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June 11 2013

20:39

Lessons from Waze for media

Screenshot 2013-06-11 at 4.30.34 PMNow that I’ve written my commuter’s paean to Waze, allow me to get a bit journowonky now and examine some of the lessons newspapers should learn from the success of the service:

1. Waze built a platform that lets the public share what it knows without the need for gatekeepers or mediators — that is, media. That’s how it keeps content costs at a minimum and scales around the world.

2. Waze does that first by automatically using the technology in our pockets to — gasp! — track us live so it can tell how fast we are going and thus where the traffic jams are. And we happily allow that because of the return we get — freedom from traffic jams and faster routes to where we’re going.

3. Waze does that next by easily enabling commuters to share alerts — traffic, stalled car, traffic-light camera, police, hazard, etc — ahead. It also lets commuters edit each others’ alerts (“that stalled car is gone now”).

4. Waze rewards users who contribute more information to the community — note I said to the community, not to Waze — by giving them recognition and greater access to Waze staff, which only improves Waze’s service more quickly.

5. Waze lets users record their own frequent destinations — work, home, school, and so on — so they can easily navigate there.

6. This means that Google as Waze’s new owner will now reliably know where we live, work, and go to school, shop, and so on. We will happily tell Waze/Google this so we get all of Waze’s and Google’s services. Google will be able to give us more relevant content and advertising. We will in turn get less noise. Everybody happy now?

How could, say, a local newspaper company learn from this?

1. Use platforms that enable your communities to share what they know with each other and without you getting in the way.

2. Add value to that with functionality, help, effort (but not articles).

3. If you knew where users lived and worked and went to school — small data, not big data — you could start by giving them more relevant content from what you already have.

4. You could give them more relevant advertising — “going to the store again? here are some deals for you!” — increasing their value as a customer by leaps and dollars.

5. You could learn where you should spend your resources — “gee, we didn’t know we had a lot of people who worked up there, so perhaps we should start covering that town or even that company.”

When I say that news should be a service and that the news industry should be a relationship business and that we should act as platforms for our users and that small data about people can lead to more relevance and greater value … this is what I mean.

So now go ask Waze how to get there. Oops. Too late. Google got there first. Again.

May 28 2013

18:08

The New York Times experiments with native advertising…on two wheels

I’m not even sure “native advertising” is the right term, exactly; sponsored content works too. But whatever you call it, The New York Times just released an update to its New York City things-to-do app The Scoop that includes a new feature: real-time information on the location and capacity of nearby Citi Bike stations. That’s the new NYC bike-sharing system that debuted yesterday.

nytimes-scoop-citi-bikeBut instead of this being an editorial product — like the rest of The Scoop’s listings of restaurants, coffee shops, and the like — the bike-finding map carries a “Sponsored” label. It’s advertising content provided by Citi Bike. Says the Times press release: “This marks the first time The New York Times will feature content from an advertiser in a mobile application outside of an advertising unit.”

If most native advertising tries to make sponsor-provided content look a bit like a news article, this tries to make it look a bit like a regular ol’ tab in a mobile app. What’s interesting is that the “content” here is less a collection of words and pictures than a real-time data service. It’s a callback to the classic news advertising idea — we assemble the audience, you provide the content, we make a match — in a mobile, apped-up world. It’s a compelling match.

“This is just one example of how we are working more closely with our advertisers to create unique and custom campaigns to help them tell their brand story in innovative ways,” said Denise Warren, executive vice president, Digital Products and Services Group, The New York Times. “The integration of Citi Bike’s robust content complements The Scoop app’s main objective—to serve as a guide to New York City. With these new features we hope to further enhance the experience for users of The Scoop as they explore the city using their iPhone.”

(And one that can go both ways: The Times says that Citi Bike’s own iOS and Android apps will be updated this summer to feature…The Scoop’s listings of restaurants, coffee shops, and the like.)

I’m not sure how far idea could go — most newspapers are tied to a local audience; most digital outlets that might consider from this sort of a deal aren’t. But it’s interesting that the Times, one of America’s least local newspapers, is leading the way in figuring out a way to connect location and ad dollars in this way.

September 15 2011

09:44

Daily mail student media awards?

Yeah, wouldn’t happen. But should it?

