The Knight News Challenge Information Blog

Where Innovative Ideas Get Funded at NewsChallenge.org

Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0’

Comments on the NY Times Front Page?

Posted by Jacqueline on October 13, 2007

Several very observant bloggers (or maybe their tipsters) have noticed that the New York Times had temporarily placed reader comments on the main page with a few of their articles (at the time of posting, the general opinion seems to be that it is a test, as the comments are not currently up).   It’s very “web 2.0” of them to allow user generated content to accompany the work of their journalists; however, the general opinion of the blogosphere seems to be divided about the decision.

Many are lauding the Times for being progressive and opening the conversation between readers and journalists (and it is true that sometimes citizen journalism is the best coverage, because it comes from people who are actually on the scene or witnessed the event), but this move has also garnered some criticism.

Josh Catone of Read Write Web took a moderate view – praising the Times for allowing the comments, but questioning the judgment of placing them in such a prominent position.

“However, giving reader comments such a prominent position is dangerous. Readers of news sites (and blogs) go to those specific destinations to read news in the voice they expect — not to see a public argument from commenters.

I would applaud an expansion of New York Times comments beyond blogs to general news stories — I think commenting is great; it gives readers an outlet for instant response and keeps writers honest. But publishing comments on the main page, especially so prominently under the main story, seems like a bad idea. What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below (we won’t publish them on the main page, though!).”

I tend to agree with him – partly because if I’m reading a news article on the Times (or any other newspaper, for that matter), I’m looking for the who, the what, the where, the when, the why, and the how – just the facts, please.  Obviously, op-eds and such are different in regard to factual reporting, but perhaps the Times commenters shouldn’t be given such a major platform (although I’d assume that the comments that do appear are filtered). 

Several commenters on the various blog posts about this move by the Times have mentioned that reader comments shouldn’t have a more visible place than retractions and corrections, which definitely makes sense.  After all, others’ reactions are not as important as the actual facts of the piece, generally, and most newspapers tend to bury corrections, even online, where it seems that it would be fairly easy to add them on to the original article.  On the Silicon Alley Insider, commenter Brian says:

“When they start giving corrections the same placement and prominence as the story that contained the error, then they will be transparent and conversational. They are still burying corrections at the bottom of the story, in the archive, a day or two after it was originally published. They have a long way to go before they have fully embraced the ethos of the blogosphere.”

Perhaps the people who make such decisions at the Times and other papers are reading all these blog posts, and hopefully learning something from them – and at least they are trying to embrace the new media – even if you believe they are making a mistake with the reader comments, mistakes do happen on the way to innovation.

As always, if you have ideas related to digital media, community journalism, and how the web can improve media and the news delivery system, check out the Knight News Challenge.  You’ve only got a few days left to win funding for your ideas!

Advertisements

Posted in Citizen Journalism, General, Journalism, New Media, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Custom-Blended News

Posted by Jacqueline on October 11, 2007

It’s no surprise that people want to customize their news – after all, things like Netvibes and RSS exist for essentially that purpose.  Steve Boriss of The Future of News has an interesting post up discussing how the web might finally make it possible for us to get exactly the information/news we want, nothing more and nothing less.

“By giving everyone both a communications and delivery platform, might the Internet break-up mass media into fragmented media, finally giving us only the news that we, as individuals, want — news that reflects our worldviews, our interests, our parochial concerns, our preferences, and our tastes?”

Read more…. 

Have an idea or working on a project related to the future customization of news?  Check out the Knight News Challenge and you could win funding (up to $500,000) for your innovative ideas.  It’s worth a shot – it only takes a few minutes to write up a proposal and anyone – of any age, from anywhere in the world – can win.

Posted in Citizen Journalism, General, Journalism, New Media, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a 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 »

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 »

The Techmeme Leaderboard: Does It Matter What Kind of Site a News Source is?

