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Archive for the ‘Web’ 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.)”

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

Ethics And Citizen Journalism

Posted by Jacqueline on October 10, 2007

According to many, one of the negative aspects of citizen journalism is that it is not as regulated as its traditional counterpart – after all, citizen journalists (e.g. bloggers and messageboard or discussion forum posters) generally aren’t considered as reliable as more professional journalists. 

While that’s not necessarily a bad thing – all journalists should carefully vet their sources anyways, it’s given citizen journalism a somewhat undeserved bad name, because really, just because someone is a professional doesn’t automatically mean they are perfectly ethical (in an ideal world, yes, however, that is sadly not the case, although they certainly are more credible than an anonymous internet source). 

However, as citizen journalism keeps gaining ground on the web, the question of ethics comes up, as well as one of regulation.  Is there even any way to set a basic standard for online, independent journalists?  First of all, if you have any ideas in that department, you should check out and enter the Knight News Challenge, especially if your plans are of a smaller scale (realistically, it’s not like anyone can regulate the entire internet).  Secondly, Tim McGuire of McGuire on Media has posted an interesting piece about ethics, the current state of journalism, and the business of journalism, and how it all goes together.  Perhaps it will inspire your entry!

Posted in Citizen Journalism, General, Journalism, New Media, Web | 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 »

Tis The Week To Change The World

Posted by Jacqueline on October 7, 2007

What are your plans for this week?

Anything interesting?

Just a typical week, you say?

Perhaps it’s time to disrupt your routine and take a look at the Knight News Challenge.  For the unfamiliar, it’s a contest that awards funding to innovators with ideas that involve digital technology and information delivery, and are focused on fostering community in a specific geographic region.  Anyone can enter (all you need is a great idea) and the deadline is October 15th.

There’s up to $5 million reserved for this year’s challenge, so a winning entry could be truly life-changing.  Consider yourself an entrepreneur?  Take the chance and enter. 

Need some inspiration? 

Check out this clip of last year’s winners:

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

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 »

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?

Posted in Blogging, General, Innovation, New Media, Technology, Web, 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 »

The Future of the Hyperlocal Web

Posted by Jacqueline on September 30, 2007

Read Write Web’s founder and editor Richard McManus (a popular blog devoted to web technology news, reviews, and analysis) has recently posted about future web trends (here and here).  Many different concepts are included, such as the creation of the semantic web, the growth of the mobile web, and the rise of hyperlocal applications and content. 

The Knight Foundation’s News Challenge is clearly concerned with local journalism and how communities can take advantage of digital technology to deliver breaking news and information, so the hyperlocal trend is of particular interest here.

Here’s what Richard said about hyperlocalism:

“Hyperlocal: Sebastien Provencher forsees “the transformation of the web into an exciting hyperlocal tool.” He said that the combination of the social web, geo-tagging standards, GPS-enabled mobile devices, and the eventual arrival en masse of small merchants and online municipal governments “will forever change the way we see our city or our neighborhood.”

On the same theme, commenter #66, Jacqueline*, said that “local and hyperlocal content/news systems are going to blow up in the not-so-distant future; based on the whole citizen journalism trend (and things like iphones, twitter, and devices/apps that haven’t even been invented yet will make it possible for people to post breaking news literally as it happens).”

Some of the characteristics typically mentioned when the concept of the hyperlocal web is discussed include things like the ability to find information that relates to your locale quickly and easily, and that things like local websites foster a sense of belonging to a specific community (and when I use the word “community”, I’m referring to it in the geographic sense instead of it meaning a group of people with shared interests).  After all, the web has made it easier than ever to organize and share information, so using it to bring the inhabitants of various cities, towns, and villages makes perfect sense.

Although plenty of websites, message boards, and blogs already devote themselves to local content, there is really no major standard to organize it all; also, if you live in a larger municipality, it might be difficult to even find the information you’re looking for due to the sheer breadth of the offerings.  Vice versa, if you happen to live in a small village or rural area, there might not be any content at all relating your area.

