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Month: March 2008

Internal Blogging & Digital Journalism Lessons

two lessons from a busy day:

First of all, as I comb my e-mails for details of Movable Type problems and bugs past, I really wish I’d been keeping an internal blog from the start. Then I could just click the “server issues” tag and have a handy list to print out and give to the testers.

Secondly, I’ve realised just how much of a mental re-engineering needs to go on for journalists to adapt to the Web 2.0 age. Traditional publishing fundamentally had one process: research, write, edit, publish. Online journalism provides us with a range of tools, so you still research, but then you pick whichever medium best suits the story: text (long or short form), image, audio, video (streamed or recorded and edited). So, instead of a linear production workflow, you actually have a branching one, with critical choices to be made. And then you start factoring in interactive media, and the complexity goes up another level. That’s a huge, huge change in the job. No wonder it takes time to enthuse people about this.

It’s Change Or Die Time For Media Companies

My, my. We are seeing some interesting times in the online publishing world, aren't we?

Mr Arrington of that widely admir'd and provocative pamphlet Techcrunch has discoursed at length about the coming juggernaut of the blog publishers. There's big venture capital money heading in the direction of the most promising guys, and a whole new way of thinking to go with it. Quoth Arrington:

And writing good content is only half the battle. You have to figure
out the complex, dynamic web of politics between bloggers and
mainstream media before you post to know where to get support. And
you'll need support in the form of links from other prominent bloggers.
An early push can take a post and make it a headline on TechMeme, which
leads to page views and notice by sponsors. But since blogging is
almost by definition a conversation between bloggers, fights tend to
break out over emotional issues. Cliques develop. Can you count on them
to support you down the road?

How are mainstream publishers reacting? They're trying to sponge free content off bloggers. Um, good luck with that guys.

So, what's happening here? We're in a transition phase.

Read more

The Calm Before The Storm

Planning a Movable Type Upgrade

I’m enjoying my last few moments of liberty before heading into what I’ve mentally been terming “the month of hell”. Sometime in the next month, we’ll be upgrading our install of Movable Type Enterprise to the latest version. That means testing over 100 blogs to see that their template all perform fine, as well as making sure nearly 200 people are training in using the new version.
Oh, and because that all looked too easy, we’re also changing the server architecture while we do it. So, the next few weeks are going to be interesting to say the least. I’m used to blog upgrades being pretty trivial (bar that one time a WordPress upgrade broke everything), but doing these things at a corporate publishing scale just changes the playing field. 
I’ve taken the last few days off blogging, to give myself an Easter break and to gather my reserves for the weeks ahead. But now I’m back to it. I’ll try to blog my way through the process, but posting here might be even more erratic than normal, depending on how easy – or how hard – it all turns out to be. 

Why TV Doesn’t Know How To Engage

Those naughty folks at Computer Weekly‘s Downtime blog are taking the mickey out of one of my colleagues with this video:

Now, I reckon that that they’re missing the point and Mr Rogers will have the last larf here. The video isn’t mocking user generated content in general, just that slightly cheesy way TV and radio solicits user feedback to give them a thin patina of interaction, which is wholly fake. Compare the “reckons” on TV to the debates found in blog comments or forums, and you’ll see how shallow these efforts really are.

I hereby coin the phrase “cargo-cult engagement” to describe this phenomenon. My licensing rates are very reasonable…