The always interesting Wannabehacks posted yesterday stating that The industry isn’t doing enough to support student journalists. The post really should have been titled The Guardian isn’t doing enough to support student journalists as it takes a pop at the frankly risible prize the Guardian is offering for its Guardian student media award:

[T]he quality of prizes has diminished year on year: “Seven weeks of placement with expenses paid (offered 2003-2006) is a good way to spend the summer. Two weeks of self-funded work experience is an insult to supposedly the best student journalists in Britain.”

It’s a fair point. Just how good you have to be to actually be paid to work at the Guardian?

Maybe we are being unfair to the Guardian though. Why do they need to carry this stuff? I know plenty of students who don’t want to work for the Guardian. So why don’t more papers step up? If it’s about spotting talent then shouldn’t every media org have a media award?

Truth is there is a bit of black hole out there when it comes to awards. Aspiring journos could be forgiven for thinking that there is very little on offer between that letter writing competition the local paper runs for schoolkids and the Guardian awards. There are actually quite a few – the NUS student awards for example. But none with the direct association of the Guardian awards.

But maybe it’s not about the award. The wannabe hacks post (and the letter it references) suggests that there is more a problem of expectation here.

The Guardian is a very attractive proposition to many aspiring journos. In a lot of respects it plays on that strength; it presents itself as a like the paper where things are happening. But there is a danger that things like competitions exploit that aspiration and begin to suggest a slightly dysfunctional relationship - aspiring journos trying their best to please the indifferent and aloof object of their affection.

Show them the money.

This isn’t just a print problem. The truth is the industry has a bit of problem of putting its money where it’s mouth is when it comes to student journos.

As an academic I see more offers of valuable experience than paid opportunities in my inbox. They tend to coincide with large events where industry doesn’t have the manpower to match their plans for coverage. In that sense there is no secret here, the industry is living beyond its means and it’s increasingly relying on low and no paid input to keep newsrooms running. But student journo’s bear the brunt of that. Yes, they get experience, but not much else.

No return on investment

Of course the flip-side to that argument is that many of those who enter the competitions would happily benefit from the association but don’t put back in. I wonder how many people who enter the Guardian student media awards have regularly bought the paper rather than accessing the (free) website?  You could argue the same when talking about work experience. How many students actually buy the product they aspire to work on?

But the reality is that, regardless of how much is put in, if you court an audience, you have to live up to their expectations – unreasonable or otherwise.

This is happening at a time when those same newsrooms are reporting on the commercial realities of education and how students need to demand value from their investment. As someone trying to respond to those expectations, perhaps I can offer some advice.  Perhaps the industry need to reflect on their advice to prospective students the next time they reach out or connect with student journalists.  Just how much are you expecting them to invest in your newsroom and what’s the return?

 

September 13 2011

21:32

"We're doing all fine!" - 8,000 weekly papers in small towns across America

Los Angeles Times :: We've been hearing a lot of depressing news in recent years about the dire financial prospects for big daily newspapers, including the one you're now holding. Or watching. Or, in the argot of the digital age, "experiencing."

Judy Muller, LA Times: "But at the risk of sounding like I'm whistling past the graveyard, I'd like to point out that there are thousands of newspapers that are not just surviving but thriving. Some 8,000 weekly papers still hit the front porches and mailboxes in small towns across America every week and, for some reason, they've been left out of the conversation. So a couple of years ago, I decided to head back to my roots, both geographic and professional ..., to see how those community papers were faring. And what I found was both surprising and inspiring."

Continue to read Judy Muller, www.latimes.com

August 02 2011

21:31

Local, local, local - study: why people still subscribe to newspapers

Vulnerable business. 

Adage Stat :: More than a third of local newspaper subscribers do so partly out of habit (but what if habits change?). Thankfully, less than 10% renew purely out of habit. In the monthly Ad Age/Ipsos Observer American Consumer survey, AdAge dug a little into what the remaining newspaper subscribers are looking for when they sign up for the year. 

[Ad Age/Ipsos Observer American Consumer:] What are all the reasons that you subscribe to a local newspaper? - 85% local news vs. 58% national/international news ...

Continue to read matt Carmichael, adage.com

July 15 2011

10:23

Community journalism or “Local nosey parkers with mobile phones “

Thud! Thud! Thud! Thud! Thud!

