Tag Archives: google

23 Jan

Google+ – do you hangout? Would you hangout?

google_plus_logo

 

In one of my roles as a social media / content manager, I am currently looking into the world of webinars, and online group discussions – and specifically the pro’s and cons of Google+

The idea is to schedule a regular event for discussions around particular area of business.

The content/format is still under discussion, but I am more concerned right now with the broadcast method.

When Google+ launched, I was as excited as the next geek, (but then I was excited about Google Wave, nuff said).

Plenty of people seemed to be using it for one-off events, regular scheduled hangouts and general chatting.

However, I wonder if the hype had passed, or if people were put off from using it, if they were not a Google+ user.

I took to Twitter, to find out:

View the Twitter responses on Storify, here

My concern is that it is does appear to be “social media” people who are currently using it.

Is it a barrier to the less techno-lusty? (this business is not focused on social media, so will need to cross a wide interest and ability level)

 

I’d love to know your thoughts?

If you have hosted a hangout, have you found your users are happy to get onboard?

 

15 May

SEO Copywriter – a move to the dark side?

Witch Burning

Image courtesy of Mullica

In the next few days I have an interview for an SEO Copywriter position – which has prompted a very unexpected reaction from my friends and colleagues.

My background: broadcast journalism – 10 years of writing news scripts and documentaries. More recently I have “gone digital”, completed an MA in Online Journalism and worked with clients on social media strategy, content and data visualizations. 

It is not a huge leap for me to consider roles which require some technical understanding of the internet, search and content.

So, WHY has there been such a dismissive reaction to this particular role?

Three letters – SEO.

The ones who know what SEO stands for (Search Engine Optimization, for those who do not) are what I call the “good” people of the internet. They are journalists and hyper-local bloggers, trainers working with not-for-profit organizations and university lecturers.

They do worthwhile work. They are good people.

To them, anyone who actively goes after search engine ranking via SEO is, as one put it, “creating all that crap online”.

You Give SEO a Bad Name

Yes, there are some very unscrupulous activities online – web marketing is a big business and naturally companies will be tempted to take the fast-easy route. Various black-hat techniques, link baiting, hidden text, cloaking an, of course, spamming, are a blight.

However, as Google improves its crawling techniques, and its spiders evolve more “human” sentiment, so the cracks will show in traditional “black hat” techniques. It was interesting to see that content was a particular focus of Google’s latest update (nicknamed Panda) and sites that were using article spinning, anchor text and paid links saw their rankings hit.

Google process of judging a website’s content as a reader would, has the potential to drive content quality UP, instead of down.

It’s just a shame that this does not necessarily mean the end of link-farms and poorly-written, keyword stuffed articles. Google is not the only search engine, and some companies get enough business from the less-fickle Yahoo and MSN to not worry about quality content.

The Prisoner

Reader or Crawler?

I find the worst web content has been written for a crawler – to generate a high page ranking.

However, with the increase in popularity of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), and bookmarking tools (e.g. Delicious, Instapaper) the reader now plays a much more active role in the process.

They are now much more than just a number, boosting impression rates. They now have the potential to share, recommend, link to and blog about content they like, whether that is to their friends, or to a niche, specialist circle.

An interesting piece of copy with the relevant material highlighted, tagged and organized will keep the crawlers, and your readers, happy.

 

See also: Buying Social Media Followers > quality V quantity

08 Nov

6 Tips for Using Evernote

Here are 6 ways I use the productivity tool, Evernote

Feel free to add yours in the comments below

Or have a free months trial of Evernote Premium here

[toc]

Evernote is the equivalent to an external hard drive, on the cloud – so you can archive important / interesting information – read more here (http://www.evernote.com/)

There are hundreds of different ways you can use Evernote – here are my top 6 tips:

1. A DESKTOP FOLDER

In Evernote open Tools > Import Folders

Here you can specify ANY folder, and files within that folder will be automatically imported into Evernote

I decided to create a folder called “For Evernote”. This sits in my Documents folder, but by creating a shortcut on your desktop, you now have a place where you can drag files for quick importing.

