Citizen Media Watch

december 29th, 2008

Teo Härén about: Invite, collaborate and share – the money

Posted by Gitta Wilen

The twin brothers Fredrik and Teo Härén have been writing books about creativity for many years now. Five books so far and more coming up. This is a conversation with Teo about inviting, collaborating, sharing ideas and the money.

Fredrik och Teo started the idea book project about eight, nine years ago. They wrote the first book by themselves. But the business idea for interesting.org is to invite people outside the organization, to collaborate, be creative and solve problems.

The first book they wrote by inviting people to contribute with material was the Idea book for parents.

– We had ideas that we wanted to be in the book, but we did also invite 10 000 people that we did have e-mail addresses to. And told then that we are going to write a book about how to keep children’s creativity alive as a parent. If you have any ideas that could be in the book please write us, Teo says.

They did also promise to pay the contributors whose material that was chosen to be in book.

– If someone gives us something that we can use, we are also paying them. That is our belief, Teo say.

They did pay 150 euros for each story. It could be a short one, like only one sentence, but they did still pay them 150 euros.

Fredrik and Teo have recently launched a book about creative service and they went about it the same way, but now the network has grown into about 20 000 people.

– We also asked our old customers, clients, their clients and through media. We told them we are writing this book, we have these ideas, but we want everyone else who have ideas about creative service to join us, please send in ideas, Teo say.

Half of the Idea Book for Parents is made up of contributed material, but the interesting.org.

Teo thinks it is a great way to write books.

– Most of our books in the future will definitely be written in this way. It has to be better. It will be better. It can’t be worse, could it? You will ask tens of thousands of people. And of course they will contribute and give ideas that you didn’t think of yourself, Teo says.

Fredrik and Teo are keeping the e-mail addresses to every buyer of their books. Which enables them to contact every buyer of their previous books, who already knows their work, and invite then to contribute with material to their future books.

– We are also thinking about using that concept by asking our existing readers, as authors, and ask them what kind of book they do want us to write. Us, being me and my twin brother and all our readers.

Fredrik and Teo do see them selves as authors with a community of readers.

Watch the rest of the conversation:

This conversation did take place the day after an interesting event at Teo’s place at Älvkarleö Bruk – a TED Talk Weekend. I did manage to catch him right after the breakfast coffee and talk about stuff we care about here at Citizen Media Watch – user generated content.

If you choose to watch the whole conversation, you will hear Teo talk about why they are going to put their e-mail address on every page in the book, why they choose to print their books, their plan about making it the most translated book in the world – by a living author.

He also talks about how it is to work together as brothers. Teo shows a book and one of the different ways you can use it. And finally some stuff about interesting.org and their business model sharing ideas and endorse creativity.

Watch the whole conversation with Teo Härén. [part one + part two]


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december 20th, 2008

Bivings report: increase in user-generated content on US media sites

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

This year’s Bivings report was released yesterday. It shows an increase in the number of US news sites offering their users to participate. From the findings:

# Newspapers are experimenting with user generated content. The study found that 58 percent of newspapers allowed for user generated photos, while 18 percent accepted video and 15 percent articles. Overall, 58 percent of newspapers offered some form of user generated content in 2008 compared to 24 percent in 2007.
# Research shows that the number of newspaper websites allowing users to comment on articles has more than doubled in the last year. Seventy five percent of newspapers now accept article comments in some form, compared to 33 percent in 2007.
# Ten percent of newspapers had social networking tools, such as user profiles and the ability to “friend” other users, built into their sites in 2008. This compares to five percent of sites that included this feature in 2007. It is surprising that this number isn’t higher.
# Seventy six percent of newspapers offered a Most Popular view of content in some form (Most Emailed, Most Blogged, Most Commented, etc.). This compares to 51 percent in 2007 and 33 percent in 2006.

It’s good news that things are moving in the right direction. But the question is what the news corporations who are still behind are thinking. It’s 2008. Time to wake up – or you’ll soon be out of business.



december 20th, 2008

News Mixer – a great new tool for news discussion and fact-checking

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

The recently released test site for News Mixer is a tool for discussing news and posting your own. The focus is on Eastern Iowa – the project is a collaboration between the Medill School for Journalism‘s Crunchberry project and Gazette Communications in Cedar Rapids. So it’s not – atleast not yet – a global or even nation-wide service. But it’s attracting interest because it’s quite cleverly set up. It plugs into Facebook though Facebook Connect, so when you’ve connected your account, you can see who of your Facebook contacts are on News Mixer and follow their actions on the site.

