Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Citizen Journalism Opening Up Political Space in Africa
Anyone with a mobile phone can call a radio station in Ghana now to question a government minister about the promises he made election time.
The communication revolution has broken through the earlier world in which official information was offered through government-controlled radio or television. This has brought greater transparency and accountability in the governance process, says Aida Opoku-Mensah, director of information and communication technologies at the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The role of citizen journalism as a new tool for democracy in developing countries was discussed at a seminar called Tuesday this week by child welfare and international humanitarian organisation Plan, the ministry for foreign affairs in Finland, and the Union of Finnish Journalists (SJL).
"Citizen journalism has not yet been brought to discussions on development policies," Riitta Weiste, director of Plan Finland said at the seminar.
"Today we ask, does ICT guarantee the success of citizen journalism, and what are the challenges to the work and development policies of governments and NGOs? How could we use the tools of citizen journalism in reducing poverty and contributing to democracy?"
"Citizen journalism is the newest version of an old idea that there should be a different interaction between news producers and recipients," said Heikki Heikkilä, senior lecturer in the department of journalism and mass communication at the University of Tampere in Finland. "There shouldn't just be freedom to express oneself per se but also the freedom to participate."
In developed countries with high access to the Internet, citizen journalism is increasingly expressed in activities such as blogging and distribution of content through own-created web sites.
"Journalism has been facilitated by development of new technology of communication that has made publishing so easy and relatively cheap," Heikkilä told IPS.
Citizen journalism has emerged largely because of the need for journalism to revise its working practices in the face of recognition that it has become far removed from people and their everyday lives, Heikkilä said.
In a sharp departure from its past practices, Time magazine at the end of last year awarded its annual person of the year to Internet users.
The basis of the award was that Internet users had grown enormously within the previous year, mainly frequenting sites where people can participate through their own writings or photographs.
In African countries however, citizen journalism still takes place largely within the context of radio broadcasting -- and it is being used to great effect, says Opoku-Mensah.
"The written word is limited, and has been traditionally limited to cities and to a very narrow group of the elite because it is always in English, French or Portuguese -- the language of former colonial rulers," she said. In such circumstances, she said, it is mainly through radio that political discourse takes place in Africa.
"The first impact that hits you is that the political space has become public -- creating transparency and accountability not witnessed previously. Political leaders fear they will be embarrassed if their actions get publicised."
In Ghana, in West Africa, nearly 60 local radio stations have sprung up within the last decade, and are now spread across the country.
The proliferation of the radio stations has come alongside wide availability of mobile phones, Opoku-Mensah told IPS. "It is no longer fashionable for a journalist to sit down and question politicians, because the citizens do it so well."
The marriage between radio and the mobile phone in Africa has also made it difficult to rig elections, she said, because journalists at polling stations can quickly report anything going wrong.
Opoku-Mensah pointed to elections in Kenya and Senegal where the outcome was influenced by active participation of citizens using modern communication technology.
But there is a flipside, said Lewis Friedland, professor at the School of Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin in the United States. "It can be used in a way that siphons off the civic and public content of a good newspaper." Mainstream newspapers and media organisations must actively try to co-opt citizen journalism, Friedland said.
Another consequence can be "hyper-localism" -- an increasing return to content driven by neighbourhood news and people's personal lives, and produced by individuals, Friedland said. "This can happen when local newspapers turn more and more to 'what people want', and avoid covering difficult policy issues."
This trend is starting to emerge in the United States, he said, and warned that it could also emerge in Europe. The populist equivalent of hyper-localism could "lower the content of journalism as a whole," he said. "Even though the trivial can co-exist with the serious, it is problem worth taking note of." (END/2007)
Labels: AFRICA, GHANA, ICT JOURNALISM, ONLINE JOURNALISM, PENPLUSBYTES
Journalism 2.0: What's in It for Mid-Career Journos?
The lean, quick, lower-cost jobs of "Journalism 2.0" don't make sense to many mid-career journalists. To be clear, the "don't make sense" part is not
"I despise technology and resist it." Rather, it is: "I do not see opportunities to display my long-honed skills and expertise." And as a result, some newsrooms that are attempting the shift to the Web are losing substantial numbers of mid-career people.
In discussions of new journalism economics, I don't hear anyone addressing this problem of persuading the existing human capital to enter the new reality. Granted, the proto-journalists in school today expect that the jobs they graduate to will be profoundly different than the jobs of the past (at least, they do where I teach). But there are not enough new graduates to repopulate the industry overnight. So, even though it needs to get lean, journalism also needs those mid-career people -- but it is not currently offering them any compelling reasons to stay.
It's true: Reporters must be entrepreneurial on their own behalf and look for opportunities to innovate. But a problem -- and this is not a new observation -- is that the traditional layered organization of newsrooms is structurally hostile to innovation. (Context: I currently do magazine freelance and work at a Web site, but spent 20 years at four newspapers, exiting a year ago.) It's incredibly hard for journalists who are trying to innovate to push a Web-related idea up the ladder. The answer might seem to be to try it yourself -- but at some papers, personal, non-paper blogs are explicitly forbidden, or must be pre-approved and vetted.
New journalistic opportunities appear to be developing around local and hyperlocal coverage. But the news profession generally denigrates local news -- not just at newspapers, but through our entire reward system. Who's the aspirational model in j-schools: William Allen White
, or Woodward & Bernstein
? John Fetterman
, or Seymour Hirsch
When they hear "hyperlocal," most mid-career people also hear some extra unspoken words attached: "...and short." That's an obvious deterrent: No one older than, say, 38 went into and stuck with journalism because their ultimate career aspiration was tapping out neighborhood shorts in the front seat of their car.
Here's the opportunity that's being missed: The central issue for writers isn't where the story is, local or national; it's how rich the story is, and how deep they are allowed to go. People stay in journalism because it lets them exercise particular talents as fact finders and storytellers, and that exercise gives them joy. (God knows no one stays for the money.)
Web-based means of storytelling, and hyperlocal stories, do offer such opportunities. But my experience is that many writers don't believe it. Instead, they feel their work being squeezed into from-above templates that devalue the best skills they have to offer. The mid-career people who currently are leaving say that what they hear from managers is, "You must do this." But what they need to hear, to be persuaded, is "You can thrive doing this." And they're not.
Labels: ICT JOURNALISM, ONLINE JOURNALISM, PENPLUSBYTES
Google opens up social networking
Google has launched a system that will allow developers to create applications for a variety of social networks.
Developers currently have to customise their designs for a particular site with many partnering with the hugely popular Facebook.
Google's OpenSocial system will allow a wider distribution for tools like Facebook's music recommendation service iLike and its Top Friends application.
It has long been reported that Google has big ambitions in social networking.
Last week it missed out on the chance to buy a stake in Facebook with the founders choosing instead to do a deal with Microsoft.
Google said that around a dozen social network partners had signed up to the system, including business site LinkedIn, Friendster and Google's own social network Orkut.
Developers already onboard include Flixster, iLike and RockYou.
According to blog TechCrunch the plan is likely to be a big hit with developers as well as Facebook's rivals.
"Developers have been complaining non stop about the costs of learning yet another markup language for every new social network platform, and taking developer time in creating and maintaining the code," wrote TechCrunch's Michael Arrington.
He is impressed by the number of social networks that have signed up so far.
"Facebook-fear has clearly driven good partners to side with Google," he wrote.
Technology writer Om Malik observed: "OpenSocial attacks Facebook where it is the weakest (and the strongest): its quintessential closed nature."
Labels: google, ICT JOURNALISM, ONLINE JOURNALISM, PENPLUSBYTES, web 2.0
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Reuters/Nokia Collaboration Has Potential for Citizen Journalists
Reuters and Nokia Research Center have teamed up to advance the usage of mobile journalism with the release of a new mobile toolkit and reporting try-out. Although the initiative is currently aimed at professional reporters, the project has implications for citizen journalists around the world.
