Entries Tagged 'Media' ↓

Go on a trip!

My newsroom finally launched its first Gowalla trip – the top 8 locations on the University of Missouri campus:

We’ll see how it goes, but this is just the first one. I’m hoping to add more branding with the support of the Gowalla team. After that, I hope to add a walking tour of the local towns in our viewing areas.

I’ve also blogged about how I hope to launch a Newbie Tour – a trip that focuses on all of the locations in Columbia, MO that you should visit to help you feel like a local in town.

Are we ready?

I am constantly trying to find ways to bring the knowledge I have to my community. Any time I talk to someone who I don’t work or teach with on a regular basis, I end up talking about a little tool or tip that I find is a easy way to use technology in a more efficient way. Twitter lists, little tools like Seesmic or coTweet.

That’s why I tried to launch a Foursquare Day in Columbia last week. It was worth the try to create a “swarm” and get 50 people to gather in one place. It didn’t work – but it was fun to have an excuse to visit spots in my town where I don’t normally hang out. Plus, I had an excuse to bring a bouncy ball and chalk downtown and start a game of foursquare. Silly? Yes. Fun? Certainly. And I hope it shows I really do want to find fun ways to bring the social media community together.

But I’m not sure if my town is comfortable with instant gatherings. We live such a scheduled and busy life juggling work and life (and our kids’ lives). But I’d love to find ways to create social meetings that are fun and I could offer skills and knowledge that I teach daily with my students and employees in my newsroom. The knowledge we have translates on so many professional and personal levels and I want my community to know more. The end result is a bit self-centered. A more savvy community will participate in sharing with the journalists in our community. It would help our changing newsrooms transition into using a more socially-minded and sharing news process. Is that greedy? Or am I just trying to move our town a little closer into a vision of community I expect will happen naturally just in a longer time frame? These are the thoughts that ramble through my head at times.

(Photo courtesy of @justex07)

Rethinking Blogger

I have mentioned many times that I have a thing for blogging. I spend time here, I spend time on my kid blogs and I spend time encouraging a lot of other people to use blogs to reawaken their conversational writing voice. A while back I used to encourage newbies to blogging to hop into Blogger. It was simple, intuitive and it helped people who have a fear of online tools get the job done without needing to ask me many questions.

But in the last few years, I’ve started encouraging more people to use WordPress.com and those who are willing to purchase server space of their own, I send them down the WordPress.org path. (The difference? The .com version is hosted by WordPress and it isn’t as customizable or as easily tinkered. The .org version gives you total control of the look and content you place inside the blog system.) I get a few more questions when my colleagues, students and friends use WordPress, but it’s become an industry standard in some ways. I don’t want my friends and students to miss out the knowledge of using a tool that is helpful in their careers.

But after SXSW, I’m starting to think a little differently. I was walking around the Google booth on the trade floor and started talking to the cool folks that work in Google-land. First I explained to the woman working at Google Voice how my whole brand (@jenleereeves) is based on the Gmail I picked up back in 2004. I also explained how Google Voice has changed my entire life workflow. (I actually return calls… I was terrible about that before that time.) Then I walked over to the Blogger guy thinking it wouldn’t be much of a conversation… but then he shows me this:

I looked at him and said: “When did Google start thinking about Blogger? I might actually recommend this again.”

Why is the new version of Blogger so cool? The design is customizable in ways I’ve never seen in a blog tool. You can change the width of the main section and the sidebars. You can choose how the widgets will look and where you can place the elements. You can even add static pages – which I really love with my WordPress sites.

I might have to answer a few more questions when someone builds a Blogger blog and uses some of the extra features, but I won’t mind helping. I’m curious to see what can come out of the new version. If you want to check it out, visit Blogger in Draft (http://draft.blogger.com). You can sign in with your normal old blogger accounts that you left a while ago and tinker around with those sites. That’s what I did!

The high and low tech of SXSWi

I’m just wrapping up my stay in Austin after almost a full week of geeking it up with some of the most amazing minds in the world during the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference. I had a chance to mingle with people from thousands of different interests and niches. This wasn’t just a conference with journalists. This wasn’t just a conference with coders, or marketers or promoters or CMS designers or graphic artists or people who are Internet famous. They were all there… along with so many other people.

