Tag Archives: web 2.0

Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for February 10, 2010

Photo courtesy SXC.

I’ve had just a few moments this week to search out links… but the blog-o-sphere is positively ablaze with non-fiction writing news!

TALK: The Future Journalist–Thoughts from Two Generations

Sree Sreenivasan and Vadim Lavrusik present a savvy, rich talk about what specifically journalists and editors need to do to adapt their profession–with all its ethics and standards–to today’s technological and social media environment.

News Site in a Box

A helpful toolkit from J-Learning.org that helps citizen journalists (or start-ups) create a credible news site using free or low-cost tools.

The Digital Book in Practice: Valentine’s 14 Languages, Multiple Formats, Wireless Delivery

Alex de Campi discusses the digital graphic novel she is collaborating on with artist Christine Larsen. Every month, readers pay 99 cents and get 70-75 screens of action, adventure and suspense. VERY COOL IDEA!

Better User Experience With Storytelling – Part One – Smashing Magazine

Deep, detailed post on traditional storytelling notions and how to employ them to improve user experiences on the Web. (And elsewhere.)

Welcome to the Virtual Antique Typewriter Museum

A cool online tribute to what the curators call the “ultimate writing machine.”

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Write This Way: Top Writing and Editing Links for January 12, 2010

Photo courtesy SXC.

Bloggers, like other writers, can make yearly resolutions, and one of mine related to my Write This Way link posts is to trim them down so readers can spend more time digesting and acting on the information I’ve linked to and less time reading.

In 2010, I’ll pick my top 2 links and comment on them each time we run Write This Way, and provide one additional bonus link for fun and edification. Be on the lookout for a new feature—Write This Way, Condensed—which will be a quick post of my favorite links of the moment, all presented “bonus link” style.

Let me know if you enjoy this new slimmer format, or if you see any writing or editing-related links you think need more exposure!


News orgs’ goal for 2010: Imagine tomorrow’s media world today

Gina Chen has written an insightful post on what news organizations should be doing this year on the Nieman Journalism Lab blog.

As she puts it,

“The legacy press — or the traditional media, or whatever we’re calling newspapers these days — has one main challenge for 2010, and it’s not finding a new business model. It has to do with vision. It has to do with being able to imagine a world that does not yet exist.”

This quest is more difficult than it first appears, but Chen notes that this is not the first time in history that a business entity has faced such a challenge related to figuring out how to make products that customers will find useful. IBM face a similar challenge in popularizing the concept of a personal, desktop-based computer, and the inventors of the microwave had to wait nearly a quarter century from the time the device was first offered in the late 1940s until it caught on in America’s kitchens.

In both cases, the businesses had to make a guess as to how future customers would want to interact with their products, and overcome resistance related to attachment (both by customer and manufacturer) to the current state of technology. According to Chen, journalists need to focus their attention on these areas, as well.

“The challenge for the news biz is to look ahead and imagine how people may want their news and information. It’s about format (online, by phone, through social media) and content (aggregated, local, tailored to their needs.) For local news operations, this mean “organizing a community’s information so the community can organize itself,” as Jeff Jarvis puts it.

“ …This doesn’t mean news organizations should be inventing technology. I think that’s probably out of the pervue of most journalists. What I’m talking about is envisioning a new way to use technology, in this case the Internet and the cell phone and likely other tools that others will invent. The new business doesn’t need to invent the tools — just figure out how to use them to best serve their readers.”

Chen’s post hones in on the primary issue that’s strangling the news business right now, particularly in print newspapers: lack of forward-facing customer focus. I’ve seen post after post about stop-gap measures such as government grants for investigative reporting and setting up nonprofit foundations, but this post does something that those do not—it assumes that news media organizations can still survive as business entities, and it provides the million-dollar (or more) question that they must answer in order to thrive: what do our readers want from us?

Forget E-Books: The Future of the Book Is Far More Interesting

This post is Number 8 in Adam Penenberg’s very interesting “Viral Loop” series on FastCompany.com. The author of 3 books, including one on the Viral Loop theme, he posits a provocative vision of how the printed book, and the book-reading experience, will evolve.

He argues that e-books do NOT represent the long-term future of reading matter.

“It’s the end of the book as we know it … It won’t be replaced by the e-book, which is, at best, a stopgap measure. Sure, a bevy of companies are releasing e-book readers … but technology marches on through predictable patterns of development, with the initial form of a new technology mirroring what came before, until innovation and consumer demand drive it far beyond initial incremental improvements. We are on the verge of re-imagining the book and transforming it something far beyond mere words.”

Penenberg argues the reading experience of the future will be one that, like our online (and increasingly, our mobile) experience, is rich and multi-faceted.

“For the non-fiction author therein lie possibilities to create the proverbial last word on a subject, a one-stop shop for all the information surrounding a particular subject matter. Imagine a biography of Wiley Post, the one-eyed pilot from the 1930s who was the first to fly around the world. It would not only offer the entire text of a book but newsreel footage from his era, coverage of his most famous flights, radio interviews, schematics of his plane, interactive maps of his journeys, interviews with aviation historians and pilots of today, a virtual tour of his cockpit and description of every gauge and dial, short profiles of other flyers of his time, photos, hyperlinked endnotes and index, links to other resources on the subject.

“Social media could be woven into the fabric of the experience–discussion threads and wikis where readers share information, photos, video, and add their own content to Post’s story, which would tie them more closely to the book. There’s also the potential for additional revenue streams: You could buy MP3s of popular songs from the 1930s, clothes that were the hot thing back then, model airplanes, other printed books, DVDs, journals, and memorabilia.”

Novelists won’t be left out of the cyber-cornucopia, either, he says. Imagine video games where readers alter the storylines as they see fit, or digital “rainstorms” of words, images and audio to reinforce metaphors for the reader.

The specifics of his prophecy are “out there,” to be sure, but not by much. I’m in agreement with Penenberg that “all writers should be optimistic” because “where there’s chaos, there’s opportunity.” Much like the previous link, the author’s willingness to focus on a literary world that doesn’t exist yet, and play with product ideas that would meet reader/audience needs in a new way, is exciting and has set my mind to imagining rich-media extensions of the book proposal ideas I’m currently incubating.

Bonus Link!

8 Must-Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalist

Vadim Lavrusik defines 8 roles that 2010-era journalists need to be ready to fulfill–including entrepreneur, programmer, curator, blogger, community builder, multimedia storyteller and more.

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Participatory Journalism … what’s it all about?

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Photo courtesy SXC.

Four links, three new, one “classic,” related to civic or participatory journalism caught my eye this week. For the uninitiated, participatory journalism refers to the emerging trend of non-professionals taking to the Internet and creating blogs, podcasts, YouTube or Vimeo videos, websites, Twitter feeds, etc., that cover stories that used to be understood as strictly the province of traditional media, such as television and radio stations, newspapers and magazines.

These aren’t intended as a comprehensive introduction to this phenomenon, but rather relevant, and timely (or timeless, in one case) snapshots of where it’s headed.

The People Formerly Known as the Audience

This first post should be required reading for all writers and editors struggling to understand the shifts in the media landscape over the past 10 years. NYU’s Jay Rosen wrote this post in 2006 for his PressThink blog, but he could have written it yesterday. It’s all still so, so true.

He notes that the media platform shifts taking place have many journalists questioning their sanity, but that their former audience members are basically telling them to get over themselves:

“Many media people want to cry out in the name of reason herself: ‘If all would speak, who shall be left to listen? Can you at least tell us that?’

“The people formerly known as the audience do not believe this problem—too many speakers! — is (their) problem.

“Now for anyone in your circle still wondering who (they) are, a formal definition might go like this:

“The people formerly known as the audience are those who were on the receiving end of a media system that ran one way, in a broadcasting pattern, with high entry fees and a few firms competing to speak very loudly while the rest of the population listened in isolation from one another— and who today are not in a situation like that at all.”

Rosen, speaking for most of the post in the voice of the newly empowered audience, tells professional content creators not to worry or complain, but rather, stay relevant and appreciate how content consumers have evolved into content prosumers (produers + consumers).

He writes,

“Look, media people. We are still perfectly content to listen to our radios while driving … Should we attend the theatre, we are unlikely to storm the stage for purposes of putting on our own production. We feel there is nothing wrong with old style, one-way, top-down media consumption…

“But we’re not on your clock any more. Tom Curley, CEO of the Associated Press, has explained this to his people. ‘The users are deciding what the point of their engagement will be — what application, what device, what time, what place.’

“We graduate from wanting media when we want it, to wanting it without the filler, to wanting media to be way better than it is, to publishing and broadcasting ourselves when it meets a need or sounds like fun.”

Still writing in the guise of the audience, he ends the main part of the post (there is a terrific “after matter section” and loads of comments, too) with a gentle ultimatum to his fellow professional journalists:

“There’s a new balance of power between you and us.

“The people formerly known as the audience are simply the public made realer, less fictional, more able, less predictable. You should welcome that, media people. But whether you do or not, we want you to know we’re here.”

If you’re wondering what value there is in user-generated content, or if you’re clinging to the illusion that all these audience members are going to return to their seats and quit making their own media products, you need to read this post.

Mainstream Media Miss the Point of Participatory Journalism

Another group of journalists who might benefit from re-reading Rosen’s post would be the presenters at the Future of Journalism conference, an event held at the University of Cardiff in Wales earlier this month. Alfred Hermida, writing for PBS’s MediaShift blog, feels as if the titles of keynotes and workshops indicate even organizations considered leaders in utilizing user-generated content are still coming at it from the perspective of being the appointed “gate-keepers.”

Hermida writes,

“The advent of participatory journalism, or user-generated content (UGC), has done little to change the way the media works … The research paints a global picture of how journalists are seeking to maintain their position of authority and power, rather than create a more open, transparent and accountable journalistic process that seeks to work with readers …”

The British Broadcasting Corporation, a major player at the conference, illustrated the point being made very well.

“UGC has become institutionalized at the BBC as a form of newsgathering, consolidating the existing relationship between journalists and the audience … This institutional approach towards UGC was reflected in the BBC course on the topic, entitled ‘Have They Got News for Us.’ This session at the conference focused on how to scour comments, pictures and video from the public in order to separate the wheat from the chaff, rather than on how to collaborate with the audience on stories.”

It’s true that crowdsourcing one’s stories is a new skill set, one that many of us haven’t mastered as writers or editors, and that journalism is a long way from empowering citizen journalists to make significant discoveries the way citizen scientists can.

But I agree with the unspoken subtext of this post, which is that a serious, peer-to-peer (or public-to-pro) discussion of the public’s role in shaping, collaborating and even to some degree co-creating the future of journalism has to begin, and soon. Rosen’s essay of 2006 (see above) presages it. And it’s clear that many people are finding value in user-generated content, however much we journalists may disparage its shortcomings.

Nerds, News and Neat Stuff

One way in which journalists are responding to the participatory media landscape is by creating new tools to empower readers to participate intelligently, a niche that fits very nicely with traditional media roles of diving beneath the surface of complex issues and providing context to help others understand an issue’s impact.

Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, recently posted some comments about the winners of this year’s Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism. Her piece takes a whirlwind tour through some of the more interesting innovations that are being cooked up inside and outside newsrooms, but the quote that stood out for me the most came from Ellen Miller, whose Sunlight Foundation is making data openly available on a huge array of things, from government contracts and grants, to lobbyists, to congressional bills, and even to the words used most frequently in the Congressional Record.

“Technology is not a slice of the pie of what we do, it’s the pan,” she said.

I think Miller “gets” this change to a participatory media environment and how journalists can enrich the conversation. The participatory nature of Web 2.0 apps and the tools that journalism’s new creative technologists develop aren’t just decorations to be sprinkled on top of the already pre-mixed media pie; they change how the pie is baked. And eaten!

