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Northern Voice Blogging Conference Notes PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 12 February 2006 16:05
Northern Voice Blogging Conference Notes

Paul Cipywnyk's Blog - Does it make sense to have readers contribute news. Why are people participating? Hyper-local, know their neighborhoods. We have numerical superiority.

Tectonic shifts in the marketplace
Fundamental economic shifts in how news is produced and consumed
Audience is now becoming a supplier
News orgs have to change relations with readers
Readers can make their own news


February 11, 2006

Northern Voice Blogging Conference Day 2

Northern Voice 2006 Day 2

Starting With Fire: Why Stories are Essential and How to Blog Effective Tales
Presenter: Julie Leung

Moving presentation on the power of storytelling and its importance to blogging.

Sifry on the Blogosphere
Presenters: Dave Sifry from Technorati and Tim Bray

Why did I build Technorati? I wanted to know what are people saying about ME. It?s a social thing. We tell stories, interact with each other. Even someone who disagrees with me probably has a lot in common with me. Searching the web uses the language of libraries, we talk about pages, indexes, directories.

Search engines don?t understand the concept of time. Google news and Yahoo news are the periodicals section of the library. Library is enormously powerful metaphor

Documents are created by people at certain times. So build something that goes beyond keywords and hyperlinks as votes of attention. Page rank still uses library concept.

Blogs can be thought about in a new way. They are the remnants of a person?s attention stream over time. When you write you are spending the most important thing that you have ? your time. So you can understand who a blogger is. So rather than look at pages look at people. Who is linking to whom. I built it because I wanted to know who was talking about me. And many other people and companies wanted to know who was talking about them.

Look at the Web as a living thing. Doc Searls calls it the World Live Web.

What are the blogging stats today?
? Technorati is tracking 27 million blogs
? 75,000 new blogs created every day
? How many people are still actively blogging after three months: just over 50%
? 11% blog once a week or more
? Just under a million blog at least once a day
? About 50,000 posts/hour
? The news cycle cannot be measured in hours any more
? How do I make sense out of all of this?
? Blogging is incredibly many to many.
? Top bloggers become one to many, turn off comments etc. or else they are overwhelmed.
? There are about 115,000 blogs in the magic middle: they have between 30 to 1,000 people linking to them. Authorities in niche areas.
? Such bloggers become local authorities yet remain very two-way because the traffic is manageable enough to carry on a conversation.

What if we look at two important things. Do you really write about what you say you write about. And do others who write about what you write about link to you? Open this up to the world. People started tagging themselves. 870,000 have tagged themselves. Over 2,500 interesting tags on which bloggers are writing.

Tagging is a sloppy thing. Clay Shirky writes about this. As long as you make it really easy to tag and make people accountable, an emergent system starts to occur. Greater than the sum of its parts. As long as there are people who can tag in multiple languages, relationships start to form. The system itself become more intelligent.

Bray: what are you worried about, what could go wrong?

Sifry: This can?t go on if you extrapolate the rate of growth. It has to top out at some point. We are still very much at the beginning of all this. Spam is a problem. Comment, trackback spam. Splogs. Cory Doctorow: all healthy ecosystems have parasites. The cool thing about blogging is that it always resolves back to a web page somewhere, and that leads to some accountability. What I write becomes part of my permanent record. I can temper what I know about you by all the things you?ve said over time.

Concept of network neutrality. Potentially most dangerous threat to the ?Net. Collapsing of number of backbone providers. Now these companies are saying we deserve to be able to do preferential pricing. You?re going off our network so we?re going to charge you 6 cents a minute. If you want to do video streaming, you?ll have to pay extra. Preferred providers. This is enormously bad for innovation. Protects the winners. These guys are going in front of Congress and saying of course this is the way we have to go. Only we can prevent this. They won?t hit consumers, they?ll go to companies behind the scenes. But that will hurt the small guys in the garage startups.

Bray: I have no idea who?s reading my stuff through RSS feeds.

Sifry: RSS is not really push. Your RSS feeder is constantly downloading stuff, but are you reading it? Feedburner uses graphics to ping back to show that someone actually read something. But still don?t really know. The way Bloglines understands things are read is different from NewsGator understands things are read. People are waking up to this issue. Hope to start resolving these issues cross-company soon.

Crowd question: What about federated blogging?

Sifry: Poor pay. Some coops are developing to split income more equitably. Natural outcome of shift in publishing economics. But a lot of people don?t have the skills to do marketing, advertising etc. Guild system developing. Can you write with quality? Can you make enough money? Right now people are spending 70 of leisure time online, but only 4% of advertising is online. This should start to equalize, so there are enormous opportunities here.

