Tag Archives: San Francisco

Geo-what? Oh, it’s coming to the UK soon…

This week saw the launch of a hyperlocal news map for the Liverpool Echo, as announced by Sly Bailey at the AOP Digital Publishing Summit (follow link for report in MediaGuardian).

It geotags news content so each user can search for news by postcode.

Nothing new there, web-savvy newshounds might think, but actually it is:

Though Archant announced plans for geotagged sites last October (it started with Jobs24 – a winner at yesterday’s NS ADM Awards – and Homes24 and has plans to roll out geotagged news content in 2008) to date we’re still waiting for the official launch of geotagged news.

Yesterday we reported that American site outside.in will be launching in the UK, which will link news with local areas (as localised as users specify). Outside.in thinks its opportunity has come about as a result of:

“The demand for personalized information on the web, and the failure of the newspaper industry to capitalize on featuring hyperlocal content” (Nina Grigoriev, outside.in)

Journalism.co.uk thought it was time for a bit of a run-down on the development of geotagging in the UK.

First, what is it?
Journalists record the locations referred to in each story and add their postcodes as metadata when uploading their copy to the web.

In that way, geotagged content allows users to prioritise the news they see online according to postcodes.

Where are we at in the UK?
The Liverpool Echo is the first site (of the large publishing groups) to do so in the UK. Although other sites have incorporated mapping into their sites, no other places has successfully incorporated news content as well.

The BBC plans to invest £68 million across its network of local sites, which will be decided upon by the BBC Trust in February 2009. Online Journalism Blog reported a sneak preview in January 2008, though the BBC have since asked us not to refer to the sites as ‘hyperlocal’.

Critics such as Trinity Mirror’s CEO, Sly Bailey, have voiced concerns over the BBC’s local video proposals, saying they will provide ‘unfair competition’ for the regional media.

Northcliffe is also developing geotagged content on its revamped thisis sites, and told Press Gazette in June the process has been difficult: “Because not all stories affect only one specific point, the company is finding geocoding challenging,” Hardie said.

According to the article: “The localisation functions will remain hidden until journalists have built up enough stories with postcode data.”

Back in July 2007 we saw reports of Sky geotagging its news, but it hasn’t developed at the same speed or as widely as in the US.

What’s happening in the US?
Everyblock is developing fast across the US. It’s a new experiment in journalism and data, offering feeds of local information and data for every city block in Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC, with more cities to come. Not in the UK yet, but watch this space.

Elsewhere, the Washington Post has used outside.in’s maps for their own site, while the New York Times’ Boston.com (the online Boston Globe) uses MetaCarta’s geographic search technology for maps.

So, what does this mean for UK based geotagging?
With the arrival of highly efficient US based sites such as outside.in (who said an UK based office is a possibility) maybe it’s time for Archant, Trinity Mirror and Northcliffe to get their skates on before it’s too late.

Please send us your examples of UK based geotagged content, from formal publications or otherwise, as we want to track it as it expands in the UK.

(Then we can make a geotagged feed and map of geotagging in journalism. Then our heads might explode)

Online Journalism Scandinavia: Here come the Web 2.0 docusoaps

Swedes are getting so hooked on social media that for many web-crazy young things reality-TV has all but moved online.

Last night Twingly, the Swedish web company that supplies a blog trackback functionality to newspapers world-wide and last week launched its international spam free blog search engine Twingly.com, aired the first programme of its new reality-series on YouTube: The Summer of Code.

YouTube reality-show

“We have recruited four ambitious interns and given them six weeks to develop a visual search engine for blogs; Twingly Blogoscope,” said Martin Källström, CEO of Twingly.

“Everyone can follow what happens in the project via daily episodes on YouTube.”

The episodes will be uploaded Monday to Friday at 6 PM GMT (10 AM in San Francisco, 19:00 in Stockholm) and the first programme aired last night.

“Openness in this project is a way to show the daily life in the office,” said Källström.

“Generally people are not familiar with the stimulating working atmosphere in a start-up. Hopefully Twingly Summer of Code will inspire more people to join Twingly or other start-ups.”

Media increasingly about conversation
Last week, Twingly launched its search engine Twingly.com to track 30 million blogs all over the world.

Despite this global scope, Källström said Twingly will concentrate on being number one in Europe, working with several different European languages.

“Google has not improved its blog search for more than two years,” he told Journalism.co.uk.

The company has teamed up with newspapers in Spain, Portugal, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and South Africa, to show blog links to the news sites’ articles.

Källström added that his hope was for Twingly to be able to take on both Google and Technorati by providing more functionality and driving traffic to bloggers via its media partnerships.

“Media is more and more about the conversation between media and its readers. We see a very strong synergy between mainstream media and bloggers and try to provide a bridge that can improve this synergy,” he said.

Blogs have replaced docusoaps
Twingly’s target group for The Summer of Code will no doubt draw an audience of uber-geeks but a young Swedish reporter recently admitted she was addicted to a very different sort of ‘web docusoap’.

