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Old Media Can Survive in New Media Landscape

Filed under: News,Reviews — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

Robin Miller, editor in chief at OSTG.com| Open Source Technology Group, has written a long and interesting article on Slashdot about changes he recommends that newspapers make in order to stop the bleeding of readership losses in the face of the web’s growth in importance. Both the article and the 232 comments at posting time are worth a look, but here’s a summary via some of my favorite parts:

  • Include web-readers in readership numbers and lighten up already about declining print subscribers!
  • Embrace the two-way web by giving reader comments a prominent place and reduced barriers to entry (e.g. multiple logins required before posting).
  • Utilize one of the many established moderation protocols to keep those reader comments as pertinent as possible. The author points out that Slashdot has a battle tested and freely usable, if complex, moderation system available.
  • High-quality events calenders, print-it-yourself coupons and local classified ads are all features that a newspaper’s web site is in the best position to offer of any media.
  • A strong local focus can be a paper’s competitive edge whether in print or online. Few newspapers offer anything uniquely compelling in terms of international news. The internet at large is just too effective in this area.

“Eventually, I expect print newspapers to become “snapshots” of their Web editions taken at 1 a.m. or another arbitrary time, poured into page templates and massaged a little by layout people, then sent to the printing presses, a pattern that has potential for significant production cost reductions if handled adroitly. From that point on, their paper editions will be distributed the same way newspapers are now.

“Senior citizens and others who can’t afford (or don’t want) computers are and will continue to be a viable market. So will commuters who use public transportation. Then there are those — a substantial part of the population — who simply prefer reading words and looking at pictures on paper to seeing them on a screen. They will still want physical newspapers, even if they are not as up-to-date or as complete as what they’d get on the Web.”

These are just a few of my favorite parts of the article itself. As is typical of Slashdot postings, the comments make up another large and valuable part of the info. This is just the kind of discussion that needs to happen. I think that if MSM were to be disappearing (unlikely) we’d really lose out on some things they can do well. But it is very important that old-school organizations make use of the Web 2.0 world to augment what they are already doing. In as much as Web2.0 is about extending participation, honest and open communication and fostering creativity then it’s not just good for business, it’s good for humanity.

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Podcasting’s Ascent Continues: Podshow, the Mommy Cast and IBM

Filed under: Podcasts — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

According to an article in the Mercury News, there’s big developments in the podosphere. The great network of shows and services over at Podshow is adding 30 more shows to its roster, up from 6 or 7. If the quality of these new shows approaches the quality of the old ones, we’re in for a real treat. I have long enjoyed Podshow’s Gilmour Gang and Yeast Radio. The new shows look very good too.

In related news, I didn’t know that The Mommycast, a podcast about raising kids, just got a $100,00+ sponsorship from Dixie paper products. It’s a cool show, with no political pretense, so good for them!

Podcasts for broadcast have really enriched my life, and I know they have the lives of others as well. They don’t have to be just for public consumption, though. I wrote an article earlier today over at the blog of RSS Applied about IBM’s use of podcasts for internal communication. That’s a very exciting concept. One resource I did not know about when I wrote that article was a podcast just uploaded today! It’s at over at John Furrier’s site and is titled Inside IBM. I’m going to go walk the dog and listen to it right now!

Update: That IBM podcast is pretty boring until 10 minutes in. You can get the gist of who the interview subject is by visiting the link above, but the first 10 minutes are largely about entertainment podcasts. The whole interview is 16 mins long and the last 6 minutes I found worth listening to.

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Teaching RSS: A Discussion

Filed under: My Services,RSS — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

Of all of the Web2.0 tools I know of, I think that RSS is one of the most difficult to explain to new users. I’ve been doing a lot of explaining lately – in trainings, blog posts and work proposals. I thought I’d put my current thinking down in text and see if others are interested in contributing their thoughts as well.

Here’s some observations I’ve made lately and teaching practices I’ve been employing:

  • An actual demonstration goes a long way. That’s why I’ve set up a demonstration account with online feed reader Newsgator, my favorite RSS reader. I tell people they can log in and see what a reader seeded with a variety of types of feeds looks like. The username is “marshalldemo” and the password is “welcome” The account contains basic mainstream media feeds, government feeds, blog feeds, search feeds, multi-media search feeds, scraped feeds (via Feedfire.com), podcast subscriptions and others. I think that gives visitors a good idea of what sorts of information is receivable via RSS.
  • My medium-lengthed RSS definition is currently as follows: “Many web sites now publish their content not just in HTML as your browser views them, but also in a format called XML. You can subscribe to the XML content of any web site to receive any changed content into a special inbox for feeds. So a new article in the New York Times international business section, a new post to a blog you like, a new email in your email inbox or even a new result in a web search you’ve subscribed to…any time that new content is available from any of those sources it will automatically be delivered to your feed reader inbox. So that means that you don’t have to go to a site more than once – if you like it you can just subscribe to its updates in the future. You don’t have to go to sites to check for updates only to find that a site is unchanged, or even remember what all the sites you’re interested in are. Lots of different information streams are all delivered to one place, set up like a personal news desk. It saves a lot of time, increases the amount of information you can absorb and can make you one of the first people to get that information.”