News Mixer

The site has received a lot of love in the comments in the sidebar. What I like most about it is the way that any story can be scrutinized paragraph by paragraph by adding questions and answers, thus providing a tool for collaborative fact-checking and discussion about the validity of statements. It is also a social tool, letting me know when my contacts have been active on the site. And it flattens the news hierarchy (though not completely – you cannot add questions or answers to stories posted by users, and those are limited to 250 words). The news can come from traditional news stories or from other members (through letters to the editor), questions can be posed by anyone, replied by anyone (not just the reporter/writer) and anyone can comment.

Joshua Pollock writes at the Crunchberry project blog:

it harnesses the credibility of an established media company, leverages existing online social networks and gives people a constructive way to interact with each other and the news.

Comments, called quips in News Mixer lingo, are limited to 140 characters, making them similar to microblogging posts.

And, last but not least, it’s open source. So Eastern Iowa will be the first site in what will probably be a long number of local and national efforts. Looking forward to see this evolve. I hope to see a Swedish site not too far off in the future.


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december 9th, 2008

Sandra Jakob at HD.se – It's not laziness, it is fear

Posted by Gitta Wilen

This is a conversation with Sandra Jakob about online journalism, transparency, the future way of publishing on the web and the need to inspire colleagues to explore and to use the internet.

Sandra Jakob works as an online journalist at hd.se. Helsingborgs Dagblad is a daily newspaper situated in the south of Sweden, in Helsingborg.

CMW: What are you thoughts about the editorial work at HD in the future. Do you think you will have to change the way you work and think differently about the way you are publishing your content?

Sandra thinks that they have to start to think about how to publish the news, based on the type of content, instead of the editorial staff.

– The process of integrating the different channels into each other will be more important. I think that it will somehow be the ultimate test to see which newspaper that will make it out of this big crisis that we are in, that everybody is so afraid of.

– If we are starting to think about how we are going to, all together, work towards a goal of reaching out with our information and news. Then we are going to be successful, Sandra says.

CMW: Why are journalists avoiding to embrace the internet and use it the way it can be used? Is it about fear, laziness or convenience?

Sandra does not think it is laziness and it is not the lack of journalistic confidence. She thinks it is about fear. Not knowing how to use the technical tools and how to communicate on the web.

– You just have to somehow go over the threshold and try it once for yourself and see that you can’t ruin everything. We have backup systems, she says.

Sandra thinks that the biggest challenge of reaching out to a journalist who is not used to working with the internet, is to show them that it is not dangerous. It is not going to make them look stupid. That it is going to help them and that is going to change the way they will go about their work in the future.

– People that are very humble and say that: ”I don’t know this but I’m willing to learn,” that’s an amazing start. If I just get that, I am very happy, she says.

When Sandra teaches her colleagues at hd.se how to use the blog tool, they sit down and walk it through step by step. After trying it out for themselves for a while, they do think it is so much fun and easy. She believes that you should not be afraid of the blogs just because the word blog is misused by a lot of people, it is an information source like everything else.

Sandra did work for Mindpark earlier this year. Mindpark is a web developing agency with the swedish morning newspaper industry as its main clients and beneficiaries.

Sandra Jakob and Joakim Jardenberg had this conversation (in Swedish) on her first day at work.

[Roughly translated]: The conversation, which contained nine parts of laughter and one part of seriousness (before the editing) was about why journalists should blog, why user generated content is a good thing and a little about where Rubbet is heading. [Published at mindpark.se 2008 03 06]

Joakim asked Sandra if she could come up with a more suitable word for the concept user generated content. She promised to think about it.

CMW repeated that question and asked her if she had managed to find a better word for the interchange of content and information:

Sandra has thought about it but she thinks it is hard to find a new word, because it is user generated content. Even though she does not like the word user.

– They are people that we work with, because they send us their pictures and their movies. They call us and give us information, she says.

Sandra believes that user generated content is the best terminology at the moment.

In the Mindpark sofa, Sandra also talked about the need of linking to the blog, as the original source of the news or the conversation.

CMW asked her if she still thinks it is the way to work. Does hd.se link to bloggers and external sites?

– Yes, I still think it is is the only way to go, Sandra says.

Sandra think it is important to pick up subjects that people are talking about and that it is important to give credit to the person that wrote about it on her/his blog. She thinks that if they start a conversation about the subject, it will only benefit the newspaper in the future. Sandra hopes that people will see that the newspaper do respect their work and what they are doing and that they do want to be in contact with them.

Sandra has not yet any example of a local blogger that has been creating any news for hd.se, but she does hope that it will happen soon. But they have been writing about bloggers and the internet.

– Then we are always make sure that we do link back to the person that we are writing about, she says.

CMW: The web is about conversations and expressing personal thoughts. Do you think that journalists should be more open with their personal opinions?

Sandra has an example from hd.se sports blog Sportbloggen. In the beginning they were only linking to funny YouTube clips.

– It did generate a lot of ha ha-comments, but it is nothing that will draw attention in the end, Sandra says.

