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May 29 2013


What’s New in Digital Scholarship: Teen sharing on Facebook, how Al Jazeera uses metrics, and the tie between better cellphone coverage and violence


Editor’s note: There’s a lot of interesting academic research going on in digital media — but who has time to sift through all those journals and papers?

Our friends at Journalist’s Resource, that’s who. JR is a project of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and they spend their time examining the new academic literature in media, social science, and other fields, summarizing the high points and giving you a point of entry. Roughly once a month, JR managing editor John Wihbey will sum up for us what’s new and fresh.

This month’s edition of What’s New In Digital Scholarship is an abbreviated installment — we’re just posting our curated list of interesting new papers and their abstracts. We’ll provide a fuller analysis at the half-year mark, in our June edition. Until then, happy geeking out!

“Mapping the global Twitter heartbeat: The geography of Twitter.” Study from the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, published in First Monday. By Kalev Leetaru, Shaowen Wang, Guofeng Cao, Anand Padmanabhan, and Eric Shook.

Summary: “In just under seven years, Twitter has grown to count nearly three percent of the entire global population among its active users who have sent more than 170 billion 140-character messages. Today the service plays such a significant role in American culture that the Library of Congress has assembled a permanent archive of the site back to its first tweet, updated daily. With its open API, Twitter has become one of the most popular data sources for social research, yet the majority of the literature has focused on it as a text or network graph source, with only limited efforts to date focusing exclusively on the geography of Twitter, assessing the various sources of geographic information on the service and their accuracy. More than three percent of all tweets are found to have native location information available, while a naive geocoder based on a simple major cities gazetteer and relying on the user — provided Location and Profile fields is able to geolocate more than a third of all tweets with high accuracy when measured against the GPS-based baseline. Geographic proximity is found to play a minimal role both in who users communicate with and what they communicate about, providing evidence that social media is shifting the communicative landscape.

“Predicting Dissemination of News Content in Social Media: A Focus on Reception, Friending, and Partisanship.” Study from Ohio State, published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. By Brian E. Weeks and R. Lance Holbert.

Summary: “Social media are an emerging news source, but questions remain regarding how citizens engage news content in this environment. This study focuses on social media news reception and friending a journalist/news organization as predictors of social media news dissemination. Secondary analysis of 2010 Pew data (N = 1,264) reveals reception and friending to be positive predictors of dissemination, and a reception-by-friending interaction is also evident. Partisanship moderates these relationships such that reception is a stronger predictor of dissemination among partisans, while the friending-dissemination link is evident for nonpartisans only. These results provide novel insights into citizens’ social media news experiences.”

“Al Jazeera English Online: Understanding Web metrics and news production when a quantified audience is not a commodified audience.” Study from George Washington University, published in Digital Journalism. By Nikki Usher.

Summary: “Al Jazeera English is the Arab world’s largest purveyor of English language news to an international audience. This article provides an in-depth examination of how its website employs Web metrics for tracking and understanding audience behavior. The Al Jazeera Network remains sheltered from the general economic concerns around the news industry, providing a unique setting in which to understand how these tools influence newsroom production and knowledge creation. Through interviews and observations, findings reveal that the news organization’s institutional culture plays a tremendous role in shaping how journalists use and understand metrics. The findings are interpreted through an analysis of news norms studies of the social construction of technology.”

“Teens, Social Media and Privacy.” Report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. By Mary Madden, Amanda Lenhart, Sandra Cortesi, Urs Gasser, Maeve Duggan, and Aaron Smith.

Summary: “Teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they have in the past, but they are also taking a variety of technical and non-technical steps to manage the privacy of that information. Despite taking these privacy-protective actions, teen social media users do not express a high level of concern about third-parties (such as businesses or advertisers) accessing their data; just 9% say they are ‘very’ concerned. Key findings include: Teens are sharing more information about themselves on their social media profiles than they did when we last surveyed in 2006: 91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006; 71% post their school name, up from 49%; 71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%; 53% post their email address, up from 29%; 20% post their cell phone number, up from 2%. 60% of teen Facebook users set their Facebook profiles to private (friends only), and most report high levels of confidence in their ability to manage their settings: 56% of teen Facebook users say it’s ‘not difficult at all’ to manage the privacy controls on their Facebook profile; 33% Facebook-using teens say it’s ‘not too difficult’; 8% of teen Facebook users say that managing their privacy controls is ‘somewhat difficult,’ while less than 1% describe the process as ‘very difficult.’”

“Historicizing New Media: A Content Analysis of Twitter.” Study from Cornell, Stoneybrook University, and AT&T Labs Research, published in the Journal of Communication. By Lee Humphreys, Phillipa Gill, Balachander Krishnamurthy, and Elizabeth Newbury.

Summary: “This paper seeks to historicize Twitter within a longer historical framework of diaries to better understand Twitter and broader communication practices and patterns. Based on a review of historical literature regarding 18th and 19th century diaries, we created a content analysis coding scheme to analyze a random sample of publicly available Twitter messages according to themes in the diaries. Findings suggest commentary and accounting styles are the most popular narrative styles on Twitter. Despite important differences between the historical diaries and Twitter, this analysis reveals long-standing social needs to account, reflect, communicate, and share with others using media of the times.” (See also.)

“Page flipping vs. clicking: The impact of naturally mapped interaction technique on user learning and attitudes.” Study from Penn State and Ohio State, published in Computers in Human Behavior. By Jeeyun Oh, Harold R. Robinson, and Ji Young Lee.

Summary: “Newer interaction techniques enable users to explore interfaces in a more natural and intuitive way. However, we do not yet have a scientific understanding of their contribution to user experience and theoretical mechanisms underlying the impact. This study examines how a naturally mapped interface, page-flipping interface, can influence user learning and attitudes. An online experiment with two conditions (page flipping vs. clicking) tests the impact of this naturally mapped interaction technique on user learning and attitudes. The result shows that the page-flipping feature creates more positive evaluations of the website in terms of usability and engagement, as well as greater behavioral intention towards the website by evoking greater perception of natural mapping and greater feeling of presence. In terms of learning outcomes, however, participants who flip through the online magazine show less recall and recognition memory, unless they perceive page flipping as more natural and intuitive to interact with. Participants perceive the same content as more credible when they flip through the content, but only if they appreciate the coolness of the medium. Theoretical and practical implications will be discussed.”

