One Man and His Blog: August 2010 Archives

August 2010 Archives

August 31, 2010

The Commenter and the Moderator

Here’s a couple of posts which become more useful when you read them in concert:

That’s the poacher and the gamekeeper covered…

August 28, 2010

Media: Old, New & Social

A neat quote that encapsulates where the divide between new and social media lies:

Adriana says: "I divide between old and new media on the one hand and social media on the other hand. New media is just digitalised old media. Social media are tools like blogs, tagging, podcasts, wikis etc that facilitate communication. It is by its nature interactive and I especially like the social aspect of it."

Kristine Lowe, quoting Adriana Lukas.

August 27, 2010

News Shopper, Homophobia & Criticism

I've been following Darryl of 853's blogging for years now under his various guises, and once in a while, he comes out with some absolute corkers. This has been one of those weeks.


Yes, that'll be the one that calls gays "perverted". That's worth a prize, isn't it? I wonder what Webster's Pen Shop thinks about its products being used to reward such an unpleasant little rant? It's someone else's opinion, but it's the News Shopper's choice to reward that opinion with a prize.
But what makes this even more entertaining is the response of whomever is behind the @newsshopper Twitter account, as detailed in his latest post:

@darryl1974 You are so way off with so many of the things in your blog entry, particularly regarding our website, it's impossible to begin.less than a minute ago via web


Hint: that's not the way to handle criticism.  

Update: I think this post hits the nail on the head about what journos on the News Shopper probably think is going on - and why they're wrong. Stirring up controversy like this is not good journalism. 

Making eBooks Just Got Really Easy

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 06:  MacWorld attendee...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Apple's an odd company, sometimes. Most of what it launches, it does with great fanfare and marketing push. And sometimes, it slips something quite significant into a tiny, regarded update.

Last night, it pushed out an update to its iWork office apps suite, which added the ability to create ePub documents to its Pages word processing and page layout app. ePub, for those who don't know, is the open ebook standard that lies behind the iBooks store on the iPad and iPhone, as well as numerous other book readers. 

That makes the entry cost for ebook creation under £60, according to the latest price for iWork '09 Retail on Amazon. You can sell the ePub format directly, and have people be able to use it in iBooks or any other reader that supports the standard. Or you could sell it directly through the iBooks store. Of course, ePub makers were already out there, but the general opinion was that they were clunky and hard to use. Pages, as you might expect from Apple, is a very slick and intuitive piece of software. 

The eBook landscape just changed. 

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August 26, 2010

The Dangers of Web Neophilia

I've long found that posting in irritation can get me into trouble, so I've sat on this post for most of the week. But really, I've had enough now. The social media backlash is in full swing, and, frankly, if you didn't see this coming, you haven't been paying attention.

It started with linkbait expert Techcrunch poster Paul Carr shutting down his social media presence, but really gained momentum when Leo Laporte of the TWiT network realising that the majority of his microblogging activity was having no significant impact whatsoever.

Inevitably, most web tech is built by (surprise!) technologists, who are themselves often attracted to shiny new things over the established things of the past. That cadre of bloggers-turned-social media gurus who once sold us on the virtues of blogging have been flitting from service to service in search of the next big thing that they can evangelise. But increasingly, they've been wrong about the coming success stories. From FriendFeed (sold to Facebook, largely abandoned) to Google Wave, they've been trying to tempt us to follow them to the New Thing and abandon the Old Thing. And most people haven't obliged.

Indeed, as Alan points out, pretty much what these "leading voices" are doing is reflecting what less obsessive neophiles have been doing since the start: building on the existing utility of older services, rather than replacing the old with the new. And even then, people will only use those services that they see a clear, simple value in. FriendFeed and Wave were geek tools, not ones that would see mainstream adoption. And a good proportion of those web neophiles have no antenna at all when it comes to sensing what the mainstream will enjoy.

Continue reading The Dangers of Web Neophilia.

August 24, 2010

Data from the Real-Time Web

Bit.ly has scientists? Who knew? Interesting stuff, though:

[via MarkMedia]

I've embedded the slides in the extended entry...

Continue reading Data from the Real-Time Web.