Schaffer’s post is a nice sampler of developments from the outposts of journalistic practice. The focus on innovation is refreshing—while not all of the award winners are equally cutting-edge, these contestants are taking a look at their environment and filling unmet needs, instead of grumbling about how their audience (or former audience!) no longer looks to them for the same things it used to.

Bonus Link!

Civic News Networks: Collaboration v. Competition

Caveat emptor! I haven’t had a chance to watch this 45-minute video, a recording of a panel discussion at the August 2009 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference. But it is moderated by Jan Schaffer of J-Lab (a center of American University’s School of Communication) and with a title like this, you can bet I want to hear what the panelists have to say!

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Write This Way: Writing and Editing Links for December 3, 2008

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Photo courtesy SXC.

Our monthly hyperlink love-fest has information on using mindmapping to organize writing assignments and writing workload, a challenge to fail faster in your writing work (in order to ultimately succeed), and a site dedicated to helping beat reporters make the most of online social media. Plus a handful of bonus links designed to pique your curiosity as a writer!

1. First, since one of the most popular posts on this blog so far has been 3 cool tools for mapping story ideas, so perhaps it’s no surprise that in the last week or two, there have been at least two good posts related to using mindmaps to manage workflow and organize one’s work.

At FreelanceSwitch, Raj Dash posted an entry on managing multiple freelance gigs with mind maps. The post discusses how to map out daily tasks, both billable ones and tasks that lead to billable work, and keep yourself in a productive, not stressed-out mode. The method is a little involved, but it may provide you with the oomph your freelancing needs to be profitable.

Meanwhile, over at Write to Done, Chief Editor Mary Jaksch recently posted on how to use mind maps as a “genius tool” for writers. She lists several different ways in which the mapping technique can help writers work smarter:

“A mind map is a great way to keep track of a project. It allows you to get a mental screenshot of where the project is at. As a project slowly matures, all completed files can be attached to the map.

“Complex projects always have many different lines of development to follow. A mind map can hold all of these different streams at one glance. For example, if you wanted to start a new blog, you would need to keep track of creating a brand, designing a logo, choosing a platform, creating content, designing a website, setting and launching the blog, and so on. A mind map can hold all these different planning streams.”

Jaksch gives tips on what to look for in an online mindmapping progam, as well, and gives her opinion on several commonly used packages. Together, her post and Raj’s at FreelanceSwitch complement each other nicely.

2. Are you timid about putting your ideas out there for editors to examine? Jenny Cromie at The Golden Pencil blog recently began a contest for readers through the end of the year that she calls the Rejection Letter Olympics.

Every Friday, Jenny posts themes and ideas for contestants, and they send out as many query letters and letters of introduction as they can. Points are awarded for rejections, yes, as well as assignments. As Jenny explains it,

“I’m basing this weekly challenge on the very sage advice of Thomas Watson, founder of IBM: ‘If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.’

“…Someone early on in my freelance career told me that every no gets you closer to a yes…I am setting up this challenge to reward you for sticking your freelance neck out there and risking rejection. Because eventually (possibly much sooner than you think) you will get a yes.”

Kudos to Jenny for rewarding risk-taking!

3. If you’re a newspaper reporter, or care about the fate of journalism, take a look at BeatBlogging.org. The blog, which is a creation of NewAssignment.net, that examines how beat reporters can use social networking and other Web tools to improve their stories.

What separates this site from many others on the online journalism front is its unwavering focus on beat reporting, and the blog’s almost daily provision of real-world examples from reporters who are using social media (Twitter, blogs, etc.) to enrich their work. It has a “Leaderboard” comprised of these exemplary reporters, who are nominated by readers.

The site is a great resource for anyone who wants to keep tabs on the latest trends in reporting in today’s Web 2.0 environment.

Bonus links!

One Sentence: True stories, told in one sentence

Timeline of Online Journalism Milestones

How to Find Expert Sources and Real People to Interview for Articles

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