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August 15 2012

11:12

News sites should be Islands in the stream

Islands in the stream
That is what we are
No one in-between
How can we be wrong

Dolly Parton! Well, actually the BeeGees (well if we are being really pedantic Hemingway). What the hell is that about Andy!

Well, Mary Hammilton (a must follow @newsmary on twitter) highlighted a post by entrepreneur, writer and geek living imploring us to stop publishing webpages and start publishing streams:

Start moving your content management system towards a future where it outputs content to simple APIs, which are consumed by stream-based apps that are either HTML5 in the browser and/or native clients on mobile devices. Insert your advertising into those streams using the same formats and considerations that you use for your own content. Trust your readers to know how to scroll down and skim across a simple stream, since that’s what they’re already doing all day on the web. Give them the chance to customize those streams to include (or exclude!) just the content they want.

I found it a little bit of a mish-mash really. In principle, lots to agree with but the practice was less clear. It makes sense if you’re in to developing the ‘native clients’ but harder to quantify if your’e a content creator.

More interesting was the twitter discussion it generated between Mary and her Guardian colleague Jonathan Haynes (the equally essential @jonathanhaynes) which I hitched my wagon to.  Haynes didn’t agree with the premise of the post and that generated an intersting discussion.

I’ve created a storyfy below but it got me thinking about some general points which are a little ‘devils advocate’:

  • What is this stream anyway – is it the capacity to filter  or is the depth and breadth of content you have to filter. I would say it’s the latter. Facebook and Twitter are streams because of the sheer weight of numbers and diversity of users.
  • Why be the stream when you can be part of it – Part of what Anil posted about was making stuff available to use in streams. I can’t disagree with that but it strays in to the idea of feeding the content ecosystem that, in blunt terms, is often played as parasitic. For all the advocacy of allowing user control, the one thing news orgs are still loathed to do is move people outside the site. Is looking at new ways to recreate the stream experience within a site simply a way of admitting that you aren’t really part of the stream?
  • Are you confusing your consumption habits with your users – whilst the stream might be useful for information pros like journos is it really what consumers want for their news. The stream suits the rolling nature of journalism. Not in the broadcast sense, just in the sense of ‘whats new’. Do your audience consume like you do?
  • Are you removing the value proposition of a journalist? – by putting the control of the stream in the hands of the user are you doing yourself out of a job. I know what the reply to that will be: “No, because the content of the stream will be done by us and  we will curate the stream”. Well in that sense it’s not a stream is it. It’s a list of what you already do. Where’s that serendipity or the compulsion to give people what they need (to live,thrive and survive) rather than what they want?
  • Confusing presentation with creation - That last point suggests a broader one. You can’t simply repackage content to simply ride the wave when your core business different. It’s like calling a column a blog – we hate that don’t we. So why call a slightly different way of presenting the chronology of content a stream?

That’s before we have even got to the resource issue. News orgs can’t handle the social media flow as it is.

So, Islands in the stream?  Well, thinking about the points above, especially the first one, what’s wrong with being something different. What’s wrong with being a page is world of updates.  What’s wrong with being a place where people can step out of the stream and stay a while to dry off and get a bit of orientation.

[View the story "What should news sites be - pages or streams" on Storify]

What should news sites be – pages or streams

Entrepreneur, writer and geek Anil Dash has posted a request that people stop publishing pages and start creating streams.