In a trial that began over the summer, Reuters journalists were given a lightweight " mobile toolkit " that included a Nokia N95 mobile phone, a tripod, a folding bluetooth keyboard, a Sony microphone, and Power Monkeys. The Power Monkey Explorer was used in Senegal and allowed the phone to be charged using solar power. The toolkit also includes text editing and multimedia capabilities. According to Nokia, "metadata facilities" combine everything that the phone already knows about the story, such as GPS location, time, date and other information.
The toolkit allows journalists to write and publish stories from the field to deliver up-to-date news and instant reporting. The trial involved journalists reporting on everything from New York Fashion Week to the US presidential campaign. Archived stories are available on Reuters Mobile Journalism website.
Although the mobile toolkit's usage has been confined to professional journalists, usage could be expanded in the future to include non-professionals as well. According to Nokia's press release
The implications of the research could be much wider in the long term. Timo Koskinen, project manager with Nokia Research Center, said: "The term 'citizen journalism' has been in use for several years, but technological innovations - particularly the introduction of mobile multimedia computers - have transformed the concept. 'Citizen journalism' is beginning to embrace a wide range of public engagement with the media, from groups of contributors organized around subject or geographic areas to the casual participation of observers who are lucky - or unlucky - enough to be at the scene of a newsworthy event."
The Nokia/Reuters collaboration joins other mobile journalism projects, including Voices of Africa, a project of AfricaNews that we have previously written about. Voices of Africa allows citizen journalists throughout Africa to submit videos, photos, and stories via mobile phone. The project seeeks to make news coverage more democratic by expanding reporting abilities to those who aren't represented by the conventional media with the basic premise that "the bigger the number of people expressing their opinions through that technology, the stronger becomes democracy, and the more valuable is the contribution to good governance efforts in Africa."
Newsrooms use Google Maps to improve wildfire coverage
Interactive fire maps show that journalists can build engaging Web applications, on deadline, with minimal technical skill.
Fire coverage has become routine for Southern California newsrooms. The Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer and the San Diego Union-Tribune an Online Journalism Award for their coverage of the last major round of wildfires, in October 2003. But the latest fires inspired a welcome innovation in local newsrooms' coverage: the use of interactive Google Maps to chart the fires and their damage.
These fire maps, from the Los Angeles Times, the Union-Tribune's SignOnSanDiego.com and KPBS-TV in San Diego, logged more than 3.5 million page views last week, according to Google Maps Product Manager Jessica Lee.
Earlier this year, Google introduced the "My Maps" function to Google Maps, which allowed non-programmers to build and share customized Google Maps, using a simple point-and-click interface. That tool can help journalists quickly slap up an online map whenever relevant news, such as a wildfire, breaks.
"There were certain kind of information that we started with," said Andrew Blankstein, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times. "How many acres has this fire burned? How many firefighters are on the line? Are there injuries? Have there been homes destroyed or damaged? Where is the fire moving. By laying out that, pinpointing it, and making it interactive so that people could see it, it became this tool that people were really drawn to."
Blankstein said that the Times' initial purpose was to help reporters track the fires.
"It started as this in-house tracking system that evolved into something that we shared with outside users. And it worked out beautifully."
The Times' Ron Lin developed the initial version of the fire map, using his personal Google account. Lin said that he "had played around" with building Google Maps before and credited the tool's ease of use in helping him build a map on deadline.
"I think that the same skills that anyone would need to look up online directions from point A to point B would be the same skills you would need to update this map."
SignOnSanDiego's Web team used a blend of My Maps functionality along with Google's more robust mapping API to build its fire map, which ultimately included lists of shelters and burned homes, as well as fire origin points and burn areas.
SignOnSanDiego.com's fire map
"It doesn't take much technical expertise to create a map through Google's site and share it," wrote Phil Malavenda, Online Operations/Production Manager for SignOnSanDiego.com, in an e-mail to OJR. "You just have to put points/areas on the map and make it public. It did take some programming expertise to host the map on our site like we did.
"That allowed us to add some extra functionality, such as the ability to toggle different information layers on and off. The mapping of burnt structures took quite a bit of programming expertise. We had to geocode and process lists of addresses, as well as the programming to create the interface to put them on the map."
Once available, the fire maps proved wildly popular with information-hungry online readers.
"I talked with an assistant chief with the Los Angeles Police Department who said that 'we had your map up at the emergency options center,'" said The Times' Blankstein.
"The map was the third most viewed page on the site behind only the front page and the fireblog," wrote Malavenda. "We continue to receive many e-mails from people thanking us for the work we did on the maps. Many of them, we've heard, used the map as their lifeline to find out about friends, family, and property in those areas that were affected by the fires."
The popularity of the fire maps did not escape Google's attention, either.
"When we noticed how much traffic the fire maps were getting, we increased our server capacity to make sure the maps could be displayed quickly and reliably to the people depending on them," said Lee.
Once the maps were available, readers could not only use that data for their own information, but also in mash-ups that extended the map's usability. One notable example? San Diego blogger Bruce Henderson mashed up KPBS and county fire department data with Google Earth images on his And-Still-I-Persist blog to create visually stunning 3-D renderings of the several fire maps.
A sample of And-Still-I-Persist's 3-D maps
Last week's wildfires challenged news organizations to break from conventional news narratives to deliver needed information to the public in the most timely and engaging ways that technology would allow. And with these fire maps, they responded.
"This ability to deliver information, in this new way, unfiltered and up to the minute, was really important to people," said Blankstein.
* * *
OJR asked Google Maps Product Manager Jessica Lee about other instances where publishers, either newspapers and bloggers, have used Google Maps to enhance their coverage.
Lee: There have been several other instances of My Maps being used for natural disasters and current events, but never before on this scale or magnitude.
BBC Berkshire: Flood Map -- When floods struck the Berkshire region of the UK, the BBC created a map with photos, YouTube videos, and radio correspondence.
Minneapolis I-35W Bridge Collapse -- When the I-35W Bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, someone created a map with photos, news, hospital information and prayer service locations.
Missouri Flood map -- When torrential rain caused levees to break along the Missouri River near Kansas City, someone made a map of flood forecasts, water level information, and hydrographs.
Ware County Wildfire Map -- A wildfire raged in Southern Georgia for a month, devastating 128 square miles of Ware and northern Charlton counties. Someone created a fire map for Ware County.
Oakland Maze Closure -- When a tanker filled with 8,600 gallons of gasoline exploded and destroyed part of a heavily trafficked freeway overpass in Oakland, CA, several news outlets and individuals created maps showing alternate routes.
University Bridge water main break -- When a large water main burst under the University Bridge in Seattle, it created a sinkhole and the bridge had to be closed. Someone made a simple news map of the event.
Users have created over 4 million maps over the last 6 months. Natural disaster maps are a fairly small portion of all the maps. Most are hobby maps or travel maps.
Online Journalism - I don't have deadlines – they don't exist.
After 14 years at Archant's Norwich Evening News, sports reporter Rick Waghorn used his redundancy package to establish his own online sports news service, myfootballwriter.com, which now boasts sites for Norwich City and Ipswich Town football clubs.
Having celebrated its first birthday this summer, Waghorn talked to Journalism.co.uk about the challenges and freedom of swapping print for online.
What made you decide to launch the website?
If there was a seminal moment, it arrived on my 40th birthday [January 16 2006]. There was a piece in the Media Guardian in which Clay Shirky
, a professor of journalism at New York City University, drew a fascinating analogy between the newspaper industry and the music industry.
He said that people still want to listen to music, they just don't want to buy it on a CD or an LP. Likewise people still want to read good writing, they just don't want to buy it in a newspaper – they want it online.
There was a redundancy process going through the Archant sports desks and subs desks at that exact moment – with a one in three chance of redundancy. My wife is a sub-editor at the Evening News – so when you've got a seven-year-old boy and a mortgage, it concentrates your mind. What differences have you noticed in writing news for online?