“Influence of Social Media Use on Discussion Network Heterogeneity and Civic Engagement: The Moderating Role of Personality Traits.” Study from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and the University of Texas at Austin, published in the Journal of Communication. By Yonghwan Kim, Shih-Hsien Hsu, and Homero Gil de Zuniga.

Summary: “Using original national survey data, we examine how social media use affects individuals’ discussion network heterogeneity and their level of civic engagement. We also investigate the moderating role of personality traits (i.e., extraversion and openness to experiences) in this association. Results support the notion that use of social media contributes to heterogeneity of discussion networks and activities in civic life. More importantly, personality traits such as extraversion and openness to experiences were found to moderate the influence of social media on discussion network heterogeneity and civic participation, indicating that the contributing role of social media in increasing network heterogeneity and civic engagement is greater for introverted and less open individuals.”

“Virtual research assistants: Replacing human interviewers by automated avatars in virtual worlds.” Study from Sammy Ofer School of Communications, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (Israel), published in Computers in Human Behavior. By Béatrice S. Hasler, Peleg Tuchman, and Doron Friedman.

Summary: “We conducted an experiment to evaluate the use of embodied survey bots (i.e., software-controlled avatars) as a novel method for automated data collection in 3D virtual worlds. A bot and a human-controlled avatar carried out a survey interview within the virtual world, Second Life, asking participants about their religion. In addition to interviewer agency (bot vs. human), we tested participants’ virtual age, that is, the time passed since the person behind the avatar joined Second Life, as a predictor for response rate and quality. The human interviewer achieved a higher response rate than the bot. Participants with younger avatars were more willing to disclose information about their real life than those with older avatars. Surprisingly, the human interviewer received more negative responses than the bot. Affective reactions of older avatars were also more negative than those of younger avatars. The findings provide support for the utility of bots as virtual research assistants but raise ethical questions that need to be considered carefully.”

“Technology and Collective Action: The Effect of Cell Phone Coverage on Political Violence in Africa.” Study from Duke and German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), published in the American Political Science Review. By Jan H. Pierskalla and Florian M. Hollenbach.

Summary: “The spread of cell phone technology across Africa has transforming effects on the economic and political sphere of the continent. In this paper, we investigate the impact of cell phone technology on violent collective action. We contend that the availability of cell phones as a communication technology allows political groups to overcome collective action problems more easily and improve in-group cooperation, and coordination. Utilizing novel, spatially disaggregated data on cell phone coverage and the location of organized violent events in Africa, we are able to show that the availability of cell phone coverage significantly and substantially increases the probability of violent conflict. Our findings hold across numerous different model specifications and robustness checks, including cross-sectional models, instrumental variable techniques, and panel data methods.”

Photo by Anna Creech used under a Creative Commons license.

March 29 2013


The coolest Canadian

Screenshot 2013-03-29 at 9.27.41 AMI had the great pleasure last night to watch one of my favorite interviewers on one of my favorite shows, live in New York. Jian Ghomeshi [except for an excess H it sounds like it's spelled] is the host of the CBC’s Q, which I’ve listened to for years. You can — no, should — listen to him online, on Sirius (channel 159), or on some smart public-radio stations like WNYC, which have started carrying him.

Ghomeshi runs a radio variety show, but not like one of the late-night TV shows in America. It’s a smart variety show. It doesn’t try to be funny or hip but is both. Ghomeshi’s opening monologue is a written essay/soliloquy/riff that sets the pace for the show; it says, “keep up now.” He gets great musical bookings and gives them time. He knows how to speak with them because he was a rock musician himself. But the heart of the show is his long-form interviews with musicians, authors, actors, and divas; he’s comfortable with them all.

Last night I was thinking about my favorite interviewers: Howard Stern, Jian Ghomeshi, and WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, each live and uncut. And I started to understand, I think, what makes them great. They treat interviews like music.

That’s not my thought. At the after-party — an understated Canadian affair — I was talking with an American public-radio executive who was also a musician and a jazz producer and he said he saw Ghomeshi’s experience as a musician play out in his interviews: playing over the occasional wrong note, going with the flow of someone else’s solo. When Jian arrived later he, too, talked about getting into the right rhythm with a guest. It is musical, he said.

03-25-13---James-FrancoRight. In the car on the way home, I listened to a replay of Stern’s hour-and-a-half interview with James Franco this week. When I first heard the start of it, live, I thought Stern was being slightly ADD. He’d get Franco to go down a path; Franco would get ready to launch into a story; Stern would get distracted by a squirrel or perhaps he’d worry that Franco would spend too long and he’d deflect him to another subject; there was a bit of Mexican jumping bean to it. But last night I heard the rest of the interview and it was amazing. They got into sync. They were comfortable and out of that comfort came the surprising candor Stern can get even from jaded, over-interviewed stars. He truly is a genius at it. The real advantage of Sirius is not that he can say “fuck” but that he has the time, uninterrupted, to find that rhythm.

Ghomeshi has the similar advantage of being on public radio in Canada with two hours to devote to his guests. I’ve had the privilege of being on the show a few times. It’s shocking to my American media biorhythms to find myself in an interview or debate that doesn’t end in 2:30 — a race to the finish of the sound bite — but instead can turn into a real discussion. That contrast was apparent last night in Q’s media panel — one of my favorite parts of his week, but this time with American guests: The New York Times’ David Carr, Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, and right-wing CNNer Will Cain. Though Goodman decried the sound bite, the truth is that they were all trained to recite theirs in sparse minutes while Ghomeshi was trying to get them to actually arrive at least at a clear statement of disagreement about gun control. Good luck with that. Cain wouldn’t play. Still, it made for fascinating radio/video/theater.