What’s that Andy?

It’s me banging my head against the desk…

There’s a story about the Beskpoke project on Hold the front page. I was interested in it as (full disclosure) my Uni is one of the partners in the project. Inevitably I got sucked in to the comments.

But just to put things in to context:

The project has been established to look at the issue of digital and social exclusion in the Fishwick and Callon areas of Preston.

Broadly speaking, the project has two parts. The first is for us to set up a team of community/citizen journalists who will report on the issues that are important to them and to their local community.

The second part of the project is centred on innovative design. Partner universities (Dundee, Falmouth, Newcastle, Surrey, and UCLan) will use the news stories, as well as other information gathered during the lifespan of the project, to design digital technologies that can meet the needs of the area. This collaboration between emotive, technological and functional design with hyper-local journalism is a ground-breaking exercise and, as far as we’re aware, has never been tried before.

Hold the Front page focus on the journalism aspect

The group of citizen journalists were trained as part of a project called Bespoke, a scheme that sees members of the public in Preston provided with flip cameras, mobile phones and journalism training in order to generate their own news stories.

One that stood out began:

Years of training, university degrees, shorthand classes ad infinitum.

And the reward? Local nosey parkers with mobile phones are netting page leads.

Given the usual anti-degree tone that pervades it was nice to see degrees get a mention.

Traffic Chaos continues:

So-called citizen journalism should not extend beyond a phone call or submission of on-the-spot footage to the nearest newsroom.

There’s really no such thing as citizen journalism outside of the egotistical “blogosphere”, populated by keyboard warriors and bigots who feel they can do a better job than anybody else at everything – especially the news.

Hmm. I think they actually mean that the term Cit-j has little or no meaning outside a limited circle of egotistical journalists. But everyone is allowed a view (except it seems local nosey-parkers!)

You wouldn’t call a citizen-MD would you?

Update: Jon Walker tweeted to suggest that the phrase MD related to managing director, not Medical doctor.

@digidickinson It's a small issue but I'm pretty sure that moaning hack meant managing directors, not doctors
@jonwalker121
Jonathan Walker

My response is Doh!

Of course you can’t mention Cit-j without a hackneyed and inappropriate comparison. Hacked off duly obliges

 

Can’t wait for the day they introduce Citizen MDs thus clearing out an entire layer of over-paid fools and replacing them with an entire layer of fools for free.

A great comment that:

a) conflates journalism with medicine –  because they are exactly the same aren’t they.

b) insults journalists as well as the apparent cit-j’s in such a short space – nice work!

The general tone of the comments is to wonder what impact this will have on the journos at the LEP. I don’t want to play down the plight of shrinking regional newsrooms for one minute. Or belittle those who lose jobs. But to see one as a cause of the other is a leap.

Room for all

About the same time that the LEP published it’s first newspaper (1886) my great-grandad borrowed money to buy his first house. He didn’t go to the bank, he went to the butcher. The local butcher! (We have the receipt to prove it.) Would the butcher have advertised that service in the LEP? Not sure. No doubt a local nosey parker would have told him. Oh and if that butcher had sold him a dodgy steak the chance are, nearly 60 years before the NHS he wouldn’t have gone to a doctor.

That’s how my great-grandad’s community worked. It’s how communities still work. Not on definitions of professional pratcice but on people who have the means and the skills doing the jobs that need doing.

My point to hacked-off and traffic chaos would be that there is a world outside the newsroom, full of people who do and discover in different ways. They’ve done it that way before you and they will do it that way after you. You only play a role in a community if you are part of it. Please don’t contribute to an attitude that means they chose to do it without you.

And here is that sentiment in morse code…

Thud! Thud! Thud! Thud!…

June 15 2011

06:09

NetSquared Adelaide: Show and Tell

Volcanic ash clouds, uni exams and end-of-financial-year busy-ness couldn’t keep us from meeting! Even though the numbers were smaller than our past events, the conversation was rich and inspiring.

NetSquared Adelaide has been meeting now for four months, and each of the monthly meetings has had its own flavour and style. The community has been steadily growing over the months. The format of the first meet-ups were based around hearing from guest speakers, generating a bit of group discussion on the topics raised and then offer some time for networking.

This time around, the meetup was about us, as a community.