When it's a passion [what you are writing about] people will read every spit, dot and comma. So if part of your business model is based on page impressions, write 1,000 word pieces and make it two parts, because you know readers will always turn the page.
When you go to a football press conference there are reams of quotes that hit the cutting room floor that punters would still like to read. You free yourself from that spatial constraint placed on you by a newspaper.
I don't have deadlines – they don't exist. In theory I aim for an office market. We aim to put the first big piece up for your first coffee break and the second piece up for 4:30pm to 5:00pm for your final logoff. But then, if we put up something at 11 o'clock at night that might be the first coffee break in Sydney or in Hong Kong.
Does being online allow you to break sports news before your competitors?
Unless every local and regional newspaper in the country starts publishing a Sunday newspaper, we're going to beat them.
But football clubs all own their own websites, so in theory they've all become mini news providers. Whenever it's an official news story they will break it, because they have the means to do it. All you can hope to be is first with the fuller quotes, the better analysis, the bigger comments. What you create is a rolling news service for that specific club. How do people come to the site?
Initially in the first year I was a kind of mini-brand. But the biggest marketing tool we had was the message boards, because they just link to you. They may not agree with what you write, but by default they're marketing you. What are your plans for the future?
I'm looking to recruit for a Colchester United site - it's just getting the journalist. It is clearly a leap and there's an element of a generational thing.
In a way my hand was forced, so maybe it's slightly unreasonable of me to expect people in a similar position family and career-wise to just leap out. I have to go for the 24-year-olds - maybe they are the first generation coming through who've known nothing but the internet and likewise aren't expecting 40 years on to be writing for a newspaper. As a journalist running a website, how have you handled the promotional aspect of the business?
Marketing it virally via the messageboards gets you so far, but there are still old fashioned marketing opportunities that I didn't have the time, the knowledge or the experience to follow up on. Hopefully the functionality of the site will make up for the brand weakness.
Local advertisers are all fumbling around, just as we are, to find that new generation of customers. They need to find a new outlet to promote their brands and we give them a helping hand in doing that online.
I've had the [Norwich] Evening News advertising on my site since last month, because they're looking to promote their going out supplement. They're looking for that younger demographic and where are they going to be? Probably reading the football. http://www.journalism.co.uk/staging/2/articles/530693.php
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Apple ready to set Leopard Free
Leopard, the latest update of the Apple Mac operating system OS X, goes on sale on Friday.
The release ends months of waiting for Mac fans, after Apple pushed back the launch to finish development on its much-hyped iPhone.
Early reviews for Leopard have been positive with veteran technology writer Walt Mossberg calling it "evolutionary, not revolutionary".
Apple is hoping to build on recent strong sales of its Mac computers.
In the last three months, Apple sold 2.2 million Macs, up 400,000 on its previous best quarter.
The company is touting Leopard as a Vista-beater, pointing to new features not found in the new operating system (OS) from Microsoft that drives many PCs.
| || |
LEOPARD'S NEW SPOTS
Time Machine - automatic file back-up
Stacks - related files and folders grouped automatically
Spaces -keep separate desktops for different uses
Quick Look - Examines the contents of a file without having to open the related program
Coverflow Finder - flick through files and folders like album art in iTunes
Boot Camp - run Windows on a Mac
Apple says there are 300 new features in Leopard, but some of them are minor tweaks to the previous OS, called Tiger, rather than fully-fledged tools or enhancements.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Mossberg said: "I believe it builds on Apple's quality advantage over Windows.
"In my view, Leopard is better and faster than Vista, with a set of new features that make Macs even easier to use."
In the New York Times, technology columnist David Pogue wrote: "Happy surprises, and very few disappointments, lie around every corner."
At the MacLiveExpo, being held in London, there was a mixed response from attendees on whether they would be rushing out to buy Leopard on day one.
Many of the delegates said they would wait for the operating system to "bed down" before they bought it.
"I never buy any operating system when it first comes out. I normally wait until it has been out for six months or a year," said David Ramage, a Mac user from Luton.
| ||Vista has been quite a disappointment for many people and Leopard could be the reason many people make the switch to Macs |
Nik Rawlinson, editor of MacUser magazine
He added: "Tiger does what I need it to do right now. I've not seen anything in Leopard to make me want to buy it immediately."
For developers, a new operating system means having to work to ensure their programs run smoothly on the new platform.
Ben Rudolph, director of communications at SWSoft, makers of Parallels, said Leopard was a big step forward for Apple and "would continue to drive sales of Macs".
Parallels lets users run Windows and Linux alongside OS X on a single Apple machine.
Mr Rudolph said Parallels would run smoothly under Leopard, barring any last minute changes to the code released by Apple.
"If that happens, we'll release a free, automatic update to account for them very soon after Leopard's launch," he said.
Of the new features in Leopard, Mr Rudolph said he was looking forward to being able to take advantage of his Mac's 64-bit architecture.
The new OS takes full advantage of the latest generation of chips inside Apple machines, while running applications on older processors also.
"I'm also looking forward to new user-experience features like Stacks, which should help me organise my incredibly messy desktop, and Spaces, which lets me cycle between different desktops."
Nik Rawlinson, editor of MacUser magazine, said many users would get Leopard in its first few weeks on sale.
"When Tiger was launched it earned Apple $120m very quickly and all the expectations are that sales will be double that."
He added: "Vista has been quite a disappointment for many people and Leopard could be the reason many people make the switch to Macs."
He said he felt Leopard had enough new features to distinguish itself from Microsoft's Vista.
"A lot of things that were previously only add-ons in the Mac world, such as the Apple TV interface, are now integrated into the OS.
"That is competing directly with Media Center on Windows PCs. Apple has seen that Microsoft has moved forward in some areas and is responding."
A review and video overview of Leopard will be published on the BBC News website on Monday.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Ghana : ONLINE JOURNALISM COURSE FOR INFORMATION OFFICERS
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Information and National Orientation (M.I.N.O.) of Ghana, Mr. Anthony Ampong has cautioned Regional and District Information Officers of the Information Services Department of M.I.N.O against the use of the Department's information Vans for political campaigns.
He said that the practice where politicians are allowed to use the vans during party rallies instead of national educational campaigns must stop adding that if the vans had to be used for political campaigns, officers should insist that the services of the vans are paid for.
Mr. Ampong was speaking during the opening of a two-week Online Journalism Course being held at Koforidua, the regional capital of the Eastern Region of the country, for forty officers of the Information Services Department.
The Chief Director called on the officers to always strive to upgrade themselves in ICT skills in order to be able to meet the challenging trends of ICT in the job market and advised them to take the training programme seriously.
He urged the Management of the Information Services Department to work towards self reliance for the Department rather than depending on the M.I.NO
. for budgetary support to undertake programmes.
The two-week course is being organized by the information Services Department with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Web 3.0 - What I Meant to Say Was Semantic Web
By John Markoff
One great way to start a fight in a crowded Silicon Valley cocktail party (and there are a lot of them these days) is to mention Web 3.0.
There is no easy consensus about how to define what is meant by Web 3.0, but it is generally seen as a reference to the semantic Web. While it is not that much more precise a phrase, the semantic Web refers to technology to make using the Internet better by understanding the meaning of what people are doing, not just the way pages link to each other.
Amid the new Silicon Valley gold rush under way, a lot of entrepreneurs seem to believe that to define something is to own it. And Web 3.0 seems like a great thing to own.
So companies are bubbling up all over the place that claim to be building part of the semantic Web. Some are building voice recognition systems to use while browsing the Internet on a cell phone. Some want to challenge Google head on with a better search engine.
The leading players include Danny Hillis, the founder of Metaweb, Barney Pell of PowerSet, and Nova Spivack, the co founder of Radar Networks.
At the Web 2.0 conference on Friday Radar Networks will show off Twine, a service that uses semantic Web technology to improve sharing information with friends and coworkers.