Posted by Jacqueline on October 1, 2007

Bloggers and other news outlets have been posting about the new Techmeme Leaderboard all day today, and one of the main topics of discussion has been how the site’s ranking system does not differentiate between blogs and other websites.  For instance, Techcrunch, Scobleizer, and the New York Times are all on their list, and it’s based on how many times a site has been linked by Techmeme in the last thirty days.

Some bloggers have been trumpeting about this will replace the somewhat ailing Technorati, but while this list is definitely useful for those who are interested technology developments and news, it cannot replace the universal reach of Technorati’s ranking systems.  After all, Technorati tracks blogs on every topic, not just the ones in the techno-sphere, and although it doesn’t include non-blog sources, it generally does its job pretty well.  And anyways, there really isn’t any competition other than Google’s Blogsearch, and that only searches blogs – it doesn’t index, rank, or otherwise organize them.  Perhaps the reports of Technorati’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

Much of the other discussion has been about this list doesn’t discern what is a blog and what is not – but does it really matter what the source of a story is if it is viable and/or interesting?  It’s not like Techmeme’s Leaderboard purports to be a blog ranking system anyways, and really, perhaps it is time that popular blogs go head to head with traditional news sources in terms of respect, page views, and links.  And as bloggers gain increasing amoutns of credibility, do people really care if they are reading a blog or a news outlet as long as it has the latest scoop?

However, the Techmeme Leaderboard and the Technorati Top 100 are all about measuring the biggest players, they just do it in different ways (and Techmeme sticks to a single niche whereas Technorati’s based solely on the amount of backlinks – it doesn’t matter what language a blog is in or what it is about).  What would be more interesting, and potentially much more compelling to those who aren’t as into technology as the Techmeme crowd, would be a way of applying the Leaderboard concept to individual niches –  a foodie leaderboard, a football leaderboard, a fashion leaderboard, and so on.  Each subject could have it’s own Techmeme-style site, even, if there are enough dedicated bloggers.

Another way to take the concept to the next level would be to make a localized version of Techmeme – when bloggers, journalists, photographers, videographers, and anyone else in a specific geographic region post something, link it on the front page.  The most prominent citizen journalists could be ranked on a leaderboard (because people seem to love to compete for rankings), and readers could subscribe to the RSS feeds for different categories.

Yes, this wouldn’t be easy to construct, but once the site was built and the content is seeded, it would be an invaluable service to the area’s residents.  It would even be possible to run ads from local businesses to help keep the site afloat, if necessary.  Do you have any ideas, business plans, or projects that would fit the bill?  Enter the Knight News Challenge at www.newschallenge.org.

Want to read what others are saying about the Techmeme Leaderboard?  Check out Techcrunch, Read Write Web, Ben Metcalfe, Problogger Darren Rowse, Media Metamorphosis, and of course, there’s more on Techmeme’s homepage.

Posted in Blogging, Digital Media, 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 »

Shifting Focus: Social Networking

Posted by Jacqueline on September 27, 2007

Social networking is a really hot topic these days, particularly if you work in a field that has anything to do with the web and digital technology.  From the big players like Facebook and Myspace to up and comers like Ning to the many, many niche websites, it seems that a new web 2.0 social-networking/tagging/bookmarking/insert buzzword of your choice here site or application pops up, oh, about every five minutes (if you read Techcrunch or follow Techmeme you know exactly what I mean). 

There’s a new kid on the block lately, however, and that kid is Netvibes.  Their slogan is “remix the web”, and that is exactly what they do.  Instead of a strictly defined interface or lengthy profile that you have to fill out (isn’t everyone tired of doing that at this point anyways?), it lets users create their own personal dashboard, filled with widgets from their favorite sites – you can have local weather, breaking news, your other social network profiles, your email(s), RSS feeds, sports stats, latest bookmarks, and virtually anything else that can be widgetized.  The options are as endless as the internet. 