His other interviews each had their own cadences. Cyndi Lauper, who is approaching diva status, talked about her Broadway show with Harvey Fierstein, Kinky Boots, and about her childhood and, God help us, the Dalai Lama. Ghomeshi let her go. At his usual pace, with fewer guests than he had on stage last night, the interview would have gone on longer but the clock got in the way. Still, leaving us wanting more is not a bad thing.

Alan Alda tried to show Ghomeshi who was boss (“You grew up in the Bronx,” said Ghomeshi. “No I didn’t but I can tell you’re a Wikipedia reader,” said Alda) but that turned into a pleasant chat about the impact of M*A*S*H and about science (Alda is challenging scientists to define a flame and time so 11-year-olds could understand).

Vampire Weekend played three songs, a luxury the crowd enjoyed. Actually, they played four, asking to come back after the taping was done to rerecord their first. That provided a post facto punch line; now I understood the sly grins they shared when Ghomeshi — obviously aware of the redo that was coming up — asked Ezra Koenig and Rostam Batmanglij whether they were perfectionists.

The highlight of the night for me was David Cross talking about the return of Arrested Development. At the party, Ghomeshi said the two of them had hit that certain rhythm; watch how they did it at the start of the second hour, below. Cross began, like Alda, testing the line. He asked Jian whether he was that guy who had that interview — famously strange — with Billy Bob Thornton. “He was just such an insufferable prick,” Cross said. “We’re not going to replay that now, are we?” Ghomeshi asked. That could have gone either way. But then Ghomeshi exhibited real knowledge of Cross; he’d seen his stand-up act and knew his shows and had insightful questions and Cross responded with both candor and great comic timing. In only a moment, they became an act together.

After the show, I talked with a bunch of public-radio people and asked whether there was anyone in the U.S. market like Ghomeshi. They couldn’t think of anyone. Neither can I. We’re lucky we get to listen here. I asked his producers what the Canadian reaction was to Ghomeshi’s growing American fan base — did they wonder why he needed us. No, they said, but Canadians did worry that the show would become — like surely too much else from their perspective — too American. I don’t think that can happen. The acts and the subjects are shared. The attitude isn’t.

Ghomeshi is quite Canadian. He embodies what I like about the place — and why I indeed almost moved there three times (I am the rare Canadophile, but that’s another story). The Venn diagram of his and Canadian’s characteristics has many overlaps: calm, charming, self-deprecating, witty, easy, smart, never too hip, quite comfortable…. Hear for yourself.

I have just one wish: that Sirius and public-radio stations here would give his Q’s full two hours. We’re almost as smart and patient and interested as Canadians. Really.

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February 28 2012


Online Community Organizing Take 2: Interview With Sylwia Presley From Global Voices

Today’s post in the February Net2 series is inspired and informed by a conversation I had with Sylwia Presley [reads “Sylvia” in English] . Sylwia is a social media practitioner and consultant who has worked on many projects that involved online community organizing. The thing we focused on when talking though was her engagement in Global Voices -- an international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media from around the world. Sylwia works as an author at Global Voices and as editor of Polish Global Voices Lingua site . We have chosen Global Voices, because it is the most vivid and sustainable community that Sylwia has been working with. We hope that looking at her lessons learned will prove valuable for the Net2 audience.

Global Voices Online

Global Voices Online is an international, volunteer-led project that collects, summarizes, and gives context to some of the best self-published content found on blogs, podcasts, photo sharing sites, and videoblogs from around the world, with an emphasis on countries outside of Europe and North America. Global Voices is formed by a multilingual community of bloggers who collaborate on a range of projects including a translation project -- Lingua. Lingua is about making stories from the Global Voices in English website available in other languages.

The main collaboration tool for the community is a mailing list. Every country, and every region has its own editors, as well as a team of volunteers who contribute to the blog be it by writing or translating the content. What makes them a community are the shared values outlined in the Global Voices Manifesto, a document drafted collectively by participants of the Global Voices 2004 conference and many other bloggers around the world.

To Build a Community

First of the things to keep in mind when approaching the topic of “online community organizing” is, that it is always difficult to manage volunteers, which is the case in this series There are three main ways in which an online community comes to life. The first two are associated with a prestige that is either given or comes when a critical mass of content momentum is reached. The third one is “a spark” that motivates people -- a particular passion or interest that will make people both contribute and come back. That latter is the Global Voices case.

To Keep a Community

Respecting and managing people’s emotions an expectations plays a very big role in the community building process. If it is the personal values, if it is the “difficult to grasp” feeling of being safe, and comfortable, you have to be particularly careful. You can’t play with or manipulate people -- social media drive transparent communication, and it is very difficult to hide your agenda. And the downside is that once you make people uncomfortable, they leave. Once you abuse people’s trust it is difficult if not impossible to regain it, which is why Global Voices is based on mutual trust and focused on an actual work for the cause.

To Be Able To Let Go

Managing people’s emotions is a tricky and hard to handle task, and it it fails, it might not be your fault. So: be easy on yourself. There is little you can predict -- it might be the over engineering, it might be the topic not being interesting enough, it might be the relevance of a project or idea for the local community -- in which case it might be even better if it fails sooner than later. It might be for lots of different reasons that your community project won’t work. But with community work, you need to be ready for that: some things catch on, and some don’t.



  •     Talking to Sylwia was a pleasure, if you’d like to share it, please feel free to contact her using her Twitter handle, follow her blog, or leave a comment here.
  •     Also: If you’d like to read more, and/or get involved in any of the projects that Global Voices is currently working on -- visit the site. The contact tab would be the best if you are looking for assistance.