Mr. Spivack, who previously founded Earthweb, an early Internet development firm, is the grandson of management theorist Peter F. Drucker. It was funded in part by Paul Allen, the co founder of Microsoft who appears to be creating a small keiretsu of semantic Web start-ups.
Twine will be available in a limited test version on Oct. 29 and open to the public next spring. The idea is to create a web, not of your friends as on a social network, but instead of all of your information. Twine is intended to let you suck in email, bookmarks, RSS news feeds, websites, photos, videos, database and any other digital information. Then it tries to make sense of it.
The company is positioning itself like a Facebook for sharing information, rather than entertainment, with friends and associates.
In a demonstration I saw earlier this week Twine appeared to do a good job of what artificial intelligence researchers refer to as "entity extraction," that is categorizing things like people and places automatically. So you will be able to find your stuff by typing in a category–job applications, Cape Cod beaches, and so on.
The service will succeed to the degree that it accomplishes its goal of exposing the meaning of the information and automatically revealing relationships to enrich information by discovering patterns that users might not otherwise identify.
In the past such "knowledge management" services have been restricted to large corporations and to world of government intelligence organizations. Now the falling cost of computing and networking will make it available to everyday consumers and in theory support it with advertising.
The program will organize data in a popular format used defined by the World Wide Web Consortium known as Resource Description Format, or RDF, in principle making it as easy to export to new kinds of services as to import it.
To be sure, there is one easy way to separate this sort of heavy duty computer problem, from the Web 2.0 chat programs and such, Mr. Spivack explained in an interview at the company's headquarters which are located a South-of-Market neighborhood in San Francisco.
"If you're looking to make a quick buck you wouldn't do this," he said .http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/19/what-i-meant-to-say-was-semantic-web/
Monday, October 22, 2007
Why Web 2.0 is succeeding
People always talk about Web 2.0 referring to websites which encourage user participation such as YouTube, MySpace, Wikipedia etc and this whole craze is helping us all.
I first started making websites in 2001 and whenever I mentioned I had a website I received "wow"s because having a website seemed out-of-reach to the average Joe. The Web 2.0 revolution has brought website creation into the hands of the masses even more than the likes of Geocities did.
The 'beauty' of sites like MySpace is that when someone joins, everyone around them feels obliged to join. A MySpace profile is a person's online presence much like a personal webpage is/was.
For some reason, MySpace seems much less intimidating to most people than HTML (many people appreciate having the skeleton made for them yet we nerds hate this :P) and the 'beauty' of the Wikipedia is that is provides a central point for information to easily be collated which can easily be corrected/added to (correcting something by clicking 'edit' requires much less effort than emailing the webmaster of a site!).
It's safe to say that a lot, if not most, Westerners (and no doubt Far Easterners) maintain a profile on a social networking site but how many maintain/maintained a personal webpage? You could argue the reason for increasing web presence is the growth of the Internet but you could also argue the increasing ease of establishing a presence (you don't need to find a host, find a HTML editor and get a domain etc) is also a contributing factor.
Although it helps identity fraudsters and is scary, the fact lots of people have an online presence only helps communication. If you forgot to ask for someone's email, you can simply search through MySpace and Facebook for it. Regardless of what the critics of the Wikipedia say, it's a fantastic way to quickly get some information or to get a list of sources (most articles will/should have a bibliography). What other source in the existence of the world has information on over 2,000,000 topics?
To be frank I still love looking at a simple HTML personal webpage or homepage for a piece of freeware as you can quickly get the link/information you're after but even creating an absolute barebone webpage like that requires some skill and would probably off-put newbies.
Web 2.0 is succeeding as it brings the power to share information over the Internet to the not-completely-tech-literate masses and gives those masses the ability to quickly find that information!http://joeanderson.co.uk/blog/2007/10/20/why-web-20-is-succeeding/
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Sierra eRiders end training for 22 journalists on ICT
A one-week training for electronic media practitioners on Community Radio Network or CORNET has been concluded at the Javouley House, Leicester Peak. The training which attracted about 22 journalists across the city was organized by an information oriented association known as Sierra eRiders and was funded by an international NGO, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
In his statement, the project co-ordinator of Sierra eRiders, Mr. Sahr F. Gborie said the training is based on the community radio network's SL edition of the ICT project as part of the strategy used for capacity building programmes of its member stations. He said his organization is an indigenous non profit organization registered with the Ministry of Development and Economic Planning as a National Non Governmental and also a member of Sierra Leone Association of Non Governmental Organizations (SLANGO) providing technological support and also helping others initiate such programmes within the development oriented communities in Sierra Leone.
The chairman for the occasion, Mr. Isaac Massaquoi congratulated the organization and the participants and said he hopes that they have learnt would be passed on to their colleagues who have not been fortunate to profit from the training.
On behalf of CORNET, the co-ordinator promised that they will continue to partner up with Sierra eRiders to promote journalism in Sierra Leone and therefore encouraged them to call upon them at any time they needed assistance.
In her own statement before presenting the certificates to the participants, Mrs. Particia Macauley of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) congratulated the participants and the organization for such idea, noting that Sierra Leone is indeed forging ahead in terms of communication. She therefore implored the participants to continue to practice what they have learnt when they return to their various radio stations. She however, admonished them to be very careful in the dissemination of information to the public.
One of the participants, Zainab I Jocque said she has benefited with no regret for attending the training programme. She promised that when she goes back to her radio station, she is going to be a trainer; and therefore thanked Sierra eRiders and CORNET for the knowledge they have inculcated in them
The programme was climaxed by a video report and report on CORNET ICT workshop compiled and produced by the participants.
Friday, October 19, 2007
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Thursday, October 18, 2007
BBC's global website to carry ads
Advertising will appear on the BBC News website for users outside the UK, the corporation's commercial arm says.
BBC Worldwide says advertising will generate new income for the BBC, which needs to plug a £2bn budget shortfall.
The BBC argues that overseas readers, who do not pay the licence fee, should contribute towards the costs.
However, critics say commercialisation will undermine the editorial integrity of the BBC and is a slippery slope towards privatisation.
BBC Worldwide says the advertising will be introduced on popular web pages but did not say when the first adverts will be carried.
Adverts currently appear on the BBC World television channel, which cannot be seen in the UK, and were recently introduced on the international website's video content.
More than half the users of the news site are outside the UK.
"Introducing advertising on international traffic to news pages is a natural development in the growth of the BBC's commercial news services," says Richard Sambrook, director of BBC global news.
The decision comes as the BBC announces job losses in an effort to cut costs after a smaller licence fee settlement from the government.
While UK users pay for the website through their licence fee, international audiences are getting the service for free, the corporation says
Overseas readers are more expensive to reach because their computers need overseas servers, and this cost will grow as more video is made available on the site.
The decision to carry advertising will also upset online rivals.
The British Internet Publishers Alliance (BIPA), which represents the Guardian Media Group and News International, said earlier this year that the plan would hit revenue its members could make online.
Showing adverts to non-UK readers of BBC websites would also undermine the BBC's "worldwide reputation for integrity and impartiality", it added.
BBC Worldwide had earlier pledged that the bbc.com site would not feature pop-up promos or the sort of adverts that "give the web a bad name".
So-called geo-IP technology will be used to ensure that only non-UK users of the site see the advertising, although critics argue that the technology is not 100% reliable.
Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/business/7050625.stm
Published: 2007/10/18 11:33:10 GMT
© BBC MMVII
Mobile phone use backed on planes
Passengers could soon be using their mobile phones on planes flying through European airspace.
Mobile phone use is currently banned on planes
Plans have been developed across EU countries to introduce technology which permits mobile calls without risk of interference with aircraft systems.
Regulators around Europe are calling for consultation on the potential introduction of the technology.
If given the go ahead, the service would allow calls to be made when a plane is more than 3,000 metres high.
Individual airlines would need to decide if they wanted to introduce the technology, if the green light is given by national regulators.
