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February 03 2012

15:26

Daily Must Reads, Feb. 3, 2012

The best stories across the web on media and technology, curated by Lily Leung.

1. Netflix and WaPo bought a combined $8M in Facebook ads last year, IPO says (All Facebook)



2. Analysis: A sobering look at Facebook (Reuters)



3. How the Huffington Post became a new-media behemoth (GigaOM)



4. News Corp. names Bloomberg exec as Dow Jones CEO (The Wrap Media)



5. Tumblr has hired its first executive editor (Reuters)



6. New York Times to expand health blog (paidContent)



7. Google can't weigh in on 'used' digital music case (Online Media Daily)



8. Google convicted in France for offering free maps (paidContent)




Subscribe to our daily Must Reads email newsletter and get the links in your in-box every weekday!



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This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

January 23 2012

10:15

Tumblr blows past 15b pageviews and more than 100m uniques per month

Business Insider :: The latest social-media phenomenon, Tumblr, continues to post astounding traffic metrics. Founder and CEO David Karp spoke at the DLD12 conference in Munich, where he reiterated some of the company's recent milestones: 100+ million uniques, and 15+ billion pageviews per month.

Continue to read Henry Blodget, www.businessinsider.com

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20:51

January 08 2012

19:32

Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook & Co.: How long did it take startups to reach one million users?

1,000,000 milestone, list of companies/products covered: Kickstarter, Airbnb, Tumblr, One King's Lane, Gilt Group, Foursquare, Facebook, Dropbox, Fab, Spotify, Instagram, Path, Oink, Pinterest, Twitter. 

Business Insider :: It took Path's first version one year to reach 1,000,000 downloads. Now, less than two months after its relaunch, the app has been downloaded 2,000,000 times. Fab's first iteration was a failure, but since its relaunch in April it reached 1 million users no sweat. We looked at today's hottest startups and found when they crossed the 1,000,000 user or download milestone. We also through in a few big tech companies like Facebook and Twitter for the sake of comparison.

Continue to read Alyson Shontell, www.businessinsider.com

January 07 2012

21:02

Tumblr is launching its own journalism operation

Gawker :: If history is any guide, tech companies should absolutely not try and become media companies. But the 25-year-old CEO of precious New York blog platform Tumblr has the fearlessness of youth. Which is why he's recruiting his own writer and editor types. "There's now an editorial team forming that will help promote stories people write and share on Tumblr too," writes Business Insider, paraphrasing Tumblr CEO David Karp. "[Karp] proudly shared that 30 of Tumblr's blogs have turned into book deals."

Continue to read Ryan Tate, gawker.com

Tags: Tumblr

December 28 2011

15:05

comScore - "It’s a Social World": social networks reach 82% of the world's Internet population

comScore :: Social networking is the most popular online activity worldwide: Social networking accounted for nearly 1 in every 5 minutes spent online globally in October 2011, ranking as the most engaging online activity worldwide. Social networking sites now reach 82% of the world’s Internet population age 15 and older that accessed the Internet from a home or work computer, representing 1.2 billion users around the globe.

The importance of Facebook cannot be overstated: In October, Facebook reached more than half (55%) of the world’s global audience and accounted for 1 in every 7 minutes spent online around the world and 3 in every 4 social networking minutes.

Microblogging has emerged as a disruptive new force in social networking: In recent years, microblogging has taken hold as a popular social networking activity on a global scale. In October, Twitter reached 1 in 10 Internet users worldwide, growing 59% in the past year. Other popular microblogging destinations seeing rapid adoption include Chinese site Sina Weibo, with its audience growing 181% in the past year to rank as the tenth largest social network in October. Tumblr, which ranked twelfth worldwide in audience size, grew 172% in the past year.

Continue to read www.comscore.com

December 21 2011

18:09

SOPA - trying to "melt the Congress’s phone system" with 400,000 calls

Forbes :: The politicians behind the SOPA have received four times as much campaign money from the entertainment industry as from the Internet industry, notes Maplight. The Internet industry is similarly outstripped when it comes to lobbying dollars.

So instead, the Internet approach has been to try to rile up public opposition to the bill. Tumblr came up with the most innovative method - it put a link on its homepage to “stop the law that will censor the Internet.” Those who clicked could enter their phone number to get a recorded call from Tumblr CEO David Karp about the bill, and then be connected with their congressperson to voice their opposition. On the first day, this generated 87,000 calls. When other organizations joined in –expressing a desire to “melt Congress’s phone system” - the number of calls pouring into congressional offices reached 400,000.

