Felix Salmon

Why Twitter will get more annoying

Happy sixth birthday, Twitter! You’re the service which started off as a way for groups of friends to keep in touch with each other via text messages, and you’ve grown into a revolutionary platform for connecting and sharing with millions of people around the world.

Annals of dishonest attacks, Stephen Dubner edition

Super Freakonomics came out in 2009, and Ezra Klein was not impressed:

The problem with Super Freakonomics is it prefers an interesting story to an accurate one. This is evident from the very first story on the very first page of the book.

Fabulous journalism

Blaine Harden’s astonishing account of the life of Shin In Geun — a man born into a North Korean prison camp, who has lived pretty much the worst life imaginable — has received significantly less attention than the fact that This American Life has retracted its story about working conditions at Foxconn, which was based on Mike Daisey’s monologue. (If you don’t want to listen to the hour-long retraction, which is a masterpiece of the form, the transcript is available here.)

The worst personal-finance video ever

Like many people, I’m fascinated by lottery tickets. In many ways they’re the purest speculative investment in the world: a piece of paper which is all but worthless today might be worth $200 million tomorrow. Literally. Lottery tickets are a bit like SWAG assets (silver, wine, art gold) in that you can only make money on them by giving them up and exchanging them for cash. They pay no dividends, and they have an asymmetrical payout: the most you can lose on any one ticket is a modest dollar, but the most you can gain is enormous.

Why the micropayments business model matters

Kevin Drum has an interesting take on the Matter debate: if Matter does great journalism, it will succeed, and if it doesn’t, it will fail, and the business model doesn’t, well, matter.

Can Matter succeed?

Stephen Morse doesn’t Matter. In fact, he calls the journalism startup — whose Kickstarter campaign broke past the $100,000 level in just nine days — “Snake Oil Salesmen 2.0″ and “a scam”. And after getting a smart explanation of exactly how Matter’s business model is, he doubled down on his position and said he would keep it even if they manage to raise $500,000. So I invited him up to Reuters for a little debate.

Gothamist gets its press pass

In August 2004, Gothamist publisher Jake Dobkin applied for working-press credentials from the NYPD. An avid and ubiquitous news photographer, he clearly qualified for the credentials on any common-sense grounds. But the NYPD denied his request on the grounds that Gothamist was a website, and the NYPD didn’t consider anybody working for a website to be a journalist. (Seriously.) Thus did the saga of Gothamist’s press pass begin.

Why journalists need to link

Jonathan Stray has a great essay up at Nieman Lab entitled “Why link out? Four journalistic purposes of the noble hyperlink”. I basically agree with all of it; links are wonderful things, and the more of them that we see in news stories — especially if they’re external rather than internal links — the better.

Matter’s vision for long-form journalism

Yesterday morning, a very exciting new journalism project was launched on Kickstarter. It’s called Matter, and it’s going to be home to long-form investigative narrative journalism about science and technology. “No cheap reviews, no snarky opinion pieces, no top ten lists,” they promise. “Just one unmissable story.”