The European Union has recommended to member states that the plan go ahead and space on the airwaves has been reserved for the technology.
The cost of making a mobile phone call from a plane will be higher than making one from the ground. In the UK, regulator Ofcom said it would investigate and address any evidence of "excessive charges and abuses of competition" if prices were set unfairly by airlines and mobile networks.
Mobile use is currently prohibited on planes because there is evidence that they interfere with onboard communication and navigation systems.
Research published in 2003 by the CAA found mobile phone signals skewed navigation bearing displays by up to five degrees.
A spokesman for the UK regulator Ofcom said there were still many stages to pass through before final approval was given to the roll out of the plans.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), in the UK, and the European Aviation Safety Agency are working to ensure that aircraft safety and passenger welfare issues are resolved before these systems can be used.
The regulator said that the technology could be implemented next year.
The proposed system utilises an on-board base station in the plane which communicates with passengers' own handsets. The base station - called a pico cell - is low power and creates a network area big enough to encompass the cabin of the plane.
The base station routes phone traffic to a satellite, which is in turn connected to mobile networks on the ground.
A network control unit on the plane is used to ensure that mobiles in the plane do not connect to any base stations on the ground. It blocks the signal from the ground so that phones cannot connect and remain in an idle state.
Calls will be billed through passengers' mobile networks.
The current plan is for 2G phones only but Ofcom said that if services proved successful, it could be rolled out to 3G and other standards in the future.
credit : bbc
MySpace opens door to developers
Social network MySpace is to allow third-party developers to build applications for the site.
The move brings the website into line with rival Facebook, which has seen strong growth since it opened up to outside programmers.
Facebook has become a portal for services such as video, audio and photos since the change.
MySpace has more than 188 million registered users, compared to the 47 million who use Facebook.
MySpace was bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp for $580m in 2005.
"We hoped it would do very well, but we never imagined it would do this well," Mr Murdoch told the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.
"The idea will be to allow outside developers to tightly integrate their applications into MySpace," Chris DeWolfe, the firm's chief executive, told Reuters news agency.
The social network hopes to open up the site in the next few months and hold off the challenge from Facebook.
"There's been so much excitement, energy and growth on the part of Facebook," said Forrester analyst Charlene Li. "There's a lot of pressure on MySpace to capture that energy."
Facebook already has more than 6,000 applications running on the website.
According to Nielsen Net Ratings MySpace has 78.6 million active users, versus 28.1 million on Facebook.
"I would say we're different (than Facebook) and in spite of all the hype we seem to be growing faster," Mr Murdoch told the conference.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Microsoft talks up unified communications
New apps to 'eliminate communications boundaries'
Microsoft has rolled out its latest software designed to provide unified communications services for enterprises.
Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator 2007 bundles VoIP telephony, instant messaging and video conferencing applications into a single offering.
Microsoft also unveiled five additional communications offerings, including an updated version of Office Live Meeting and a new videoconferencing phone with a 360-degree video camera, and a service pack for Exchange Server 2007.
The new products are part of a larger campaign to push Microsoft's unified communications offering.
"Unified communications software will transform business communications as fundamentally as email did in the 1990s," said Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's business division.
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has expressed similar sentiments about the importance of unified communications.
Gates wrote in an open letter to customers that the concept of tying all office communication into a single source will "eliminate the boundaries between the various modes of communications we use throughout the day".
"Soon, you will have a single identity that spans all of the ways people can reach you, and you will be able to move a conversation seamlessly between voice, text and video and from one device to another as your location and information sharing needs change," he wrote. http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2201322/microsoft-pitches-unified
ICT And The Future Of Journalism Profession ( I )
By Mawutodzi K. Abissath
A renowned Ghanaian Blogger by the name Emmanuel K. BensahII (a.k.a. Emma), recently made an analogy that: "As behind every married couple there is a partner, so, too, behind every Blog there is a Blogger!" This analogy can be said to be common place. But the most sarcastic and humorous fashion by which Emma went about it is what is pushing me to make a mountain out of an ant hill in this piece. In other words, there can be no Blog without a Blogger. And if you are a journalist who is not yet too familiar with the term Blog or Blogger, do not go and commit suicide at all.
The purpose of this article is to share with you some of the latest terminologies ICT has introduced into our time honoured profession or occupation or vocation or calling or trade; (whichever is applicable). As journalists, we should never pretend that we know everything under the sun. Rather, we must be open-minded and prepared to learn new things every day as we breathe and eat every day. Otherwise, ICT will render us outdated and outmoded, if not antiquated and archaic! This is an unsolicited advice from me to you.
From Wednesday, October 10, to Thursday, October 11, 2007, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the Penplusbyte International Institute of ICT Journalism, the Ghana Information and Knowledge Sharing (GINKS) and the Ghana ICT Journalists Association (GHAJICT), organised a two-day WEB 2.0 Workshop for Editors, Senior Journalists, and media Educators. This eye opener capacity building programme was sponsored by the French Embassy in Accra. The theme for the event was: "Improving the Quality of Journalism using Web 2.0." If you are a journalist reading this article, tell me honestly if you know what WEB 2.0 is. As for me I confess that that I have never heard of that until Wednesday, October 10, 2007 at the Ghana International Press Centre at the GJA Headquarters in Accra, where the workshop was held.
Togbe Kwami Ahiabenu II, President of Penplusbyte and Facilitator of the above- stated workshop was the person from whom I heard the term WEB 2.0 for the first time in my life. Before setting the ball rolling that morning, Kwami posed this question to the class: "Who knows what WEB 2.0 is? And the entire room turned into a grave yard. We were all looking into his face like some innocent children collected from some rural community from some unknown planet. But this was a class that was made up of veteran journalists and media educators.
In fact some of the participants were journalists of repute in Ghana. One particular one from one of the leading media houses in Accra was a dignified and noble man in the true sense of the word. Nature has been very kind to him. He possesses such a huge baobab-like stature with a luminous boar-head to march. In fact his physical structure classifies him more a super-heavy-weight boxing champion than a journalist. For those who know me personally, I can easily go into this man four times. And I suspect he might have been practicing journalism before my mother became a teenager. I could not plug up the courage to ask him why he did not become a General in the Ghana Army. He is one of the outstanding newspaper page planners or design and layout specialists in West Africa. He is a veteran in his own his class and I admire him a great deal. Remember this African proverb that: "If your friend is more handsome than you, it is better to praise him rather than to try to malign or envy him." All right?
There was another participant who is a PhD holder and teaches law at one of the private journalism training schools in Accra. Another grey-haired participant and lecturer at one of the latest modern media training institutions in Accra was among us. He told me he left School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Legon as far back as 1974 and has practiced the profession both at home and abroad for many, many years. A very knowledgeable but humble and an unassuming. I enjoyed his companionship at the workshop. When it came to Blogging, I, too, became a lecturer to most of them anyway. I find it enjoyable to share the little I have with others. Now we are in information age and if you hoard information you will be known as an information silo.
One lady participant, too, who works with the mother of all electronic media houses in Ghana, whispered into my ears that she left the Ghana Institute of Journalism about ten years before I found my way there some 20 yeas ago. So you can imagine how long this veteran female journalist and gender fighter has been operating in our domain. And I salute her for what she stands for. There were also some relatively young but talented and well-read journalists among the participants. The point I am trying to hammer home here is that the calibre of participants who attended this particular workshop in terms of education, experience and professionalism, was beyond compare. And yet, there is something that all of us did not know hitherto. That something is what ICT has succeeded in transforming journalism into.
The question now is: "What is it that ICT has brought into journalism which has turned veterans into kindergarten boys and girls at my first day in school?" I will answer my own question by simply saying: It is TECHNOLOGY. It is presumed that every journalist in Ghana today whether veteran or student knows that ICT stands for Information and Communication Technology. From time immemorial journalists have been communicating information through various channels including traditional means such as word of mouth, talking drums and gongong. Then through print and electronic media namely, newspapers or magazines etc, radio and television. You can add telephone, telex, fax machine and others, if you like.
