Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Getting Involved in Gustav Online Volunteer Efforts

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

I was hoping to get through August without interrupting my self-imposed summer blogging siesta, but circumstances have changed. As you probably know by now, Hurricane Gustav is en route to the Gulf Coast, and thinks are looking pretty bad right now. Given all the work we did organizing online information in the hours after Hurricane Katrina struck three years ago, I figured it would be much more productive if we could get organized at least a couple of days before Hurricane Gustav came ashore.
Right now, I’m juggling a number of activities, and could use your help in both promoting and volunteering with content production.
For coordinating online volunteer efforts, I’ve set up a social network called the Gustav Information Center. I’m hoping it’ll work like Katrina Aftermath, with aggregations of content generated by the public, news orgs and govt agencies, but the social networking tools will allow us to use it as a place to coordinate volunteer activities – who’s working on what project, etc.
We’re also setting up a wiki called GustavWiki.com, built off the wiki we organized for Katrina. Essentially, we’ve taken all of the pages from the Katrina wiki and moved them to the new one, so the first thing we need volunteers for is going through each page and making sure all the info contained is accurate and relevant to Gustav. Please go to the wiki to-do list discussion on Ning if you want to volunteer as a page editor. If you want to edit a page someone else is working on, contact them through the wiki or Ning so you can coordinate directly with each other. Once the pages are verified, we can then concentrate on building new pages from scratch.
On Twitter, we have several new accounts running. GustavAlerts is already sending out official government notifications from a number of sources. GustavNews will feature news content, while GustavBlogs will feature blog discussions. They’re still being tweaked, though, so it may be a few hours before those two Twitter accounts are useful.
I’ll post updates as I can, but most of my activities will be in the Gustav Information Center, so please join the conversation there. -andy

Discussing Twitter, Liveblogging and Journalism at the Guardian in London

Friday, June 20th, 2008

For those of you wondering why I’ve been quiet for the last couple of weeks, I was in London with limited Internet access (stupid US phone doesn’t work there) and then moved into our new house. I’ll talk about the move later, but for now I wanted to share the podcast that was recorded of the event I attended in London, hosted by The Guardian newspaper. The event was part of a two-week series of forums on the future of journalism, and it focused on how real-time publishing tools like live-blogging and Twitter are actually tools for generating conversations journalism and how to make journalism better. It’s 90-minutes long, but if you’re interested in the subject, it’s worth a listen. You can hear it by playing the streaming media file below or downloading the of the event.


Public Broadcasting and Twitter? Engagement and Authenticity!

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Yesterday, I saw a note from the WBUR Twitter account pointing to a blog post about their recent experiments with Twitter. For those of you who don’t know WBUR, it’s an NPR member station in Boston that’s been doing a lot of tinkering in the social media space as of late, so I follow their work pretty closely.
In his blog post, WBUR’s Ken George talks about some of their social media projects, and how they’re now heading into unknown waters with Twitter:

Now our media giant lumbers head first into the world of Twitter.
After dusting off the mostly dormant WBUR Twitter account, and fortified with copious amounts of coffee, I managed to accrue a modest following (hey its quality, not quantity right?). But in all honesty, I remain uncertain – to the point of apprehension – about what I should “Tweet” about. Do you want WBUR news updates? Irreverent musings? Programming information? Personal trivia? Shout-outs to my peeps? A running chronology of my day?
An excellent example of Twitter’s utility is public radio station KPBS using it to receive updates on wildfires then consuming swaths of southern California, information they then could relay over the airwaves. My own personal “ah-ha!” moment came yesterday afternoon when someone Tweeted me about a misspelling on the site. It just then dawned on me that WBUR too now has a potential army of researchers and fact-checkers at its disposal. The cranial cavity expanded six inches yesterday… cue “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”
So maybe the right question is: In what ways can we help each other?

Lemme spin that question another way, if I may: What would I expect of WBUR – and any other public broadcaster, for that matter – as far as Twitter is concerned?