July 14 2011


MediaStorm Interview: Nacho Corbella

Nacho Corbella is an award winning Multimedia Producer with several years of teaching experience and content gathering and editing for Multimedia, Print and Television productions. Today, he’s back in Chile teaching Multimedia Narratives, Photojournalism and Infographics in the Journalism School of Universidad de los Andes.

Could you tell me a little bit about your background with photography and multimedia production?

So I was a J student, basically. The only photo class that I had taken was an art photo class when I was an undergrad. Then I had this Multimedia project with Rich Beckman where I held a Digital SLR for the first time. That’s when I really grabbed that camera and made it mine, made her mine. I was shooting digital, it had just came out. It was the D30. I was just shooting and shooting, and editing and editing, and working with a ton of talented people. That was the best week of the class ever. A full week of getting constant feedback. That’s my photographic background basically. I just grabbed a camera for a whole week and just shot-shot-shot. I never left it.

You produced a very moving piece titled, “Life After Foreclosure.” Could you walk us through your thought process while you were making that piece? What were your goals going and and what did you do to reach those goals?

I’m going to tell you how long it took me first. It was part of my thesis. I had a whole year basically to work on my thesis from my pre-production to shooting and everything. So I had this plan in mind, I was going to do this simple story thesis topic. Then the recession happened in 2007 and the whole market crashed. I watched TV, I would read the newspapers, I would read the magazines, and I wouldn’t see anyone… anyone. They were all just numbers. There were no people. I wanted to put a face on the crisis.

I think I have 700 emails that were sent in conversations trying to get people anywhere in the US. Constant phone calls, going to churches, going to foundations, going to whatever. Nothing would happen. Imagine every week how shitty you can feel when you try over and over to get somewhere. After almost six months I said, “Okay, if I don’t get anything by this Monday I’m done.” So Thursday afternoon I get this phone call from a friend telling me that there was this person that lives in Charlotte that was willing to talk and I was like, “Wow. Phone number? Name? Done. Thank you so much.” Hung up. Grabbed the phone. Lit up a cigarette and said, “Here it goes.” Called Cynthia, “Hi this is Nacho…” Same speech I always begin with. And she starts telling me her whole story. It was perfectly perfect. She was telling me the whole story and everything I needed. After 5 minutes she keeps telling me and she starts crying and I’m like, “Shit, okay Cynthia. I’m really interested in your story. I’d love to meet you in person, if I can record an interview it would be great.” And she was like, “I would love to share this with you.”

Next morning I put everything in the car, drive all the way to Charlotte, three and a half hours, get there, opens the door… I’m in. I sit in, shoot the interview, we talk a little bit, shoot the interview. I go to a hotel and start transcribing my ideas, thinking about structure, all on the fly.

You have this preconceived idea, I had 3 and a half hours to think about it, but then when you get there… it’s their story not yours. The next morning I go back to Cynthia and knock on the door. 8am. She opens the door wearing her pajamas. And that’s it. That’s when you know you’re in. When the person you’re interviewing opens their door to you without caring that you’re going to be shooting with a camera and their hair is messed up, you know you’re in. Now I’m the only one that can fuck this up. So it’s all on me, and that’s the most beautiful feeling when you’re shooting a story. Because you know everything is there, you just need to do your job and do it well so you can actually portray what that person is sharing with you.

I can still remember she opened the door, pajamas, “come in.” That’s it! That’s how I shaped that story.

How do you combine still photography and video to create a compelling narrative?

I’m going to quote MediaStorm here. You know how to do it. You know video is good for motion and you know stills are good for moments. And you know at the same time that you’re just one person. And if you want to do a real good job you have to focus on one or the other.

It’s a constant battle. I know what I need is going to happen there and I’m always going to be carrying my camera, super light, I’ll be ready at 2.8. I don’t care about situation, I’ll just change the ISO. Go in and you can always have a small recorder on hand if you want to record something small.

You choose your battles. I’m going to go all-in with the video camera, I’m going to be a very ninja-tactical person with my photo camera and I’m going to pull it out whenever I need. You start balancing it. One of the best things that I could have done is put a camera strap on my video camera so I can have video camera on my right shoulder, still camera on my left shoulder, so whenever something happens I can shoot.

You attended our 2009 Advanced Multimedia Workshop and helped produce the piece “Hold Out.” What were the biggest takeaway points from that workshop for you?

It’s just teamwork, that’s it. Teamwork. You know you can do it all. I know I’m not a great photographer, I’m not a great videographer, I’m not a great designer or anything. But I can put a story together well. And I know I could have done that story, but not at that angle at all. I had a kick-ass photographer, I had a kick-ass reporter. We had the people, which is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter how expensive your gear is, it’s just about the team.

What motivates you to teach journalism and multimedia classes?

It’s something you love, you know? You want to share it. You want people to experience that. I want my students to experience the sensation I had when Cynthia opened that door wearing her pajamas. I want them to know that. I want them to open their eyes to the rest of the world. So teaching is just that. It’s like stepping point for them to open their eyes.

For students that are just getting into multimedia work, what is a consistent bad habit that is important to get past?

Technically: Use a frickin tripod for shooting. Also on the technical side, use a microphone.

Don’t get stuck on the technical either. Don’t forget, it’s not your story, it’s their story, and you’re just helping them tell that story. You can plan your shoots which will help you on the field if you’re not very comfortable, you can plan your questions which will help you a ton during the interview, but just don’t be like a horse race. You need to be looking around you. It’s not just about the technical, it’s not just about the questions, it’s about what’s the best way to tell this story.

What about bad habits on the storytelling side?

Your audience is going to be sitting in front of the computer having their meal, and your story is their meal. You need to sharpen those knives. Out of that big fat greasy piece of meat you need to make fillet. And that’s what you’re going to feed your audience, you’re going to feed them fillet. Take out all the stuff that is not necessary to tell that story in just a couple of minutes.

What issues do you see in the professional community?

We just get too structured. We keep pushing the same thing over and over. And that’s great because we know it works. But you need to be a tourist in your own town. We’re loosing that surprise or amaze factor. Lazy, that’s the worst problem. I don’t care regardless of age, if you get lazy, you’re done.

