Friday, February 15, 2008

Bighow and CNN’s iReport: long lost cousins?

I am not sure whether the guys at CNN had a look at our in-the-works citizen journalism site when they launched iReport but we are mighty pleased that someone somewhere has the hots for same shade of blue, minus the rounded corners, which we thought was too common a part of the web 2.0 look template.

At least some thing we must be doing right, hmm? For further proof , click here

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

When Newspapers and magazines try to become social networks

Fastcompany, the smart business and technology magazine has decided to get into social networking by offering the usual set of social tools including blogs, contact lists, bookmarks, media storage etc.

Jeremiah asks: 'Can a business publication blend journalism and online community to create something better than either by itself?'

A charge for Radical change of business focus can be made.
First and foremost, Fastcompany is in the business of reporting and analyzing.
Did the magazine took the dictat 'getting closer to your readers' a bit too seriously?

Will the target audience bite? Do they have time to blog?
Most of the Silicon Valley types already have their own blogs. In many cases, if FastCompany 'members' (gulp, what a change from 'readers'!) choose to repost from their existing blogs, it becomes an issue of duplicate content, which Google won't like.

Is it something new? No.
Tony Perkins' Always On Network is active for more than 4 years now.

Will it hurt the usability?
100% Yes. Displaying content from your reporters is top priority.

How to display User Generated content best?
SEOMOZ's YOUMOZ initiative is the best I can of at the moment. Readers can easily distinguish between content from Seomoz writers and Users.

The UI gets messed up.
Doing a brief analysis, Jeremiah writes about too much data on the home page - new tools and buttons pushing writers' content back. Or, in some cases, disorienting regular readers with a confusing new layout.

Content always comes first.

Why do you have to get into social tools development and hosting business?
Especially when many publications encourage reader groups, circle of friends on popular social networking sites including Facebook?

Are we seeing a case of social networking fatigue coinciding with the trend of brands getting into launching their own social networks?

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook says,” We are here to serve communities, not create one."
Will users bite and join publishers' social networks?

If each publication starts doing it, logging in and out of each, considering privacy issues, will be a headache.

Think other ways if getting more news.
That article about the Tipping Point being toast was great. We need more of those.

Depending upon readers to provide free/cheap content does not seem FastCompany's style.
Think other ways of branding.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Are Curated news links the next big thing?

Scott Carp's initiative Publish2 is perhaps a harbinger of the shift in the social bookmarking/social news business where the likes of Digg and Reddit have long ruled. Digg mobs, Reddit spammers, Digg Bury Brigades have become part of the New Media Lexicon.

While Digg boasts of Pro-Ron Paul Diggers, Reddit is heavily pro-Obama and as Obama threatens to take pole position in the Democratic Party primaries, Diggers are shifting to Obama. No one is 'working' for Hillary, but that is another story.

The point is:
Journalists should have more activity in Online Social News bookmarking and online news will be better for it.

Bias, there is will be, but it will be offset by better categorization.

I am waiting for the day when I see tags like this:
Pro Obama
Pro Hillary

Scott writes about the innovative things he and his journalist friends are doing with Publish2.

I wrote about the possibility of having Digg run by journalists.
Is Publish2 just such as thing?

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Generation Scan: Are we amusing ourselves to distraction?

Youtube, Digg, Twitter, Facebook (and its irritating applications), RSS feeds, Video Games, texting and yakking on mobiles…technology is a double-edged sword.

It can distract us with as much power, if not more, with which it aids our productivity (and teaches us, thnx Wikipedia)

Businesses complain about workers’ social networking habits during office hours.
There is data. Steve Rubel reports some:

interruptions from e-mail, cell phones, instant messaging, and blogs take up nearly 30% of each day; on an annualized basis, this represents a loss of 28 billion hours for the entire US workforce.

The online habits of generation born after 1990, the Always On Generation, aka Gen. Y, Z or whatever, is forcing publishers to redesign their product offerings.

Call it Generation Scan.
Generation Understand? I am not sure.

The distraction this time is on a wider scale than when televisions got prime real estate right in our homes.

Everyone is distracting everyone.
In words of Neil Postman, “Are we amusing ourselves to distraction?”

Meanwhile, Tim Ferris is laughing all the way to the bank teaching people how to do more with less.


Why Facebook Ads don’t work

This is a solid case of Intention vs. Interruption.

I wasn’t surprised when Google reported meager earnings from advertising on Social Networking web sites.

I wouldn’t be surprised either when Facebook’s “Once in a 100 years” ad system flops.

Joshua Porter explains why:

Social ads don’t work as well because people are being social, not searching for something.
Rough translation:
People go to Google to find something, people go to Social Networking sites to see friends and meet new people – what are ads doing standing in their way?

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Newspapers are dead, long live the news

The reader is less concerned with the future of newspapers than what happens to news itself.

Faced with onslaught with the internet, the newspapers are in a self-flageling deep funk ,what reporters would like to term as a ‘transitional phase’.

Once when they are through this difficult period, having adopted technology on a huge scale and seen off non-working existing brands, the focus will once again be on the quality of the news itself.

1. Focus will be on the next generation newspapers’ connection with their readers.

Veteran technology journalist Dean Takahashi muses,
“All newspapers thought they were in the newspaper business…they overlooked that what they are doing is communicating with people and that's the broader business.”

2. There is a huge elephant sitting in every newsroom, past and future, immortalized by the incomparable “Citizen Kane”: The Owner.

Simon Jenkins writes about the myth of “golden age of the press”.
Media Moguls, from Hearst to Murdock have always sought control of the editorial voice and the news has suffered as a result.

In this web 2.0 era, when Digg Mobs rule, blog network owners diss their rivals and companies like Google own a wide variety of online properties, the issue of control will be more intensely fought.

The company that indexes this article may also one day own the wireless spectrum and bandwidth facilities.

The mob versus the big corporation:
if either wins, news loses.

3. The quality problem (or variety, depends on who’s complaining).

- Will we see a news economy dependent on the likes of Britney Spears and celebrity circus to make money?
- Is more investigative journalism, aided by creatively funded Crowd journalism ( going to show the way to better news?

4. The ‘most appropriate’ news business model.

The choice is between non-profit Trusts (BBC, Guradina) versus For-profit Conglomerates (News Corp) or Family-owned outfits (New York Times, Times of India)

Whatever the future, remember guru Jeff Jarvis' words,
“There will be more news and there will be more news reporters”.

Long live the news.

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Fact of the day: the Space smells like sweet welding fumes

An astronaut writes,
It reminded me of my college summers where I labored for many hours with an arc welding torch repairing heavy equipment for a small logging outfit. It reminded me of pleasant sweet smelling welding fumes. That is the smell of space.

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