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Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Create With Confidence: Keep It Simple

Posted by Jacqueline on October 12, 2007

Ryan Imel of Theme Playground guest-posted on Copyblogger about confidence today.  Although technically his advice was for other bloggers, it applies to pretty much everyone who has something to say or information to present (hhmm, Knight News Challenge participants, perhaps?).

The best line?

“However, if you want a crowd to read your writing, be sure you’re writing something worth reading. And, as much as you can, cut out the fat. Don’t distract your reader so much that they miss the point of your message.”

This applies to many things besides writing – when you’re creating something new, it can be best to do one thing really, really well.  Keep it simple and make it great.  And be confident in your abilities to make something amazing.

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Seth Godin’s Rules For A Great Website

Posted by Jacqueline on October 11, 2007

Everything has a website nowadays – it’s almost impossible to start a company or do a project without some kind of web presence.  Obviously, an impressive, interesting, and compelling site is a virtual must for success.  For those of you planning to enter the Knight News Challenge (or have already entered and want to make your project even better), check out marketing guru Seth Godin’s rules for an amazing site.

#2 is particularly important (difficult to accomplish, but nothing worthwhile comes easy):

“Change the interaction. What makes great websites great is that they are simultaneously effortless and new at the same time. That means that the site teaches you a new thing or new interaction or new connection, but you know how to use it right away. (Hey, if doing this were easy, everyone would do it.)”

Posted in Blogging, Digital Media, Entrepreneurship, General, Technology, Web | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

“Journalism Has A Very Bright Future…”

Posted by Jacqueline on October 9, 2007

 “…it’s just a different one than it’s had.”

Doc Searls quoted Drew Clark today, saying that newspapers as we know them are over – I’m an optimist… The newspaper will not be around in twenty years. Let’s say ‘taps’ and move on.

We’ve all read tons of articles and blog posts decrying the way the web has affected journalism and claiming the internet and related technology will cause the death of traditional media, but really, is the situation that dire?  Yes, journalism is in a state of flux, but the changes aren’t necessarily for the worse, even if print newspapers become a distant memory (all the inky newsprint isn’t exactly evironmentally friendly anyways). 

I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat myself – the future belongs to the people who can adapt to the changes and forge ahead, not the ones who struggle to make technology fit the old molds.  That’s at least part of the reason why startups and independent news sites have gained so much popularity on the web – they don’t have that albatross of tradition hanging around their necks. 

As always, if you’ve got plans or projects that involve the ever-changing world of digital technology and journalism, check out the Knight News Challenge – you could win funding, support, and make your ideas a reality. 

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Popping the Bubble: Join The Fray

Posted by Jacqueline on October 8, 2007

Serial entrepreneur and founder of create-your-own social network site, Ning, Marc Andreessen has something to say to everyone who feels that we’re in the middle of another internet bubble (bubble 2.0?) – basically, that we’re not.  But he’s a lot funnier.

He makes a lot of good points about why you should take the risks and get out there and create something.  There is work to be done, innovations to discover, and of course, money to be made. 

And if your ideas or projects have to do with citizen journalism, building community, and digital technology, check out the Knight News Challenge.  Because if you happen to win, and Marc’s wrong about that whole bubble thing, some nice grant money will soften the blow. 

Posted in Blogging, Digital Media, Entrepreneurship, General, Innovation, Technology, Web | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Behind the “Great Firewall of China”

Posted by Jacqueline on October 7, 2007

Although the military junta in Myanmar/Burma is the government getting the most flack for censorship these days (and rightfully so), it’s important to remember that neighboring China isn’t exactly known for it’s openness.  In fact, many websites are blocked and there has been talk of bloggers having to register their real names with the government, in order to prevent the spread of “irresponsible and untrue information,” which is a “bad influence” on society.”  (Fortunately, this measure was not put into action). 

The Chinese government’s attempts to control their population’s access to the internet has been termed the Great Firewall of China, and although the wall is far from perfect (users can occasionally get through to banned sites, and there are numerous ways around the blocks, such as using proxies to surf the net, that people can utilize), it’s important to remember the effects of censorship, even if it has proven to be futile for the more technically inclined members of society. 

For instance, just knowing that the government is watching tends to lead to self-censorship. which might not seem all that dangerous on the surface (especially if you live in a country where freedom of speech and the press have long been fundamental rights), but clearly, placing such restrictions can be the beginning of a downward spiral.  However, the Great Firewall hasn’t prevented the Chinese people from embracing the web – according to this study, China will overtake the United States in the number of internet users by 2009.  It’s going to be tough for the government to keep a watchful on all those people.  From the linked article:

“So what affect will the surging population of Chinese web surfers have on the Internet as a whole? China remains divided from the rest of the ‘Net by the content filtering firewall that the government maintains to suppress information and discussion of topics the government deems unworthy. In addition, the government is actively engaged in hunting down people who post negative opinions about the government on blogs, something that US companies such as Yahoo and Google have publicly condemned yet privately supported. These tensions will increase as China’s ‘Net presence continues to grow, but one wonders if the Great Firewall of China can keep up.