Do you think the solution is inspiration? Is energy the issue?

I don’t know if it’s an energy issue or not. I don’t know what the problem is, it’s just… you get stuck. You’re doing the same thing over and over again. And the minute you let something turn into a routine it’s something you do not enjoy.

I will buy little pieces of gear. I bought a suction cup, just for one little piece, “Roping the Wind.” In the jeep scene I put a suction cup on the tripod head. Those are little things that are going to make your story advance a little bit. You’ll feel like a kid again. And that’s key. I’m a big gadget fan, so for me it’s little things like a new wide angle lens, or this microphone, or this suction cup. That keeps me motivated when I shoot a new story.

Anything else?

Whenever you find that little thing, that little thing you love you just go balls to the wall for it. And that’s what multimedia is, you’re just telling their story, you’re touching peoples hearts. Whenever you’re showing someone a story you did and you see emotion in their face, that’s it. If you see a smile, if you see a tear, if you see someone sad, that’s it. That story fulfilled something.

Nacho’s Website: http://nachocorbella.com/

July 07 2011


MediaStorm Interview: Lucy Nicholson

Lucy shooting One Man Brand

Lucy Nicholson is a senior staff photographer with Reuters. She was born in London and is based in Los Angeles, having worked as a photographer in Mexico City, Chile, and Northern Ireland.

You attended our Advanced Multimedia Workshop in 2008 and produced “One Man Brand.” How has that workshop influenced your work since?
I think MediaStorm creates some of the best multimedia out there, so just picking up their way of doing things was valuable. There’s no one correct way to mix audio, stills and video for the web, so it was good to have people who really knew what they were doing give me a formula to start with. The course gave me a lot of confidence, and set a standard for me to emulate. I learn more every time I produce a multimedia project. 

Your piece “Homegirl cafe” was a 2011 Webby Awards honoree. How did you find the story?
I initially shot a photo essay on Homegirl Cafe at the request of our magazine desk. While I was there, I met Stephanie, and became interested in telling her story. I made some trips back on my own time to talk to her, and win her trust, and then shot the video interview and boxing footage. The piece was also nominated for multimedia at the Reuters internal annual journalist awards, which I hope will enable me to produce more projects.

What were the key things you were keeping in mind while you were producing the piece?
Telling a concise story from a long, sometimes rambling interview. Telling Stephanie’s story with compassion, and honestly portraying the fragile place in her life that she’s at – she could continue going straight, or fall back into the life she led before.

When you’re producing your multimedia stories, do you typically work as a one-man-band or in a team? Do you do all of your own shooting and editing?

I shot and edited on my own:
– Homegirl Cafe
– Beijing Olympics 2008. I shot video interviews and behind-the-scenes still photo sequences (you’re not allowed to shoot video footage at the Olympics if you’re not a rights holder), and put these together with Reuters photos from all the photographers at the Olympics.
– Superbowl XLII

– I contributed a video and photo story about evictions to Reuters’ Times of Crisis multimedia package, along with other Reuters photographers. The project was produced by Ayperi Ecer, VP, Pictures & Jassim Ahmad, Global Head of Multimedia & Interactive Innovation at Reuters, and Bob Sacha & Brian Storm at MediaStorm. Jassim, Bob and I made “One Man Brand” together at the MediaStorm workshop.
Times of Crisis was nominated for an Emmy, and won Pictures of the Year International Documentary Project of the Year and NPPA multimedia package 1st place.
– I shot video and stills about an Afghanistan women’s shelter for a multimedia package put together by online editor Jill Kitchener
– I shot and edited Route to Recovery as part of a larger Reuters multimedia story (http://www.reuters.com/routetorecovery)
– I shot video for a Reuters Insider TV piece, produced by Laura Beatty for business visitors to LA

Any tips or tricks you’ve found that help you when you’re working on deadline?
Most of the multimedia I’ve produced hasn’t been for a specific deadline. The lesson I need to learn once and for all is how much easier it is to get good, clean sound in the field, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time fixing it when I’m editing. 

I’m usually pretty frustrated with myself when I listen to my interviews, and think of all the questions I should have been prompted to ask! I’m improving though, as I feel more comfortable with the process and the equipment.

Do you have plans for another multimedia piece?
I really love producing multimedia, and hope I can do a lot more of it. I learn so much every time I have the chance to work on another piece, and I’m constantly on the lookout for stories that have multimedia potential. 

I’ve set myself a personal goal to produce at least one a year (in between my busy day-to-day work!), and I’ve managed to do this every year since 2008. I feel lucky that my boss, Gary Hershorn, Reuters News Pictures Editor-North America, has been very supportive of this, and understands the value of more in-depth productions.

I try to start with photo essays and always take my audio recorder to interview people and record snatches of ambient sound. Often I’ll write text stories from these interviews for the Reuters Photographers Blog, and sometimes for the wire. Reuters has its own television and text departments, and those guys often accompany me on stories. So sometimes the multimedia is an online package of separate components produced by Corinne Perkins and the online desk, rather than a whole piece I produce myself.

You can find Lucy at:

Related Links:

Tags: Interviews

June 13 2011


Tune up your skills this summer


Tune up your skills this summer

May 28 2011


Japan's new normal (industry view): how March 11 has changed consumption patterns

CScout | Antenna Japan :: On March 11th, Japan was struck by one of the largest natural disasters to ever hit an industrialized country. CScout: "As a result, consumer behavior of frugality and self restraint, already evident before the disaster, has been amplified".

CScout and Antenna Japan consult companies on how to address changing consumption patterns. They conducted field interviews recently to understand how brands can adapt and innovate out of disaster. The CScout | Antenna Japan video on YouTube below is a sample of the 100 consumer interviews conducted for the full Japan's New Normal report.

Core question of the video: What's Japan's new normal? How can brands adapt and innovate after March 11?

