Tag Archives: aggregation

The Face of the News

28 Apr

Way back when news was presented as a collection of small stories compiled into a portable paper. Before that, it was mostly shouted through the streets or passed from person to person by story telling. Now, the news can be found everywhere – available on computers, phones, and tablets; by radio or television; and even displayed on the large monitors at Starbucks.

With the onset of the news being available almost anywhere to almost anyone they topic of conversation is no longer how or where to get the news but rather what is the best way to present and receive news. In the past I’ve written about various methods of news aggregation and for the most part I really like these for my day to day news intake; however, other social media solutions can provide amazing and specialized news distribution methods.

Facebook is the best example of a site that has come to be a pivotal source for news gathering and dissemination. The core of facebook is communication and connection with friends and family – this hints to the early days of news when it was spread from person to person by word of mouth. In many ways facebook has become the source for hyperlocal relevant news from and for those you care about most.

Curation

6 Apr

Curation has become a hot buzzword in the internet circles of bloggers and journalists as of late. The reception of the new term (well new to this context) has been mostly positive; however, a few people have kindly pointed out that the term might be more buzz than substance when it comes to journalism. There is discussion of whether a curator is really just an editor in the news process – I see it as a little more abstract than that.

My personal feeling is that curation will hold a very significant role in the future of content on the internet but I don’t see it as journalistic role. I think the that the concept of time and timeliness which is a major aspect of journalism does not exist in the same context in curation. Instead, I see the content curators as a separate group which may be used by many journalists but aren’t really journalists themselves.

At its core the role of a curator is to aggregate and organize a collection. In the context of content this could be called a librarian, which would make libraries and media databases the home for content collections. Historically paper newspapers have been collected by libraries and stored on microfiche for later reference by anyone who is interested. The act of managing that data sounds much like the role of a content curator.

The other thing I find interesting is the idea of curators adding analysis and editorial to their collections – in some ways this seems counter to the role. If curators are drawing conclusions then where do people go for facts? Obviously to be able to organize and catalog content and other data its is very helpful to have an extensive understanding of the subject but if curator both controls the content and produces analysis about the content then we’ve missed the role of academics and could easily risk losing out on the importance of primary resources for individuals.

If curators don’t do analysis the question becomes whether their role is really needed in this ever more tech savvy world. A new app called MemoLane curates and archives the online life of an individual. This same approach could easily be taken with regards to a subject or set of subjects. Access to information is the key to the success of the “information age” the only questions left is how we will get there and who will control it?

For More Than Just Tech

17 Mar

Based on the high use within the tech industry many have come to see LinkedIn as a social network of professionals and business people but mostly as a place for business people to find and network with technical job seekers. The article LinkedIn for Journalists shows that this just isn’t so.

Its easy to envision how LinkedIn can be used by recruiters and even by prospective employers but not so much for journalists. Recruiters see LinkedIn as a great tool because they can find anyone, in almost any industry and select for specific experiences and skills, without ever having to make a phone call or ask for a resume. Employers see it as an asset because it takes care of the problem of asking for references and vetting the histories and connections of possible employees. As it turns out these LinkedIn functions are the same that are used by journalists.

LinkedIn for journalists come down to two main topics, transparency and research.

Transparency:

With the rise of the internet as a source of data, one of the biggest issues in journalism is ensuring that you’re information is real. While LinkedIn is still venerable to falsification of information the incentive to provide factual information for business reasons is high. The connection to other professionals (not necessarily friends) is also measure towards ensuring info can be backed up and verified by largely reliable third parties.

Research:

What could be better for researching issues and how they relate to people than a large, searchable database of people related to industries and how the work that they did (all filled with keywords)? For a journalist trying to track down leads for a story this LinkedIn is an invaluable resource. Facebook may have a patent on social searching but LinkedIn is the original social search engine for business professionals.

Its true that nothing can replace the hard work of gathering information and looking at it in new ways until all the pieces fit together but LinkedIn does a pretty nice job of making all of that easier. Now if it had a tool to mind-map all of the data you want to save… that would be great.

Can LinkedIn Top the News Paper Pile?

16 Mar

I suppose that for most of us news no longer comes in paper form; however, I still envision my virtual news in a similar fashion to the rustled piles of papers that used to sit atop the breakfast table. On a lazy Sunday every item would be carefully read and discussed over breakfast but with hustle and bustle of the week invariably one paper always hit the top of the stack while the others were often left unread. The same is true with the way news is read online – only the most effective news source gets daily attention.

For the past few months my news viewing has been dominated by feedsquares, the pretty little UI that organizes google’s rss reader. I’ve enjoyed this because it allows me to select the news sources I enjoy and place all of them in a single spot. On those days that I have an extra few minutes and want to learn a little more about the goings on in the world today I also frequent twitter, paper.li and sometimes even good ol’ yahoo.

The prospect of LinkedIn introducing a news style article aggregate gave me an excited hope for a news venue that may be even more relevant than my current approach. The past week I’ve made a conscious effort to use both news aggregates equally in an effort for fair comparison.

I love the customization that LinkedIn Today offers, from the first get-go most of the content was already interesting to be because it was based on my profile and usage (I know privacy hounds dislike this but I personally love it), then I was able to add interests and customize further. The end result was an easy to read and highly relevant news page. In many ways this was a triumph over a rss reader because content was centered around industries rather than just sources. This resulted in considerably fewer articles to glance over in order to  find the ones that I really wanted to read.

If my only concern regarding news was business and industry on a global level then LinkedIn Today would definitely win. Unfortunately there is a big component currently missing from the news aggregate… the ability to add local content. As a small business owner I’m as concerned with my local news and politics as I am with global industry news. Global news may have implications on my big picture and strategies but local news is what matters most to my daily operations and the lives of those I serve. The other tiny downside to LinkedIn Today is the absence of browser extensions. Its not a deal breaker but it is a very helpful thing to have a toolbar shortcut or better yet a preview of news prior to searching for your bookmark or heaven forbid actually typing in an url.

All in all I think LinkedIn Today shows great promise at providing targeted and relevant news. Yes, there are some improvements that would be nice but as a first release they did a fine job. As for me, I’ll probably check in when I’m on LinkedIn for other purposes but I’ll give them a few more months and a couple of iterations before I make a switch from my current primary news aggregates.

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.