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Utterz Demo at PodcampDC

Saturday, April 19th, 2008


This is a mobcast I recorded using my mobile phone at PodcampDC. You’ll hear me explaining Utterz, the tool I used to create the mobcast.   Replies.  mp3

Social Networking and Education: My Keynote at the UMB School of Nursing

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

This week I gave a talk at the University of Maryland/Baltimore’s School of Networking Nursing on the role of social networking in education. I took a look at the history of online communities and the role educators have played in their development, as well as what tools are being used by teachers today – in particular, do-it-yourself social networking tools like Ning. I also talked a bit about new tools like Twitter, Qik and Utterz. Here’s the Powerpoint:

You can also download an MP3 of the audio.

Mobile Phones, Human Rights and Anonymity

Friday, April 4th, 2008

I’ve been playing around with my new Nokia N95 for the last couple of weeks and quite amazed with its ability to stream live video from the phone to the Internet. Like last weekend when I streamed from the Smithsonian Kite Festival; for around 30 minutes I gave a tour of the festivities and took questions from users as they watched the stream over the Internet.
I’ve also spent some time talking it up with colleagues at NPR, brainstorming the possibilities of what would happen if reporters used these phones – or if their sources did. The example that keeps coming to mind regarding the latter scenario is the rioting in Tibet. While some video has leaked out, it’s been limited and often delayed. Imagine if the protestors were able to webcast their protests – and the ensuing crackdowns – live over their phones using China’s GSM network? The video would stream live and get crossposted via tools like YouTube, Seesmic and Twitter, spreading the content around so it can’t be snuffed.
But that raises an obvious question – how long could protestors or dissidents get away with such activities before getting caught? If you were running software on your phone to send live video over a 3G network, like I’ve been doing on my N95, you’d think it wouldn’t take too much effort on the part of the mobile provider and/or government to figure out which phone was sending the signal and its precise location.
So that got me wondering: is there a mobile equivalent of Tor?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, TOR is a software project that helps Internet users remain anonymous. Running the TOR software on your computer causes your online communications to bounce through a random series of relay servers around the world. That way, there’s no easy way for authorities to track you or observe who’s visiting banned websites. For example, let’s say you’re in Beijing and you publish a blog the authorities don’t like. If you just used your PC as usual and logged into your publishing platform directly, they could follow your activities and track you down. With Tor, you hop-scotch around: your PC might connect to a server in Oslo, then Buenos Aires, then Miami, then Tokyo, then Greece before it finally connects to your blogging platform. Each time you did this, it would be a different series of servers. That way, it’s really difficult for authorities to trace your steps.
As dissidents and protestors embrace mobile devices for conducting civil disobedience or recording human rights violations, it would make sense for Tor and projects like it to adapt to their needs. That way, if that hypothetical protestor in Lhasa tried to stream live video over Qik, post a photo to Flickr or record a mobcast via over Utterz, they’d lessen the chance of getting caught so easily.
Does anyone know if there’s a mobile equivalent of Tor, relaying voice connections or data from one network to another, anonymizing the user of the phone? If not, is it technically feasible? How might one go about creating one?

Twitter: Nighthawks at the BPP Diner

Monday, January 28th, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Rob Paterson wrote a blog post about the new NPR show, The Bryant Park Project, and its use of the community messaging system Twitter. With the subtitle “My Diner in the Morning,” Rob’s post talked about how he’s experienced the show via Twitter – in particular, the slow progression of observing, and then interacting with BPP staff. And it really got me thinking about the role of Twitter in developing community around radio programs.

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Widget Fest: CPB Grant to Foster Public Broadcasting Collaboration & User Engagement for Election 2008