The Journalism Generation Gap

Great stuff:

  • The old school would wish the government intervenes to support quality journalism, whereas we'd rather win the support of our fellow citizens through Spot.Us and Kickstarter. 
  • The old school regularly reminds us that our readers are stupid, whereas the internet generation knows that our obsessive focus on breaking news is hardly congenial to people who wish to understand the broader issues facing our society. 
  • The old school thinks good journalism is dying. The new school thinks news has become a commodity.
You might not agree with it all, but it's does highlight some of the major rifts in thinking...

Buttoning Up Our Blogs

The observant might have noticed the arrival of the new, official, Tweet button and a more compact Facebook Like button on this here blog a few days ago. I tend to use OM&HB as a testing ground for things we could roll out onto our blogs at RBI, and in that spirit, I added the buttons to one of the lower traffic Caterer blogs, just to see how it went.

As it turns out, not too bad at all:

Tweet and Like buttons on an RBI blog

Admittedly, the fact that it was a post about the mighty Pizza Burger (mmmm…Pizza Burger) probably helped.

(Aside: One of the handy things about running our blogs on Movable Type is the ease of dropping stuff like this into the templates and republishing, just changing one of the hundreds of blogs we run off the same install. Tempting and lovely though the plugin route is, it involved testing, rolling it out to the pool of servers, updating it, and warning everybody publishing blogs off the server pool that a new plugin is going in. )

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be offering the buttons to each of our markets, and it'll be interesting to see how much effect they have, if any, on traffic volumes. Everyone seems to be using them these days, but do they really have an impact?

August 20, 2010

Researching Media Law and Online Publishers

Judith Townend, she who has given up life at journalism.co.uk for PhDing, is running a survey around media law and online publishers/bloggers. Help academia flourish by filling it out, if you'd be so kind...

Google falls to the Dark Side (animated silliness)

August 17, 2010

Rethinking Blog Platforms

I love this idea of how blog platforms could work so much better by getting rid of the "back end for posting, front end for reading" interface model that's dominated for the last decade.

This visualisation makes the point well:

From dashboard to productivity
Blog platform providers, get to it. 

August 12, 2010

Publishing in a Device Rich Age

Apple Store Covent Garden
My AppleTV
I had cause to visit the brand new Apple Store in Covent Garden this morning; my AppleTV had developed the blinking amber light of death, and a visit to the Genius Bar was in order. 20 minutes later, it had been swapped out for a new one, and I was off to the Procter Street office. And I was happy. I love my AppleTV. I love being able to watch home movies easily on my HD TV, to be able to buy the video content I want, download it and watch it, and enjoy video podcasts from the comfort of my sofa. However, I know that such download/streaming services haven't hit the mainstream, yet. 

However, the feeds I'd been catching up with on my iPad were full of the news that a brand new version of the AppleTV, to be called the iTV, may well be on its way, based on the iPhone OS (or iOS, as we should be calling it now), with apps and all. And that, in turn, reminded me of the Google TV effort on its way. Connected TV is here, and every effort is being made to push it mainstream. And what are the consequences of that?

Publishing, as a business, has been pretty slow to adapt to the mobile internet age. We've built entire corporate infrastructures based on two-channel publishing: print and the web. But devices that can access the internet are proliferating rapidly, and I suspect we're moving towards a genuinely multi-channel age. And are we anywhere near ready to cope with some of our content being on internet-enables TVs?

Clearly the BBC is thinking about this, but then it has something of a head-start in the TV area. But it is, itself, a content company, that's trying to adapt to a multi-platform strategy, just like the rest of us. And here's the idea they're pushing towards:

The BBC's multiplatform aspirations
You can find the whole thinking behind what they're planning on the About The BBC blog

Now, clearly some of these moves are being driven by the BBC's strategy review and the need to drive down costs. But I cna't help find the clarity of what they're doing appealing - start to reorganise around content types rather than output types (TV and radio are still in the chart, but you can think of them as video and audio entertainment content, and the pattern becomes clear). 

As the devices that people use to access content start to diversify, this seems like the only sane approach, otherwise the days of the web team fighting with the print team over a story will seem like a happy, bygone era, as multiple channel teams each fight over a story.,..
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August 10, 2010

What Blogging Did Next

Interesting piece in The Economist:

People are not tiring of the chance to publish and communicate on the internet easily and at almost no cost. Experimentation has brought innovations, such as comment threads, and the ability to mix thoughts, pictures and links in a stream, with the most recent on top. Yet Facebook, Twitter and the like have broken the blogs' monopoly. Even newer entrants such as Tumblr have offered sharp new competition, in particular for handling personal observations and quick exchanges. Facebook, despite its recent privacy missteps, offers better controls to keep the personal private. Twitter limits all communication to 140 characters and works nicely on a mobile phone.

