Why Use Twitter? Notes for My Journalism Expo Twitter Training

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
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On Friday, May 1, I’ll be helping to give the free social media training being offered by the Public Media Collaborative for Bay Area people who work for mission-driven organizations — community organizations, church groups, social service agencies, charities, etc. It’s part of Journalism Innovations II: New Work & Ideas for Making the News, an event organized by Arts and Media. Social media training will be offered in English and Spanish.

  • WHEN: May 1, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. PT
  • WHERE: McLaren Hall, University of San Francisco (Directions)

I’ll be handling Twitter training, from 1-2:15 pm.

So: What do people who do community- or mission-focused work really need to know about Twitter? First, it helps to know why it works. After that, learning how to use it makes much more sense…

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links for 2009-04-30

  • "Collaboration is like the weather ie – it is wet. It is sloppy. It is filled with human emotion, trust, friendships, working habits, etc, etc. As a result you can’t create governing laws of collaboration “what comes up must go down.” Instead we can make informed predictions “10% chance of rain today.” Our ability to predict will get better over time"
  • Ethan Zuckerman riffs on the Harris HTC handheld device used by Census takers even though it doesn't work. Your tax dollars at work.
  • "Enough, enough," grumbled Lion. Everything always took ten times longer at inter-species meetings. "Let's just get down to business, shall we? The topic for today is humans – or Homo sapiens – and their-" he paused to sneer distastefully- "unnatural "heterosexual monogamy" business."

    "Oh come on," whined Albatross, "are we still going on about that? There are plenty of examples of monogamy across the animal kingdom. 90% of birds are monogamous!"

    Bear whispered under his breath, "Only 3% of mammals."

    Albatross huffed. "You mammalists! Really."

  • "On the Nielsen Online Blog, David Martin, Vice President for Primary Research at wrote that, while Twitter has grown exponentially in the past few months, it's having a hard time getting people to return to its site within a month. However – this raised a big question. Did Martin including the people who use Twitter via a "Twitter Client," such as TwitterFeed, TweetDeck and other mobile apps to post? No.

    "What's the big deal? According to TweetStats, 40% of the "Top 10 Twitter Apps" are from services other than Twitter. This is the equivalent of measuring YouTube users without measuring those who watch embedded YouTube videos on other sites or mobile phones. Martin freely discussed this, and says he hopes the data is not misleading."

links for 2009-04-25

links for 2009-04-24

  • Master list of robot competitions around the world. Too damn cool!
  • Two interesting questions arise for me from the death of Geocities. One is whether ad supported, user-generated content models will ever be viable. …We couldn’t make targeted advertising work with text analysis on Tripod, and Buley speculates that Facebook won’t be able to do it with careful demographic targetting on Facebook. My guess is that models that offer free services and upsell premium memberships, like Flickr, are a lot more viable in the long term than hosting companies that focus purely on ad inventory.

    "The other question has to do with the valuation of web companies. It’s easy to laugh at the money companies like Yahoo paid for Geocities – over $3.5 billion in early 1999 – but somewhat harder to know how to value other popular web properties today. What’s Facebook worth? It just turned down funding at a valuation of $4 billion, and various methods for calculating valuation turn in prices from $2 billion to much higher."

What’s Going on with WSJ Pricing?

“You know nothing of my work!”

(Read below for CJR tie-in.)

A month ago, as I wrote earlier, I was willing to pay $10/month to subscribe to the Wall St. Journal on my Kindle. I canceled that subscription last week, after the release of the WSJ iPhone application that provides free access to all WSJ content.

The iPhone app carries ads at the bottom of the screen, but I don’t mind. I also get audio and video content from WSJ through the app, too. Meanwhile, Subscribing to WSJ.com currently costs $89 per year. ($99 per year if you want the print edition, too.) And, as I noted earlier, WSJ’s own subscription page currently doesn’t even mention subscribing via Kindle.

Apparently WSJ plans to start charging for some of its iPhone app-delivered content at some point. Wired.com reports:

“There is free, and then there is free, apparently. A Dow Jones spokeswoman wrote to Wired.com Thursday to say that the company does intend to charge for some content consumed on smartphones ‘so we have a consistent experience across multiple platforms,’ though the company is ‘still exploring its options’ and isn’t saying when that might happen. They would offer ‘both free and subscription content, so the idea is to mirror the experience on the site,’ the spokeswoman said.”