Continue to read Kashmir Hill, www.forbes.com

December 19 2011

15:20

What I Want for Christmas: A Frictionless Blogging Platform

For those who don't know -- the Carnival of Journalism is something I restarted in January (coming up on a year!) where a bunch of journalism-bloggers get together and write about the same topic once a month. The question is posed by the host -- who rotates.

santas.jpg

This month's host is the Guardian's developer blog, and they ask:

If you are a journalist, what would be the best present from programmers and developers that Santa Claus could leave under your Christmas tree? And, correspondingly, if you are a programmer or developer, what would be the best present from journalism that Father Christmas could deliver down your chimney?

If I had to answer the question succinctly: I want a frictionless blogging platform. Not Tumblr or Posterous (although they've done an awesome job). I think there is a way to make something even simpler -- a platform where I can save something to Delicious and create the formatting once so that from henceforth all Delicious links will be posted on my blog the way I want. (ITTF does an OK job, but it's not perfect).

I go through various phases with my personal blog. When I first started in 2005, it was called "Adventures in Freelancing," and it was about just that -- the various stories I was working on or published or other stories I was reading and found interesting.

Since Spot.Us started, my blogging has laxed (at best). I use it for occasional big thoughts or announcements. Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Google+, etc., take up a much larger space of my "online productivity" and to be honest -- I wish there were ways to streamline my efforts.

Of course, there is IFTT.com -- which is what I'm using to repost this Google+ update to my personal blog. And from my blog, it will then automatically be tweeted. So that's a start.

But there are things lost in the translation from Google+ to my personal blog and back out to Twitter.

In a strange way, I still think what I'm looking for is FriendFeed. What a brilliant site that was. Too bad they were bought (talent-scouted) by Facebook.

So I want a platform where I can post something on Google+, and format it once and forever, and my Google+ public posts will appear on my blog the way I want.

That's my holiday gift ask.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Steve Rhodes.

A version of this post first appeared here.

07:37

Magazine editing: managing information overload

In the second of three extracts from the 3rd edition of Magazine Editing, published by Routledge, I talk about dealing with the large amount of information that magazine editors receive. 

Managing information overload

A magazine editor now has little problem finding information on a range of topics. It is likely that you will have subscribed to email newsletters, RSS feeds, Facebook groups and pages, YouTube channels and various other sources of news and information both in your field and on journalistic or management topics.

There tend to be two fears driving journalists’ information consumption: the fear that you will miss out on something because you’re not following the right sources; and the fear that you’ll miss out on something because you’re following too many sources. This leads to two broad approaches: people who follow everything of any interest (‘follow, then filter’); and people who are very strict about the number of sources of information they follow (‘filter, then follow’).

A good analogy to use here is of streams versus ponds. A pond is manageable, but predictable. A stream is different every time you step in it, but you can miss things.

As an editor you are in the business of variety: you need to be exposed to a range of different pieces of information, and cannot afford to be caught out. A good strategy for managing your information feeds then, is to follow a wide variety of sources, but to add filters to ensure you don’t miss all the best stuff.

If you are using an RSS reader one way to do this is to have specific folders for your ‘must-read’ feeds. Andrew Dubber, a music industries academic and author of the New Music Strategies blog, recommends choosing 10 subjects in your area, and choosing five ‘must-read’ feeds for each, for example.

For email newsletters and other email updates you can adopt a similar strategy: must-reads go into your Inbox; others are filtered into subfolders to be read if you have time.

To create a folder in Google Reader, add a new feed (or select an existing one) and under the heading click on Feed Settings… – then scroll to the bottom and click on New Folder… – this will also add the feed to that folder.

If you are following hundreds or thousands of people on Twitter, use Twitter lists to split them into manageable channels: ‘People I know’; ‘journalism’; ‘industry’; and so on. To add someone to a list on Twitter, visit their profile page and click on the list button, which will be around the same area as the ‘Follow’ button.

You can also use websites such as Paper.li to send you a daily email ‘newspaper’ of the most popular links shared by a particular list of friends every day, so you don’t miss out on the most interesting stories.

Social bookmarking: creating an archive and publishing at the same time

Social bookmarking tools like Delicious, Digg and Diigo can also be useful in managing web-based resources that you don’t have time to read or think might come in useful later. Bookmarking them essentially ‘files’ each webpage so you can access them quickly when you need them (you do this by giving each page a series of relevant tags, e.g. ‘dieting’, ‘research’, ‘UK’, ‘Jane Jones’).

They also include a raft of other useful features, such as RSS feeds (allowing you to automatically publish selected items to a website, blog, or Twitter or Facebook account), and the ability to see who else has bookmarked the same pages (and what else they have bookmarked, which is likely to be relevant to your interests).

Check the site’s Help or FAQ pages to find out how to use them effectively. Typically this will involve adding a button to your browser’s Links bar (under the web address box) by dragging a link (called ‘Bookmark on Delicious’ or similar) from the relevant page of the site (look for ‘bookmarklets’).