[Woman in the video interview:] I didn't use to care about getting wet in the rain, but nowadays (with the radioactivity) it's a little different

CScout, monitors consumer trends worlwide. The company has offices in Tokyo, New York City, São Paulo, and Mexico City,
Antenna Japan is a team of research professionals who are passionate about capturing category and consumer insights in Japan.

Watch the video here cscout channel, www.youtube.com

"How can brands innovate out of disaster in Japan?" by Michael Keerl, CScout, www.japantrends.com

Corporate site antenna-japan.com

May 24 2011


The Future of Nonprofits: An Interview with David J. Neff

David J. Neff  is a long-time innovator, blogger, and nonprofit founder. He recently co-authored the book, The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age, with Randal C. Moss. It is aimed at nonprofit employees at all levels who are interested in learning how innovation, internal entrepreneurship, fundraising and social media communications are going impact nonprofits in the next five years.

I touched base with Dave to find out more about his tactics and techniques for successful nonprofit management. Take a look at the interview below to learn more about Dave, and grow your understanding of leveraging technological innovations to run successful programs.

Learn more about David J. Neff in the interview below!


Q. How did you get started with nonprofit management and what drove you to write a book about it?

Randal and I had been at management positions at the American Cancer Society for several years and really saw what positive things can happen when you have the correct awareness, structure and staffing in an organization. We also were prominent members of the American Cancer Society Future and Innovation center and helped ACS predict future trends. These things combined made us want to share our experience with the nonprofit community. And the best way we could figure that out was through this book.

Q. What are some of the main themes in the book?

One of my favorite themes of the book is that nonprofits constantly hire people in their 20s and 30s who have amazing ideas, and then say no to all their great ideas. And then are amazed when they quit in frustration just months later. Nonprofits have to have a way to take in, evaluate and fund good ideas from their staff and volunteers. We have an entire two chapters dedicated
to these two ideas!

Q. What do you think are some of the characteristics of nonprofits and individuals that are strong innovators?

It’s simple. They are risk takers and their nonprofits take the time to reward them for that behavior. Nonprofits are way too risk aversive. We all understand that it’s other people’s money but the same thing holds for IBM or DELL. However in that case it’s the stockholders money. The modern nonprofit donor wants to know where the ROI is?

So can you answer them?

Q. I hear there is a graphic novel element to the book! Tell me more!

Yes we produced a graphic novel to help promote the book. Our “comic book” was done and drawn by the amazing Chris Bomley who writes about drawing it and working with us at this link. As far as I know it’s the first ever nonprofit comic book produced. It’s been an amazing marketing piece for us and tells a good story about our book.

Q. What have you learned from writing The Future of Nonprofits?

Wow. That’s a hard one. My favorite part was conducting all the amazing interviews of my peers that I got to do while writing the book. I learned so much about what peers were up to that you just don’t read on their blogs. It really re-awakened my love of journalism and news and I think you really see that in the book with the case studies and hard hitting questions we ask.

Q. How can people get their hands on The Future of Nonprofits and follow your other work?

You bet. You can buy the book at your local book store or through Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Nobles and Google Book and at our site www.thefutureofnonprofits.com

You can also grab the Nook and Kindle version as well. If you want to book us to speak to your group
simply hit us up at our Website or on our Facebook fan page.



Thanks so much to Dave for sharing his story with us!

May 10 2011


Getting Started Using Social Media for Social Good: An Interview with Ryan Crowe

Nobody starts out an expert. Learn one man's journey getting started using social media for social good.

I met Ryan Crowe a few months ago when he contacted me about some community-building plans he was creating at the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation. He was unsure of his path and needed some help from someone who had been through it before. We've all been there.

Ryan and I agreed to share his story with the NetSquared Community so that others can learn from his experiences of getting started in a new field. With a bit of sheer will and determination, Ryan is moving from novice to expert and is sharing his learnings along the way! 

Learn more about Dr. David Ryan Crowe in the interview below!


Q. What drives your passion for using social media for social good?

This question I think would be best answered in two parts – “why a passion for social good?” and “why social media?” I think the passion to act in the name of social good appeared when I was younger. I have no explanation for this. If I were to try and pinpoint my first acknowledgement of someone else doing social good, and therefore my awareness of that capability – I would have to say Superman comic books. We have this… alien, this Kryptonian that has fallen into an environment that endows him with god-like powers and instead of enslaving humanity, he protected humanity. That had a profound effect on me as a child, and the idea still resonates deeply within me today. Is that the real reason for my passion? I’m not sure. It could be some psychological disposition or some altruistic gene that I inherited – possibly, but then I don’t get to talk about Superman.

So, then the question becomes “why social media”? I think the social media aspect just happens to be what I’m best at in terms of being able to help people. If I were a talented carpenter: I’m sure I’d help build houses with some organization that builds houses for people in need. If I were a skilled physician, I might do Doctors Without Borders. Social media is like a Swiss army knife, useful in so many aspects for social good: fundraising, awareness raising, a public forum for the discussion of ideas etc. The passion to continue using social media comes from the desire to innovate in the name of social good.

Q. How did you get interested in using social media in a professional sense?

Having grown up prior to the first manifestations of social media I was able to take part in the beginnings. Around the age of 22 (2-3 years ago) I started teaching myself the business aspect of social media, I saw it as a sort of game. I have no strategic marketing or business related background (I’m a Russian and Slavonic Studies graduate student at Missouri) so I was able to form my own thoughts and philosophies about how to use social media for business. I decided in December that I was ready to become a Social Media Manager and started figuring out the best way to get that job. In March, I was hired as a Social Media Manager with KimberMedia in Columbia, Missouri.