Snow White and the Seven Competencies of Online Interaction
Presenter: Nancy White
See her slides at link above -- a lot of great stuff I have no space for here.

What are competencies we need to interact online?

Blogs are developing faster than any other tool. When we go online we lose f-t-f cues. We are global. We may no longer have a shared cultural context. Bridging language, belief systems. A world of small annoyances. In f-t-f life our presence as a human being is still there. We need to bring that into online interactions. Bring heart and soul and spirit into online life.

Sometimes we go online and choke and die. We move too fast online. I wrote it so you must have understood it. The new medium goes laterally rather than top down. This freaks out organizations. Networks can totally disrupt organizations. Open source learning.

Competencies are emerging: Scan, See patterns, Write, Image-inate, Vocalize, Intuit

When do you stop scanning and go deep? If you can?t write you?re screwed. Think about multiple modalities that help people have an experience.

Approach online life with an open hand and let people take your stuff.

We glorify expertise, but by being unknowing we learn so much.

Online you don?t have to participate. How do you create an invitation that people will respond to? Online we are in a fundamentally open space.

I have to speak from a space from which people can hear me. I cannot always speak from my default culture. Go live in the world. Learn other languages.

Shouting that I?m right and that my issue is right, is not working.

A lot of us come from a single domain. Engineer, Economist, Artist? We have to be able to switch our inner context.

Outsiderness is a gift. We?re all outsiders, and if we embrace this we can use it in a positive way. The magic of the periphery.

The most importance competency is self-awareness

We all bring both bright and dark things to the world. Self-aware vs self-absorbed.

See: openspaceworld.org

The Changing Face of Journalism
Presenters: Mark Schneider, UBC School of Journalism;
Robert Ouimet, At Large Media;
Michael Tippett, NowPublic.

The news is dead long live the news


Tectonic shifts in the marketplace
Fundamental economic shifts in how news is produced and consumed
Audience is now becoming a supplier
News orgs have to change relations with readers
Readers can make their own news.

Does it make sense to have readers contribute news. Why are people participating? Hyper-local, know their neighborhoods. We have numerical superiority.

Shift from network to cable news. Same thing is happening with people. If you happen to be ?there? and have a camera, you can report the news.

Shift is happening faster than big media expected. Tsunami, Katrina. Latent army of citizen journalists everywhere waiting for something to happen.

Ownership of news has passed into the hands of the public.


Internet driving big companies crazy. Look for landmark moments in the way in which people consume content. I?ve never been in a room with so many people using so many computers taking notes, and I used to be a professional journalist.

Profound changes in which content is consumed. In old days big media owned all the parts. People are gathering and transmitting stuff like crazy in this room.

Media fragmentation. Pie is becoming increasingly fragmented. Big media have smaller and smaller market shares.


The news is really sick. It makes us sick. There is a toxic quality to what we are consuming. Noxious vapour. Crazy human instinct to want to be frightened.

News should help responsible citizens be citizens. There is a huge appetite for change.

So what can be done? How can we rehabilitate news? Blogging and journalism best practices. There are still valuable skills that journalists have. If you make mistakes, you?re instantly under the spotlight. Have to have an open mind. Can?t go in with mind made up. That does not produce quality journalism. Practice of corroborating evidence, sources. Journalists have an incredible urge to get the story, even putting themselves in danger. Yet journalism is tired. It needs waking up and perhaps you are the ones to do it.

Very rare to hear of journalist on the take, still a miraculously clean profession. Almost a dichotomy with stats on public distrust of the mainstream press.

Things we can do together:
? Create news wikis and other ways to collaborate
? Insist on more transparent media
? Support news certification (see definition below)
? Share skills and support one another

News certification: what went into the story, and what was left out. What couldn?t we answer, and invite public to fill those holes. We?re at a very primitive stage in this yet.

News ml: news markup language. Helps the good stuff rise to the top.

We?ve always been attracted to intelligence and creativity. We feel deeply compelled to tell our truths. Create tools to find the brilliant in blogs.

Audience comment: when you tailor newsfeeds you can totally miss what others are talking about.

Ouimet: We have this notion about this open mass media but it?s crap. You never know what was NOT printed. Editorial focus is about rejecting.

I want to be surprised I want to be challenged. People are smarter than we give them credit for.

Mainstream media can be brilliant because it has the resources to actually throw in a trained, skilled observer?. To ask questions that the neighbors never even thought to ask.