The idea behind the “Show and Tell” event was to allow everyone who attended a chance to share what they’re up to in the ‘social good’ space.

Compared to our last tech-laden meetup (we collaborated live across groups on Google Docs, had a fantastic smart board, used video and audio recording gear and had laptops/iPads galore), we went old school and simply talked around a large table at a dimly lit pub, sharing a drink and large bucket of chips together.

As we went around the table, each person had plenty of time to share and respond to questions. As people began sharing about what they’re doing and what they’re passionate about, we continually discovered areas of overlap. People would chime in with their own points and the comment “You should talk to...” was thrown around a lot.

People were getting excited about other people’s passions.

We heard about online art communities, fiery 80 year olds wanting to see social change through urban development, the values of open source and open education, using social media to spread a message, challenges of getting older communities to embrace new technology, using online tools to rally people around a cause, and more!

Most of the people stayed on longer to share a meal and continued the conversations that were happening.

It was a great night out, and even though the numbers were small, the discussions and the relationships that came from it were valuable. As we were saying our goodbyes, it really felt as if strangers had met new friends and that a real sense of community was being forged.

The next NetSquared Adelaide meetup will be about community building. Find the event on MeetUp.

May 25 2011

10:32

Intro to Twitter for Nonprofits and Social Enterprises: #VirtualNet2 Slides, Audio, and Wrap-up

This post outlines how Net2Camb hosted it's first livestreamed event, provides information about how view the slides and listen to the audio, and overviews our future plans for providing more live and recorded Netsquared Local event content in the future.

About the event

Participants at Net2Camb Event. Courtesy Andrew Entecott.

Ellie Stonely graciously offered to share her experiences using Twitter with our NetSquared Local group in Cambridge, UK. The topic was Intro to Twitter for Charities and Social Enterprises. In the talk, Ellie led a strategy-based conversation sharing case studies, lessons learned, and first steps for people and organizations that are interested in trying Twitter for the first time. 

The event was held on 24 May 2011, at Cambridge Online. You can read a few excerpts from the event on Storify.

About the livestream

A few weeks ago I got a note from Steven Flower, the NetSquared Local organizer in Manchester, asking if the group I help manage in Cambridge wanted to collaborate in real-time from 130 miles away. His email started: "Just a random thought, but we too have our Meetup scheduled in Manchester on the SAME DAY! Right now, we haven't a speaker or anything, so here is my crazy idea". The email went on to outline a way to stream content over the web to provide an event speaker in both cities simultaneously. I love crazy ideas and I knew it would add value to our efforts, so of course I said YES!

Now, I'm no techie, but Steven had been testing out a tool called Ipadio for streaming and sharing audio within his group. He suggested that we could upload the slides before the event and use Ipadio on a mobile phone to stream the audio live. We could also share ideas and feedback in real-time with virtual participants using the #virtualnet2 hashtag as a twitter backchannel.

His plan worked a charm!

For anyone else intersted in using this solution for their events, here are a few of my lessons learned:

  • The speaker needs to give an audio cue to the virtual participants every time she changes slides. We did this by having someone other than the speaker flip through the slides, which gave the speaker a reminder to say "next slide please". We also tweeted out (using the event hashtag) which slide we were on in the room.
  • The speaker needs a microphone. An easy way to do this is to clip a headset/mic that comes with many smartphones onto the blouse of the speaker, and ask her to put the phone in her pocket after you log in. No need to plug the headphones in her ears though - it's a one-way channel!
  • Test the audio before the event. Make sure it's not too echoy or quiet. Make sure you know how to log in.

It's not too late to participate!

Ellie Stonely Speaks at Net2Camb Event. Courtesy Andrew Entecott.

While we did a lot to provide an interactive experience in real-time, if you missed the event you can still access the content to review in your own time. Here's how to access it:

  1. Open or download Ellie’s Slides
  2. Open the audio stream
  3. Use the #virtualNet2 hashtag to share ideas on Twitter. The speaker is @e11ie5 and the host group is @Net2Camb.

The future for #VirtualNet2

This wasn't the first NetSquared Local event to be streamed online and it certainly won't be the last. The Philladelphia NetSquared group, for instance, have been pioneers at streaming Local content and have inspired much of our thinking for the Cambridge-Manchester event.

