Friday, 31 August 2007

Is the new journalism not glamorous enough?

Interesting article on revealing extraordinary resistance to change among journalism students.

Last year, after taking over as the head of Northwestern University's highly regarded Medill School of Journalism, John Lavine vowed to "blow up" the curriculum, changing its emphasis to new media and marketing. Students and alumns have responded with anger and charges of betrayal.
Seems that the young are just as resistant to change as anyone else and have illusions of the journalism of yesteryear:
“You lied to me!” the graduate student angrily told John Lavine, the dean of the Medill School of Journalism. “I came here to learn to be a writer,” the student said, explaining that he had chosen Northwestern—and forked over more than $40,000 in annual tuition—because he wanted to hone a flair for writing that would land him at a publication like The New York Times. “But you’re having us do all this video stuff. I didn’t come here for that.”
to which Lavine responds: “It would be unethical for us to educate you to only be able to write,” he said. “It would be like sending you out with your left arm and your right leg tied behind your back.”

Interesting stuff. But really, weren't we all originally inspired to be journalists by Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell?

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

NoSo - No Social Networking

Very impressed with the idea behind the NoSo project:

NOSO is a real-world platform for temporary disengagement from social networking environments. The NOSO experience offers a unique opportunity to create NO Connections by scheduling NO Events with other NO Friends.

These “NO” events, called NOSOs, take place in designated caf├ęs, parks, libraries, bookstores, and other public spaces. Participants – whose identities remain unknown to one another – agree to arrive at an assigned time and remain alone, quiet and un-connected, while at the same time knowing that another “Friend” is present in the space.

NOSOs are scheduled by users through the NOSO website. They last for a duration of 1 - 30 minutes, after which participants disperse and return to their regular activities.

I'm not sure, but I think it may be art.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Daily Telegraph mashup up A Level results and Google Maps

Thanks to the Online Journalism Blog for finding this Google Maps / A Level results mash-up.

It shows great diligence on the part of the DT (whose explanation can be found here) and gets "A for Effort" from me.

But actually I don't think that in this case it adds much to the story or the user experience other than being a bit of a gimmick. I suppose if you had a sudden desire to know the A Level performance of schools in Altrincham area, this would be one way of doing it.

But I think it's an unusual enough approach to get attention, so that's a good enough reason for doing it.

And hats off anyway to an old media publishing enterprise for not feeling it has to do everything itself when there are better tools around than it could build for itself.

View Larger Map

Thursday, 23 August 2007

The wisdom of crowds and the emperor's new clothes

Much excitement in various blogs and newspapers about the fact that Music Week is going to publish a new music chart based on user's aggregated listening behaviours - the wisdom of crowds! Previously, of course, music charts only focused on ummm people's aggregated buying behaviours - the wisdom of crowds!

I know it's not the same, and I utterly welcome it - not that I've bought a "record" since Bacharach and David fell out.

But the fundamental difference isn't that it's user generated - it's that it's based on - presumably - the limitless music store.

We will ignore the US propensity for basing charts on radio airplay. What's that all about?

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Full list of Web 2.0 APIs

It's nothing of the sort, of course...

...but this list on Tech magazine is a pretty good first pass, if not very Web 2.0. What they really need is to produce an API which enables people to submit their APIs to the API list.

Reminds me that I need to stop putting my head in the sand when it comes to APIs. Trouble is, every time I think about how we can make use of them my head hurts. Hence the sand.

New video ads

Thanks to my colleague Dan Blank in the US for his summary of Google's reinvention of video advertising.

We're hoping to up our video game in a big way, but monetising video with pre-roll ads really sucks from a user experience point of view.

In fact, I find that 15 seconds of a pre-roll advert is more than enough time to ask myself "On second thoughts, am I really that bothered about watching this video?" and answer myself "No".

Google's idea seems much more palatable and I hope it catches on elsewhere. Take note Brightcove, Roo et al

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Pity the poor journalist

Interesting blog post by Joel Achenbach at The Washington Post called "I Really Need You to Read This Article, Okay?".

The idea that the ability to measure the popularity of online news stories is as much a curse as a blessing is not new, but this is as very well expressed a summary as one could wish for really. Charmingly written, too.

Turkish blanket ban on Wordpress

Extraordinary. Had to look at the date to check it wasn't April 1st.

