September 2009 Archives
September 29, 2009
September 28, 2009
For example, last Friday, I spent the day on the National Trust's Box Hill site with about 20 of my colleagues. RBI gives us two days a year we can devote to charity or community activities, and we spent the day helping clear a chalk meadow - a fairly rare habitat - of encroaching trees. Damn hard work, and I slept like a baby that night, but it felt like a worthwhile way to spend a day.
And then, earlier today, I was in an hour-long, open invitation discussion session thinking through the likely impact of Google Wave and Sidewiki on our business. To be fair, the concept were met with a great deal of "huh?", but some good discussion followed and it gives me hope we're starting to put these new concepts into our thinking as they emerge, rather than when it becomes and absolute necessity. And that's progress.
How's that for a cheery post to start the week?
September 26, 2009
Social is not new, businesses have known about social for a long time. It's the greater access that we now have (potentially) to learn more about how to do stuff well through collaboration that we are excited about - or we should be. Imagine if you could connect with people who think like you throughout the organizationImagine indeed...
September 25, 2009
September 24, 2009
Of course having comments on the story would have allowed this discussion to take place in public, from the start, and provide readers of the article with some critical context, turning a single-source 'He Said' article into a 'He Said-She Said' piece at the very least. That's a technical issue that is being addressed, but in the meantime the BBC brand suffers.But you should really read the whole thing...
The discussion about use of social software in businesses seems to have risen up people's radar significantly in the last month or so, and there's some really interesting discussion starting to build around it. This post by Euan really caught my attention:
Why do I believe this? Because I believe there is a fundamental change in how we do business heading our way. Driven by the networked communication tools flourishing on the web, tools like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, not only how we communicate with those who benefit from our services but also how we organise ourselves to produce them will be changed forever.The post is about as good a summary of the changes in the air as any, but it's the discussion in the comments on the post that really make it fly.
September 21, 2009
Last week, though, the prominent political blogger Andrew Sullivan used his forum on TheAtlantic.com to tell readers to subscribe to the print edition of the magazine.Here's the thing: social media is all about the first word there: social. Over the years, Sullivan has built up a rapport with his readers, one that stretches back to before he was blogging for the magazine. With every link of his they follow and find interesting, with every piece of analysis that they find compelling, they come to trust him. The relationship between blogger and reader grows stronger.
It worked. Within two days after last Monday's post, Mr. Sullivan's appeal pulled in 75 percent of the subscriptions that the Web site draws in a typical month, the magazine's publisher, Jay Lauf, said.
And so, when he recommends that they subscribe to the magazine, they do so, because they trust him. And as long as the print product repays that trust with a strong, compelling and unique proposition (which I think The Atlantic does, as a long-standing subscriber to the mag), then it is actually stronger as a paper product for having a social media operation.
I've long suspected that magazine brands are on their way to becoming metadata, a piece of information that is tagged onto the individual voices of its journalists, and which tells you a little something about them and what they write about, and which is, in turn, defined by the aggregate voices of its journalists. This is just one more piece of evidence to support that.
September 20, 2009
Interesting write-up of a debate about the coverage of science in mainstream media.
About as good a five point guide as you're every likely to see.
September 19, 2009
Our comments routinely point us in the direction of new angles for stories, and in many cases commenters have become sources for future pieces. They do fact-checking for us, which we should be grateful for. And they let us know which stories they care about and which they don't, which is invaluable market research. But those aren't the only reasons why comments are important. Giving people a place to talk about important issues has value in and of itself, and the more we restrict that and impose limits on it, the more we risk losing the trust of the people formerly known as the audience.
A couple of key points in the accompanying blog post:
As for Critics, those who react to content, this group hasn't grown at all. Looking deeper into the data, this is a result of a small but actual decrease in the number of people contributing to discussion forums. Why? Probably because much of this activity has been sucked into social network sites like Facebook.I'm quite surprised by that - social networks largely offer discussion between people who already know each other, while forums allow the building of new discussion communities. Perhaps our understanding of forums is imperfect?
The explosion in Joiners from 35% to 51% of online Americans reflects the appeal of Facebook, as both press coverage and invitations from friends suck more of us into social networks. Meanwhile, Spectators -- those consuming social content -- reached all the way to 73% of online Americans, which should end any remaining skepticism about whether this social thing is real.Social is becoming the default way of viewing the web.
