Posts Tagged 'SXSW'

Looking for a host to call home

On September 23 2007 I started this lil’ol blog claiming that I would “tentatively” look to the future of local and regional newspapers.

How things can change in six months!

Now, and I hope this doesn’t sound too cocky, I feel like I’m pretty much immersed in looking at the future of regional newspapers in the UK.

It has been a rapid education. For example, things that I did for the first time at SXSW include:

  • Access Twitter over mobile internet.
  • Interview people on a camcorder.
  • Live stream video over a mobile phone.
  • Blog via live streaming.
  • Upload a video to Youtube.
  • Speak on a podcast.

I know, I know, these are things I should have been doing already. Well… you’re right. In my defence, it’s taken me a while to build up the right kit in order to do much of the above.

Anyway, now I’m getting to grips with new platforms, I thought it was about time to get a host for this blog. I’ve been doing on the cheap by having it hosted free by WordPress, but I would like to have more freedom to play with the blog and I’ve been told the best way to do that is get me a host and download the lastest version of WordPress. Plus, I kinda need to learn how to manage my own website.

If this is right, then I could really do with some advice on hosts. I’m looking for something that is relatively cheap and reliable. Any ideas?

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Podcasting Ideas

One of many things that came out of SXSW was that I should consider exploring the world of the podcasting.

It’s not something I’ve done before, mainly because I’m not a big listener of podcasts. I had concluded, as has my colleague Tom Scotney, that there was limited value in listening to an entire podcast on the off-chance that some of the content was worthwhile. Better to have text and scan through it, I thought.

But, since then, I’ve changed my mind somewhat. One reason is because I had forgotten that I am an avid listener to BBC Radio 4. Now, when I switch on Radio 4 I have no idea what I am going to be listening to, but I enjoy it because I know it will be pretty good quality. Why could this not apply to podcasts?

Secondly, I don’t have an iPod (I seriously want one!) – so I don’t download podcasts to listen to later, I have to listen to them pretty much then and there, or play them on my computer when I’m working (and not paying attention).

Thirdly, most of the podcasts I’ve come across don’t provide a detailed summary that would allow me to judge whether I wanted to listen or not. But this may have been resolved by Stef Lewandowski who has suggested using Viddler to annotate different parts of the podcast, as Dave Seah has done with his SXSW video.  This, combined with some form of executive summary, could make it easier to see “at a glance” whether the podcast is for you.

And the final reason I want to podcast is… people have told me to! There was a general consensus at SXSW that it would be a good way to ease myself into other forms of communicating over the web and I’m enthusiastic to give it a go.

For my journo-type work I have me a little Olympus WS-300M and, I have been told, that it would do the job for recording podcasts.  But I think I would need a microphone. The thing is, if I’m interviewing people would I want to have them on a clip mic, or would it be better to have a multidirectional mic so that it’s easier to hear me asking the questions. If so, I’d want something that didn’t pick up too much background noise.

As for my first podcast, well I haven’t asked anyone yet but I think it might be nice to interview some of the journalists at The Birmingham Post about how the move to digital has changed their working practices in recent years and how they think it will develop in the future. This would give me practice at interviewing, would have relevance to the sort of thing I blog about and might work as a slice of mass observational history. Thoughts?

Babbling about trust and authenticity using Qik

Joanna babbles

Qik video can be found here.

Executive summary: Online media is becoming increasingly personality driven as users decide which sources to trust and which to reject. Video can be a key tool in building trust.

Home from Texas…

…and I feel a little… well… low, actually.

I think it was probably inevitable – no one can take such a sustained assault on their preconceptions or their liver without some comeback.

I am comforted, however, that I take back home with me some incredible new friendships with people that really inspire me.

There are also a lot of good ideas that the SXSWM team are taking back with them that, given the right reception here in Brum, could have a significant impact on raising the city’s profile in social media.

I have made myself a little list of things I want to write about. I am going to put them in this post so that I make myself follow them up. They are:

  • Trust and authenticity online and its application to mainstream media.
  • The power of conversation through video (and how Seesmic demonstrates that).
  • The benefits and problems of live streaming as part of the newsgathering process.
  • The application of gaming strategies to business networking.
  • How SXSW will change my behaviour in the newsroom.

I guess I have my work cut out!

Newspapers suck at SXSWi

GGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!

*Sigh*

Right, well I have just wasted 20 minutes of my last day at SXSW watching what was the most dire representation of the newspaper industry I could have possibly witnessed at a world-leading conference on interactivity.

