It’s been a very busy month and a half for me. I spent a week in Los Angeles as a featured presenter for the Mobile News Week at the journalism school there, and now I’m finishing preparations to travel to two other journalism schools next week for the Knight Digital Media Center’s Mobile Symposium. So I haven’t been letting Contentious.com readers know what I’ve been writing elsewhere.
But I’ve been logging a lot of cool mobile stuff for CNN.com Tech. So here’s a quick list of what I’ve been covering there…
Over the last month I’ve fallen behind on noting here what I’ve been writing at the News for Digital Journalists blog on the web site of the Knight Digital Media Center. Here’s a quick roundup of what I’ve covered there since late February…
For journalists and others who use Census data, the American FactFinder is a key research tool. It just got a pretty major upgrade — although the 2010 data isn’t included yet. Apparently that will happen “in the coming months.
On Twitter, hashtags are a powerful, simple tool for tracking topics, communities, live events, or breaking news. They make you findable, and they allow on-the-fly collaboration. When you insert one of these short character-string tags beginning with #, you make it easy for Twitter users who don’t already follow you (plus anyone searching Twitter) to find your public contributions to the coverage or discussion on that topic.
The catch is that hashtags are often cryptic — usually because they work best when they’re as brief as possible. So you might stumble across an interesting-sounding tweet containing a hashtag like #wci, #plurk, or #tpb and wonder about its context. Although you can follow a hashtag easily with tools like Twitter Search, Hashtags.org, Tweetdeck, or Twitterfall (which Paul Bradshaw recommended yesterday in Tidbits), those tools don’t easily tell you what a given hashtag means.
Here some promising new tools that can help you quickly put a hashtag in context — or let people easily look up the meaning of the hashtags you launch or use… Continue reading →
One of the most interesting parts of the discussion concerned how homophily shapes our individual and collective view of the world. Homophily is a fancy word for the human equivalent of “birds of a feather flock together.” That is, our tendency to associate and bond with people we have stuff in common with — language, culture, race, class, work, interests, life circumstances, etc.
Zuckerman made a profound point: Homophily makes you stupid. Which is another way of saying something my dad told me a long, long time ago:
“You’ll never learn anything if you only talk to people who already think just like you.”
Here’s what Zuckerman actually told Lydon about how homophily makes it hard for people from around the world to relate constructively… Continue reading →
Journalism sudents need the right tools — and skills — for the kinds of careers and opportunities they’re really going to be making for themselves.
Picking up on my post yesterday, Univ. of Florida journalism professor Mindy McAdamschallenged me (and her other readers) to translate my quick list of what j-schools should be teaching into a something more testable and measurable that could be translated into a curriculum.
Here’s my first shot at that:
Content management systems (including blogging tools): First, I’d have the students run a group blog on a topic of their choosing for a year to get comfortable with the content and commenting apects of blogging. (A group blog is likely to get more activity and discussion than individual blogs.) This blog should be based on an expandable, customizable tool like WordPress. Then the students should be taught the basics of information architecture, and from that figure out how to expand or customize their blogs to deliver or integrate new kinds of content or services. This could be as simple as finding and installing WordPress plugins to add features, or integrating content from other places (such as Flickr or del.icio.us). The goal would be to get them to not just understand, but demonstrate that on their own they can envision, research, evaluate, and act upon options to do more with their content online. There’s a lot you can do without getting too geeky. They need to gain the confidence that many options are within their personal grasp — they don’t always need to get permission or beg someone else to do things for them.
“The basics of the problem are pretty familiar: content I generate is scattered across many websites of varying degrees of openness. Blogs, wikis, forums, social networks, paid publications, mailing lists, photos, videos, podcasts, … But there isn’t a place where all of that stuff comes together. At the high level the needs are: automatic; item-level controls; permanence; tags; re-mixability.
“I don’t think anything I’ve run across, beyond your standard feed aggregator, has the ability to do something with the resulting aggregated content. Amy suggested that she would like to be able to categorize / tag the content, selectively share it, re-mix it, analyze it, feed it out to something else…. Essentially, ‘it’s my stuff, let me play with it.'”
Yeah. What he said.
Oh, yes, of course I checked — and I now own the domain mecollector.net. I’ll give it away to anyone who can prove they can put together a tool that does what I asked for. Go for it, geeks!