By and large, news websites still reflect their print heritage. They make the classic mistake of rigidly reflecting their own structure while ignoring the semantic connections that cross desks and departments. Most news web site interfaces obscure the vast amounts of information we produce as journalists. Good interfaces go beyond design and search to issues of information architecture, user experience and discovery.It's not light-weight reading by any means, but it strikes at the heart of the issues that most online publishers aren't yet addressing.
Improved comment experience
Based on some impressive performance on the beta blogs, we have added a few popular social web icons -- TypePad, Facebook, and Twitter -- on the comment forms. We tested this design in beta for a few weeks and saw a dramatic increase in the commenting activity. By encouraging people to sign in and become a "real" person, we have seen a significant increase in comments.
September 18, 2009
September 17, 2009
September 16, 2009
They tell a pretty compelling story, though, don't they?
Key quote, I think: "We now realize there are three spaces on the Telegraph’s Web site: ours—where comments on articles reside, theirs—My Telegraph, and the bloggers’—our blogs."
September 15, 2009
Jo, like many of us who have gone from being social media enthusiasts to prominent roles within our employers where our online identity reflects on the emplyer's brand, has found herself questioning the need to split personal and business identities, how free she is to blog while being seen as a member of The Times staff, and so on. I've been through similar battles in the past. I nearly killed my blog stone dead in late 2005/early 2006 when my colleagues began to become aware of it and I set too many limits on what I posted.
It appears plenty of people are interested, as about two dozen people turned up, from organisations as diverse as the Labour Party, and contract publishers. And all are struggling with this clash of the need of social media identities to personal, open and somewhat intimate, as opposed to the managed, staged and often impersonal brand identities of the past. If I had any doubt that companies were about to go through a profound cultural shift as they adapt to this new communications infrastructure, the quality of the questions being asked put that to rest.
And beyond that, it was nice to catch up with online acquaintances and to meet some new faces (to me, at least). I look forward with some eagerness to the next event. So, when is it, Ms Geary? :-)
At first I thought it was a joke. And then I saw the number of people who were jumpimg on this idea as the saviour of journalism. (There's a sign for you about how bad things are in publishing right now.) I poked around, and came to the conclusion that it was exactly what it looked like: an experiment in showing stories more visually than the traditional text list, which has piggy-backed onto the current controversy about online content to gain a little interest and use.
So, how to join in this conversation? At first, I thought I'd write something about how this looked like a trap for publishers. And then I saw this. Curse you, Patrick!
I switched tack. Something a bit witty, something a bit satirical, perhaps? Fiddlesticks. Stymied by Richmond and his suspiciously effective postal system.
And so I browsed Google Fast Flip on both my iPhone (a curiously unrewarding experience) and my work PC. And I couldn't help feeling something akin to, well, deja vu.
Is it me, or does this view look a little familiar?
A little like this perhaps?
Typepad builds in support for the PubSubHubub real time updating format.
There are two technologies in development right now that I think matter to publishers. This is one of them.
What's this? National newspaper journalists making factual errors about bloggers? I though it was bloggers that were unreliable!
A solid argument against the dominance of a handful of companies as the home of social graph information.
Journalists completely taken in by fraud, bloggers expose it. What was that about being able to trust journalists but not bloggers?
Shane nicely skewers the argument that the Drudge Report has lost its edge.
I like Steve Jackson. He's a curmudgeon, but the sort of curmudgeon who makes you think. And something he's been quite curmudgeonly about recently, and about which I've come to the conclusion that he's right, is LiveTwittering. It started with a post on his own blog, decrying the pollution of his Twitter stream by hacks tweeting from a Frontline Club event. He followed this up with a post on the Media140 blog, at Dee's invitation.
It's interesting then that when its hacks running the show, and no one to edit, a different tact is taken when social media is involved.
Suddenly there is no concept of news values. Only just how many tools can we use to spread the thin story just about as thinly as possible? There is never any thought of "what is this worth?" or "is this a story?"
Just keep on spreading.
Here's the thing: Twitter is in an explosive boom phase right now, and has been since the beginning of the year. A lot of people are relatively new to it, and they're full of enthusiasm for the new medium. There's been a recurring tendency for people to assume that New Shiny Thing will do everything and replace Old Less Exciting Thing. And over time, that goes away and New Shiny thing becomes just another tool in the toolbox. Look at the recent exodus of all the tech cutting edge adopters to FriendFeed - and their subsequent return to their blogs as the hubs of their activity, with the other services surrounding and feeding that core.
And that's where I'm at.
