Tag Archives: RSS

03 Apr

iPhone Apps: RSS READERS

Continuing in my series of posts about my favourite apps, I move onto …

RSS READERS

I currently run 2 RSS readers on my phone. I struggled to find one that could accommodate forwarding to 2 different Twitter accounts.

iNEWS PREMIUM (£2.39) iNews Premium - gdiplus

I am a big fan of the iNEWS interface – it is fully customisable, so if you are a white-on-black text girl like me, then so be it!

I use this app by importing my Google Reader feed. Unfortunately it does not sync – which under normal circumstances would be a pain. However, as I run 2 RSS readers (one for journalism and tech stories – the majority) and another for music news this “flaw” is actually quite useful. I have deleted the feeds from this reader that are not relevant to me, and it does not affect my Google Reader feeds or the other RSS app I use.

The app can check for new feeds when you open it, it even “bings” at you when the update is complete. The app also informs you how many unread items you have with a number next to the App icon, which, depending how high that number is, can be a good or a bad thing!

The list of Feeds is very clear, with ones that have unread items highlighted for quick viewing. The rest lurk in a shadowy haze, so you can skip them. Click on a feed and it takes you do a list of articles

On this screen you can also scroll down, and see all the articles in all the feeds, which can get confusing at times because it is easy to miss the fact that you have moved into a different feed.

There is also the option to read the article in full.

In full article view, there are some useful share tools:

  • Mail
  • Instapaper
  • Read It Later
  • Twitter
  • Twitter with Comment – you can edit the text that goes out
  • Facebook
  • Delicious – via a link at the BOTTOM of the article (a pain if you don’t want to read it straight away).

There is also the option to Favourite, jump to the next or previous article (both carry red numbers to show how many unread articles there are in the current feed and in which direction they are), plus the option to go back to the full list of articles.

There is a handy counter at the bottom, showing you the number of unread articles in the current feed. Another feature is SLIDESHOW, which is fairly self explanatory and if, like me, you tend to skip some articles, this is a great device to MAKE you read the introductory text to an article – time-consuming, but good for the soul.

There is also another option to view the feeds in a “newspaper” style (left), with each feed it’s on box. I don’t really see the point of this, it does not show you how many upread feeds to you have. Pro mode is much easier to use.

iNews is a clever gadget, but for me lacks one facility – to read articles in order of posting. All the feeds are sorted into Alphabetical Feed, not date. This would be a great addition!

8/10

iNews Premium - gdiplus


MobileRSS (£1.79)  MobileRSS Pro ~ Google RSS News Reader - NibiruTech LTD.

Mobile RSS was originally my secondary RSS reader, linked to my CarolineTheDJ twitter account – but the fact that this feed can SYNC with my Google Reader account, has promoted it to top dog over iNews.

The interface is fa less pleasing than iNews, and it lacks many of the features I gushed about above, however, it is a simple reader that gets the job done.

The opening screen shows a list of your feeds, with numbers of unread items next to them. Click on the feed, and you head into a list of all the articles available, with a “show new” or “show all” option.

Another button allows to you Mark All as Read or sort by oldest.

In full article view there are a range of options:

  • Full Screen – which places shadowy buttons across the bottom of the article for navigation.
  • Mark
  • Favourite
  • an RSS button – not quite sure what this does!
  • Share.

The share button is customisable in the App options with the following options:

  • Share with Note
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • ReadItLater
  • Instapaper
  • Delicious

This is a very clean and useful RSS reader, and if it allowed more than one Twitter account, it would definitely have scored full marks

9/10

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.

All content (c) Caroline Beavon 2020