Web 2.0

BlogTV adds news and comedy channels

Toronto-based community videocasting site blogtv.ca is adding two channels: one for comedy and the other for news and politics.

The channels are scheduled to launch tomorrow [Friday].

Although blogTV.ca is a platform for anyone who wants to videocast [including some who are a long way from being video professionals], it’s owned by a genuine television network, Alliance Atlantis Communications.

Alliance Atlantis is in the process of being acquired by CanWest Global Communications and Goldman Sachs.

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Social networking attracts virtually all US youth

A couple of highlights from US research reported yesterday at Advertising Age:

A whopping 96% of online tweens and teens connect to a social network at least once a week, according to a study and white paper being released today from Alloy Media & Marketing, a youth-oriented marketing firm. And nearly half engaged with a brand in the space in the past month.


The study asked about traditional media habits and found social networking is approaching parity with TV time among 9- to 17-year-olds. And when kids are multitasking, they’re four times more likely to pay closer attention to whatever they’re doing online than to whatever they’re watching on the tube.

Interesting, although I’d like to see some details of the study [strangely, there’s no mention of it on the Alloy website], particularly with respect to its socio-economic and geographic span.

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Readers choose linear navigation for slideshows

Research published yesterday by the Online Journalism Review suggests that online readers tend to use linear navigation tools when viewing a slideshow.

The study had 34 people view a 40-slide show at washingtonpost.com. The show provided three options for linear navigation: a forward arrow button, a “next” button and autoplay. There were two non-linear options: an index of slide numbers and a thumbnail gallery.

Now, this was a really small sample, and the participants were exposed to only one slideshow so we can debate whether navigation choice was influenced by the relative prominence of each option. We also don’t know how familiar participants were with multimedia design conventions, but …

The results were pretty lopsided. Linear navigation was by far the most popular means of navigation. And those who used it tended to spend more time with the show (they were told to stop whenever they had “had enough”) and to view more of the slides.

As the authors say… it’s an intriguing area for further research.

Is the linear orientation to looking through material so hard-wired into our media usage that it is, and will continue to be, the preferred way to take in media? Even when it was visual information – as this was – and did not logically need to follow a narrative thread – people preferred to move through in the order it was presented. What does this observation tell us about innovation in digital storytelling and our audience’s tolerance for new design paradigms.

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Doing hyperlocal with style

Oswego neighborhood circle front page

I quite like the look of this hyperlocal site for the Chicago suburb of Oswego. It’s among the first of 30 new citizen journalism sites to be developed by the Sun-Times News Group, under the Neighborhood Circle banner.

Yes, it’s colourful, but this isn’t meant to be the Grey Lady, after all.

John Cary, senior new media operations director at STNG told Journalism.co.uk:

[The new sites] will be in areas where we have existing footprints so they will be an extension of our community papers that already have a site, but these will be micro zones.

The sites will serve communities as small as 10,000 people, says journalism.co.uk. Information uploaded by the community will be moderated and fact-checked prior to publication. 

Already, there’s some interesting content on the Oswego site, and the design is much more professional than what one sees at a lot of suburban paper sites. Check it out.

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Design an Olympics logo

Olympics 2012 logo

Unimpressed by the logo [above] for the 2012 London Olympics unveiled this week? You’re not alone.

The BBC website has a number of alternatives, submitted by its readers, including some very nice work.

If you’d like to try your hand, you might ponder this advice from Seth Godin:

If you’re given the task of finding a logo for an organization, your first task should be to try to get someone else to do it. If you fail at that, find an abstract image that is clean and simple and carries very little meaning–until your brand adds that meaning. It’s not a popularity contest. Or a job for a committee. It’s not something where you should run it by a focus group. It’s just a placeholder, a label waiting to earn some meaning.

No word on whether the existing London 2012 design could be replaced if enough people don’t like it.

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The journalist’s challenge: to demonstrate value

Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 sums up the dilemma for journalists at traditional newspapers, in a response to a comment on his posting Regression to the mean of content quality:

The problem is that [the] Fourth Estate was easier for people to value when it came packaged with the sports page and the cartoons. Disaggregation on the web means that journalism needs to be valued on its own — that is the challenge presented by the disruption of the news business.

I recommend the entire post, and Scott’s excellent follow-up: Every newspaper journalist should start a blog. Amen.

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Holovaty quits Washington Post to build local site tools

Journalist/programmer [and Web 2.0 rock star] Adrian Holovaty is leaving washingtonpost.com, where he has been editor of editorial innovations since September 2005, to form a new web business.

Hovolaty’s new project is called EveryBlock, and he today picked up a US$1.1 million grant to kick it off.

The money will come from the Knight Foundation News Challenge awards which describes the project as follows:

To create, test and release open-source software that links databases to allow citizens of a large city to learn (and act on) civic information about their neighborhood or block.

Holovaty honed his skills on the highly-respected Lawrence [Kansas] Journal-World website and its equally impressive events site lawrence.com. He also built chicagocrime.org, a site that mashes crime stats from police databases with Google maps.

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Creating and managing online communities

This post, by Metafilter creator Matthew Haughey should be required reading for anyone trying to set up or manage an online community.

Like Matthew, I cringe at the term “user-generated content” and much prefer “community”. The terminology reflects — and affects — our attitude, and the right attitude is essential to building a healthy and vibrant community. As Matthew says:

If you’re building a community you have to love what you’re doing and be the best member of it. It takes great care and patience to create a space others will share and you have to nurture it and reward your best contributors. It’s a decidedly human endeavor with few, if any, technical shortcuts.

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Student’s video records road rage

A Toronto high school student has captured on video scenes of a cyclist being bashed by a car driver.

The amateur video is now on YouTube and has been given to the police. City TV reports that a Toronto police officer [on leave since 2004] has turned himself in and been charged with assault.

The student was in a group studying the use of surveillance cameras in downtown Toronto when the attack occurred.

We used to talk about “Kodak moments”. Now it’s more likely to be “YouTube moments”. Or opportunities for anyone to commit citizen journalism.

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Mesh program posted

The program for this month’s Mesh conference in Toronto has just been posted.

The big names (Mike Arrington, Richard Edelman, Rachel Sklar, Austin Hill, etc.) had already been announced, but now we can actually figure out how to hear as many of them as possible on May 30 and 31!

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