I also specified this folder as a FAVOURITE so it is easy to find when I am saving a file from another program.

I had been hoping to specify a Dropbox folder as an import folder, but this is not possible – hence, Tip #2

2. GOODSYNC

Goodsync – a very useful desktop tool anyway for backing up files/moving etc, but great for syncing Dropbox with Evernote.

I wanted to use this to automatically backup my portfolio as I develop it, but it could be used for anything (images, documents etc).

Point Goodsync at the source file, and again at your Evernote desktop shortcut, and viola! (you can also alter the settings  – so you can have a 2 way sync (not useful here), backup or move (ie delete file from source location)

I have also used this to move a host of images from my IPhone and IPad (before I upgraded to IOS5) to Evernote.

By installing the Dropbox App I uploaded ALL my images to my Dropbox > Evernote folder, and they are  – one by one – moved (and then deleted) from Dropbox to Evernote Import (by Goodsync) then moved (and deleted form source) into Evernote automatically. (I currently use this to move my IPad screen captures into Evernote)

3. SYNC ICLOUD to EVERNOTE

(Disclaimer: I’m not entirely sure HOW I’ve achieved this. I set up a LOT of different syncing techniques and I’m now unable to find out which one works .. but I think this is it – but apologies if it doesn’t work for you)

ICloud is Apple’s latest product to sync items on all of your kit – Ipad, IPhone, Mac etc.

I used Goodsync (above) to link your C:UserssonyPicturesPhoto StreamUploads folder to my Evernote import folder (as set up above)

Now this only works when my laptop is on, but that works for me: Goodsync moves all the images that appear in my photostream into Evernote

This is useful for keeping track of snaps I take, but ALSO, more importantly for me, screen captures I take on my Iphone (and soon IPad)

4. IFTTT.com

Ifttt is a very useful website (a little clunky in places) but  great tool for moving pretty much any online content, to somewhere else.

  • I currently have it sorting certain GMmail messages. Pro: You can specify the Evernote folder in which the item will be moved Con: 1. Sometimes it cuts off the body of the text 2. It does not delete the original message. For some emails now I have reverted to Gmail Filters – see next tip)
  • I have it moving anything I post to my Tumblr images account (http://www.carolinebeavon.tumblr.com) as an image into Evernote
  • Articles I “star” in Google Reader are now moved to Evernote – this does not copy the body, just the title so this is not perfect for reading but useful to a degree
  • Messages I “favourite” on Twitter are sent to Evenote
  • Anything I send to Instapaper (I have a magazine reader on my Ipad that does not have an Evernote link) i import to Evernote.

5. GMAIL FILTERS

> using a filter to forward / move certain emails into Evernote

As stated above – the con of this system is that you cannot specify which Evernote folder the email goes into but it is a trustworthy system.

  • Find your Evernote email address – within Evernote
  • Set up a filter to forward and keep (or forward and delete) emails into Evernote
  • When you log into Evernote you will have to deal with them in your default folder

6. GOOGLE CHROME EVERNOTE PLUGIN

Such a useful tool and I’m sure IE and Firefox have a similar thing.

It’s a button that sits in your toolbar, that lets you grab  webpage and send it to Evernote – allowing you to grab bits of pages, entire pages or URL’s of the page you are looking at. You can also specify the destination folder AND add tags as you go.

Now, what are you tips for using Evernote?

 Caroline Beavon is a freelance information and infographics designer – get in touch for more details

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23 Nov

Myspace OFF Google search? UPDATED

I do a LOT of music searching online – I write band biogs, Facebook events and Tweets … I need a great one stop shop for band info (line-up, tour dates, pictures) – and, despite the fact it’s the biggest social network on the web, Facebook is NOT it. It still needs to serious work to bring quick-to-find information together in one go.

Myspace may have had it’s problems (it’s pretty much killed itself as a social network by allowing people to personalise their sites to the extent that they became unreadable and not coming down hard enough on spam in those early days) but it’s still the single best resource for bands. Facebook just doesn’t do it yet, and even bands own websites are either over-stylised, and hence are a navigation nightmare, or are out of date.

