Infrastructure improvements could offer common political ground

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Matt Reese and Ty HigginsThere is not much that politicians on opposing sides of the aisle agree upon these days, but improving the nation’s transportation infrastructure could be one of them.“If there was a to-do list for the American people, I would say political acrimony and obstruction are not on it, but infrastructure is. It is encouraging to see both Republicans and Democrats have both come to the conclusion that they need to justify they deserve to be there. One of the most effective ways to do that is to actually get something done and I think infrastructure is the best opportunity to do that in a bipartisan manner,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition. “But you’re not just making an allocation of funding for a short period of time. It is something you invest in your long-term competitiveness. For agriculture, we really need that right now. As the federal government looks at what tools it has in its toolbox to help farmers, the message we are conveying is that infrastructure investment is one of those tools.”In the extensive series of roads, rails and rivers throughout the country connecting farms to the rest of the world, there are plenty of areas in need of improvements.“We need to make sure we are focused on the inefficiencies and challenges of moving agricultural freight. That includes rural roads and bridges, inland waterways, and our ports. They all have to work in concert with one another,” he said. “One mode hands off to another mode. It doesn’t do a lot of good if one link in your chain is in exquisite condition if another link in your chain is in dilapidated condition.”With major issues facing agriculture and international trade, infrastructure is one course of action that Congress has the power to move forward.“Farmers, particularly soybean farmers, are really taking it on the chin due to this dispute with China. This is an industry that was actually improving our trade balance and our relationship with China but yet is the industry most adversely affected by this larger issue,” Steenhoek said. “We talk about this aid package and these bilateral trade agreements with other countries and those are fine and good, but I think a nice compliment to that is infrastructure investment.”While there are almost endless options for spending money on infrastructure, there are a few priorities that could have a broad and significant impact.“We need to make sure locks and dams are fortified and well maintained so you don’t have that catastrophic failure. I think that one project that would provide pretty quick bang for the buck would be dredging the lower Mississippi River at New Orleans from its current depth of 45 feet to 50 feet,” he said. “All of these big soybean producing states channel their soybeans on the river out to the international marketplace. The price the farmers receive is largely a function of the efficient transportation system after they make the delivery. If you have a problem in the river, farmers see a widening basis because the supply chain isn’t working. If you improve the efficiency, the inverse is true, and farmers actually see a positive impact on their basis. This is a way to put an infusion of money into farmers’ wallets by making the supply chain more efficient. There could be $461 million annually for American soybean farmers by just that one infrastructure project.”last_img read more

Social Networking Sites Dominate Mobile Web

first_imgRole of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement sarah perez “I didn’t really use Facebook that much until I got my iPhone.” Sound familiar? That sentiment and variations of it has provided powerful anecdotal evidence over the past several months about the impact smartphones are having on the way people are using the mobile web to connect with others. Through the mobile phone, today’s more mainstream users – those folks who don’t count sitting behind a glowing screen among their favorite pastimes – have begun to interact on the mobile web, specifically the social web, in greater numbers than ever before. A new report by Openwave provides more evidence of this trend. Their findings show that four of the top ten domains accessed via mobile devices are social networking sites. Facebook and MySpace, of course, featured prominently on that list. Four of Ten Top Mobile Destinations are Social Networks, Says OpenwaveThe company’s Fall 2009 report highlights mobile Internet use trends in North America and uses data from an unnamed tier-one mobile operator who offers services to both consumers and business. The data sampled represents a five-day period in September of this year. Among the top ten domains by page impressions are four social networking sites: Facebook, MySpace, Myxer, and Plenty-of-Fish, the last two being a ringtone creation and sharing site and a dating network, respectively. The inclusion of those two under the banner “social networking” is a little iffy, at best. Dating sites could be considered a category of social networking, we suppose, but Myxer seems more like an entertainment destination than a social network.The other top domains making the list included about.com, accuweather.com, craigslist.org, imdb.com, wap.aol.com, and calltunes.operator.com. While we have no reason to doubt the accuracy of this study, we find it odd that google.com didn’t make an appearance. It seems like we google something on our mobile phones on a daily basis – don’t you?Still, despite these questions, it’s clear from the findings that social networks are a popular destination for mobile users, even if you only count MySpace and Facebook. Those two sites alone racked up the impressions as both the number one and number three sites visited. Related Posts Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Tags:#mobile#Trends#web What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … MySpace Beats Facebook? Really?Oddly, the chart shows that MySpace beat out Facebook, another questionable finding given that once popular site’s rapid decline in traffic as of late. Recent numbers from the U.S.-centric analytics firm Compete, for example, showed MySpace traffic dropping from 55.6 million unique visitors in August to 50.2 million in September. Given such a sharp decline, you would expect to see a similar drop in mobile visits as well.  Meanwhile, Facebook announced that they saw 65 million visits from mobile phones in the month of August, a huge rise from what was only 20 million back in December of 2007. Could they really be beaten out by that much on the mobile web according to this particular carrier? According to Openwave’s report, they are. While this recent report left us wondering, we have no doubt that social network use via mobile phones is trending upward these days. As the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) reported last month, there has been a one-year increase of 179% in subscribers accessing social networking sites from their mobile devices while those same sites only saw a 10% increase on the PC versions of the sites. And they’re just one of manyotheroutlets reporting similar trends. Social networking via the mobile phone is obviously a hot trend these days and one that hasn’t peaked yet. The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

