A wiki about Educational Blogging

Andy Carvin writes over at his blog Learning.Now about the wiki SupportBloggging.com. This wiki appears to be a place for information about blogging for education. Lots of information there like How to Start blogging, Testimonials, and what’s the diference between social networking sites and blogs. I will definitely be recommending it to teachers and students who ask me about blogging. [Along with Blogging101 by Anton Zuiker of-course.] Which recently has been quite a few. I think Higher Ed and K-12 teachers could benefit from this. Props to Steve Hargadon for creating this resource. This site is really needed!

Harnessing the Work of Bloggers

Techorati has announced a new business relationship with the Associated Press. Read more about it at Technorati Teams With The Associated Press to Connect Bloggers To More Than 440 Newspapers Nationwide.

I was once told that the real definition of a professional is someone who gets paid for what they do. We know that there is more to the definition. I bet if you were to compare bloggers with journalists you’d find we’re both professionals.

Real bloggers write and link because they love. We’re news and politics junkies. We like our info fresh and witty. This propels many of use to write like mad. So we write to give other bloggers what we want from them.

Most of us don’t do it for pay. So what happens when corporations like Technorati and AP get together to aggregate bloggers work and put it up on their websites? Pro business people are always saying nothing is free. So how is Technorati and AP paying bloggers for the services we’re providing them?

One form of payment could be the ‘Neato Effect’. This is when you see your name or something you wrote in the paper. The first couple of times its a rush. The realization that hundreds if not tens of thousands of people are reading what you wrote. For most people this rush is payment enough. What happens when you have a blog and millions of people all over the world read your writing every day? What about when a smart weekly newspaper recognizes you as an expert and pays you to write it? You become a professional. Many bloggers have become pros in one way or another. The ‘neato effect’ as a form of payment just ain’t going to do it for me. Or many of other good bloggers out there I suspect.

Another form of payment is in website traffic. If a local or national newspaper site links to your blog post whether purposely or automatically via Technorati you should get a few more hits. What is that worth to most bloggers? In dollars and cents probably not much. You need tens of thousands of unique visitors to make money on advertising. So a few more from a newspaper of two won’t make a real financial contribution. If Digg or Slashdot links to you then your hits might jump for a day or so but it’ll also cripple your site too. Your Google ranking could increase over time. This might help your ad revenue. But in the end isn’t this just gaming the system?

What if you don’t care about making money on your blog? What does Technorati, AP, or newspaper website have to pay you with then? How about respect as an subject matter expert. That’s good for some karma and community value. How about influence? Political power? Publicity for good causes? Social change? There has to be some other kind of fair trade value.

The fact is for profit groups (newspapers) and a not for profit groups (bloggers) exist with different values that aren’t always compatible. Even if you’re a blogger and want to make money doing it do you think newspapers need your blog enough to pay you well? Hell they can’t seem to pay stringers very well.

Bloggers freely available content is being hijacked. Technorati is helping us find each other and in return is cashing in huge. So will their partners. Main stream media needs us. We’re vanguards of the future. We write in the trenches and get dirty doing it. Its true that many pro journalists have seen the light and are innovating too. I respect old school journalists. Really!

Its the masses of people creating on read/write web that will fill the bank accounts of businesses in the future. How will individuals get in on this? The future will be a giant negotiation for digital labor. We have serious leverage. Content creators like bloggers have real value in their ability to be creative.

Until newspapers decided to admit bloggers are another kind of professional and treat us as such these new relationships just won’t be fair at all.

Can You Digg What is Happening to Journalism?

Jeff Jarvis, Monday February 27, 2006 – The Guardian

I recently trained the faculty of the journalism school where I teach how to blog, vlog, podcast, wiki, and Digg. Actually, my son demonstrated Digg, and that was the most controversial moment of the day, as the professors fretted about second-rate stories getting on the front page. Jake showed them how the members can label a story “lame” and off it goes. He made it clear that Digg is owned by its public and that’s why it works. Shouldn’t all news organisations wish the public owned the news?

read more | digg story

Indy Week Gets It

The Independent Weekly has a new website. “So what?”, you may ask, people launch new websites all the time. The difference here is they’re adopting important features other newspapers are not. Features essential to new media websites.

One important feature on the new Indy website is content synchronization. When the Indy paper comes out the Indy website has the same content. Many print publications – like Wired magazine – have websites but delay the content’s online release until days or weeks after the print version has come out. This is wrong. Making already impatient online readers wait is a bad PR move. So bad it may completly prevent the stories from ever being read. It’s true that there are timing issues that can cause this gap but I bet the issue for some print publications is more about making sure the print media continues to have value. After all, “If they can get it online for free why should they bother paying for a subscription?” Wrong.

Another example is persistent links. When the Indy creates content and it goes on their website it doesn’t disappear. URLs to the content persist into the future. Many newspapers hide their content behind a pay wall the day it comes out and sometimes days later. This is a real problem. When you link to something on another website you want the link to work well into the future. It’s real hard for loyal bloggers to drive traffic to your site if the URLs don’t work (aka free publicity).

If newspapers really are the first draft of history they should allow their work to last so we can read it and compare it to other drafts. Preventing unethical rewriting of history demands it.

Oh yeah… the Indy has some blogs too. Dent is for politics and Scan is for music.