Myspace offers all the information in one place. Plus, it’s also normally the 1st or 2nd search when you Google a band.

Well, it was…

Today I’ve noticed a MAJOR shift in the placing of Myspace in the Google search – it doesn’t exist.

I know there’s a LOT of anger about this from bands who use Myspace as their sole online presence – and it’s not going to do Myspace any good at all surely?

Can anyone cast any light on this?

_____________________________________

There is some speculation that this is down to the deal between Facebook and Myspace. Facebook famously does NOT share it’s information with Google, is the search engine now being pedantic and saying, no Facebook online? Right, no Myspace either …

—————————–

Out of interest, I’ve just received this circular message from Myspace:

Monday 22 November, 2010
From: Myspace UK
Subject: The wait is over…

The new Myspace is here

Since you’ve been so loyal to us, we wanted you to be one of the first to see the newly, redesigned Myspace.

Updated and new features include:

(list embedded and wouldn’t copy on iPhone) will update later …

See what’s new

We’ll be rolling out more changes over the next few months, so stay tuned for more updates.

Your fans at Myspace UK

01 Jul

5 ways to gather data


 Caroline Beavon is a freelance information and infographics designer – get in touch for more details

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Everyone is talking about data journalism nowadays: creating maps, visualizations and infographics. However, before you can do any of that you need some DATA

Here is how I sourced the data for my Datamud project, a look at the statistics behind the big UK music music festivals.

[toc]

1. SEARCH

Official Site

The last thing you want to do is call up a press officer asking for some stats, when they are there, for all to see, on the website. Dig around in any areas labelled information, statistics, FOI and Press Area. Often companies will post useful statistics if they are often requested,but they won’t necessarily make those statistics easy to find.

The Glastonbury Festival Educational Resources area is rich with information. A series of PDF’s contain details about every element of the event – from crowd management, security, stalls, sanitation etc. As the UK’s largest festival is is often the subject of assignments and reports. This was useful as I looked for recycling information to back up the organisers claims that they are a green event.

Google

Google is a wonderful tool – it not only searches websites, but also blogs, news postings, pictures and videos. It’s well worth checking the NEWS section as someone else may have already done similar research and posted the stats online.

Unfortunately a search can return thousands of pages, so you need to be smart when submitting your search. Inverted commas around a phrase will search for those words as written, but combined with simple searches it can be a useful tool.

e.g. “were arrested” 2010

Don’t forget to check the later pages of the search too – sometimes you will find some juicy stuff buried on the less Google juicy sites.

Governing Bodies

Often Google won’t be able to pick up deep linked pages, or documents embedded or linked in pages so it’s always worth looking at official agencies and Governing bodies websites too.
Councils and the Government are now much better at archiving their agendas and minutes and whilst the search facilities are still pretty archaic and frustrating, it’s a start.

None of the various police forces websites had the crime stats that I needed, although they do often have documents that may be of use e.g. Leicestershire Police

Search / Scraping Sites

Although I did not use this during this assignment, in retrospect using a site like Scraperwiki to access data from an official site would have saved me a lot of time. I could have used it to draw together all the line ups, for example, instead of a long winded cut-and-paste process, and plenty of cleaning up.

Nowadays there are also sites that have done a lot of the work for you, by monitoring official sites and databases and turning the data into an easy to handle format.

First stop should be What Do They Know – a site geared up around FOI requests (more on this in a moment) but also you should definitely visit TheyWorkForYou (I set up an alert in regards to the Glastonbury festival, which would tell me whenever it was mentioned. My hope was that the crime levels, or crowd management would be raised at some point and reference to information given.)

Interest Sites

I mentioned Google News search above, but it’s also worth looking for sites that deal with the specific subject area. They may have useful resources but may not appear on page 1 of a Google Search.

When I was compiling lists of the bands playing the various festivals, often the official sites were clunky or the names were shown on a JPG of the official event poster. However festival news/interest sites, such as EFestivals, present the information in a more useful way

2. ASK PRESS OFFICE

For archive or very up to date statistics, often a call to the press office is necessary.