In the future, we plan to make it easier for people interested in participating in events virtually. Soon, we'll be launching a Virtual NetSquared Local option "officially" but if you'd like to be automatically notified of future events you can go ahead and sign up on the Virtual NetSquared Local meetup page today.

Thank yous

The first big THANK YOU goes to the community and event participants in Cambridge, Manchester, and aroudn the world. Thank you for bearing with us when things didn't go quite to plan (for instance when the slides were posted about 5 minutes before the talk!) and thank you for encouraging us to make the event happen - both online and in-person.

To the fabulous Ellie Stonely. For providing excellent resources, ideas, and conversation. Your situation yesterday wasn't ideal, but you really pulled through!

To Andrew Entecott and Cambridge Online. For being our gracious sponsors of the event, even during this rough time.

To Steven Flower. Thanks for the hard work, inspiration, publicity, and friendship.

To Manchester Net Tuesday. You guys rock and I can't wait to have another event where you stream to us!

To James and the other folks at Ipadio. Thank you for your technical support!

May 20 2011

09:44

Participate in a Virtual NetSquared Local Event: Intro to Twitter for Nonprofits and Social Enterprises

Join us May 24 at 7pm GMT in-person or online to learn about using twitter for non-profits and social enterprises.

I’ve been talking with several NetSquared Local organizers recently about the potential for streaming events in real-time to allow virtual participation around the world, and several groups have already been hosting mixed offline and online events for some time now. So, when I got an email from Steven Flower (@StevieFlow), our Manchester Net Tuesday organizer, asking if we could stream the Tuesday’s NetSquared Cambridge audio to the group up there, I knew we had to do it.

 

Twitter for Non Profits and Social Enterprises

The event we’ve been planning in Cambridge is centered around introducing Twitter to non profits and social enterprises. Ellie Stoneley (@e11ie5) will be take the lead and share some of the twitter experiences she has had in numerous non profits from the UK to LA and to Madagascar and India. Learn more about the topic.

Who’s connecting?

The Manchester Net Tuesday group: The group up north will meet as in person, but instead of having a speaker in Manchester, they’ll hook up the audio feed and slides and share the presentation in-real time. They’ll also have their own networking time before and after Ellie’s presentation. Here are the details for attending in person.

Anyone in the world: Anyone around the world can connect from the comforts of their own homes. The event will be streaming live, and should also be available after the event is over. 

How to connect?

When: 7pm GMT, Tuesday, May 24, 2011

(If, like me, you struggle to figure what time this is where you are, then I find this useful:http://www.timeanddate.com/)

 

Whether you are participating in Cambridge, Manchester, or anywhere else in the world, we hope you’ll join the conversation online using the #virtualNet2 hashtag on Twitter. The Cambridge event is fully booked for in-person attendance, but there are still some spots left in Manchester. Here are the location and RSVP details.

Here’s how to get involved virtually:

 

  1. Open or download Ellie’s Slides (link coming soon!)
  2. Open the live audio stream
  3. Use the #virtualNet2 hashtag to share ideas on Twitter. The speaker is @e11ie5 and the host group is @Net2Camb.

DJ > VJ > Story-J!

Storify helps you mix content to make a story...

We plan to use Storify during and after the event to mix together the content together created around the discussions across social media to leave a record and narrative. If you haven’t started to use Storify yet, then do! If you have, then tell us how you have!

Experimentation

This event is a small experiment for us in terms of building the NetSquared Local community. With like-minded folk getting together in cities and towns across the world, how can we utilize social media to share and exchange our stories, skills and experiences? Answers and questions at #virtualNet2 tweetcard please!

Live Link Ups Can #Fail

Here at NetSquared Cambridge, we’ve never done a livestream before. We’re pretty good with this technology malarky, but please bear with us if we have some technical difficulties! 

.

A special thanks goes out to Ellie Stoneley for her enthusiasm to broadcast her presentation and to Steven Flower for making the virtual aspect of this event a reality.

 

May 18 2011

02:45

NetSquared Adelaide - How technology is changing the face of science

Our third NetSquared Adelaide event was a great success, attracting people from across the city to find out how technology is impacting the science world. Katie Hannan, from SAcommunity came along and shared her thoughts:

On Monday I went along to Talk Social and Science, an event held by the Adelaide NetSquared Meetup Group. This group works on and offline to connect communities at the intersection of technology and social change. Monday night's event featured two speakers talking about how online social technology is making an impact in the scientific world.

