Eric Magnuson

My unique intersection of cooperation, sustainable business and local living economies.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Lessons in citizen journalism

I've been following Bayosphere for a while now as a model of citizen journalism I want to see succeed. Dan Gillmore recently threw in the towel with a heartfelt post describing what he believes went wrong. His analysis of the situation is very informative for anyone thinking about creating a community around citizen journalism.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Newspapers and blogs - how to get it wrong

All over the country newspapers are turning to blogs in an attempt to get hip. Most are using blogs as an alternate publishing vehicle for its writers, some are attempting to go further. In the case of the Austin American-Statesman, the attempt was to create a community of citizen bloggers. In a rare example of public self-reflection, Kevin Brass gives us a peek into why he thinks his paper's blog is a failure.

There are a lot of valuable lessons for others looking to create a platform for bloggers. One of the most basic of those lessons is the one I'll end this post with. As is often the case when old media attempts to enter the new media realm, the Statesman's blog site is chock-full of rules, disclaimers, and warnings sure to annoy anyone raised in the Internet era. Fans interested in responding to staff-written blogs are warned that their notes won't be posted until "reviewed" by the staffer. In a medium that thrives on the lack of boundaries and hierarchy, the Statesman promises to feature blogs the editors deem worthy, but only those from "people who are keeping their language clean and civil."
The Internet is built to go around obstacles. When you put up barriers to expression people will go around you. The old-model folks are sure taking a long time to get this into their heads.

Blog Packs

I am very interested in the emergence of blog networks. The trend appears to be mostly motivated by the desire to aggregate impressions to create a more attractive proposition to potential advertisers. Secondarily, I there may be some economies of scale when it comes to hosting costs and platform maintinence.

The most authoritative list of blog networks I have found is the Blog Network List. Here you can get current rankings of the blog networks based on data from Technorati, MSN, Google and others. The site takes freely available xml data from these sites and uses it to generate a score.

Here are a few of the blog networks I am watching.
Gothamist, LLC
Federated Media Publishing
Metroblogging Network

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Pandemic Mashup

You've got to love the emergence of GIS mashups using Google Earth and this is the first example I've seen of a mashup displaying locations of H5N1 Avian Flu outbreaks. The data charts the location of every reported case of human infection since the outbreak began.

Declan Butler created the mashup for a Nature feature. On his blog he describes what it took to pull together the data.