My big take away from this HUGE experience is there are so many things happening in different niches… But there is a similar conversation.  (You can see the list of all of the panels here) I took the advice of Thom Singer who told a small group of people at the start of the SXSW Interactive conference to make sure we spread out and speak to people outside our circles. I did just that. I went beyond my comfort zone of journalists and journalism researchers. I went beyond marketing professionals. I met people who are a part of the Open Source movement, bartenders, event planners, members of startups… I could go on and on. I met people randomly in lines, in the hallway and at a couple of social hang out spots on the first floor of the conference center.

I also had a few ways to meet people thanks to a little pre-planning. I brought a power strip and plugged it in as often as possible to keep my iPhone charged (I was obsessively playing around with Foursquare and Gowalla). Any time a person plugged into my power strip, I asked for one thing – to have that person introduce themselves to me. I didn’t require a card swap or official networking. But I did at some point decide to declare a hashtag in honor of some cool people plugging in: #powerfriends. It was silly, but I had suddenly discovered a new way to network with people. Less pressure, but we could easily find one another if we followed the hashtag. Silly? Maybe. But I met people who may want to chat with me again some day. (Including @schneidermike who I met randomly and shared a Gowalla OneTaco coupon with)

I met people I’d known a long time but never in person (@JessicaKnows) and got to know people who I’d seen in passing on the Internet but I didn’t really know how great they were until I saw them in person (@gawthrok, @jodiontheweb) and I got the meet some really wonderful new friends (including @inmikeswords, @moniguzman and @bradflora). And beyond that, I saw people I adore and have met at conferences and through the Internet before. (That list would go on and on)

I learned a lot of things in panels and outside of panels. But in the end, while some people say SXSW stunk, I think it’s a once a year event I hope I don’t miss. The opportunities for random meetings and discussions are unlike any other conference or meetup. It’s the low tech side of SXSW that wins me over. All of the face-to-face meetings mean the world to me.

Expect a number of postings where I hope to brain dump ideas and thoughts. But I wanted to summarize the experience itself before I start on my ideas.

Here are a few pictures to share from the fun and nerdiness of it all:

Gearing up for SXSWi

I’m getting ready to head out of town again… It’s been a busy month. But this time around I’m heading to a mecca of new media/social media/technology minds. I went to SXSW for the first time last year and I learned SO much about the experience. If you ever have a chance to attend a conference this large, there are a few things you need to do:

1) Prepare your schedule. The trip won’t go exactly as planned, but knowing which sessions to attend will keep you motivated to wake up on time each morning. It will also help you with conversations when you meet new people. (“What session are you attending?” “Oh! I hadn’t thought about going to that event. Let’s meet up afterward and compare notes”) SXSW has great tools to help conference attendees keep up with the full schedule. I used a few mobile tools last year and it’s the only way I was able to keep up with it all.

2) Meet new people. There are so many people from so many different industries that attend this conference. Most events I attend are for journalists. SXSWi (which is short for South by Southwest Interactive) is a space for anyone with interest in interactive media. There are so many minds and products out there that you may have never thought could be useful for your profession. I learned a ton last year. Yes, I ended up meeting a lot of journalists, but I met others from marketing and software organizations that I would have never known met without this conference.

3) Socialize inside and outside the conference. SXSW is in Austin, Texas – a mecca for entertainment. There are amazing social events where I met and spoke to people I would have never met in conference sessions. It’s a wonderful opportunity to have fun, meet new people and pass those business cards around.

4) Follow up. I am terrible with this. I race home and spend time sharing the information I gathered from SXSW, but I didn’t sit down and contact each person I met. I wish I had. I’m actually planning on attending a session that may give me better tips on following through with the follow up.

I’m lucky to be connected to the Missouri School of Journalism and its many alumni. There’s a small gathering I’m planning while I take part in SXSW to give the Mizzou connections a chance to chat. I’ve found any opportunity that puts me in a different city, I have a great reason to bring alumni together.