Dr. Kristin Alford from Bridge8 spoke about how online tools are being used to make learning more exciting for school students. It's an innovative way of using technology to encourage people to get into topics of interest that they may not normally be engaged in.

Scott Mills shared some fantastic insights into the use of crowdsourcing, citizen science and open source hardware/software in scientific research. This approach can have significant impact in just about any industry.

The overall theme of the event was  Science Communication (the practice of communicating scientific principles to the public) and how online social technology is making an impact in the scientific world.

If you're interested in learning some more about science communication or becoming a science communicator, then you might want to check in with the Australian National University's Centre for the Public Awareness of Science or the Australian Science Communicators

If you're a scientist and you're looking to engage with communities outside of your regular network, then you might want to get involved with the I'm a Scientist Get me Out of Here program, ScienceMob or perhaps you'd like to start documenting the natural environment around you by participating in some projects like these:

Or get in touch with some of these science related organisations that are hosted on SAcommunity:

This blog originally featured on the Connecting Up Australia website.

 

May 02 2011

01:21

Valerie Lambert Teaches Baltimore NetSquared Members How to Incorporate Online Fundraising into Annual Giving Campaigns

On April 21, 2011, Valerie Lambert, the Assistant Director of Development at Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth and the Founder of Bilou Enterprises, attended the Baltimore NetSquared meetup to explain how nonprofit organizations can incorporate online fundraising into their annual giving efforts. Notes from that meeting are now online.

April 21 2011

19:33

Valerie Lambert Explains How To Integrate Your Online and Offline Fundraising

Tonight, April 21, 2011, Valerie Lambert will explain how to integrate your online and offline fundraising at Baltimore NetSquared's monthly meeting. The meeting begins at 5:30 pm.

April 18 2011

08:40

Who's New to Net2 Local?

Since November, we've added 2 new NetSquared Local groups to the map, bringing the new official number to 80 groups in 26 cities worldwide! NetSquared Local groups meet to network and learn about using web and mobile technologies to make social change happen. Each one of these groups is volunteer run and community driven, and each one is totally unique and at the mercy of the interests, cultures and expertises of the group members.

New Net2 Local Groups

Below is a list of the groups that have started in the last few months. If you're interested in getting involved either as a co-organizer or a participant in one of these cities, go to the group website and give the organizer a shout!

Just Getting Started

We also have several other groups that are "Just Getting Started". This means that we have at least one person in the city who is interested in helping to get a NetSquared Local group off the ground. Just getting started groups are indicated by yellow markers on the map.

In the last few months we've had interest from people in:

  • Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Kasese, Uganda
  • Kumbo, Cameroon
  • Bellevue, CA, USA
  • Derby, KS, USA
  • Kalawana, Ratnapura, Sri Lanka
  • Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Ottawa, Canada
  • Denver, CO, USA
  • Boulder, CO, USA

Are you in one of these cities and want to become a co-organizer to help get the NetSquared group off the ground? Let us know and we'll connect you with the other folks who have expressed interest and provide you with all the resources you need to make it happen!

Are you in another city and want to get involved?

Learn more about NetSquared Local and check the Net2 Local map to see how you can get involved with an existing group, a just getting started group, or to start your own!

April 01 2011

15:29

Lessons on newspaper paywalls from Mexico

In the session on paywalls at the ISOJ, Jorge Meléndez, vice president for new media, Grupo Reforma (Mexico), explained how the newspapers have had paywalls since 2002.

The newspaper sites were free for the first two years. But they realised there was a very small online advertising market so the group just did it. Part of this involved an active strategy to convert newspaper subscribers online.

The impact of the paywall was a 35% drop in traffic. But Meléndez said they stopped minor circulation declines.

Access to all of the the news sites is free for newspaper subscribers. The prince for an online subscription is 80% of a newspaper subscription, as a way of encouraging readers to take the newspaper.

Meléndez explained there is some free content, such as the main page and emailed links.

The group provides apps for free, at least for now, said Meléndez. It has an “aggressive” app strategy, with dozens of apps for different topics.

