“Imagine, if you will, sitting down to your morning coffee, turning on your home computer to read the day’s newspaper. Well, it’s not as far-fetched as it may seem.”
“It takes over two hours to receive the entire text of the newspaper over the phone, and with an hourly use charge of $5 the new tele-paper won’t be much competition for the 20 cent street edition.”
Nice overview of the History of the Internet:
My, how things change:
In the next video John Allen (sp?) is talking about the anonymity of bulletin boards and says:
“It’s interesting the kind of restraint that you find. There’s not a lot of cursing and swearing, there’s not a lot of personal cuts, there’s not a lot of put-downs that one would expect to find. There’s not screenfulls of ‘go to hell’, which is surprising… It’s interesting because one would think that if people are anonymous they could do whatever they want.”
Imagining, in 1969, what the internet might bring us:
This one will test your French (but it has pictures if your French fails you):
No show is complete without a weather forecast (complete with magic markers):
This one may make you feel better next time silly Telecom throttles you to dial-up speed for daring to bust your measly data cap:
John Longhurst on the Canadian Journalism Project suggests journalists should be interviewed themselves from time to time, so they know what it’s like.
And that the interview should be published, so they know what it’s like to have a stranger’s account of themselves on public display.
I agree. I’ve been interviewed a few times over the years and I find it quite disconcerting being on the receiving end of the questions, rather than asking them.
Harder still to not be in control of how the interview notes are written up, which quotes are chosen and what context is given.
Frustrating to see my name misspelled, past job titles inflated or conflated; and short quotes look odd when singled out from a longer conversation.
It’s an eye opener.
No doubt there are countless others who’ve been interviewed and wept when they saw how their 20-minute conversation got condensed into a couple of paragraphs stripped of nuance, context and in some cases rendered insensible.
Journalists are just doing their job, of course. They have to distill and compress information and quotes if they are to fit them inside their 400-word or 60-second story slots. But it wouldn’t hurt for journalists to get a sensitivity check now and then.
Here’s how John puts it:
It’s hard to explain the sense of vulnerability you feel as you hand your story and comments over to someone who may — or may not — really understand what you are trying to do or say…
Those who do the interviewing likely seldom think of how it must feel to be at the other end of the process. It’s just part of the job — maybe just one of two or three stories that have to be chased down that day.
But for the person being interviewed, it may be one of the most important experiences of their life. For many people — for those who are not professionally involved in work that requires them to deal with the media — it may be the only time in their whole lives that they will be in the newspaper or on the radio or TV. It’s an awesome responsibility for a journalist.
My experience of being interviewed, and doing interviews, makes me think that all reporters should be interviewed at least once a year…
It goes without saying that the subject cannot see the end result before it is published or broadcast. To maximize the anxiety, the final result should be posted on the Web or some other conspicuous place where anyone can see it.”
A few notes from a Webstock talk by Meg Pickard, then director of user and community experience at the Guardian. I enjoyed her riff on who the original hecklers were, and her points on how to engage with a news audience.
Content, Communities, Collaboration, Curation
- Think about how to make media social, rather than how to make social media
- Users interact with content in different ways – consume, react, curate, create
- It’s hard for publishers to change their thinking about user curation and creation
- It’s about not just letting readers have their say, but enabling them to string stories together in new and interesting ways, to create new contexts and tell their own stories
- Creation – lower barrier to entry, make it easier for users to create media in such a way that maintains quality
- Bugbear – social media is not the same thing as social networking
- A news website with content and a big arrow pointing to a room where you can talk about it is not the goal
- When you offer content with a social element on the side, the social element doesn’t add anything to the content
- Content experience should be enhanced by and added to by social experience
- We used to say content is king, now we say context is king
- At the Guardian we don’t just think about text and bung comments on, we think about the story, what are appropriate means to tell the story – audio, video, text, imnages, social, data
- Patterns tell stories, patterns within data
- Social media doesn’t need to be sociable. It’s about individuals doing what they want to do and the fact that there’s a social outcome is a bonus. We tag Flickr images for our own ends, not to make it easier for other people. Yet it makes it easier for all of us.
