Arquivo de 14 de Janeiro, 2009

14
Jan
09

Links for today | Links para hoje

If you’re editing a news site, are you publishing what users want or what you have?

Assuming you have what users want, are you organizing it the way your users would want it organized? Or is it organized based on some legacy notion like print sections? Or worse, is it displayed based on the org chart?

Startup news sites are fighting an uphill battle against established media brands. But one advantage they have is the ability to put the user first in their content and layout decisions, without the burden of prior procedures.

I only need to look at the increase of twitter followers, new blogs and fresh faces that have appeared since christmas to know that journalists are really fired up about online. They love twitter and blogging and RSS. Once they get excited by slideshows or video or maps they want to try them.  The avalaunche of new apps that appear on the web news of which spread through their newly followed feeds appear as a tweet are the biggest most exciting toy box imaginable. They have stories they want to tell.

Then they go in the office and it grinds to a halt.

That great stuff they tried on their blog the night before needs a form signed in triplicate, a request to central support and good dollop of patience. By then the stories dead and a little bit of the excitment has died with them.

Things were simpler a decade and a half ago, when the three daily newspapers that landed on my doorstep (all paid for) were what I needed.

Not any more. For any given story, other than perhaps the truly local, there are dozens of sources and there’s no single source that covers it best day in and day out. When I’m following a story, I’ll go through as many as a dozen websites and, for different stories, they are not always the same ones.

I’m hardly unique. Increasingly, it’s the way people inform themselves. And that’s where part of the idea of paying for the news breaks down substantially. How many subscriptions should have to I buy to cover the part-time creation of value?

As newspapers struggle to sell their content, which in most cases can be found online for free, David Carr of The New York Times asks why the news industry as not followed Apple’s model for iTunes.

itunes-scrn.jpgThe iTunes online music store sold more than 2.4 billion tracks last year, according to the NYT.  The most important thing to retain from this number, according to Carr, is that “Apple has been able to charge for content in the first place,” even though music can be downloaded for free online (illegally, of course).

Their success is a combination of an easy user interface, cooperation within the music industry and a solid business model.  The question is can the model be transplanted?

If you run a website you’re going to want to manage your content. You might use an Enterprise CMS, an open source CMS, a blogging platform or a bespoke app, and as you might expect at the BBC the same rules apply. Except some of us have been trying out something a bit different — using the web as a content management system.

3. That there is a difference between link journalism and ‘cut and paste’ journalism (aka plagiarism).

4. That your readers are smarter than you think. In fact, many are smarter than you – they know more than you do.

5. That churnalism is much easier to spot online. If you do this regularly, your readers are already on to you – merely re-writing press releases without bringing anything to the table no longer cuts it.

Before you read any further, you need to know that I am a strong supporter of the Palestinians who thinks the state of Israel is an imperialist construct and an outpost of American projected military power in the Middle East. I’ve come to the conclusion that journalists have a moral responsibility to say as much and to predicate all their reporting of the current Gaza conflict, as well as coverage of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and the associated “terror frame” of news analysis on this controversial starting point.

In other words, I believe in what Martin Bell calls the “journalism of attachment”, rather than feeble attempts at objectivity, which is, in and of itself, a form of inbuilt and largely unconscious bias.

Continue a ler ‘Links for today | Links para hoje’

14
Jan
09

Analisys: experiment with a crowdsourced GoogleMap | Análise: experiências com um GoogleMap em crowdsource

google-maps_1231501627961

Click image to visit the map | Cliquem na imagem para ver o mapa

Last Friday Portugal was going through one of the coldest days in the last decades: there were temperatures below zero and snow, conditions rather unusual for our mild winters. So i decided early in the morning to do something that would keep me busy and warm throughout the day: a map built by users, using their pictures showing the weather in their cities.

The first call for collaboration was sent via Twitter. Many of the tweople i follow were already discussing the issue, and all i had to do was to ask for their photographs and  videos. They just had to look out the window, use a camera or cellphone and post them on Twitpic, Flickr or Picasa.

A few took the challenge early on, and there was a small frenzy about the map i just had setup. When the first contributions arrived  someone let me know that some online newspapers were asking for pictures too. No maps though.