Posted by Paul at 09:42 PM

February 10, 2006

Northern Voice Blogging Conference Day 1

Northern Voice 2006 Blogging Conference Vancouver

General Comments:

A stimulating event that brought together big blogging names and tech gurus along with interested members of the general public. The first day was a series of relatively informal, self-organized sessions, followed by a more structured conference on the second day. Participants included XML developer Tim Bray, Microsoft blogging guru Robert Scoble, Technorati founder Dave Sifry, etc.

I?d say over half the 250 odd people present were banging away on laptops, blogging the conference in real time and uploading photos to Flickr. (Enter the tag ?Northern Voice? to see thousands of photos of the conference.)

Due to time pressures, this report has a minimum of structure and formatting, and will tend to be a collection of rambling notes. Follow the URLs for more info, presenters? blogs, etc.

Moose Camp, Friday, February 10, 2006
(Relatively informal small-group sessions)

Personal Media Outlets ? We Are the Media
Presenter: John Anthony Hartman multimediame.net

We now have the ability to make and distribute media. We can create our own personal media outlets. We are redefining how we make and distribute media. Content on demand.

This shift is sending shivers down the spines of media executives. Afraid of material being stolen. But people don?t need to steal what is free.

Shift from major media monopolies. Major media outlets need to get onboard now. They no longer have a grip on media. People are looking to more sources.

The web is evolving into rich media. It is empowering individuals. The power of the web and individuals is unstoppable.

Time-shifted media is now available. Want to shift media because of premiums on time. Mass media caught in proprietary codecs.

Individuals now have power of editors. $100 MIT laptop project to give poor people everywhere hand-crank powered laptops with mesh networking built in.

Blogs are more than just the written word. Mashed up culture. Take stuff and repurpose it. Creative Commons copyright licensing means I tell you how you can share my stuff, not how I prevent you from using it.

Look up video blogs by Josh Leo, Jay Smooth.

Ourmedia.org puts up your content for free. ?The Global Home for Grassroots Media?

Real Time Reporting
Presenter: Michael Tippet of NowPublic
?The News is Now Public?

Anyone can be editor, photographer etc. Stories ordered by popularity. Collaborate in building news together. Share news you?re reading, writing, etc. News as conversation. Can add your own photos and videos. Can send stuff in from camera phone. Had 2,000 people reporting on Katrina. Can comment on items that others have submitted. Or get permission to use other people?s material.

Relationship to ?professional? journalists.
Dan Gilmour, Howard Reihngold are NowPublic advisors.

Traditional journalism is less important. This is reporting from a first-person perspective. Gilmour trying to elevate blogging into better journalism. Or educate readers. Is it really true? Learn to question the news. Take everything with a grain of salt.

Are there any copyright issues? Don?t cut and paste entire stories, simply point to them. Just take a snippet of a story and add your own value-added commentary. People are happy to get traffic.

Can post comments to stories and make suggestions for corrections. Are thinking about making stories Wiki-able.

We?re All Journalists Now
Presenter: Mark Hamilton, journalism instructor

Everybody is walking around journalizing their lives. I felt naked when I discovered I?d left my house without my camera on the way to the conference this morning. The whole world is being recorded.

We have this combination of professional and amateur coming together to create a new media world. Lone reporters can do text, audio and video. Walls are breaking down between print, TV journalism. Newspapers, TV stations do both on their websites.

Now individuals can do broadcast quality video.

No longer reliant on traditional media structure to talk back. But what does this all mean? What does it mean for journalism? What does it mean for how we are finding out about the world? Breakdown of one to many media to many to many media.

Every year it?s getting harder to filter and edit.

Professional journalist have lied all the time, we just never had the power to correct them.

Yet there is an education level and an access level to blogging that many don?t have.

Extensive coverage of niche topics now that were never covered before.

In terms of mass media we have never been as involved as we are now. Mass media still has a lot of flaws, but it?s not as bad as many people make it out to be. Some really good community journalism being produced. Going out and talking to people. Collectively people are smarter than any one journalist. The human voice is coming back into media.

Dave Weinberger (RSS/blogging guru) on tagging. Speaking a few years ago he said tagging was very messy. Mass media right now is messy. Newspapers are freaking because circulation is dropping. TV viewing is dropping. Movie attendance is dropping. It?s changing the metrics of the system. It?s messy. Dave said maybe it?s going to be messy forever. But is that so scary?