Does Conversation Scale?

The BBC's Nick Robinson on the comments left on his blog:

"So I'm going to be honest with you and I've said this before and I've upset some people. I don't read the comments anything like as much as I used to because there is too much static white noise in them and not enough pure feedback. But if we could find a way of having a more thoughtful, less abusive debate via blogs I think that would be a good thing."

He's not alone in this observation - many big, high traffic blogs have abandoned comments, employed moderators, or left their comments as a bear pit, because one to many conversation doesn't scale very well. Forums have been dying under the weight of moderation problems since before blogs were first published.

This is a challenge for mainstream media companies as social media becomes a more central part of what we do, and not just a fringe activity (in fact, I'm in the process of arranging a meeting with one of our titles that is going through the early stages of this issue).

What's the solution? Community managers? User voting? Enforced registration?

Just after politicians and bankers...

These lists roll around fairly regularly, and we're number 3 least trusted profession:

  1. Politicians
  2. Bankers
  3. Journalists
  4. Car Salesmen
  5. Estate Agents
That's us, just after the people who fiddles their expenses from our pockets and the folks brought the world's economy to its knees. And we're always in the top few. 

Anyone surprised that the buying public aren't rushing to prop up our pre-internet business models? 

August 6, 2010

Tumblr Time for Publishers?

Image representing Tumblr as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

I wrote about Tumblr a couple of weeks ago as part of a general post on the new blogging. Looks like it's starting to reach a critical mass of awareness amongst the journalism community:

My verdict?...well, our American friends across the pond are beginning to embrace it with open arms, with Newsweek and Rolling Stone both signing up to engage their readers in conversation. Will the UK be next to jump on the bandwagon? Tumblr's figures are certainly impressive
What would those figures be?

Founded by David Karp in 2007, Tumblr was created as a way for the average person to easily manage a blog without the complications inherent in a search engine-friendly application like WordPress. Think of your grandmother being able to start a blog and that gives you an idea. To date Tumblr has about 6.6 million users and apparently 25,000 new people are signing up every day.
And there's a growing resource of guides to using the site for promoting your content:

It's a content-focused social network, that makes it trivial for people to share your content around. Find people who like the sort of stuff you do, and you've found a source of traffic. 

Maybe this is where we should have been looking for the next big thing, instead of Google Wave?

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(Still) Criminalising Photographers

I finding it deeply worrying that the police are still doing this kind of thing:

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has hit out at the Metropolitan Police after photographer Carmen Valino said she was stopped from doing her job despite identifying herself as a journalist to police officers in Hackney on Saturday. Valino said she was photographing the crime scene from outside a police cordon. 'A police sergeant approached Valino telling her that she was disrupting a police investigation and to hand over her camera,' reported the London Photographers' Branch of the NUJ.
C'mon, Coalition, if you really believe in Big Society and civil liberties, turn this around. 
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Linking and Opinions

A couple of blog posts that have been hanging around in tabs for a few days now, and which deserve some linkage:

Kristine Lowe posted a thoughtful look at how the rise of social media is reshaping our expectations of what journalism looks like:

While thinking about how social media has changed, some would say blurred, the lines between private and public, between work and play, for an op-ed published yesterday (in Norwegian) it struck me that what we're experiencing now is just growing pains, a temporary phase while we transition from old to new ways of thinking, or perhaps we could even speak of paradigms.
And Patrick Smith looks at the continuing lack of linking on websites published by traditional media companies:

But for the national newspapers and magazines, in the majortiy of cases they have no such excuse and the fact is that many simply choose not to send readers elsewhere. We're the best, our readers love us, why would anyone go anywhere else?
The discussion in the comments pushes the ideas in there much further, so do read on

August 5, 2010

The Wave That Drowned

Google Wave

Image via Wikipedia

The terminally-ill Google Wave was less a curious beast than one came at a curious time.

Mid-2009 was the time when Twitter was really, really coming into its own. Facebook had become a behemoth that was rapidly moving from "can it beat MySpace?" to "MyWhat?". The big social media innovations of the previous few years were going mainstream, because their barrier to entry - a short status update - were so much lower than those that had preceded them.