Meléndez said broadsheet circulation is holding steady and tabloids have grown by 5% over last 8 years. Advertising and classifieds have also grown.

The group has 300,000 newspaper subscribers for all papers. 50,000 are only online subscribers. In terms of traffic, the sites have six million unique visitors, with an average of eight pages per user.

Meléndez said they learnt that people do not read instructions. Online, people just expect to click. So use action verbs and clear instructions, with as few words as possible, he urged.

The reasons behind the success of paywalls is local content, argued Meléndez. And the sites have more local content than in the newspaper. “Local is very important for us,” he said.

But when it came to today, he said the situation with paywalls was more difficult than in 2002. People are used to free, there is more competition and newspaper metrics are “so bad.”

March 30 2011

14:20

NetSquared Local Organizer Judy Hallman Wins NTEN Lifetime Achievement Award

Join us in congratulating the NCTech4Good - NetSquared Local Organizer, Judy Hallman, on winning the NTEN Lifetime Achievement Award!

The award was presented to Judy at the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference by Paula Jones, Director of Technology and Administration for the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits.

Each year, NTEN recognizes a member of the community who have furthered the work of the nonprofit technology field through dedication, innovation, and leadership.  This year they have decided to honor Judy Hallman for her work. Judy's career has been devoted to bringing technology in to further social causes. After retiring from the UNC-Chapel Hill, where she helped introduce the university to the Internet, Judy became engaged in a project designed to create a digital bulletin board service for the local community. Apart from co-organizing the NCTech4Good - NetSquared Local Judy currently volounteers with the Public Information Network (aka RTPnet).

 

Join us in congratulating Judy by commenting on this post!

March 29 2011

17:39

ICT4D & TechSoup Summit: reflections one month on

(Cross-posted from http://beckyblab.com/)

It's been almost a month since I returned from the US and the TSG summit. While I was there, I got a lot of ideas from other Netsquared organizers and I was eager to share them with the community in Jaipur, though there's not much community yet to speak of. But it certainly enabled me to do a better job at communicating the value of Netsquared and using web 2.0 tools for social causes.

I can honestly say that I've maintained my positive outlook and dedication despite the challenges that I always face when returning from the US: lack of infrastructure, lack of understanding. Did I mention the heat? Somehow I didn't let these deter me and our Netsquared introductory meeting* is all set for Sunday!

One participant of the summit, who happened to be a previous colleague of mine in Bangalore, seemed to feel that the discussions at the summit were overly congratulatory. They've been happening for years--ICTs are great! They can save the world!--without a more nuanced understanding of the very real obstacles that we face every day in developing countries.

There were passing mentions, there were a few representatives, but I agreed with her that I felt more importance should have been given to the Global South. Yet is Silicon Valley really the appropriate or likely venue for that?

 

Sadhu & cellphone from http://techantropology.blogspot.com/

 

Nonetheless, I must say that my optimism remains in the potential for technologies to transform the world, within and without. My commitment is that much stronger now!

The subjective post-summit report goes into more detail about the specific aims and way forward. It will give you a sense of who all is involved in the larger TechSoup network.

*It's actually not the first Netsquared meeting I'm organizing, but now I've met and built trust with more of the "right kind" of people (working in social media and IT in Jaipur), so I think this time around will be more effective.

 

From a presentation by Nalaka Gunawardene

February 12 2011

00:58

Hello My Name Is___Ben Berkowitz__

Hi I'm Ben,

I am from New Haven, CT and am one of the Co-Founders of SeeClickFix.com. SeeClickFix is a platform that allows a citizen to report anything that is broken or needs improvement in the public space to anyone else who can help fix it including but not limited to governments anywhere in the world. 

I am interested in meeting others active on the ground in community and civic projects. I am also interested in meeting anbody who has a local blog or news site as SeeClickFix has a free widget that is widely deployed around the world.  I'm also interested in meeting existing users or anyone who has felt helpless when they wanted to get a pothole fixed.

January 20 2011

09:37

October 15 2010

17:30

Public, Closed or Secret? How to Use the New Facebook Groups

I was wrapping up a normal evening of checking through my newsroom's content before bed when I noticed I had been invited to a Facebook group. This was about seven hours after Mark Zuckerberg and his team introduced a number of changes to groups. The change that most piqued my interest was the new groups process. So when I noticed the invite, I decided to stay up a little longer.