Then, whenever you come across a page you want to bookmark, click on that button. A new window will appear with the name and address of the webpage, and space for you to add comments (a typical tactic is to paste a key quote from the page here), and tags.

Useful things to add as tags include anything that will help you find this later, such as any organisations, locations or people that are mentioned, the author or publisher, and what sort of information is included, such as ‘report’, ‘statistics’, ‘research’, ‘casestudy’ and so on.

If installing a button on your browser is too complicated or impractical many of these services also allow you to bookmark a page by sending the URL to a specific email address. Alternatively, you can just copy the URL and log on to the bookmarking site to bookmark it.

Some bookmarking services double up as blogging sites: Tumblr and Stumbleupon are just two. The process is the same as described above, but these services are more intuitively connected with other services such as Twitter and Facebook, so that bookmarked pages are also automatically published on those services too. With one click your research not only forms a useful archive but also becomes an act of publishing and distribution.

Every so often you might want to have a clear out: try diverting mailings and feeds to a folder for a week without looking at them. After seven days, ask which ones, if any, you have missed. You might benefit from unsubscribing and cutting down some information clutter. In general, it may be useful to have background information, but it all occupies your time. Treat such things as you would anything sent to you on paper. If you need it, and it is likely to be difficult to find again, file it or bookmark it. If not, bin it. After a while, you’ll find it gets easier.

Do you have any other techniques for dealing with information overload?

 

September 02 2011

19:37

Paid coverage - Tumblr's "indecent 100,000 USD proposal" to fashion brands

Finding a valid business model, which is accepted by the market might be tricky. Sometimes you get a whole industry upset, or as Ben Popper writes, erupting at - in this case - Tumblr and its Fashion Director Rich Tong

BetaBeat :: Earlier this year Tumblr was the toast of fashion week. The brands and designers got their shows covered by influential Tumblr users on a hip social network that drove a ton of traffic and engagement. It was a win-win. Things are playing out a little differently this time. It started with the proposal Tumblr's Fashion Director Rich Tong circulated to fashion brands and agencies asking for $100,000 to have 4 of Tumblr's "select bloggers" produce 15 posts for the brand's Tumblr during the week, with the “exact nature of the content to be agreed upon prior to the start of the week.

Continue to read Ben Popper www.betabeat.com

July 20 2011

17:00

Yahoo News examines joblessness in Down But Not Out Tumblr

There’s a certain sad predictability that comes with trying to cover a long-running story — especially one that touches on areas of government and policy. It’s predictable in that there’s a set of knowledge, stats and “B copy” that has to be laid to bare and can get repetitive. It’s sad almost because of that predictability, which can drown out other parts of a story.

Consider the heft it takes to write about unemployment in the U.S., a story that usually gets reduced each month to a single number. Currently that number is 9.2 percent, and that makes it one of the biggest ongoing stories in the U.S. But covering it can be tricky without treading into predictability or reducing personal stories into soundbites.

The Lookout at Yahoo News decided to try and tack in a different direction: On June 27, they put out a call to readers to share stories on long-term unemployment. Call-outs are nothing new in journalism, but The Lookout was specifically looking for full personal stories, not just modular information that could be used to fill out copy. The result was unexpected: More than 6,000 responses through comments and email, so much that they went beyond a one-off story on long-term unemployment and created Down But Not Out a Tumblr devoted to the personal narratives of the long-term unemployed.

“I felt like people had become inured to seeing those numbers constantly,” said Zachary Roth, senior national affairs reporter for The Lookout. “Almost like the jobs crisis has gone on for so long that people have lost interest.”

Roth decided to try and look deeper, starting with the fact that out of the 14 million Americans out of work, more than 6 million have been jobless for half a year or longer. So Roth laid out his appeal, citing not only the latest unemployment stats but also surveys looking at the connection between the amount of time it takes to find a job and how long you’ve been without work. More importantly, Roth said, he asked readers for a full picture of their lives now, not just the salient bullet points on being jobless.

“I’ve been writing about the economy and specifically unemployment since I started at Yahoo last year and just felt the issues of long-term unemployment has emerged in recent months as the key issue of the jobs crisis,” Roth said.

Here’s where the benefits of size and working for a company that deals with significant online traffic come into play: The post got a huge boost from prominent placement on the Yahoo homepage for a day, which may have contributed to the nearly 5,000 comments on Roth’s piece, along with around 1,000 emails.

This is a reporter’s dream/nightmare scenario: that a call-out works well enough to provide responses, but perhaps so well that it’ll take extra time just to go through them. Phoebe Connelly, a Yahoo News editor who worked with Roth on the project, and intern Galen Bernard helped sift through the entries and planned out the Tumblr, Connelly told me. She said Tumblr made the most sense for the project because it offered the ideal layout for individual stories as well as an additional means of discovery for readers. On July 14, Roth’s piece was published, featuring around 20 people who submitted their stories to The Lookout. The same day the Tumblr was launched with 58 stories. “The appeal was doing it quickly and not with a ton of manpower or tech power, and just using the editors we had to get it up,” Connelly said.