Q. How did you get started and how are you currently involved with the social media for good community?

Despite my seemingly effortless ascension into the ranks of Social Media Management – I started out by sending out letters to different Digital Marketing firms and begging for them to let me do an externship. I wasn’t getting the best responses from people – “Why should we waste time and resources on an out of state intern when there are plenty of people in state who would kill to work here?” I started searching out NPOs and got a request to develop a social media strategy for a bone marrow fundraising and awareness organization called AAMDS.org. They not only wanted me to develop a social media strategy, but also wanted me to develop a nationwide campaign that would spur their network’s college-age demographic to volunteer. I wrote up the social media strategy and the outline for the volunteer campaign and sent it to them. While I was doing this, I got the job with KimberMedia (using this same strategy as the entirety of my portfolio) and ended up sending AAMDS my final strategy for them to implement as they see fit. 

I currently have started to develop and implement a concept for a blog series highlighting charitable causes in the Columbia community. We were recently able to help raise awareness for The Purple Dress Project run by Ashley Hasty – a group that supports those afflicted with Crohn’s disease.


Q. What were your biggest challenges when getting started? And how did you manage them?

It was hard to know where to start – there is so much information about social media out there – and there are no standard set of best practices to follow yet… the industry is so new. It took me two years before I thought I was ready to start doing it professionally… that’s probably not advisable for anyone – I was also doing school and two other jobs.

I was not afraid to reach out to people and I started following those people who I thought were successful with their online presence – so I followed you, Claire, Beth Kanter (@kanter), and Danielle Brigida (@starfocus) and contacted you guys and asked for advice.

Convincing someone to trust someone with no experience and no degree in a related field wasn’t easy either. 


Q. What is your advice for others that are interested in getting started using social media for social good?


  • You just can’t let yourself become overwhelmed.
  • Find something you’re passionate about, a main focal point and start learning about it… that will provide you with a reference point and will also lead you to learn about other resources. 
  • Talk to people in the industry; ask their advice! 
  • Find a blog to follow, engage with a community! 
  • Ask how you can help. 
  • There is no social action that is too small. 
  • Don’t take on too much at once. 
  • Don’t pick up a hammer for the first time and try to build a house, learn how to drive a nail. 

Q. How can people follow you and get in touch?



Thanks so much to Ryan Crowe for sharing his story with us!

April 20 2011


Collaborative Technologies for Social Impact: How Survivors Connect leverages the web and you can, too!

Originally posted on my blog at AmySampleWard.org - join the conversation and comment on the original post, too!


Aashika Damodar & collaborative technology for social impact

Every day I field questions from organizations and community groups looking to use facebook, Twitter or YouTube.. Most all of these groups are excited and enthusiastic but are coming from the wrong direction: focusing on the tools first. Our programs, services, and campaigns are successful, instead, when we focus on the community first, and that’s why Aashika Damodar’s work impresses and inspires me.

Survivors Connect is an organization supporting activists and building survivor advocacy networks using collaborative technologies to end modern-day slavery and human trafficking. Aashika, the founder and executive director, starting learning about and looking for ways to support the community of survivors when she was studying Anthropology and Political Science at University of California, Berkeley: “When I was in college, I learned of a labor/sex trafficking case right across from my dorm. I myself was also almost a human trafficking victim for the purpose of forced marriage in India. By that point, the issue of gender-based violence and trafficking had crept into so many facets of my life, prompting me to make it my life’s work to end it.”

Building programs and services to support a community means not just learning about the problems they face, but understanding how technologies can help make a difference. Aashika admits to being “a big tech-enthusiast by hobby” and she “found that the anti-slavery movement was lacking in terms of participation in this field, as well as innovation.” According to Aashika, “It is these very same technologies that often enable transnational human trafficking; so I felt that I needed to get involved in this way to make our activism smarter, and innovate on both the "process" and "product/software" frontlines.”

The Survivors Connect online platform includes various opportunities for those wishing to report abuse, take action, or otherwise support the network of activists, and relies on a variety of collaborative technologies, from data mapping to online seminars, SMS-powered communications to an online community network. Different regions around the global have a very different level of access than those in North America or Western Europe. Recognizing which tools are available to your community can make the biggest impact on your project’s success.

“It has always been quite interesting to me that in many parts of the developing world, there is near ubiquitous ownership of mobile phones,” explained Aashika. “Here is really where the innovative thinking began. Communication tech, in a sense, is shrinking us as groups while increasing our ability to connect. Why not use this to work on preventing some of the most egregious human rights abuses in the world?”

Taking advantage of mobile technology, Survivors Connect created SMS: Freedom which connects individuals and communities with experts and resources via text messages. In this way, information about scams or risks can easily be distributed to communities, or reports can be shared throughout the network.

“The experiences and stories of survivors were and always are my call to action,” Aashika told me. “They are the strongest souls Ive ever met. Survivors of various forms of slavery give us a glimpse of how the broader crime of human trafficking works, and just how much is involved.” And it isn’t just Aashika that survivors are inspiring; through Freedom Connect all members of the global network fighting slavery and human trafficking are invited to create profiles, share calendars, create groups, share resources and join together in discussions.

Most importantly to the success of Aashika’s work, is her ability to remember that it is not about the tools. Survivors Connect is not just an online platform and network working to end modern-day slavery and human trafficking, but a place to continue to learn and inspire—the technology is simply a tool for letting us connect and communicate. “We will not win the fight against slavery and human trafficking with egos, but with open and understanding hearts and minds.”

>> Learn more about Aashika and Survivors Connect today: http://www.survivorsconnect.org

In 2008, Aashika graduated from the University of California, Berkeley; she is now working on her Masters in Philosophy in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge, UK where she’s a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. Her honors thesis from UCBerkeley won the Ronald Frankenberg Prize and the Sylvia Forman Prize from the American Anthropological Association; it was also published in the 2010 Project Censored Journal.

How you can create an online collaboration space!

Working people and communities around the world can make sharing information and even just communicating a difficult task. Like Survivors Connect, maybe you want to share the stories and work from your community. There are various tools available, though, that make public networks or even private collaboration easy and efficient.

