The Knight News Challenge Information Blog

Where Innovative Ideas Get Funded at NewsChallenge.org

Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

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.

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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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

RSS Woes: Many Top News Sites Aren’t Taking Full Advantage of Feeds

Posted by Jacqueline on September 30, 2007

From Yahoo News:

 A new study from the International Center for Media and Public Agenda, looking at 19 top news sites, released today concludes that RSS feeds work very poorly for anyone who uses news for more than infotainment.

Cited as among the best users of RSS: The Los Angeles Times, ABC News, Christian Science Monitor, BBC World Service and Fox News.

Among the worst: Al Jazeera, The Guardian and The New York Times.

This is interesting because while these major news sources have plenty of readers, they are not taking full advantage of technology like RSS (or really simple syndication), a way of syndicating content that allows an individual to subscribe to a particular section or blog and read new posts/articles in a feed reader, also known as an aggregator.  By using RSS instead of pointing your browser at each individual website or page, the news comes to you.  Clearly, it is a very efficient method of staying informed on all sorts of topics. 

The problem that the aforementioned sites are having with RSS?  They don’t want to deliver all their content with feeds – they want readers to visit their actual site.  Why?  Well, according to the Yahoo article,

“One reason may be that such stories, such as those by AP or Reuters, don’t carry the ‘brand’ of the news organization. But without those stories, many RSS feeds are not truly delivering news 24/7 and, in addition, lack the breadth of news their home sites deliver.”

Why is this such a problem?  Because an increasing number of people are using RSS to keep themselves updated on news ranging from local happenings to international events; in addition, without going to the actual website that is the source of the feed (and really, part of the point of using an aggregator is that you don’t have to go a bunch of different places for your info), RSS users are not even aware that they may not be getting the whole picture. 

So what could be a possible solution to this problem?  Should news outlets have to (and/or other websites) publish all their content with RSS whether they want to or not?  If so, how could that be enforced, if it is possible at all?  Should there be some kind of standardized system, and again, is that even possible on the web?  Do we want such a system anyways, or should people just have to sift through the various news sources and locate the feeds that best suit their purposes?  How does this relate to smaller news outlets or community sites, or bloggers, photographers, and videographers who function as citizen journalists?

Of course, if you have an idea or a website that purports to solve the problems that traditional media have with publishing their content with RSS, especially if it has to do with a specific community and how they receive their news, you should check out the Knight News Challenge.  It may be possible to implement your plan sooner than you think.

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

“The More They Try To Suppress The Situation, The More Will Come Out”

Posted by Jacqueline on September 28, 2007

Two days ago I wrote about how citizen journalists were taking advantage of technology to report what the real situation on the ground is in Myanmar/Burma, and although the current military junta regime has been trying to staunch the flow of information exiting the country, reports and photos are still making their way into the inboxes of reporters and bloggers outside the country.  It seems that the truth will come out, whatever the cost.

The Wall Street Journal covered it the story again today:

“In the age of YouTube, cellphone cameras and text messaging, technology is playing a critical role in helping news organizations and international groups follow Myanmar’s biggest protests in nearly two decades. Citizen witnesses are using cellphones and the Internet to beam out images of bloodied monks and street fires, subverting the Myanmar government’s effort to control media coverage and present a sanitized version of the uprising. The Associated Press reported yesterday that soldiers in Yangon fired automatic weapons into a crowd of demonstrators as tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters converged in the capital. Wire services have reported the number of dead at nine, citing the state media. (See related article.)”

If you look at it philosophically, one of the key aspects of Web 2.0 is the committment to transparency – in the Information Age, it is no longer possible to completely control your public image, whether you’re a celebrity, a corporation, or even a government.  Whistle-blowers, citizen bloggers, and other investigative types will make the truth known; and although we don’t yet know how the political situation in Burma will play out, there is something wonderful about the fact that the current government cannot hide behind an iron curtain of silence, guarded borders, and a lack of technology/internet access.  The implicit promise that all actions will be performed with the global stage is a powerful message.

The Lede blog at the New York Times also discusses Myanmar/Burma, including the U.S. government’s reaction.  Author Mike Nizza writes:

“The White House is not buying that technical difficulties caused the internet shutdown in Myanmar today. “They don’t want the world to see what is going on there,” said Scott Stanzel, a spokesman.

In another sign of a government campaign to extinguish media coverage, a witness told The Irrawaddy (one of the blogs posting citizen reports) that soldiers were “singling out people with cameras” today.”

So how is this related the Knight Foundation’s challenge?  Figuring out a way to channel  and organize all the information coming out of Burma (and similar situations that unfortunately, will probably still occur in other nations) and making it possible for citizen journalists to work together and share information in a safe, protected (read: totally anonymous with encrypted IP addresses) fashion.  Instead of focusing on technology that makes people’s lives a little easier, a development like this could make a very real life-or-death difference.

*This is probably painfully obvious, but some of the links in the above stories include rather graphic images and video clips, so consider yourself warned.*

Posted in Blogging, Citizen Journalism, General, Journalism, Technology, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »