Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Now you can actually do stuff on Linked In

I've long marvelled at how LinkedIn has achieved such massive membership when it has so little usefulness in it.

Yes, of course I'm on it and I visit almost every day, but that's only because I was foolish enough to set up a Reed Business group for which my punishment seems to be that I must log in daily to approve applications for membership or risk indignant emails from prospective members asking what is causing the delay.

Anyhow, Linked in has now introduced applications and suddenly it has some actual functionality. All I've done so far is to use the Amazon app to indicate what I'm reading but I fear that my punishment for that will be that everyone will now realise what a dreadfully slow reader I am.

Anyway, Linked In says you can now:

Work collaboratively with your network.

* Box on LinkedIn: Share files and collaborate with your network.
* Huddle on LinkedIn: Private workspaces to collaborate with your network on projects.

Share information and keep up to date with your network.

* Amazon on LinkedIn: Discover what your network is reading.
* TripIt on LinkedIn: See where your network is traveling.
* SixApart on LinkedIn: Stay up to date with your network's latest blog posts.

Present yourself and your work in new ways.

* Google Docs on LinkedIn: Embed a presentation on your profile.
* SlideShare on LinkedIn: Share, view and comment on presentations from your network.
* WordPress on LinkedIn: Promote your blog and latest posts.

Gain key insights that will make you more effective.

* Company Buzz by LinkedIn: See what people are saying about your company.

Will try and explore today.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Getting the readers involved in shaping the news

I'm doing some work at the moment on web tools that journalists can use to make their jobs simpler and more effective.

So this piece - How Audience Input Shaped Our Financial Crisis Coverage - by Roland Legrand is very timely.

Legrand tells how his Belgian newspaper De Tijd used CoverItLive (for which I have nothing but praise and could be improved only by the addition of a transcribe-to-text feature, hint, hint) to enable the readers to play a part in the morning editorial meetings to help shape their coverage of the financial crisis.

I won't say much more except to urge you to read the article in full (I found it rather inspirational) but I'll quote this bit:

Journalists were bewildered by the stress of the extreme workload and massive influx of suggestions from the community. At the same time, they realized that there was a mass audience out there, making contact, looking over our shoulders as we wrote stories, sending in stories that could be useful to us, and sharing every shred of information they could find which they believed we should integrate in our newsgathering. They literally co-directed our coverage.
Our journalists have used community forums to achieve something apppraoching the same thing, but not CoverItLive which has the benefit of offering a real-time conversation. If we could contrive a way to get our readers together on a regular basis in this way we might have a radical new way to write for our audiences.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Lessons in Community

As Jim has pointed out, the Online Journalism Blog is running a series of Lessons in Community from Community Editors.

So far we have Shane Richmond from The Telegraph:

  1. The strongest community is one that belongs to its members
  2. Guidance is welcome, control is unwelcome
  3. The community has to reflect the values of its members, not its hosts
and from Mark Fothergill at The Guardian:
  1. Getting the tools right for the job are ultra-important, both front end and back end
  2. Define your role (and more specifically, the role of the moderation team)
  3. Deal with user complaints quickly
By some administrative oversight (for which, no doubt, no-one will be fired) I haven't been asked to contribute but (assuming that there's no point in repeating lessons that other people have already suggested) here are my three:

  1. A community is only really a community if it builds (or builds on) genuine relationships between the members. Otherwise it is merely interactivity. A corollary of this is that an online community needs to be focused around a common interest, need or passion (or simply "something in common")
  2. The most important tool for dealing with problems is your Terms of Use / Ts&Cs. If you are to deal effectively with problems of misbehaviour you need to be able to point to the rule which says the user can't do that. You will still be accused of suppressing free speech/being a Nazi of course, but at least you can justify your actions in removing posts, banning users etc. Spend a lot of time on developing the rules and lay them out in simple language
  3. Find ways to reward the best or most prolific contributors - this might be through a reputation system, increased rights, or simply highlighting their contributions in some way. Many users are driven to upload their photographs to the Farmers Weekly website in the hope that they will make it into the magazine. It's also true, of course, that one should aim to reward all contributors by ensuring that someone pays attention to them.

iPhone application generator

I've been thinking about simple iPhone apps recently - things which don't do much except provide convenient updates on the move. And hey bingo! Someone is looking at making that job a hell of a lot easier:

iPhone Application Generator Demo from AppLoop on Vimeo.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Video - quantity vs. quality

Excellent post from Colin Mulvany on the bipolar arguments regarding quantity vs. quality in newspaper video production including an excellent set of questions to ask yourself about why you are doing video in the first place and what the value of it is.

I'd like to believe that one could choose which way you go based on the priorities of the story you are covering. But I haven't tried phrasing such flexible values. Answers on a postcard please.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

AOP Conference News

Yes, I went to the AOP Conference yesterday.

No, I didn't blog it live.

Why not?

  1. This conference for online publishers was very coy about the fact that there was a free WIFI access code available; the only visible options seemed quite expensive. I could have put it on my expenses but I was feeling churlish in return.
  2. This conference for online publishers had a very slow WiFi.
  3. This conference for online publishers did not have power sockets at the tables so I could only use my laptop until the batteries ran out. Then I stopped taking e-notes and scrawled.
  4. This conference for online publishers didn't have an awful lot to blog about. And certainly nothing urgent.
  5. Lots of other people were blogging it quite adequately without my input:
I generally find conferences overwhelming so have a practice of making myself come away with a few take-home points of things I am going to actually do as a result:
  1. Add Wikipedia to the list of subjects of our community outreach programme. Our experts should be contributing to Wikipedia and we should get to know the people who are the key Wikipedia contributors in our business areas.
  2. Encourage more regular, scheduled video offerings in our markets (as opposed to ad-hoc ones)
  3. Assess potential video offerings in terms of VideoJug's breakdown: Life skills, Immediate need, Special interest, Personal issues, Weird and Wonderful, Expert Advice.
  4. Identifying Passion Points - we've been doing it wrong. Ask our research team to come up with a better way of doing it.

Farmers Weekly Interactive is online community of the year

Farmers Weekly Interactive was names the Online Community of 2008 last night at the
Association of Online Publishers Awards.

According to the judges:

"FWI demonstrated there can be a light-hearted approach to a b2b site, providing social interaction and community tools relevant to its members and pushing the business media boundaries with ‘muddy matches’"
I'm thrilled for them but not at all surprised. This pioneering team has worked so hard and so imaginatively to create a real online community around its core product Farmers Weekly magazine. RBI as a whole has learned much for them so congratulations to them.

RBI did very well at the awards, also bringing home gongs for Business Website 2008 (XpertHR), Business Online Advertising Team and the overall Business Online Publisher of the Year. One might almost say we wiped the floor with the competition. I'll allow myself a morning's smugness in the light of all the uncertainty.