Tag Archives: news

Zapaday: your open news agenda

Here’s a fancy open tool: Zapaday is a crowd supported  news calendar. Regular users can learn about upcoming events like big newsrooms did, and for free, while contributing with new events themselves. In their own words:

While news agendas drive almost half of your daily news, they are either closed or prohibitively expensive. We believe an open democracy needs free and open press resources. Can’t have closed, paid news agendas driving so much of our daily news, can we?

Start now, set your regional and topic preferences  and discover about the events that will for sure define the headlines in the near future.

Re-conceptualizing the news product – Guest post @ Innovative Interactivity

I wrote a post for Tracy Boyer’s awesome Innovative Interactivity blog. It is a bit different from the stuff that usually is posted there – it’s mainly about multimedia, and you should follow it  – because I discuss the new characteristics that should be taken into account when creating digital news products. I’ll be writing an in depth series over each item soon, but meanwhile you can get the gist of it.


user experience honeycomb for design

It’s not about just informing people anymore, it’s about creating a product that lets people do something with that information, creating richer and more immersive content, making it more valuable and with a longer lifespan.

The goal is to combine these features to create an integrated product, going beyond placing them along the content. Multimedia, interactive packages are a great example of integration of these items, but many tend to forget some that could make the information more useful and improve user’s experience.

These are just the main ideas for this concept, so I’ll highlight the most important characteristics for each element.”

Read the full post here

Honeycomb: News vs UX | Notícias vs Experiência do utilizador

UX Honeycomb

I’ve been really interested in Information Architecture (IA) and how to work on  visual presentations. And accidentally i ended up looking at a post from 2004 that presented the  Experience Honeycomb, that goes beyond IA and into User Experience (UX).

And when i looked at the Honeycomb i thought this is how news contents should be planned.

How are news planned now then? Well, credibility, desirability, value, accessibility, are all  important factors, just like  actuality is (not on the honeycomb). But with blogs, Twitter and social networks news became “usable”: redistributable and recycled to create new, derived contents. And being “findable” adds value to those contents, SEO right? (and  S stands not only for the Search Engine type but also forthe Social drive).

What i’m thinking is that news are experiences, and we should shape news contents so they meet a similar model like the Honeycomb.

This is just a initial rant about it, but i think it’s worth investigating. The way journalistic contents are presented right now are not fulfilling all the potential presented by the characteristics of the online. So my proposal (not original) is to think about news as experiences.

How can we adapt the Honeycomb as a UX model to create news products? And what do you make of this?

Eu tenho andado interessado em Arquitectura da Informação (IA) e como trabalhar em representações visuais. E acidentalmente descobri um post de 2004 que mostra a Experience Honeycomb (=favo) que vai para lá da IA e para a Experiência do Utilizador (UX).

E quando olhei para o Honeycomb pensei que deveria ser assim que os conteúdos noticiosos deviam ser planeados.

Como são planeadas as noticias agora? Bem, credibilidade, necessidade, valor, acessibilidade, são todos factores importantes, assim como a actualidade (não faz parte do modelo). Mas com os blogs, Twitter e redes sociais as noticias passaram a ser “utilizáveis”, redistribuívies, e recicladas para criar conteúdos novos ou derivados. E serem “encontráveis” adiciona valor a esses conteúdos, é SEO certo? (e o S não é só de Search mas também de Social).

A minha ideia é de que as notícias são experiências, e que deveríamos moldar os conteúdos noticiosos de forma a que se enquadrem num modelo semelhante a este.

Esta é apenas uma divagação inicial, mas acho que vale a pena desenvolver. A forma como os conteúdos jornalísticos são criados agora não cumpre com todo o potencial que o online permite. Por isso a minha proposta  (não original) é olhar para as notícias como experiências.

Como podemos adaptar a Honeycomb como um modelo de UX para criar produtos informativos? E o que pensam disso?

#fonwa: first meetup and how porn and news have the same problems

Last Monday I went to the Future of News meetup, West Midlands branch, organized by Philip John. It was a fun bit, and a chance to meet new people. I’m all for discussing and debating, come up with new ideas and go a bit crazy with them, or else it will be just like homework. Fortunately we were a relaxed group, and not even the classroom environment (gently provided by BCU) got in the way. Being too serious about anything is what keeps some good ideas in the dark, especially when we all have the same basic perspective on the subject.

Philip John posted a description of the meetup, and i won’t repeat it here, so go there and read it. Except  for this:

Then, without further ado, we split into three separate groups for a challenge. The brief that I gave to the groups was this; they are managing a start-up news operation with six month’s worth of funding. Their funders will not back them again after the six months is up so they need to find a viable business model within that timeframe. The funding will get them an office with all the necessities, two people (these could be journalists, or not) and kit (laptops, smartphones) for 3 people (i.e. you and your staff of two). There were no limits on what kind of news operation, what area (geographic or otherwise) to report or anything else – it was a very open brief.


The second group seemed to be obsessed with porn, interestingly, though there were some good suggestions. They came up with News Butler, a tailored news service which will take your preferences and then phone you each day to tell you the news that’s important to you. We were promised that Jon Hickman would be the guy on the other end of the phone – watch this space. There was also the news booth where you go and submit your own news. The most serious suggestion though, and one that really caught my attention was event journalism – providing reporting services for events. It was then that I filled everyone in on the last UK Future of News Group meetup where Not On The Wires launched their service after covering the G20 and Berlin Project.

