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Innovations in Journalism: Flock’s social web browser

May 9th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Uncategorized

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. Today, it’s the evolution of the browser with social browsing software from Flock.

image of Flock logo

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
Hi I’m Evan Hamilton, community ambassador for Flock.

Flock is a software company that is building a unique, social browser off of the technology that powers the Mozilla Firefox.

It takes browsing to the next level by integrating a number of social networking and media services.

While you can still surf the web normally we also bring in updates. Photos and videos from your friends show up in the media bar at the top of the browser, your friends appear and update within the people sidebar, and myworld collects all your online information (feeds, favorites, media and friend updates) in one place.

Additionally, we make sharing great online content easier by allowing you to drag and drop photos, text, and links from any website (or your media bar) to friends in the people sidebar, web-mail, blog posts, and comments.

Flock will automatically embed or link to this content. It also integrates with services like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Gmail.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
Journalists spend most of their time collecting research and then compiling it into stories. Flock makes it incredibly easy to have the latest news at your fingertips for consumption and collection.

Its feed reader will pull in updates from whichever websites you wish (assuming they have an RSS feed set up).

Found a piece of content you want to file away for a later story? Flock comes with a “web clipboard” to which you can add photos, videos, text and links to use later. Grab whatever you find compelling on a page and drop it into a folder for the article you’re working on, then access it later.

It’s all contained within the sidebar, not on your hard drive, so you can collect whatever you need before posting your blog or using it in your article.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
There’s much more to come. Flock 1.2 will be coming out shortly, which introduces more integrated services.

Later in the year, Flock will be updating to the codebase powering the yet-to-be-released Firefox3. Beyond that, Flock has many plans to innovatively improve upon your web browsing experience.

4) Why are you doing this?
The web has dramatically evolved in the last few years, but the web browser has not. Web pages are no longer the only destination on the web; now we have photo and video objects, friends, and pieces of information.

Traditional web browsers require you to view this content within the context of a web page, but Flock provides a unique view of this content that makes it easier and faster to consume and share the things you love.

We felt that nobody else was stepping up to really support the next generation of the web, and so we decided to build on the fundamentally sound Firefox technology and build a browser that supported our activities on the new web.

5) What does it cost to use it?
Totally, 100 per cent free. Flock does not and will not cost you any money.

6) How will you make it pay?
It makes money the way all web browsers do: through the search box. Flock has a deal with Yahoo! in which any search that leads to a user clicking a sponsored link generates revenue.

This is unobtrusive and established, and is only the first of many opportunities for Flock to share revenue with partners.

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Innovations in Journalism – Instant Journalist

April 9th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Citizen journalism, Journalism

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. Today it’s flat-packed news websites ready for easy assembly and use from Instant Journalist.

image of instant journalist website

1.  Who are you and what’s it all about?
I’m Scott Durham, president of Instivate. We’re a small software company in Seattle, Washington building a flexible, scalable platform for powering online communities.

Our first product is Instant Journalist, which makes it easy for anyone to launch their own online news communities where the public can read and contribute news stories and events of local interest with rich media such as video, images, and documents.

2.  Why would this be useful to a journalist?
Since anyone can join and submit content to a site powered by Instant Journalist, it allows the site to cover a much wider range of news events than an individual or team of journalists could do alone.

We have an advanced set of content rating tools, automated algorithms, and editorial controls that makes it easy for the site owner to manage the content from thousands of individual contributors, and make sure that the best content rises to the top of the heap.

In addition, we have a variety of features that aren’t available in traditional blogging or other content management systems.

One key strength is that our product comes with native support for video. That makes it easy for anyone to upload video of a news event and make it available to readers of the site. Our system handles all the complexity of video processing and conversion behind the scenes, and then allows playback on any web browser.

Another key feature includes our integrated mapping technology, where any story can be placed on a map and assigned to a specific geographical neighbourhood, town, or city.

This allows users to quickly visualise the location of a news event and browse and discover other content in that specific area. Users can also subscribe to RSS feeds for specific geographic locations and track the news around them at a very local level.

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

Our major focus now is the delivery of a self-service advertising solution that will make it easy for site owners to monetise their site.

It will allow any advertiser to easily sign-up and create ads for the site. Also stay tuned as we roll out more advanced content management features and more interactive ways of reporting news events on the site.

4.  Why are you doing this?

We’re passionate about building systems that make it easy for people to participate in and contribute to communities of like-minded people online.

We picked the news space as our first project because there’s a huge opportunity there to empower professional journalists and regular members of the public to collaborate online and cover a much wider range of news than has ever been possible before.

5.  What does it cost to use it?

We have a range of packages that scale up according to the amount of traffic a site serves, starting at just $18 a month.

It’s designed so that a site can start small, with pricing that grows as the site does and at a very affordable rate.

6.  How will you make it pay?
Our content management system makes it easy for site owners to plug any 3rd-party advertising solution into their site, such as Google ads, etc.  And our forthcoming self-service advertising solution will take that to the next level by allowing access to a wider range of potential advertisers, and providing the site owner a higher percentage of overall revenue than other 3rd party online advertising solutions.

Have a look at Centraldistrictnews.com – it covers a neighbourhood here in Seattle and allows people to communicate with their neighbours about the news that happens right around them.

We’re also working with a major newspaper company to adapt our platform to a wide range of less newsy applications; covering topics from travel to sports and local dining we’re allowing them to quickly deploy niche interest sites and other targeted online communities that will build a rich online ecosystem of websites around their existing newspaper brands.

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Innovations in Journalism – EditGrid

Each week we give technology developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. This week it’s data as journalism with online spreadsheets from EditGrid.

image of editgrid logo

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
Hello, I’m David Lee, from EditGrid.

EditGrid is an online spreadsheet service that does for numbers what blogs and wikis do for text.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
It can be useful for journalist in multiple ways: managing simple lists and mini-databases so that the data can be shared, collaborated and accessed anywhere (including iPhone and Facebook) and publishing of tables and charts.

The Daily Kos has used us to publish quick and easy charts of US primary election results.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
We keep enhancing the sharing and publishing capabilities to make EditGrid more powerful.

In the future it will be the platform to access live data (financial and much more). Users already created live financial spreadsheets attracting tens of thousands of users and million of views.

4) Why are you doing this?
Spreadsheet is a technology area in which the fundamentals haven’t been changed for more than 20 years.

Now we can make online spreadsheet running in a web browser which multiple people can edit at the same time with changes synchronising in real-time.

We see much potential in it and believe it will revolutionise the ways people use spreadsheets.

5) What does it cost to use it?
Free of charge for personal users, US$5 per user for organisations.

6) How will you make it pay?
We offer most of the features for free but we charge organisations $5/user/month and provide more administration and security features.

Currently, we’re more interested in growing our base to hundreds-of-thousands of users, we may charge for future value-added features and/or premium data access but what our users can enjoy for free now will remain free forever. :)

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