Madeleine Östlund, a reporter with the Swedish equivalent of Press Gazette, Dagens Media, claimed the country’s fashion blogs had replaced docusoaps (link in Swedish).

She confessed she found it increasingly difficult to live without her daily fix of intimate everyday details and gossip from the country’s high-profile fashion bloggers, a phenomenon Journalism.co.uk has described here.

“It is not their blogging about clothes that draws me in, rather it is the surprise and fascination with which I read about these young girls’ private lives. Surprise and fascination about how much they often reveal,” she wrote, citing posts about broken hearts, hospital stays, what they had for breakfast and descriptions of a caesarian birth.

Roll on the Web 2.0 docusoap about dashing media journalists, I say.

CNET: Facebook and Google still not ready to connect friends

Developers from Facebook and Google sitting on a panel at Supernova 2008 in San Francisco yesterday.

CNET has them saying that its the lawyers who are keeping them from using collaboartive technology for their respective friend-connecting APIs while the developers work on ways of sharing data between social networks.

Facebook blocked Google’s Friend Connect service last month saying it violated the site’s terms of service – the violation was redistributing user information from Facebook to other developers without the users’ knowledge.

What would Google have to do to not vialate the terms then?

Well, that one’s with the lawyers.

Spot.us: the ‘crowdfunded’ journalism site

How to find the funds to keep your site running is the needle in the haystack for most citizen journalism start-ups.

Speaking after the closure of his own citizen journalism project, Scribblesheet, founder John Ndege wrote on Journalism.co.uk:

“Here lies a major problem for citizen journalism start-ups. It’s difficult to add value on top of news unless you have an attractive website that really connects with the wider web. However, as time passes even that is not going to save your site.”

Not wanting to be all doom and gloom, Ndege said the idea of networked journalism could forge a brighter future for citizen news with a collaboration between the amateur and the professional.

Enter: Spot.us – a community news site financed by ‘crowdfunding’.

The site, which is the brainchild of David Cohn, proposes to keep the finances on a even keel using this model.

But how will it work? The site explains:

  1. An individual or journalist creates a pitch that outlines an untold story in a local community.
  2. Members of your community vote, with their money, on what stories are most important to them.
  3. A journalist researches the facts and puts together an article. Editors provide check-and-balance on the story.
  4. Spot.us publishes the story in its news feeds and works with local media outlets to have the articles published more widely.

The site is yet to go live and the model yet to prove itself, but it was enough to convince judges at the Knight News Challenge to award the project a grant for $340,000 in its latest round of funding.

“It’s unknown whether people will be willing to put 10-25$ down for journalism. I think they will if the pitch is right. So – in the beginning I’m just going to focus on getting a few good stories funded and published,” says Cohn in an interview with Innovation in College Media (ICM).

Cohn, who will initially focus the site on the San Francisco area, hopes Spot.us will also provide a platform for freelance journalists looking for projects.

In a blog post, Rick Burnes, says building a ‘critical mass of funders’ is the main challenge facing the site and suggests that putting an upper limit on donations, as successful projects will then require wider backing from the audience and says there should be no upper limit to contributions.

“Why put limits on how much one person can contribute? By doing so, you raise the bar for success. It means you have to get a lot more active funders on the site before you start paying journalists.”

To my mind an upper limit would also prevent projects being skewed by contributors, who could potentially stand to gain from a pitch being pursued.

However, as Cohn says in his comments on Burnes’ post, Spot.us should not become a tool for ‘axe grinding’ between journalists and subjects:

“I want to make the site such that – it will be empowering for an individual who otherwise wouldn’t be able to hire a journalist – but would be a hassle for somebody who has a spare 5k to spend on a journalist. Spot.Us works better and achieves more of its mission – if the person with 5k is only able to donate $400 and to make up for it – has to send an email to 10 of his/her rich friends. It’s to ensure that there really is an interest in this story from a group of people – so journalists don’t turn into errand boys writing press releases.”

I’ll be following Spot.us’ progress, in particular to see what type of content receives funding and how many contributors get behind the project.

Will residents of the San Francisco bay area feel compelled to ’employ’ journalists to report on local issues? To me it depends what value they place on the role of the journalist and whether they will see more value in that investigation than any which they could conduct for free by themselves.

The value I suppose will be that this is not a private detective-style of journalism, but is intended to enable those who don’t have the time or funds to pursue local things that matter to them to invest in the newsgathering process.

Twitter service soars to new heights in Japan

Last week’s launch of Twitter in Japan is showing early signs of success, reports ReadWriteWeb.

The new version was born when it was noticed that a significant percentage of Twitter usage was originating from Japan, despite the service being in English.

Now the dedicated Japanese version has been launched many sites are predicting an explosion of Twitter in the country.

Twitterlocal shows that Tokyo already has the highest usage of any city – almost three-times higher than second place location San Francisco.

Google Trends supports Twitterlocal statistics, as its stats show: Japan as the region with the highest overall usage, Japanese cities make up the top three globally and the Japanese language is the most prevalent across the service.