The other benefit may also have been a more immersive experience, as the posts on Tumblr aren’t encumbered with ads, buttons or a lot of links, which makes for a quieter reading experience. (Of course, the lack of ads has a monetary downside, too.) And it appears to have clicked with readers: On the day they launched Down But Not Out, the average time-on-site was around 8 minutes, Connelly said.

While lots of media outlets have experimented with Tumblr, the typical use has been as a branded alternate channel for their work. The Lookout’s approach is more specialized, giving readers’ stories a chance for a little breathing room. Which is just as well, because the stories — some short, others running several paragraphs — are alternately wrenching and raw and surprisingly optimistic and funny. And it all takes up more space than they could have afforded on The Lookout, Roth admits. “From my perspective, it was great because we got so many thousands of responses we couldn’t begin to post any of them in absolute full,” he said. It’s also afforded them the ability to keep the story alive. Connelly told me they’ve just launched a Twitter account and plan to publish three reader-submitted stories to Tumblr each week, with a story cross-posting on The Lookout every Tuesday.

July 08 2011

15:00

The Big Soup: Anthony De Rosa on becoming Reuters social media editor and the ambient wire for news

It was a surprise that wasn’t so surprising. When it was announced Anthony De Rosa would become social media editor for Reuters.com, it was hard to avoid thinking: Yeah, that makes sense.

De Rosa is to Reuters what Andy Carvin is to NPR, a relentless social media news machine. He’s everywhere, following everything and constantly updating it all on his Twitter feed and Tumblr, from Syria and Egypt to the vagaries of Anthony Weiner’s tweeting habits. He has been called “The Undisputed King of Tumblr” and one of the top 20 people to follow on Twitter. And De Rosa did it all while working as a product manager and technologist for Reuters.

Reuters is looking to lay claim to a broader audience outside its financial, business, and legal products by becoming a larger player in news in the U.S. This week they also unveiled the beta version of a newsier redesign of Reuters.com. But if Reuters is looking to meet or beat the likes of The New York Times, the Associated Press, or NPR, staking out that territory also means getting a handle on using new platforms for the sourcing, discovery, and delivery of news. “We want to make Reuters more of a mainstream name for news. It’s a big name for professionals and a big name for people looking for actionable information,” De Rosa said. “We want to continue to do that, but we want to expand out to a broad, mainstream audience as well.”

In his new job De Rosa will continue to do what he’s done, just on a broader scale with bigger stakes.

“The thing I’m most excited about is trying to add more of an element of the news that breaks on the ambient wire of Twitter and Facebook and other social networks, where you have journalists and citizen journalists putting up videos, photos, or just messages,” he told me.

Unlike many positions at news outlets, “social media editor” is still a bit undefined, combining the practicalities of integrating technology with the missionary work of convincing people of its value. That’s a task De Rosa said he’s glad to take on, showing other journalists the benefits of Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr as as means of connecting the audience to news as well as the sources behind it all. “That really starts to build a trust factor and familiarity, and once you get that you can be the arbiter, or navigator if you will, of what you need to know today,” he said.

Reuters is already a formidable news organization, one our own Ken Doctor says has the largest news staff in the world. Social media is a way of further leveraging all of that talent, De Rosa said. What he’d like to see is Reuters becoming part of that “ambient wire,” the unceasing (and often unfiltered) flow of news that takes place on social networks. That means increasing journalists usage of social media, but also finding ways of incorporating the information being produced by others, including non journalists.

“We can be curators and navigators for all the news out there, not just the stuff we’re producing but from citizens and other networks,” he said. That carves out a new kind of value to readers, De Rosa said, that relies not just on Reuters’ wealth of reporting and resources, but also on its willingness to experiment and take part in a broader community.

Consider the example De Rosa has already created: His blog Soup spans coverage of uprisings in the Middle East to U.S. politics, sports, and entertainment, all culled from the ether, curated and served up at all-too-frequent clip for a guy busy with a day job. As a result, he’s got 9,000 followers on Twitter and somewhere around 25,000 Tumblr followers. He’s been cited by NBC New York, The Today Show, The New York Times (by David Carr no less), and yes, even Jon Stewart. It’s a small-scale media enterprise, all predicated on social media monitoring, journalistic savvy, and, as De Rosa says, a natural curiosity. “I’ve worked with lots of different publications over the years. I’ve been a writer. I’m interested in sports, technology and politics. I could never see myself not producing some kind of content even though my role was more of a product role,” he said.

