The past and the present all come together on this page

Cloudy and in the mid-60s today. For February? You take it. We’re going to get a bit more of the chilly stuff, you can count on it, but we can also enjoy the trend toward nice spring days.

Rosa Parks is getting a stamp. She would turn 100 today.

You might not see that stamp on Saturdays:

Saturday mail delivery costs the U.S. Postal Service $2.7 billion a year, and it’s a burden the cash-strapped agency is trying to shed — to the dismay of greeting card makers everywhere. Cutting Saturday delivery is a key part of USPS’ five-year plan to save $20 billion by 2015, but it is bumping up against businesses such as Hallmark that benefit from six-day mail delivery.

That story also tells you Hallmark spent $240,000 for lobbying on postal issues. I wonder what Hoops and YoYo would say about that.

Journalism is the best job ever:

Yes, there are too few really good jobs and too many people fighting for them. Yes, salaries start out quite low. Yes, the hours can be long and irregular. Yes, the industry is in a period of extreme disruption, with lots of old jobs being destroyed, and the new ones typically offer less security and require different skills.

None of that changes the core fact here. For those who are cut out for it — and that’s definitely not everyone — journalism is a uniquely rewarding, wonderful career.

Most of his reasons are wonderful. But I wonder: Does he have a robot?

Where Visual Revenue believes it can add real value is in being able to recommend specific actions within an editorial framework outlined by the organization — that is, using an algorithm to tell a newsroom when it should tweet and also what it should be tweeting. Mortensen likens these computerized suggestions to the role of a deputy editor: Someone who knows the editorial values of the paper, and can determine the best publishing strategy as a result. Except, in this case, that someone is a robot.

“We set out with this idea of empowering the editor, but not to beat him to the extent where we can automate his job,” Mortensen said. “We actually sit down with the editor in chief and ask him, ‘Give me my instructions just like you tell your deputy editors what they can and cannot do.’ Then we simply adopt those, adhere to those as strictly as possible. And if I’m brutally honest with you, of all of the editors, you’ll see that we’re the only ones that only adhere to the guidelines because we’re an algorithm not a human.”

Another upshot: Non-humans aren’t tethered to print-era concepts that have bled into an online era of publishing. A robot doesn’t care about newsroom culture or tradition; it only cares about the data.

When the machines can accurately read the traffic flow patterns at intersections, that’s when you worry about them taking over. Until then, they are just helpful.

My friend Andre Natta at the Birmingham Terminal asked “What is Virtual Alabama?

So glad he asked. In answering his own question he shared this case study, which really only seems to scratch the surface, when you think about it:

Finally, the Alabama Backroads Cycling Series. I want to do it. Think I might (try).

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