which should have been part of Apple TV from the git-go — but the way it easily brings together files on your Mac, iPad, iPhone and every other AirPlay enabled device third-party manufacturers can crank out.

You could argue that other services like Boxee already do this and even allow more customization and better access to wider variety of file formats. But like everything else from Apple, the new Apple TV makes it easier, particularly if you’re already part of its ecosystem. And if you’re not, this might make you want to be.

#ARElections: A Sampling of Tuesday Night’s Political Coverage in Central Arkansas

With nearly 30 candidates running for Congressional seats, millions of dollars pouring into Arkansas media and plenty of national attention focusing on That U.S. Senate Race, tonight night is an Arkansas political junkie’s dream. How does one keep up with it all?

Here’s a sampling of where you can get the latest political news coverage after the polls close tomorrow night. (Any additions or updates, please let me know.)

TV

Jeff Hankins and I will be live all night on Today’s THV’s THV2, the CBS affiliate’s second digital channel. We’ll also be cutting into CBS programming throughout the night, with a big wrap-up at 10 p.m. Steve Ronnelle, president of the Political Animals Club of Central Arkansas, is among the guests.

KATV-TV, Channel 7 – The ABC affiliate pre-empts “V” at 9 p.m. with a 1-hour election special.

KARK-TV, Channel 4 – The NBC affiliate will have Bill Vickery and Pat Lynch as part of its coverage.

KLRT-TV, Channel 16 – The Fox affiliate will have Roby Brock as part of its regular, hour-long newscast at 9 p.m.

Radio

KARN-FM, 102.9Blake Rutherford and Jason Tolbert sit in with Dave Elswick for wall-t0-wall coverage. You can listen live online here. And check Twitter for live comments from Rutherford and Tolbert. (KARN listeners, please be nice to Blake.)

KUAR-FM, 89.1, (NPR in Little Rock) – Rex Nelson sits in, along with news coverage from Ron Breeding, Kelly MacNeil and the gang. Listen live online here.

Online

Again, you watch Today’s THV’s THV2 election coverage streaming live online here.

ArkansasBusiness.com – We’ll have updated analysis, as well as the latest numbers and stories from the Associated Press wire. For iPhones and Blackberries, go to m.inarkansas.com/news for those latest news headlines in a mobile-friendly format.

Arkansas Times Blog – No doubt there will be analysis from Editor Max Brantley and lots of colorful comments from readers.

ARElections.org – Returns as they come in. All the numbers, right here.

Related

On the Think Tank, Rutherford has a final pre-election media round-up of local and national coverage and commentary on today’s races.

Making Online News Work in Small-town Arkansas

It’s happening. Someone people are doing it. We’ve noted the Fayetteville Flyer, Ozarks Unbound, the CityWire and others. And this week, Arkansas Business media writer Sam Eifling checks in with two other online-only news sites: the MagnoliaReporter.com and MonticelloLive.com,

which has received 1.7 million page views during the past year. Its growth tickles Joe Burgess, who has owned and run the site since October 2007.

After three years on MonticelloLive.com, Burgess is convinced his style of coverage is sustainable, and here to remain as a competitor to the local paper (the Advance Monticellonian, in this case). “Convenience stores, instant coffee and faster information,” he says. “It’s all the same concept.

Right now, they’re small operations. But they’ve got the right idea: covering intensely local news intensely, offering readers news they can’t find anywhere else, even in the competing print paper.

Also

TolbertReport.com teams with InsideSaline.com and MySaline.com to present a day of debates by candidates in local elections.

Jeff Hankins: Bill Halter Is Enemy No. 1 for Business Community

Bill Halter

Bill Halter, an outsider in his own party.

Arkansas Business Publisher Jeff Hankins, writing in Monday’s editions, contemplates the onslaught of campaign donation solicitations the Arkansas business community will endure this tumultuous election season and assesses the all-important U.S. Senate race.

No predictions on the ultimate outcome, but it’s a good perspective on what business leaders will be thinking when kicking the tires on this marquee race.

On Halter:

Enemy No. 1 for the business community – locally and nationally – is Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who instantly received the endorsement of the AFL-CIO and has been promised some $4 million in national union money.

[…]

Halter would be a guaranteed vote for federal labor legislation such as “card check,” which his opponent, U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, finally and correctly opposed after significant arm-twisting from corporate Arkansas. That’s the measure that would have made unionization of companies big and small far easier, thus growing the AFL-CIO’s business.