Incredibly, all blogs have been blocked in Turkey. "Explanation" here.

Monday, 20 August 2007

The Bourne Supremacy - behind the journalistic times

The Guardian's review of The Bourne Ultimatum is understandably rather dominated by excitement at the fact that the film features a Guardian journalist.

In an exciting (especially for us sad Londoners) action sequence set in Waterloo Station, hero Jason Bourne is trying to prevent the hapless journalist from being assassinated by the CIA.

I'm sure my blogging colleague Mr Tinworth will be chuckling at reviewer Peter Bradshaw's criticism of the scene:

But there are inaccuracies. The Guardian stylebook clearly states that if you are under a hail of bullets in a public place from an assassin run by a deniable intelligence unit, you have to duck into the nearest internet cafe and start blogging about it to keep the readers informed.
Regardless of that, it's a movie that's worth seeing.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Hoorah! Embeddable Google Maps

According to mashable, Google Maps will shortly be available with embed codes a la YouTube.

I like this map and will be far more industrious about creating my own once I can embed them. Watch this space.

The problem with video is audio

Video can be really engaging and we're trying to up our use of video here.

People get very excited about using it and the hardware and editing software are so affordable now that it's easy to produce quality video that's quite good enough for the Internet.

But the one thing that pisses me off big time is the sound quality of "non-pro" kit. It's rubbish and marks the whole thing as being the work of amateurs regardless of the visual quality.

And there seems to be a conspiracy among camcorder manufacturers to keep non-pro kit sub-standard by increasingly failing to feature an audio-in jack on lower spec machines. One of our titles ended up resorting to getting a second-hand camcorder from eBay in order to get something they could plug a mic into.

Anyway, gripe over. Just came across this article on audio from the days when camcorders had audio-in sockets (three years ago) which has some good advice.

Web 3.0

Congratulations to my colleague Piers for spotting what Google's Eric Schmidt thinks Web 3.0 will be.

As he notes Google is steadfastly ignoring that whole semantic web idea and going for this vision (apologies to Piers for stealing his summary):

  • applications that are pieced together
  • the applications will be small
  • the data will be in the cloud
  • the applications can run on any device
  • the applications are fast and easy to customise
  • the applications can be distributed virally
Sounds nice, but it's not what you'd call radical. Isn't this pretty much what widgetisation and Facebook apps are all about? In which case, is Web 3.0 already here?

I'd also take issue with his view of what Web 2.0 is. Ajax improved the user experience and made Web 2.0 fun to use, but that's a tiny bit of the jigsaw.

Do you think that Google's being a bit down on Web 2.0 because it didn't think of it first? If so it's being a bit harsh on itself; I think Google was pretty much first to harness the wisdom of crowds in a life changing way.

On a personal note, before we get to Web 3.0 I'd really like to see some intermediate releases - say Web 2.15 or a Service Pack for Web 2.0. I don't know what would be in them, but it would be quite amusing.

Anyway, here's the video:

Flexible colour paper screen

Personally, I can't wait. I don't know what I'd use it for, but I want it anyway.

And business-wise, I can't wait. I don't know what we'll use it for, but we will it anyway.

Bring on the future, I say. Whatever it holds.

Top 10 Newspaper Websites

Hmmm. Well I'm really not too sure what to think about The Bivings Report Top 10 Newspaper Websites.

This is a follow-up to their recent research apparently but it's quite extraordinary that the New York Times come out top. They say:

We love the general feeling of the NYT site, which is pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate. The site is loaded with great features, and the website is rumored to be dropping its annoying pay wall, TimesSelect, in the coming months.
Hmm. Well the fact it has a pay wall should be enough for it to drop off the bottom of the list in my humble opinion; I can't tell you how many times a registration wall (or even a login requirement) has proved too much trouble for me to go any further.

Still, it just goes to show how powerful a brand can be. Reminds me of the weird success of MySpace which is - in so many, many ways - a pretty crap site.

More interesting is USA Today of which it says:
Social networking. Social networking. Social networking. Did I mention that this site has the most robust social networking features out of any of the newspaper websites we researched? Oh yeah. And this site has social networking.
And yes, it does have, comments, user-recommendation, digg etc this and so on. Great stuff if you've got a big enough audience but our focus in this area has shown it's difficult to get people to use it. Probably that old British reserve thing.