Five things which improve participation: a Guardian guide for editors
- Commission, write, edit and curate for the web (even if first published in print) – eg links
- Plan for and predict likely interaction ( do we want people to chip in with experiences, to support us, to argue, to debate among themselves, to debate with us?)
- Participate and encourage participation (be part of your community)
- Recognise and reward quality contributions
- Listen: be inspired; curate; follow up; act (use conversations to create news stories, go in new directions)
And finally, be a host, not just a publisher.
Here’s Meg in action:
The Register of Pecuniary Interests of Members of Parliament is an interesting read. It does what it says on the tin – lists New Zealand MPs’ properties, assets, business interests, involvement in community groups seeking Government funding and more. It gets updated annually and is published on parliament.govt.nz.
A while back on Twitter I asked if anyone knew a collective noun for journalists other than ‘pack’. I was so taken with the replies that I thought I’d give them another airing here.
In no particular order, and for the most part fitting into the sentence “I just came across a _______ of journalists”, here they are:
the journalati (@TimDNorris)
beat up .. as in a beat up of journalists covering a round (@samfarrow)
Feedback via Twitter has so far resulted in three votes for a ‘rumour’ of journalists and one for a ‘scoop’.
I was talking to my Dad the other night about what news looked like when he was young.
He said they didn’t have a radio or a television, and the paper wasn’t delivered.
“Only milk and bread were delivered in those days,” he said. The butcher and grocer would deliver if you called in your order. But not newspapers.
The only foreign news he saw was in the news reels shown at the “2 o’clocks” on a Saturday afternoon.
“Half the news you got was at the movies, and that was the first thing you knew about what was going on in London or wherever.
“I didn’t go for that though, I mostly went for the serials and things like that. They used to have some pretty good serials back in those days. (The Lone Ranger was a hit.)
“They had about 15 or 20 minutes of news but then you’d get straight into the good stuff. That was the only news you used to get.”
What interests me is how different our sensibility is now about how much news we need in a day.
Dad grew up with 15 minutes of foreign news a week. Now we have foreign news round the clock. We have all kinds of news round the clock. Does it make life better?
I had the good fortune to attend KiwiFoo (aka Baa Camp), a kind of unconference which brings together a cluster of people from various fields who share at least one thing: a burning passion for what they do.
Hard to go wrong with a starting point like that and sure enough it proved a hugely entertaining and engaging weekend and something of a networking nirvana – every single conversation I had over those two days was interesting and useful and I made some great connections.
Sincere thanks go to the organisers Nat Torkington – who brought the idea of FOO (Friends of O’Reilly) to New Zealand – Jenine Abarbanel and Russell Brown for the invite, and for arranging such a stimulating event.
There’s no set agenda for KiwiFoo, instead you signal ahead of time what you’re interested in talking about and settle it down into scheduled one-hour sessions when you get there – then rearrange them until most people are happy with the spread.
For the most part the sessions are led by one or two people who get the ball rolling then open it up for discussion. Brilliantly simple and effective.
There were several highlights, including a very funny Saturday night town-hall debate which left me hankering for more oratory in my life (a certain lack of variation in the use of adjectives notwithstanding).
Another highlight for me was a session on the future of news in NZ which turned out to be lively and left me with the clear impression that people – all kinds of people – really care about keeping quality news alive.
We didn’t solve the problems of the world but started a good conversation and there were a few threads that have stayed with me.
One is that the news media is broken, albeit not completely and in different ways for different people.
Notably, a number of entrepreneurs talked to me about how little coverage there is of their sectors in mainstream news and what coverage there is often comes straight from press releases they’ve written themselves. They want their stories told in context and more coverage of the issues they face.
Advertising is a biggie – it’s not being sold well online and big agencies often don’t work for small publishers. And the need for good journalism to support democracy is paramount regardless of who’s publishing the news (newspapers, TV companies, bloggers, networks of independent journalists).
Probably the biggest takeaway for me was that the Future of News is a really big subject with multiple threads and I feel like we’re still looking for an effective framework and lexicon for discussing it. There was some suggestion that a MediaFoo might be a good idea and it certainly holds appeal for me. There’s a lot to talk about.
A particularly impressive outcome from KiwiFoo was the way a core group of attendees drove the #blackout campaign to halt the addition of the contentious S92A clause to NZ copyright law.