I wanted to find out more about historical weather forecasts so a visit to the MetOffice website informed me that they had a library of data that could be accessed. Within one quick email conversation I was furnished with a link to a host of archive weather data with records often going back to the 1700’sIn CSV format, these were simple to manipulate and visualise.

Press Offices are used to to dealing with requests for information, its their job, as well as being happy to help you meet deadlines.

3. FOI

FOI requests are for those tricky bits of data othat an organisation is less reluctant to send out (for time, size, sensitivity etc issues). I set ONE FOI request, for crime stats to a police force, foolishly thinking this would be quicker than contacting the press office directly. It was not.

Use these if you do not need the information urgently (it can take up to a month from start to finish)

Interesting article on FOI Requests from Channel 4

4. CROWDSOURCE

Of course carrying out ryour own research is one way of gathering data, but this project relied on the theory that “many hands make light work”.

I wanted to find out how much it would cost to see the various mainstage bands, if you were to see them on their own headline tours. I could have spent DAYS trawling the internet ticketing sites (both UK and international) collecting the data. Instead I started a public Google Docs spreadsheet. Through the social networks I encouraged people to enter the prices of tickets they had recently bought. The database was soon a third full, and a chance message from an old friend (the man behind Ents24) completed the rest by gaining access to their database.

Google Docs is a fantastic way of collaborating and getting large jobs completed.

5. I GOT MY CALCULATOR OUT

This can be hard work if you are dealing with a lot of data, but for me it was feasible

I wanted to assess the nationalities of the various bands, and compare the overall nationalties of the different lineups. This involved a lot of searches on Myspace and Wikipedia (still both very useful resources for the facts about bands) and using visualisation Software Tableau.

In retrospect I should have doubled this database up with the ticket prices one, and asked people to fill in the nationalities of the bands as well. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

 

Want more? – DATA JOURNALISM: MORE THAN NUMBERS AND CHARTS

 

 


 Caroline Beavon is a freelance information and infographics designer – get in touch for more details

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02 Apr

iPhone Apps: search

After jumping into the iPhone apps world with both feet, I thought I’d run through my favourites. Watch our for more posts in this series.

SEARCH/RESEARCH

Google (free) (Itunes link)

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

I am a big fan of the Google app. Not only can you search by typing, but there is an incredibly clever and effective Voice Search tool, which has never let me down. Tell it what you want to find, and it will do it (useful if you are browsing on the move and can’t quite get those words typed in as you walk).

There is also an APPS button, giving you weblinks to all the useful Google gizmos and gadgets, Mail, Calendar, Docs, Talk, Tasks, Reader, News, Notebook, Photos, Translate, Maps, YouTube and Earth.

It would be helpful if there were also links to the iPhone apps, but you can’t have everything!

9/10

Google Earth (free) (Itunes link)

Anyone who has used Google Earth on their PC or Mac will know that it is a very intuitive and useful tool. By using your location, it can pretty much find any business you want and display the results on a map. Perfect for those last minute errands! From this you can access the website, call them or head straight there.

However, the one down side is that Google Earth does not double as a SatNav. I’ve found my business, now I need to go there – I have to type the address into my SatNav (either on my phone or my old school NavMan). If Google Earth could team up with a SatNav company, then it would be full marks from me.

7/10

Wikipedia (free) (Itunes link)

Image representing Wikipedia as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

The Wikipedia App is actually a much better interface than the Wikipedia website. The search is faster, and the pages open already minimized into section headers so you don’t have to endless scroll down through information you don’t need.

There is also the option to view the page on the full Wikipedia site, although I am not sure why you would want to!

10/10

IMDB (free) (Itunes link)

Ok, so this is a specific search tool for MOVIES, but how many times have you been out and about and needed to settle an argument about who starred in which film with so-and-so and Kevin Bacon?

Like Wikipedia, this app is so much better than the full webpage. It opens on a screen showing a search bar and several options

  • MOVIES
  • TV
  • PEOPLE

And shortcuts to

  • MOVIEmeter
  • STARmeter
  • New on DVD and BluRay
  • History

Plus ABOUT and SETTINGS

The search bar is obviously incredibly useful, and I don’t find the MOVIES, PEOPLE or TV buttons useful as they link to US listings and celebrity trivia.