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Earlier today, NPR and its partners announced that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is awarding more than $1.3 million dollars to a consortium of public media organizations to expand our coverage of election 2008 across multiple platforms. The consortium, led by NPR and including American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio, Capitol News Connection, KQED, PBS, PRX, PRI/Public Interactive and The NewsHour, will work together to produce election-related content and interactive tools available to the entire public broadcasting system.
“By pooling content produced locally and nationally — for radio, television, and online — we will discover new ways of doing business to better serve the public,” said NPR CEO Ken Stern in a note that went out today to the public radio system. “We are pleased to have succeeded in coming together to deliver on the commitments made at the 2007 Annual Meeting.”
“This grant underscores CPB’s support of innovative projects that move public radio and television into the digital future so they can help individuals better connect with their communities wherever they are,” added Pat Harrison, CPB President and CEO. “This ambitious project will provide us with new ways of looking at how we serve the public on existing and emerging media platforms.”
The basic premise of the project was built around a simple reality – many public broadcasters were planning to create on air content and interactive modules for their websites, but we didn’t have a structure in place to work together during the election cycle. Around a year ago, NPR and PBS began conversations around editorial partnerships for the election, including the creation of an interactive map that would work on both of our websites, as well as on the TV show NewsHour. While that conversation was taking place, I co-organized a group discussion at the February 2007 Integrated Media Association conference for public broadcasters to talk about the Election 2008 social media plans and how those activities might be replicable across the system.
The conversation kicked into high gear at NPR’s annual meeting last April, where you may recall I blogged about some of the ideas that were brewing among those of us present at the event. We organized breakout conversation in which we laid out what was at stake and how we might collaborate. It didn’t take long to realize that we had an opportunity that might quickly slip through our fingers if we couldn’t get our act together. We needed to pull together a SWAT team and get to work.
At the encouragement of CPB, we organized a May meeting at NPR laying out all the possible ways we might collaborate, and get that SWAT team going to pull together a plan. By the end of July, we submitted our plan to CPB, which today has been christened with this $1.36 million grant.
So what exactly are we doing? For one thing, we’re going to take all of the cool online election activities we’ve got planned for 2008 and we’re going to make them available as widgets, including:


  • An interactive election map from NPR and The NewsHour;
  • Localizable news modules from Public Radio International’s Public Interactive;
  • A curated collection of election audio and social media content from PRX;
  • Election-related video from PBS;
  • An archive of broadcast materials covering New York-based presidential candidates from WNYC;
  • A collaborative content initiative entitled “Global Perspectives on Election 2008″ from PRI;
  • User-generated political commentaries curated by NPR;
  • Capitol News Connection’s interactive ‘Ask Your Lawmaker’ widget, enabling citizens to directly question their lawmakers and listen to answers obtained by CNC journalists;
  • Election simulations and thought-provoking interactive activities from American Public Media and KQED.

Some of these tools, like the NPR/NewsHour map and CNC’s Ask Your Lawmaker widget, are all ready up and running. Others, such as NPR’s user-generated political commentaries project, will be launching in the coming months. (You have no idea how excited I’m am about this one. We’re working like gangbusters to get this puppy launched – more soon.) In each case, the projects will exist wherever they originally resided, but they’ll have widgets, too, so stations can take these tools and localize them for their own uses. Some of the projects, like our user-generated commentaries, will be embeddable on blogs or wherever else you’d want to place them.
Meanwhile, underlying all of these projects will be an experimental social network – a “knowledge network” for public media entities to share election resources and data, find tutorials and best practices for utilizing these tools and other social media activities, and coordinate their election coverage. It’s basically an extranet for PBS and NPR stations, along with other public media partners. Last but not least, PBS will be creating curricular materials for some of these online modules so they can be used in classroom settings.
I am so glad to see this project announced publicly. I’ve been working on this for the better part of the last nine months, and it’s so gratifying to see so many entities across the public media system coming together to improve our election coverage, while providing the public with interactive tools to help them make a more informed decision when going into the ballot box. This year is going to be a total blast. -andy

Radio Open Source is Back!

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

They’re back!

Yesterday, Radio Open Source host Chris Lydon and producer Mary McGrath circulated an email announcing the return of the cutting-edge radio show, one of the first to weave blogging and social media into the core mission of the program. After going on an indefinite hiatus this summer because of funding cuts, Radio Open Source has moved its operation to Brown University.

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Change.org: Using Social Networking to Raise Money For and Against Politicians

Friday, June 8th, 2007

This week I had the chance to chat with Ben Rattray, co-founder and CEO of Change.org, one of the most interesting up-and-coming social networks on the Internet. They’re using social media tools to bring together like-minded people to raise money on issues they care about. And thanks to a recent relaunch of the site, users can now work together like an informal political action committee (PAC), targeting their collective donations to support – or unseat – politicians.

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