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June 12 2011


Visual storytelling - New Zealand one year ago: 10,000 photos for a Christchurch timelapse

lukaskaupenjohann | vimeo ::  - lukaskaupenjohann shot this timelapse together with some friends on his exchange year in New Zealand. They took more then 10.000 photos and put them all together to this timelapse movie. "It was a great way to view this beautiful city and we had the opportunity to get shots from some pretty cool locations."

Christchurch-Timelapse from lukaskaupenjohann on Vimeo.

Tue, Jun 1, 2010 07:10 EST

Visit his VIMEO channel for more lukaskaupenjohann, vimeo.com

May 27 2011


Meet the User – Tim McNamara

You may have noticed a Kiwi driving our digger around of late (image is purely metaphorical). A New Zealander by the name of Tim McNamara has been unearthing earthquakes, government bills, historic places, clinical trials and even companies.

I had to enquire after such a scraping wizard (trying to get a Lord of the Rings reference in here, not working too well). It turns out, Mr McNamara has an open data pedigree. He’s just started contracting for the Open Knowledge Foundation and is working on improving opengovernmentdata.org and opendatamanual.org. Part of his work involves advising governments about opening their data. Which is why he’s such a  star ScraperWiki user.

“I had a hunch that that governments don’t need to spend
millions of dollars on rebuilding a system to have a fancy
web API. So, I decided to validate that hunch . I found that I was able to extract hundreds of thousands of data very quickly. Moreover, all of that data is available in a consistent API between different domains. Perfect! With a bit of community engagement, governments could use ScraperWiki to provide that web API for their legacy systems. That’s a really exciting prospect”. – Tim McNamara, Open Knowledge Foundation

What I find truly amazing and inspiring is that Tim doesn’t consider himself a programmer. He thinks of himself as “more of a writer and a thinker. When I code, it’s because I think it’s the best thing that I can do with my time to support a goal at a given time.” Which is the sort of civic hacking, public interest coding we like seeing on ScraperWiki.

So watch out New Zealand – you’re being ScraperWikied! 

Tim is in charge of this year’s PyCon for New Zealand. So if you’re in the area please say hello.

October 25 2010


Guest post – launching hyperlocal startups: Opinion 250 and Locally Informed

In a guest post for the Online Journalism Blog, Shane Reddick shares his experiences of launching two hyperlocal startups – one, launched 5 years ago, based on a traditional advertising model. The second – launched this year – seeking to innovate with a broker-based model and crowdsourcing technologies.

2005: Opinion 250 News

In 2005, myself along with 2 partners launched the hyperlocal startup Opinion 250 News in Prince George, British Columbia (Canada). Myself and my company performed technical development, admin and financial tasks, while the other 2 partners (long time media industry people/semi-retired) did all the reporting and managed a small team of topical/weekly writers.

All content is original for local news. We had a lot going for us and we managed to make some good gains in the first year. To date the company is profitable and can pay modest salaries for those involved. But it has taken the better of 4 years to reach that point.

The effect we were having locally was significant (read comments to story here, for instance). The biggest challenge for us was building monthly ad revenue.

We did not sell on CPC or CPM basis. It was a flat monthly cost. We had a couple of people selling the ads and we had quite a bit of local good will and resulting support via ads. Even with a lot going for us however, this was a big challenge. In fact in the first month, when we launched, we’d sold nearly $10,000 CAD (monthly recurring) in ads.

2007: An alternative method for journalists to drive revenue

In 2007, while reflecting on the first couple of years along with suggestions to provide sites in other cities, I set about brainstorming ideas on how to provide a platform to specifically equip journalists in their cities to do what we were doing at Opinion 250. However, with a difference.

From experience, I knew that the challenge to sell ads (or possibly subscriptions) was big and that a lone journalist striking out on their own had the odds highly stacked against them of building a profitable news business.

So, in addition to providing a turn-key technical platform, purpose built for local news businesses, we wanted to develop an alternative method for those journalists to drive revenue.

What we came up with (after many discussions, challenges and adjustments) is the Locally Informed Marketplace. We thought that rather than engaging in selling, we’d find a way to leverage the journalist’s biggest asset, which is their readers and following. An active community of people reading and engaging in discussion via comments, etc could be asked to engage in a 3rd type of activity, in a form of ‘Local Crowdsourcing’.

We’ve applied principles that Jeff Howe has discussed in his book along with examples found at the likes of innocentive.com and 99designs.com, adapted and applied in a local way.

Readers now engage other readers directly to help them 1) solve challenges (ask questions/get answers) a type of local knowledge sharing and 2) get jobs done (post mini-tenders and get people bidding on jobs).

Journalists as a result, earn revenue by charging listing fees for both the challenges and jobs.

Finally, and without getting into too much detail, all three areas of the platform: News, Information (local wiki) and Marketplace are tied together with a form of website currency called “Credits” those credits are either earned (by readers posting stories that become very popular) or purchased with real currency.

More background about us, along with our Manifesto can be found at http://locallyinformed.com/about. The first local site was launched at http://northnews.co.nz

2010: The biggest challenge

Easily our biggest challenge has been in developing the local crowdsourcing marketplace.

Applying the crowdsourcing principles at a local level in this way has never been tried. It’s our answer to the question of how local news can move beyond selling advertisements or subscriptions.

This is a big challenge that a lot of smart people are working on. So, to say we’ve found a solution is a big claim and a big challenge to prove.

We’ve asked a lot of questions of some smart people, which has seemed to be the best way to help shape our ideas. For example, the Marketplace was originally going to be a type of ‘web store for rent’ for local businesses. What we’ve now developed as the Marketplace blows the socks off of that.

We’ve also learned how much time it takes to develop such a platform. We’ve been 1 ½ years full time development to get to this point. A further year prior to that was spent developing the initial ideas and securing series A investment.

Next, we plan to engage one-on-one with the journalists who begin to start using the Locally Informed platform. There’s still much to learn and to develop and it’s now time for the feedback of those first few brave journalists to shape its direction forward.

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