Website alternatives

I saw a popular Singapore website worried about the new rule.

Sites which report or comment on Singapore once a week on average and get more than 50,000 unique visitors a month will need an annual licence and have to post a S$50,000 bond.

The Online Citizen is worried it may not be able to raise the money if asked to get a licence.

Its readers and its creators, of course, would be sad to see it go.

But are stand-alone websites as important as they used to be now that we have social media?
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Singapore Pools OK, not the casinos?

How much money does the Singapore government make from the lotteries run by Singapore Pools and its other bookmaking activities?

Today reports that Singapore Pools will give S$164.8 million to charity over the next three years. The money will be put into the Tote Board Social Service Fund for the National Council of Social Service to use.

What the report doesn't say is how much money Singapore Pools collects from the punters every week.

Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club are both owned by the Tote Board,  a statutory board under the Finance Ministry.

That puts the government in the same business as the casinos, from which it is trying to protect Singaporeans.

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Times on the Net: You can’t beat the traffic

The New York Times is the newspaper with the best website and gets around four million daily unique visitors (estimated cookies) – way above the other newspapers I checked on Google Trends and Double Click Ad Planner. (See the charts at the end of this post.)

The Straits Times resembles the American, not the British, newspapers shown in the charts in one way.

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How words get into the Oxford English Dictionary

I have seen the word "linguaphile" (meaning word lover or language lover) on Dictionary.com and the Free Dictionary, but it's not there in the Oxford English Dictionary. It no longer tries to be comprehensive. "The language is expanding so fast this may be an impossible mission," said Edmund Weiner, deputy chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Mark Abley recalls their conversation in his book, The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the Future of English, where he also writes about Singlish and other variants of the English language, as I mentioned here.

"The Internet poses problems," said Weiner. "We tend to avoid citing the Web unless we feel we really have to. What we've tended to cite are newsgroups and discussion groups – they guarantee to archive them for a long time. We've occasionally taken quotations from websites. But we don't like doing that."

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What’s behind the Straits Times redesign?

Who redesigned the Straits Times website? What was the thinking behind it? I am surprised there's no prominently featured article on the website redesign explaining the logic and how to navigate the site. Sure, it's easy to navigate. But every leading newspaper website which went through a redesign — the Times, the Guardian, the New York Times — prominently discussed the changes. It's a chance for a newspaper to blow its own trumpet, give the designers a pat on the back and do the readers a service. The Straits Times newspaper today has an article on its new look but there's nothing online that I can see about the new-look website. The Straits Times still thinks print first?

As for the Straits Times home page, I said in my previous post I don't like it. But maybe the home page is designed to attract the young. They might like the  home page scroll down boxes with navigation tabs for each section: lifestyle, sport, money, etc. The playful tabs are asking to be played with. The lower case section heads may also appeal to the young.

The "show more" link at the bottom of each box is misleading, though. It simply leads to another page. I expected the box itself to grow longer and show more items, as My Yahoo!, iGoogle, Google News and other Ajaxy pages do. I like the navigation tabs on the top of the page.

It's still not too late to post online an article on the new web design featuring the designers and explaining the layout and the thinking behind it. Why not publish it as a sticky post or a featured item so it's displayed prominently for some time?

New-look BBC News

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So which website looks better: CNN, or the revamped BBC News? I was pleasantly surprised by the new-look BBC News site. As the BBC editors say in their blog, it certainly offers plenty of room to "breathe". Pictures and text are more widely spaced out. The CNN's grid pattern looks more formal, the text and headlines set a little too close. But the BBC is actually following CNN in giving the news stories bigger display on individual pages. And the CNN videos look bigger and brighter. But I wonder how much design really matters. The BBC, I guess, gets more traffic than CNN. The blog post explains the changes and what lies ahead.

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