Category Archives: Media

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If newspapers really want to “Get Digital”

Update: Google updated Google Goggles today to include a feature which makes the big first step in this direction:

Let’s say you’re reading a magazine article you really like and want to share it with your friends. Just point Goggles at a part of the page, and instantly find a link to an online version to share immediately or read again later. You won’t even need the entire article in the frame. Goggles will also pull up more information from pages around the web where that text is mentioned, so its easier to learn about what you’re seeing. more

Original Post:
So… It seems to me that if Newspapers truly wanted to get “hip”, they would not just use social networks to let their readers spam their friends, but actually integrate with social networks to let their readers connect with their friends and co-comment on articles and create and foster real discussion about the issues presented.
Picture this: For every article in the newspaper, you can scan it with your phone and pull up the online version.. Check in with facebook or twitter or your newspaper website account, and see which friends have read, liked, commented or shared, and then be able to join the conversation either on site or link through to the 3rd party site.
Or how about scanning the front of the newspaper to see which of the articles your friends have read/liked/shared/commented, and then being able to jump to the article on your phone, or see which page it’s on?
This sounds like an epic iPhone/Android/MobileWeb application dev project for any local or major newspaper that wants to not only stay relevant, but be the leader in connecting the physical paper experience with the digital world.
I’d love to work with a local paper on this. :)

Citizen Journalism, Redefined

What comes to mind when you think of “citizen journalism”? Probably mediocre reporting, mildly entertaining but maybe a bit sensational or biased, and subject matter that isn’t necessarily important. These characterizations are likely well-founded too. But pick up a newspaper and consider those articles with the same kind of scrutiny… I’m sure you’ll still find sensationalism, bias, and subject matter that isn’t necessarily important. And that’s okay. We just have to overcome our fear of citizen journalism… because it’s coming, and here’s why…

Everyone is a journalist. No? Fine. Not yet. But we need to be. Here’s the thing though, hopefully the key distinction for you… When I ask you to be a citizen journalist, I’m not asking you to make a time commitment. I’m not asking you to interview people. I’m not asking you to go look for leads on stories, to go take photos, or be an expert on anything. Now certainly, those things would be cool, but totally not something I can expect of you. What I’m asking is this: to be an alert citizen. To notice things that aren’t right. And when there’s something that needs attention to just speak up. But instead of mentioning it to your friends or coworkings in passing, you need to be able to tell the world. You need to be able to write an article for your newspaper. And it needs to be easy.

It’s not about creating more content. It’s about giving you a megaphone when you need one.

We’re Taking Back The Media

I’m writing an undergraduate research paper on the economics of citizen journalism. Or, more specifically, I’m researching and applying for a grant to build an open source platform for Collaborative Citizen Journalism.

I don’t want to waste your time with a really long paper. It’s not good enough yet.

However, I’m very passionate about this. I really think Citizen Journalism can happen, and needs to happen.
I recently explained the idea to a friend in an email, and it went something like this:

I imagine you’re sometimes suspicious of the news we’re told, and probably have a feeling that our government sometimes lies to us. But the extent to which we are controlled by corporate media is largely unnoticed.

Our world today is an a sad state, and in so many different ways. For some reason, I can’t just sit around and watch the world crumble… like everyone around us seems to be doing. Pollution, Erosion, Disease, Human Rights Violations, Hunger and Starvation…

Humanity can do better.

I want to make a difference. I want to make the world a better place. I hope you do too.

For myself, the way I think I can best make a positive impact is by helping “the people” take back “the media”. Yes, I’m talking about Citizen Journalism and Social Media.

Corporate news and corporate television networks rule our nation… and ever more of the world as our western culture is globalized through our government’s brand of capitalism. Corporate media has us in a reality distortion field.

The average American watches 28 HOURS of television per week.

As nice as watching TV can be, that’s just wayyy too much time to spend doing something so unproductive… that’s time better spent actually enjoying life on this planet. We buy the crap food we see on TV, buy the crap products we see on TV and listen to the crap music we hear on TV et cetera et cetera.

Anyway, I blame corporate media for leading people to live like this…

But now we have the Internet… something so fundamentally different from any form of communication humanity has ever experienced before. (I’m reading a great book called “A History Of News: From the Drum to the Satellite” … it’s an epic story, talking about how every human has been obsessed with news… that it’s a fundamental part of life, and this all leads me to think that everyone today is starved for real, true, important information and that we just stare at the fucking TV hoping to satisfy that desire… our natural desire to be informed is being exploited by corporations.

So what can we do about it?

Fast forward to the 21st century.

Everyone is a reporter now.

You, me, everyone you know.

Anything you do that’s awesome, I’ll write an article about it for the local newspaper.

Your family and friends will read about it. If it’s a really cool story it will spread. Neighbors will hear about it.

This is the promise of citizen journalism. A world where we inform each other about what is important to us.

I’m working on a platform for collaborative citizen journalism… a way for communities to work together to produce news easily and efficiently and provide it for free. Technically speaking, I’m applying for a grant to modify Drupal into an open source website system that we’ll offer for free to local newspapers so they can open up their reporting to citizen journalists. Readers of newspapers can get involved and write their own articles. The best may be edited for print.

So this system hasn’t been built yet. And instead of going out and trying to make money on this idea, and get VC funding and everything, I want to make it open source… with the hope that we can truly free the media from its corporate stranglehold.

I think this project could develop into something really cool… potentially incorporating the functionality of sites like Qik and Mogulus so these citizen reporters could even broadcast live video from events etc…

Imagine citizens covering every important local event. The latest cellphones will let you broadcast live video to the web. Other websites will let you aggregate those live video streams and produce a live online TV channel. Citizen Journalism doesn’t have to look like an online newspaper. Citizen Journalism can be fully multimedia and be more interactive and more accessible and better informed than anything we’re getting these days from the corporate news networks.

I’m not suggesting we totally dismantle the news industry. I don’t think that would be smart at all. I do, however, think that a little healthy competition would ultimately be good for everyone.

Are you ready for Citizen Journalism? Will you be a Citizen Journalist?

Lyrics for Last.fm

Ever since I installed MobileScrobbler on my iPhone, I’ve been using Last.fm a lot … like almost every day, and for hours at a time. Here’s my profile. Last.fm “scrobbles” (keeps track of what you listen to, and uploads that info) your music, and my iPhone automatically does this when I listen to anything in the iPod feature, and so does my Mac when I listen to anything in iTunes. Why do I want to do this? For posterity, as you might imagine, but Last.fm also provides music recommendations in the form of a personalized radio station. And the personalized radio station is what I really love. I mean, you press play, and you’ve got all sorts of new stuff to listen to, and the percentage of it that I like is much higher than listening to anything else. And it’s more interactive, because I can teach the system my preferences by pressing either the “Love” or “Ban” buttons.

Anyway, MobileScrobbler lets me read lyrics while I listen to songs… Which I LOVE doing. That Mac version however, does -not- do this. I was able however, to find a Greasemonkey script that adds lyrics to the song page on Last.fm, and therefore enables a workaround. (Greasemonkey is a FireFox plugin that I use daily… it let’s you add things to, and modify websites. People make scripts to make all sorts of websites do all sorts of cool things. Check out http://userscripts.org for examples).

My workaround is this: Listen in the Last.fm app. When I want to read lyrics for the current song, just click the link in the app to open up the song page at last.fm. The greasemonkey script shows the lyrics right there for me. Works.

Oh, and then I can also comment on the song right there too, another feature I’d like to see added to the Last.fm Mac client.