The lessons from his blog will also carry over to his new job, in trying to find ways to give people comprehensive and useful information, but also, well, in using Tumblr. It should be no surprise that De Rosa wants to expand the use of Tumblr and find ways for Reuters to explore the platform. The value of Tumblr, he said, is as an in-between medium, something that can offer the succinctness of Twitter, but also the rich content of Facebook. The other plus, particularly for news organizations, is the ease of use: “It’s another interesting way to present the news, a platform that kind of ties into what we’re doing on our main website but allows us to do it in a more nimble way. It allows us to publish quicker and get stories out faster.” Beyond curating content from others, Tumblr could provide a unique experience for specific types of proprietary content, like Q&As or events with video, De Rosa said. He points to examples like the Brian Stelter’s reporting on tornados in Joplin, Missouri for The New York Times, using Tumblr as a way to deliver news, connect with readers and build anticipation for stories on NYTimes.com.

For Stelter, Carvin, De Rosa, or his Reuters colleague Felix Salmon, there’s a reason they’ve built up social media followings: personality. De Rosa has a theory for this as well. As much as technical proficiency, connections, and the urgency of breaking events can help build a following, the audience ultimately wants to feel like they are connected to the news and the people delivering it. That’s a lesson for news organizations and individual journalists, not to mention something else De Rosa is familiar with.

“You need someone to be the human face, almost like an anchor on television,” he said. “I think that applies to social networks. You need someone who is an ambassador. It doesn’t have to be one person — it can be multiple people.”

June 30 2011

04:37

Village Voice - what if you go on strike but don't stop working but turn to Tumblr instead?

Beta Beat :: When media workers go on strike, they know how to get the word out. Village Voice employees are threatening a strike this week because of diminishing salaries and cuts to staff. But here’s an interesting twist! The staff is threatening to stop working for the Voice, as you’d normally expect in a strike, but they’re not going to stop working. The plan is to keep publishing–but on Tumblr, where Village Voice Media can’t sell ads against it.

The Tumblr URL? - Oh it is TheRealVoice.org.

 

The_real_voice

Continue to read Adrianne Jeffries, www.betabeat.com

June 17 2011

13:24

To the delight of the police - Vancouver rioters on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr

Gawker :: There's little anonymity left in rioting these days. Thanks to cameraphones and tagging, police will be able to identify some of the Vancouver hooligans who set fires, smashed storefronts and overturned cars in Stanley Cup related rioting.

The details - continue to read Ryan Tate, gawker.com

09:37

ChicagoTribune's redesign now with real-time ad information from Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr

Niemanlab :: ChicagoTribune.com's redesign will feature real-time ads, through a partnership with Brad Flora of NowSpots, a winner of the Knight News Challenge last year. As Bill Adee, the vice president for digital operations for Tribune Media Group describes it, the ad information could come from Facebook, Tumblr, or Flickr.

Review of the redesign, and how real-time ads work - continue to read Justin Ellis, www.niemanlab.org

June 16 2011

06:52

New York Times, HuffPo, NPR - site Tumblr takes off, with now 7 million individual blogs

NPR :: In January, the 4-year-old site had more than 7 million individual blogs. In the past six months, the number has nearly tripled. Tumblr now has about the same number of bloggers as Wordpress, a blogging site that has been around for eight years. Mark Coatney, who works at Tumblr, equates using Tumblr to a daily activity many of us know pretty well. "It's more almost like, you know, an email experience in a way," he says. "You'll dash off an email or do a tweet or something like that because it's quick and easy, so it's kind of taking that thinking and applying it to blogging."

Continue to read Johan Asante, www.npr.org

June 02 2011

19:54

MTV added Tumblr to its social (sharing) media strategy

Mashable :: MTV has just added another social media tool to its roster in the form of a new Tumblr blog featuring original and reblogged content. In an ongoing effort to expand its platform into all areas of the digital sphere — the most recent push being the introduction of its new digital music awards show, the OMAs — MTV has finally broken into the realm of that social sharing community, Tumblr.

Continue to read Brenna Ehrlich, mashable.com

May 28 2011

11:39

Brian Stelter, NYT - Disaster reporting, Twitter's strength and "what I've learned in Joplin"

GigaOM :: In his Tumblr post Brian Stelter, New York Times reporter, describes how he was woefully under-prepared for reporting on the aftermath of the recent tornado in Joplin, Missouri, U.S. It was also his first disaster for the newspaper.

Among other things, he didn’t even bring a pen, and his shoes got soaked within hours of being in the tornado-struck region. On top of those issues, Stelter also writes about how the cellular telephone system was almost unusable because of the damage, so he resorted to sending virtually everything via text message, and to posting his observations about the effects of the disaster on Twitter.

