Thursday, 29 July 2010

Some conflicting thoughts on Facebook

Facebook logo
Facebook has been on my mind this week.
 First of all it published some advice to the Meeja on how journalists can get the most out of using the social network which, while a little heavy on the exclaimation marks, seems useful and has some good pointers. It's a best practice guide for reporters who want to know more about using Facebook in a professional capacity, to promote their work, seek feedback, guage public opinion, crowdsource ideas and more. Plus it allows them keep their personal/professional networking somewhat separate (we've all seen examples of what happens when Facebook Status Goes Bad).

Then, via Paul Bradshaw's OJB, I came across a blog post on the BBC College of Journalism site that made me reconsider all of the above.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Learning story-telling from developers and designers

An article in Poynters Online about the communications gap that exists between journalists and programmers struck a chord with me today.
It’s a liveblog debate on the issue, with contributions from academics, journalists and developers, and the full discussion is here but to give a flavour of the issue, here’s the paragraph that initially caught my eye:

It's oversimplified to call it a right-brain, left-brain difference, but it's clear that while programmers and journalists need each other, they don't always find it easy to work together. Differences in project needs and personal styles can add to the disconnect.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Freedom of Information Act: not the only option, but sometimes the only known option

I'd guess a lot of people are in the dark about who to speak to when trying to obtain information about something other than bin deliveries or council surgeries.
They also have no real idea how to go about finding out, short of ringing the local council switchboard (IF they can find such a general number) and, consequently, a number of them turn to the Freedom of Information Act.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Making a 3D Photosynth and Microsoft ICE panorama

Image representing Photosynth as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase
I've been meaning to play with Photosynth for a while... over a year actually;  Steve Clayton ran through the idea at TEDx Liverpool in 2009 but I stowed it away in the 'things to investigate' file and only got round to remembering it after it was mentioned again at the recent news:rewired conference.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Using comic strip tools to create content

Here's a quick idea for some fun website content that takes seconds to make, and which can really personalise a story and make it sing a little... add a bespoke comic strip.
This is my attempt, using Stripgenerator - it took me a couple of minutes from signing up to designing a character, to completing my first strip:

I wish... by alisongow

Or you can see it in its natural habitat, complete with sharing and rating abilities, title and description, at this link.

Anyway, this one is obviously not reportage (although I'm fairly sure I've channelled my cat's fondest wish accurately) but I do like it as an option for web journalists who want to add a bit of spark to an article or blog post, or who fancy having a daily strip in the best traditions of those ol' dead tree publications.

Stripgenerator offers free or paid for options. On the free one you get a selection of stock human and 'beings' characters - from dogs to aliens - plus limited build-your-own options which are automatically saved as 'my characters'. You drag and drop characters, objects, shapes, text or thought bubbles into your selected frames, title, tag and publish. Then you can share on various social networks, or embed. Plus, you could always make it, screengrab it and use it in print should you wish.

And it's not the only one - there are several comic-creating sites I have yet to explore but plan too, like Pixton and Toondoo and I'm currently experimenting with a full-on page turner using the Comic Labs Extreme website (which is for kids but I'm not proud - I'm uploading my own photos and video to use instead).
So, not rocket science or Pulitzer-winning perhaps, but a nice addition to have, nonetheless.

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Thursday, 1 July 2010

Visualising data: are the statistics provided always the right ones to use?

It was Liverpool's first Social Media Cafe Liverpool #smcliv last night and I'd be amazed, given the way it went, if there wasn't another one taking place very shortly.
I was one of the speakers (report of the evening will be on my work blog later today) but this post is a bit different; I wanted to write some  thoughts out of my head about data, and journalism, and how - for me, at least - it's very easy to get lost in what makes a Really Awesome Visualisation, when what it should be about is information. Sometimes I need to remind myself, statistics are not the whole story.