Storified by Andy Dickinson · Wed, Aug 15 2012 04:17:12

Stop Publishing Web PagesMost users on the web spend most of their time in apps. The most popular of those apps, like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Tumblr and others,…
Start moving your content management system towards a future where it outputs content to simple APIs, which are consumed by stream-based apps that are either HTML5 in the browser and/or native clients on mobile devices. Insert your advertising into those streams using the same formats and considerations that you use for your own content. Trust your readers to know how to scroll down and skim across a simple stream, since that’s what they’re already doing all day on the web. Give them the chance to customize those streams to include (or exclude!) just the content they want.
An interesting post which generated some interesting discussion when Guardian Journo Mary Hamilton posted it to twitter. 
@newsmary I *hate* that piece. Am I the only person left who likes the web, and webpages, and tolerates apps whilst sincerely hating them?Greg Callus
@Greg_Callus No, I don’t think you are. But I do think there’s room for other presentations as well as single static URL.Mary Hamilton
@newsmary There is, I just hate the Appify movement & ‘streams’. And there’s a reason Guardian Network Front isn’t RSS feed of our content.Greg Callus
@newsmary Where’s the evidence readers ‘like’ streams & apps? Rather than utility sacrificed for convenience b/c that’s what mobile could doGreg Callus
@Greg_Callus Where’s the evidence they don’t? Don’t think people are using Facebook/Tumblr etc while disliking the approach that much.Mary Hamilton
@newsmary Drop/plateau in Facebook numbers since move from Profile to Timeline? Not universal but thnk his claim they ‘like streams’ not metGreg Callus
@Greg_Callus But significant rise since the introduction of the news feed, which is a stream.Mary Hamilton
@newsmary Touche! Thing is I love Twitter as a stream. Where chronological key, it works (like comments). Where content needs hierarchy, notGreg Callus
@Greg_Callus Yeah, there are def some big issues with streams wrt hierarchy – but also with pages too. It’s not a solved problem.Mary Hamilton
It wasn’t the only chat. Mary’s tweet had already attracted the attention of her Guardian colleague Jonathan Haynes who took issue with the basic premise.
@newsmary no! Much more important is: Stop thinking you’re the medium when you’re the content provider!Jonathan Haynes
@JonathanHaynes Different issues, surely? You can be a content provider with a stream.Mary Hamilton
@newsmary what’s a stream Mary, what’s a stream? it’s a load of contentJonathan Haynes
@JonathanHaynes Compared to a flat page, it’s a different way of organising that content. That’s not a difficult distinction…Mary Hamilton
@newsmary it’s the same content! *head desk*Jonathan Haynes
@JonathanHaynes And the point of the piece I linked is that news orgs should present it differently. Struggling to see your point.Mary Hamilton
@JonathanHaynes Compared to a flat page, it’s a different way of organising that content. That’s not a difficult distinction…Mary Hamilton
@newsmary present it how? it’s presented in every way alreadyJonathan Haynes
@alexhern @newsmary *head desk*Jonathan Haynes
I wondered whether, given the content hungry nature of the stream if media orgs had the resource or know-how to take Dash’s advice.
@newsmary @jonathanhaynes also the issue here that stream implies a constant flow. A mechanism of displaying constantly changing content.Andy Dickinson
@newsmary @jonathanhaynes not sure that most orgs can promise that without USB and sm. something most have no talent or resource for.Andy Dickinson
@digidickinson @newsmary indeedJonathan Haynes
Mary didn’t think that was the issue. It was more about what you did with what you had and how people used it.
@digidickinson @JonathanHaynes Not certain that’s true – using a single blog as the example. More talking about customisation & user flow?Mary Hamilton
@newsmary @digidickinson how does a blog show importance? it’s just a stream.Jonathan Haynes
@JonathanHaynes Sticky posts, design highlights. Not a new problem.Mary Hamilton
But that still didn’t answer the core question for me – where does the content needed to create a stream come from?
@JonathanHaynes @newsmary that’s about relevance- is timeliness relevance or curation. Can see a case for chronology but still needs ‘stuff’Andy Dickinson
@JonathanHaynes @newsmary stuff that is new to appear ‘chronologically’Andy Dickinson
Jonathan was still struggling with the idea of the stream
@newsmary @digidickinson then how is that a stream?Jonathan Haynes
@JonathanHaynes @digidickinson How is a blog a stream if it has sticky posts? *headdesk*Mary Hamilton
I could kind of see Jonathan’s point.
@newsmary @jonathanhaynes slightly different issue there. One to watch as you are talking about subverting (damming it with sticky posts)Andy Dickinson
@newsmary @jonathanhaynes that changes the consistency of presentation for publishers sake, without the users permission. Breaks the premiseAndy Dickinson
@newsmary @jonathanhaynes like twitter being able to keep one tweet at top of your feed when it suitedAndy Dickinson
But Dan Bentley pointed out that there are a number of sites that seem to do ‘the stream’ well. 
@digidickinson @newsmary @jonathanhaynes you can stream content and still tell people what’s important http://itv.co/NDpTxdDaniel Bentley
Latest News – ITV NewsTia accused faces Old Bailey No application for Hazell bail by Jon Clements – Crime Correspondent Lord Carlile QC (representing Stuart Ha…
@DJBentley @digidickinson @JonathanHaynes Good example, that. Cheers.Mary Hamilton
But sites like ITV rely heavily on UGC and that’s a big issue. It still comes down to where you get the content from and if the org is resourced to do that.
