Category: blogging

Tsunami Revisited: Evelyn Rodriguez

(This is a duplicate that occurred while I was using a new plug-in. I’m leaving it up in case someone is linking to it.)

Getting to know Evelyn Rodriguez, who translated surviving last year’s tsunami into something personal for those of us light years away, was one of the best parts of BlogHer for me; even better was the late afternoon we spent in Palo Alto a couple of days later. I’ve been incredibly remiss in not mentioning her anniversary trip back to Thailand, where she came so close to losing her life. This time, Evelyn’s  journalistic mission is no accident. — she’s on the scene as a solo journalist, also as a participatory journalist and a citizen journalist as long as we’re tossing terms around.. (Yes, I still shudder at the cj description but I’ll honor others’ choices.)

Evelyn explains: "I’m collecting stories of resiliency, growth, faith, and grassroots action – and whatever unfolds once actually there. I’ll offer (and hopefully via in-kind donations leave behind equipment) to teach locals to tell their own first-person stories in their own words on their own blogs long after I’m gone. … I’ll delve into how people are rebuilding emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. I believe their stories can teach all of us and shed light for anyone confronting with loss in their own lives. And now with Katrina and worldwide disasters in Guatemala, Mexico and Pakistan/India, it seems all the more relevant to learn from those thriving post-tsunami."

You can follow her journey through her blog Crossroad Dispatches. And you can give yourself a (insert holiday of your choice) present by supporting Evelyn’s efforts via the tipjar or Paypal (less admijnistrative cost for her), as I have.

Automated Tech News Site Goes Live

A nifty new web service went live tonight — Gabe Rivera’s tech.memeorandum.com. I’ve been testing Gabe’s handiwork since late June when he sent me a note suggesting "you might be interested in monitoring my still-in-development Tech news site.  By "interested", I mean it actually might assist you in your work!"

He was right. I quickly became addicted to checking the site, often multiple times a day, to see what kind of buzz it was picking up in the tech world. The pages are built automatically, pulling from mentions across the tech blogosphere and news universe. Just posting may not be enough to make the page, as I quickly found out, but posts bubble up as links multiply. One link from a site weighted heavily in Gabe’s equation can push a post into view.

Gabe explains his goals here so I won’t go into detail. The highlights: Recognize the web as an editor;  rapidly uncover new sources; relate the conversation. I like watching the conversation evolve as a story moves around the web, often in ways I would not have imagined.

He started the process with a politics/current events page that crosses political boundaries and cuts through some of the partisan kludge. I’ve given him a couple of ideas for future memeorandums — personally, I’d like one on journalism ethics — but these aren’t easy to build. I’m looking forward to whatever he puts his energy to next. Thanks for the head start on this one, Gabe.

Update: Just saw Robert Scoble’s rave review. He goes into enough detail for both of us.

Coda: That’s Gabe on the left — a picture he thought he wound up in by accident but I took very deliberately at the end of BlogNashville.

BlogNashville: Closing Session

Blog Day 2005 (squeezing in under the wire)

Metrobloggers: A collection of city-specific blogs.

Making Light: I don’t read this New York-based blog often enough. Eclectic; often amusing and insightful. Some good Hurricane Katrina coverage.

Global Voices Weblog: Making the world smaller by connecting us to each other. Pick any country and browse; you’ll find as many blogs to follow as you have time.

Arse Poetica: Thoughtful. Striking photos. Political. BlogHer.

NEGROPhile: Link blog with commentary on all things African-American. Intelligent. Almost always interesting.

How to increase traffic, publicity and, possibly, ad revenue in 500 easy steps

Feedster could have it nailed — skip the top 100. Start a monthly list of the top 500 "most interesting and important blogs," populate it with heavily linked-to blogs and provide a big badge that links back to your site. Add a pitch to join your ad network.

It’s an attention-raising business play but there’s also the less cynical aspect of how Feedster is trying to answer the questions raised increasingly  about links and blog referrals. By expanding the size, Feedster ‘s list opens more doors and the methodology makes up for some of the glitches that mar the Technorati 100. Feedster explains that the ranking "is achieved by taking into account factors such as the
number of inbound links over time; if the blog has been recently
updated; and the elimination of obvious non-blogs that have appeared on
other top-blog lists."

More  from Feedster’s Scott Rafer, who attended BlogHer and heard the link debate first hand, and from Scott Johnson, who acknowledges the usual suspects on the list but adds, "there are tons of bloggers on this list that I bet you never heard of."

It’s still a tip-of-the-iceberg solution that identifies blogs popular enough to garner a certain number of links. We need some vertical solutions, too, that take us deeper into subjects and communities. (Jeff Jarvis is pushing About.com’s blog guides — he’s a consultant to the company and just discovered knitting blogs that way. ) I’d like to see a mix of editing and technology; the human touch for qualitative, the technology to uncover voices that might not otherwise be heard by more than a few people.

Coda: A version of this, essentially the lede, originally appeared on paidContent.org
but is no longer available. I mention
it because it was seen by some readers but isn’t on the pc.org site.

USA Today Trusts — But Doesn’t Verify

USA Today relearned a tough lesson this week when large chunks of a feature story published Aug. 8 about a businessman turned out not to be true.  A quick search or two might have saved the paper from a great deal of embarrassment  — not that search engines are infallible but they are a good place to start, especially when the details being offered include being a Boston Bruins’ draft pick, a Harvard hockey player and a number of other items likely to be logged in multiple places. Instant red flag if the name doesn’t turn up anything close. Instead, the inconsistencies came to light after publication; the paper published a follow-up today including an apology from a publicist but no apology of its own.