People who had missed blogging, had missed Twitter, had missed the rise of social networks, were suddenly desperate to catch the next wave that came along, and to catch it early. Google is a big, huge powerful company stuffed with PhDs. Wasn't it logical that they would be the ones to bring the next big thing forward? When the first announcement and demo of Wave was a show greeted with cheers and waving laptops from developers, the path to a clear, but wrong, assumption was laid.

Last summer was a bizarre time for me. I'd spent years telling people that various things were going to be important - from blogs to Twitter - and generally, being ignored by most people. Now everybody was enthusing about something new. We had internal discussions about it. We had meetings and brainstorming sessions, and I really started to wonder if I'd just got too old, that I was beyond the edge, that I had nothing to add to the future development of social media in the company, because people saw Wave as important, and I didn't.

To me, Wave looked awfully like a solution hunting around for a problem. It was a bunch of cool technologies that had been bundled together into a product that made no sense. I've tried an awful lot of Web 2.0 style products down the years, and you get a feel for those that stick and those that don't - and this felt like one that wouldn't. I just tried to find the blog posts I wrote about Wave - and discovered that there weren't any. That's a pretty good sign that I didn't care.

Continue reading The Wave That Drowned.

August 3, 2010

At Forbes One Journalist = One Blog

One Journalist and His Blog:

The leading business publication Forbes is set to go live with a "major upgrade" of its social media later today, Business Insider saying every reporter will be required to have their own blog.
Most reporters are "starting [their blogs] from scratch", says Joe Pompeo, a reporter at Business Insider, and the fresh take will be based on a "completely revamped" WordPress installation.
<MrBurns>Excellent</MrBurns>
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US citizens look at "social stuff" online...

Initially, I got rather excited by this infographic that's doing the rounds:

Nielson Pie Chart (US Internet Time)
Another great chart to challenge people's preconceptions! Hurrah!

And then I looked at it a bit harder. Social networks and blogs lumped together? That's...not very useful. It implies that people want a significant amount of their content delivered in a social manner, but doesn't give us any clear picture of how relationship-driven that delivery actually is. Hummph. 

Luckily, there's more detail in the original blog post, although not enough to really tease apart what's going on here. The mobile use pie chart is worth a squint, though.

Data Journalism's Challenge

In all the discussion about data journalism that's been kicking around of late, I think this quote, highlighted by Neil Perkin, is probably the most critical:

Eric Schmidt summed it up: "Between the dawn of civilisation and 2003, five exabytes of information were created. In the last two days, five exabytes of information have been created, and that rate is accelerating"
If you can't see the implications for this for people in the information business - and all journalists are in the information business - then you're on the back foot already. 

The iPad as a blogging tool: not ready

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 27:  An event guest pl...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

For the last couple of months, I've been experimenting with my iPad as a potential blogging tool, and have come to the conclusion that it's just not up to the challenge, yet. There's two principal reasons for this:

1. The apps are rubbish

As this piece on the Apple blog accurately highlights, the paltry few blogging apps on the iPad are, well, rubbish. There's a little hope with the suggestion that MarsEdit might come to the iPad, but until then, this is a non-starter.

2. Mobile Safari can't cut it

Here's the other problem - the main text editors built into the major blogging platforms just don't work very well on the iPad. Here's an explanation from the TinyMCE site:

There is a lot of questions regarding TinyMCE and why it doesn't work on the modern mobile browsers. We have made tests on iPhone as well as the latest version of Android (2.2 Froyo) and they do not have proper support for editing. Android 2.2 Froyo does claim that they have support for contentEditable, but our test find it completly useless. You do not get a keyboard when focusing the area, there are no cursor so you can not se where you type and there are various focus issues as well as showstopping problems with selections. Same goes for iPhone, altho they do not claim to have support we have made some tests and it does seem to have some parts of contentEditable in there, however its to buggy to use.
The net result of this is that you can't upload photos using the web interface of the blog platforms, and you can't use the rich text editors, either, leaving you hand-coding your post 2004-style. http://tinymce.moxiecode.com/punbb/viewtopic.php?id=22209

Things That Do Work

  1. I find that using Posterous to post-via-e-mail is probably the most efficient way of blogging from the iPad right now.
  2. Also, Typepad's Blog It function works very nicely, too, and I use that for some of my blogs on that Platform.
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August 2, 2010

Getting Your Community Going

Good concise advice. Agree with everything in there. 

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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