The search, however, is fast, easy to navigate and an actor quickly brings up a list of his best known movies, mini biog and a link to his full filmography, whilst “movies” pages show star rating, a few photos, release date, genre, plot summary and top billed cast and crew as well as trivia and links to explore more.

Great for settling those annoying arguments with your friends!

7/10

22 Mar

Ian Huntley coverage (news and Twitter)

Following the news that Soham killer Ian Huntley was attacked in prison over the weekend, I decided to have a look at the reaction this story was getting online.

First, a quick look at how the story was handled in 2 very different newspapers.

Using the ManyEyes Word Tree visualization, I copied articles from The Guardian and The Daily Mail to see how the name Huntley was handled, and which words followed it in the articles.

Can YOU guess which visualization belongs to which newspaper?

Report 1 was The Daily Mail, report 2, The Guardian. The Soham Murders were a very “Daily Mail” story,  and highly emotive and accusatory language was used. The Guardian’s report was more factual.

I was also interested to assess the reaction to the story on the social networking site Twitter.

For sake of experiment, I created a spreadsheet of all the tweets mentioning “Huntley”. (I chose Huntley over “Ian Huntley” so the search would not be limited to the more formal tweets from news outlets etc. I hoped “Huntley” would give a more casual, public point of view.

  • I opened a new Google Spreadsheet
  • I inserted the following code in A1 – =importfeed(“http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=huntley”, “”, “”, 20)

This created a spreadsheet of the last 15 tweets containing the word Huntley.

I now have the option to use this spreadsheet in a variety of ways:

  • cut and paste the tweet contents into a web application
  • export the document as an Excel file
  • publish the spreadsheet
  • create an RSS feed from the spreadsheet

Now to visualise the text.

First, I decide to use Wordle – a site that created word clouds from inserted text, or an RSS feed.

I initially used the RSS feed from my published Google spreadsheet  – which created the following word cloud.

Unfortunately, this cloud was tainted with user names, and the subject of the true gist of the tweets were lost

(MTF)

  • Still trying to nail LIVE data ..
  • a quick news report (recorded and edited on Iphone)- probably from The Computers show on Wednesday night
  • a podcast
18 Feb

Breaking Waves A Google Waves Experiment

Link to Breaking Waves: Birmingham Snow Wave

Breaking Waves A Google Waves Experiment

BACKGROUND OF GOOGLE WAVE

Google Wave was previewed to Google employees on May 27th 2009. Described as a “personal communication and collaboration tool” it was gradually rolled out from September 2009 via invitation. A combination of instant messenger and email, users could send messages to their contacts in a chain (similar to Google Mail) but then move back UP the chain, and insert text, images, video etc to add to the conversation.

The hype surrounding Google Wave had been immense, yet my initial experiences of it were less than favourable. I found the site restrictive, hard to navigate and slow. However, I was also clear to me that a tool that allows multiple people to edit one document and add content had some potential.

It had been widely tipped as a useful tool for businesses, and even education, when the process of the presentation or the lesson is the focus, but would it work for journalism, where traditionally the process is building up to a finished product ‐be that a bulletin, article or a report?

MY IDEA

In Gatewatching (2009) Axel Bruns described a new sphere of news that was the “publicizing <…> of whatever relevant content is available anywhere on the Web (and beyond)” (Alex Bruns “Gatewatching” 2009 p 2)

Today’s journalism is a conversation, not a lecture. I wanted to launch a crowdsourced wave, where people could publish information about a particular story, whether that was images, video, copy, quotes or maps. Most importantly, I wanted to encourage NON‐journalists to participate as well.

The number of content sites encouraging the public to get involved in the news process is increasing (e.g. Wikipedia) but I believed my Breaking Waves project was an unusual enough idea to gain some interest.Google Wave can be used as a live chat room, as a live‐blogging tool and as a content editor, and it was THIS final tool that I wanted to investigate further.