What can we learn?

Continue to read Mathew Ingram, gigaom.com

Brian Stelter on Tumblr thedeadline.tumblr.com

Brian Stelter on Twitter www.twitter.com/brianstelter

May 27 2011

06:04

Jeff Howe and The Atlantik start Twitter based #1book140 monthly book club

Mashable :: The Atlantic has announced the first selection for 1book140, an online reading and discussion club that will span the publication’s presences on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, as well its website.

[Jeff Howe:] What if everyone on Twitter read the same book at the same time and we formed one massive, international book club?

1book140 is an expansion of a project Howe began a year ago at Wired, where he previously served as a contributing editor, called One Book, One Twitter. “

Continue to read Lauren Indvik, mashable.com

Official Twitter account www.twitter.com/1book140

Wired One Book, One Twitter, www.wired.com

May 26 2011

21:50

Can Tumblr drive subscriptions?

Business Insider :: The stunning success of Tumblr continues to filter its way across the internet landscape. Editors say that while it is hard to gauge direct impact in terms of subscriptions and revenues, a successful Tumblr targets a community that might not be familiar with the print publication or its website.

[Jared keller, Rube Goldberg:] I don't know that it's driving subscriptions but it is driving buzz, which I think in turn drives subscriptions.

Continue to read Noah Davis, www.businessinsider.com

April 13 2011

12:33

Which blog platform should I use? A blog audit

When people start out blogging they often ask what blogging platform they should use – WordPress or Blogger? Tumblr or Posterous? It’s impossible to give an answer, because the first questions should be: who is going to use it, how, and what and who for?

To illustrate how the answers to those questions can help in choosing the best platform, I decided to go through the 35 or so blogs I have created, and why I chose the platforms that they use. As more and more publishing platforms have launched, and new features added, some blogs have changed platforms, while new ones have made different choices to older ones.

Bookmark blogs (Klogging) – Blogger and WordPress to Delicious and Tumblr

When I first began blogging it was essentially what’s called ‘klogging’ (knowledge blogging) – a way to keep a record of useful information. I started doing this with three blogs on Blogger, each of which was for a different class I taught: O-Journalism recorded reports in the field for online journalism students, Interactive Promotion and PR was created to inform students on a module of the same name (later exported to WordPress) and students on the Web and New Media module could follow useful material on that blog.

The blogs developed with the teaching, from being a place where I published supporting material, to a group blog where students themselves could publish their work in progress.

As a result, Web and New Media was moved to WordPress where it became a group blog maintained by students (now taught by someone else). The blog I created for the MA in Television and Interactive Content was first written by myself, then quickly handed over to that year’s students to maintain. When I started requiring students to publish their own blogs the original blogs were retired.

One-click klogging

By this time my ‘klogging’ had moved to Delicious. Webpages mentioned in a specific class were given a class-specific tag such as MMJ02 or CityOJ09. And students who wanted to dig further into a particular subject could use subject-specific tags such as ‘onlinevideo‘ or ‘datajournalism‘.

For the MA in Television and Interactive Content, then, I simply invented a new tag – ‘TVI’ – and set up a blog using Tumblr to pull anything I bookmarked on Delicious with that tag. (This was done in five minutes by clicking on ‘Customise‘ on the main Tumblr page, then clicking on Services and scrolling down to ‘Automatically import my…‘ and selecting RSS feed as Links. Then in the Feed URL box paste the RSS feed at the bottom of delicious.com/paulb/tvi).

(You can do something similar with WordPress – which I did here for all my bookmarks – but it requires more technical knowhow).

For klogging quotes for research purposes I also use Tumblr for Paul’s Literature Review. I’ve not used this as regularly or effectively as I could or should, but if I was embarking on a particularly large piece of research it would be particularly useful in keeping track of key passages in what I’m reading. Used in conjunction with a Kindle, it could be particularly powerful.

Back to the TVI bookmarks: another five minutes on Feedburner allowed me to set up a daily email newsletter of those bookmarks that students could subscribe to as well, and a further five minutes on Twitterfeed sent those bookmarks to a dedicated Twitter feed too (I could also have simply used Tumblr’s option to publish to a Twitter feed). ‘Blogging’ had moved beyond the blog.

Resource blogs – Tumblr and Posterous

For my Online Journalism module at City University London I use Tumblr to publish a curated, multimedia blog in addition to the Delicious bookmarks: Online Journalism Classes collects a limited number of videos, infographics, quotes and other resources for students. Tumblr was used because I knew most content would be instructional videos and I wanted a separate place to collect these.

The more general Paul Bradshaw’s Tumblelog (http://paulbradshaw.tumblr.com/) is where I maintain a collection of images, video, quotes and infographics that I look to whenever I need to liven up a presentation.

