Archive for February, 2007

Users vs Editors : The Digg example

February 27, 2007

Writing the post below, about why CNN front page gets it wrong by listing the most viewed video, got me thinking, because I love Digg, f’r’instance. So why does Digg produce interesting news (particularly if you love Macs, really love Macs, want to marry Steve Jobs, hate Microsoft, code GNU-LINUX or have attended ComiCon in a homemade super-hero outfit) whereas most viewed on CNN produces sensationalism?

The difference is accountability. If you vote for a story that sucks on Digg, then the community values your opinion less, because you’ve recommended something lame in the past. That’s why Delicious doesn’t have adult sites on its popular page, as they don’t want to be seen by others as porn users, despite the fact that the internet is made for porn.

But if a front page is just made from viewed stories no one will find out that you effectively voted to have Jordan and Peter Andre’s wedding in the top ten.

The lesson, in the realm of user generated news, shame is a good thing


Who is accountable for this?


Users vs Editors : The CNN front page example

February 26, 2007

I love our users.

They can do amazing things.

The Economist Group should do all they can to empower them.

Here’s what The Economist Group shouldn’t do : let’s most read articles create the home page. For proof look at the favourites on CNN (as of 18.44 GMT, 26/2 (by the way, that’s February 26th in English format not the second of God-knows-when-abry in the US)).

No. 1 : Stacks of Fun : video from the world cup stacking championship. Massively impressive video, but we probably won’t have it as a leader.

No. 2 : Union Square Pillow Fight : Yawn already, massive pillowfight flash mobs were interesting 2 years ago. (A more amusing flash mob is the randomly chasing strangers).

No. 3 : Housing Sex Offenders : apparently housing sex offenders is controversial…

No. 4 : High Speed Chase : is CNN the new Police! Camera! Action! ?

So that’s a front page of fun, fear and thrills. I’d like to think Economist readers were higher browed than that. Maybe we should give it a go and generate the front page by popularity.

But I have a sneaking feeling that the moment we wrote a blue box story on the deleterious effects human methan emissions in UN negotiations, we’d know what the home page would show.

Update : John Robinson says that he prefers to see the least read articles because its interesting to see what people are not reading (via Journerdism!)

Another politician uses social networks..

February 26, 2007

If you, like me, regularly commune with TechCrunch, PaidContent and Techmeme you probably find the media sections of major newspapers somewhat lacking in bite. “Stop Press : Young people express themselves on the internet” and other such insights.

However, I’ve always thought the Observer got it more than most until I read this in their diary column.

“Social netwroking site Facebook was revealed to be one of the tools US Presidential candidate Barack Obama, is using to try to win over voters. Bang go Facebook’s cool credentials”.

I’m trying to pin down exactily what it is that annoys me about that. Does Hoxton lose its cool because politicians canvas there? Does The Observer lose its cool by allowing politicians to write for it? Or does it show that The Observer is a key media player?

Facebook is a social space and a community, by approaching people through it, you approach them on their terms and you show them you appreciate its importance.  (Earlier posts on politicians and social networks here and here).

Damn, I just wrote a post about MSM “just not getting it” – how sterotypically new media blogger is that?

If Microsoft no longer has a walled garden….

February 20, 2007

The past week has seen both Dell and Yahoo launch Digg like services, and now Microsoft gets in on the act. With Netscape already in, it shows the big boys/girls are in on the social news party. Interestingly the MSN version lets users submit stories from any sites blowing apart the walled garden approach.

If Microsoft are no longer trying to keep you in their (evil) empire, its a good bet that no one should. It also shows that companies with communities (hint: if you work at a newspaper that means you) should try to get them to create a social news site.

Communities of people like you and people you like (from henceforth, plypyl) want to help, find ways to let them. (via TechCrunch).

Mad props to the Social Media Club

February 16, 2007

Project Redstripe went to a meeting of the Social Media Club yesterday. It’s an informal gathering of various webheads that is organised by Lloyd Davis. Unfortunately, we had arranged to go to dinner so we couldn’t stay till the end, but I did learn a couple of neat things, and meet some interesting follk.

Rav, turned me on to the idea of peer media networks. He looked perplexed when I asked him what publications he read, because he and his colleagues had set up a private digg-style system. They tagged the articles that they thought were important, so he compiled news that was relevant to his context. That’s what I call a local news site.

Now, how interesting would it be if Economist journalists bookmarked all the pages, papers and articles they read?

Thanks Lloyd for organising it and see you at the next one.

Web 4.0 on its way : Terminator to become a reality

February 15, 2007

As if Tim Berners-Lee‘s talk of the semantic web hasn’t excited you enough (admit it, you’re pretty excited) well hold on to your hats because Web 4.0 will follow hot on its heels, says Nova Spicack of O’Reilly Radar.  Web 2.0 can be thought of as humanising the front end of the web, where the biggest sites are created by humans. That means Google, MySpace, Wikipedia and the entire blogosphere for instance, then Web 3.0 is about (I think) creating human back end to the web.

For this reason Web 3.0 is frequently called the semantic web, where the data on the web becomes organised in a way that is recognisable to machines.  The next step on from this is the Web OS, Web 4.0, implies that machine intelligence has reached a point that the Internet becomes the planetary computer, a massive web of highly intelligent interactions.

Not only does this excite me because its my first sighting of Web 4.0, and I love jargon, but it also makes me think of Arnie explaining the rise of the machines in Terminator 2

The Terminator:      The SkyNet funding bill is passed. The system goes online on August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. SkyNet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14am Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

Sarah Connor:     And, Skynet fights back. (Link).

Now that are turning on to the Web 2.0 dividend does it mean that established players will make the big money from these hypothetical webs? Or will it be left to badly dressed people in garages? (via ZDnet).semanticmap2.jpg

The future is now 

The Early Apology Post

February 13, 2007

We’re now planning for what to do, and everywhere we look there seem to be too many questions and variables to answer. This means that sometimes we spend a lot of time trying to answer every single potential problem because if something goes wrong, then we’ll upset people.

Here’s my thoughts on the subject : we’re going to make mistakes, therefore I’m apologising now.

We’re a small team trying to do a lot in a short time. Things are bound to go wrong, we’ll endeavour to sort them out but shit will still happen.  However, when this project winds up on July 27th hopefully we’ll have done something amazing.

ps. If you’ve been directed to this further down the line, then I hope to God we haven’t included your personal details in a mass mail out. Sorry for our screw up, we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again and thanks for getting involved.