An interesting difference in the new version was the inclusion of ‘some commercial experimentation’ by Twitter. The Japanese service carries advertising media from two clients. The move has been interpreted by many of a sign of things to come for the rest of the service.

Innovations in Journalism – live geo-tagged video broadcast from Seero

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, live video streamed over the web with extra geographical information mapped in real-time from Seero.

image of seero’s website

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
Hello, I’m Justin Cutillo, co-founder of Seero. It’s a geo-broadcasting platform that fuses live and on-demand video with GPS mapping.

Our technology is a response to the convergence and proliferation of video and GPS features in the flourishing mobile device market.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
Seero was built to reflect the core needs of video bloggers and online journalist. The platform incorporates tools for live mobile broadcasting with additional real-time GPS tracking and static location marking.

We also have a geo-information/advertising server. This system allows us to geo-tag specific information to enhance any broadcasts near that location.

For example, if an online journalist was covering a fire in London, we have the ability to upload facts specific to the building and geo-tag them to the exact location. The information is served based on its proximity to the location of the broadcast.

All you need for mobile broadcasting is a laptop and a mobile broadband card. You can add on an inexpensive GPS receiver for the real-time tracking feature or use an Ultra Mobile PC is you don’t want to carry around a full laptop.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
We are currently working on some major build items. We should be releasing an embeddable flash player that includes the live video player and the full map functionality within a month. We are also working on a module to add course tracking to previously recorded videos.

Our largest project is to build a mobile broadcasting application for Symbian mobile phones to enable journalist to broadcast live video and GPS right from their Nokia phones.

Beyond that we have a secretive project that could really redefine how people interact with live video on the internet.

4) Why are you doing this?
When it comes down to it we are technology buffs. We came up with the idea on a vacation to San Francisco more than two years ago while thinking of ways to virtually tour a city.

Combining live video and location info opens up new, exciting uses for online video.  Needless to say we are very enthusiastic about the prospects.

5) What does it cost to use it?
Besides the hardware cost, which may be very little if you already have a laptop, the service is completely free to all users.

6) How will you make it pay?
We currently envision three main channels of revenue. The first channel involves white label sites built on the Seero infrastructure for promotional as well as professional and government services.

The second channel is geo-advertising. We have a proprietary geo-advertising system that provides a simple and powerful solution for correlating advertising to site content.

Beyond those revenue streams we also see potential for our geo-advertising system as a stand-alone service.

YouTube videos now available in Google Maps

youtube videos on google maps

The team of developers responsible for Google Earth and Maps have launched a new feature to show Embedded YouTube videos in Google Maps.

Geotagged YouTube videos have been available in Google Earth since last year – the service has now been extended to Maps.

Newspapers in the UK have been increasingly drawn to the use of interactive maps on their websites as a new way of displaying news to their users.

In the US, where the availability of public data has made mapping a common part of online news reporting, several new innovative news-mapping experiments have recently launched.

In particular, new service Everyblock has been charting a vast range of public information across city maps for Chicago, New York and San Francisco.

The Google Maps developers have pointed out examples of how this new function might work for business – but the application being used for news videos looks like it could be just a step away.

Innovations in Journalism – Everyblock

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 aggregated news laid out across interactive city maps with Everyblock.

image of everyblock website

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
I’m Adrian Holovaty. EveryBlock is an experiment in aggregating news at the block level in selected cities. Our site, which currently covers Chicago, New York City and San Francisco, allows you to view recent news for any address in the city.

We offer three broad types of news:

  • Public records, such as crimes, restaurant inspections, building permits, zoning changes
  • Links to news reports, such as newspaper articles and blog entries
  • Fun from the web, such as nearby Flickr photos or Craigslist ‘missed connection’ postings

The idea is that we collect all of this information from across the web (and directly from city governments themselves) and slice it geographically, so you can stay updated with what’s happening near you.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
EveryBlock is useful to journalists in two ways.

First, it’s an experiment in a new form of news dissemination – that is, news filtered at the block level – and journalists can look to us for inspiration in new forms of publishing information. We’re funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation, whose goal it is to promote innovation in the journalism industry, and we’re a test-bed for this idea.

Second, we unearth a lot of government data that journalists might be interested in researching further. We only launched a few weeks ago, and already a few journalists have used our site to find trends and break stories on their own. This happens particularly because we make it so easy to browse government databases. Here are two examples:

http://chicagoist.com/2008/03/05/trader_vics_is.php
http://cbs5.com/investigates/SF.hotel.safety.2.671667.html

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
There is much, much more to come. As I mentioned above, we’ve only been around since late January. We plan to add more cities, more data and more features.

4) Why are you doing this?
This is an experiment. We’re doing it because it’s interesting, because it’s fun and because it’s an exciting new idea.

5) What does it cost to use it?
The service is entirely free. Unlike some newspaper sites, you don’t even have to submit an evil registration form!

6) How will you make it pay?
We have the luxury of not having to worry about that for a while. We’re funded by a grant for two years, and we’ve only been working on this project for about seven months at this point.