I will have to come back to who was the speaker and what was the title, because right now the need to rant overtakes the need to Google for that particular information.

The talk was by a 36-year-old US journalist who is trying to help his colleagues embrace new platforms and get to grips with the power of the social Internet.

The executive summary (before I walked out) was:

“Print is dead.”

“Time is running out.”

“It’s real hard to get journalists to blog.”

“Change isn’t happening fast enough.”

“I don’t know what the solution is.”

Well… that’s useful. I can think of at least half a dozen people who could have produced a more insightful assessment of the industry as it currently stands. I might even be so bold as to say I could have done better.

First of all, let’s stop saying that the Internet is the death of print. It is not. The Internet is the death of some print. There will always be a need to place words in places where screens can’t go. Plus text is harder to read on the screen so, for long articles, print is always going to be a more comfortable experience.

But t’s true that a large swathe of news is being repackaged into a sharper, more condensed form making it easier for busy people with busy lives to learn what they need to know quickly. This is the sort of news that needs to be taken out of print and put onto the Internet, rather than print.

The other thing is that “time is running out”. Running out for who, exactly? Running out for newspaper groups? Well, I suspect they are well aware revenues are declining and, if they don’t get their income from newspapers, then they’ll get it from elsewhere and dispose of or wind up anything that makes a loss. Running out for newspapers? Maybe… Running out for some journalists? Yes.

Yes it is really hard to get journalists to blog – mainly becuase they are tied into the busy regime of producing an outdated newspaper and see a blog post as extra work. The hard part is finding the space for them to take time out of that treadmill to realise they need to look at their work in a new way. Once you do that, and once you explain how blogging can connect you directly to readers, most are pretty open to the idea of using the platform.

I simply can’t understand all this negativity associated with the change that is happening to the newspaper industry at the moment. There are lots of things to feel positive about: blogs can help you improve your stories through reader feedback and contribution, video can help you build trust between you and the reader, mashups can help provide readers with richer data and information on the areas and topics that they are most interested in.

Those people that get this stuff right, have a bright future. I wish we’d start looking forward rather than constantly peddling the message of doom and gloom.

SXSW Interactive ≠ Social

I have to say the SXSW on Saturday was a blast. The free beer and meeting so mant interesting, intelligent people was a heady mix.

Yesterday was a little more subdued. I had a pretty sore head for one thing and, also, I thought it was about time to check out some of the panels.

I missed the best one, it seems, which was the horrifc cringe-fest that was Sarah Lacy’s interview with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. While that was going on, I was sitting in on a panel about given users design freedom in applications.

A couple of things came to mind from this experience:

1. I’m not really that bothered about going to panels.

2. Web designers (especially the guy from Google) have a habit of treating their users in the same way that newspapers treat their readers.

There is this implicit assumption that, however innovative your users may want to be with your product, the creators still know best. It’s a strange ownership thing that I want to understand more about. Is it, perhaps, because deep down we do not provide or create platforms to empower other people, we do it to gain power ourselves?

Another thing that’s been bugging me is the overuse of the term “social media”. It’s certainly the buzzword for this festival. I guess it’s better than the word being “anti-social media” but, in many cases, that might be more apt.

Maybe it’s the product of thousands of voices trying to be heard in one space, but I’ve noticed a lot of people shouting about how “social” their product or job is, without actually seeming to have any social skills themselves. It’s like the loud guy who walks into the bar telling everyone how fun and popular he is but, after about five minutes, you realise he’s just a bit dull.

It occurs to me that by designing something to be interactive does not make it social per se. Social is a more subtle thing, built upon personal relationships, emotions and communication. I’m not sure where this is going, but I get the feeling that understanding this is pretty key to understanding how journalists should be working with their readers…

Someone who has got this whole social stuff down to a fine art is podcaster, blogger, writer and general media tart Ewan Spence, who I met properly for the first time yesterday and was bowled over by his passion and enthusiasm for both the digital medium and the people behind it. Ewan is an example of what happens when this type of publishing works for you… I’m meeting more and more of these people and learning a lot, but can’t quite put it all into words yet!

On the technology front, I’ve been enjoying using Qik to live stream video on the Nokia N95. I’m still making some errors with it but I will start to post stuff to the blog today. I like the way it allows people watching the video to send you messages. Although I guess it makes the video less intelligible for people watching after the event.

I’ll really hate the fact I’m going to have to give the N95 back when I get home. It’s a great tool.

Pete Ashton is on stage again!

At the Fray Cafe at SXSW: “Pete Ashton y’all. Give it up. Give it up.”


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