Can the Chinese government really keep tabs on all of these users? 137+ million users (and growing) can’t be easily monitored no matter how you slice it, and government attempts at controlling what people say online have been met with a number of high-profile controversies over free speech which have been embarrassing for China, at lest in the western world. Of course, China isn’t too worried about what the western world thinks, especially when the kinds of growth we’re seeing there gives rise to visions of dancing dollar signs and euros in the eyes of many a businessman.”

Recent attempts at controlling the media that the general population consumes include banning RSS (which had previously been a way of accessing banned sites – can’t read the blog?  Try the feed), but as reports from people “behind the wall” say, there are ways around that too. 

One question that arises from this situation is “how can anyone expect to control the web?”  After all, isn’t part of the beauty of the web in the fact that it doesn’t come from one central source?  And won’t the attempts to censor/control the web hurt China’s economy in the long run?

As always, if you have any ideas or projects related to blogging, content delivery, or citizen journalism in places like China where the web isn’t as free or open as it could (should) be, check out the Knight News Challenge.

Posted in Blogging, Citizen Journalism, General, Journalism, New Media, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Down But Not Out: Burmese Citizen Journalism

Posted by Jacqueline on October 6, 2007

The brave citizen journalists, photographers, bloggers, and videographers on the ground in Burma may be partially silenced by the military junta government’s stringent censorship, but they are not totally quiet.  Instead, they’ve been forced to utilize more complicated methods to get the word out, like smuggling images in cell phones and breaking down files in order to send out them out undetected.

According to David Mathieson, an expert from the Human Rights Watch (quoted in this New York Times article):

“It is not clear how much longer the generals can hold back the future. Technology is making it harder for dictators and juntas to draw a curtain of secrecy.

“There are always ways people find of getting information out, and authorities always have to struggle with them,” said Mitchell Stephens, a professor of journalism at New York University and the author of “A History of News.”

“There are fewer and fewer events that we don’t have film images of: the world is filled with Zapruders,” he said, referring to Abraham Zapruder, the onlooker who recorded the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Before Friday’s blackout, Myanmar’s hit-and-run journalists were staging a virtuoso demonstration of the power of the Internet to outmaneuver a repressive government. A guerrilla army of citizen reporters was smuggling out pictures even as events were unfolding, and the world was watching.”

Hopefully, the continued efforts of the citizen journalists and reporters in Burma will manage to keep the world’s eyes on their corrupt government – and that other nations will draw positive lessons from this situation. 

Do you have ideas for citizen journalists in places where the technological reach is small and freedom of the press is but a pipe dream?  Any projects that could help them achieve their goals?  Enter the Knight News Challenge and you could win a grant and make your innovations a reality.

Bonus links:

The Human Rights Watch’s Burma section – here’s a lot more information on the current government and the country’s recent history.

The NY Times’ The Lede Blog’s latest post on Burma – be sure to check out the comments and the reactions from Burmese peoples and other reporters who have been there in the past few months.

Posted in Blogging, Citizen Journalism, General, Journalism, New Media, Technology, Web | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Visions of Web 3.0 From Jason Calcanis

Posted by Jacqueline on October 4, 2007

Serial entrepreneur Jason Calcanis has written a decent definition of Web 3.0:

Web 3.0 is defined as the creation of high-quality content and services produced by gifted individuals using Web 2.0 technology as an enabling platform.

At first, it seems as if he’s saying that web 3.0 is the same thing as web 2.0, but without all the crap (and we all know that there will always be some useless content and spam on the net), and of course his definition fits into the direction of his current startup, Mahalo, but the idea of 3.0 building on the good aspects of 2.0 and taking them to the next level has legs.  It’s a little elitist though (only “gifted” people are involved?  How do we define this?).

One of the commenters, Arnaud Fischer, wrote:

“Right, that’s one way to put it. If Web 1.0 was about linking information then Web 2.0 is definitely about linking people. If Web 2.0 is about linking people, Web 3.0 will be about connecting and making semantic sense of people’s knowledge. Bringing together two disjointed pieces of content, computing, and creating new incremental value.”

Maybe we can combine these definitions somehow, because I think that Calcanis has left the inter-connected aspect, which is important – in the future, our networks will network.

How would you define web 3.0?

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Using Web 2.0 To Innovate: E-Democracy.Org

Posted by Jacqueline on October 3, 2007

E-Democracy.Org, a Minnesota based organization with a focus on “the use of the Internet to improve citizen participation and real world governance through online discussions and information and knowledge exchange” (check out their About page for a lot more information about them and their mission), has created a wiki for their entry in the Knight News Challenge, and it’s open the public.

Now, companies and other organizations have been using internal wikis to get things done for quite some time now (and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if other Knight News Challenge entrants used wikis to help put together their proposals as well), but E-Democracy.Org’s wiki is open to the public.  Besides being refreshingly transparent, opening up their project to the opinions of others could prove very valuable indeed – after all, sometimes it takes an outsider’s viewpoint to really make your plan and ideas great. 

