Archive | February, 2011

Social Media as News: [SOLVED]

26 Feb

feedsquaresAt last the best of social media has been combined with the best of rss/atom feed capabilities and formatted in a comfy-cozy way that reminds us of the good ol’ days of newspapers.

Paper.li is an alpha release product that may just revolutionize the way news is read online.

I recently mused over the role of social media as a way of promoting access to news. My own preference has settled into the use of yoono for viewing twitter feeds and feedsquares for rss data. After trying many, many options I settled on these two for a couple of key reasons:

  • Yoono – was great from the start, had no learning curb, came with integration to chrome and firefox for easy viewing and after creating an account saves all my preferences.
  • Feedsquares – this gains major points for the pretty factor, the UI is great and considerably more accessible then standard readers. The extra benefits of a chrome extension and easy use made me fall head over heels for this app.

Now, I suspect that Paper.li will be the next addition to my lovely news resources. It may be nice to go to the Times.com, CNN.com or even NPR.org but why do that when you can follow all three on twitter, specify lists for the aspects of each you paperhave interest in and generate a paper-like format of all three specified to meet the things you care about and leave the rest behind. With this capability Paper.li proves itself to be a powerful tool that may easily become a daily part of everyones life.

The downside? Since the app is currently in an Alpha release features are at a minimum, support is limited (though the team is very responsive) and my big one… no chrome extension yet. However, I expect that all of these things will be handled as the site grows.

My suggestion… get on the bandwagon with this new app! There are many benefits of being an early adopter, you get influence in the future of development and can help tailor this site to suit your every desire when it comes to news aggregation.

News Relevancy of Social Media

25 Feb

I do not own a television. In fact its been years since I’ve owned a television. I can’t say it was a deliberate choice really, it happened during a move when we decided to change our internet service to a local company (unwired ltd) and it was just too much of a bother to order cable from a separate provider. After a few months there was really very little about it that we missed. Movies came from netflix, and even with a billion different channels there was nothing ever on tv. This was the general sentiment in the house until we realized the one thing we were missing from out old television set… news. Most of our tv viewing centered around the news (CNN, CSPAN, CSPAN2) and we really missed those things. Three months in we felt out of touch with the outside world. We almost caved and ordered cable service once again but every time we started looking into it all the aspects of television we disliked came right back to the forefront of our minds.

newspaperFor a while we started reading newpapers. Yes, while most people were abandoning them – I was just starting to use them for the first time. My only real objection to the paper was from an environmental standpoint.

Then that precious day came when it dawned on me that google reader could be used for more then just work. I love my reader and find it an essential part of staying up-to-date on software releases and other related geeky things. And once the NPR feed was added it became my new best friend.

This morning check-in to my reader became the status-quo for a couple of years, it was such a large part of my life that I even blogged about it. It wasn’t until recently that I was enlightened to the use of twitter as a viable news outlet. While I’m still not sure of the validity of taking in large amounts of data in very short segments (160 characters or less), it does make for a nice length to include a title and article link.

So once again the progress of open technology with accessible APIs has won out over a cable subscription that now offers little more than dramatized versions of what news should be.

Social Media as a Tool for Collaboration

25 Feb

With the rise in social media technologies over recent years there has been a constant question in place, “how will social media change the world.” While many people propose that the change has to do with mass distribution of information I argue that while increased access to and distribution of information world wide is an amazing and earth-altering advance in technology it may not be the biggest thing that social media has to offer us.

In the midst of the great discussions over the role of social media outlets, like twitter, during the then eminent revolution of Egypt a thought occurred to me… it then became a tweet.

RT @breannadrew : Does the use of #twitter in north african revolutions show promise of twitter as a tool for political collaboration

The idea that twitter and other social media tools could do more than just inform people but could truly connect people around topics provides long-term promise for the platform and differentiates it from all previous methods of information dissemination.

What was initially most off-putting to me about twitter was the idea that all day long large groups of people go about their day and periodically publish to the world short bits and pieces of their lives. This behavior seemed, in short, useless. Aside from my mother, very few people are deeply interested in my daily musings and activities. The functionality of twitter increases slightly as a tool to publish information about broader topics, but in this manner is used mostly for posting links – not purely tweets. But the holy grail of twitter use comes as a tool for social collaboration.

Yes, oftentimes input comes in forms that are greater than 160 characters but more often it doesn’t. After a month of waiting, observing and stewing over the possibilities that twitter may hold for collaborative tool it all became clear. Low and behold @KQEDnews confirmed my suspicions that the next big thing in social media will be collaboration.

@KQEDnews KQED News

#BaySnOMG is phenomenal! Who says you need a bunch of meetings to produce a collaborative media project??? @TheBayCitizen @CCTimes
Three news agencies all working together to develop a common goal, and doing it in segments of less than 160 characters. Now I’ll admit that developing a hash tag for a possible weather event might not be the most significant collaboration ever but its proof that it can be done. And further, the goal was to aid the most effective dissemination of bay area, snow related information.

Where to start on a blogging journey

23 Feb

Old notebooksIf my blogging history was inspected the conclusion would be the same as it is for many would-be bloggers on the web, “Well that was nice… but obviously they just aren’t dedicated to this.” And in many ways that would be a very accurate way to categorize my past blogging attempts.  Floating out in the midst of cyberspace exist more than a couple of failed blogs started with the best of intentions but all abandoned within mere months of creation.

Its good to keep in mind that this is not a characteristic unique to only myself. Many, many people out there feel great amounts of ambition when creating a new blog but are quickly discouraged by technical difficulties, writers block or sometimes even boredom. While the impulse may be to hide in shame of your past blogging failures, in actuality nothing good comes of this. A much more productive and rewarding road to take is to embrace your past bloopers, love them as the learning experiences they were and allow them to pass peacefully into the oblivion of your online memory.

To help clear the air of blog skeletons in the closet I’m sharing for all to see my past blog failures and ongoing projects (the blogging success of which is still to be determined).

Some of these items are obviously experimental in nature and simply nothing more than an attempt to gain greater knowledge of the medium – I do not suggest this methodology to others. What then, you may say to yourself, is the best way to go about starting a blog? The key to a successful blogging journey lies exactly in the place that we find fault in both our own blogging attempts as well as the blogs of others. Consistency!

Sure its wonderful to be passionate about your blog topic but for many of us passions come and go – and much like a solid marriage, a stable blog cannot be built on passion alone. You need to feel prepared to give your blog commitment and consistency. Know that your blog topic will always be forefront in your life regardless of what may change about your circumstance. Know that you have the time to write. This alone is no small feat for many of us; between work, family and all those other obligations that seem to creep into a schedule, the time to properly draft, edit and promote blog posts might just not be there. Lastly, understand that like most things in life blogging can have great rewards if done well, but doing things well means putting in work. If you want a good blog you will have to work at it – blogging may be fun, but its not always fun. None of the difficulties around blogging are an attempt to discourage new bloggers – they can all be dealt with and the blogging experience can be a very positive one.

At the end of the day, the key to starting your blogging journey is the same as starting any other journey. Prepare yourself. Embrace your past and use your experiences to create a personal course that will promote your success. Remember your blogging goals and be willing to put the work into your blog that it deserves from you.