Non-Profits Taking Advantage of Bogging
Presenter: Nancy White

?A Place to Capture and Share Ideas and Links about Online Interaction, Community, Distance Learning??

Online community is just another channel for face-to-face communities. Some are pure online communities.

Communities of like-minded people. Very powerful sharing. Levels of engagement change over time. Context is everything. See: shareyourstory.org.

Activists. Different rhythms of engagement. Activism is campaign driven. You have to have a core group. People self-select themselves. Get them involved in your project. All you need to do is support them. People are catalysts. Events are catalysts. Evoke a need to do something. What?s going to change my behaviour.

Katrina, tsunami, Pakistan, were responses by individuals. How can I be a catalyst for a network of individuals to respond?

We need to develop a new set of competencies to live in the online world. We?ve been perfecting face-to-face for millennia. It?ll take time to figure out this online stuff. It helps to have blogging buddies. Practice writing all the time. Read all the time. Just do it.

Getting away from a model of control over messaging. Online you can get your message out in diffuse ways. Your PR person may not be comfortable with giving up control over your message. Have to learn to let go. You might lose some control of your message but you?ll gain so much energy.

The official message isn?t an effective blog. Yet there are times when a top-down message is very useful. You can?t confine yourself to any one approach. Combine approaches. You need the dry research combined with human stories.

Organizations that use blogs have to be thick-skinned. You?ll get feedback that you have never gotten before. We can only see so much, feel so much, experience so much. You can hold much more sand in an open hand than in a fist. Be humble. Willing to be wrong. Don?t take yourself too seriously.

Get organizations more open to the craziness of the online world. Most non-profits are still in very early stages of becoming comfortable with online world.

What happens when you get too much negativity? Need to have it part of your communications strategy. What if people slag your donors? Need to have guidelines in place. You can?t argue. The world is a much more open place than it?s ever been, yet you need to monitor what other people are saying about you.

Tools for monitoring blogs:

Tools that help us to visualize conversations. You might have a constituency out there that you don?t know about.

If the object is to keep as much sand in your hand as possible, you keep it open, but you might need to shelter it from the wind a bit. There are negative people out there who will try to take you down.

?Remixing the Web for Social Change?

"The idea is to share knowledge that we can use to support our work for social change and achieve greater work/life balance.?

Blogging and the Future of Media
Presenter: Kurt Cagle, Mercurial Communications

Things are changing dramatically, authority etc. Foundation of an entirely new way of dealing with social infrastructures.

Rebellious people at this conference. Undermining the infrastructure of authority. Changing the nature of media. Mass media are very scared. We are shifting the rules of the game. M. McLuhan ? when he was writing there were few channels of communication. The way information is presented has a huge fundamental impact. The mechanism of passing symbols. That was 50 years ago.

Channel characteristics c. 1960s. In 1960 dominant media was still print. Minimally interactive. Expensive presses and distribution costs. Radio and records. Minimally interactive. Expensive? TV and Movies, minimally interactive, studios, distribution. All previous are 1 to many. Telephone 1 to 1, moderately interactive.

This resulted in the formation of privileged gateways. High entry costs. Ease of collusion. Centralized control. The gateway companies were able to create large, structured media.

Fast forward 50 years to the Internet. Is not just another medium. Complete and total change to old media rules. Ability to link, to persist, to establish relationships. Every single channel that was out there has migrated to the Internet. The old media still exist, but the rules are changing.

Gateways are disintegrating. Low barriers to entry. Evolution of open standards. Elimination of distribution costs. Production costs drop to labour costs. Networks reroute around obstacles.

Authorities are getting scared. When it gets down to lawsuits you know they?re running scared. The problem is basically one of copyright. We have to rethink what we mean by ownership. We are trying to use rules that apply to an old situation. Many new competitors. Markets are fundamentally different, kids are aware they are being marketed to and don?t want to be pigeonholed.

Blogging and Building Communities
Presenter: Nancy White

What does community mean to you? What is the language of blogs and communities? Community is linking.

Love the extended community. Know few people locally, feel closer to people who are geographically distant. It takes somebody to instigate to keep things going. The process of invitation. RSS is a sort of invitation. Community means you?re actually trying to understand the other people. Ephemeral micro-communities that come and go.

Corporations are turned off of blogging because of the community aspects. Too personal. That view is starting to change. With that mindset they are bound to fail. The tipping point came in 2005, when companies started understanding how to use blogs.

I will give you credit for being human even if I disagree with what you write about.

Posted by Paul at 09:08 PM
Last Updated on Sunday, 12 February 2006 16:05

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