“…Eight months after it released its Blackberry app Dow is still saying that ‘Full access to subscriber content (is free) for a limited time only.’ There is a free mobile site that has a large sampling of the Journal’s content. …We’ll see if the almost certain bad will of a giveth and taketh away revenue model is worth trying to put the content genie back in the bottle.”

WSJ.com founding editor and publisher Neil Budde (who just joined Daily Me) recently exploded some common myths about WSJ.com’s pricing model — a nuanced history that often gets oversimplified.

Still, I think Printcasting founder Dan Pacheco got it right last night on Twitter: “Content pricing must be consistent across platforms. And it shows how charging for print will get more awkward day by day.”


…After I originally published the above story in Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits yesterday, Ryan Chittum of Columbia Journalism Review took what I said as an excuse to rally for WSJ to “hold the line” on charging for its content.

I found this very amusing…

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links for 2009-04-23

  • An important bit of environmental history to remember on earth day.
  • "Amazon.com has said little about the economics of its Kindle business, but a new study suggests that the profit margins on the e-reader device are likely generous — and leave room for future price cuts.
    On Wednesday, technology research firm iSuppli released a "teardown" analysis on the Kindle 2 that estimates the manufacturing cost for the device at about $185. That's slightly more than half of the $359 that Amazon charges for the product, though the teardown estimate does not include the costs of any software or royalties on the product. It also does not include any fees that Amazon is paying to Sprint Nextel, which provides wireless access for the device.

    "The 'so what' of this is that it shows that Amazon is making a profit on both the razors and the razor blades," said Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney. "This is close to the high end of the margin range that we had estimated."

  • "Costco charges a membership fee before customers can take advantage of the great values it offers. Users pay it willingly once they see the benefits. I think newspapers could take a page from Costco's book. But instead of offering a range of benefits to their users, newspapers are still selling subscriptions to their print products rather than membership in an information company that can help people do everything from save money on groceries to pick the best school for their child to report road conditions in real time. How many newspapers have all the e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers for every household they serve? And how many actually ask the owners of those addresses and numbers what they’d like to receive and when?"

Time’s “Mine” — Custom Magazine? Hardly

Yeah, I wasn't the only person who found Time's "Mine" magazine disappointing.

Yeah, I wasn't the only person who found Time's "Mine" magazine disappointing.

I really don’t like golf — at all. So I was surprised when, this weekend, my first issue of Mine (Time Inc.’s slick glossy foray into custom magazine publishing) included selected articles from Golf magazine.

Nearly a month ago I signed up on the Mine site to receive five issues of this custom biweekly magazine. I opted to include articles from these titles: Time, InStyle, RealSimple, Food & Wine, and Money. My issue of Mine arrived with only three out of five right — instead of Money and Food & Wine, it included stories from Golf and Travel & Leisure.

I found this amusing, because I remember thinking when I filled out the subscription form for Mine how little information about my lifestyle, interests, or preferences Time was asking for. I wondered how any publisher could deliver anything approaching a custom magazine based on my address, picking five out of eight general-interest magazines, and my answers to these four questions that are nebulous bordering on ridiculous:

  1. Which do you crave more: pizza or sushi?
  2. Do you like to sing in the car?
  3. Which would you like to learn: juggling or celebrity impersonation?
  4. Who would you like to have dinner with most: Leonardo da Vinci or Socrates?

According to the Associated Press, my experience wasn’t unique…

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links for 2009-04-22

  • "Montaigne lived in France in the 1500’s but I picked a Penguin Classics edition of his essays out of a recycling bin on my way to work in 1994. I read him on the train and wondered if those peculiar stains on the cover meant I should wash, and then rip the covers off if I wanted to keep reading it. Then Montaigne says, “Kings and philosophers defecate, and so do ladies.” Which reminded me, guy lived in 15th century France, a lot dirtier era than mine. Somehow this allowed me to relax and take in what I was reading. He was crass, wrote about sex and farting and royalty and was utterly self-absorbed back when self-absorption was a new and radical thing called Humanism and could get you burned at the stake if you lived in Spain. Now everybody does it and we call it blogging."