For resources based on notes or documents, however, Posterous is a better choice.

Python Notes and Notes on Spreadsheet Formulae and CAR, for example, both use Posterous as a simple way for me to blog my own notes on both (Python is a programming language) via a quick email (often drafted while on the move without internet access).

Posterous was chosen because it is very easy to publish and tag content, and I wanted to be able to access my notes based on tag (e.g. VLOOKUP) when I needed to remember how I’d used a particular formula or function.

Similarly, Edgbaston Election Campaign Exprenses and Hall Green Election Campaign Exprenses use Posterous as a quick way to publish and tag PDFs of election expense receipts from both constituencies (how this was done is explained here), allowing others to find expense details based on candidate, constituency, party or other details, and providing a space to post comments on findings or things to follow up.

Niche blogs – WordPress and Posterous

Although Online Journalism Blog began as ‘klogging’ it soon became something more, adding analysis, research, and contributions from other authors, and the number of users increased considerably. Blogger is not the most professional-looking of platforms, however (unless you’re prepared to do a lot of customisation), so I moved it to WordPress.com. And when I needed to install plugins for extra functionality I moved it again to a self-hosted WordPress site.

Finally, when the site was the victim of repeated hacking attempts I moved it to a WordPress MU (multi user) site hosted by Philip John’s Journal Local service, which provided technical support and a specialised suite of plugins.

If you want a powerful and professional-looking blogging platform it’s hard to beat WordPress.com, and if you want real control over how it works – such as installing plugins or customising themes – then a self-hosted WordPress site is, for me, your best option. I’d also recommend Journal Local if you want that combination of functionality and support.

If, however, you want to launch a niche blog quickly and functionality is not an issue then Posterous is an even better option, especially if there will be multiple contributors without technical skills. Council Coverage in Newspapers, for example, used Posterous to allow a group of people to publish the results of an investigation on my crowdsourced investigative journalism platform Help Me InvestigateThe Hospital Parking Charges Blog did the same for another investigation, but as it was only me publishing, I used WordPress.

Group blogs – Posterous and Tumblr

Posterous suits groups particularly well because members only need to send their post to a specific email address that you give them (such as post@yourblog.posterous.com) to be published on the blog.

It also handles multimedia and documents particularly well – when I was helping Podnosh‘s Nick Booth train a group of people with Flip cameras we used Posterous as an easy way for members of a group to instantly publish the video interviews they were doing by simply sending it to the relevant email address (Posterous will also cross-publish to YouTube and Twitter, simplifying those processes).

A few months ago Posterous launched a special ‘Groups’ service that publishes content in a slightly different way to make it easier for members to collaborate. I used this for another Help Me Investigate investigation - Recording Council Meetings – where each part of the investigation is a post/thread that users can contribute to.

Again, Posterous provides an easy way to do this – all people need to know is the email address to send their contribution to, or the web address where they can add comments to other posts.

If your contributors are more blog-literate and want to retain more control over their content, another option for group blogs is Tumblr. Brumblr, for example, is one group blog I belong to for Birmingham bloggers, set up by Jon Bounds. ‘We Love Michael Grimes‘ is another, set up by Pete Ashton, that uses Tumblr for people to post images of Birmingham’s nicest blogger.

Blogs for events – Tumblr, Posterous, CoverItLive

When I organised a Citizen Journalism conference in 2007, I used a WordPress blog to build up to it, write about related stories, and then link to reports on the event itself. Likewise, when later that year the NUJ asked me to manage a team of student members as they blogged that year’s ADM, I used WordPress for a group blog.

As the attendees of further events began to produce their own coverage, the platforms I chose evolved. For JEEcamp.com (no longer online), I used a self-hosted WordPress blog with an aggregation plugin that pulled in anything tagged ‘JEEcamp’ on blogs or Twitter. CoverItLive was also used to liveblog – and was then adopted successfully by attendees when they returned to their own news operations around the country (and also, interestingly, by Downing Street after they saw the tool being used for the event).

For the final JEEcamp I used Tumblr as an aggregator, importing the RSS feed from blog search engine Icerocket for any mention of ‘JEEcamp’.

In future I may experiment with the Posterous iPhone app’s new Events feature, which aggregates posts in the same location as you.

Aggregators – Tumblr

Sometimes you just want a blog to keep a record of instances of a particular trend or theme. For example, I got so sick of people asking “Is blogging journalism?” that I set up Is Ice Cream Strawberry?, a Tumblr blog that aggregates any articles that mention the phrases “Is blogging journalism”, “Are bloggers journalists” and “Is Twitter journalism” on Google News.

This was set up in the same way as detailed above, with the Feed URL box completed using the RSS feed from the relevant search on Google News or Google Blog Search (repeat for each feed).