Steve Outing posted a correction today — and a mea culpa — for a post he made on Wikipedia based on what turns out to be a flawed Reuters’ article based on a German-language newspaper report based on an interview in  English with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. He wasn’t the only one to pick up the story that — erroneously, according to Wales — said a change in policy was on the way that would freeze some articles. (Though, as far as I know, he’s the only one to correct it.) I saw the same story and put it aside until I could find out more but I just as easily could have popped it online without doing any legwork. After all, it was an interesting report from a trusted source; I post items on that basis all the time. 

It’s almost tangential but I might as well bring it up before someone else does. Both of these cases are about mainstream media making mistakes. I can hear the comments now — I’ve seen enough of them — how can they complain about bloggers getting it wrong when they make mistakes like this? I’ll go back to kindergarten for this one: two wrongs don’t make a right. Sloppiness or mistakes in one category don’t excuse similar behavior in another. The difference here is that while it would be morally and ethically nice if everyone checked out everything before they post it — and, in most cases, a quick check or a moment’s thought would be deterrent enough — it’s the journalist’s job to do it. Even so, anyone who abuses the reader/listener/user/viewer’s trust will lose it no matter what they call themselves.

How far do we go in checking something out? How much do we challenge? How do we use information that should be shared but may not be provable? How do we decide when not to include information we know to be true? We hold a story back if it doesn’t ring right. We make judgment calls. We attribute. Inevitably, we have to take some things on face value. We correct our mistakes. And we try very hard not to make the same mistake twice.

Coda: I was about to post this when I did another search and found this story by Mike Eidelbes at InsideCollegeHockey.com, who saw the original USA Today piece and then started seeing red flags as he went from resource to resource without turning up Larry Twombly. He contacted USA Today reporter Stephanie Armour and was told they’d found discrepancies. 

You Can Go Home Again

zinnias

I’m back at home base in University City, Mo., after a trip that got so long and complicated friends have sworn to make an intervention if I try something like it again. For the record, between July 25 and Aug. 5 I went from St. Louis to Philadelphia (CTAM), Santa Monica (ContentNext mixer), Los Angeles (MES), Santa Clara (BlogHer), Palo Alto (rest day/Mobile Monday), San Francisco, Las Vegas (family time/father‘s birthday/shoe show) and finally home Thursday in time for a late dinner with my favorite editor.

I owe many of you apologies for dropping out of touch for several days. I hit a not-too-rational point where I felt compelled to finish my OJR piece on BlogHer before I could do anything other than my work on paidContent.org. The article went live earlier today, I’ve taken a very deep breath and now it’s time to make my re-entry. If you haven’t heard from me yet, you will soon.

As I thought, writing about BlogHer turned out to be daunting for many reasons. Left to my own devices, I’d still be writing, editing, rewriting.  Robert Niles, thanks for the patience and the encouragement; Diana Day, as always, I owe you.

One of the issues I ran into is the difference between writing about something as it happens or writing about it in a changeable/updatable space compared to writing something essentially published once. I also knew that by the time we published those who wanted to follow the conference already would be doing so through the often-amazing live blogs, post-BlogHer posts and the like but that many of my readers would be coming to the story cold. Plus, I’ve already written about a lot of the issues that cropped up during the weekend so didn’t want to cover a lot of that ground again. If you’re looking for blogging v. journalism redux, skip it.

Voice was another issue. In the end, to be true to the experience it had to be in the first person.

About the live bloggers, as frustrated as I was about the WiFi un-access, knowing that cadre was doing the job gave me the freedom to sit back a little. I still took a lot of notes but I wasn’t worried about getting it all down and transmitting it. Thank you for the breathing space.

For more than my take, I urge you to spend some time with the other BlogHer participants.  You can check my link blog, too. Via Nick Bradbury’s Feed Demon newsreader, I spent hours of plane time wending through the posts of those who offer full-text RSS feeds. It felt like taking two journeys at once.

(That’s also how I found out about Nick’s pending surgery. Nick, good thoughts and prayers for your recovery.)

I’m sure I’ll hear about anything I got wrong. Just to show I learned something at BlogHer, you’re welcome to let me know what I got right, too, here or at OJR — and please link.  Yes, it’s still hard to ask.

En Route To BlogHer

I’m at LAX waiting for a flight to Southwest and catching my breath after an utterly insane week. It started with a couple of days in Philadelphia, where my wallet was stolen at the convention center setting off a chain reaction of complications. Turns out the Philadelphia police were right when they said a police report would get me on the plane the next morning to Los Angeles. So far so good.

BlogHer starts tonight with a small dinner for 150 or so. If the noise level is anything like the opening BloggerCon III dinner, lip reading will be in order. More later. …

Turns out I couldn’t post from the airport. Dinner in Alviso  was noisy but full of friends and new faces; actually some of the friends were new faces given that many of them are virtual.

At BlogHer now in the midst of an energetic conversation about traffic, links, "A" lists, new lists, social networking. Thinking of something Halley Suitt said a few minutes ago when she was urging us to read a book called Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. She said ask three times; I heard someone from the audience shout "seven." But here’s the perception problem I can’t shake: men who ask multiple times are assertive; women are nags.

I’ll post here and add to my link blog but my mission is to cover BlogHer for OJR.  Beginning to wonder if that will be like trying to catch lightening in a jar.