Improve Your Editing – Understanding Scriptwriting

first_imgScreenwriting: Simplify to ClarifyMany stories actually contain way too much information or take too long to make their point. When was the last time you heard anyone complaining that a film was too short?  Being able to ‘murder your darlings’ and cut out your favourite scenes, moments or shots is crucial to being able to tell a story well.As editors we’ve got to find ways to convey the same story beats but in as concise a way as possible. Can you eliminate one half of the dialogue and still have a great scene? Can you take a whole scene out because its not clear that scenes purpose.  Could another scene already have made that point?Ira Glass has a great 4 part video series on storytelling that is well worth checking out. This nicely put together typography piece will give you a decent flavour of what’s in store:Step Back: Big Picture ScriptwritingFilm editor Walter Murch uses a system of cards mapping out the story structure, based on the screenplay (very much like screenwriters do when writing the script in the first place) to help him visualize what’s going on in the film.The above cards cards are from Cold Mountain, for which Walter was nominated for an Oscar:“Blue with a yellow background means Inman (Jude Law) is in a scene; plain blue means Inman is not in that scene. A lot of blue cards in a row means not much Inman – which makes me wonder ‘is that a good idea?’ A triangle indicates I feel it is a pivot scene. The size of card equals the approximate length of a scene.”Being able to step back and see the story as a whole is crucial to seeing what’s working well and what’s not adding to the overall experience. Sometimes a great scene is hurting the rest of film.Screening your film with people who don’t know anything about it is also a good way to a) see it with fresh eyes and b) discover if it actually makes sense. A huge part of successful storytelling and screenwriting is mapping out the emotional arc and narrative, while weaving those together.  Sometimes withholding information from the audience or a character can dramatically alter those dynamics.Have screenwriting and scriptwriting tips to share?Let us know in the comments below! As an editor, the key to shaping the story hidden amid the footage is to understand the fundamentals of scriptwriting.The two tweets below got me inspired to put together a post on scriptwriting and storytelling for editors and creatives alike.  If you’re like me and keen to beef up your story structure skills, these scriptwriting tips and videos should help you improve your craft. Jeff Ford, editor on The Avengers, mentions several things that he feels editors should learn – sound, acting and scriptwriting – in the course of this interview for Avid.  It’s well worth watching.Follow Basic Scriptwriting FormulasThe basics sound pretty basic, but if you don’t follow these simple things your story will be all over the place and impossible for the audience to follow.You’ve got to have a beginning, a middle and an end.  Set up, develop and pay off. If you’ve got problems with your pay off at the end of your story, go back and check that everything that precedes it is lining up to make that point. If you’re arranging an interview as the basis for your story structure and you’ve got a clip that conveys the information of a beginning piece but tonally feels like an ending, its definitely best to go with how it will feel…or leave it out all together.This talk on the Power of Storytelling given by professional storyteller Jay O’Callahan is one of my absolute favorites from any 99percent conference because for 17 and a half minutes you get to see a master craftsman at work:last_img read more