I have to clarify one thing, since this was my group: we weren’t obsessed with porn, it just came up, and the group is not to blame, but me. The rest were respectable, wholesome, decent people, (well, most of them). Since I find that a bit boring I tend to stray a bit and, besides, news and porn are not that different:

The news business isn’t the only industry being upended by aggregators and amateurs online. Pornographers are suffering too — and newspapers could learn a thing or two from them. Here’s why:

Amateur content and “tube sites” (that’s industry-speak for free porn portals) have been eroding revenues in the porn industry, according to a story from Monday’s Los Angeles Times. But at least one porn company is embracing something every online news editor has grappled with quite a bit: Aggregation.

Frustratingly for porn producers and distributors in the Valley, none of these [aggregation] sites appears to be making much money. Suzann Knudsen, a marketing director for PornoTube, said the site’s parent, Adult Entertainment Broadcast Network, uses it to attract customers for paid video on demand.

“PornoTube isn’t a piggy bank,” she said. “Its true value is in traffic.”

in What Online Porn Can Teach Journalism (and Vice Versa), The Atlantic, Aug 13 2009

Yes, they both have similar problems, being the rise of the amateurs (so to speak…) the biggest one. Since news people take themselves too seriously, they usually forget to think out of the box. But that’s alright, more fun for me. Anyway, and so you know that the group had good ideas, me, Caroline Beavon and Dan Davies – who were also in the group – recorded a small podcast for the Online Journalism module about business models, that has most of the ideas we discussed in between the porn conversation.

The main idea is that there is not a single business model, but different ways to generate revenue. Small structures must find any means  in their reach to add value to their content so that it can be bought by users or major news outlets, and provide services useful for their local markets. If you have a news website you have copy and design expertise, that can be financially more accessible for local businesses than the average offer available in the market. I’ve gone through this in my other blog, there are lots of things a local news website can do to make money. And the news is not the biggest part of it, and it never was, most of the time.

Here’s the audio:

Other accounts on the meetup:

The Future of News?, by Kate Hughes

My notes from last night, Paul Hadley

Building a hyperlocal website: final thoughts

Keywords for hyperlocal

This is the final post about hyperlocal websites, that started with my own experience with HashBrum, as described in onetwo, three posts, and with the  special contribution of five sapient minds that work on hyperlocal endeavors. I learned a lot from my own efforts  – mine and the rest of the team’s – and also from  this reflection. It was interesting to analyze the list of characteristics presented by different people for hyperlocal websites and find common terms, common ideas, a common ground, even in the choice of words. Here’s what i learned, organized around a few main concepts. To understand them better, you should have read the previous posts of this series, but i think this will be quite clear and straight to the point.


Why are hyperlocal news websites important? Why do people feel inclined to “backyard news”? Precisely. Proximity is the keyword here, and it’s not only a geographical concept, it’s also about the relationships that a hyperlocal blogger/journalist must have with the community (s)he covers. You have to live there, be a part of it, like Will Perrin said. You’ll beat any other local newspaper because of your knowledge, you know the ground better than them, the real problems, because they are your problems too. And since you are there, you can get to the news faster, and stay on them for a longer period of time, without deadline constraints: you have availability. And will the local media send a reporter for every story you find interesting? Not really, no. Your broken streetlight is not an issue for the general audience, but it is for the people who live in that street: granularity, or , it’s the small stuff that counts.


Another good thing that hyperlocal websites are good at is by providing a better user experience. Innovation and experimentation in storytelling, using maps, multimedia, different ways to look at and navigate through the news. And without  the need for a huge investment, because most of the tools to create a website like this are free and open source, so only a small financial investment is required, the real expense here is time. But to be effective, the hyperlocal website’s technology must promote participation, allow people to offer their input, and  the users should be able to conform their experience through customization, getting the information they want, the way they want.


At the core of hyperlocal behavior is passion. It’s your reality, or at least a reality that is right outside your front door. The level of engagement and commitment hyperlocal news websites have are huge, compared to the average reporter, who is assigned for a story and educated to be detached. Hyperlocal reporters are involved in the story and they can afford to be critical and assertive close to the local authorities,  and use their work to improve their community’s living standards and environment. It’s what matters to a few, that becomes really important.

Another relevant characteristic is adaptability. A good hyperlocal website is aware of it’s shortcomings and is constantly looking for new ways to do their work, something quite impossible to do in the bigger, slower structures of traditional media, and their sluggish procedures and bureaucracies. They can be built and developed fast, and still bring added value.

A new market is open for these projects: since it’s about and for the local community, it is also an advertising opportunity for local businesses, who can’t afford ads in the pages of a newspaper. If instructed to develop interaction and user experience like the hyperlocal website should do, there is a lot to get out of this, for local businesses.

The bottom line is, your neighborhood news matter, whether it’s a poorly made manhole, or a broken streetlight, or crime. It’s these bits of information that become important when you are living – or wanting to live – in a neighborhood. And if there’s a way to connect us back to our neighbors, whom we usually don’t know, and  join efforts to improve our real, every day life experience, it was well worth it. And if you want to do it, there isn’t much stopping you. All you have  to do is to talk to people who live next to you, see what is already being discussed online, and build a space to host the information that matters. All it takes is time, and quick thinking.

When we first thought about HashBrum, we believed we could create a small network of street level information, and let the different communities take part in the process. In the end we leaned towards reporting specific issues neglected by the local media, who didn’t have room in their agendas or the resources to cover them, or do comprehensive follow ups on the developments. It’s the idea that a brief article in local media can be a huge story for a community/hyperlocal website. And do you know what?, sometimes they’re huge for other communities too, that have the same problems, and what seemed to be an isolated event might be a more general issue within society.

With the fragmentation brought by the internet, the rule is no longer defined by the majority. It”s the individual’s rules and needs that matter, and we can customize them in size, subject and location. With all this power, citizens can start improving the world, starting at their doorsteps. Or just have their garbage collected more often. If you have your own ideas on this, please, do share them in the comment box below. If you aren’t already starting to build your own hyperlocal news thing…