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Innovations in Journalism – MediaGeeks

July 18th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Search

We give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. So how about a search engine for the media? Welcome Mediageeks.org.

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
I’m Howard Owens, I’ve been doing online media for 13 years and am a bit of a geek about it.

When I first started thinking about launching a site like [the journalism social network] WiredJournalists.com, I registered the domain MediaGeeks.org. I wanted to create a social network for media geeks just like me.

When Ryan Sholin and Zac Echola and I started talking about the concept that became WiredJournalists.com, they weren’t so sold on “media geeks,” so I had this domain sitting around … and I had been wanting to play with building niche/vertical search engines with Google. I launched my first vertical search engine for RVClub.com in 1998 (with the help of now defunct WaveShift), so this is a concept of long-standing interest.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?

Because it allows you to have a search filtered to just media/journalistic topics. Let’s say you’re curious about what media people say about coverage of Paris Hilton … well, a general Google search for ‘Paris Hilton and media’ won’t be fruitful, because of the gazzillion of non-media hits.This search filters out all the non-media sites, so you can get right to the heart of what media publications and media bloggers might be saying about PH and coverage of her.

That’s just an example, but it should point the way to how you can leverage a more filtered search of just media-related sites.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?

It probably won’t get any more attention, except for adding more media sites as they came along. Google has upgraded the API for the Business Edition of its search product, but not the free version. I’m not sure I’ll have time to do any fancy programming to improve the search engine should those upgrades become available to the free version.

4) Why are you doing this?

Because I thought it would be useful to me (and it has been, though not as useful a I had hoped because even Google search doesn’t always work as well as it should), so I hoped it would be useful to others. Not many people use it, though – I’m not sure if that’s because it’s a bad idea, or a lack of publicity.

I suppose you could argue in a networked world, if it were a good idea, it would have caught on by now. But it’s free to me, essentially, so right now I see no reason to take it down. Maybe it will catch on yet.

5) What does it cost to use it?
It’s free.

6) How will you make it pay?
I don’t need to make it pay, but I would love it if people started using it and some of those Google ads got clicked on once in a while (all out of legitimate interest in the advertiser’s message, of course), and I got to make a little extra money each month. That would be great, but not required.

There is an aspect, too, of giving back to the community, which isn’t something you hear online journalists talk about much these days, but used to be a big concept of being a Netizen a decade ago or so. So, even while the site hasn’t caught on, it is at some level an attempt to give back for all the goodness I get from the web and the online media community.

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Celebrity MySpace profiles hacked revealing security flaws

June 11th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Uncategorized

After last week’s report by the Press Complaints Commission into privacy on social networks raised concerns about access to users’ information by third parties, it seems no one is safe.

A Canadian computer technician has hacked into the private picture galleries of celebrities – well Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan – on MySpace, Valleywag reports.

Brian Ng used a loophole in MySpace’s mobile access to profiles. The method won’t work anymore apparently, but Valleywag asks whether the rush to make profiles and information accessible from all platforms is compromising security?

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TMZ streams live celebrity video from streetcams

February 20th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Uncategorized

Celebrity website TMZ is streaming live video from a network of webcams at key celebrity hangouts in the US, according to a report by CNET news.

To create the 24-hour-surveillance-society-meets-celebrity-obsessed-culture venture, the webcams are not stationary, but are operated by crews sent out to different locations, whether these be top restaurants or hot dog stalls on a street corner.

“It’s fun and raw and fresh, and it fits the personality of our site,” says Harry Levin, executive producer of the site, in the article.

The cameras have already picked up Paris Hilton’s brother Barron being released on bail and were started during Britney Spears’ court appearances last October.

There’s nowhere left to hide.

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