@DJBentley @newsmary @jonathanhaynes true but the itv example better illustrates the point I made about where the content comes fromAndy Dickinson
@DJBentley @newsmary @jonathanhaynes it’s curating content but it’s still content and it has to come from somewhere at regular intervals.Andy Dickinson
@DJBentley @newsmary @jonathanhaynes that’s not an impossibility but it is a core challenge for orgs – always has been online esp. with smAndy Dickinson
@JonathanHaynes @djbentley @newsmary think that highlights core issue here-presentation separate to mechanism to create content to presentAndy Dickinson
Another example 
@DJBentley @digidickinson @newsmary @jonathanhaynes Breaking News does similar with their verticals (sorry to butt in) http://breakingnews.com/TomMcArthur
Breaking news, latest news, and current events – breakingnews.comThe latest breaking news around the world from hundreds of sources, all in one place.
@TomMcArthur I like @breakingnews style for streams a lot – suits it perfectly.Mary Hamilton
But Jonathan is not a fan of the ITV approach.
@digidickinson @DJBentley @newsmary ITV site is a car crash though. and how a minority want news presented isn’t necessarily representativeJonathan Haynes
And has an example of his own to highlight that the page is not quite dead…
@digidickinson @TomMcArthur @newsmary @DJBentley most successful UK newspaper website is Mail Online. sticks rigidly to articles.Jonathan Haynes
Home | Mail OnlineMailOnline – all the latest news, sport, showbiz, science and health stories from around the world from the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday…
@JonathanHaynes @digidickinson @TomMcArthur @newsmary is the Mail Online a good news source?Daniel Bentley
Another example pops up later on as an aside to the conversations
The Reddit Editundefined
@newsmary @TomMcArthur The news site of the future looks a lot more like that or http://bit.ly/NDsuHw than 240 hyperlinks and 60 picturesDaniel Bentley
@DJBentley @TomMcArthur Yes, I agree.Mary Hamilton
and Mary takes the chance to voice her view of the term newspaper site.
@JonathanHaynes @digidickinson @DJBentley “Newspaper website” is an oxymoron that cannot die quickly enough for my liking.Mary Hamilton
@newsmary @jonathanhaynes @djbentley agree with sentiment but sadly it is still a very apt description of the general process and mentalityAndy Dickinson
@newsmary @digidickinson @DJBentley touché. sorry, news site.Jonathan Haynes
In the continuing conversations Jonathan is concerned that this might be a bit of the thrill of the new…
@DJBentley @digidickinson @TomMcArthur @newsmary consumption and creation are different. and early adopters are not the norm.Jonathan Haynes
@JonathanHaynes @DJBentley @digidickinson Thing is, stream consumption isn’t a minority or early adopter thing any more.Mary Hamilton
@newsmary @jonathanhaynes @djbentley true but danger is going for mode of presentation without considering the mechanics.Andy Dickinson
@newsmary @jonathanhaynes @djbentley number of individuals needed to make a stream vs number needed to present it.Andy Dickinson
So Jonathan asks about a concrete example.
@newsmary @digidickinson @DJBentley so how would that look for "the Guardian" streams works as multiple source and crows editingJonathan Haynes
@newsmary @digidickinson @DJBentley crowd, not crows. what I get from Twitter I want, but I also want websites to show me hierarchy.Jonathan Haynes
@newsmary @digidickinson @DJBentley and content is discrete elements. should be available in all forms but need to be ‘page’ to do soJonathan Haynes
@JonathanHaynes @digidickinson @DJBentley Let me subscribe to tags; filter my stream on my own interest & curated importance?Mary Hamilton
@newsmary @DJBentley @digidickinson you want to subscribe to tags?! might as well have an RSS feed! ;)Jonathan Haynes
Dan highlighted a problem which, I guess, he would see the stream as helping to solve.
@JonathanHaynes @newsmary @digidickinson I don’t feel current news site frontpages do a particularly good job at hierarchy. Too much stuff.Daniel Bentley
@JonathanHaynes @newsmary @digidickinson Google News or the new digg http://bit.ly/NDuNuc do a better job and that’s mostly algorithm.Daniel Bentley
Google News- As the courtroom emptied after Barry Bonds’ obstruction-of-justice conviction Wednesday afternoon, the slugger stood off to one side, h…
DiggThe best news, videos and pictures on the web as voted on by the Digg community. Breaking news on Technology, Politics, Entertainment, an…
@DJBentley @newsmary @digidickinson too much stuff? and yet you want an endless stream??Jonathan Haynes
But for Dan the stream has a purpose 
@JonathanHaynes @newsmary @digidickinson the stream tells me what’s new, the traditional frontpage doesn’t know what it’s doing.Daniel Bentley
@JonathanHaynes @newsmary @digidickinson Am I what’s new? Am I what’s important? Am I everything that has been written in the last 24hrs?Daniel Bentley
@DJBentley @newsmary @digidickinson no, you’re the carefully edited combination of all of the below!Jonathan Haynes
@JonathanHaynes @newsmary @digidickinson carefully edited? How is 240 links on Guardian and 797 (!) on Mail Online carefully edited?Daniel Bentley
@DJBentley @newsmary @digidickinson *sigh*Jonathan Haynes
Frustrating as it may be it’s a real problem and which Mary sums up with
@DJBentley @JonathanHaynes @digidickinson Part of problem with hierarchy on fronts is trying to be all things to all visitors.Mary Hamilton
But, to be honest, I can’t see how the stream would be any better other than to put the responsibility back on to the user. But I’ve more to add in a blog post….
News sites should be Islands in the stream | andydickinson.netIslands in the stream That is what we are No one in-between How can we be wrong Dolly Parton! Well, actually the BeeGees (well if we are …