There is something fluid about Netvibes that is appealing after using all the old walled garden, data silo social networks.  It combines the best elements of them all, resulting in an incredibly convenient application that makes an excellent homepage.  Of course, it doesn’t purport to replace the other networks – Netvibes just wants them to build widgets and to join their party.  With this website, everyone can play – even advertisers and marketers.  Although the site does not run ads (and doesn’t plan to in the future), companies can build widgets, although it is up to the builders to make something that is useful and clever enough for the users to add it to their personal Netvibes.  It is permission marketing at work. 

What is so interesting is that the available widgets in the directory range from the expected (Yahoo sports updates, NPR, the various sections of the New York Times) to the more personal – you can add a widget for your favorite blogs, or create a personal countdown for an event that you’re looking forward to.  There are also “universes” that encompass things like the latest news from your favorite musician or TV show. 

Tariq Kim, the founder of Netvibes, created the site because he believes that people want less structure and more control.  From this recent post by Jessi Hempel on Fortune Magazine’s blog, The Browser, “Netvibes is a personal widget market place – publishers (often advertisers) list them and you choose whether to pull them on to your page.”  By the end of the year, they hope to add some social components like the ability to share your widgets with friends.

Why should you be interested in Netvibes?  Besides the fact that it is just incredibly convenient to have an efficient, personally designed dashboard from which to navigate the web, if you’re a developer or entreprenuer, you might want to create widget for the site yourself.  The ability to widgetize your website or application might make the difference if you’re looking for funding (or of course, entering the Knight News Challenge).

To end on a slightly humorous note, does anyone else initially think of Guinness and their version of the widget when they hear the word “widget”?

Posted in Digital Media, General, Innovation, New Media, Technology, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Post-Media Journalism? In the Information Age, We Are All Journalists

Posted by Jacqueline on September 27, 2007

Yesterday, Jeff Jarvis (of Buzz Machine) wrote about a new term used to describe the current media climate: post-media journalism.  Instead of the over-used phrase “social media” (which has really grown meaningless, thanks to the fact that it is used to describe everything from Flickr to blogging), post-media journalism does do a fairly decent job of encapsulating the fact that the current state of the media is definitely in flux.

However, does the use of the word “post” also imply the end of traditional journalism?  Clearly, traditional media is not going roll over and die any time soon, if ever, but no one can deny that both the online and print media spheres are struggling to establish how they can interact with each other, and with the rest of the world.   Thanks to the net, the line between reader and producer is irrevocably blurred; and of course, it is becoming easier to create your own content, your own channel, your own lifestream every day.  Due to the growth of the web and the advent of the Information Age, every person with an internet connection and something to say can be a journalist.

In this new climate, “the media doesn’t matter now.  The conversation does.  The connections do”, says Jeff.  And it is true – if a blogger or an amateur photographer has something important to say, or writes something that resonates with people, their work is going to get page-views and just make an impact regardless of their credentials.  Just look at my previous post about the situation in Myanmar – I’m pretty sure none of those people work for an accredited media source, but I don’t think anyone is discounting their efforts.  It’s the people on the front lines of the news, with their ears to the ground and their cameras poised to capture history, that are the real breaking news. 

Perhaps the reason the phrase post-media journalism works here is the media is no longer the arbiter of the news.  Instead of sitting passively and digesting the news that big journalism feeds to us in the form of newspapers, television, and radio, we’re going online and looking for the information we want (yes, people could write letters to the editor and such, but it has never been so easy to comment and respond to stories).  We can even tailor the type and flow of information we receive with RSS. 

The future belongs to the people and companies who can figure out how to combine the positive aspects of traditional journalism with the citizen reporting and anything-goes atmosphere on the web.  When someone builds a community (and therefore an audience) for their ideas, a place where people can interact and find the information they want easily (important word there – yes, we all know that whatever info we’re seeking is out there, but it’s definitely not always simple to locate or packaged nicely), that is the new media. 

The information is out there – journalists (the old school media types and the citizen bloggers armed with video cameras and laptops) are the ones who need to get it in front of our eyeballs by whatever means they have available.  And of course, if you happen to have an idea that relates to how journalists of all stripes can share and package their work, you should be checking out the Knight News Challenge.

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