One thing that could make finding local information and news easier to find could be the adoption of geo-tagging standards (tagging any posts, photos, or video clips with related location(s)).  This could lead to a way to organize, regulate, and deliver all the valuable content produced by citizen journalists to both their immediate community and the world at large.  As the mobile web grows and devices like smart phones become more popular, systems or applications that deliver breaking news and local information will become even more essential.  Of course, if you have any ideas, or are working on a project that relates to the hyperlocal web, you should check out the Knight News Challenge.

*Yes, I am the Jacqueline referenced in this quote.

Posted in Citizen Journalism, Digital Media, New Media, Technology, Web, Web 2.0 | Leave a Comment »

The Revolution Will Be Blogged

Posted by Jacqueline on September 30, 2007

Much has already been made of the efforts made by citizen journalists inside Myanmar/Burma to document the deteriorating political situation, but their work is even more crucial in light of the fact that privately-owned newspapers in Burma have decided to stop their presses instead of printing more government propaganda. 

“They are forcing us to publish their announcements and propaganda in our publications and we can’t let them do that to us,” said a Rangoon journalist.

Kumudra, Seven Days, Pyi Myanmar and many other news journals have decided to stop or suspend publication, and have already informed the censor board of their decision. Rather than give the real reason for their decision, they blamed the ongoing instability which is preventing journalists from being able to go out and report.”

Although the nation is sadly no stranger to protests, riots, and the resulting violent response by the military regime, this time it is even worse than the previous 1988 uprisings.

“In 88 journals published news about the riots and shootings, but it is not as easy to do that now. The situation has changed – soldiers are shooting at everything now – so we can’t do it,” said the journalist.”

Both quotes are taken from this article on the Democratic Voice of Burma, a nonprofit organization that gives voice to the disenfranchised Burmese people and serves to inform the rest of the world about the real state of that nation.

In a country where freedom of the press is greatly compromised and censorship is the norm, it is paramount that brave citizen journalists still relay news to the outside world in order to make sure that the voice of the people is heard and make the international community aware of their plight.  After all, does anyone think that Myanmar/Burma protests and their sad consequences would currently be enjoying the same level of awareness without the work of the bloggers, photographers, and videographers who are sending reports out?  Yes, the UN would probably get involved, but by posting images and video clips of the actions taken by the military junta they’ve received an impressive global outpouring of support that would have otherwise been unlikely.

Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic writes about how satellite photos of the riots might be available soon.  “Maybe technology can keep the world focused”, he says.  In addition, “Keeping the world’s attention through the blogosphere is now essential. The revolution is not only going to be blogged; in some respects, the blogosphere is now critical to the survival of the revolution.” (Guess who inspired the title of this post?)  Thanks to technology, the outside world cannot be locked out and the Burmese military regime cannot be left to commit their atrocious human rights violations in private.

One more note – although the current Myamar government is trying to cut their people off from the outside media with measures like cutting off most internet connections, they can still view channels like CNN and BBC from their isolated compounds, according to the UK Telegraph:

“The bureaucracy has been moved to Naypyidaw, far away from ordinary people, and army families live in colonies cut off from civilians.

“I think the regime really believes this is just a few individuals stirred up by ‘destructive elements’, not the makings of a popular uprising reflecting the will of the people,” said a western diplomat.

“I think they believe their own propaganda.”

But he added that, although isolated, the generals are not completely immune to foreign pressure.

“They have the BBC up there in Naypyidaw. They have CNN. And I’m sure they’re watching it,” he said.

Yet another example of the internet making the world smaller and allowing ordinary people to make a huge impact, although this one isn’t nearly as warm and fuzzy as most of the others.  And as always, if you have ideas on how to help citizen journalists in situations like this one get the word out, you should check out the Knight News Challenge.

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