Entries from May 2008 ↓

Huge clump of information

Aggregation. It’s a big focus of my life these days. I’m looking for easy ways to collect information and share it with the general public. At the same time, I’m trying to find ways to collect the websites and social networks I visit and aggregate it into one place. That’s why I’m curious to see how Google’s Friend Connect, Facebook Connect and MySpace’s dataportability may help play in this goal to link everything into one location on the Internet.

I look at this on two levels: How can it work for me and how can it work for my news website.

For me, I love social networking. I love chatting, learning and sharing. It’s kind of obvious from my previous posts. But I think it’s so cool to be able to share and see different perspectives from people I trust. It’s the same idea as having a get together with your friends – but I know I’m not alone when I say many of my friends live across the country. We move around a lot! Not to mention, my job has given me the chance to meet really cool and smart people in all kinds of locations. Social networking lets me stay in touch in ways that writing a letter and sending it in the mail can’t do. And in a slightly self-centered way, it gives me a chance to know what my friends are doing after years of them reading my family blogs and never leaving comments! They know all about me but I don’t know a thing about their most recent updates.

On the professional side of things, I want my news product used by my market! So that’s why I tried an aggregated website sharing the news from KOMU.com, the local NPR newsroom and a local newspaper as a test. We’re aggregating all of our election-themed news and sharing it into the SmartDecision08.com website. This is a way to create a one-stop information hub on the election season in Missouri, specifically mid-Missouri. I don’t have enough funding to make it function as well as I would like it to function, but it is deep. There is so much information and it’s delivered in a way that can really let a news and political information consumer learn a lot. I want to find ways to help collect information and give people the change to socially learn and share on this kind of level. Take news and make it personal. That’s been my goal for years. It’s so cool to see how today’s technology is reaching the concepts I thought about a long time ago.

I am trying out a new site called blippr.com – it gives you a way to socially share the things that entertain you: books, movies, music and games. It’s a level of social networking I haven’t really participated in before. Facebook has all kinds of options that include those items, but blippr seems to have a very clean, concise and non-gimmicky way to accomplish sharing entertainment reviews. It connects to facebook and twitter and friend feed so the idea is to use it as an aggregator of sorts to collect and share your likes and dislikes within the products you already use. I think that’s where everything is headed. I just wish I could wrap my head around how we can use these kinds of tools and still help inform online consumers the news they want and possibly need to know to participate in the non-computer based world where they live. I would have something really cool if I had money and programmers who would put up with my constant brain dumps!

My social networking

My Twitter Cloud

I’m deep inside many different social networking tools. I use them personally in order to see how useful they are for my job. If it’s useful for my day to day life, then there may be a great reason for my newsroom to share its information using those tools. A year ago I got into Twitter, but no one else in my circle got into it so I left. I jumped back in last fall and it’s really picked up steam. Now I’m trying to think of ways these short messages can be helpful for my job and I’ve enjoyed what I can talk about in my life. Fun products like Tweetstats can show off what I talk about the most (like kids, work, meetings, newsroom). I spend a lot of time playing with these tools and thinking big — on a personal and professional level. I blog on WordPress and Blogger, I tweet on Twitter, I post pictures on Flickr, I create “scrapbooks” on Scrapblog, I co-moderate a Yahoo group, I connect with people on LinkedIn and Facebook. I oversee a news website and an election website. I text, I surf the web from my phone. It’s a hell of a juggle and someday someone is going to find a way to merge all of these products and concepts that offer a connection into one cellphone based tool. I hope I’ll be able to join in and help with the creation of those tools. It wasn’t that long ago when my boss and I were talking about how he would love to see a small handheld video player — Oh you know, like a video iPod? I’m visioning the world’s most interactive iPhone where you can type, talk or post without any effort. That will be super cool. Who knows. Maybe’s Google’s Friend Connect will do that… When it goes live (and it’s rumored to launch today). This could have major implications on how to help a standard website (like komu.com) connect with its audience in a more social way. (The Washington Post explains)

Twitter explosion

I’ve had Twitter in my view for a while. I joined early last year and decided to drop it when I realized I kept using my own children’s names in the feed. I decided to shut down that username. A few months later I joined back in and I’ve been stunned to watch how my little town in the middle of Missouri is just starting to catch onto Twitter. Not only have individuals joined Twitter, more local media is joining in on the fun as well. You can view my tweets by going to www.twitter.com/jenleereeves. You can view KOMU.com’s tweets by visiting www.twitter.com/komunews. There is a distinct difference between the two twitter accounts. Right now, I tweet about personal and professional things. I also talk to other Twitter members. For KOMU, I tweet with Twitterfeed which is a way to share your RSS feed on Twitter. Twitterfeed turns your URL into a TinyURL so it fits on the 140 character limit. A “follower” simply keeps up to date with the latest top news categorized stories from KOMU.com. I haven’t used it for anything beyond a simplified RSS feed. But I see a TON of potential for Twitter when it comes to delivering news to followers and possibly using the tool for reporters covering news out in the field. The field tweets could be used as direct pieces of information for Twitter followers but it could also be used for gathering up details in the newsroom.

A side tool called Hashtags can collect tweets that have a theme. If there’s a fire in Fulton, Hashtags would aggregate all tweets that contain the word #fultonfire. This would give the newsroom a simple way to keep up with the reporters who are out on the breaking news story. Heck, I wonder if we could use it to follow the reporters covering daily events. I haven’t tried it but I bet it would be an awesome way to keep an eye on the reporters without them feeling micromanaged.

I just realized I have babbled on and on about Twitter and I haven’t even explained it. Twitter is a site that collects your thoughts, status or links. It’s kind of like your Facebook status, but you can update it easily: from your computer (on the twitter ste, via IM or widget tools) or your cellphone. Actually, I update my Twitter and my Facebook profile at the same time. The twist: You must tweet within 140 characters. It’s a concise description of your life and thoughts. I love it. And apparently more and more people are loving it since a journalism student was rescued from jail in Egypt.

Then an extra interesting thing happened. Today, one of my local newspapers decided to follow my Twitter stream. I think that’s interesting. It’s a way to promote the fact that they have the Twitter stream, but it also affiliates the paper to every person who is followed. I purposefully chose not to follow people on Twitter because I didn’t want to appear to pander to the Twitter community. That makes me wonder. Did I make the right choice? Once I knew the local paper had a Twitter stream, I decided to follow them because I’m just curious what they’re up to. But I’d love to hear from those of you out in the interweb? What is the polite or appropriate way to “pimp your site” on Twitter? Is there a right way?

I love this stuff.