Top Tools for Collaboration

What do you want to do together? The tool to try: Just communicate by email, privately Google Groups is a free tool to create an email group that is private or public Share stories and updates, sometimes photos or videos, publicly Wordpress is an open source blogging platform that lets you have any number of authors Create an online network with options for profiles, diverse content, and multiple communication options Ning allows you to build your own public or private online network with various pricing options

Tips for Collaboration Online

If you want to replicate some of Aashika’s success bringing people together online, here are the top 5 tips you need to keep in mind:

  • Evaluate your Community: where are they, what kind of access do they have, and what are they looking to do?
  • Evaluate your Capacity: how much time do you have, what kind of technical experience do you have, what resources are available?
  • Evaluate your Goals: what do you and the community want to accomplish, what do you want to do today and what do you want to do in a year?
  • Try Something First: don’t be afraid to jump in and give a new tool a try; if it doesn’t fit your needs, then move on!
  • Build on Success: if something is really working, analyze what it is and why to see if

January 10 2011


FACT Featured Project Interview: Narcisse Mbunzama Lokwa from Mydoctor

In October, we announced the 15 Featured Projects for the FACT Social Justice Challenge and we are thrilled at the caliber and impact of all the Projects. As such, we want to give you a closer look at these collaborative technology Projects and the people behind them. We've already featured each of the Challenge Winners, and we continue the series by interviewing the Featured Projects. To see all of the FACT Challenge interviews, follow the fact interviews tag

In this post, we're featuring Narcisse Mbunzama Lokwa from the Mydoctor Project. The Mydoctor project is a health social network and mobile phone application designed to connect healthcare workers and patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The tool supports health treatment recommendations, promotes family planning, increases the health and wealth of the population, spreads real-time alerts, and collects medical patient data, all in conflict-affected areas of the DRC.

Learn more about the Mydoctor Project in the interview below!

Q. What was the inspiration for your Project?

Mydoctor project will connect patients and doctors through mobile application in developing countries.  I hope that Mydoctor will be an important tool for health issues in poor countries and will contribute to ameliorate the health of people living with 1 dollar by day.

Q. What else are you working on right now? 

We are developing considerable projects on the use of new technologies for health issues.

Q. Where do you see your Project in 5 years? 

In next 5 years, the project Mydoctor will be expanded in considerable developing countries, and will become a support for health issues in Africa.

Q. What help do you need to to get your Project off the ground?

We need to have a developers in our team and funds.

Q. How can people best follow your progress and/or get involved? 

They can contact us at: infogroupe@yahoo.fr

Our website will be available soon.

December 21 2010


2010 Year in Review: Interviews to Inspire

http://www.flickr.com/photos/brtsergio/1275188911/in/photostream/As the year comes to a close, we're reminded to reflect back on some of the highlights from the last 12 months. This is the third of four year in review posts I'll be sharing to highlight some of the exciting moments for NetSquared and our global community in 2010.

In this post, I'm taking a look back at all of the Interviews from 2010. I hope these amazing people bring you some inspiration for the new year!

read more

December 17 2010


2010 Year in Review: Think Tanks to Keep You Thinking

As the year comes to a close, we're reminded to reflect back on some of the highlights from the last 12 months. This is the second of four year in review posts I'll be sharing to highlight some of the exciting moments for NetSquared and our global community in 2010. In this post, I'm taking a look back at all of the Net2 Think Tanks from 2010.

read more

November 29 2010


Interview With A FACT Challenge Winner: Tobias Eigen from Kabissa Connections

We recently announced the 5 Winners for the FACT Social Justice Challenge and we are thrilled at the caliber and impact of all the Projects. As such, we want to give you a closer look at these collaborative technology Projects and the people behind them. Each Monday in the month of November, we posted an interview from one of the Winning Projects using the fact interviews tag.

read more

November 22 2010


Interview With A FACT Challenge Winner: Tambe Hary Agbor From AMIS-CAMEROON

We recently announced the 5 Winners for the FACT Social Justice Challenge and we are thrilled at the caliber and impact of all the Projects. As such, we want to give you a closer look at these collaborative technology Projects and the people behind them. Each Monday in the month of November, we'll be posting an interview from one of the Winning Projects using the fact interviews tag - we hope you'll follow along!

read more

November 15 2010


Interview with a FACT Challenge Winner: Macheru Karuku from the E-Peace Building Project

We recently announced the 5 Winners for the FACT Social Justice Challenge and we are thrilled at the caliber and impact of all the Projects. As such, we want to give you a closer look at these collaborative technology Projects and the people behind them. Each Monday in the month of November, we'll be posting an interview from one of the Winning Projects using the fact interviews tag - we hope you'll follow along!

read more

November 08 2010


Interview with a FACT Challenge Winner: Lady Ann Salem from Citizen Patrol

We recently announced the 5 Winners for the FACT Social Justice Challenge and we are thrilled at the caliber and impact of all the Projects. As such, we want to give you a closer look at these collaborative technology Projects and the people behind them. Each Monday in the month of November, we'll be posting an interview from one of the Winning Projects using the fact interviews tag - we hope you'll follow along!

read more

November 05 2010


A “Spark” of Inspiration for the Extraordinaries

Jacob Colker, Co-Founder and CEO of SparkedSparked is a brand new online micro-volunteering network where people can use their professional skills to solve nonprofit challenges. Sound familiar? That’s probably because you’ve already heard about the Extraordinaries. In 2009, the Extraordinaries, the team’s original micro-volunteering platform, was awarded a winning place in the NetSquared N2Y4 Mobile Challenge and has since seen massive growth and widespread publicity.

read more

November 01 2010


Interview with a FACT Challenge Winner: Cory Glazier from wikiSCHAP

We recently announced the 5 Winners for the FACT Social Justice Challenge and we are thrilled at the caliber and impact of all the Projects. As such, we want to give you a closer look at these collaborative technology Projects and the people behind them. Over the next 5 weeks, we'll be posting interviews from all the Winning Projects using the fact interviews tag, and we hope you'll follow along!

read more

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