Best of luck to them!  You can read more about E-Democracy.Org on their website and their blog.

Posted in Blogging, Digital Media, Entrepreneurship, General, Innovation, New Media, Technology, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Lines Between New Media and Old Media are Disappearing

Posted by Jacqueline on October 2, 2007

The times, they are a-changin’.  Traditional companies are adding some new media flavor to their pages (How many big newspapers have added blogs to their websites in the last year or so, for instance?) and websites are adding some of the positive characteristics of their print counterparts, such as clearly defined sections and easy front-page navigation.

No where is this more obvious then at the popular liberal news and opinion site, the Huffington Post (it seems a little wrong to call it a mere blog, although technically it is a group blog in the most sense of the word – content organized in reverse chronological order, and readers can comment on the articles).  Begun by media mogul Arianna Huffington two and half years ago, today the site has forty-three employees and a reach of 3.5 million unique visitors a month.  Most newspapers would love to have that kind of readership.

Characterized as an “an online version of a sprawling dinner-party conversation with a global crowd of more than a thousand well-connected friends.”, the Huffington Post currently sits at #5 on the Technorati Top 100.  However, the site is shifting towards a more traditional media model, as they’ve made a “recent move to hire a handful of well-known journalists to do old-fashioned reporting. “Our goal,” Ms. Huffington says, “is basically to become an online newspaper”.”  In addition, the company has tapped Betsy Morgan, former general manager of CBSnews.com, to be their chief executive officer.  Obviously, the Huffpo, as it is sometimes casually referred to, is not exactly a typical blog.

“Getting somebody like this to come to our site says a boatload about where the industry is going,” said Kenneth Lerer, who has been acting as the chief executive of The Huffington Post and will move up to chairman. He founded the site along with Arianna Huffington, the political commentator.”

-From the CBSnews article about Betsy Morgan’s move.

Although many writers and traditional media types have slammed the internet as the home of dilettantes, amateurs, and hacks, that is simply not the case when websites like this exist; besides, the future belongs to those who can adapt to the changing media climate, not those who try in vain to preserve the past.  In the end, there is room enough for everyone on the web – it’s not as if there is an end to the internet.

Have your own ideas for how to use the web and other digital technology to deliver the news?  Check out the Knight Foundation’s news challenge and you could make them a reality.

Posted in Blogging, Digital Media, General, Journalism, New Media, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Old System Can’t Last Forever: The New Media

Posted by Jacqueline on October 1, 2007

You can’t visit a journalism-related website lately without reading about how traditional media is suffering from money woes thanks to the web, or how bloggers and other forms of online news are forcing the “real journalists” out of their jobs.  And you’ve probably heard how advertisers and marketers are flocking to the net in growing numbers.

So what’s the old media to do?  Obviously newspapers and magazines are not going to pack it in and say “game over, you win” to the web, but clearly something has to change if they want to stick around.  Today, Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine wrote about how reporters were calling for government support and funding from foundations or wealthy business moguls.  Basically, they need a steady influx of cash to replace advertisers and customers lost to the internet, or as Jeff says, “fairy godmothers who will swoop in from government or foundations or rich families to provide magic money that lets them continue to do business as they have.”  To put it succinctly, they are aiming for self-preservation, not innovation.

But the old ways of doing business can’t last forever, and trying to maintain a status quo that is tinged with nostalgia of the days before the web could be the end of many newspapers.  An artificial financial boost is not the cure for the illness that is ailing old media right now – learning to adapt to the web, working to innovate and striving to move forward and reinvent journalism as it works within all the amazing technological developments that have occurred in the recent past (and of course, looking to the future as well) – this is what needs to happen, instead of companies just burying their heads in the sand, ostrich style.

While support from the government could possible bail a struggling paper out, this seems very dangerous.  How will freedom of the press be affected when the government is funding it?  It’s tough to imagine a scenario in which a certain level of objectivity isn’t sacrificed, and the ability of journalists to criticize the government and to hold politicians accountable for their actions has always been essential for democracy.  Or do they plan to just leave the freedom of the press to bloggers?  And how do they plan to maintain the trust of the general public when they are bankrolled by the very organizations they criticize and discuss in their pages?

What about funding from foundations?  Clearly, this blog supports the Knight Foundation and their news challenge, but that encourages change and innovation.  It’s about changing things for the better, not sticking with the status quo.  Yes, sometimes foundation funding can mask a media outlet’s actual problems (because tossing money at an industry that can be hopelessly behind the times is a little like putting a band-aid on a bullet would), but if a foundation truly wants to foster innovation and growth, they can.  However, relying on outside sources for cash is also risky, because it’s a quick fix for a bigger, more fundamental problem. 

To conclude, I can’t say it better than Jeff:

“So rather than trying to find money to support the old ways artificially, we need resources to invent the new ways, the ones we don’t know yet. We need to take advantage of all the opportunities we have to gather and share news in new ways while preserving the best and most valuable of the old (and sloughing off the waste of the old). We need to explore new products and new business models and new relationships and we need to show that they are good investments, not charity cases.”

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