The focus was very much on news gathering, or rather, content gathering. I was hoping the experiment would take shape as people contributed and that a solution to how this content could be distribution (if at all) would present itself.

MY METHOD

I started by simply playing with Google Wave, getting used to the systems and experimenting with a few of the installed gadgets (maps and polls as well as the editing system).

This was, as I had hoped, going to be more than just a wiki. The fact that collaboration could take place in real time could, potentially, start debate on the site, and content could spring from that. This was not about many people editing one persons article, but users adding content to, essentially, a blank page. The possibilities were endless.

I launched the wave with a subject that I hoped would spark some interest and generate plenty of content. At the time Britain was suffering some of the worst snow storms in years, and what better a subject to get the Brits talking, than the weather.

The online community were already heavily involved in crowd sourcing postcode based snow updates via Twitter (eg. B18 3/10 light snow), which were being fed into a map. I was confident that interest in participation would extend to my site, with non‐journalists posting human interest content, and the journalists who were involved bringing a more  formal, news edge to it with news reports, comments etc.

The wave was launched in the Google Wave interface, but I soon embedded it into the Birmingham experimental news page Hashbrum and made it public. Once that link was “tweeted out”, people began to participate, adding pictures and video.

I decided early on that there needed to be some structure to the Wave, or it could, as I had seen with simple conversations, become quite chaotic. Below the title I loaded several pre‐defined wavelets entitled LINKS, MAPS, PICTURES, VIDEOS and MISC, I hoped this would sort out the data, and keep the wave organised.

The question remained, what to do with the content?

I set aside another wavelet, at the top of the wave, simply called COPY. My plan was for this to house the final document, a long form report bringing together all of the content posted by others. However, I soon realised that this was not the point of the project. Users were participating for the sake of participating, the focus was not a final article.

Browsing the many public waves on Google Wave, is it interesting to how it is being used.

The Chicago Red Eye blog holds daily Waves where readers can discuss the top story of the day with the editor. It is not dissimilar to a comments page, but is truly live, and takes place at the same time every day so people make an effort to join in.

Another interesting use of Google Wave is one pooling together information following the recent earthquake in Haiti. It contains a series of networked waves, covering topics such as food and water, nursing, evacuation and emergency care. Experts are sharing information, expertise and advice, plus there are plans to link up Twitter accounts to the site, so news of future disasters can be handled quickly.

The communication model has changed: in both cases both the company running the wave, and the “readers“, are part of the process, and the process IS the product. Chris Wade was one of the trainee journalists to get involved, despite his initial reservations about Google Wave.

“everything seemed to make quite a bit more sense. Multiple users contributed their pictures, maps and videos of the snow, and Google Wave was a brilliant way to bring all these together. It was ideal for a project like this”

Another contributor, Matt Walker, told me via Twitter:

“It has the potential to replace IM/Social networking/collab stuff etc.”

I decided to shelve the idea of a “final copy” section to the wave, and instead let the user submitted content be the article. There was already so much “traditional” news coverage of the situation, I hoped visitors to the page would prefer to browse a section of their choosing, whether it be articles, pictures or video.

I have also recently launched another Wave, this time with a music news focus. The welsh band Lostprophets (social media devotees themselves) have been on the promotional trail this week with the release of their new album, expected to debut at number 1 in the album charts. I wondered if this might be an interesting opportunity for young music fans, who are happy to share images and content online already, to get involved with this project and pool the extensive coverage that the band were already getting.

I was hoping to use an RSS feeder to bring in content linked to the band (with hash tags or Twitter feeds) but the current RSS Google Wave gadget (rssybot) is not functional. Once this is working, it would be a great addition to the feed.

I also need to properly promote the feed and get it out there to the right people.

FINDINGS

The Birmingham Snow Wave was successful in as far as people participated in the process, although the numbers of contributors were disappointingly low. It has received 14 content posts since launching.

As with any new project, it was hard to find the volumes of people who would be interested in taking part. Despite the hype surrounding Google Wave, it now seems there are invitations, once rare and coveted, going spare. It seems the initial interest has been limited to the technical and business world.

