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Archive for the ‘Digital Media’ Category

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 »

Let Your Fellow Citizens Make Your Commute Easier

Posted by Jacqueline on October 10, 2007

While most people think of citizen journalism, at least at the current moment, they think of either the courageous bloggers in Burma (and other war-torn nations), or of those people who report on the minutiae of politics, especially local politics.  However, while calling it journalism might be a stretch, there are other kinds of citizen-generated content that are making an immediate impact on people’s lives.

Check out Clever Commute, a website devoted to the travel situation and traffic in the New York City area.  People use their blackberries and smart phones to share information about delays and reroutes, leading to a smoother commute for everyone involved.  No, it’s not really journalism, at least in the traditional sense, but it is breaking news.  And definitely essential knowledge for its users. 

Although public transportation systems have been offering mobile updates for some time, this is the only service that lets people reach their fellow riders (which makes things much more immediate and accurate than the typically slow transit authority updates).  Thus far, commuters using technology to help other commuters has proved to be a superior method of breaking traffic/transportation news, at least in NYC. 

Want to know more?  Check out this NY Times article on Clever Commute.

Do you have an outside-the-box citizen journalism idea?  Take a gamble and enter the Knight News Challenge – you just might win the cash and the resources to make it happen. 

Posted in Citizen Journalism, Digital Media, General, Innovation, Technology, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Google Gets Mobile, Acquires Jaiku

Posted by Jacqueline on October 9, 2007

The mobile web is definitely hot right now, and the almighty Google has just solidified their presence in the mobile space by buying Jaiku, a Finnish company that provides a mobile instant messaging service.

There’s a FAQ about the acquisition on Jaiku’s website – they say that it shouldn’t change much for users at the moment, but it will be exciting to see what Jaiku does now that they have Google’s support.  Of course, this way Google can also extend its advertising into the mobile sphere – which might not be such a bad thing, especially for mobile-centric companies in search of ad revenue.  Also, considering that reports of a “gphone” have been popping up on tech blogs, Jaiku could end up being an important component of that.

Got a mobile web project of your own?  If it’s related to local news and based around a particular community, check out the Knight News Challenge – you could win funding for your ideas. 

Bonus links: coverage of the deal on Techcrunch, O’Reilly Radar, and Read Write Web.

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

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 »

The Moment Is Here: News Is Portable

Posted by Jacqueline on October 8, 2007

Jeff Jarvis says that newspapers have reached their “ipod moment” – the moment where something shifts and new technology reaches a critical mass, changing the way that everything works (like ipods changed how people consume music). 

As we all know, the mobile web is becoming increasingly important – and with iphones (and similar devices, including, perhaps, a google phone), we’re no longer chained to a computer.  Instead, we’re connected to the internet all the time and we get our news on the go – and everything you can do on your computer, you can do on your iphone.  The fact that it’s also a cell phone is practically a second thought when you consider all of its web capabilities. 

However, for this to be a real industry-altering ipod moment, media companies have to take advantage of it.  Right now, it appears that old media is much too focused on making the web adapt to their interests, rather than figuring out how to innovate.  And I quote:

“For decades, I’ve watched newspaper industry thinktanks – the too few that exist – try to invent the next medium for news. This usually takes the mythical form of e-paper, thin as a sheet and just as portable, able to display newspapers like newspapers, very Harry Potter. I have also seen too many newspapers and magazines attempting to use painful PDF technology to display their publications on screens exactly as they appear on paper. Why? Ego, I think, and comfort and fear of change. The New York Times recently did a deal with Microsoft to use its new reader, which looks as attractive, if grey, as the Times itself and enables familiar activities like turning pages, but which loses some of the rich linking and interactivity of the web.

I think that’s all driving the wrong way: backwards. These are attempts to mold technology to old media. What we should be doing instead, of course, is molding media to new technology. We should be asking what new we can do on this new iPhone.”

That last paragraph could also be an explanation for why independent bloggers and new media companies have managed to pick up such a large share of the market online – they are working with the technology and embracing the new, instead of fighting change and maintaining the status quo.  Like Jeff says, they should be asking themselves “how do we use this wonderful device to give people the news and links whenever, wherever, and however they want it? How do we do that with incredible efficiency? How do we make it local and relevant? How do we take advantage of the two-way relationship we now have, enabling people with these gadgets to share what they know?