The map i created was open to anyone to add  their own pictures and locations,  and i “templated” it with the first pictures. The word spread out mostly by retweeting. By lunch hour i had a few contributions, not as many as the news websites of course, but some visually compelling. The public news channel – that has a very effective Twitter participation – picked up the idea and on their web segment at night news talked about the map. At the end of the day i had a cool 1,000 visitors. I decided to use that publicity to take the experiment into the weekend, and see how it would work.

The good stuff

The first impression i got was that there was a will to participate and share with others the  personal experience on the weather.  There were a lot of contributions on the news websites  and blogs that  also requested pictures of the cold wave, so there was a lot of material to work with.

The idea caught on pretty easily too among my Twitter contacts, which helped to drive traffic to the map and get links to pics and slideshows. There was some quality stuff there.

Functionally, the map was quickly set up, and there were no major technical issues, although i was asked to place the pictures quite often, instead of being the users posting them themselves.

The number of visits was also surprising: in three days of useful life it had over 2,500 visitors. And it got my name on television.

The not so good stuff

Despite noticing some initial interest on the project, it faded away rather quickly. It was a stand alone feature, and not associated to any other type of narrative content. It might have worked better as a mashup with weather info and readers comments, or local news rss feeds about the weather, twitter hashtags, etc.

I also had all the work, i expected more independence from the users when it came to place the pics on the map, but i had no tutorial explaining how to do it anyway. So maybe i expected too much. The contributions came not only as pictures but also as links to blogs who had some, and i asked bloggers to share their own crowdsourcing efforts.

I took too much time to define a domain name to the map, i had a tip from a  fellow tweeter to use a free domain (mapadofrio.pt.vu). Easier to remember, easier to use.

Conclusions

For a project like this to work it shouldn’t be used as a stand-alone, but integrated in a streaming narrative, open to collaboration, and easier to interact. There was a real interest on the user side to participate, so the power of the crowd is still strong. I could have used more publicity, or have access to a wider audience, even with a reference on TV.  But it was easy, fast and cheap to set up. And as far as i can tell it was unique here in Portugal. There were a lot of requests for pictures, but no maps. Originality wins extra points.

To finish this short analisys i’d just like to thank all the people who participated and spread the word. More and more the creation of web contents depends on the users input.

And a question: what else could have been done?

Sexta-feira passada Portugal estava a meio de uma das maiores vagas de frio das últimas décadas: temperaturas abaixo de zero e neve, condições raras nos nossos Invernos amenos. Por isso decidi logo de manhãzinha fazer algo que me mantivesse quente e ocupado ao longo do dia: um mapa feito por utilizadores, que mostrasse fotos do frio nas suas localidades.

O primeiro apelo à participação foi feito via Twitter. Muita da tweople que sigo já discutiam o assunto, e tudo o que precisei de fazer foi pedir pelas suas fotos e vídeos. Bastava-lhes olhar pela janela, usar uma máquina fotográfica ou um telemóvel e postar as fotos no Twitpic, Flickr ou Picasa.

Alguns aceitaram logo o desafio, e houve alguma agitação à volta do mapa que tinha criado. Quando as primeiras contribuições chegaram houve alguém que me disse que alguns sites informativos também andavam a pedir fotos. Mas nada de mapas.

O mapa que criei estava aberto a toda a gente que quisesse adicionar as suas fotos e locais, e formatei o conceito nas primeiras fotos. A palavra espalhou-se principalmente através de retweets. À hora de almoço tinha algumas participações, não tantas como nos sites de informação claro, mas algumas visualmente interessantes. A RTPN – que usa muito bem o Twitter –  pegou na ideia e falou do mapa no segmento web do À Noite As Notícias. No final do  dia tinha uns 1,000 visitantes. Decidi aproveitar a  deixa e prolonguei a experiência pelo fim de semana, para ver no que dava.

A parte boa

A primeira impressão com que fiquei foi que existia uma vontade de participar e partilhar com outros a experiência pessoal desse dia. Houve muitas contribuições nos sites informativos e blogs que pediram imagens da vaga de frio, por isso havia muita matéria prima com que trabalhar.

A ideia pegou facilmente entre os meus contactos no Twitter, que ajudaram a gerar táfego para o mapa e obter links para fotos e slideshows. E havia coisas com qualidade.