Then, there came into existence an ICT. With the advent of ICT boom, everything mankind has been doing from birth to death has changed. But journalism seems to be the profession that has been most drastically affected by ICT. The result is what is now known as E-journalism or Online-journalism or Cyber-journalism or Web-journalism. And the basic ICT tools that journalists need to perform this online-journalism business effectively include computers, the Internet and to a certain scope the World Wide Web (www) itself which gave birth to the Internet in the first place by making it possible for computers to talk other computers through connectivity and network.
Hardly did journalists go to bed to have a siesta when ICT tools have not only metamorphosed into something else but have actually revolutionised and multiplied in an thousand fold. Some of the new ICT tools which were introduced to Editors, senior journalists and educators at the just-ended WEB 2.0 worship include the Web 2.0 itself, Podcasting, Blogging and Wikis.
WEB 2.0 we were told came into being in 2004 and is the evolution of the Internet over the years. For instance, when Internet boom emerged in the 90s, even though World Wide Web itself has been in existence since the 60s, some of the tools of WEB 2.0 of today were not there in the 90s. Therefore, the Internet of the 90s can now be referred to as WEB 1.0. In simple terms, some of the tools that distinguish WEB 2.0 from WEB 1.0 include Podcasting, Blogging and Wikis stated above. If we break it down the concept further, other ICT tools that Podcasting and Blogging also could employ to achieve their functions include Mobile Blogging, SMS Blogging, GSM/CDMA (sub mobile internet), Skype, Mobile phone, Satellite phone (Thuraya), MMS (picture transfer/sharing), Bluetooth, Infra-red and so on. Other latest ICT tool which must be mentioned in this regard is Vedioblogging.
To be frank with the reader, these are some of the theoretical aspects of the two-day workshop which we were exposed to. Unfortunately for us, however, when it came to the practical aspects of the course which we need to put the teaching into practical application in our work, internet connectivity failed us the Press Centre. The organizers had to quickly arrange for us to go to one of computer laboratories at the near-by Kofi Annan ICT Centre of Advanced Technology, opposite the State House. There, too, we encountered some challenges as far as the Internet speed was concerned. So I will not pretend to say that I can do all that I am writing about in this feature as far as Podcasting and Vedioblogging are concerned. As for Blogging proper, I had had some knowledge in it already so I can modestly hit my chest that if you call on me day or night I can take you through the rudiments of Blog creating. And you can do it in no time at all.
As stated in the opening paragraph of this write-up, when Emma was taking us through the Blogging lesson, he made the subject matter so interesting with his famous analogy that the learning became fun for us all. Before he started, he asked the class that all those who were married should show by hand. Virtually everybody in the class raised up their hands. Initially, nobody knew what he was driving at some of us even raised up both hands. Then he proclaimed (and I am paraphrasing him here): As behind every married person there is a partner - a wife or a husband, so, too, behind every Blog there is a Blogger!
Suddenly the entire computer lab burst into spontaneous and prolonged laughter. He himself could not help it but to laugh infectiously. Then someone asked him whether he himself was married and he said capital NO. So it turned out that all the students in the class were married expect the lecturer rather. When he was asked why he was not yet married, he responded: "I am studying you people and I want to learn from you first." His answer to the question made the class to laugh even the more. Emma could be in his 30s or so and he is a man of impeccable and fantastic sense of humour.
On a more serious note, we learned that if journalists could master the use of some of these latest tools of ICT, they would help them to enhance their work especially in the newsroom. For example, Journalists can create Blogs for research work, or for photographs, or for features. If you are a reporter and you can create a Blog and post all your newstories or your feature articles on it, apart from publishing such a Blog on the Internet and link it to other websites for the world to read, you can use it as a reference book or diary for your journalistic activities. Editors can use Blogs to monitor and assess the work of their reporters in such a way that at the end of every year, they would know which reporter deserves promotion or even salary increments.
A Blog is a kind of website anybody can develop or create without having to be an ICT "techy". When you are able to create your own Blog and post information or photographs or both text and graphics on it and can update it constantly, then can call yourself a Blogger. There are several platforms for Blogging. But the one we were introduced to at the workshop is BLOGGER.COM.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Ghana : On-Line Journalism Workshop Opens AT Koforidua
A two- week workshop in on-line journalism for information officers of Information Services Department was opened yesterday at the Koforidua Polytechnic in the Eastern Region.
The workshop is being organised by the Ministry of Information and National Orientation (MINO) in collaboration with the UNDP. It brought together forty information officers from the ten regions of the country.
The opening ceremony was performed by the Chief Director of MINO Mr A.A. Ampong. In his speech he stressed on the importance of ICTs and the Internet in the managing, packaging and the dissemination of information.
He was of the view that if journalists in the country would incorporate ICT tools in their profession, it would go a long way to assist the timely dissemination of important information and hence curtail conflict that arises due to lack of information and misinformation.
He indicated that the training was a Train the - Trainer programme and since by 1st November 2007 new recruits will come into the system, participants will be expected to impart the skill and knowledge acquired to the new entrants.
Mr A.A Ampong therefore urged participants to take their training seriously.
In his welcome address, the co-ordinator of the programme, Mr Alphonse Doe Koblavie(Head of IT, ISD) observed that the information officers will work more effectively and efficiently if they upgrade their skills and knowledge in modern trends of mass communication using ICTs
Empowering Media With New Skills
Highway Africa News Agency (Grahamstown)
By Emily Nyarko
About 20 editors and senior journalists in Ghana have undergone training in web 2.0 publishing and distribution technique as part of the drive to equip journalists with ICT skills to improve the journalism profession in the country.
The journalists drawn from different media houses were taken through the various aspects of the social network tool Web 2.0 at a two-day workshop facilitated by the International Institute of ICT Journalism (PENPLUSBYTES) in partnership with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and the French Embassy.
Mrs. Francine Meyer, deputy head of the French mission at the French Embassy, expressed the commitment of her government to equip the Ghana International Press Centre with modern equipment to help journalists in the country to further develop their skills.
"The process of empowering the media with new skills is very important because the media play a crucial role in developing informed citizenry," she said. Over the years the French government had remained committed in the training of Ghanaian journalists especially in the area of ICTs. In 2005, journalists from selected media institutions were trained in on-line journalism and in 2006 another training programme was organized for a group of journalists out of which evolved a network known as the Ghana Association of Journalists in ICTs. The workshop organized on the theme; "Improving the quality of journalism using Web 2.0" was also organized on the premises that most journalists in the country lacked the requisite skills to apply basic ICTs in their work.
Major media institutions currently have ICT facilities but lack of knowledge in the basic uses has rendered the facilities idle with some journalists giving constant excuses that their offices lacked ICT equipment.
Mr. Ransford Tetteh, President of the GJA, welcomed the workshop and said it offered participants to learn more about the powerful tools of ICTs, including editing and publishing on-line.
He expressed the hope that the workshop would help spread the use of ICsT and make it an important feature and function of the Ghanaian media.
Mr. Frank Agyekum, Deputy Minister of Information and National Orientation (MINO) said it was important for the developing world to bridge the widening ICT gap between the developed and the developing world.
He however warned that whilst making efforts to learn and apply ICT tools such as web 2.0, journalists should guard against using web content posted by quacks who paraded as journalists.
Kwami Ahiabenu II, President of PENPLUSBYTES said there was a growing need for training journalists in ICTs for them to become more functional in the evolving information age.
Online Learning Materials for video, audio etc
The Learning Center is a rich educational resource for everything you wanted to know about user-created video, audio, and other forms of citizens' media.http://ourmedia.org/learning-center
Sunday, October 14, 2007
When Your E-Mails Get Published...
Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal environment reporter James Bruggers blogged this week ( http://www.courier-journal.com/blogs/bruggers/2007/10/covering-global-warming.html
) about his recent learning experience about bloggers and e-mail.