One of the competitive advantages the Indy Week has is that its paper is free. Their business model depends on advertising. They already know how to make this work. That’s how a lot of the web works. In other words revienue modles for media are very differnet than they used to me. Newspapers seem to be having a hard time dealing with the fact that the subscription model is dying. In the 21st century if you pay to subscribe to something it better be really special and not become fish wrap the next day.

Retaining My Attention MetaData: Part 1

I’ve stopped using Bloglines. It’s a RSS feed aggregator in a web browser. It’s “free” (as in money) and it works wonderfully. I really enjoyed using it. (Though the number of feeds I was trying to read got a bit unwieldy.)

What I’ve done instead is install my own web based RSS feed aggregator called Gregarius. It’s created in php and uses MySQL for the database. All this software is “free” as in money AND free as in freedom. Freedom from corporations watching what I watch aka my Attention metadata.

Fortunately I’m capable of installing a PHP application and MySQL database. I’d guess that a majority of web users don’t want to or have the time to do this. That’s why they take the easy most cost effective choice of signing up for “free” (as in money) web service. (or run it on their desktop)

Why did I do this? Because I am taking back the valuable metadata I create by looking and not looking at RSS feeds on the web. All this time we spend surfing adds up to lots of information that you can learn from. This knowledge can then be applied to a myriad of decisions. Those decisions can make things happen like making money and a whole bunch of other things. I believe this is the core business plan of most web services companies. (Tell me if I’m wrong Bloglines.)

The bottom line is free web apps aren’t enough compensation for my valuable Attention. I’m not special; your Attention is just as valuable. We should all value it much higher. We should renegotiate our agreement with free (as in money) web based services.

This is only the beginning of my personal web interaction transformation. Stay tuned for more change.

Why are those sites paying attention to us?

Ruby has been using LastFM a bunch recently. It’s a community website that keeps tracks of what music you’re playing on your computer, lets you tag music your listening too, and it has a browser based audio player that streams you music you might like. LOTS of data and metadata flying back and forth from user to server and server to user.

I’ve been hesitant to join up. I got tired quick of other social software sites like Friendster. Mostly because I haven’t clicked with them in a way to get me to dedicate lots of time. Plus I’ve been more and more concerned about how websites use our data and how the ACT on the metadata they create from it.

Well Ruby just sent me an e-mail that might get me to join LastFM. She said Ed Batista, of The Attention Trust, created a community on LastFM. (It was Ruby’s idea actually.) Here is the group description:

This is a group for Last.fm users who are interested in making more effective use of their “attention data” (including, but not limited to, all the data we’re sharing with Last). We’re big fans of Last, and we love their service, but we’d also love to know what Last is planning to do with this data. We hope this group will prompt some interesting discussions between Last and its users. For more information, visit Attention Trust at www.AttentionTrust.org.

Is it odd that I’d start using a website because I’m interested in how they use their data? It’s not like I’m a competitor trying to grok their business model. I’m not planning on gaming their site. It’s just that I’m a data privacy advocate who wants websites that collect any personal data to be open with us about how they use it. (uh hello Google!) Putting legalese into a super long and hard to understand privacy policy isn’t enough. We need very simple straightforward answers. (LastFM does have a good synopsis of their Terms and Conditions)

Terms and Conditions in a nutshell

* The entry of any personal data on this site is completely optional.
* We do not require an email address during sign up.
* We will not email you crap or pass on your email address to anyone, not even Lars Ulrich at gunpoint.
* Your pseudonymous listening habit data will be available to the public for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license.
* We reserve the right to sell or license pseudonymous listening data for commercial use, however we will never sell your personal data.
* You you will always have the opportunity to remove from the system any personal information you’ve entered

A great thing about discovering this LastFM group is that I understand the Attention Trust better. I’d heard about it a few months ago and checked out the site but for some reason I didn’t get it. Now with this context of LastFM and the group description it all makes sense. But all the crap about the President admitting to spying on US citizens, Google refusing to turn over search data to the Attorney General, personal research about social network analysis, etc. has pushed me past the breaking point. I’m doing something about my personal data sharing habits. I’m shifting my attention.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to disappear from the net and stop dumping all my thoughts on ya. Naw… you’re not that lucky. 🙂 I’m just going to try and be more conscious. We all need to still give each other bits and bytes. A serious evolutionary jump of my net habits is brewing.

I’m not just interested in how corporate websites are using our data and metadata but how WE can use it to make this world better. How can we improve our lives in ways besides just making money? You could call it selfless data-mining or social data entrepreneurism.

How do we create a civil Internet society? How do we promote fairness? How do we create social justice in the 21st century? I bet part of the answer lies in socially responsible data usage.

BTW – I just joined LastFM and Attention Trust. (See the AT logo on my right side bar.)

Continue to Refuse Request for Records Google!

Thank you Google for refusing to turn over search records to the US government. We are behind you and thank you for protecting our privacy. (Even if you’re more concerned about your trade secrets.) For SHAME AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo for turning over the records. How ever you want to spin this situation the US government should not have free and open access to metadata about how we all search the web! [For more information on what’s going on read The Mercury News article, “Google sparks privacy fight: BUT YAHOO, MICROSOFT, AOL TURNED OVER RECORDS FEDS SOUGHT”