Funcionalmente, o mapa foi fácil de montar, e não houve grandes problemas técnicos, embora me pedissem para pôr as fotos, em vez de serem os utilizadores a colocá-las por eles mesmos.

O número de visitantes também foi surpreendente: em três dias de vida útil o mapa teve mais de 2,500 visitantes. E apareci na TV.

A parte menos boa

Apesar de reparar num entusiamo inicial à volta do projecto, ele esmoreceu rapidamente. Era uma criação isolada, não associada a qualquer outro tipo de narrativa. Poderia ter funcionado melhor como mashup com informação meteorológica, comentários, feeds rss locais, hashtags do Twitter, etc.

Também tive que fazer grande parte do trabalho, esperava que os utilizadores pusessem as fotos no mapa, mas também não tinha nenhuma explicação sobre como fazê-lo. Talvez as expectativas fossem altas demais. As contribuições não foram só fotos mas também links para blogs que tinham outras imagens, e ainda pedi algumas a mais uns bloggers.

Demorei demasiado tempo a criar um domínio para o mapa, mas tive uma dica pelo Twitter para usar um gratuito (mapadofrio.pt.vu), mais fácil de lembrar e usar.

Conclusões

Para um projecto destes resultar não pode funcionar de forma isolada mas integrado numa narrativa contínua, aberto à colaboração e terá que ser mais fácil de interagir. Houve um interesse real por parte dos utilizadores em participar, por isso o poder da multidão é forte. Podia ter tido uma maior divulgação, mesmo com a menção na TV. Mas foi fácil, rápido e barato de montar. E até onde pude ver foi algo de único. Muitos sites pediram fotos e a colaboração dos utilizadores mas nada de mapas. A originalidade ganha pontos extra.

Para terminar esta curta análise, só queria agradecer a todas as pessoas que participaram e passaram a palavra. Cada vez mais a criação de conteúdos web depende da contribuição dos utilizadores.

E uma pergunta: que mais poderia ter sido feito?

Continue a ler ‘Analisys: experiment with a crowdsourced GoogleMap | Análise: experiências com um GoogleMap em crowdsource’

14
Jan
09

Suggestion: A Twitter digest | Sugestão: Um compilador para o Twitter

Threading the conversation | Alinhar a conversação

Threading the conversation | Alinhar a conversação

I thought about this when i saw Jim MacMillan’s Daily Tweet Digest: what about an application (plugin, widget, whatever) that would create a timeline with our daily tweets, and organized the conversation in threads, like in Tweetree?

It would work as a organized, semantic, relational tweetstream.

All the links shared could be previewed and it would also suggest other users referring to them. This is different from Friendfeed, where Twitter generates more noise than value, i prefer to use it as an aggregator of my social bookmarks and web applications. It could take advantage from hashtags, and other side applications like Twitpic, to add visual value to the timeline.

The goal would be a costumizable, visual, inter-related dialog line, based on our tweet conversation, to be used on our websites,  Tumblr-like, but with a bigger potential. Does anyone know if there’s something like this? Or maybe the tea at breakfast was too strong?

Pensei nisto quando vi o Daily Tweet Digest do Jim MacMillan: que tal uma aplicação (plugin, widget,seja lá o que for) que criasse uma timeline com os nossos tweets diários e organizasse a conversação em threads, como no Tweetree?

Funcionaria como uma espécie de tweetstream organizado, semântico e relacional.

Todos os links partilhados poderiam ser pré-visualizados e sugeriam outros utilizadores que os referissem. É diferente do FriendFeed onde o Twitter  gera mais ruído do que valor, prefiro usá-lo como agregador de social bookmarking e outras aplicações web. Poderia usar as hashtags, e outras aplicações paralelas como o Twitpic para adicionar valor visual à timeline.

O objectivo seria uma linha de diálogo personalizável, visual e interrelacionada, baseada na nossa conversação no Twitter, que desse para pôr num site, tipo Tumblr, mas com mais potencial. Alguém conhece alguma coisa assim? Ou o meu chá do pequeno almoço estava demasiado forte?

Continue a ler ‘Suggestion: A Twitter digest | Sugestão: Um compilador para o Twitter’




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