On Oct. 2, the Courier-Journal published a story by Bruggers, Lawmakers question global warming ( http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071002/NEWS01/71002050
) . Following that, he had an e-mail conversation with local attorney Theresa Fritz Camoriano , in which Bruggers says "I was taken to task for reporting on the comments of two key Kentucky legislators who oversee environmental committees in the General Assembly."
As it turns out, Camoriano is not just a reader, but publisher of The Jefferson Review ( http://www.jeffersonreview.com/
) , which Bruggers described as offering "Libertarian and conservative essays and links." According to Bruggers, in their e-mail exchange she did not identify her connection to that site. Camoriano then went on to publish excerpts from their exchange (http://www.jeffersonreview.com/articles/2007/100807/correspondence.htm
) on her site, without asking Bruggers for permission or notifying him of her intent.
Says Bruggers, "In the rough-and-tumble world of politics today, [I've learned that] anything that goes out of my computer in an e-mail could end up in a publication, somewhere." Quite true.
Personally, I think it's a nuanced ethical question about whether it's OK to publish an e-mail you've received without permission -- especially when your discussion involves work or statements already in the public view.
However, regardless of whether such behavior is ethically or morally acceptable, the larger issue is that this will happen. You e-mails, instant messages, and perhaps even quotes from live of phone conversations will get published by someone at some point, without permission. So how can journalists deal with that?
In my opinion, Bruggers' experience illustrates why I think it's useful for news organizations to allow public comments on all stories. There should always be a prominent public option for discussing journalism that has been published. This, then, thwarts the need for private back-channels with unclear and possibly unequal expectations of privacy. just be transparent, put it all on the record, and let commenters and reporters alike be publicly accountable for their statements.
The Courier-Journal does allow readers to post online comments. (In contrast, The Jefferson Review does not allow comments.) In fact, Bruggers' Oct. 2 story received several comments. Unfortunately, as of this writing the site's comment/forum system is having technical problems, so I can only see the first few comments received. I don't know whether Camoriano posted her challenge to Bruggers publicly, in addition to sending a private e-mail.
Let's assume Camoriano did not post a public comment to the story, and only approached Bruggers via e-mail. What options did Bruggers have? One approach might have been to acknowledge her message and then ask her to post it as a public comment, signed with her name -- and telling her that he'd be happy to respond to her comment in public. This establishes ground rules and transparency from the outset of the exchange.
That said, I know that many reporters are not in the habit of reading or responding to public comments on their work. Yes, we're all terribly busy. Yes, many news orgs' comment systems are clunky and frustrating to use. Yes, public comments can be rude, ill-informed, irrelevant, or otherwise unworthy of response. Furthermore, many journalists seem more comfortable with e-mail -- so it tends to grab our attention more easily. Finally, many journalists do attempt to respond to reader e-mails -- and may even feel an obligation to do so.
These common habits and attitudes about public conversation vs. one-to-one discourse are understandable, but they can work against journalists. If you're not already doing so, it might make more sense to start browsing online comments about your work and responding there, even if you're not accustomed (or even averse) to that strategy.
If you're going to engage with readers or critics at all, and if by doing so you inevitably risk having your statements published, why not gain the upper hand and have those conversations on your "turf"?poynter.org
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
"Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Revolution and the Practice of Journalism in Nigeria,"
"Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Revolution and the Practice of Journalism in Nigeria,"
By Tony Edike
ALTHOUGH the average Nigerian journalists is still struggling to catch up with the new technologies in the industry, the nation's media generally are measuring up with their counterparts in other parts of the world.
This has been made possible because the Nigeria Media have always maintained a strategic presence on the information super highway.
Delivering a lecture entitled "Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Revolution and the Practice of Journalism in Nigeria," as part of activities marking the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Enugu Press Week, the Associate Dean of General Studies, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC), Prof Emeka Okpara, observed that peoples lives have been variously affected by ICT either for the better or for the worse, depending on the side of the divide an individual found oneself.
He added that the change brought about by ICT has been sudden, quick and rapid, noting that the ICT caught many people unawares and embarrassed companies as well as countries.
Speaking specifically on the impact of ICT on the practice of journalism in Nigeria, the University Don said the internet has had tremendous impact on many professions including football and journalism.
"For journalism, one does not need to search too far to see the impact of ICT on its practice. Most media organizations in Nigeria have already established a strong presence in cyberspace. These media houses have been and continue to be veritable sources of news and information to both Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora," explained Okpara.
The internet, he said, has made news gathering and reporting a lot easier since journalists could now file in their reports easily from any part of Nigeria where there is internet access. "All they need to do is to go to any nearby internet café and at the touch of a button, the news report is at the editor's desk ready to be served fresh to the readers," he said.
Besides, the internet has provided Nigerian journalists with international exposure as they no longer have to travel to New York or London to be read or heard.
Copyright © 2007 Vanguard. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
Editors to train on Web 2.0
The International Institute of ICT Journalism (PenPlusBytes), is collaboration with the Ghana Journalist Association,with support of the French Embassy is organising a two day workshop for twenty(20) editors in Accra
The workshop which runs from 10th to 1th October is being held under the theme "Improving the quality of journalism using web 2.0" for Editors, Senior Journalists and Journalism Educators at the Accra International Press Centre.
The face of journalism is changing as well as the rules of the game and ICT especially digital media is playing a major transformational role. It is being held in recognition of the fact that achieving excellence in Journalism demands a new approach to working with ICT tools.
The practical workshop will among others things, take participants through ICT tools for journalis-a journey through the past,present and future and
practical web 2.0 tools for journalism workshop will takt the participants through editing for the web, Developing a virtual newsroom using wikis, writing, editing and publishing online made easy for journalists using blogs and podcasting.
Kwami Ahiabenu, II President of the International Institute for ICT Journalism(penplusbytes) says " there is a growing need for training in ICT for Journalists, to enable them to be more functional in our new evolving Information Age and the first ever workshop in Web 2.0 is designed to meet these demand"
The French Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Pierre Jacquemot, Ibrahim Insuah co-ordinator of GINKS and the Deputy Minister for Information and National Orientation Mr. Frank Agyekum, Ghana Journalist Association(GJA) President Ransford Tetteh are expected to speak at the opening ceremony.
Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing(GINKS) and Ghana ICT Journalist Association (GHJICT) are partners to the training programme.
Ghana Journalists Association
German, French Scientists Share 2007 Nobel Physics Prize ( Computer hard disk storage)
French scientist Albert Fert and Peter Grunberg of Germany won the 2007 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of giant magneto-resistance that lets billions of computer users store and retrieve reams of data on computer hard drives.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in its citation that the technology could also be considered one of the first real applications of the promising field of nanotechnology, which deals with extremely small devices.
"Applications of this phenomenon have revolutionized techniques for retrieving data from hard disks," the prize citation said. "The discovery also plays a major role in various magnetic sensors as well as for the development of a new generation of electronics."
Fert and Gruenberg each independently discovered in 1988, a physical effect called giant magneto-resistance where very weak changes in magnetism generate larger changes in electrical resistance. This effect is used to convert information stored magnetically on a hard disk to electrical signals that the computer reads. The two scientists' discovery has made it possible to miniaturize hard disks and has enabled computer users to quickly and easily store reams of data on computer hard drives.
"The development of computers showed in the last years that this was an important contribution," Gruenberg told Sweden's TV4 channel shortly after being learning that he was sharing the prize with Fert.
The Nobel prizes was founded by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite who died childless in 1896, dedicating his vast fortune to create "prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind."
Laureates receive a gold medal, a personal diploma and 10 million Swedish kronor or $1.53 million, which can be split between up to three winners per prize.
The Noble prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine and literature are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, while the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, capital of Norway.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Invitation to Bid for Capacity building programme in Online Journalism
The Ministry of Information and National Orientation has invited the International Institute of ICT Journalism,penplusbytes to submit a bid for capacity building programme in online journalism.