By the way – I just stumbled onto this link about SXSW food. Yum.

Blog crazy


I love blogs. I blog about blogs… I help people launch blogs. I periodically think about joining the BlogHer network and market my daughter’s blog. But for four years, I’ve run my class through an old Dreamweaver template I created in the summer of 2006.

This morning I went in to work at 4 a.m. to help oversee possible school closures (I did the same three days in a row last week). The school closings were slow so I dropped another WordPress install into my server and decided to try and build a class page built in a blog theme. I ended up with this. As I built it, I decided that I would post a blog post that reviews the class. It was fun… and it was really cool to see how my class discussion floated out into Twitter and Buzz and I was able to bring it all together.

Ahhhh. Blogs.

Off topic or on the right track?

I spend a lot of time talking to my students, former students and colleagues about personal branding. And the more I talk to them, the more I start thinking about younger users of the web. I have had a chance to speak to high schoolers a number of times about the changing world of journalism and social media. I remind them that a simple Google search (and Bing and Yahoo) can show you a lot about your personal brand. And I tell them that you should think about your personal brand now, not later. But that got me thinking about my children. I blog about each of them, they have their own gmail accounts (and thus Google profile and Buzz accounts that I haven’t activated) and I plan to help manage their Facebook (or whatever social media tool is cool at the time) profiles until they are 18 (probably against their will). I think parents need to think of ways to jump in and think about personal branding before that brand is established. That way I don’t have to help them fix it by the time they are in high school or college.

How early is too early to worry about a person’s brand? If you search for my kids, you’ll find a picture of my son from the local newspaper and nothing about my daughter unless you know the name of her blog. In this searchable and cached world, how early do we need to worry? Do I just spend too much time talking about branding and parenting in separate venues that I’m merging these two topics because I’m obsessed? I just thought I’d throw it out there. I might be off topic for this blog but at the same time I wonder if I’m on the right track.

Brainstorming for a new semester

I’m jumping into a new semester and as always, I’m mixing things up for the class I teach. In the last year, I’ve realized many of the tools I use are not a common part of journalism education: blogs, social networks, live streaming and blogging tools. The list goes on and on. So this semester I’m going to try to find ways to encourage my students to use these tools. I launched my class this week with a Twitter hashtag (#jenclass) and plans to use Google Wave, Cover It Live, Skype and many other tools to give my students reasons to play around and learn from experience.

I also learned about a website called Prezi today. I’m clearly behind the ball on this one. But the site created a new free version for students and faculty to use for presentations. I jumped in, created an account and created this step by step process that explains how to succeed in my class:

I also have an interesting challenge with my students. We’re all going to look for ways to take GPS-based games and find ways to bring news into those games. Right now I’m a fan of foursquare and I’ve been able to finally play it in my town when the site opened up to any location. (It used to only let you play in certain cities) I’m curious to see how news can get involved in games. Could we insert historical or newsworthy information about various locations? I’m curious and I’m planning on looking into that.

We have a whole bunch of projects to work on and I look forward to sharing the progress we make as the semester continues.

Using tools to save money

I don’t normally write about personal things on this blog… But I’ve realized my work with new media has reached a new level on a personal level this holiday season. In an attempt to save money, I decided to put my efforts online to work. I figured, why not spend time working on a website for the holidays instead of spending the money it takes to create a holiday card and mail them out.

siteSo I used the tools I’ve collected on my site: Flickr, Weebly, Scrapblog and Google Docs and created a holiday website for my family. I’ve included a downloadable version of our holiday card, stories about each family member and a spot for people to leave messages in place of spending money on a holiday card. Total cost for the website: Free (if you don’t count the fact that I have a pro account with Flickr)

There really are benefits to these tools beyond journalism!

Talking about Twitter, social media and more

A couple of weeks ago I met Travis Smith and Jamie Stephens for a cup of coffee and a conversation. It was a lot of fun. We sat down to talk about social media and the various tools we can use to communicate to our audience – be it a news audience or a customer audience. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is being “real” in a social space.

If you’re interested in listening to the conversation, check it out here.