Likewise, Online Journalism Jobs aggregates – you’ve got it – jobs in online journalism or that use online journalism skills. It pulls from the RSS feed for anything I bookmark on Delicious with the tag ‘ojjobs’ – but it can also be done manually with the Tumblr bookmark or email address, which is useful when you want to archive an entire job description that is longer than Delicious’s character limit.

Easy hyperlocal blogging – WordPress, Posterous and Tumblr

For a devoted individual hyperlocal blog WordPress seems the best option due to its power, flexibility and professionalism. For a hyperlocal blog where you’re inviting contributions from community members via email, Posterous may be better.

But if you want to publish a hyperlocal blog and have never had the time to do it justice, Tumblr provides a good way to make a start without committing yourself to regular, wordy updates. Boldmere High Street is my own token gesture – essentially a photoblog that I update from my mobile phone when I see something of interest – and take a photo – as I walk down the high street.

Personal blogs

As personal blogs tend to contain off-the-cuff observations, copies of correspondence or media, Posterous suits it well. Paul Bradshaw O/T (Off Topic) is mine: a place to publish things that don’t fit on any of the other blogs I publish. I use Posterous as it tends to be email-based, sometimes just keeping web-based copies of emails I’ve sent elsewhere.

It’s difficult to prescribe a platform for personal blogs as they are so… personal. If you talk best about your life through snatches of images and quotes, Tumblr will work well. I have a family Tumblr, for example, that pulls images and video from a family Flickr account, tweets from a family Twitter feed, video from a family YouTube account, and also allows me to publish snatches of audio or quotes.

You could use this to, for instance, create an approved-members-only Facebook page for the family so other family members can ‘follow’ their grandchildren, and publish updates from the Tumblr blog via RSS Graffiti. Facebook is, ultimately, the most popular personal blogging platform.

If it is hard to separate your personal life from your professional life, or your personal hobby involves playing with technology, WordPress may be a better choice.

And Blogger may be an easy way to bring together material from Google properties such as Picasa and Orkut.

Company blogs

Likewise, although Help Me Investigate’s blog started as two separate blogs on WordPress (one for company updates, the other for investigation tips), it now uses Posterous for both as it’s an easier way for multiple people to contribute.

This is because ease of publishing is more important than power – but for many companies WordPress is going to be the most professional and flexible option.

For some, Tumblr will best communicate their highly visual and creative nature. And for others, Posterous may provide a good place to easily publish documents and video.

Blogs – flexible enough for anything

What emerges from all the above is that blogs are just a publishing platform. There was a time when you had to customise WordPress, Typepad or Blogger to do what you wanted – from linkblogging and photoblogging to group blogs and aggregation. But those problems have since been solved by an increasing range of bespoke platforms.

Social bookmarking platforms and Twitter made it easier to linkblog; Tumblr made it easier to photoblog or aggregate RSS feeds. Posterous lowered the barrier to make group blogging as easy as sending an email. CoverItLive piggybacked on Twitter to aggregate live event coverage. And Facebook made bloggers of everyone without them realising.

A blog can now syndicate itself across multiple networks: Tumblr and Posterous make it easy to automatically cross-publish links and media to Twitter, YouTube and any other media-specific platform. RSS feeds can be pulled from Flickr, Delicious, YouTube or any of dozens of other services into a Facebook page or a WordPress widget.

What is important is not to be distracted by the technology, but focus on the people who will have to use it, and what they want to use it for.

To give a concrete example: I was once advising an organisation who wanted to publish their work online and help young people get their work out there. The young people used mobile phones (Blackberrys) and were on Facebook, but the organisation also wanted the content created by those young people to be seen by potential funders, in a professional context.

I advised them to:

  • Set up a moderated Posterous so that it would cross-publish to individuals’ Facebook pages (so there would be instant feedback for those users rather than it be published in an isolated space online that their friends had to go off and find);
  • Give the Posterous blog email address to the young people so they could use it to send in their work (making it easy to use on a device they were comfortable with);
  • Then to set up a separate ‘official’ WordPress site that pulled in the Posterous feed into a side-widget alongside the more professional, centrally placed, content (meeting the objectives of the organisation).

This sounds more technically complex than it is in practice, and the key thing is that it makes publishing as easy as possible: for the young users of the service, they only had to send images and comments to an email address. For members of the organisation they only had to write blog posts. Everything else, once set up, was automated. And free.

Many people hesitate before blogging, thinking that their effort has to be right first time. It doesn’t. Going through these blogs I counted around 35 that I’ve either created or been involved in. Many of those were retired when they ceased to be useful; some were transferred to new platforms. Some changed their names, some were deleted. Increasingly, they are intended from the start to have a limited shelf life. But every one has taught me something.

And those are just my experiences – how have you used blogs in different ways? And how has it changed?

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