She advised them to have a personal opinion. If they can have that in a column in the newspaper they can have that on a blog too.

– But, you have to think about it. What am I comfortable with saying? Can I stand for this?, Sandra says.

Sandra believes that you have to be comfortable with what you are saying on the blog. If your are not, maybe you should not do it. They want their journalists to blog, but everybody might not be comfortable doing it.

– If you are open with where you stand and what you think, the audience is going to respect you more, she says.

CMW: How are journalists going to handle transparency? Is there a good transparency level for a journalist?

– There is a bad transparency level, let’s start with that, it is so much easier, Sandra says.

She thinks that a bad transparency is when you tell everybody who gave you that tip. All of their sources are protected by the Swedish law. But a good level of transparency would be to be more open with the process of working as a journalist. It could be as a blog where you write about what kind of seminars and conferences you go to and tell more about how you find information about the subject you are writing about.

– I would love to see somebody who writes about the process and all the frustration there is to be a journalist. It is not always that fun even though we love it. Because there are people hanging up on you, people not liking you. Maybe you get the answers that you would like but it still doesn’t happened. Or you don’t get the result you would like to have, Sandra says.

She believes that bad transparency is when you tell people exactly who told you what, that is gossip. Good transparency is being open with the process, how you think, how you work, how you relate to your readers – both negatively and positively. And It is important to be honest.

– Because if you’re not honest, in the end it is coming back to bite you, Sandra says.

CMW: Do you still think that the internet is something good and useful for a journalist?

As a curious journalist Sandra does think that internet is an amazing way of possibilities and she loves the conversation that is going on out there, even though you have to be critical as usual against information and disinformation.

Sandra talks about the way the Swedish blogs handled the FRA affair. She thinks that it is a good example of a subject raised by bloggers and that ended up as a discussion in old media.

– I can only see the internet as a very positive thing, she says.

CMW: What do you think the newspaper will look like within five years. Do you think that they are still going to exist in print?

Sandra does still believe in the printed newspaper but not the way it looks like today. But she thinks it should be more of a magazine and not be distributed seven days a week. Maybe three days a week, or just over the weekend. A magazine that is going to be customized. More feature, more background and more thoughts.

– I still believe in print in some other way than we have today. The feeling of using print paper and have it in your hand, is something that we can not replace with a PDA or a mobile phone, she says.

CMW: Where do you see yourself with in five years?

Sandra hopes she will be able to dedicate herself full time working with inspiring colleagues to use the internet in a useful way. Integrating and developing newsrooms for the internet. She hopes to be working, not with in the news rush, but with people that works with news and that are interested in new ways to come out with their information and keep track on what is happening on the internet.

– I love developing stuff for newsrooms and news organizations. I hope I will be able to work with something like that, she says.

Sandra Jakob ends our conversation with a request. Sandra would like to have a conversation about online journalism if you are interested, you are welcome to contact her at sandra.jakob@hd.se.

And of course and as always, you are welcome to post your thoughts about this subject as a comment.

Related post: Will there be a dark period for journalism? Joakim Jardenberg at Mindpark on how Helsingborgs Dagblad can survive as an online paper. A version in Swedish at mindpark.se.


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december 2nd, 2008

Pownce shutting down, becoming part of Six Apart

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Microblogging/microstreaming service Pownce announced yesterday that they are closing down the service and becoming part of Six Apart.

Leah Culver writes:

We have some very big news today at Pownce. We will be closing the service and Mike and I, along with the Pownce technology, have joined Six Apart, the company behind such great blogging software as Movable Type, TypePad and Vox. We’re bittersweet about shutting down the service but we believe we’ll come back with something much better in 2009. We love the Pownce community and we will miss you all.

We’re very happy that Six Apart wants to invest in growing the vision that we the founders of Pownce believe so strongly in and we’re very excited to take our vision to all of Six Apart’s products. Mike and I have joined Six Apart as part of their engineering team and we’re looking forward to being a part of the talented group that has created amazing tools for blogging and publishing.

So it looks like some microblogging functionality will be integrated into these blogging services. I for one think it’s only natural that we see some microblogging services closing down. There will probably be a concentration to Twitter, Jaiku and a couple others that turn out to be the better ones, or simply where people you know are. Though it’s a piece of cake to automatically update several microblogging sites, there’s little point as long as there are no smart ways to keep track of replies and be a part of the conversation without having to check all the sites manually. If you know of a good service that does that, please let me know.

Other news from Six Apart: they are giving away free pro accounts to laid-off journalists (via CyberJournalist) in the TypePad For Journalists Program.

We want to help independent journalists become more entrepreneurial, and to give you the tools you need to succeed with your own blog.

Cool initiative. For those who are not accepted, there’s always WordPress, of course.


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