    Ok, so that’s no elevator pitch. How about: “RSS is a system you can use to set up a special inbox to receive automatic notification of any new information available from a wide variety of sources: news sites, blogs and even searches. Just subscribe once and you’ll get updates from whatever sources you chose automatically.”

  • Subscribing to a feed URL is not very intuitive to people who are used to being passive web consumers. If you’re used to copying and pasting a URL after things like a href, then it’s probably no big deal to you. But I know that I want to teach people who focus on things other than the internet how to use the internet. So it really does take some talking through with people to help them either “copy shortcut” or to go to an XML filled page, stop screaming with horror and copy the URL into their feedreader.
  • Before I show some one how to use RSS, I like to ask them what some of their favorite news sites and blogs are. I set up an online feed reader account (Newsgator or Bloglines) for them, seed it with feeds from their favorite sources and some search feeds, and give it a basic password they can change later. That way they can see RSS in action and relevant to them right away.
  • I usually use feeds from Google Blogsearch and Technorati for blog intro blogsearch, Topix.net for US news search or Yahoo News for domestic and international news, MSN Search for web search and Blinkx.com for podcast search.
  • If I’m really feeling able to spend some time on it, I’ll create a metafeed channel by splicing all the tag search feeds from Tagcentral.net into one feed via Feed Digest. That delivers items tagged in del.icio.us, Flickr, Upcoming.org social calendar and other tag-supporting services.
  • In an account filled with feeds, there has to be some way to differentiate between high-value feeds and lower-value feeds. I advise people to place feeds with lots of items in them, where any single feed is less likely to be essential to read, in folders together by theme. On the other hand, feeds with fewer results or from which each result is essential to read (like inbound links to their own site or blog), can be placed outside of any folders so that new items will be immediately visible and won’t get lost in a torrent of feed items.
  • Finally I always teach feed reading in conjunction with tagging. Let’s be honest, though RSS does enable greater information absorption with increased efficiency – it also has the potential to deliver far more information than a person could possibly absorb. I tell people, you’ve just got to let a lot of it zip by and when something looks interesting – open it in another tab. If it is interesting, tag it into Del.icio.us (or sometimes Spurl.net if the pared down UI might be intimidating, or if a cached copy is key).
  • Finally, after finally, I always contact people some time afterwords and see how their feed reading is going. I ask them to let me log into their feed reader account to see if I can advise them how better to organize the feeds, what else they might want to subscribe to, etc.

Well, that’s a lot of information – but describing, much less teaching RSS is a complicated thing to do. This discussion leaves out the use of RSS for attention streams, RSS to HTML, RSS to IM (something I hope Immedi.at can help me make work ASAP), analytics, security and countless other possibilities. They don’t call it a separate language for nothing!

Your thoughts on explaining, teaching or using RSS are more than welcome. I hope we can share our knowledge so that all of us will be more effective in our efforts to extend adoption of this fantastic technology.

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I’m Joining the Corante Network!

Filed under: Blogging,My Services,News — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

I couldn’t be much more excited, starting tomorow morning my writing here is going to be syndicated by the Corante network in their new “web hub.” Looking at the bios of the other contributors, I’m super honored to have gotten the gig. Huge thanks to Pete Cashmore at Mashable blog, whose blog roll got me the intro to the Corante editors. Now I have to get back to writing the good stuff that got me the gig in the first place!

Technorati Tag Indexing: Is There a Problem?

Filed under: Search,Tagging — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

My last post was made 24 hours ago:

Title:
“Tagging Museums Sounds Like Fun”

Google Blogsearch: Indexed in in the search results
Icerocket: Indexed, including the “Technorati Tags”
Technorati: Got it
Technorati Tag searches: Nope. Not for museums, not under folksonomy, not under the tag “tags”.

You want to know something funny, though? This post of mine Video Sharing With YouTube does appear in the tag search results for the tag “tag” – even though I didn’t tag it with the tag tag in the actual post!

And yes, I am pinging them, via Feedburner’s Pingshot service.

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Tagging Museums Sounds Like Fun

Filed under: Knowledge Management,Tagging — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

Beth Kanter has posted a great article about museums that are using the same ideas behind tagging tools like del.icio.us to make their collections more searchable. In a similar spirit, I’m going to tag this trackback with tags she didn’t use for her post…making the article all the more findable using a multitude of tags.

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Blogging Software Compared

Filed under: Blogging,Reviews — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

The folks over at Sitepoint.com have put together a good comparison of Word Press, Movable Type and TextPattern. These three blogging systems are amongst the most popular and people sometimes ask me, “which one should I use?” Well here’s a good resource to look into.

For more in-depth and technical comparison of a larger number of options, check out Asymptomatic’s Blog Software Breakdown.

If you are interested in corporate blogging or work for a large non-profit, you should look into the MyST-based blog and RSS software of RSS Applied.com. I have been writing on their blog about enterprise blogging and RSS for about a week now and their software seems quite good. The system is designed to maximize your visiblity in search engines, it supports podcasts and other enclosures well, it incorporates RSS beautifully and it supports blogging both publicly and behind a firewall. It’s pretty impressive and comes with a training session.

I hope those are useful pointers for people trying to decide what blog software is best for them.

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