Interestingly, the Arkansas Democratic Party establishment won’t be lining up to support Halter either. They don’t like him and never have. Hard-core liberals who are irritated by Lincoln’s centrist voting patterns will turn to him in the primary, but those numbers are small in Arkansas. If Democrats in Arkansas want to retain a seat in the U.S. Senate, booting Lincoln in favor of Halter isn’t going to do it. A state that didn’t support Barack Obama won’t go for Halter either.

But Halter isn’t to be taken lightly. For more on Lincoln and the Arkansas business’ community’s biggest fear, along with a glance at the Republican lineup, Gentleman Jim Keet and the bonanza that awaits local media, read Hankins’ full column here.

The Apple iPad: The Morning After

Talking iPad with Charles Crowson on Today's THV This MorningSo, the iPad’s out. What do we think?

Looking at our wholly unscientific surveys from yesterday, the majority of respondents think that 1) Wednesday’s keynote, when compared to other Apple keynotes in the past, simply did not live up to the months and months of hype, 2) while the iPad might indeed prove to be a significant device, it’s certainly not game-changer on an iPod or iPhone level and 3) the iPad is not a device many of us think we need to buy immediately, as soon as it’s available.

In the above video, accessible via the screenshot, I share my first impressions of the device on “Today’s THV This Morning” with Charles Crowson. Basically, while I think iPad is another beautiful, cool, amazingly well designed piece of technology, I can’t imagine who the device is for. What is the market for the iPad?

Instant Appeal

The iPod and iPhone had instant appeal to an array of users for several reasons. Among them, they each fundamentally changed the way we consume certain media and conduct everyday tasks. (The iPod changed how we listen and buy music; the iPhone brought the full Web to our handsets and created a new software ecosystem with apps.)

The iPad, while well-designed and beautiful, does neither. All it does is build on existing technologies to deliver media in a not-entirely-new form factor. If you’ve got an iPhone or iPod Touch, you’ve seen these tricks before. And if you have a laptop, you can do all the things the iPad does — and more — on a more robust machine.

Apple iPad

Flat-out cool. But who's it for?

Why?

So why the iPad? Apple is trying to create a device optimized solely for consuming all types of media in a quieter, less distracting operating environment. This is part of the reason why there’s no camera on the iPad, nor can it run more than on application on the device’s souped-up iPhone OS. With the laptop, you work, you create media. With the iPhone,  you answer calls and e-mails, stay in touch and work on the go. The iPad is what you pick up when you get home and want to unwind.

The delineation is fine one. Many people simply won’t see it. And if they do, why plunk down at least $500 (or add to your money data bill if you invest in a 3G version) for what amounts to a mobile media device? I’m not sure Apple has made a compelling case for that.

But — is it Apple’s responsibility to make that case? I’m not entirely sure. Part of what could make the iPad a hit is what’s already made the iPhone and iPod Touch indispensible: the App Store.

*Some Innovation Required

In my mind, it’s going to be up to content providers, including newspapers and magazines, to create fully optimized, multimedia content that exploits every advantage the iPad brings to bear to make the platform work. As it stands, iPad already looks more attractive e-reader than the Kindle or the Nook. If publishers fully embrace the multimedia capabilities now at their fingerprints to create valuable interactive publications, the iPad could very become the media consumption device of choice of readers, college students, young video-gamers and more.

And while we see signs that the video game industry is excited by the new form factor their App Store games can know inhabit, newspapers and magazines’ reactions have so far seemed, well, boring. The New York Times app demoed at yesterday’s keynote was underwhelming at best, particularly compared with what NYTimes.com offers on the Web. Guess what publishers? You still need to innovate. Even on Steve Job’s magical device.

Without innovation from all content providers, the iPad — however beautiful, unique, cool, whatever — will become merely another niche device that only a few of us ever use, a far cry from the revolution it’s billed as.

More

Blake Rutherford on the iPad, technology and politics

Gizmodo – Why the iPad is the device you never you needed

David Carr – The game changed today

NY Times – Device blurs the lines

GalleyCat – Publishing experts weigh in on iPad

NY Times – Another data hog for AT&T?

LA Times – No revolution, but ‘great promise’

Wired – Where’s Verizon?

AdAge – The hard questions for publishers drooling over the iPad

The Wrap – What Apple got right and wrong with the iPad

BusinessWeek – Apple’s effects on content partners, the good and bad

LA Weekly – Should Hollywood be afraid of iPad?

TechCrunch – How iPad will put Kindle out of business