Of course, if you have ideas or projects related to digital technology and journalism, you know what to do.  There’s one week left to enter and hey, you could be the one who rocks the media world.

Posted in Digital Media, General, Innovation, Journalism, New Media, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Social News in the Spotlight: Newsvine Bought By MSNBC

Posted by Jacqueline on October 7, 2007

Popular social news website Newsvine became part of the MSNBC family this past Friday, solidifying the place of community-driven news on the web.  As stated by the founders of purpose of Newsvine was “to build a perfectly different, perfectly efficient way to read, write, and interact with the news.”

According to MSNBC’s coverage of the deal, Newsvine was a perfect fit for their needs.

“Newsvine is local, small, nimble — they don’t come with a lot of things you don’t want,” he said, such as complicated partnerships and contracts. “There isn’t a lot to rearrange.”

Sreenath Sreenivasan, a specialist in new media at the Columbia University journalism school, said the deal was a good fit for both companies.

“As the news environment is changing so quickly, it’s important for more traditional media companies to take advantage of some of these newer technologies,” Sreenivasan said.

Although Newsvine is not as popular as other social news sites (like Digg, Reddit, and such), it has a dedicated community of users and they’ve created plenty of buzz by offering a unique combination of mainstream reporting, user-generated content, and social ranking.  Here’s the quote:

“But the site has generated significant buzz since its launch in March 2006 because of its inventive merger of mainstream reporting from The Associated Press and ESPN; the contributions of individual users, who are paid for their writing; and the social media model of user-driven ranking of the news.”

What does this all mean for citizen journalism?  Now it will have a home on one of the largest news sources on the web; however, they’re promising that the acquisition won’t destroy Newsvine’s independent spirit.

“Newsvine will now report to one of the largest such companies, but while Davidson said it may “expand a little bit” with msnbc.com’s support, growing from six employees to perhaps 10 or 15, he and Tillinghast both stressed that Newsvine would continue to run as an independent site.”

Related links – the coverage of the MSNBC-Newsvine deal on Techcrunch, Gigaom, and MSNBC itself.

Posted in Digital Media, Entrepreneurship, General, Innovation, Journalism, New Media, Technology, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Welcome To The Connected Age

Posted by Jacqueline on October 7, 2007

Thanks to the web, mobile phones, and related technologies, most of us are connected to each other all the time.  We are constantly consuming information about everything under the sun, and the internet has essentially transformed the way that we live and work.  As Anne Zulenka (of Web Worker Daily and Gigaom) says, if the early days of the web were the Information Age, we are now in the Connected Age.

“Today’s version of the web, whatever you want to call it, is notable because people and hardware and information and software and conversation are all mixed together into a hyperconnected network. Maybe instead of getting tangled up in discussions of what’s web 1.0 vs. web 2.0 vs. web 3.0, we might look instead at another shift: how the web enables us to move from one era into another, from the Information Age to the Connected Age. You can see this shift both in the practices of individual workers and in the strategies of technology companies.”

She compares the internet to a stew – there are many different ingredients (websites and applications), but they can all mingle and touch each other (links, mashups, etc.).  Each one makes the whole more interesting.

Working with the web is no longer the sole province of techies and nerds – we all get our news, do research, and communicate via the net – so it’s especially important for businesses to take note of how it is woven into our everyday lives.   For instance, people planning on entering the Knight News Challenge are probably already aware of our inter-connectedness, but a reminder of how attention and relationships are the new priorities doesn’t hurt.  After all, when there are hundreds, if not thousands, of websites trying to get noticed, it is the ones that enable people interact with each other and build a community around a shared interest or location that tend to stick. 

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

Become the Master of Your Own Universe: Get Creative

Posted by Jacqueline on October 5, 2007

Want to control your own destiny?  You can create something, build something, or start your own business.  Whatever you do, take a chance and get entrepreneurial.  It’s easier than ever to start a company, publish your writing or artwork, and record your own music, thanks to the web.  Need more inspiration?  Check out this post by Read Write Web’s brilliant Bernard Lunn about how Creative Entrepreneurs are the Next Masters of the Universe.

