Friday, October 29, 2004

Blogging for the People

A colleague at the BBC sent me a fascinating link to a piece about citizen media sites. We're really interested in how this might work in the UK. In fact, here in Scotland, we've dabbled slightly with our Island-Blogging project.

Here's the skinny. Take a handful of islands off the West coast of Scotland where every household has been given a pc and a (narrowband) connection by the local authority. Offer them a way to publish their own blogs via a quick and dirty interface which lets them post texts and images. And stand back and watch both the content and community grow.

And while Clyde Bentley, from University of Missouri School of Journalism, compares community journalism like this to 'little clippings you find on a refrigerator' - which I like as an analogy - the difference for broadcasters like us is that these stories can, sometimes, make it into the mainstream agenda.

My phrase du jour is a 'virtuous content circle'. A story gets driven into a broadcast news context and which, because that exposure gives the material some kind of enhanced validity, drives the viewer/user (I hesitate to use the god-awful 'viewser' word...) BACK to the blog environment.

An example of this was the story about a beached whale on the island of Coll. The fact that a post on one of the blogs from the island made it into one of Radio Scotland's news bulletin prompted this, rather surprised, comment from one of the island-bloggers: "What is best about the project for BBC and bloggers? You [the BBC] are in the news business – you got news about whales from the horse’s mouth so to speak. Perhaps not as elegantly put as a professional writer but it had first hand news…inside views, quotable stuff. This is an ear to a part of the world you [the BBC] seldom visit."

This was a turning point for the success of the project. The bloggers no longer just commented on the news, they were the source for the news.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy

It’s one of these things which was much easier than I thought it would be. Blogging, that is. In fact as Biz Stone says in in his new book, 'It's you! On the web!'

I have a colleague at work who was positively evangelical about the things. Has his own, persuaded me we should have one on our site, regularly sends me articles about trends in the medium. I’m not entirely sure what made me fire up late one day at work and try and start my own. But within days (hours?) I was hooked. It was like I suddenly got it. And, not content with posting my own, relatively timid, musings on
Scrinson I started to look about to see what else was out there.

Having spent the last seven years taking editorial responsibility for creating and publishing dozens of websites, all of a sudden I was making my own! I think that’s what gave me such a kick. And it was a skoosh! Casting back to a one-day introduction to web production I had taken back in 1997 or so, I even remembered some of the fundamentals of html and managed to do some rather nifty things with moving text from left to right and working out how to tweak some bits of code (get me!!) in order to re-size fonts in
Flickr photo uploads.

Of course when you’ve worked with (wonderful) web designers and producers for this many years, you’re never quite content with the finished product. I revisit any posts I do on my personal Blog at least once after I've published. Which is quite anal.

But I still love seeing the stuff online. Even if my friends and colleagues think I've joined a rather geeky gang late in life. But hey. THEY'RE not going to California in ten days...

Monday, October 18, 2004

Why here? Why now?

In early November, this utter blog newbie travels from Glasgow to San Francisco to take part in Bloggercon at Stanford Law School.

According to authoritative blogging sources, the Great and the Good of the world of blogs will be there. Which is intimidating in itself. I mean some of these guys have been immersed in this stuff since 1999. Me? It's been a fortnight.

But hey ho. I shall speak as I find. Be gentle with me...