Good morning, here are our early stories:
And here are more early headlines:
Dangerous Smog Envelopes Singapore. (AccuWeather)
Foiled In First Attack, Islamists Threaten More Against Somalia Compound. (Reuters)
U.S. Criticizes China, Russia Over Efforts To Fight Human Trafficking. (BBC)
Google Must Change Privacy Rules In France Or Face Sanctions. (Bloomberg)
Fast Moving Fire Spreads Near Denver, About 100 Evacuated. (Denver Post)
Dubai Plans To Unveil Public Theme Park Honoring The Koran Next Year. (Khaleej Times)
Religious Group Apologizes To Gays And Lesbians, Closes "Cure" Ministry. (CNN)
Chicago Beats Boston, Ties NHL Stanley Cup Championship Series. (Chicago Tribune)
For almost four minutes last night, comedian Stephen Colbert dropped the act. And he delivered a beautiful, heartfelt eulogy for his late mother Lorna Colbert.
There's not much more we can add, just watch:
Lorna Colbert was 92.
Stephen Colbert's mother Lorna died recently at 92, and on last night's Colbert Report, he offered her a funny, sweet, warm tribute that really requires no additional comment.
Facebook is expected to announce Thursday that its photo-sharing app, Instagram, will soon allow short video uploads. The new feature comes as Twitter's six-second video-sharing app, Vine, enjoys a user base of 13 million (and growing).
In many ways, allowing moving images to a service that's used for sharing stills is a natural evolution. But it also brings a significant change to the Instagram experience.
Ahead of the announcement, we recruited the help and expertise of two NPR user experience designers, Alyson Hurt and Danny DeBelius, to get a sense of what's working for Instagram as it is now, and why users might be wary about what's coming. The Insta-video fears seem to fall into a few buckets:
1. The Noise And Clutter Fear
The fear here is that video destroys the silent, simple core experience of Instagram — scrolling down a stream of images. "For the core functions — posting photos and browsing the latest photos from your friends — it's a pretty focused experience," Hurt says. As they are now, Instagram feeds don't require much attention from users. Those who like that utilitarian function of Instagram worry about the noise and/or the uneven quality of video gunking up their feeds and disturbing what they perceive as a peaceful cyber-meadow. It's likely that Instagram designers anticipated this fear and will offer a way to opt out of videos in your stream.
2. The Not-Enough-Bandwidth Fear
Sometimes Instagram (or the 3G/4G connections available) can't even handle uploading a single image. Now, users are supposed to upload videos, which take more time to load? "This has been one of my major sticking points with Vine," DeBelius says. "I can't tell you how many times I've had uploads fail because of the bad data connection problem on mobile."
3. The Fear Of Change
Living a modern life means constantly adapting to new technologies, features and updates. But even if the Instagram user base isn't inherently change-averse, "There's certainly the 'if-it-ain't-broke,-don't-fix-it' inertia," Hurt says. "Instagram needs to make a case for why video deserves a place alongside its photos." (The revenue case is strong. The tech trades are all playing up the notion that Facebook had to compete against Vine in this fast-growing mobile video space.)
4. The Cheesiness Fear
The folks in this camp say video just isn't as elegant. Imagine a filtered video. Do we really want to look at the Hefe filter on a video? That could just be cheesy.
To be fair, depending on the implementation (and the experience), video could get widely adopted by Instagram users and find success that beats Vine. But the Houston Chronicle's Dwight Silverman reminds us of one cautionary tale with eerie parallels:
"Back when it was at the top of the photo-sharing heap, Flickr began allowing its users to upload video. It seemed like a natural extension to the site's mission at the time, but many of its users weren't happy.
"They complained that the videos — though limited to 90 seconds in length — caused the site to run slower, and ruined the Flickr experience. There was even a Flickr group devoted to protesting the new feature."
Today, Flickr still allows for video uploads, but not from mobile apps. And rarely do you find videos in user streams. Following the expected video addition to Instagram, we'll be eager to check back with our UX experts — and you — to see how you're using the new feature — or not using it.
For those of you already longing for the simpler days when Instagram was just about photos, here's a tribute song to remember the way things were:
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Canadian author Alice Munro says her writing days may be over. In an interview after winning the Trillium Book Award, Munro told the National Post that she was glad to get the award because she's "probably not going to write anymore. And, so, it's nice to go out with a bang." She continued, "Not that I didn't love writing, but I think you do get to a stage where you sort of think about your life in a different way. And perhaps, when you're my age, you don't wish to be alone as much as a writer has to be." This comes as a surprise from a writer who has often expressed horror at the idea of not working. Munro said in a 1994 Paris Review interview that it would represent "the beast that's lurking in the closet in old age — the loss of the feeling that things are worth doing." Asked what she would tell her disappointed readers, she responded, "Well, tell them to go read the old ones over again. There's lots of them."
- In a letter posted on her blog, the Australian novelist Kathryn Heyman responds to a subscription renewal notice she received from The London Review of Books. She writes, "I had planned a simple, quiet lapse, but as you have raised the question, let me assure you that I have not forgotten to renew. Indeed, I would dearly love to renew my subscription, however, based on the tedious regularity with which you ignore female writers and female reviewers, I have to assume that my lady-money is quite simply not welcome in the man-cave of LRB."
- The Apple ebook price-fixing trial is expected to wrap up Thursday with closing arguments from both sides. U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, who prior to the trial said she thought the government would be able to prove Apple "knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of e-books," acknowledged Wednesday that "the issues have somewhat shifted during the course of the trial." It could take weeks or months for the final verdict to be announced.
- For NPR Books, Lidia Jean Kott explores James Salter's creepy habit of comparing women to food: "In Salter, the women are experiences, storefronts, meals, but never people."
- Kelsey Osgood describes the unique horror of Franz Kafka's stories: "It's easy to brush aside traditional fairy tales and their modern retellings because we have lost our belief in the overtly fabulous, but what Kafka describes becomes more frightening to us as we age. We are sure, as mature people with 401(k)s and digital subscriptions to the Times, that we will never be stalked by an amorous, sparkly vampire, but we are not sure that we won't be charged and prosecuted for a crime we aren't even sure we committed...In this way — not the bloody, but the banal — Kafka's work becomes more spooky than the original Brothers Grimm, in which Snow White's evil queen is forced to dance to death in scalding iron shoes."
- Kim Thompson, one of the publishers of the alternative comic book publisher Fantagraphics, has died at age 56, shortly after being diagnosed with lung cancer. A major figure in the world of comics, he edited some of the world's most famous cartoonists. He was also famously crotchety — asked in a 2008 interview what he found exciting about his job, he responded, "There is always some new cartoonist, or some new work by an cartoonist, on the horizon to snap me out of my depressed torpor. And we've got such a great bunch of people working for us now here in the office ... that's energizing. That said, I wish I didn't have to answer this on a goddamn Monday morning."