Struggling to find participants was also not helped by the subject matter. The Snow in Birmingham was far too niche a topic and several journalists from around the country said they would have participated, had it been a national focus. I think with Google Wave still in such an early stage, the broader the subject the better.

However, the participants that did contributed to the wave, 4 in all, seemed to enjoy taking part and liked the experimental and unusual take on news gathering.

It obviously appealed to journalists, with 2 young students getting involved. Another user was a friend of mine, who heard about the project and wanted to “have a play”. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, it is much harder to find interesting content. Instead I found that embedding the wave into a blog website and promoting that URL instead, sparked some interest and a few requests for Google Wave invitations.

My second Wave, Lostprophets Album Release, a very recent addition, may stumble for a different reason ‐ the audience. Google Wave, although causing a bit of a stir among the technology world when it launched, has not really broken into the mainstream, and certainly not into the younger market. However, I would like to pursue this line, and experiment with Twitter feeds to pull in and coverage online.

USABILITY

One of the resounding criticisms of Google Wave has been usability. One of the participants in the snow wave, non‐journalist Karen Davies commented:

“I found it really hard to use and navigate…I consider myself quite savvy when it comes to computers and to social networking sites. Google Wave is really ‘clunky’. I really like the idea behind it all but I think they haven’t put enough thought into the layout and interface.”

In the same way that many Twitter users do not access the service through the official website (instead, using an app such as Tweetdeck), so Google Wave would expand. We must not forget, however, that Google Wave is still in the beta stage, with no plans to make it totally public until the end of 2010.

LEGAL/ETHICS

One of the benefits of Google Wave is its non‐linear approach to comments. Blips can be added at any point in the wave which can spark interesting debate, but as with any user generated content, this can potentially cause problems with people posting defamatory, obscene or copyright material.

So who is responsible for making sure that doesn’t happen?

I am still waiting for clarification on this issue, but a recent Twitter conversation with
Birmingham blogger and social media expert Jon Bounds suggests that it is in Google’s hands.

A public wave is the responsibility of Google, as it sits on their site and not of the person that starts the wave. (In the same way you are not responsible for the comments to a video you put on Youtube.) Does this change if you embed the wave into your website or blog?

Google has taken down Blogger blogs before now, will they step in if Google Waves become legally unsound?

CONCLUSION

So does Google Wave work as a collaborative news tool?

I believe it does, but it takes another step away from the traditional news model as content is crowd‐sourced from the public, and the tradition of a “final piece of work” is removed. The content is simply organised and becomes a scrap book for people interested in the story.

Sites like Posterous, Dipity and Tumblr are already aggregating content and pull in feeds from Flickr or Youtube via RSS feeds or from email, but Google Wave allows for direct interaction. This can, in theory, be added to an RSS feed as well ‐ bringing the best of all worlds: user comments and automatically added content.

Once the service has been opened up to everyone, and new applications (a Tweetdeck for Wave for example), gadgets and robots are being designed for it, then we can truly see it’s potential.

29 Jan

Grafitti + Twitter = Tweefiti

As part of a new Birmingham arts project, this weekend that will see one of the city’s grafitti artists spraypaint inspirational messages send in on Twitter.

The theme is “life feels better”, and Aerosol Arabic will be outside Bullring shopping centre on Saturday and Sunday creating a unique piece of art from tweets sent into the @lifefeelsbetter account, which will also appear on a Twitterfall.

It’s a nice idea, and a nice push for Twitter. However, do enough people use Twitter yet? We all know Facebook is the behemoth of the social networking world (350 million users and counting), but have enough people adopted its more minimalist rival? It’s big news in the media/tech world, but every one else? A lot of my friends join Twitter, then leave again saying “I don’t understand it” or the classic “it’s not as much fun as Facebook”.

It’s a great idea, however, and it will be interesting to see the response it gets

The Bullring Arts Project launched on 25th January 2010 and Brummies are being encouraged to send in their pictures, artwork, writing or music to http://www.lifefeelsbetter.co.uk

[mappress]

All content (c) Caroline Beavon 2020