Here are a few posts from other KiwiFoo campers: Mozilla hacker Robert O’Callahan, SixAparter David Recordon, Hard Newsman Russell Brown, Interclue’s Seth Wagoner , blogger David Farrar and the Strategist.
Some notes from a Webstock ’09 workshop about managing and sustaining communities online.
These are heavily paraphrased notes from workshop leaders and participants and any mistakes or misrepresentations are mine alone.
1. A definition
“Web communities happen when people are given tools to use their voice in a public and immediate way, forming intimate relationships over time.” – Derek Powazek’s definition of communities written for his book, Design for Community: the art of connecting real people in virtual places.
Don’t call what you do a community. Just give people these tools and over time the people who use it will call it a community.
2. Ask yourself these questions:
Who do you think the site is for?
What is it they are going to be able to do? (individuals, collaborative, sharing information?)
Why will they want to do it? What will they get out of it?
If you can’t answer these questions, don’t build the site.
3. The paperwork
Let people see this stuff before they sign up.
People pay close attention to this stuff.
Report and takedown process is important. Easier you can make it, the better.
Ownership – need clear information on who owns content.
Terms of Service
Read Flickr terms of service as a starting point.
Flickr Community Guidelines a list of dos and don’ts (not just don’ts).
Members probably refer to this more than the terms of service.
Doesn’t have to be perfect at the beginning, guidelines grow as the site grows.
Think about ways people might abuse your site.
Think about what you will not tolerate.
Decide what you will do if it happens. Write it down.
Be prepared, know who’s going to deal with it and how.
Need multiple people in the business who can manage this, so it doesn’t matter if you’re away.
User friendly is important but every community excludes someone.
Think about where to put the barrier to entry (do you want everyone posting or only highly motivated folk?).
Wisdom of Crowds. Value is in the aggregate of thoughts, guesses, estimates. Value is not identifying the smart individuals to listen to but averaging out the voice.
Give people small, simple tasks. If not getting feedback you hope for, ask for something smaller.
Give them to a large, diverse group.
Design for selfishness. Flickr tags are selfish (I want to find image later) but selfishness of tags becomes usfeul to all. What are selfish reasons for someone to participate? If you can’t name one, you have a problem.
Aggregate the answers. Be aware of:
Popular tags – a behemoth, doesn’t move, hard to use.
Hot tags add dimension of time.
Have to continuously change algorithms. If creating leaderboard, say, some people will game it.
Scores create games. First post – game in which you win by being a dork and writing ‘first post’ – adds nothing.
How do you observe without changing the outcome? Don’t show tally during vote, don’t show outcome of poll until vote is cast.
Randomness – instead of a top 10 list, take a top 20 per cent and show nine randomly.
It’s okay to build in an editorial, human step at the end. Even if you can figure out algorithm and game it, you can’t game the editor.
5. Keeping things ticking over
Eventually you will need a community manager.
Manager = shepherd, editor, cheerleader, advocate, judge, executioner.
You only hear from unhappy people. Be prepared to deal with that.
Best place to look for a manager is in your own community.
Learn when to respond, don’t have to respond to everything.
Have to set tone in the beginning then members start to take on roles, become champions, start moderating.
Don’t keep all moderation tools at top level, have tools for members eg flag this photo, ability to block people, report abuse (simple process).
Reward good behaviour
Use blog to turn spotlight on good behaviour, content.
Behaviour speaks louder than pages of rules.
Your ambassadors can help hugely in forums.
Tell people what’s going on, keep it updated.
Own it when you’re wrong: ‘Sometimes we suck’.
Don’t wait. If going to introduce change, explain it, give people time to learn about it, give them an option to pull out, then make the change.
Repeated disruptions, steering conversation, server logs
They’re not the freakout comment, but the one before it. They goad.
Sometimes people use two identities to fight with themselves – can see it’s the same IP address. Puppet accounts.
Sometimes they do it to back up the first comment. “You may not create puppet accounts and talk to yourself”.
Silent treatment. Set it so only the troll can see their posts.
Timeouts. Slow down server response time – takes ages to log in, they need instant gratification.
7. Final nugget of wisdom
Observe the ‘ask for forgiveness rule’: act first, then tell the boss.