According to TOR, contract would be awarded to a certified and qualified firm through a bidding process to be co-coordinated by UNDP
Labels: UNDP GHANA PENPLUSBYTES MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND NATIONAL ORIENTATION GHANA ONLINE JOURNALISM
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Msnbc.com is diving into citizen journalism and acquires Newsvine
First acquisition in 11-year history moves company in new direction
REDMOND, Wash. - Msnbc.com is diving into citizen journalism and social media by acquiring Newsvine.com, a small but innovative player in what is known as "participatory journalism."
It is msnbc.com's first acquisition in its 11-year history.
Neither of the companies would disclose terms of the all-cash transaction, which was announced Sunday, but deals for other social media sites have ranged as high as the $75 million that eBay was reported to have spent for StumbleUpon.com, which claims about 3½ times the number of users as Newsvine.
Newsvine CEO Mike Davidson will report to Charlie Tillinghast, president of MSNBC Interactive News and publisher of msnbc.com, but otherwise, Newsvine will continue to operate independently, Tillinghast said.
Tillinghast said msnbc.com was racing to foster a community among its readers and to exploit the power of unmoderated user commentary and ranking of the news. Ideally, he said in an interview, the site would design and build its own tools, but Newsvine, a small, lean company headquartered in downtown Seattle a few minutes from msnbc.com's newsroom, "is just a great fit."
"Newsvine is local, small, nimble — they don't come with a lot of things you don't want," he said, such as complicated partnerships and contracts. "There isn't a lot to rearrange."
Sreenath Sreenivasan, a specialist in new media at the Columbia University journalism school, said the deal was a good fit for both companies.
"As the news environment is changing so quickly, it's important for more traditional media companies to take advantage of some of these newer technologies," Sreenivasan said.
For Newsvine's part, "it makes sense for them to look at msnbc and msnbc's parent companies [Microsoft Corp. and NBC Universal] as a place where they would have a way to really make a difference," he said.
Deal pushes msnbc.com into community
With just more than a million monthly users, Newsvine not only is dwarfed by its new parent, which attracts more than 29 million users a month, but it also widely trails such competitors in the news-social media field as Digg.com, Reddit.com and the latest incarnation of Netscape.com as a social news site.
But the site has generated significant buzz since its launch in March 2006 because of its inventive merger of mainstream reporting from The Associated Press and ESPN; the contributions of individual users, who are paid for their writing; and the social media model of user-driven ranking of the news.
That buzz, and the technology behind it, are what msnbc.com is buying. While msnbc.com has long ranked among the three most popular news sites on the Web, it has been late to the game in expanding its offerings in user participation and non-professional reporting.
"Msnbc isn't as strong in community as it needs to be," Tillinghast said. Newsvine offers "a lot of interesting features" that he hopes to "evaluate and port to msnbc ... rather than us creating a feature they already have," he said.
For Newsvine, the immediate attraction is direct access to msnbc.com's audience and distribution power.
"While Newsvine may be well known in early adopter circles, we want every college student, every farmer, every weekend journalist, and every household to have their own branch on the 'Vine," the company said in a statement.
Newsvine will piggyback on msnbc.com's data centers, giving it vastly more server power and reliability, which Davidson said in an interview had been the site's most significant challenge.
"The ability to deal with gigantic spikes of traffic is a tough thing for any start-up to handle," Davidson said. "We can learn a lot from the people in Redmond."
New direction for news site
The deal, which had been in the works since May, comes as a number of news aggregators and social media sites are eroding large media Web sites' control of their distribution. More and more frequently, users come to individual articles on sites like msnbc.com and newyorktimes.com from portals like Google News or social media intermediaries like Digg; Reddit, which is owned by Wired.com; Del.icio.us, which is owned by Yahoo.com; and StumbleUpon.com.
They are also being challenged by a robust "citizen journalism" movement that is providing a growing forum for non-professionals to gather and report news without filtering it through a team of editors and the bureaucracy of a large news organization.
The purchase of Newsvine gives msnbc.com a foot in both worlds.
"It begins what I believe is the revolution that big sites like msnbc need to go through," said Merrill Brown, chairman of the citizen journalism site NowPublic.com, which boasts 100,000 "contributing reporters" around the world. Brown was founding editor of msnbc.com in 1996.
Although the deal will bolster one of his main competitors, Brown called it "a visionary thing to do."
"It's a really good thing for citizen content and the news category in general, because it demonstrates [that] the citizen content opportunity and the growth of community in a big way around news content is not a niche," he said.
Newsvine independence promised
Part of the appeal of intermediary sites like Digg, Reddit and Newsvine is their perceived independence from large, corporate news companies, with the promise of a purely democratic ordering of the news.
Newsvine will now report to one of the largest such companies, but while Davidson said it may "expand a little bit" with msnbc.com's support, growing from six employees to perhaps 10 or 15, he and Tillinghast both stressed that Newsvine would continue to run as an independent site.
"We want to understand [Newsvine's technology and processes], but we don't have any agenda," Tillinghast said. "Where companies get into trouble is when they try to impose big-company standards in small companies."
Sreenivasan said it made sense that msnbc.com would want to "look at their technologies and ideas" without involving itself in Newsvine's day-to-day operations.
"We have seen big companies buy smaller products and smaller companies and then keep them at an arm's length," he said. "You are seeing that the big companies are seeing that they can't do on their own what the smaller, more nimble companies can do."
Msnbc.com will integrate Newsvine mainly at the story level, Tillinghast said, promoting Newsvine links "on stories that might stimulate a lot of community activity," such as political articles.
Likewise, he said, while msnbc.com would probably "take a look at" Newsvine's use of Google as part of its search function, it was not likely to force a switch to Microsoft's Live Search. "Consistent with their independence ... we're not going to impose orthodoxy," he said.
Newsvine, meanwhile, hopes to get msnbc.com's original reporting on its site "as quickly as possible," Davidson said.
"It's interesting to think what sorts of things you can do when you have this really healthy news ecosystem growing," he said. "It doesn't just have to stay there."
'Hacking' incident explained
While Newsvine is well-known in online publishing and news circles, Davidson, its chief executive and co-founder, is perhaps best known among the general public for an incident in March, when he explained how he had carried out what he called "the immaculate hack" of the presidential campaign Web site of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Davidson added a box to McCain's page "announcing" that the senator had "reversed my position and come out in full support of gay marriage ... particularly marriage between passionate females."
Davidson said the prank — which he said did not involve actually breaking into McCain's site or doing anything illegal — was in response to the McCain campaign's appropriation of his unique MySpace.com page design without permission or credit.
When Davidson changed a piece of code on his own MySpace page, the McCain site sucked it in and "a new John McCain was born... ... and The Straight-Talk Express isn't just for straight people anymore," he wrote on his blog.
Tillinghast declined to say whether the prank would have been allowed under msnbc.com's ethics policy, but he said, "We have an overall sense of ethics that we want people to play by."
Tillinghast said Davidson had explained the incident, noting that McCain's site now lists Davidson as a MySpace "buddy."
"That told me that everybody's OK with how that ended up," he said.
First acquisition for msnbc.com
For msnbc.com, meanwhile, the deal represents a turning point.
Although it is backed by two of the largest corporations in the world, Microsoft and General Electric (which owns NBC Universal), msnbc.com has pursued a conservative financial strategy with a goal of turning a profit as soon as practical. That point was reached in the quarter that ended June 30, 2004, eight years after its founding.
The site has a smaller staff than many of its rivals, such as CNN.com, and when the tech bubble burst in early 2000, it shelved ambitious plans to go public and acquire complementary properties.
Eight years after that retrenchment, the purchase of Newsvine highlights the "maturation" of msnbc.com "from a start-up-type company to one where we can do acquisitions of our own," said Tillinghast, who would not rule out further acquisitions.
"We're always looking at opportunities," he said. "If they make sense, then we'll do them."
© 2007 MSNBC Interactive