 

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September 08 2010

10:54

Andorid audio editing apps: no joy for Journos?

Android robot logo.
Image via Wikipedia

I’m currently putting together stuff for my Digital Newsroom module for this year.

One of the things I ask the students to do is to record and edit a short audio vox-pop*.We have a number of audio recorders of varying levels of ‘quality’ at the Uni and access to Audacity and Adobe Audition. But I don’t stipulate what the audio should be recorded on or how it’s edited. My line is always ‘if you can do it and submit it by banging nails in to a piece of wood, go for it”.

I want the students to explore the range of resources that are out there and I’m always keen to add to the list of possible tools and resources they can use. So Uber blogger and font of endless multimedia journalism info Mark Luckie couldn’t have timed his latest post better.

The post highlights 3 Unique ways to record, edit, and publish your audio. It includes Monle, a four track editor for iphone/touch which is useful if you use you phone to record your audio interviews. Which got me thinking about the students who might want to use their mobile to record audio but don’t have an iphone or touch.

Android audio apps?

I see a lot of iphones at work but I also see a serious number of Android based phones so I thought I would do a quick scoot around and pick one or two apps that none Apple users could consider. And the result…

Nothing….

Nada….

Move along now, nothing to see.

Well, OK, there was one; ringdroid which, on the surface, looks pretty good. But that was it.

Iphone/touch is the platform of choice

From my reading round its seem the stumbling block is  a dodgy audio api on android – delays etc. But I was genuinely surprised that there wasn’t at least an attempt to try. Maybe it’s too niche!

I’m nervous of the eulogizing that goes on of the iphone/touch as the ‘tool of choice for multimedia journalists’ but I have to say that as an all in one device (the new touch in particular) it’s looking pretty good.

If you know about a good audio recording/editing app on Android or other mobile platforms for that matter, please let me know.

* Before the anti-vox brigade have a go I should say that this is part of a series of competency ‘tests’. I want to be sure that the students have exprimented with recording audio and vox is an easy ‘reason’ to record audio.

Update: Transom.org has a nice article looking at the Monle and Hindenburg audio apps.

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January 24 2010

19:49

10 Ways Blogging Can Help Denver Businesses

- Increase visibility for your company

- Reach out to your customers with fresh content and frequent updates

- Enrich clients’ understanding of your business, products, services, etc.

- Communicate effectively with your target audience and gain insight on upcoming trends

- Generate awareness for upcoming products and events

- Test new ideas by using your blog as a forum to gain valuable customer feedback

- Contact a global audience with a global medium

- Position yourself as a thought leader or nexus of change

- Manage projects and share knowledge internally

- Highlight success stories and relevant case studies

By now, everyone has heard the term “blog” somewhere, and it’s more than likely that almost everyone has read a blog at some point in the last few years. Blogging is fast becoming an integral part of many companies’ online marketing initiatives and web presence. Clearly, blogs aren’t just for tech nerds, obsessive political fanatics, and hippie teenagers anymore.

