Will Okun Wins NYT/Kristof Africa Trip

will okun in union pier, miBig-time congrats to Will for penning a winning essay for the chance to join New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof (and one other winner) on an all-expenses-paid trip to Africa. Will is one of my Chi-town homies and also happens to be the best photographer you may have never heard of, unless you’ve seen his killer Players’ Ball spread for Vibe, which undoubtedly won over Kristof for good.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see Will’s photography show up, well, anywhere — but to catch his name while scrolling through my Google Reader (scanning the Times’ newsfeed) came as a total surprise.

Will’s professional qualification for winning is his status as a teacher at Chicago’s Westside Alternative High. Congrats, Willy! (Will Okun’s photos are here, his winning essay is here).

Kristof’s Win a Trip contest spawned out of a 2005 editorial in which he called out to Bill O’Reilly to accompany him on a trip to Darfur, and later asked readers to contribute and sponsor it. To nobody’s surprise, O’Reilly declined. The NYT later launched a Win a Trip With Nick Kristof contest which was won by Mizzou Journalism Master’s student Casey Parks (See her NYT blog).

Another thing I just realized is that TimesSelect is being offered free to .edu e-mails — one more thing I can take advantage of before my graduation in a couple weeks. I can finally re-subscribe to the Op-Ed podcasts! Any other tip-offs on good ol’ student discount action so I can get ’em while I can?

AOL Launches Clone of Yahoo Home Page

Years ago, the backronym “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle” (YAHOO) was born out of Jerry [Yang] and David’s [Filo] Guide to the World Wide Web and became the first successful Web portal. Later, Amazon.com’s model was the one everybody tried to copy. And now, it’s back to Yahoo. Yahoo updated it’s home page last year, and now, AOL is launching an eerily similar version in which not much more than the name changes. Is this infringing or just down right poseurish?

More on the imitation job at PCWorld, DownloadSquad, TechCrunch.

Blogging EconSM

I’m blogging today at the inaugural EconSM conference, produced by Rafat Ali’s ContentNext Media Network (parent of PaidContent).

This conference sold out to 500 + weeksk ago and features a day of panels featuring industry heavies (see list). Currently a panel including Jimmy Guterman and John Battelle are discussing branding, marketing and Web content, involking that marketing is meant to be a conversation which is why it’s a natural for social media.

My reports will be posted at LAist. I’ll be interviewing Mike Davidson, CEO of Newsvine (which re-launched this week) momentarily. Live flickr photostream from the event below.

UPDATE: several videos at LAist via Revver.