Basically, it’s time to stop complaining about the status quo and get out there and disrupt it (and if you’re lacking in funds and your idea has to do with news, local and hyperlocal communities, and/or journalism, check out the Knight News Challenge).  Yes, it’s tough to get heard over all the other “noise” on the web, and marketing even the best idea is difficult in this age of over-saturation, but in the end, isn’t being becoming a master of the universe worth it?

Get out there and change the world.

Posted in Digital Media, Entrepreneurship, General, Innovation, New Media, Technology | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Web 2.0 Petri Dish on Read Write Web

Posted by Jacqueline on October 4, 2007

Today Read Write Web, one of the net’s foremost technology and digital media blogs (and I’ll admit that it’s a personal favorite of mine as well), posted about the current web 2.0 climate, comparing it to a petri dish – lots of experiments are taking place and no one really knows what’s going to happen.  Contributor Bernard Lunn says:

“The Web 2.0 world is looking increasingly like a giant petri dish. There are so many experiments, so much innovation and, as yet, relatively little real revenue. Within this petri dish are a few ideas that will turn into billions of dollars, at which point we will all say “why didn’t I think of that”? There are also lots of “what on earth were we all thinking” ideas out there. Numerically of course, there will be much more of the latter – but in $ terms the few big winners will mean it’ll all make some kind of sense in the end.”

Now, the Knight News Challenge is not about on awarding funds to companies based their earning potential (after all, they want more corporations that think about the double bottom line), but revenues are the lifeblood of any company, and it’s important for any entrepreneur who is thinking about building something web 2.0ish to realize that very few companies are actually making any real cash on the web.  However, the entry bar and general costs of doing business are still set extremely low, so there is not going to be a lack of people who are going to try to make the big bucks.

Lunn’s petri dish metaphor is extremely apt – lots of people experimenting with this and that, hoping to grow into something big and valuable.  He goes on to cover the current state of web 2.0 in a very realistic manner that is best described as cautious optimism, and ends with some advice to startup founders and other entreprenuers:

“1. Raise more money (a lot more) than you think you need. VCs have plenty of money to put to work and you need enough to ride out a cycle and really build something to last. Jason Calacanis said he raised enough for 5 years with Mahalo and he has seen a cycle come and go.

2. Get to cash flow positive quicker than you had planned. (And if you are already there, don’t take this as the time to start a major expansion built on borrowed money).

3. Accept that offer. Not the first one of course. Not the second one if you have good poker nerves. But take the third one. Live to venture another day.”

Perhaps his advice is little obvious, but really, the current financial climate is not the time to engage in major building on borrowed money.  What’s the solution?  Stay small and lean (with all the current technology, there is no need to have a huge office or other costly accoutrements, especially in a company’s early days of existence), or you could look for funding from non-venture capital sources, such as grants or contests like the news challenge (c’mon, you knew I was going to mention that).

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

Make A Real Impact: Build A Necessary Evil

Posted by Jacqueline on October 3, 2007

Last week at On Startups Darmesh Shah posted about how entreprenuers can do better creating something that is a necessary evil (he uses the very apt example of tax software – it’s not fun or buy or use, but we all have to pay taxes), instead of something that is fun, cool, or sexy.  A real market of a few is better than a mythical market of millions, he says, and I’m inclined to agree.   

This makes perfect sense – build something that people need and they will come.  But how does this apply to the Knight News Challenge?  Well, most individuals consume a certain amount of local news just because they happen to live in a particular area.  People want to know what is going around them, because generally those are the events that affect them the most. 

Focus on delivering the necessary information – weather, crime, traffic, and less obvious things, such as quick un-biased summaries on the positions of local politicians during election season, for instance (although the lack of bias may be something that is easier said than done).  After all, we all know the views of candidates in the major national races, because the media covers that incessantly.  But local elections can have just as much, if not more, impact as the presidential race for the people who live in that community.  Think grassroots, not global. 

Yes, something like this might be not particularly cool, but it’ll make a difference – and it might even encourage more people to vote, because they’ll be significantly better informed.  Have a better idea for a “necessary evil” type of startup?  You know the drill.

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