Two hours later, I was hooked and looking for ways to engage with this new and improved groups tool for my newsroom.

Along with joining a group created for social media journalists, I decided to launch new groups for my newsroom, my neighborhood, and for my digital media class (fondly known as #jenclass). I wanted to see what types of engagement I could find.

There are three different types of new Facebook groups:

  • Public
  • Closed
  • Secret

I have used each setting with my groups. Below is a look at what I've done, along with some initial reaction and results.

My Groups

Newsroom community - KOMU8 News - Public setting
I created an open group and invited members of our station's Facebook fan page to see what kind of engagement I could get. It grew quickly at first. Members said hello in posts, while others played with the new chat function. What is most interesting is how a few members have turned it into a chat room for their own conversations. I have jumped in to try to encourage others to join in, but two men tend to the chat more than anyone else.

In order to increase engagement, I've posted fun questions and hard news topics to the group. The biggest topics that have engaged members so far include a discussion of where to spot the best fall colors outside, and a member-driven conversation about taxing fast food and cigarettes.

I've found most people join in on the group when they see the alerts I post on the KOMU8 Facebook page. I've sent notes with specific times when I was available to add new members and take part in a conversation. I also take the time to warn new members to change their settings so they don't get constant email alerts about new activity on the page. I also offer a chance to share story ideas. So far I've taken at least three stories that emerged from the conversations within the group and brought them to the newsroom.

One challenge is that the group is not gaining new members outside of my daily appointment engagement. Once members join the group, they don't seem inclined to invite others. I can't decide if this is because most people do not know how to invite a new member, or if it's because they don't want to bring a new person into the group.

Students and alumni - #jenclass - Closed group
I wanted my students to see how this new Facebook group feature works. After my social journalism interaction test with our station, I didn't want to miss the chance to chat with my students outside of class. I figured we could geek out in a similar way I have geeked out with other journalists. And since I have a new set of students every semester, I decided many of my former students would be very curious about new Facebook tweaks. So I started inviting current students and alumni. Once again, very few members invited other people. But students and alumni have contributed comments and links. So far, most conversations have started thanks to my prompts, but I don't think that will be the case forever.

Neighbors - Jen's Neighborhood - Secret group
My final group is for my neighbors. I invited all of my current Facebook friends who live near my house. Not everyone knows each other personally. In this early stage, each person who's commented said they were really excited to have an easy way to connect all of our busy families together. One neighbor saw me walking on the street and told me the group has encouraged her husband to start figuring out a way to formally create a neighborhood watch program in our area. I love the fact that a virtual group has the potential to foster even better relationships in person.

Conclusion

My experience with groups may not be the same as everyone, but I'm really glad I've taken the time to explore them in order to engage with different sets of people. The conversations in some groups are very Twitter-like, but they're now taking place inside Facebook. So far, I don't see groups growing past Facebook fan pages. They do seem like a chance to expand the pages and take conversations beyond a static page.

Just like anything else in social media, this new community opportunity requires attention. If I ignore my news group, a member could easily take over and use the space as a venue to push their own interests. I need to peek in on a regular basis and encourage diverse conversations.

My student/alumni page is mainly driven by my conversations -- but it is also focused on a class I run. Hopefully its members will soon feel more comfortable to share more of their own thoughts and opinions. My students probably don't realize the number of connections they could start if they start talking to members of the group who are working in different industries.

As for my neighborhood group, I do not plan to push that community. I will chat with each member face-to-face as I see them and we'll talk about what we want the group to become. I envision it as a place to warn about wandering dogs and upcoming vacations, and to search for trustworthy babysitters.

My three groups have different focuses, but all have the potential to grow new and existing communities based on common interests.

Jennifer Reeves worked in television news for the majority of her career. In the last six years, she has moved from traditional journalist to non-traditional thinker about journalism and education. Jen is currently the New Media Director at KOMU-TV and komu.com. At the same time, she is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and was a part of the inaugural class of Reynolds Journalism Institute fellows (2008-09).

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October 14 2010

12:02

Who's New to Net2 Local?

Net2 Local mapSince June, we've added 9 new NetSquared Local groups to the map, bringing the new official number to 79 groups worldwide! Below is a list of the groups that have started in the last few months.

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