But how many of us know how blogging works and why it’s become so popular with online marketers? More importantly, how many of us actually understand how to use a blog to boost business online? Surprisingly, very few of us. This article will explore how to do just that by providing ten reasons you need to start blogging (if you haven’t already).

Within the online space, many marketers are conscious of the impact a blog can make on an online business. In fact, “Blogging in the Enterprise,” a study conducted by GuideWireGroup for iUpload, indicates that as many as 89 percent of companies currently blog or plan to start in the near future. The study also found that a much higher percentage of small businesses were blogging. Currently, almost sixty percent of the corporate blogosphere is composed of companies with 100 employees or less. So why are so many companies blogging?

The answer is simple yet profound. Blogs are a multi-dimensional communication channel that can be utilized for a variety of purposes. Whether you need to draw traffic to your site, get customer feedback, generate awareness, communicate with customers or those within your own organization, blogs are a quick, easy, and effective way to create an online presence without knowing even a single line of code. So, if you have a keyboard, a mouse, and an internet connection, you’re ready to start publishing your own blog. But before you begin typing away, consider which of the above goals you’ll use your blog to achieve. The company I work for, Denver-based Fusionbox, is one such company. Using a blog platform onsite, we’ve been able to create a place where employees can post content related to the services we offer, including web design, web development, and search engine marketing. Clients, both current and potential, can visit this section of the site to catch up on news, upcoming events and trends, or just read some of the articles we’ve written about the online marketing space.

So consider the following: Not only do blogs allow you to publish and distribute fresh content on as frequent a basis as you like, but also remember that Google and other search engines grant high value to blog content due to the frequent updates, links and networks, and archival nature of the blog platform itself. Thanks to the Google algorithm, this makes blogs a valuable tool for search engine optimization and improved organic search positioning.

As you’ve seen, blogs are the perfect channel for sustained communication with your customer base; they present a friendly, informal voice that visitors come to know and trust. So now that you’ve identified the purpose(s) of your blog, you can begin to create and publish content designed to further that ambition.

One of the most popular reasons companies (and especially small businesses) are blogging is to increase visibility. Use your blog to present information about your company and what you’ve got to offer that your competitors don’t.

Along the same lines, reach out to your customer base by placing your content where you know they’ll spend their time online. Research where they go and what they’re looking for, then position your content as the information destination. This will allow you to enrich clients’ understanding of your business. In addition, by updating your blog frequently (best practices show that you should add content at least three times a week, if not daily) you’ll begin to build a relationship with interested readers.

Perhaps the most important advantage of using a blog is that it allows you to generate awareness about an upcoming event or product release. Like a press release, your blog will act as a source of news and notify readers of changes you think they need to be aware of. The inherent ability of blogs to connect readers to you and each other is an excellent place to start building networks, and oftentimes you’ll be able to gain insight on upcoming trends through these connections.

On the other hand, your blog is an invaluable source of all types of feedback. Because nearly all blog platforms allow readers to post comments on your content, you can test new ideas and let customers tell your directly about their experience with your product or company. Similarly, blogs are a perfect tool to present success stories and relevant case studies to readers.

A blog is essentially the perfect tool for internal knowledge and project management. It acts as a public domain where anyone involved in the company can share their experiences or update co-workers on the status of a project.

As mentioned before, blogs are the ideal tool to create online content and then build connections around this content. The more readers that come to see what thoughts you’ve got to offer, the more incoming links you’ll gain as they link to your content. In this way, blogs also function as a tool for search engine optimization, and once you’ve built a community around your content, you’ll position yourself as an industry thought leader and nexus of change. Just make sure that the content you’ve got to offer is unique, engaging, and relevant.

As blogs continue to become the most efficient channel for businesses to communicate with a Web 2.0 audiences, it’s critical that you and your company begin blogging to either catch up with the competition or distance yourself from it. As we’ve seen, blogging is becoming an integral aspect of online marketing initiatives and web presence. So blog away!

Nick Yorchak is an SEO expert and Search Engine Marketing Specialist at Fusionbox, a full-service Denver Internet marketing, web design, and web development company. He can be reached at his Fusionbox email or at (720)956-1083.

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