links for 2010-08-25

  • Suw: Despite a silly headline, this is actually a very good opinion piece by Mike Altendorf, questioning the kneejerk reactions of HR and boardrooms towards social media in the business.
  • Kevin: Yahoo's Barcelona research lab has created a tool that will not only puts past articles on a timeline, but it also looks at predictions made in those past articles. For instance, Tom Simonite in the MIT Technology Review gives the example of a 2004 opinion piece that predicted that North Korea would have some 200 warheads. It's a clever use of semantic technology that extracts dates from articles and delivers more information to the reader. It's a clever riff on the idea of a timeline, and it's a great discovery tool for a news organisations archives.
  • Kevin: "Statistics can make or break a story. Used correctly they add weight and conviction, but it’s easy to be seduced by cherry-picked data and meaningless surveys." A talk at the Centre for Investigative Journalism by Nigel Hawkes on how to become savvy about data.
  • Kevin: "Polymaps is a free, open-source JavaScript library for making dynamic, interactive maps. It is the result of a collaboration between Stamen Design and SimpleGeo. … Polymaps provides speedy display of multi-zoom datasets over maps, and supports a variety of visual presentations for tiled vector data, in addition to the usual cartography from OpenStreetMap, CloudMade, Bing, and other providers of image-based web maps."
  • Kevin: Scott Rosenberg has written a very thoughtful post on the risks of trusting Facebook with the future's past. He write: "In fact, Facebook is relentlessly now-focused. And because it uses its own proprietary software that it regularly changes, there is no way to build your own alternate set of archive links to old posts and pages the way you can on the open Web." I think the issue of memory and archive in the digital age is a really interesting one, and it becomes even more important when we outsource digital memory to closed systems that have their own priorities.
  • Kevin: A good howto post by Tony Hirst of Open University on how to screen scrape data from Wikipedia. Tony has a number of excellent tutorials on his blog on how to do this. One thing to note is that a lot of the data in Wikipedia is now available on DBPedia so you might not have to go through this process.
  • Kevin: A nice brief look at a new visualisation project from the BBC called that puts news events in a physical context. For instance, with floods currently covering a fifth of Pakistan, how does that translate on a map of the United States, allowing readers in the US to appreciate the sense of scale. Really good thinking.
  • Kevin: Alan Mutter writes about how major metro newspapers in the US are finding some success in creating niche print products. "(F)oresighted publishers are creating niche products to try to capture readers who historically were unlikely to buy the legacy newspaper – and, of course, the advertisers who covet them as customers." This is smart. As Philip Meyer wrote in 2004 with The Vanishing Newspaper, whenever a new medium has challenged an existing one, it has always pushed the legacy media towards greater specialisation. Some newspapers are focusing on this not only with digital products but also with new targeted print products.
  • Kevin: Caroline McCarthy at CNET has written one of the best pieces on the roll out of Facebook places. With Facebook Places, there was not just a shift from location as a standalone feature but also in how location was being talked about. "Facebook Places' debut marks a shift in the rhetoric of the location-based services market because of the company's vocal connection of geolocation to permanence and memory, rather than the language of exciting immediacy (see what your friends are doing right now! In real time!) touted by the likes of Foursquare and Gowalla." I wonder if this is simply a rhetorical shift for the purpose of marketing and differentiation or if it actually speaks fundamentally to how location will work on Facebook. They cynic in me thinks it's probably just a bit of marketing.
  • Kevin: Poynter has a great interview with Tiffany Campbell, a six-year veteran of the paper and a lead producer for She describes how mobile tools such as Twitter and live video service Qik are changing how they report news and interact with audiences. She talks about how they use Twitter not only as a distribution mechanism but also as a content creation platform. "By using Twitter as a mobile platform, we were able to give real-time updates and maintain users' interest in an event." They always see a spike in traffic when they go live with video or tweet a live event. She sees that this is not only changing reporting but also how audiences interact with journalism. People can interact with reporters in real time as they are reporting.

links for 2010-08-24

links for 2010-08-23

links for 2010-08-20

links for 2010-08-19

links for 2010-08-18

  • Kevin: The genesis of the Hack/Hackers group that began in Silicon Valley, spread across the US and now has spread across the pond with a group in London. The meeting brings together technologists, developers and journalists to discuss the future of journalism and the media and build bridges between groups that had previously been quite separate.
  • Kevin: Andrew Finlayson takes a look at the impact that the semantic web will have on journalism. It's a layman's view of semantic web technology and linked data. I think he misunderstands Wolfram Alpha, and I think concerns about semantic web technology replacing reporters are irrelevant in the current context. Cut to the end: "the real promise for journalists is that it should soon offer us easy access to thousands of sources of raw data that we will use to tell meaningful stories about our communities."

links for 2010-08-17

  • Kevin: Firm numbers have been difficult to come by in terms of how The Times paywall experiment is playing out, but in terms of traffic, Alexa shows a 44.9% decline in reach over the last three months since the paywall went up. We always knew that traffic would decline, but the question remains whether the loss of revenue from reduced ad impressions is made up by subscribers to the site.

links for 2010-08-16