September 14, 2009
NEW YORK - As the bid deadline for ailing BusinessWeek magazine approaches the McGraw-Hill title is revealed to have spent $16m on creating its social networking site, which is generating little cash.Joanne asked how you can spend that much money on a social network. Here's how: think like a big company. They're a big brand, from a big company. They clearly need a big, expensive infrastructure, or so the thinking goes. Unfortunately, that rather ignores the fact that the products they're trying to complete with run lean and fast, with low overheads and the ability to adapt quickly to changes in their competitive environment.
BusinessWeek launched its social networking venture Business Exchange in 2007. By 2008 it had spent $16m on the site, which is estimated by the New York Time to have generated just $600,000 in revenues.
I've been faced with people arguing for "big infrastructure" here, but so far we've been successful in keeping our blogging and community infrastructure (fairly) lean and focused - and thus in line with the potential revenue.
Interesting conclusion to a post about a story the traditional media failed to cover:
I would also point out one thing which I am sure will be missed by the "Old Media is indispensable" faction, which is that there is no need for any of these amateurs to ever do any journalism again. It is, in my view, very likely that they won't. It will be other amateurs who do and that is a key unappreciated strength of this thing, that each story can be done not by someone who gets assigned to go through the motions, but by a small set of people passionate about that particularly issue.Journalists had three things going for them in the traditional media age: time, skills and access to distribution.
We've lost two of those. In aggregate, the general public and bloggers in particular have more time available that all traditional journalists put together. And access to distribution is available to anyone with a computer or mobile phone and an internet connection.
So, what can we do with skill, where the other two aren't the defining factor?
The long-term significance of Blogging is that it reverses a trend that had become increasingly worrying in an era dominated by mass media, namely the erosion of what the cultural critic Jurgen Habermas called "the public sphere" - an area where citizens gather to generate opinions and attitudes that affirm or challenge the actions of the state. Mass media offered the illusion of diversity while narrowing the range of real choices available - the "600 channels and nothing on" syndrome. Blogging has revived - and begun to expand - the public sphere, and in the process may revitalise our democracies.
September 11, 2009
September 10, 2009
Kevin Anderson has followed up, looking at the security risks (or lack of them) around WordPress:
Security analyst David Kierznowski at BlogSecurity has a list of more than two dozen known vulnerabilities in all versions of WordPress. A 2007 survey of 50 WordPress by Kierznowski found that only one of the sites was running the latest version of the software, leading him to warn that the WordPress community was vulnerable to attacks. So maybe the question isn't whether WordPress is more likely to be hacked but whether WordPress users are less likely to upgrade.Meanwhile John August makes a good argument that, at this stage, most people shouldn't be hosting their own blogs at all. It's just not necessary, when there are so many good alternatives out there, both free and paid.
Here's how one Typepad user puts it:
Here's the deal: I'm running a business - a speaking and consulting business that is focused on the use of social media by entrepreneurs, and this blog is the cornerstone of my content. I need to be sure there is is a team of experts looking out for me - testing technology before throwing it out there to the community, and most importantly, keeping me protected against issues like this one that is wreaking havoc for some Wordpress users.Blogging is well and truly mainstream now. We're well beyond the tech-centric early adopter core, and for everyone else, using a hosted blogging platform is probably the way forward. Just look at the predominance of Blogger amongst the main UK political blogs. Even Guido is on the hosted WordPress.com VIP platform.
September 9, 2009
Interesting. That's a fair chunk of cash.
September 8, 2009
...let's think about what might happen when magazine publishing is no longer a river in its own right, but is just a current in the digital ocean. Magazines are starting to appear on the Web, but since they are just a number of interconnected pages in a world of interconnected pages, the boundaries between 'magazine' and 'not-magazine', or indeed between 'magazine A' and 'magazine B' are, from the Web browser's point of view, rather vague. Once we drop the idea of discretely bound and sold sheaves of glossily processed wood pulp from the model, what do we have left? Anything useful?
September 7, 2009
September 6, 2009
September 5, 2009
September 4, 2009
September 2, 2009
I've just done January 2006, and I've bee struck by two things:
- The link rot is pretty bad, for three and a half years. The BBC and national newspaper links are all still good, as are most of the blog links. But Channel 4's links are long gone, as are most to the start-ups of the era. The permalink is nowhere near as perma as we would like.
- My blog was so much more personal back then. Less of a focus on journalism, although it was still a major theme, but a lot more random stuff that would hit Twitter or The Rest of My Life these days. I miss that random element a little.